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Is anyone  using a Homier 7x12 that would like to comment about it.  (Mark Pohl)

    The reviews that I have read on the mini-lathe users pages indicate that it's probably made in the same factory as the Harbor Freight and the Grizzly.  Parts are interchangeable.  (Brian Creek)

    The mainland China lathes are made by Bengbu Jinyang Household Machine Tool Co.  Some units will have different features, even though they are made in the same factory.  If you want comparisons there is a 7 X 12 Lathe web site on Yahoo that will give you all the answers and show you what modifications are necessary to make it usable.  (Jerry Young)

    I don't have the Homier but I have one of it's many brothers.  I like it very much. I've had it for about 3 years.  It started out as a 7X10.  When Little Machine Shop came out with the 7X12 extension, I upgraded.  I find the 7X12 capable of doing all I need.  I build ferrules and reel seats along with the cork handles and a bunch of other things.   There have been several on the 7X10 mini lathe list that have bought the Homier.  The only negative comments I've seen are the complaints about UPS shipping.  It appears to be the cheapest 7X12 right now.  (Onis Cogburn)


I have started an Online magazine and one of the articles is by Bob Venneri, and I would like to know what lathes you guys use. A lot of the Graphite rodbuilders are wanting to know what are the best lathes for making their own reelseats, for under 1,000.  (Dave Henney)

    Grizzly 7x12, though I just make inserts with it, I'm sure it would do the hardware too, if I had the ambition. Cost was around $500.00.  (John Channer)

    I use the Taig.  For now it has allowed me to turn reel seats, ferrule stations and cork and I am also beginning to make some hardware.  It does need some modifications however and lends itself easily to that purpose.  If I were starting out again, and was interested in making ferrules, I would consider the Sherline (no interest) and its full line of readily available accessories (knurl tools, collets and various cutters).  (Mark Babiy)

      How  do  you  folks  feel  about  the  Delta  Midi-Lathe  or   Jet  14" Mini-Lathe?  They're under $400.  Would they get the job done (reel seats, ferrule stations, cork)?  (Duane Locklear)

      PS:  For the record, I finally bought a Central Machinery 7x10 (3/4" bore) Model 33684 from Harbor Freight to do the job.  Works great so far!

        Nope, they are wood lathes. They'd be OK for grips and inserts, though.  (George Bourke)

      Does the Sherline have a lead screw and carriage feed?  (Kyle Druey)

        The Sherline does have a lead screw, but it does not have a powered carriage feed.  There may be option for a powered version directly from Sherline or an after market add on. The one benefit of the Taig in my opinion is the rack and pinion feed mechanism that allows you to move the carriage very quickly.  I am in the process of building a lead screw for the Taig that will give me the option of rack and pinion when I need it and lead screw for final finishing.  (Mark Babiy)

          I have the Sherline and had at one time pretty much all the attachments but now only use it in it's vertical mill configuration for slitting mainly.

          The Sherline is an excellent product. Extremely well made and accurate and will make ferrules with no problem at all.

          I has the problem all micro lathes have which is vibration which negates it's accuracy a little if you don't support it properly.  My only beef with them is the lack of the powered lead screw.  You can get a hand crank lead screw that works and is an engineering marvel but is never the less a bit Mickey Mouse IMHO.  It's great for small threading jobs like cutting thread in brass rod for steam engine making and that type of thing but it's very long hard work on a reel seat. You can do it but it's not exactly fun.

          Don't get me wrong, I love my Sherline and will never sell it because there is always use for it but as anybody with much lathe experience will tell you buy the bigger lathe, even if you don't think you can use it but it anyhow. Even if you don't think it'll fit anywhere sell the coffee table to find the room then buy it anyhow. If you use a lathe much, sooner or later you'll do it so you may as well get it over with and save money in the long run.  (Tony Young)

            For those of you turning reel seats on the Sherline, one of the pen tool companies makes a  nifty "fast feed" attachment. It lets you move the cross slide by pushing and pulling a lever back and forth. No use for metal, but it is fast on wood.  (Larry Blan)

          OK, thanks, it has a lead screw, but its not powered, the Sherline seems like a real nice lathe form the money.

          I'm finding it difficult to find a quality 7x20 lathe for less than $1000.  From what I have researched most of the 7x10, 7x12, or 7x20 lathers (Grizzly, Jet, Homier, etc.) are made in China.  There is a 7x20 for about $1000 made in Germany by a company called Proxxon, any know of this company/lathe?  (Kyle Druey)

            Yes, the Grizzly, Homier, and Harbor Freight, and another are all made in China. They require a fair amount of cleaning up and tuning to make them run smooth, but once done I think they're a great value. When I needed tech help 13 months after purchase, the Grizzly tech's were great and even sent me warranty parts just after it ran out.

            I have the luxury of both a large wood lathe, and the metal mini lathe too, and it's hard to say which I'd rather do without. But for just reel seats and cane rod hardware, get the metal lathe. You can rough out seat blanks on most any kind of wood lathe, including the drill press version, before mounting them on the 7x10.

            These 7x10 fans are a dedicated lot, and they consistently say that the 7x10/12 is more versatile than the next size up, 9x20, which is at least twice the price. For fly rods you won't need the size of 9x20 either.

            I read a lot on the mini-lathe.com list before deciding, and then bought the Grizzly because their QC seems more consistent. But in the past year I've also read that the Homier is just as good, and $100 cheaper, and no freight either if you can catch one of their traveling tent sales. Homier.com will send you an email if requested, to tell you when there's one coming near your zip code. I'm looking to by the comparable mini-mill as well, usually $100 more than the lathe and very equivalent quality, even some parts in common with the lathe. For that I'll get the Homier.

            And Little Machine Shop is great too, for all those accessories you'll need. He often carries more than one quality of after market accessories too, and he's honest about what you get.  (Rick Funcik)

    I have a Grizzly 7x12 and it has been good enough for the following:

    Reelseat fillers
    machining ferrules (C+R & threaded)
    machining winding checks
    machining reel seat hardware
    turning grips
    ferrule mounting
    blank straightening

    In short, I use it for everything but making rod tube hardware, which I picked up a 12x36 Atlas for. If there was ever a "perfect" rod making lathe, this is it, IMHO. It's the best 500 bucks I've spent.  (Eamon Lee)

      Eamon, how do you use it to straighten blanks?

      As far as rod tubes, I have been able to turn the hardware for a couple of rod tubes using Garrison's design on my Grizzly 7x12.  (Tim Wilhelm)

        You can get a good idea of where sweeps start and end by rotating it between the chuck and a reasonable opposite center. Use a piece of chalk or something else to mark points and go from there. I use it as a starting point although I can see where it may be used to really fine tune. I just thought I'd throw it out there. I also believe there was someone else on the list that wrote a small article on using a lathe to help straighten. Maybe someone else can jump in here?

        After reading Hal Bacon’s oven straightening method, I may stick with all of the other things I do with the lathe and leave the straightening out! Thanks Hal!!!  (Eamon Lee)

    I do most of my work in my South Bend 9" tool room lathe. My 14" South Bend floor lathe, is really too big for reel seats and the like.  (Dave LeClair)

    The new Grizzly catalog has a new mill/lathe for less than $800 that I'd sure like to trade my 9x19 lathe off for.  (Don Greife)

    I haven't seen any 7x20 lathes, but the 9x20 lathes I have looked at, all had one shortcoming that was essential for me. None of the 9x20 lathes I looked at had electronic speed control. They all had belt and pulley arrangements where you had to open a panel and change to get different speeds. That might not be a problem for your application, but it helps a lot when turning something on the rod itself like a ferrule station or grip. With the blank in the lathe I slowly ramp up the speed to make sure nothing is out of balance. I don't want to do the bamboo propeller thing I have seen others write about. The belt and pulley speed adjustment starts up at the speed you set. You can't start off slow and slowly speed up.  (Darryl Hayashida)


I am posting this due to the number of emails I have received concerning the mini lathe.  The lathe in question is available at Grizzly, HF, Micro Mark, Homier. There is some cost difference and can be purchase as a 7x10, 7x12, 7x14.  First off do not confuse these machines with the micro lathes available such as Taig or Sherline. The mini lathe is much bigger stronger and weighs in at 90 LB It uses 3 MT and 2 MT Collets can thread, reverse, has variable speed and has a turret tool post and power feed.  You can get .001??? accuracy out of the box and with some fine tuning .0005??? is possible. If it gets dropped in shipping that can be another story.

Yes the lathe can make ferrules and all rodmaking needs including brass caps for rod tubes.  All parts are readily available from littlemachineshop.com.

If you make a rod you can make ferrules and hardware with this lathe. A lot of big improvements have occurred on these lathes in the last couple of years. Do not let anyone tell you that this small lathe can not make these parts. You do not need a huge lathe for rodmaking. If you can afford one and have the room more power to you.  Also don’t let the price of tooling put you off. To make ferrules you can get carbide drills cheap from HF and I buy my reamers and cutting tooling from KBC machinery. If you can drill a hole and measure you can make ferrules.

Many of us on the list are using these machines some of us are Tony Spezio, D. Hayashida, Tony Miller, Myself and many others.

If you have no desire to make ferrules please support those on the list who sell them.  (Adam Vigil)

    I whole heartily agree. I had a old 6X12 Craftsman lathe that was over 45 years old. Thought I just had to have a bigger lathe to make rods. I sold the 6X12 and bought a 9X20. I found it did not have all the features that the 6X12 had. Made some modifications on the 9X 20 to suit myself. When I looked at the Homier 7X12 for 300.00 I decided to buy one just for small stuff. As it turns out, I seldom use the 9X20 and do all the rod work on the 7X 12. The 7X12 has more features than the 9X20, cost a lot less, tooling costs less and I can move it around real easy. Aside from the things you mentioned, I also cut my ferrule stations, make reel seat hardware, reel seat inserts and turn my grips on the 7X12. Setting up was so much easier than the 9X20, it was .001 out of the box. It only took a tissue thin shim between the face plate and the chuck to get less than .0005 accuracy. I had to mess with a lot more than that to get my 9X20 that close. My 9X20 did not come from HF or Grizzly. The one I have is considered better made whether is is or not I can't tell you.  (Tony Spezio)


I met a guy who owns a HUGE machine shop.  He tells me that he has a "very nice" small metal lathe that he doesn't want.  I'm going to do 12 hours of consulting work for him in return for the thing.

Now, not being a lathe expert, when I go out to look at this lathe, what should I look for?

I want to make sure it's useful to a RODMAKER.  He mentioned that the thing won't cut threads without some other piece.  That's as much as I know.

Any tips?  Any deal-breakers in your opinions?

My normal consulting price puts this lathe in the same league as a Sherline.  But of course I don't have $800 laying around for a lathe, at this juncture.

He did say that this thing requires a van or pickup to move...(Joe West)

    Threading probably won't make that much difference in rodmaking unless you want to make locking reel seats.

    Biggest thing would be to make sure the spindle bore is large enough, .500 would be an absolute minimum, IMHO.  Others here can probably make more critical recommendations.  (Tim Preusch)

    Have you got room for a lathe that you'll need a van or pickup to bring it home in?  You live on the ground floor or a couple of flights of steps?

    I got the funny feeling that the lathe he'll give you may be a couple hundred pounds or so.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    Just thought I might mention that you don't have to spend $800 for a small metal lathe. I spent $300 on a Homier metal lathe that does everything I need it to do for rodmaking, and it doesn't take a van or pickup to move.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    There are three basic issues: well four, really.

    Does it run?

    How big is it? You need 10 to 12 inches between your headstock and tailstock to do most rodmaking chores. Bigger lathes also tend to be more powerful. This is useful if you work with bar stock.

    What comes with it? There are several great lists in the archives dealing with what lathe accessories are needed to do specific jobs. If it does not come with tooling, you will need to shell out a couple hundred bucks for accessories.

    How accurate is it? On all lathes, the headstock theoretically rotates around a single point, but that is never the case, and there is always 0.5 to as much as 3 thousandths of an inch of runout. Make sure there isn't too much runout. Also the tailstock should be aligned to the headstock as closely as possible. A lathe must be extremely accurate to make ferrules.

    Check out the Sherline web site - it is a good introduction to lathes and the various accessories.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


Currently Homier has their mini lathe listed at $300 and Grizzly at $495.   Is there  $200 worth of differences between the two lathes?  (Doug Brooke)


A Logan M5 lathe is up for sale at an auction tomorrow. My brother wants to know if this will be adequate to make ferrules etc, reputation, parts and what would be a really good price?

He just stole a wood lathe at an auction last night, plus 24 knives, multiple chucks including a 4 way many centers etc. All for less than $300.  (Randy Tuttle)

    Check it out.  Logan is a good brand.  For some reason I'm thinking the M5 is a second op lathe and may not have a tailstock.  Machinists??  (Brian Creek)


I have a Homier 7x12 lathe which has been working fine. The more experience I get working with the lathe the more comfortable I become and the more cramped the 7x12 feels. We know Garrison used a 10 Atlas.

I have been giving thought to purchasing a larger lathe, however my space is somewhat limited. From information and intuition I think a 9 could be a serious consideration. It would be heavy enough and large enough, and would  comfortably sit on my wooden bench.  The 9 would also allow work on a larger scale, and good space between centers.

I'm not a skilled machinist however I have talked to friends who are experienced. Surprisingly only two camps arise from my confusion. First the South Bend, Atlas opinion. Well designed in scale, well constructed, stronger, parts available. Used machines are reasonable and allow because of size more flexible.

The other opinion is of course the influx of Chinese lathes many based on the Emco 5, or 8. My experience with the Chinese 7x12 has been a very positive. This month Harbor Freight has a sale of their 9x20 for $599, a very attractive price.

I have also been offered a used 5x12 Prazi for sale. Smaller than my 7x12. I wondered if it has more precision than the larger lathes. I have been told larger lathes doesn't mean looser tolerances.  (Richard Kevorkian)

    I'm in the Atlas/Craftsman camp.  I used a Prazi 5x12 for a year or two, and found it was too small to accomplish most rodmaking tasks.  And the Prazi I used did not have a power cross-feed.  (Harry Boyd)

    Buying a lathe is like buying a boat, the first one you get is to small. I have a 7x14 and it does nearly everything I want. I say nearly everything because at times there is something I would like to do but the 7X14 won't handle it. I've been happy with the 7x14 and push it to its limits. It has been a  good tool.

    By the time I figured out a larger lathe would have been a better choice for me, I had a lot invested in tooling and didn't want to start over. If I had it to do over I'd get a 9x20. Some of the packages for larger lathes come with more of the goodies you would buy anyway separately with the smaller lathes, so the overall price isn't that much different.  (Don Schneider)

    That Harbor Freight is a fine piece and will do far more than most of us need it to do.   I use a Harbor Freight 7 X 10 and I do everything on it from making ferrules, to grips.  Inserts are a no brainer with it too.  The lathe is a great addition and makes rodbuilding more fun and versatile. (Leo deMonbreun)

    I currently have a Taig, a South Bend 9 and an Atlas 10.  I started with the Taig, moved to a South Bend and then couldn't resist buying the Atlas, even though I have not  used it.  I was able to do most of my rodmaking with the Taig.  It is a great little machine, but now that I have moved on to the South Bend, I barely even touch it.  It did everything I wanted, but there were times that I had to make my own tools, holders etc.  I was able to make ferrules, cork handles and reel seat inserts and components. 

    Now that I have the South Bend, I love it.  It is a well built and very intelligently made machine.  I am always amazed at what those engineers did back then when they designed it.  The draw back to the South Bend is the cost of the original parts and tooling.  If you go out on eBay be prepared to spend big bucks.  If however you do not care if it is an original part, you will be able to do quite well.  If I was to buy one now, I would try to get one with all the tooling I need.  for example you may spend twice what you paid for the lathe, chasing the 3C collets, and the closer needed to build ferrules, as you need the collets in some sizes in 64th's.  The collets for the Atlas will cost you even more.  But you can buy a 5c collet chuck for about $160 on eBay and the collets are about $6.00 each.  There are many after market options available to you.

    The Atlas is an interesting lathe.  I have one, but I have never used it, it is still sitting in the garage.  There are quite a few listers that have one.  I have the 10" and I like it, but I don't think I will use it.  It is essentially the same as my  South Bend.  The only attractive feature is that parts seem to be a lot cheaper for it than the South Bend. Collets are still expensive, but most of the other stuff is more affordable and in some case more available.

    From what I have seen of the Chinese imports, they are a pretty good product and will probably suit all of your needs.  The nice thing is that they are utilizing more modern spindle tapers that will allow for tooling that is a lot less expensive.  The downside is that they sometimes need some work to make them run accurately.  No all of them, but some of them.  9 by 20 will give you a lot of swing, I doubt you will ever turn a piece of metal that is that diameter. I like the distance between centers that the larger lathes have and at the $599 price point for the 9 X20 you can purchase an Atlas that will have most of the tooling with it.  Check eBay, check with the local model makers clubs or places like PlazaMachinery.com and there are plenty of others, Sobels in NY for a American made lathe.  If you have the space you will not be disappointed.    (Mark Babiy)

    Don't overlook a Logan. These are fine USA lathes in the class of the South Bend,  and better than an Atlas, and parts are available. There is also a Logan user's group on the web. I have an 11" Logan Powermatic and am happy with it. If you make the upgrade, be sure to get a lathe with a quick change gear set.  (Steve Weiss)


I'm hoping to pick up a metal lathe shortly and have followed previous posts regarding the various mini lathes.  Most are manufactured by the same Chinese company.  I am however leaning towards the Micro-Lux 7x14.

Anyone have any experience with this model or know why I should not consider this as a good choice.  I like the slightly larger motor and bed and the hand wheel measurements in inches.  I am sure any of those listed here will do but for some reason the MicroLux appeals to me.  I have no metal lathe experience but there other small projects other than rod work that I can envision attempting.  (Ralph Tuttle)

    I did a lot of research and that one looks to be the best.  With that said, I got the Homier (cheapest) one and while it works, I've had nothing but problems with the tailstock.   (Joe West)

    If the $275.95 more than the Homier is worth the extra 2" in length, go for it. They are the same basic lathe with very minor differences. Personally, I do everything I need to do for rodmaking on the 7X12.  My larger 9X20 sits idle most of the time.  (Tony Spezio)

    I just pulled mine out of the box. It looks like a nice machine. I wanted it for the imperial readout on the cross slide (I didn't want   to   have   to   worry  about  metric  conversions)  and  the quick-lock tailstock. Those two items would have cost me close to 200 dollars so I thought it was pretty competitive with the other lathes, plus the longer bed and motor.  It looks a little teeny, sitting next to my 12" atlas, but I will be putting it to work as soon as I clean it up.  (Mike Canazon)

    I bought the MicroLux 7 x 14 about 2 years ago and I am real happy with it. It is well made, and I appreciate it for the attributes you mentioned. When I got mine, it was  well packed, and most parts that were vulnerable to rust were covered in red grease. Here’s the best part. After cleaning all parts carefully with kerosene and after final assembly, I checked the run out on the chuck with a ¼” drill rod and I was amazed that it was within 1.5 thousandth!

    It also has many attachments that are reasonably priced. I have a few other products from the Micro Mark company that are also high quality.   (Tom Vagell)


I finally have about $450 to spend on a lathe. 

Here is what I've found:

1-Used lathes don't exist around here
2-Homier has been sold out of the 7x12 for a while.

So here is what I'm looking at:

A Taig for about $350
A Harbor Freight 7x10 for $340
A used Sherline on eBay.

Any suggestions.  I want to go ahead and do this so I can get it over with and I can quit bothering you guys about it.  (Lee Orr)

    I have both a Homier 7x12 and a Sherline.  The Sherline was my first lathe and probably the one I use most.  It is light (42 Lb.?) and portable; I store it on top a refrigerator in my basement.  The 7x12 weighs in around 85 Lb. and needs to be fastened down to a bench or stand.    I use the Sherline for lapping ferrules, thinning ferrule tabs, turning ferrule stations, sanding grips, making winding checks, making ring hookkeepers and turning pens and wine stoppers.  However, the Sherline is somewhat limited when it comes to turning larger objects like depth gauge bases, reel seat hardware, making ferrules and knurling.  I think the 7x12 is better suited for these things.  When it comes to accessories and you will need to buy some accessories, Sherline parts and accessories are much more expensive than the 7x12 accessories (available at Little Machine Shop).  If I could only keep one of my three lathes (I also have a Delta midi wood lathe too that I use for turning inserts, pens and wine stoppers) I would keep  the 7x12.  I have to believe that more rodmakers own a 7x12 than South Bends and Atlas lathes combined (however if I had the room I would buy a used larger SB or Atlas lathe).  As far as accuracy the Sherline is pretty accurate while you may have to tinker some to get the 7x12 accurately set.  There is a lot of documentation available about setting up and fine tuning the 7x12 lathes and list members have been very helpful too (especially Tony Spezio, a 7x12 faithful).

    I think all the Chinese lathes (7x10, 7x12 and 7x14) are made by the same company.  I would avoid the Harbor Freight, which is too short at 7x10.  MicroMart sells a 7x14 with more accessories but costs considerably more than the HomierGrizzly also sells a 7x12 for around $500.

    Good luck with whatever you get and you will find other uses for the lathe; I am amazed how useful they really are.  (Bob Williams)

    I have a Taig.  It's bored out to about 0.580", which you could do yourself I expect.  Otherwise, you can't get the butt end in it to turn down the reel seat area.  The down side is, you can't use collets because all the conical part of the nose is lost.  Mine was sold as a "Rodmaker's Lathe" by J. C. Bogeman and came bored out.  Unfortunately, he's since passed away.  When I get a few $ ahead, I'm going to get a standard headstock and have both.  You can save a bit by ordering the kit and assembling it yourself.  Instructions are on the Carter Tools web site.  Also, if you have an old appliance motor around, you can save quite a bit by using it instead of buying the Taig motor.  If you decide to go with the Taig, check out Nick's web site, there's a TON of info there including various user modifications and HIS opinion on the various accessories. 

    If you only want to turn ferrule stations and make ferrules and reel seats, the standard headstock should be fine.  The Sherline headstock is not bored big enough for butt sections either, for what it's worth.  (Neil Savage)

    I would look at the Grizzly 7x12. I think they are about $500. I have one and like it a lot.  (Frank Paul)

      I ordered the Cummins 7x12 today.  So now I'm off on another adventure. More tools. (Lee Orr)


I am thinking of buying a small lathe, (Sherline...etc), for ferrule making.  what are the opinions on these machines?  (Wil Gatliff)

    I have seen a few  tiny lathes like the Sherline and they are very nice machines, but lathes are like boats you always want one just a little bigger. Making ferrules, turning reel seat inserts and hardware, turning ferrule stations, making jigs for this and that. I would want a lathe along the lines of 6x24 minimum, with at least 5/8'' bore through the headstock for rod making. You can find some very good Atlas, Jet and craftsman lathes out there that are just the ticket most will come with some tooling. I don’t know much about the china imports that are the counter parts to these small lathes, perhaps someone on the list can help you there. The point is mini  lathes are very cool and some very well made but I will bet you a set ferrules that sooner or later you want something else.

    I got a 10x48 lathe in my shop last year this machine is light years ahead of the 6'' atlas I used for the last ten years. I call it my first real lathe. Now the little lathe sits and waits for cork handles to turn.  (Gary Lohkamp)

    The Sherline is a great machine but making ferrules is not is forte'. The deep bore drill is a little much for it. But it can be done with a lot of time.

    If you have the money for a Sherline then you have the money for a 7x10 etc., from Harbor Freight, Micro Mark, Homier, etc. I have made dozens of ferrules  on my 7x10 with nickel silver round stock with out a hitch. You need the correct drill sizes, reamers, cutting tool, a micrometer, dial caliper, ferrule chart and procedure and a slitting tool. To tell you the truth slitting was probably the hardest thing to rig up right. Get your stock from knife maker supply such as Sheffield Supply because it is cheap.

    There area few who will tell you not to get one of these lathes but there are hundreds of users who will tell you different. I call my 7x10 my Ferrule Making Machine it works so well.

    Anyone who tells you to get a large lathe should come over and help you move it. That will shut them up. (Adam Vigil)


Anybody know anything about the Microlux lathes?  (Jack Follweiler)

    Obviously the Sieg Factory in China has many doors.  The lathe that Micro Mark sells comes out of one of them.  From everything I have heard, Micro Mark puts out a quality product.  The lathe they sell has a couple features that I like one being the spindle tachometer.  The other being the cam  lock tailstock.  (I bought a tailstock from them).  I don't think they had those features when I bought my Grizzly.

    Besides those obvious reasons for a difference in price, I think there may be some manufacturing specifications that may be different between the more expensive lathes versus the economically ones.  I got to believe that there is a higher tolerance or lower permissible failure rate that causes them to be more expensive and that the cheaper suppliers may allow a higher failure rate and such.  It could be a really small difference that causes an increase.

    Otherwise I think it is the same machine as the others.  A good comparison is found here.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    I've been using the Microlux 7 x 14 since I started with the cane, to make ferrules, form grips, etc.. No complaints. I also made a Clouser arm for my tying vise, since I had an  extra jaw. The tachometer was the clincher,  plus the longer bed.   (Paul Franklyn)

    I have had the Microlux lathe for about 3 years, and have been very happy with it, particularly the quality and number of accessories. Right out of the box, run out on the chuck was within .1500. I have blown the integral fuse a few times because of my own hurried stupidity, but that's why it's there.  (Tom Vagell)

      How was the packaging on the Microlux lathe and was there any shipping damage. I have read on several mini-lathe sites that several of the miniature lathes have very poor packaging and suffered some damage during shipment.  (Dave Alexander)

        The packaging on the Microlux was excellent, no freight damage. If I remember right, it was mounted on a wood platform, surrounded by thick Styrofoam. Also, everything that could possibly rust was covered with a thick green grease. I spread everything out on the shop floor with a large pan full of kerosene, and went to town cleaning the grease off and lubricating all the parts with the recommended lighter weight (white) lubricant/grease. Takes 2 to 3 hours if you strip it down completely and do a thorough job. That green stuff is in a lot of places you can't see until you do some disassembly.  (Tom Vagell)


Looking to upgrade my lathe. I have a 7X12 and looking at something a little bigger and heavier. Looks like Grizzly has a pretty good deal on a 9X19.  I know it's not a variable speed motor, but are there any other disadvantages? Is it too big for rodmaking? I hate to take a spey rod to a small Brook Trout Stream! Another lathe that I'm interested in is the Lathemaster 8X14.  (David Dziadosz)

    I have a Boxford 10x20 lathe and am quite happy with  the size. The "footprint" in your shop will be about the same, but you'll have more capacity for larger projects.  (Ron Grantham)

      For those who don't know, the Boxford is a British lathe based on the old South Bend lathes (many parts are reported to be interchangeable).  Another good (larger) lathe that is still around is Standard Modern and Myford.  The Jet 9x20 looks like the same machine as the Grizzly 9x20 except for color.  (George Bourke)

    Personally I think the Homier 7X12 @ 299.99 is as good a deal as you can get. I have a 9X20 and the 7X12. I use the 7X12 99% of the time for rod making.  (Tony Spezio)

      I agree with you, Tony, a 7X12 is a good lathe for rodmaking! After a long backorder wait, I finally received my 9X19 Grizzly. What a smooth machine! I first thought I would sell my 7X12, but after marrying off my oldest son, I acquired some extra space in the rod shop to keep the lathe. He's taking an old freezer that was in the shop. It's starting to look more like a machine shop, than a rod shop!

      Now I'm shopping for a QCTP for the 9X19. Any ideas from the 9X19/9X20 owners??  (David Dziadosz)

        The QCTP for the 7X12 will work fine on the 9X19 too. I bought a 100 QCTP for the 9X20 I have, it was too big and bulky. I sold it a while back. I got two QCTP, one  from Little machine shop and one from Micro Mark, later moved up to a couple that I got on E bay, a smaller version of the 100. Like the LMS QCTP, they fit the 9X20 and the 7X12. If interested in the ones from LMS and Micro Mark I will part with them. I have extra tool holders for them also.

        I can send you photos if you want. I also have a QCTP from Harbor Freight. It only has two tool holders and I can't get any more tool holders without buying the whole set up, that is why I went to the other QCTP.  The LMS and the Micro Mark QCTP are the same but the price is different, actually the two that I will part with are form both LMS and Micro Mark. There is no difference in them. I like them better than the ones I am using now but I have too much invested in these so I will stay with them.  (Tony Spezio)

        Look at the Harbor Freight 39083. I have a Grizzly 11 by 27 and it fits it perfectly. I browse the 9 by 20 lathe groups and this is a common size for that lathe. I think it's pretty close to an AXA size. I am really happy with mine. I would have liked to have bought it from Grizzly if they made one.  (Martin Jensen)

          The 39083 is one of the Harbor Freight QCTP I had for my 9X20. It will work but in order to make it fit the stud, you have to make an adapter that requires a Metric tap and die. On the 9X20, it is just too bulky and limits the travel on the cross feed. I found this out after making the stud adapter. I finally gave up on it and got the smaller QCTP. See my previous post. The guy I sold it to is using it on a 12X36 and it works fine for him. He did not have to use the stud adapter I made. The 39083 is made for 10" to 12" lathes. When I looked at the 9X19 Grizzly, it had the same stud as my Enco 9X20. I have replaced some gears on my 9X20 when I modified it for reverse cutting. I bought the gears and belt from Grizzly for my Enco. The machines are the same.  (Tony Spezio)

            Oh, I did have to make a new adapter plate for it but it wasn't too hard. I hope my post didn't mess you up any. I know the 39083 is a perfect size on my lathe.  (Martin Jensen)

    I would definitely consider a larger lathe than a 9x18, as it is  essentially a 6" lathe on riser blocks.  Be sure to get a belt head and not  a gear head.  Logan 9" are fine as are atlas and Craftsman Commercial  12"s  Be careful with South Bends as they have bushings in the headstock  that require a factory replacement if badly worn (expensive).  Grizzly  makes a new 11" light duty lathe that might be just the ticket.

    The larger the lathe, the more capable they are.  It might not make any difference with cane rods, but you can now machine screw caps for rod tubes, make tooling jigs, etc.   (Tom McDonnell)

      A larger lathe is really what I want, but there things I needed to consider. Floor space, a 9X19 is pushing it. Power source, I can handle the 3/4 HP motor where it will be located. Price, right now it's about what I can afford.  (David Dziadosz)


I would like to start turning my own cork grips/wooden reel seat inserts, and would like some opinions regarding suitable lathes.  It seems that the regular/variable speed mini lathes from Jet and the PSI TCLPRO Turncrafter Pro Midi are popular among rodbuilders.  (Ron Delesky)

    Personally I think the Homier 7X12 @ 299.99 is as good a deal as you can get. I have a 9X20 and the 7X12. I use the 7X12 99% of the time for rod making.  (Tony Spezio)

    There are few subjects that are as prone to start an argument, but I will take the heat this time.

    Nearly all rodmakers use metal lathes; wood lathes rarely provide the precision you need, although some use them for inserts and grips.

    You have a couple options:

    Sherline: a great little lathe with detailed instructions. A decent choice for rodmakers, especially if you are new to machining. A bit light for heavy metal work, but you can  get by. Also uses unique Sherline accessories, so you pay more. The long bed version is great for rodmaking.

    The Taig. Small, good for the do-it-yourself tinkerer. Some nice features, actually better than the Sherline for turning reel seat inserts. Not as expensive. Available through Lee Valley.

    Imports from Grizzly, Harbor Freight, etc. These are  good value, but quality varies. If you have a machining background you can fix just about any problem you encounter during assembly and testing. There have been major improvements in availability of parts and accessories, and there are a lot of discussion groups and web sites that can help you get full use of them.

    Big used lathes: Atlas, Craftsman, South Bend. These can be bargains, but you have to know what you are buying so you don't end up with a junker. They are found at garage sales, auctions, used industrial machine dealers. Supposedly they have become more available as companies switch over to CNC machines. A good choice if you have some  experience with machining.

    Regardless of what you buy, the tooling and accessories will set you back about as much as the cost of the lathe. If you have a choice, go with the lathe with the longest bed, you will quickly get used to the extra working space.

    I have a long bed Sherline that I will never, ever part with, although often I wish I had a Jet for more complex metal work such as rope knurls, threaded reel seats, and the like.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      A few years ago, there was a gentleman named Boegeman who advertised rodmakers lathes in "The Planing Form".  I have one.  Unfortunately, he passed away, so his modification isn't available.   It's a Taig with the headstock bored out to just over .580".  The standard Taig headstock bore is .343", just a tad small to put a swelled butt rod through if you want to turn a grip on the rod.  The down side is you can't use collets because the 30 degree cone in the nose of the spindle was bored away, so for that use you have to get a second headstock.  I suspect you could do the mod yourself by drilling and reaming or finishing with a long boring bar.  I think the Taig is a nice little unit and costs a good deal less than the Sherline.  If you decide on it, try Nick Carter. He gives a discount over the factory.  (Neil Savage)

    As a new maker I'll  throw my 2  cents in.   I'm working on  rods 6-8 right now and have turned all the grips for my first five rods with a hand held drill clamped upside down in a vice. 

    I've turned them on a threaded rod and I think they've turned out really nice.  Some of them are a little fat, but that's the fault of the maker not knowing good dimensions rather than the tool. 

    As for reel seats, I've turned a half dozen reel seats now all with a router and a drill.  I've been really happy with these.  I've also turned one reel seat on a friends lathe and I find that the router/drill method produced equal results faster.  I can go from a 1x1 blank to a reel seat polished to 2000 grit ready for the mortice in about 15 minutes. 

    A lathe is on my list of tools to get someday, but more for turning ferrule stations than for grips and seats.  I'm sick and tired of using sandpaper and the lap method .  (Aaron Gaffney)

      Can you explain how you make your reel seats with a router and a drill?  I would assume you are chucking the blank on a dowel or threaded rod, putting the drill in the vise, then using what to remove material?  Then using the router to create the mortise?  (Matt Fuller)

        Nothing I invented or anything.  I took the idea from the archives.

        Mount the reel seat block to a piece of threaded rod (about 12 inches).  I use 2 nuts on each side to lock it in place.  Then on each end of the threaded  rod mount  a wheel  (I used a patio door wheel 1.25 inches in diameter with a 1/4 hole in it)  Once again with two nuts on each side of each wheel to lock them in place.  So now you have a piece of threaded rod with a wheel mounted on each end and the block of wood secured in the middle.

        Set up your router with a straight cutting bit (I've been using a 1/2" dado bit).  You'll need the router mounted in a table with a fence.  Set the fence so that the bit is just protruding past it and run the wood set up along the fence with the wheels touching the fence and the table.  Your first few passes will just take off the corners.  Rotate the set up slightly and run it again.  When you've turned it all the way around move the fence back a smidge and run along the fence all the way around again.  Keep moving the fence back each time you run all the way around the block of wood.  It will keep getting more and more circular.  I've found that I usually only need to move the fence three times to get near the size I want.  Stop when you get pretty close.  The block of wood will look circular, but not perfect by any means. 

        Take one of the wheels off and chuck the rod in your drill (which is clamped upside down in a vice similar to turning grips).  Support the other end of the rod with something.  Now turn the drill  on (I have to tape my trigger because it won't lock at the speed I want) and hit the wood with 60 grit paper.  It will quickly become perfectly (an exaggeration amongst this group who measures in thousandths of an inch) circular.  Progress down through the grits until you get it polished like you want.  It's a good idea to have the ring on the rod so you can be checking the fit.

        Now put the wheel back on and run the set up over a thumbnail bit to create the mortise.

        Practice on some scrap.  My first insert got too small.  But it ended up being a nice fit with two sliding rings on  my 4  weight Sir D.

        Let me know if this was confusing.  When I first read about it I had a hard time picturing it.  Lee valley actually has a picture of a similar jig used for turning pens.  Mine cost me $1.84 for the sliding glass door wheels (plus the $250 router, $200 router table insert for my table saw, etc. LOL)  (Aaron Gaffney)

    If all you want to do is reel seats and grips I would say a small wood lathe would work for both. They are pretty cheap and you could do your cork grips in them also. I know you can do them with a drill motor in a clamp too. I did that for years but a small lathe is definitely a step up and will end up making the job a lot easier. For a reel seat on a wood lathe, you would have to figure out how to take off a precise amount of wood all the way along the length but I know several people who have done this with not much problem.   (Martin Jensen)

    I was going to purchase a Jet mini wood lathe to turn reel seat inserts/grips, but it seems that list members prefer mini metal lathes such as Homier's 7x12.  A metal lathe would be able to do what a wood lathe could plus have the benefit of being able to turn other rodbuilding components as well.  However, I don't have any machining experience whatsoever, and was wondering how hard are they to learn to operate?  There seems to be more instructional information regarding wood lathes in rodbuilding from web sites as well as even a DVD from Lamar Fishing.  (Ron Delesky)

      I went through the exact same thing several years ago. I would get a metalworking catalog, and it might as well have been written in archaic Greek.

      There is a U.S. army lathe operators manual posted on the web. I can never remember the URL, but you can find it.

      Also, visit the Sherline web site. They have detailed instructions on all their accessories posted right there for you to check out. Not a bad choice for as a lathe, either, although if you buy a Sherline you will end up having to equip it with their accessories (they are a bit more expensive than what you can find in other catalogs. But everything will fit).

      That ought to get you started. (Jeff Schaeffer)

      I think you can "earn while you learn". Just remember to take the chuck key out when you turn it on, You are more likely to damage the lathe if you leave it in than a larger lathe. A larger lathe will damage you, usually, sometimes both. Keep dangly thinks away from the chuck (like long hair and shirt cuffs and things).

      Start with a real simple project.  (Martin Jensen)

      There's a ton of info out there on the world wide web.  Here's a few sites you can read up on the mini-lathe, and they also have pointers:



      And for your supplies and needs, along with some nice machining primers, Little Machine Shop.

      Chris, the owner, has put little tidbits of info around the site, and has made up some nice manuals and other learning material too.  (Mark Wendt)

      Yes, you would be a lot farther ahead purchasing a metal lathe, than a wood lathe.  There are many good books out there on operating a metal lathe. I never had any training on a lathe, but picked up some books on the subject and practiced using  the lathe.

      You will be surprised,  that doing most operations with the lathe, aren't that hard.  But, holding the tolerances you want, will take some  practice.  (Dave LeClair)

        As Dave mentioned, the repeatability and tolerances are probably the hardest thing to learn on the lathe, and as he said, it just takes practice, and going at the job from a common sense point of view.  Sometimes, even the best make mistakes, and you just chuck the part, and start over.  One of the most difficult things to learn, and it goes for just about any kind of machining, is to come up with an operations order to the part you are going to machine.  That's when you decide that I have to do machining task "A" before I do machining task "B", otherwise, the part just ain't gonna happen.  (Mark Wendt)


I'm getting started in bamboo rod building by first finishing some blanks.  I wish to buy a lathe and a guide wrapping tool.  Which ones are recommended?  (Louis DeVos)

    I am sure you will find all the lathe advice in recent posts and in our archives.  A lot of our members are well-qualified in the field, and have been very clear and detailed about their selections and about their reasons for making them.  (Peter McKean)

    The common sized lathes in use are 7x10 in, and 9x20 in. Larger will work but really you need to know what size material you want to chuck up and what you want to do with it. If you are really good, you can make ferrules with the 7x10 and some other small parts though I think that the small bed length would limit you a bit. My lathe is 27 in bed length (11x27 in) and I find that really useful for making reel seats which I find as enjoyable as making the rods.  (Martin Jensen)


Every once in a while Cummins Tool has free shipping on their mini lathe. This means you can get it for $399, but is it any good?  (Pete Peterson)

    Could people please respond on list to this question.  I'm also considering a lathe.  My question was should it be a wood or metal lathe?  Wayne's book mentions using a wood lathe with a 3 jaw chuck.  (Aaron Gaffney)

      A metal lathe is more accurate and more versatile than a wood lathe and the mini lathes don't cost that much more than a decent wood lathe of the same capacity. One thing to look at with any lathe is the size of the hole thru the headstock, it needs to be at least 1/2" diameter to be useful for rodmaking.  (John Channer)

      Go for the metal lathe.  Lots of uses  for it in Rodmaking.  (Tony Spezio)

      Buy the metal lathe. You're going to want to make your own hardware sooner or later. You are also going to want to get a 4" chuck and a backing plate for it  as well if you get a metal mini-lathe as the hole in the 3" is too small to allow 3/4" round stock to pass through. Too much waste cutting small pieces to fit in the jaws.

      I'm just finishing tooling up for hardware myself. Floyd Burkett has been a big help and provided me with a basic list of tooling required. I'll send it along if you'd like to look it over.  (Wayne Kifer)

      The cost of the lathe is a starting point. You will eventually want additional tooling. 4" 3 jaw, 4" 4 jaw, Quick Change tool post to name a few. The 4" chucks allow you to take advantage of the .780" hole through the head stock on most mini lathes. When you are done you will have as much or more invested in tooling as you paid for the lathe.  (Don Schneider)

    The Cummins is a good buy with the free shipping. You get several things that you will never use. The Homier is 100.00 less but there will be shipping and tax that will come to about 60.00. You don't get the extras. I have dealt with both companies, I got better service with Homier. We had the Cummins Truck Sale here last week. About the base, You don't need a lathe to make a base. Will send you some photos later today. I will be doing an article on making a base in the spring issue of Power Fibers.  (Tony Spezio)

    I don't know about the Cummins, but I highly recommend the Homier Speedway lathe.  I think they are all pretty much the same, but I had a Harbor Freight 7x10 and now have a Homier 7X12.  I like the Homier much more than the HF; the 12" bed is actually 3.75" longer than the 10", and the tolerances seem to be tighter than the HF, and the speed control is infinitely variable, all the way to zero.  It also costs only $299 + shipping.  (Robert Kope)

    I have a Cummins and it works fine.  All Chinese lathes come out of the same factory.  After cleaning the lathe of shipping grease don't forget to put white grease on all gears.

    I turn my own ferrules.

    I made my base for depth gauge out of 1-1/2" brass round stock that I bought on eBay.   It works great but you will need a tap set for setting screw thread into your base.  Of all the lathe cutting bits I have, the absolute best is a rounded nose which I had custom made.

    I also purchased a quick change tool post on eBay and it is very - very handy.  (Doug Alexander)

    I have a small Grizzly that has worked very well for me for the past 3 years. Give it a look.  (Frank Paul)

    A little machine lathe is not hard to learn at all, it's kind of fun. One of the best introductions was written by a guy named Chris who owns LittleMachineShop.com, a great aftermarket supplier of parts, accy's, upgrades and spare parts, exclusively for the mini lathe, and for the corresponding mini-milling machine of about the same size and price. He has a free, online, basics manual for the lathe, the manual that you wish had come with the machine. There's also an online list just like this one, for mini-lathe junkies. Just as much BS as our list, but also an invaluable source of good advice when you need it. Follow this link to the group on Yahoo.

    If you spend $400 on the lathe, you'll also spend $200-400 more on accessories cutters etc. in the first year, but you can then do all kinds of cool tricks with it, in metal, wood, and cane.

    I lurked the mini lathe list for a while to help me decide on which brand to buy; there's Grizzly, Harbor Freight, and the company with the trailer-based touring sales whose name I can't remember now, are 3 of the most popular. The traveling company has the cheapest, IF you can catch one at the sale and save the freight charge, but that takes some real luck. It seemed to me that Grizzly had a little better consistency in their quality control, than the other two, and I've found them to be champs in service and parts after the sale, so I chose Grizzly. Remember these are cheap, Chinese made machines, not a German watch or an English fly reel. What you purchase can be thought of as a kit, you have to clean it up, tune it, tweak it to get fine results. But fine results most definitely can be made on these lathes.  (Rick Funcik)


I'm a complete metal machine moron.  I know woodworking tools (table saws, routers, etc), but have no lathe/turning experience even in wood.

I just found out that the school where I teach has a small CNC Lathe that never gets used.  It just sits in the drafting room.  I'm assuming that it could be used to turn metal rod parts, I'm especially interested in cap and ring reel seats.  However, I don't even have the necessary vocabulary to ask questions.

What should I ask about this lathe to know if it could be used for rod parts?  What kind of cutters(?) should it have?  Other things?  I wouldn't even have the slightest idea where to start with making a cap and ring style seat, let alone ferrules?  If it will work though, I'd like to make use of this machine that I have access to.

The lathe is a EMCO 5PC.  It's probably about 5-10 year old and has been used very little.  Any help at all from you machine people (lathe basics, questions I should ask, things I might need to buy, how you go about making caps and rings, etc.)  would be greatly appreciated.  Talk small though.  My lathe vocabulary is limited to the work lathe. (Aaron Gaffney)

    We had a small CNC in a machine class, don't know make, but it wouldn't work half the time. If you can get it cheap it might be worth it,  it might be a crap shoot on its working. A picture of it would help determine its abilities.  (Chad Wigham)

      It's not for sale, I can just use it whenever I want.  It does work.  It gets used a little bit (not in the last year I don't think).  I'd take a picture but my digital camera bit the dust.  (Aaron Gaffney)

    I'm sure others will point you to some good, general, machining information so I won't go into that. But the first thing I would do is find out what you need to do to be able to use the shop. At my school some of the shops offer a shop safety and intro class that you need before using anything. Then you need to ask for help as you go and get acquainted with the tools. One of the other shops offers a week long course (I think it's only $200 or so) after which you are allowed to use the shop as you please.

    What I would do is take a fully dimensioned and toleranced drawing into the shop and ask the foreman or whoever may be running it to help you make your part.  (If you'd like, email me off list and I will send you a set of prints for a simple cap and ring seat.)

    The other consideration is unless you are making several of the same thing, or something with complex geometry (curves, etc...) CNC will take you longer than a manual machine.  (Mark Shamburg)

    Is it CNC only, or can the machine be used in the manual mode?  If it's CNC only, yer gonna have to learn G code.  Which means you'll have to learn some kind of CAD drawing, then use a DXF to G Code convertor.  If the machine can be used manually, it's much simpler for you.

    Since it's a CNC machine, I'll assume it uses collets as work holders, since they are more accurate than your typical three jaw chuck.  Does the machine have an automatic tool changer or is it manual?  For the most part, you'll need a cutting tool that cuts towards the headstock, you'll need a cutting tool for facing, and a cutoff tool.  If you want to get fancy, some of the specialty knurling tools are nice, but they are a bit pricey.  Then some sand paper in the finer grits, and a buffing wheel with polishing compound.  Oh yeah, stock to turn...

    Big thing is to get more info on the lathe as to it's capabilities, and what modes it can run in.  (Mark Wendt)


I am researching lathes and milling machines and wondered if anyone has any input on the Smithy 3 in 1 machines. I received a flyer with what appears to be pretty good prices/deals for a package deal. Are they decent machines? I would be using it on a hobbyist level with no professional interest.  (Paul McRoberts)

    How much space do you have?  What do you really want to do with the machines?  The reason I ask is because, like anything else, combination machines do a lot of things, they just don't do them quite as well as dedicated machines.  If you have the space available, it may be better to buy a separate lathe and mill.  With the 3-in-1 machines, if you want to use the mill, and it's set up as a lathe, you have to reconfigure the machine.  If it's set up as a mill, and you want to use it as a lathe, you have to reconfigure the machine.  I looked at the 3-in-1 machines when I was in the market for buying my machines, and decided to go with the dedicated machines, both for the convenience and because I had the room for a mini-late and a mini-mill.  If you lack the room for both,  the 3-in-1 is a good choice.  (Mark Wendt)

      I'm with Mark on this (How scary is THAT, Mark?) I bought a radial arm saw when I set up my shop because it did lots of stuff, but I found very soon that merely changing it over from rip to crosscut got verrry old. Then there was using it to sand and bore. I used that experience to decide I NEVER wanted a Shopsmith, which is the woodworkers' equivalent of the Smithy combo. The problem was that you can't do ALL your ripping, then crosscut, so you're constantly going back and forth, often for one piece. I dunno if that's as likely with metal, but . . .

      Of course, if your funds are limited and it's that or nothing (my sorts were at the time) go for it!  (Art Port)

        I have to agree.  No matter how it's set up, you always want to do one of the other functions.  I finally got a table saw because it was a pain to rip on the radial arm, even with a 7' infeed table and a roller outfeed.  Not switching the saw itself, but the anti kickback gadget I use involves swapping out the fence every time.  I have several other combination tools  (no money 40 years ago) and the same thing.  If my interchangeable drill motor is set up for sanding, I want the saber saw, and if I have the drill head on it I want to sand something, etc.  (Neil Savage)

          After knocking out the headlight of my car (kickback) and taking a shot in the mouth (kickback), both while trying to rip with my radial arm saw, I decided any machine that is advertised as "can do it all" can do nothing well.  I sold that radial arm saw to some garage sale junkie for what I'd paid for it, and bought a Unisaw.  Shop Smith is in the same catagory.  (Tom Key)

            I'll speak in favor of a Shopsmith as a rod building tool.  I have sold off my separate band saw, wood lathe and table saw since inheriting a Shopsmith.  I constantly use the table saw set up with a sanding disc to sand scarfs (I build nodeless), the band saw for cutting out nodes and trimming blanks, and the lathe for turning grips and reel seats.  The only conversions required are removing the saw table and sanding disc, and adding a Jacobs chuck; that requires turning one wheel and one two Allen screws.  I do have a separate drill press, and a small metal lathe for ferrule fitting.  The Shopsmith handles the rod building duties quite well and has a small footprint.  (Bill Lamberson)

              Yeah, but you're talking about the wood working Shopsmith.  The metal working 3-in-1 machine is a whole 'nuther animal.  Critical things like having to tram the milling head every time you set it up, disassembling the milling table and moving it off the machine (it's a heavy bugger), and a host of other things you have to do to convert from milling operations to turning operations and vice versa.  Like I said, it's probably a good machine if you're pressed for space, but if you have the space, I would recommend dedicated machines.  (Mark Wendt)


I need a good source for a hobby machine lathe.  (Tom Key)

    Sherline (Jeff Wagner sells them).

    Also consider a Taig, or Micromark. Lee valley sells Taig lathes, and Micromark is sold by a company I can not remember- they specialize in miniature hobby tools. Someone on the list will know. I love my Sherline and would never part with it.

    I have a 7x12 Cummins lathe and am pretty happy with it. It's a lot less expensive than a Sherline, but right out of the box, probably the Sherline is a lot more accurate. I have made adjustments to it and now everything is pretty darn accurate for my uses, certainly able to make rod components with it. About $400 total.

    Remember that after you get the lathe there will be other tooling you'll have to purchase.  (Ren Monllor)

    If you're considering a Taig, check out Nick Carter's web site, he gives a 10% discount off factory list.  The headstock bore is a bit small if you want to turn a grip on a large rod, but it can be bored out to .500" + OK, you just lose use of some of the accessories.  A second headstock and pulley will solve that.  The Taig is also available unassembled for a savings.  No machining needed, just put it together and lap the ways.  I like my modified Taig, though I would probably not start out boring the headstock unless it was necessary.  Biggest down side is it doesn't have thread cutting ability without making or buying an attachment of some sort.  Usual disclaimers.  (Neil Savage)

    In the UK you find lathes advertised secondhand in local papers every week.  I know this because I need a new one, perhaps two.  (Robin Haywood)


I'm in the market for a metal lathe. I know folks like the South Bend and Craftsman lathes but what about the newer ones, such as Grizzly or the Harbor Freight stuff.  (Jim Lowe)

    Any older US made lathe in decent condition is better than the little Chinese jobs. They are more rigid, and parts are still available. I have used Logans for years. My first Logan is a 10X20, my second, in use now, is an 11X36 and the headstock will take a butt section with the stripper on. Standard 5C collets are readily available if you want super accuracy for turning ferrules. Also there's a user group on the internet. Logan also made the Wards lathes. I prefer Logans and South Bends to the Atlas/Craftsman lathes because the ways are V-shaped instead of flat. They also have power feeds in both x and y axis.  (Steve Weiss)

    If you're considering a Craftsman mini lathe from eBay you have to be careful.  The Craftsman lathes were either made by Atlas or AA Machinery.  The Atlas/Craftsman have flat ways and the AA/Craftsman have vee ways.  I had a AA & hated it.  I finally ended up giving it away just to force myself to go buy a good lathe.  (Ron Larsen)

    After making my living for 20 years as a Furniture maker the Craftsman name name cuts no ice with me.  Far as I'm concerned all there electrical powered stuff was crap.  Routers, table saws etc.  I've never examined a Craftsman metal lathe but I would imagine it's the same.  (Larry Swearingen)

      In many cases I agree with you about the quality of Craftsman tools.  But not when it comes to their lathes, or even their block planes.  One is made by Atlas, the other Stanley.  Both are quite nice.  (Harry Boyd)

        Well, Craftsman tools USED to be pretty good.  I have a "Craftsman Professional" circular saw I've used for 40 years, including building a 27' sail boat and numerous repairs/projects around several houses.  Still works great.  I also have a 1950 era jointer and table saw which are still dead accurate.

        That said,  most of their newer power tools are Chinese.  (Neil Savage)


I am the guy a couple weeks ago that didn't know if he should go look at a lathe because I didn't know if I was ready for one yet. So these are total "newbie to lathe" questions.  Well, you all convinced me I really needed one so well (that was difficult), I am starting to look.

  • I am wondering if the old benchtop lathes from the 50's and 60's are capable of making ferrules?
  • I noticed some have 24" beds, on down to 10" beds.  Will that affect the ability to make ferrules?
  • Some names I have seen; Atlas, Sears, Dunlop, any brand better than any other? Any brands to avoid?
  • What are "deal breakers" when I go to look at a lathe?  I would think replacing a motor would be easy, so what are some red flags?  (John Wagner)

I have a Sears "Craftsman" of that vintage. It is interesting to note that the "Craftsman lathe operations manual" that came with it is printed by "Atlas" and shows Atlas lathes in it as well. I assume that the Craftsman was made by Atlas.  Craftsman tools were made to  much standards back.  It certainly will make quality ferrules, it's a great lathe.  (Don Green)

      I have a 6x18 40's vintage, the only thing I had to do to get it to run true, was change a bearing. I had it checked out by a very good machinist and he deemed it dead on. Parts are readily available, so go for it you wont be sorry.  (Larry Downey)

      The Craftsman lathes that start with model # 101 are made by Atlas. Sears also sold lathes and other tools made by South Bend and others.

      I recently picked up an Atlas Craftsman 12 X 36.  It's probably much larger than I need. (54" bed).  I'm thinking of trading down for a smaller one.  (John Dotson)

    Well, for one thing if you have  a choice go for Atlas or Craftsman.  Dunlop was Sears "cheap" line way back.  That said, I have a Dunlop table saw that is better than most anything made today for less than $5000.  (Neil Savage)

    I have an Atlas made Craftsman 7x20 lathe.  It's a 1973 model, and I purchased it nearly new from another rodmaker in 1999 or 2000.  Total price, including 3-jaw chuck, tooling, all the extra gears for threading, speed changes, etc. was, I think, $450.  The 20" bed makes working on normal sized cork grips a breeze.  It works quite well for making ferrules and reel seats, as well as many of the other chores required in making bamboo rods.  The chief drawbacks are that the hole thru the headstock is rather small, about .400, and the speeds are changed only by changing gears and pulleys.  None of that cannot be worked around, but it is sometimes inconvenient.

    With the change gear I can make it creep along with tremendous torque.  Without it, I can spin things as fast as most wood lathes.  Wish I had some convenient pictures, but I don't.  It's the green one, with the squareish plastic cover over the gears and pulleys.  (Harry Boyd)

Add Logan and South Bend to those names, they are probably better lathes than the Sears, which were made by Atlas.  (Steve Weiss)

    Atlas and South Bend, though old, are pretty easy to get parts for.  In fact, that was a deciding factor for me in buying a used 9" South Bend Model A (quick change gear box, you just move external levers) over any of the current imports.  And South Bend will rebuild 'em if you wish.  Another old brand with good support is Logan. Scott Logan is pretty easily found on the Internet and answers anyone's questions about any lathe, if he can.  (George Bourke)

    My suggestion here is buy a bigger lathe than you think you'll ever need as there's always something popping up you'll wish you had a bigger lathe for.

    I have a Unimat lathe and milling machine that works great for small stuff and someday soon will probably be used for ferrules.

    If you look at eBay you will notice there are probably more parts available for the South Bend 9 series lathes than any other lathe type. From my perspective that's a big plus knowing there are a lot of parts out there.

    If you decide to go the South Bend route, try to find a low mileage machine as the ways on the SB9's are soft and wear with age. If you move up to a heavy 10 you get a larger spindle bore 1 3/8" and flame hardened ways. They are a lot more expensive and generally are about the largest lathe in the "benchtop" class.  (Kurt Wolko)


Speaking of lathes, we have had a lot of discussion here about the lower end Chinese lathes. Does anyone know anything about the Jet 9 x 20, which is a higher end unit with some nice looking features?  (Tom Smithwick)

    I have the same lathe made for Enco. Grizzly and Harbor Freight parts all fit it.

    Most features are good but I find some features missing though I made several modifications. I think you can find one of my modifications on the 9X20 web site. It consisted of a plate and lever and some gears to reverse the lead screw and put it in neutral.

    The Enco has a bigger motor than the Grizzly or the Harbor Freight. It can be run on 120 or 220 It is the same motor that the Jet has. At that time, Enco was a few hundred dollars less than the Jet. It did not have a splash shield but I got one from Harbor Freight for about 40.00 and installed it with no problem. The Jet may have all metal gears now or it might still have a plastic lead screw gear so that if it locks up, it will strip the gear instead of breaking something else. I got some of the extra parts I needed for the modifications from Grizzly and Harbor Freight. I Find I use my smaller 7X12 Homier more than I use the 9X20 but it is nice to have a larger lathe when you need it.  (Tony Spezio)

    Grizzly sells the same lathe called 9"x19" Mod G4000 for $825. I got the next size up, 10X22 G0602 & they are very nice machines for the $995 price.  (Chad Wigham)


Old subject revisited. I have decided to purchase a mini-lathe (Tax Return burning a hole in my pocket, SHMBO says). I have settled, almost, on the Cummins (now ToolsNow) 7x12. Buy before I commit, I would like to ask those on the list if the extra 2" of work length on the Micromark 7x14 worth the extra money? Do I really need 7x14 Vs. 7x12?  (Chuck Pickering)

    IMHO, 12" bed is plenty for rodmaking.  Before you commit, think about other projects you might possibly want to do on a lathe.  After you have one, you will think up a bunch of other things to use it for.  Also, tooling is going to cost you more in the long run than the lathe so if you think you might want the extra 2", go ahead and get it now.  (Neil Savage)

      And then before you know it, you'll have a 11X24 Logan, a 6X18 Craftsman/Atlas, and a 9X19 Grizz! But, you sold your 7X12 Cummins, which is a really good size for rodmakers!!  (David Dziadosz)

    If you are going to use reamers in some future projects I'd get the 14. By the time you mount a long nose live center, 4" 3 jaw or a 4" 4 jaw & a large drill chuck there isn't much distance left between centers. I'd also consider a quick change tool post and a quick clamp tail stock. By the time you get done you will spend as much or more for the tooling as you did for the lathe. Do you need all the above to start? No but if you are like most, you will.  (Don Schneider)

    There may be some other differences besides the additional 2".  This comparison chart may help you decide.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    A few things you will find about a lathe.

    • The hole in the head stock will be too small.
    • The swing will be just shy.
    • The bed will be too short.

    Fact of life.

    Check out this 18" cork grip being turned in a lathe.

    Drake, Jerry Cork

    (Jerry Drake)


Unfortunately, the Taig isn't enough machine to do ferrules according to many, so what is next?  I see there is a mini lathe (7x10/12) that is used, and that is sold under many different brands.  Anyone purchase one lately that was decently priced $500 or less price?  (Louis DeVos)

    I make ferrules on my Taig.  I like to think that I make them quite successfully with my Taig.  I turn them from silicon bronze and it handles the load just fine.  Don't underestimate the capabilities of the taig lathe.  I am currently switching my lathe over to partial CNC with steppe motors controlling the carriage travel in both the x and y axis with speed measured off the spindle.  This will allow me to do complex thread cutting.  I like my little Taig and wouldn't part with it.  It can handle most rod sizes inserted thru the spindle bore so that I can turn ferrule stations and reel seat stations but I bored the spindle head out and it can now handle some of the larger 8wt and up butt dimensions. 

    After I am done with my lathe it goes into storage out of the way and doesn't consume any workbench tops.

    I even use my lathe for some milling activities with a shop made milling vise and carriage.  That's how versatile this little machine can be.

    There are lots of good web pages out there showing the capabilities,  modifications and projects created on the Taig lathe.

    These are just my experiences with the lathe.  Take it with a grain of salt and make up your own mind.  In the end you are the one who has to be happy with your decision.  (Ron Elder)

      I can't imagine why a Taig won't turn ferrules.  If it couldn't do that, it wouldn't do much of anything else.  I wonder what motor the folks who say "it isn't powerful enough" are using?   I had an old electric dryer motor on mine until I upgraded to variable speed DC.  I've turned a fair amount of brass with no trouble, just haven't tried ferrules yet.  (Neil Savage)

    You might try Grizzly for one of their small metal lathes - about $500.  I have one and it does well for what I need with metal and wood. I also have a wood lathe for doing cork grips.  (Frank Paul)

    You might try a good used or new Sherline. It is a great little lathe.  (Gary Williams)

    Personally, I went with a Cummins and really like it.  Though all these Chinese lathes are basically the same - the Cummins comes with more extra goodies.  Some places they have a truck sale that comes around periodically.  You can find out the monthly schedule by calling Cummins.  One thing to be aware of is the the Harbor Freight 7X10 is really only 7X8.

    If you go to the Little Machine Shop web site they have a comparison table contrasting the different chinese lathes.  The other day I noticed that they also now have a "Newbie" package deal which offers Quick Change Tool Post, Indexable bits, and keyed TS chuck for about $30 less than sold separately.  Some important extras you will want for your new "Erector Set."  Tell them Wendt sent you - he's their biggest addict.  (Darrol Groth)

    Not sure why the Taig won't turn ferrules but this is what I have.

    The best bang for the buck has been cummins.  It comes with more standard that others charge $100 extra for and it's a 7x12.

    I know absolutely nothing about lathes.  Is a Taig better or not as good as a Sherline?  Do either of them stack up to the Chinese mini-lathes?  I'd like to buy American if I ever buy a lathe, but I don't want to suffer for this preference.  I'm not really in the market for a lathe right now, I'm just curious.  (Hal Manas)

      It's going to depend on what you want to do with it and as to how exacting a person you are.  I own a Chinese lathe and can tell you that my lathe cuts "DEAD ON" every time. I had to make adjustment to do that and there's plenty of info on the net as to how to do it, so it's really up to what lengths you are willing to go for precision.

      Sherline makes a great lathe, as I'm sure, so does Taig. I also so own a stand alone Smithy and it too is accurate as hell. But it's only because I adjusted it to do so.

      Bottom line is, what lengths are you willing to go to.  (Ren Monllor)

    I’m afraid I must beg to differ as to whether a Taig lathe is enough machine to handle making ferrules.  I have both a Taig and a Sherline, and between the two of them, I have made upwards of 3 dozen sets of ferrules, both brass and nickel silver.  (David Spangler)

    I have used my Taig lathe for turning cork grips and wood reel seats on a regular basis, as well as some custom reel seat hardware for 18 years. If you want to do production machining, then I  think the Taig is undersized. I have made the turning mandrels for grips and seats from threaded bar stock. There is a lot of tooling available, as well as a computer control for the lathe. (Ed Miller)

    The big issue with the Taig lathe is that it is harder to bore with the tailstock. On a Sherline (or any of the mini-lathes) you can advance the tailstock by turning a handwheel. You have a lot of control.  On a Taig you advance it using a lever- much less control. I think that the handwheel feature wins hands down, although my second lathe was a Taig and I used it with success. My first lathe was a weird valve grinding machine- I still have it and use it now and then for reshaping grips that turned out too weird for my taste. The Taig will allow you to make rods (ferruling, grips, etc.), the other mini-lathes will let you machine parts AND make rods. At least more easily.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


So far in my brief rod making history, I have bought my reel seat hardware and turned my cork handles on a hand drill and all thread.  I would like to upgrade to a small lathe and was looking at a TurnCrafter at PSI.

The first questions is will this lathe be suitable?  I know that I should buy the biggest and best lathe that I can afford but money and space are limited.  The second question is what else would I NEED to turn the grips and inserts?  I’m looking for suggestions like mandrels, Jacobs chucks, 3 or 4 jaw chucks, chisels, etc but only what I really need to get my feet wet.  (Greg Reeves)

    I would think that the lathe would work just fine making grips and polishing ferrules but I am doubtful about it's ability to make reel seat hardware, for that you would need a metal lathe. As for accessories I would recommend a 3-jaw chuck, so that you can hold a bamboo rod blank, and a bed extension. I have a similar looking Jet lathe and use it regularly.  If you do buy it let me know and I would be happy to send you some photos of some wood lathe accessories that I made for rod making that you can make yourself.  (Don Green)

    I have used this lathe for ten years and found it ideal for cork grips, reel seats and turning blanks for mounting ferules. Minimum accessories would be a self centering three jaw chuck, a live center for the tailstock and a 3/8 " drill chuck for the tailstock.  (Bill Jette)

      Add to that a standard set of chisels, at least a gouge and a skew.  Cork you turn with sandpaper, but inserts need a sharp edge.  Two mandrels would also come in handy, a 1/4" mandrel for grips and a 3/8" for the reel seats.  Of course you would also need a 1/4" and a 3/8" drill, but you can get them anywhere.  You will also need a set of calipers but then you may already have them.  (Paul Gruver)

        I like to turn my grips on the rod. Is there any possibility for drilling out the head stock or live tail stock?  (Doug Easton)

          Not recommended.  If the headstock doesn't come with a through hole, it's not practical to have it done for your, although you could pay a machine shop to bore it out.  The cost of setup would be more than the difference in cost of a better quality lathe.  Morse Taper head stocks usually have a through hole but the detailed specs should tell that.

          My lathe is old and has a solid threaded head stock and tail stock ram.  I turn my grips and reel seats of mandrels.  (Paul Gruver)

            Having been a wood turner for 20 years now, I would like to add my $0.02 worth to this.

            Through hole spindles and tailstock quills are NOT essential for doing what you propose. However, at least for the spindle, it is money well spent to have one with a through hole. As Paul said, it will cost more to have a professional machinist, who knows what he is doing, bore it out than it will be to buy a lathe that is pre-bored. Be sure that the quill also accepts a Morse taper, and that the quill and spindle tapers are the same. This allows using the same Jacobs chuck at either end of the lathe, as sooner or later you will want one at the headstock for a specific task (don't ask how I learned this!).

            For doing wood inserts, you only need a couple of spindle gouges, 1/4 & 1/2 inch, and a good parting tool. I can highly recommend the Chris Stott "superThin" parting tool (no financial interest). A skew is a handy tool to have, but is not essential. Moreover, they are difficult to learn to properly use; unless you want to learn how to have a "catch" in three nanoseconds or less (do you have a wood burning fireplace or stove?).

            You can make your own mandrels from all-thread rod, a couple of washers and nuts; all of which are readily available at your local hardware or big box store. I would also strongly encourage you to invest in a set (5 sizes) of "centering bits". These bits are used to drill a 60 degree depression into the ends of the all-thread mandrels to insure self centering at the tailstock end. (You will need a "live" tailstock center, although a "dead" center will work; it just needs to be oiled every time it is used. Whereas the 'live" center employs ball bearings.) You slip a thin piece of either aluminum or brass tubing over the all-thread to provide a smooth continuous surface to support the cork or wood blank. Just be sure that it is slightly shorter then the finished product (i.e., insert or handle) to facilitate a tight compression fir between the nuts. This is essential to prevent the stock fro spinning on the mandrel.

            Make sure your chuck for the headstock is self-centering; three or four jaw; both work quite well.

            Just remember, woodturning is also addictive!!!  (Frank Schlicht)

    I've heard to get one bigger than you think you'll ever need or use. It will eventually pay for itself. Price wise a Homier Speedway 7X12 ain't much more than that one in your link. You'll never be sorry for it. Does the one in your link have a hole through the spindle?

    My first rod turner is a homemade thing. I used a set of 3/4" pillow block bearings, with real bushings, not bearings! I got a coworker to turn a hollow shaft from pipe to fit a Jacobs drill chuck. A 1/4 hp motor. A homemade tail stock. I've turned a lot of grips (on rods) and a lot of reel seat inserts and ferrule stations. I still use it for cork. Now I have 3 lathes and a milling machine.  (David Dziadosz)

    I tend to get windy and if this doesn't interest you just delete the message ...

    I own two (a 7 x 12 and a 10 x 18 with a 21" bed extension) wood lathes and a Cummins 7 x 12 metal mini-lathe.  I got the metal lathe in hopes someday I'd be able to make a bamboo rods and hardware and the smaller wood lathe is primarily used just for grips.

    Greg ... you've been getting some good advise ... As for this particular lathe I have a good friend who owns this particular one that he uses for making pens and he fondly refers to it as his "POS" lathe as he's not happy with it.

    Another friend uses this lathe for inserts and grips and he has the $45 bed extension and found that he needed the extension for grips and he loves it.

    Now I know very little but this pea-brain mind of mine thinks it does.

    I know that I should buy the biggest and best lathe that I can afford but money and space are limited.

    Something to consider are these two metal lathes that have very good recommendations and this one is an 8 x 12 metal lathe.

    With a 20% off coupons that are readily available this is an attractive option.

    The second question is what else would I NEED to turn the grips and inserts?  I’m looking for suggestions like mandrels, Jacobs chucks, 3 or > 4 jaw chucks, chisels, etc but only what I really need to get my feet wet.

    If you want to do hardware then it's the metal lathes and they come with the 3 jaw chuck, live and dead center.  You'd need an MT2 Jacob Chuck.

    Mandrels you can make yourself.  Some use allthread rod others buy mandrels.  I opted to make my own as I'm cheap and broke but some doctors are living well.

    I bought some tool steel  (1/4" and 3/8") material from Fastenal and used a number 4 center drill on both ends so that the live center will ride in this.

    I then took a piece of 1" x 1" x 4" hard maple and turned it round so it would mount easily in the 3 jaw chuck.

    I put a reference mark where the #1 jaw was so I could put it in the 3 jaw chuck the same way every time.  I then drilled a 1/4" hole in the center of that piece of maple.

    I now just take the mandrel and slide it into the 1/4" hole of the maple block and then mount my cork and then I use a drill stop that has a set screw that I slide on.  Slide the tail stock up to the mandrel, put the live center in the mandrel and tighten up the TS just tight enough for the cork not to slip when you sand to shape.  Fast, easy and accurate.

    I liked this so well I now use  a Slip Mandrel with a MT2 taper.

    For reel seats I just turn between centers.  A Dead Center in the headstock and a Live Center (a quality one can be had from Grizzly) in the Tail Stock with the insert between them.

    I made some test bushing out  of brass and used some oak dowel.

    Hossack, Ron Brass Bushing

    This worked so well I now have a set out of tool steel now.

    Hossack, Ron Tool Steel Busing

    This is how I mount them ... 8" Burl Wood Turned Between Centers.

    Hossack, Ron Mounted

    As far as chisels go read some wood working forums and you will find some good reviews from folks that own these.

    I own this set and while I've upgraded (more expensive) my roughing gouge  and a  spindle gouge  these probably are used 90% of the time by me.

    I also use a set of ER32 Collets a lot for real accuracy.  (Ron Hossack)


I need an inexpensive lathe to complete the various tasks such as turning grips, and ferrule plugs. I do not know what I need to do the aforementioned tasks. Can someone recommend one for me. I found a Dremel lathe for about 50$ but I do not know if it will do the job. Someone please help!  (Zac Denton)

    Here is a simple setup I came up with  for turning grips.  (Mike McGuire)

    Well for grips and for even dressing a male ferrule I use a pillar drill.  I mount my glued cork rings on a mandrel, place the end on the mandrel in the chuck and turn the speed of the pillar drill up high.  Using various grades of sandpaper to get the finish you want, it works pretty well.

    I dressed my last ferrule this way as well, mounting the ferrule on an off-cut piece of rod in the chuck.

    If you can cope with a vertical mounted piece of work instead of horizontal as on a lathe, then it seems to work pretty much the same, it can be used for other things and they can be pick up cheap.  (Nick Brett)

      I did a similar thing. I built a cradle for my bench top drill press and laid in down. I turned the RPMs to the lowest, though.   (Timothy Troester)


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