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Rule

Wondered if anyone is using a Sherline 4400 series lathe.  If so, did you mount it on a board for portability or on your bench? Next, how have you found it for turning reel seats and grips?  (Dewey Hildebrand)

    I put mine on a piece of maple hardwood, 3/4" thick an just a couple of inches wider on each side and about 4 inches longer then the ends. It's very stable. The trick is to glue some foam on the bottom of the base, like dense carpet pad or stuff you use for routing pad and see in the woodworking catalogs, it dampens vibrations and keeps it in place. Then it can be moved out of the way when not in use, and slid around where it works best for your lighting or supports for blank ends. The base was big enough on the backside to attach a rack and drill some holes and stick the allen wrenches, chuck rods, live center, drill chuck, etc in, for convenient storage. On the front side I made a quick attach for holding the vac hose when needed [one of those oversize handle clips,  like used in your garage for rakes & brooms]. It's great for turning cork & reelseat inserts, haven't done metal work with it yet, but can't see any drawbacks.  (Chad Wigham)

      If you really want to deaden vibrations, use a sheet of Sorbothane underneath.  (I use this for an audio turntable to reduce vibration.  If I remember correctly,  I got  the sheet  of Sorbothane from McMaster-Carr.  (George Bourke)

    I have one, and I like it a lot. I have it on a board to store under the bench when not in use. I also have the DRO kit. It is great for grips, and a bit undersized for ferrules, in my opinion. But, it works. It is a good all around lathe, but looking back, I may have wanted the $850 JET instead.  (Bob Maulucci)

Rule

I'm about to purchase a metal working benchtop lathe and I have been looking at the Sherline Model 4400. This model has 17" between centers. If anyone has experience with this lathe I have a few questions: Is it worth it to get the digital readout? The package I am looking at is B this includes a 3 jaw chuck, tailstock chuck, steady rest, live center, cutoff tool & holder, 3 piece HSS cutting tool set & 3 piece center drill set. I don't need the thread turning capabilities right now because I will only be making ferrules, plugs, cap and ring hardware. Is there anything I am missing here. I know I might have to purchase a few more cutting tools but I can get them locally at MSC. If there is any add on items I should get from Sherline please let me know.  (Jeff Fultz)

    I've never used that lathe but I have used digital readouts.  My advice is to consider it a MUST HAVE item as it saves so much time and makes turning (or milling, in the case of a mill) SO much more enjoyable.  Do make sure the the DRO has both absolute and relative modes (with relative, you can set "zero" to be wherever you wish).  (George Bourke)

    I have one, love it, and the extra space will spoil you fast. By the way, Jeff Wagner sells them, and Bob Maulucci sell accessories. Get your cutting tools at Nick Carter's Taig lathe pages. Great cutting tools at good prices.

    I disagree with the need for a digital readout- Just watch how things are working, and adjust accordingly. Although a digital readout might allow you to replicate cutting speeds for speed and efficiency. You can get by without one. But it would probably add to the fun.

    I am a tremendous fan of the Sherline, and can't say enough good things about them.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I have that exact lathe and the DRO packet (which I almost never use save for the speed indicator). In hindsight, the lathe works well, but I would spend money on a Jet or equivalent lathe if you want to make ferrules and reel seat hardware. The Sherline is a fantastic small stuff lathe, but after using Joe Perrigo's big Jet ($1000ish in price), the Sherline looked like a toy. I have made ferrules and turned many ferrule stations and pens on the Sherline, but I would say that I have spent well in excess of $1000 on all the accessories I have, and I would have been a lot happier to have the Jet. I never realized what I was missing until a few weeks ago when I brought a rod over to Joe's to turn stations when my shop was down for remodeling. I have always been a huge Sherline fan up until using a bigger lathe. I have used my Sherline for over 4 years with great success, but it is not as wonderful to me now that I have seen the other option.  The Jet was just so much more rigid and easy to use. The metal lathes are also much more compatible with after market cutters and such. For the little bit more you would spend you would get much more promising features  if you ever did decide to use them. You may have good results with the small Homier or harbor Freight lathe as well.

    If I had a small apartment shop, I might stick with the Sherline, but if not, the larger metal lathes are a much better rodmaking purchase. I am so serious, I would sell you mine just to prove that I ain't joking. I am dead set on getting a big lathe around here soon.  (Bob Maulucci)

    While Sherline makes an excellent product, for rodmaking it is not a good choice for making ferrules. The machine is too light, has no power feed and is not the first choice when boring into nickel silver.  Check out Little Machine Shop and mini-lathe.com for info on other lathes.  (Adam Vigil)

      I have to agree with Adam on this.

      I personally would go with the Homier 7X12, (300.00) a live center, (18.00) and a set of cutters like Micro Mark sells, (25.00) a scissors type knurling tool, (30.00) total of about 400.00. All accessories are readily available for the 7X12.

      I really don't think you need a steady rest, have not used mine in the two years I have had the 7X12 or the four years I have had the 9X20. They are 28.00 if you decide you need one. The lathe comes with a three jaw chuck, change gears for cutting threads, chip and splash pan, two dead centers and wrenches, power feed.

      You can get a DRO for the lathe but I don't think it is necessary I have the Homier 7X12 along with a Enco 9X20. I find I use the Homier more than I use the Enco. The 7X12 will do what you need to do as far as making rods. The power feed is VERY helpful in getting a smooth final finish on the metal.  (Tony Spezio)

Rule

Why would one NOT buy a Sherline 4400 for rodmaking?  Is there something that you would buy over that one? 

I'm going to be making ferrules and reel seats and turning cork and the other more minor tasks of rodmaking.  Basically, I ain't making engines with the thing!  (Joe West)

    I've been using a Sherline for the last 4-5 years, after having a really crappy lathe.   I agree with all the comments made earlier.  I really can't compare it with other high end small lathes, but can comment on my experience.   I see some of the advantages as: very accurate (IE: quality tool); runs quietly; excellent variable speed control; good selection of tools and great instructions from the web site that I find very helpful as I was and am new to machining.   It does routine rod building work easily.   I do see some disadvantages:  it's not made for hogging off material or doing so quickly - as I only make at most 2-3 cap and ring reel seats per year this is not much of an issue, but it is a slow process;  if you wish to build large diameter rods (like spey rods) anything greater than about .40 inches in diameter will not fit thru the headstock (so I have to "borrow" another lathe to fit ferrules on larger rods or turn grips), but for trout rods it's fine. Hope that helps. 

    I imagine some of the machinists will have other comments.   (Bob Milardo)

    My Sherline 4400 does all those things and more. It makes ferrules and reel seat hardware as well. I see a lot of discussion on lathes and I always wanted to say it is not the lathe but the machinist that makes the objects. Most lathes mentioned here would work for your purposes. Would some be easier to learn? Yes. I think you would find the Sherline one of the easiest to turn reel seats and cork. I wish I had considered the Mill - it would have been easier to put the hole in the reel seat.  (Rich McGaughey)

      The Sherline will do what you want to do but you always find that you want to do something else with a metal lathe. There will come a day that you will want to cut threads.

      I personally would get a 7X12 or a 7X14. One thing. is the cost of the initial lathe. My 7X12 came out of the box almost right on for a cost of 299.99 plus 34.00 shipping. It would not of needed any tweaking for rod making but I have to have things like I want them (too many years around airplanes). All it took to get it "right on" was a slip of Band Aid paper between the chuck and face plate.

      The big thing is the tooling, You can adapt just about any tooling to a 7X12 or 14 for a lot less that the Sherline tooling. There is more tooling available also.

      What really matters is what you will be happy with, If you feel that a Chinese lathe will not satisfy you and you have to have the Sherline, then by all means get it.

      I am fortunate to have three lathes and I use them all for rodmaking. The 7X12 is used the most.  (Tony Spezio)

    I own a Taig and it does all of the things that you want to do, but I had to put a lot of work into getting it there.   Not too expensive, but it requires some modifications. 

    If you want to buy a lathe that is ready to go and has a lot of accessories, than get the Sherline.  The only caveat here is that the Sherline prices for tooling are fairly expensive.  It is ready to go, accurate right out of the box, but you may be limited to their style of tooling. 

    If you want a lathe that is more robust and you can spend some time getting it accurate, then get a 7 x 12 .  Check out Little Machine Shop for comparisons and parts.  I don't think they sell the lathes themselves, but they stock all of the parts.

    You can go much bigger than the three I mentioned, but size might be an issue.

    Remember one thing about lathes and metal working machines in general.  The machine is the cheap part, it's the tooling that is expensive.  While you may have $600 in a lathe e.g. Sherline, you might have double or triple in tooling by the time you buy various chucks, collets, cutters etc.   

    To answer your question, the Sherline will be fine and it will do all of the things you wanted.  (Mark Babiy)

      Actually, remember something else, too.

      These things are small and nifty looking (I have the Taig micro), but they are  NOT  toys.   They  all  are  capable  of  harming  you  to  a not-so-nice extent.  (Carl DiNardo)

    Just as an FYI, you can order the Sherline with a larger diameter hole in the headstock if that is a concern.

    I have a 4400 and think it works well for this. I am not very lathe experienced, but this one seems to do all that I need it to do well.  (Dewey Hildebrand)

    Another issue with the Sherline is that I have heard of very few problems with them- they tend to work right out of the box.  If you go through the archives and listservs for mini lathe groups, you constantly see comments like "Wow, the service department at ______ was great! The missing lead screw arrived in only 3 days! And the tailstock jiggery-pokery block was off only by 3 thousandths! All I had to do was machine the Birkenstock shaft pulley cross key widget and it's now right on! "

    The reality is that some of the imports may need tuning up to be useful for really fine work and you need to know something about lathes to do that successfully. And it is tough to know what accessories to buy that will fit your lathe. The metalworking catalogs have very little useful information to a new machinist. The Sherline has online instructions and a good user manual. But you do pay a price; the tooling is more expensive.

    I recommend the Sherline to rodmakers without machining experience, and folks who might want to focus on rodmaking rather than in-depth machining issues. It works, and even if you graduate to a larger lathe you are very unlikely to want to sell it.

    But be sure to buy the long-bed version.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I got the 4400 Sherline when I first started and at a few hundred $ less than they are now, and it's great for most of the work done in making rods. One main problem is the spindle size of just under 1/2", which limits getting a large butt close to the chuck for turning the reelseat area. I'm looking for another mini lathe that will handle more machining aspects, threading etc., but will keep the 4400 as it will still be a useful tool. The newer 7x14s look like a way to go on a first lathe.  (Chad Wigham)

Rule

I've decided to take the plunge on a lathe and will probably go with the Sherline 4400c package. Does any one have any input as to where the best price can be found?

Also, I'd appreciate any suggestions for attachments not included in the package and if the milling attachment is a good idea.

I'll be using it just for rodmaking (and maybe an attempt at a simple reel- just for fun).  (Mike Givney)

    1. The live center. You gotta have a live center.

    2. The rear mounted cutoff tool post and blade.

    3. A steady rest. Very cool when you are working with tubing or longer stock.

    4. The cute little T-wrench. All allen wrenches look alike, and I can find it on my bench.

    5. A pair of safety glasses that you will be wearing every time the lathe is switched on.  I am serious.  Not a  Sherline accessory...

    Get your cutting tools from Nick Carter at Nick Carter's Taig lathe pages. Cheap and excellent quality. His boring bar is way better than Sherlines.

    Two things I got that I did not like:

    1. The knurling tool. I have never gotten consistent results. I keep the reel seat simple, or just cut a few bands if I want something fancy.

    2. Tabletop machining book. you can get any instructions you need from their website. The book is cluttered with Sherline history and scale model projects that were of no interest  to me.

    I got my lathe from Jeff Wagner at Wagnerrods.com. I saved some money, and Jeff is very nice about answering questions about tools you buy from him. I have called him a couple times when I had trouble figuring something out, and he or his wife were very helpful.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I have the Harbor Freight Mini Lathe. I love it but I would not recommend you buy it.  First of all they put it on sale for about three and a quarter or less so this price is too high. Secondly the bed is too short.

    I recommend you go to littlemachineshop.com and read what they have to say; very helpful, instructive and informative. They do sell an bed extension for the Harbor Freight if you want to spend the money and they have great quality stuff, competitive prices etc. (insert the usual blah blah  "no personal connection etc.")  (Dick Steinbach)

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