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WeekendMiniaturist

From, Bill Hudson, it Is has been several years since I had a Taig lathe. 

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WeekendMiniaturist

<Light Bulb> The thought just came to me, that a forum post about the differences between Sherline, Taig / Peatol (in the UK), and Unimat may be a great resource for our group.    

I have never used a Sherline lathe before, but after Guild School 2015 class, I had considered the three lathes as my instructor indicated the indexing fixture to create the tapered index could be used with the three brands of lathes.  

When comparing life size equipment, I was used to reading reviews in magazines, but with the demise of Miniature Collector with the September 2018 issue and I haven't read the other Ashdown Publications (UK) miniature magazine for a while, I hope that people who have used or owned these three lathes will consider including their thoughts, and over time, I will try an harvest some of the information from the review published in The Scale Cabinetmaker and my own experience with Taig and Unimat.

I currently own Unimat DB-200 and a Taig Micro Lathe II and will work on my thoughts about these two machines and my observations of Sherline.

Bill, except for a space issue for the workbench, it would be most informative if you could give us hints why Sherline won the space on your desktop, when you have time....  I have great respect for the company and am planning to tour the factory in October 2018 and visit the Internet Craftsman museum and hopefully will figure out how to post some pictures for the forum.

 

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greenie

Maybe  this posting is going to be a 'very contensious issue', as everybody has a differing opinion about what they have bought, or, what they like to use.

Remember that opinions are --------like ar$eholes, ------- everybody has one.  🙂

I have never owned either a Taig, or Sherline lathe, but I do own 4  Unimat3 lathes,  3 of them were bought from the evil-one, at vastly reduced prices. I just had to hang around the evil-one long enough and when one popped up as a 'buy it now' and the price was right, jumped on it faster than a speeding bullet.

Now the reason I chose a Unimat 3 lathe,  was at one time when I was a younger fella I did a few years as a machinist and one thing I learned from working on all the different machines in an industrial environment, was that NOTHING can ever be as a solid as a cast iron platform/base to have the machine made from, ---- heavy bulk equaled rigidity --- and rigidity equals accuracy.

Now a Unimat 3 has just that, a very solid base to have all the bits attached to and when your working with the U3 it has a very solid feel to it.

The only problem with the U3 was the initial start-up cost and then the set-up for the different tooling, got me buggered why they had to be so bloody expensive, probably something to do with it being made in Europe and everything is Metric. Being a Metric lathe kind of limited the market for these mighty midgets, as the biggest market for hobby lathes absolutely refuses to even contemplate becoming a Metric country, as per the rest of the world.

The Unimat SL/DB had only those two round bars to try and hold everything in place, for me it was far too sloppy looking,  so that particular lathe was eliminated from all thoughts very early in the process.

Liked the look of the Australian designed Sherline, but when the lathe and all rights were sold to America, they started to make them from Aluminium, so once again I crossed that of the my list very early on as well.

Can understand why those who live in America like the Sherline, as the lathe and all the extra bits are made to that  MONGREL measurement and as most persons over there do not like Metric, then it had/has virtually no competition. None of the Sherlines were available in Australia when I wanted a lathe, so the up front and exorbitant postage costs ruled that one out.

The Taig lathe was VERY new when I was looking for a lathe and there was NO WAY I would spend ALL those dollars on a every expensive experimental Aluminum machine, as well as the outrageous postage costs from the states back then.

So that just left me with only the one lathe that I could actually get my hands on and have a twirl/twiddle with the handles.

My missus, S.W.M.B.O. nearly had a fit when I told her what I wanted to buy and what the costs involved were, I was delegated to the dog house for months and months after that purchase. Even had to grab as much overtime as I possibly could, just to keep the household money coming in.

Today I mainly dabble in turning brass, aluminium, acrylic or wood on the U3,  BUT, it can, and is able to be used with turning steel, and that's even taking heavier cuts that are about to stall the little motor. One thing I have done to the motor,  is removed the bronze bushes in the end-caps of the motor and replaced the bronze bushes with ball-bearings, now it's got even more guts to do the job even easier. The ball bearings have lasted well, I've worn out and replaced two sets of carbon brushes and the bearings are still as good as new.

The other main modification I have done is throw away that ridiculous single toolpost that comes with the U3, I have made up a sort of a quick change system that makes turning stuff a breeze now, compared to that fight each time you wanted to change tooling.

Have been very pleased with the mighty midget for well over 40 yrs now and would recommended one to anybody who would be willing to listen, even though they have not been made for over 20 yrs and they do command a collectors price now days on the evil-one, which is a bit of a shame, as they are a marvelous machine to do ANY work on/with, that fits with-in their limits. 

 

As with ALL lathes, there are LIMITS, on what you can do with ANY lathe, same as any milling machine, just realize what the limits are and work with-in those limits.

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greenie

Here's the DRAWING for anybody who want's to have a go at making the quick change type of Toolpost that I made up, it does NOT have any registers like a normal quick change toolpost, so every time you change tooling for another, you have to work out real quick what the new dimensions are on the work-piece.

What I do is swap the tooling and take a very fine cut, measure that new cut and away you go again, once you know exactly what the the measurements are. A normal quick change system ALWAYS registers in exactly the same place when you swap the tooling around, this one does not register in the same place at all, hence the fine cut and measure.

The blocks to hold the tooling can even be made from Aluminium, if you wanted to, I just used an old rusted bit of steel plate that was laying around at the joint I was working at that time, even brass would suffice, that's if you have any laying around doing nothing.

The blocks can have the tool tip height adjusted to get whatever tooling you have mounted in that block to cut EXACTLY on centre, by adjusting the 5 X 0.8mm screw, this screw sits on the lip of the post, which is held down onto the cross-slide, by the 6 X 1mm bolt and a tee nut. So each time you take one of  the tool-blocks from the lathe and replace with the next tool-block, that new tool tip is at the correct height without any mucking around at all, simple as, eh.

I have made 12 of these tool-blocks and have them all loaded with different tooling, so a quick change with any tooling now is just that,  --------  Q-U-I-C-K.

 

If anybody is contemplating making that 4 way toolpost designed by Gerald Wingrove, DON'T BOTHER with it, I acquired one with one of the lathes from the evil-one, thought beauty, got a handy jigger thrown in ---

Tried to use it and all that was happening was that I just happened to stab myself every time I went near the cross-slide handle, or went to measure the work-piece, by all these sharp bits of tooling sticking out like a porcupines quills.  I have one at a give away price, that's if anybody cares to pay the postage for it, the problem was/is, that there were far to many sharp pointy bits in such a small area, so that made it bloody hopeless to have mounted on such a small lathe.

 

That is the reason I went looking for another solution to the changing of tooling on the U3.

 

 

This drawing can be "altered to suit" any lathe AT ALL, so it will work on any  brand of lathe, no matter what size the lathe is, tiny toy or monster.

 

 

 

1259868867_Adjustable20Quickchange20Toolpost..jpg.09e4ff83aade07a5a8e9284cb8a52e22.jpg.

 

 

 

IMGP0697 copy.JPG

IMGP0698 copy.JPG

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WeekendMiniaturist

Greenie, it isn't meant to be contentious... it is meant to be helpful, as many miniaturists are in different parts of the world, and access to tools are very important to create beautiful miniatures.  This is great to see plans for a quick change tool post; thank you for sharing them with the forum.

I know you don't like our buggered imperial measurement system here in the US, but I did not realize that the Uni was metric.    Clearly I knew it was not mfg in the US as my label on the lathe does indicate country of origin, but oops... Well, I think it is a really cool machine and I'll keep it and after I chased down the WW spindle for it in an antique shop about 100 miles from home;  I have to know at some point and time the accuracy of the WW Spindle, too.  I am thinking I will do my little threaded oil can on my unimat from brass.  

The analysis of the bed of the lathe, is so helpful.  Only the earliest and newest versions of the Unimat had a cast iron bed.  Postage is a problem, and an issue I am very sympathetic about, because I detest postage costs just in the US, and importing a lathe from the UK to the US would probably be enough to stop me... I hear that Myford is a great lathe, but I won't be importing one from the UK to the US, and now I'm assuming it is also in metric, too.  

I am pretty sure the Taig's bed is steel and filled with cement.  I could be wrong, but I will verify.

Keep those posts coming... the hope is to gather enough info to write a comparison.

 

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greenie

Be carefull  if you are going to buy a Myford lathe, all the older ones are made to that Mongrel Measurement, worst of all, is that the older  Myford lathes only have lousy bronze bushes in the headstock. Not the best if you want to remove metal quick, the bronze bushes do wear and get hot when your working them hard, so most times you have to take hundreds of small cuts, instead of one big cut.  You can waste a heck of a lot time mucking around with any old lathe that has Bronze bushes in the headstock, if your going to buy an old lathe, check if it has Bronze bushes in the headstock, if it has, pass on it real quick. Even early American hobby type lathes, have that lousy Bronze bush in the headstock, so just be aware of what your buying.

The cheap Chinese stuff has at least Ball Bearings in the headstock, OK, lot's don't like them 'cause there from China, but hey, they do cut metal easily and accurately, so choice is yours to make, El0Cheapo Chink, or buggered and useless old secondhand crud.

Now the later modern Myfords do have Ball Bearings in the headstock and you can order them made from new, in either Metric or Mongrel, took them ages to come to their senses and make a lathe with Ball Bearings in the headstock.

Lot's of choices if your going to buy a bigger lathe, so happy hunting and be aware of what is in the headstock of any lathe your looking at.

 

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Jerry Kieffer
On 8/20/2018 at 8:59 AM, WeekendMiniaturist said:

<Light Bulb> The thought just came to me, that a forum post about the differences between Sherline, Taig / Peatol (in the UK), and Unimat may be a great resource for our group.    

I have never used a Sherline lathe before, but after Guild School 2015 class, I had considered the three lathes as my instructor indicated the indexing fixture to create the tapered index could be used with the three brands of lathes.  

When comparing life size equipment, I was used to reading reviews in magazines, but with the demise of Miniature Collector with the September 2018 issue and I haven't read the other Ashdown Publications (UK) miniature magazine for a while, I hope that people who have used or owned these three lathes will consider including their thoughts, and over time, I will try an harvest some of the information from the review published in The Scale Cabinetmaker and my own experience with Taig and Unimat.

I currently own Unimat DB-200 and a Taig Micro Lathe II and will work on my thoughts about these two machines and my observations of Sherline.

Bill, except for a space issue for the workbench, it would be most informative if you could give us hints why Sherline won the space on your desktop, when you have time....  I have great respect for the company and am planning to tour the factory in October 2018 and visit the Internet Craftsman museum and hopefully will figure out how to post some pictures for the forum.

 

While do I own large machines, most of my metal working is Micro machining in nature, so sharing my experience over the years may apply.  Work ranges from Horology, Model Engineering on the hobby side to Medical research and other one offs on the industry side.   My demands on my machines are very high. When and if purchasing new equipment, opinions, who made it and what it is made from is of no concern.     Only demonstrations involving capabilities, versatility and efficiency are considered.      I suspect that part of this comes from attending major International Machine Tool Shows over the years.      At these shows, machines must demonstrate proficiencies along side their competition or die a slow death on the show room floor.

My personal Experience with the machines mentioned are as follows.

 

In the Early 70`s I had little choice in a small Lathe, so like many others I purchased a Unit that I still have along with others. However, the weak overheating motors, Poor power transfer (Belts) and inaccurate and non repeating characteristics (Flexing rods) were not suitable for the quality of work I wished to do.

 

From this point I purchased Taig Lathe.    Actually the Taig Lathe was originally designed for optical (Glass) work and its design is superb for this type work as I use mine for it all of the time. Again however,  as factory stock, its design greatly limits capabilities for general machining.    Especially Micro machining where few of any accessories are offered.    

 

After the Taig, I purchased a Unimat three.  This lathe was very short lived in my shop because it offered the same issues as the first Unimats but had less versatility.   No rotating headstock, inaccurate WW collet adaptor etc.

 

At this point I purchased a Sherline.    While superior to the others, not by much.      While the early Sherlines had their share of issues, unlike the others, Sherline  steadily made design changes and vastly improved their construction quality over the years.  Today these current production Lathes are capable of doing what is possible to do on this size lathe in an efficient manner regardless of brand. While it is the small Lathe I use on a daily basis, I have no allegiance to anything other than performance.      If a more practical Lathe were available, it is what I would use. To test any perspective Lathe, it would have improve on the the following test that I use to publicly  demonstrate this machines capabilities when requested.   It is as follows.

I first install a piece of .750"  (19mm)  diameter steel stock in the three jaw chuck with about 1.000" extended in front of the jaws. from this point I machine the stock down to a pivot  .010" (.25mm) in diameter and about .100" long (2.5mm).      The Lathe must be able to do this in about 5-6 SINGLE Passes per attached photo.        This demonstrates the machines capabilities, strength and power to remove large amounts of metal when required.

This is followed by drilling a .005" (.125mm) hole down the center of the .010" (.25mm) pivot.       This is done to demonstrate the machines sensitivity to use micro tooling (prevent breakage) and its repeatability and accuracy.      I do not have a video of this demo, but do have a unknown persons clip of drilling the hole at a model engineering show.  It can be seen at about the 33:30 mark in the following link.      As a test of the machines efficiency, I must be able to do this Demo including drilling in 90 seconds or less.

Another feature that is extremely important with small machines is of course a full line of accessories but equally important is the accessories ability to inter change with the lathe and a compatible milling machine.

Jerry Kieffer

 

fullsizeoutput_2ac.jpeg

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greenie

I notice you wiping the drill with something before you started to drill, was there some sort of lubricant on that white piece?

The swarf on the cross-slide below that work-piece looks suspiciously like chips from Aluminium ?

You mention that Sherline have improved their product over the years, so just how many Sherline lathes have you actually owned ?

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WeekendMiniaturist

Jerry, I did not realize until now that your work has also been recognized by the Internet Craftsman Museum.  I will be looking for your project at the Craftsman Museum when I get my Sherline factor tour...  https://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/Kieffer.htm , in addition to the working bridgeport miniature mill and Mr. Robertson's items at the museum, too.

I would still like to take your beginners class, but I need to plan for it.     The family trip this year has affected my hobby related classes for 2018, but I have not made any decisions about travel for 2019 as of today, so I will watch the calendar.

https://net.nawcc.org/NAWCC/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=WS117A18  

Thank you for adding to this conversation about desktop lathes - off to see your links and to learn.  One thing I observed in reviewing your other posts is the point that is machined, (like a cone) can be an excellent way to determine headstock and tailstock alignment.

I like your test, this is measurable, and easy to understand and can help any person who is reviewing adding a lathe to their bench.  I would like to go to the North American Model Engineering Society event, but it always seems to be on the same weekend as the Bishop International Miniature Show so I haven't attended, as I suspect that we may be able to see machines in action at this event too. <2nd light bulb>  I will also look at the Model Engineer Magazines for Lathe reviews, too.  I still haven't subscribed... but purchased all the bedside readers this past year.

 

 

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Jerry Kieffer
31 minutes ago, greenie said:

I notice you wiping the drill with something before you started to drill, was there some sort of lubricant on that white piece?

The swarf on the cross-slide below that work-piece looks suspiciously like chips from Aluminium ?

You mention that Sherline have improved their product over the years, so just how many Sherline lathes have you actually owned ?

Greenie

The white card was a business card that just happen to be handy for cleaning off the chips chips on the end of the drill so I could see when it makes contact with the work piece.    For whatever reason, tiny drills tend to magnetize the steel chips and they stick on the end of the drill after use.    If you watch the end of the drill closely you can see them being removed.

 

For this demonstration, I only use Steel since it is the only way to demonstrate capabilities. The Camera Lighting was bright.   I have been doing this particular demo for well over ten years and pass out a number of examples per show especially to younger kids who have an interest.   It is possible someone on the forum has one.

 

Due to the improvements, I upgraded about every five years since around 1980.     I currently have two units in the shop, one in my traveling case and one older one in my tool collection.

 

Jerry Kieffer

 

 

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greenie

So roughly from 1980 to present, you have bought at least 7 or 8 different Sherline machines, so if it's not a rude question, what's the all up cost you've shelled out for all these different machines. ?

Don't think my budget could EVER afford all that, or, would get any where near with what you've paid out.

Still got my first ever U3 working away for me, bought in 1985, and the cheapies I got from the evil-one, one is set-up as a drill only, another one I use on my bigger el-cheapo chinesie mill when I have to do something very small and the other one is brand new in the box in a cupboard.

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Bill Hudson
14 minutes ago, greenie said:

So roughly from 1980 to present, you have bought at least 7 different Sherline machines, so if it's not a rude question, what's the all up cost you've shelled out for all these different machines. ?

Don't think my budget could EVER afford all that, or, would get any where near with what you've paid out.

Still got my first ever U3 working away for me, bought in 1985, and the cheapies I got from the evil-one, one is set-up as a drill only, another one I use on my bigger el-cheapo chinesie mill when I have to do something very small and the other one is brand new in the box in a cupboard.

I have seen Jerry's work up close and personal many years ago (PRIME & GEARS). It is beyond fantastic. He is serious at miniature machining so I doubt his use of the Sherline lathe is a casual as you or I. I still get embarrassed when I remember knocking his tiny (smaller than a geen pea) working steam engine off its pedestal when I bumped his table. 

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Bill Hudson
4 hours ago, Jerry Kieffer said:

 

For this demonstration, I only use Steel since it is the only way to demonstrate capabilities. The Camera Lighting was bright.   I have been doing this particular demo for well over ten years and pass out a number of examples per show especially to younger kids who have an interest.   It is possible someone on the forum has one.

 

Due to the improvements, I upgraded about every five years since around 1980.     I currently have two units in the shop, one in my traveling case and one older one in my tool collection.

 

Jerry Kieffer

 

 

Jerry,

I have been using Sherline lathe and mills since the early days of brass ways.  I love the machines except for the tail stock.  I really have a problem keeping it right on for drilling. Have you modified your tail stock. What chuck are you using? I notice you have some kind of turned disc behind the chuck.

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Jerry Kieffer
1 hour ago, greenie said:

So roughly from 1980 to present, you have bought at least 7 or 8 different Sherline machines, so if it's not a rude question, what's the all up cost you've shelled out for all these different machines. ?

Don't think my budget could EVER afford all that, or, would get any where near with what you've paid out.

Still got my first ever U3 working away for me, bought in 1985, and the cheapies I got from the evil-one, one is set-up as a drill only, another one I use on my bigger el-cheapo chinesie mill when I have to do something very small and the other one is brand new in the box in a cupboard.

Greenie

Your question is certainly not rude to me.        Micro Machining is not a full time job for myself but a form of relaxation  from my day job or at least before I retired.     While I enjoy working on my own projects, I also work on one off micro repair parts for individuals, repair shops and industry. When making these parts, any machine in my shop that would not pay for itself in a very short time is long gone and forgotten.   But assuming I was not being payed for anything, the resale value of Sherline equipment is such that it would not have been a burden.

I also have all of the machines mentioned from the early days with the exception of the unimat 3.      Others not mentioned include a Cowells and a Prazi md200.

Jerry Kieffer

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Jerry Kieffer
1 hour ago, Bill Hudson said:

I have been using Sherline lathe and mills since the early days of brass ways.  I love the machines except for the tail stock.  I really have a problem keeping it right on for drilling. Have you modified your tail stock. What chuck are you using? I notice you have some kind of turned disc behind the chuck.

Bill

  First, I do not remember the small engine incident, but whatever happened it would of been my fault for not having it secured.

Tailstocks are a issue with all lathes in the price range of a Sherline.     First, if you have a earlier tailstock with the horizontal locking screw squeezing a slot together, there is nothing you can do other than having a new tailstock fitted. The latest version has a brass Gibb that is locked in place by a vertical screw.     With this improvement, tailstock repeatability is absolute assuming no defective parts that are rare on these machines.   However repeatability is not alignment.    Alignment is extremely expensive from the factory and comes in two forms, the tailstock itself and the drill chuck.          The Chuck in the photo is a Albrecht that is very expensive but very accurate.   The assembly behind the chuck is Sherlines alignment accessory P/N1202 for those who demand alignment perfection.    Its instruction for use is covered in the following link.

https://sherline.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/1204inst.pdf

I machined the one in the photo to a smaller diameter for a special project for use in the Milling Machine.

Also, thank you for the very kind words.    I build everything small so no one can see the mistakes.

Jerry Kieffer 

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Bill Hudson

Thanks Jerry,

I do have the brass gib type tail stock and have the alignment accessory and chuck. I find it a bit fidgety to adjust it.  I seem to always over adjust it one way or the other.  I have thought of turning a ring to fit over the assembly with set screws at the four quadrants to aid in fine adjustment. I should have gotten an Albrecht back in the days when I could afford one and could justify buying one.  

Thanks for the NAMES video.  I think I recognize some of the guys and engines. It has been a long time since I have been involved in model engineering. EVME, the Eugene, Oregon club, is down to about a half dozen members on a good day now. All the old timers have died off. 

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Jerry Kieffer
6 hours ago, Bill Hudson said:

Thanks Jerry,

I do have the brass gib type tail stock and have the alignment accessory and chuck. I find it a bit fidgety to adjust it.  I seem to always over adjust it one way or the other.  I have thought of turning a ring to fit over the assembly with set screws at the four quadrants to aid in fine adjustment. I should have gotten an Albrecht back in the days when I could afford one and could justify buying one.  

Thanks for the NAMES video.  I think I recognize some of the guys and engines. It has been a long time since I have been involved in model engineering. EVME, the Eugene, Oregon club, is down to about a half dozen members on a good day now. All the old timers have died off. 

Bill

There is good news and bad news.     The bad news, is that the Sherline adaptor as from the factory, is a real pain to adjust.  In fact, I can not remember if I have ever been able to adjust a stock one to my satisfaction.       The good news is that it offers a solution unavailable from others.  

I currently modify and adjust the adaptor as follows.

(1) I first adjust the headstock for alignment per Sherlines instructions.

(2) I then machine two small diameter work pieces to a very sharp pencil point per attached photo.

(3) I next replace the adjustment screws with 5mmx .80 hex head bolts and lock washers from the local hardware store.   The thread is retapped slightly larger to 5mm and the adjustment holes are also slightly enlarged. This eliminates the troublesome  allen wrench tightening routine allowing the use of a much easier standard ignition wrench.

(4) adjustment can now be done by tightening the bolts slightly against the lock washers providing tension on the front plate.   The plate can now be tapped in any direction until the two points align  under optics per attached photo.        Alternate between bolts tightening each slightly until tight and recheck alignment.

The alignment will depend on the accuracy of your drill chuck through out its range.        An alternative is Sherlines tailstock WW collet adaptor if you have a set of WW collets.

Jerry Kieffer

fullsizeoutput_2ae.jpeg

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Bill Hudson

 

When I was selling miniatures these little 1/12th scale oil cans were popular. They are fun to make. I could sit down in an evening and turn out ten or twelve or so. These, including the spouts were turned on my Sherline lathe.  This lathe is over 20 years old and still very solid and accurate. Over the years I have turned some very hard metals on it with out hurting it. 

 

 

576243216_cans-1.jpg.49e094c2c1d1badf2f4f5510e98540d2.jpg

 

 

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Jerry Kieffer
16 hours ago, Bill Hudson said:

 

When I was selling miniatures these little 1/12th scale oil cans were popular. They are fun to make. I could sit down in an evening and turn out ten or twelve or so. These, including the spouts were turned on my Sherline lathe.  This lathe is over 20 years old and still very solid and accurate. Over the years I have turned some very hard metals on it with out hurting it. 

 

 

576243216_cans-1.jpg.49e094c2c1d1badf2f4f5510e98540d2.jpg

 

 

Bill

   If your machines are 20 years old, alignment and construction quality has been tightened up considerably along with design changes.

However the alignment accessory is still occasionally used by those demanding perfection.

Your oil cans remind me of a Grease Gun fiasco of years ago.       This was as mentioned years ago when I built a 1/8th exact scale running fully functional 1936 John Deere model "D" tractor.   This Tractor was a copy of one my grandfather purchased new.   However, in running and performing functions of the tractor, it required grease in some hard to reach areas in the same manner as the original.    It was determined that the easiest way to grease these areas was to build a fully functional 1/8th scale grease gun and period style grease fittings.   (Attached photo)

While not near as cute as your oil cans, it does pump standard grease as seen in the photo.    I then removed a grease fitting from the full size tractor and scaled it down to 1/8th scale.     I will never forget that it took forever and ever to machine the .010" (.25mm) functional check balls and springs.   The springs were wound from .001" (.025mm) tempered cross hair wire I swindled out of a German rifle scope company. (Long story)  

While humorous today but certainly not then, I later found that the grease fitting scaled from was a later replacement.    The originals did not have check balls and springs.     At least the replacements took less time to construct.

Jerry Kieffer

fullsizeoutput_2b6.jpeg

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WeekendMiniaturist

Working miniatures are the best form of miniature magic...  And I am smitten with tiny oil cans... I wonder who was influencing me on tiny oil cans???  Thank you Bill!  Even though you are not selling miniatures as you used to you, you are still inspiring miniaturists.  

I have an oil can on my lathe bench to miniaturize!  It took a while to find the 'right' specimen.  Research, Research, Research!  I know when I am attempting to cross reference the details for a piece of furniture as an example, I frequently find details missing from one publication to another, and then it makes me wonder if my interpretation is accurate.    

Thanks to all three of you for contributing to this forum post.   This information would have been so useful to me when I was making these decisions 3 years ago.  My first unimat arrived on July 3, 2015 from Canada; it was Christmas in July!  

Is the Sherline lathe bed from the 20 year old model aluminum and the current version aluminum too?   I took my unimat off the board to look at the underside and I have a taig currently unmounted, too, so I am planning to weigh them too.  I don't expect anyone to unmount their lathe from their bench, but if anyone is just setting up a sherline lathe and wants to weigh it I think this could be an important factor for future miniaturists in analyzing which lathe they prefer.

 

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Bill Hudson

Check balls and springs? I wouldn't expect any thing less from youJerry. ;) The oil cans are solid. I would love to be able to drill out the spouts and make the cans functional. I probably could do so in 1/8th scale. I posted these to show that fine turning can be done on the Sherline. I use a step method to turn the taper on the spouts then manipulate the lead screw and cross screw to knock off the steps and finally finish out with a very fine file. . I would like to go with a new Sherline but I am afraid my budget would not justify it now that I'm in my later years of life. 

 

Tamra, I believe the Sherline specification pages lists the weight of the lathe. 

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WeekendMiniaturist

I have read many pages of documentation for the Sherline lathe accessories, but I have not read about the actual lathe.  I will use that as reference.    I have to find The Scale Cabinetmaker issue and will review this information before I work on the review.

I am sure there is a Sherline forum, as I know there is a Taig and Unimat forum, so Fine Miniatures Forum members, can also join these forums for detailed questions about the equipment, but of the two current desktop machines in the US - Sherline and Taig, Sherline's instruction for their equipment has my vote for best info available for practical use for desktop lathes.  Please note, that the review is limited to equipment that I know about. 

Are there other desktop lathes manufactured in other countries that should be included in the review?  I would consider the Micro Mark lathe to be in a different class, as I think they are much heavier in terms of weight, so I was not planning to include them in this review.  

 

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Jerry Kieffer
2 hours ago, WeekendMiniaturist said:

Working miniatures are the best form of miniature magic...  And I am smitten with tiny oil cans... I wonder who was influencing me on tiny oil cans???  Thank you Bill!  Even though you are not selling miniatures as you used to you, you are still inspiring miniaturists.  

I have an oil can on my lathe bench to miniaturize!  It took a while to find the 'right' specimen.  Research, Research, Research!  I know when I am attempting to cross reference the details for a piece of furniture as an example, I frequently find details missing from one publication to another, and then it makes me wonder if my interpretation is accurate.    

Thanks to all three of you for contributing to this forum post.   This information would have been so useful to me when I was making these decisions 3 years ago.  My first unimat arrived on July 3, 2015 from Canada; it was Christmas in July!  

Is the Sherline lathe bed from the 20 year old model aluminum and the current version aluminum too?   I took my unimat off the board to look at the underside and I have a taig currently unmounted, too, so I am planning to weigh them too.  I don't expect anyone to unmount their lathe from their bench, but if anyone is just setting up a sherline lathe and wants to weigh it I think this could be an important factor for future miniaturists in analyzing which lathe they prefer.

 

Tamra

         Your best source of information on tools is the manufacturer especially with all of the erroneous  speculation that is discussed on the web.

When small machine tools are evaluated side by side, the weight of the tool is of no importance, only its actual demonstrated capabilities. In todays world, the most expensive machine tools costing millions are capable of machining feats that even recent machinist may not comprehend, weight is the enemy in critical areas.

In regard to the Sherline/ Taig lathe beds, a few of the very first Sherlines had one piece solid brass beds.  Ever since the late 70`s Sherline beds have been one piece solid steel with a height of .750" with all contact surfaces ground.     The Taig bed uses a rectangle piece of steel that is .360" in height with all contact surfaces ground.

I think you would enjoy the NAWCC Lathe course if for no other reason than the amount of equipment that is there for evaluation.

It also presents a quite different approach to the use of a small lathe.

Hobbiest of all types often attempt to use small or micro machine tools in the same manner with the same type accessories and procedures as large equipment.     Under these conditions, what generally is accomplished is the result of much practice and the developed skill of the operator over time.

In class we take a totally different approach, where equipment, accessories and procedures are selected so that we make the machines responsible for most of what is accomplished.    Under these conditions, even some of the most difficult procedures can often be successfully accomplished on the first attempt.      The student gets to experience this by their own hand.

Jerry Kieffer

 

 

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Wm. R. Robertson

Hi All, many of you I know or know of. I have spent 40+ years making my living using little lathes and have had every one mentioned above. Here are my thoughts on these...

First off it is important to understand why these lathes were made, who they were made for and how that differes from the type of work making models of decorative arts type objects. All of these lathes, Unimats, Sherlines and Taigs were made to serve the needs of the model engineer. These are simply small versions of the typical metal lathe. They are the next size down from the Atlas, Myfords, South Bends and the like which were home size versions of industrial machines. One other lathe not mentioned is the Manson, this is by far the cutest being a foot long copy of a Monarch 10EE. It is super cute but has such a small work window it is not practical to use for much model work, I don’t even remember the last time mine was turned on.

Another class of small lathes are the jewelers or watchmakers lathes, brands like Boley, Levin, Derbyshire and dozens more. These are baby versions of tool room bench lathes by Rivett, Pratt & Whitney, Ames, Hardinge and others. All these are very fine quality, much higher than the Unimats, Sherlines or Taigs. They are wonderful assuming you have a full complement of accessories.

Now all of the lathes above were made to make precision metal parts that often work with each other by being threaded, geared or pressed together. In building models of decorative arts type miniatures most of us are coping things made of both metal and wood. Often the complex curved shapes are more important than the precise fit of the part such as a candlestick. Our needs are almost that of a hybrid wood/metal lathe. The most important part in making models is holding small parts and therefor collets are a must. One thought that kind of comes to mind is a statement made at a commercial model building conference. The difference between a model builder and a machinist is, a model builder will use super glue or double stick tape to hold work on a milling machine, a machinist won’t.

I’m going to cover my thoughts on the lathes in a separate post.

 

Bill

 

 

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Wm. R. Robertson

The lathes....

Unimat SLs, etc.  These are those mostly  green machines that had 2 round bars acting as a bed that millions like me lusted over as kids at the local hobby shop. They had a wonderful brochure that showed they could do anything with the right accessories. In a sense they were a table top Shop Smith. Basicly my opinion on machines that can do everything is they do none of it well. These were also prominently featured in all kinds of projects shown in the magazines of the day and were super popular. They almost seem to have a cult following today based on the prices, in a sense it is a little like the muscle cars today but a lot less money. Guys that always wanted one now can afford to have one and they lust after all the accessories.

What I didn’t like about them was the tolorences are sloppy, the center height is low, they are a pain to clean the scarf out of and the carriage. Now this is my number one and two complaints about these and these and both apply at all models of Unimats and Sherlines! The carriage is not easily removable and is controlled by a hand wheel on the right end of the bed. The lathe must be mounted up high or at the edge of the bench to leave room for your hand. The removable feature is so you can do hand turning without all this carriage stuff in the way.

The other feature I don’t like is it screw barrel tailstock these lathes have. Your hands get tired turning that handwheel while peck drilling tiny holes.

Unimat 3, These were the much later often white lathes with cast iron beds. The tolorences were much better as were just about everything however my big 2 complaints still exist.

Sherline, These are by far the best when it comes to overall quality, looks, fit & finish, support, etc. They also have a matching milling machine that takes many of the same accessories. I should also mention that both Jerry and I have recived awards by the Joe Martin Foundation which is the parent of Sherline. Thank You!

Taig, This is what I use most of the time. I think I even wrote the review in the Scale Cabinetmaker nearly 40 years ago. But the version I use is not an out of the box Taig, it has some crucial modifications. For years the Taig was not sold as a ready to run out of the box. The motors offered over the years changed. I like those I think 1660 rpm ones he was selling for $20 ages ago. They were super smooth and quiet. I don’t like the DC motors and changing speeds with the belt takes seconds and is easy. The two modifications I do are first a collect nose to take the WW style collets which Sherline makes and I use. While Taig makes a WW spindle the collet is too close to the front of the headstock not giving room for your hands and blocking your vision. I machine one of Taigs blank arbors and turn down a Sherline draw bar that puts the front of the collet about 1 1/4” out in front of the headstock. I also use the Sherline chucks, especially the 4 jaw universal, with an adaptor ring. The spindle threads are same size but the Taig is longer. The Sherline chucks have much smaller jaws and are therefore safer.

The other modification I make it a woodworking style Tee rest. I started this ages ago by drilling and tapping holes in the bed and mounting a shortened Unimat 3 tee rest. I have since made my own patterned after that. Now days both Lee Vally and Taig offer a tee rest that fits without modifying the lathe. I just prefer mine. A key to this is being able to remove the carriage instantly, this take about 5 seconds.

A word on the carriage, it operates on a gear and rack hence no lead screw and therefor no handwheel at the right end of the bed. It allows for much faster travel of the tool over the work giving you much better control of you cutting speeds. It is much easier to like light cuts. This feature along with Taigs lever operated tail stock makes drilling and turning small parts lightening fast. Some parts I can do faster than CNC.

The bearings on the Taig are great, I have never worn any of the out! The alinement or the tailstock could be better.

Anyway, those are my basic feelings on little lathes..... 

 

  

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