By: Web Editor
I took a lot of time deciding what size I wanted, and this is the most important point – it’s too late once you have made your purchase. Talk to someone who already has one if you can.
There are a lot of small hobby/model lathes about and if you want to make small bolts then they are ideal, but they cannot cope with anything else. A wheel spindle is about nine inches long so you need about 12in centres to make one. I bought a second-hand lathe and it has 33⁄4in swing and 25in bed. This actually gives about 14in from the face of the chuck to the face of the tailstock and is just right.
It is also important to look at quality, because just like hand tools there are a lot of cheap imports and you only get what you pay for.
Finally, you mention screwcutting, and without getting involved with change gears and lead screws, very good threads can be produced with taps and dies. Insert the tap into the tailstock chuck or a die into a die holder (trapped against the tailstock to keep it square) and simply turn the chuck by hand.
John Goulden, Warwickshire