Recommendations for a metal lathe, single phase

I’ve pushed the limits of my available shop tools in my 1900 Cottrell flatbed cylinder press restoration.

It’s time to get a metal lathe, 110 or 220v, single phase.

What are the best recommendations for metal lathes based on experience of printers who have them?

Also, which brands have the best accessories?

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Lathes are really fun tools. You need to decide if you actually need one though. I assume by your post, you have made this decision. I would stay away from these crappy little ones at “Harbor Freight” and the like. Get one that seems way too big for your needs. As with a press, you don’t want to be maxing it out. Jet would be an okay starter brand. go to a company like “MSC” or “Grizzley” to shop for others.
As for accessories, they are what you purchase.
I found mine on Craig’s list, A huge old “Monarch” for $1200.00 with about $800.00 into cutting bits and tool holders.

Supply, Demand and availability may be Your governing factors, but from a long learning curve (authors) items to be on the lookout for, Here U.K. and presumably U.S. basic Lathes are generally *basic* with very few attachments or accessories, follows a cross section of attachments etc. that have been acquired (authors) as/when.

Here U.K. most lathes (with the exception of Vintage) generally follow fairly universal methods for fittings etc.
Morse Taper drills, for the tail-stock,whether Imperial OR Metric, are completely compatible with Morse Taper adaptors, for drilling or centre popping machine-able steel Rod for forme roller shafts, for re-covering etc.

Acquisition of 3 Jaw self centering chuck WITH jaws that grip >externally< for machinable rod etc., and grip >internally<. for pulleys, cogs, sprockets.

Ditto for Face-plate, for skimming Ink Discs etc.

Ditto for 4 Jaw independent jaw chuck, only useful if /when machining eccentrics for Throw Off shafts.

All else permitting? M.c. - Lathe- with quick change gearbox for the head/stock, spindle, fairly important, for turning product at different speeds across the range, Brass, Bronze (oil-lite bearing material) Steel, Aluminium, and especially for *Delrin* amazing material for turning >Trucks<

(author) currently turning *trucks* for Adana,s in compound form, Alloy as the base with *Delrin* atop + compound as in Adana,s early 2 Stage height trucks that could/can be reversed.

Again, if possible, set of change wheels/gears to operate the Lead Screw, 2 reasons,

(A) when turning/machining long product, (roller cores etc.) with the ability to drive the lead screw on Auto, rather than stop start by hand, the Finish ends up superb.

(B) With the ability to turn the Lead screw at a specific/dedicated rate, in conjunction with the speed of the Head-stock and Chuck, THREADING, Metric Imperial even odd size, becomes possible. not easy, but challenging for the learning curve. Older Lathes, generally, equipped for Imperial OR Metric, but as here U.K. slightly newer G.P. M.c,s, have a Compound gearwheel assembly that alters the feed rate of the lead screw, as required.!!

(C) If the M/c. is equipped with relevant change wheels/gears to drive the Lead screw in Linear fashion, usually implies that the Cross Slide Tool-post can be rigged to work in Traverse mode, as in, with a face-plate instead of the Chuck, with an Ink Disc mounted on the face plate, Re surfacing gives amazing results.

At the risk of getting thrown off the Forum, more if You need, and Good Luck. Mick. 21/11/`18.


I’ve had a lathe in my shop ever since I’ve had my own shop. If you take the time to learn how to use it well, a good lathe can be a real asset.

The first, and most important thing to think about when buying a lathe is what you want to make with it. That determines everything. Lathes are measured by the length of the bed, which is the maximum length it will handle and by the “swing”, which is the diameter you can turn. Make SURE that your lathe is big enough to turn what you want it to turn. If you want to turn shafts or rollers for your press, make sure your lathe is big enough!

On the other hand, if you make small items like clocks or Kelsey trucks, or fancy knobs , or little bushings then you might want to think about a smaller lathe. I use a Sherline 17” bed lathe for about 90% of my machining….. but I also have an old 24” Myford (a 24B) for bigger stuff.

I LOVE my Sherline. It is a marvel of precision, well supported by the company, and does most of what I want it to do including milling keyways in shafts, cutting small gears, and threading things. I’ve got the milling attachment. But it is small…. maybe too small for most press restoration tasks. That being said, I’d still recommend you spend some time on their website. It’s full of good information.

If I were looking to buy a new larger machine, I think I’d look at “The Little Machine Shop” website. They carry a lot of different machines and accessories. ( ).

As far as “must have” accessories goes: get both a 3 jaw and a 4 jaw chuck, a drill chuck that will fit the tailstock (so you can use straight shanked bits from the local hardware store), a good faceplate, a threading attachment, and a jig for grinding bits. If one is available, I’d recommend milling attachment. It’s not the same as a dedicated milling machine, but it will certainly help you with a lot of tasks.

Whatever you decide to do, do it right. Whatever size or type you decide to buy, get a good one. I had one of the Harbor Freight Chinese machines once…. and hated it.

Just like Mick, I could discuss machining all day long. It is a fascinating subject in it’s own right. After you’ve used one, you’ll wonder how you ever got along before.

j archibald, FYI the old Cottrell Plant in Pawcatuct CT now has a brewery housed in it called the Cottrell Brewing Co.!
best james

W.C.P. Thanks for Your corroboration, Yes I too could discuss lathes around the clock, with just a little Monotype as well.
Amazing piece of equipment, opened so many doors with regard to Printing equipment, but made a few mistakes along the way, by being too proud seek advice, not always possible in the middle of the night.
From late 50,s until early 90,s fortunate in being able to find a smaller (Guy and Girl) around the corner to lean on, usually general purpose Engineers with Lathe, Mill, double ended grinders, power hacksaw, etc.etc.
Then early 90,s the One Man/Girl shops dwindled and the All Singing All Dancing, high tech, Multi million £/$, C.N.C. machines became 10 a Penny, and of course one off smaller jobs for the likes of L/press, Printers and others are a thing of the past, sadly.!

(Author) First lathe was as above, simple (unimat) combined Lathe and Mill, started the learning curve, then onto reasonable semi serious M/c. shop tool, U.K. Boxford learning curve advancing slowly, very slowly, then as now, advanced up to U.K. Colchester Bantam, (Lathe) *below.

*The basis for my crude efforts above.

W.C.P. as You say, >after You have used one etc.< exactly.! Amazing challenge, Fantastic learning curve, without professional back up or teaching, usually, terrific satisfaction on results, but tinged with spectacular failures, as in, sourced a large lump of *Bronze* equivalent NOW of upwards of $90 U.S. dollars.

In theory to re-manufacture a replacement bearing on an English treadle Platen, that has a crank pin incorporated on the main shaft, requiring a Pear Shaped our-rigger bearing housing, that is removable, to enable the crank shaft to be withdrawn.
The Sin and Crime, too enthusiastic, too proud to enlist help and advice, etc., consequence, turned the outside diameter perfectly, bored the inside diameter .005” OVERSIZE, expensive mistake, internal boring is a delicate operation.

Still struggling, with the learning curve, ? even to the extent of grinding up cutting tools with the correct rake and angle for different materials.

J. A. Good Luck, & given the request would be happy to publish, On Line or Off, all of the findings, learning Curves, AND fails, to date.

Listing my failures would read like a Shakespearean tragedy! ;) I once spent an entire day making a mirrored pair of eccentrics with really tight tolerances…. only to learn when I tried to assemble the machine that I’d made two left sides! Yikes!

But…. while there have been some real disasters, there have been more than enough successes to make up for them. Not long ago I found half of a small etching press…. the side frames and bearings but no cross shafts or rollers. Since I’ve got a lathe, it was quite straightforward putting it back into operation. AND since I made both the rollers and cross shafts, I had the opportunity to make it a little narrower to fit perfectly on a stand I already had.

After you’ve had a lathe for a while, you start to develop an “I can build anything” attitude.

W.C.P. Yes, but, (in the authors case) not only a Shakespearean Tragedy, also a *Comedy of Errors* as well.

Ta.! Mick.

the best machinist I know is a guy named Chris, from Clickspring. He has a great video name “which lathe should I buy?”

In it he goes over what to look at, and for when buying a lathe. I’d highly recommend anyone interested in machining to view his video…. and look at his projects on u-tube.

One cautionary note, I ‘found’ a correct diameter rubber roller
from a large commercial litho press being scrapped. So
put back on a lathe, skim out the middle and give me back two rollers the size I wanted. Free. well more or less.
HIdden danger: the shafts were HOLLOW , result one roller up in the air, one OK, and a good deal of bad language from the lathe operator!
Heigh Ho, you live and learn

ok…. but what does this have to do with Buying a lathe?


With Respect, re the *what has this to do with etc.* if the original post is read with open eyes, the enquirer, is seeking Advice, Recommendations and Experiences from L/press, Printer,s Lathe owners, & users.

H.P.s comments would seem to be in the catergory of >Mistakes< to avoid.

Happy Xmas.

if you can find a well treated EMCO V11
or even a V10 its hard to beat the quality and versatility.
Should have adequate tooling as extras get spendy…..

ericm - Thanks for the tips on the Jet, MSC and Grizzley brands. I’ve seen those Monarch lathes show up from time to time. If you have any thoughts about pros or cons for these particular models, I would welcome them.

mick - Thanks for your thoughts on the WCP. I’m looking for recommendations on models so if you have any others that come to mind, please share them.

winking cat press - Thanks for the tip on the Sherline. I have been spending time on its Web site, thanks for that suggestion. I like seeing a model supported by an existing manufacturer. I’ll check out the other link. Thanks, too, for it.

james bourland - The Cottrells have been quite a family, yes?

wascopsc - Wow! Thank you so very much. The EMCO V11’s look like a machine with a wide availability of spare parts - eBay is covered with them. I’ll read up on the V10s.

Thanks to all for your machine suggestions and recommendations on lathes with the best accessories. I do appreciate the time everyone took to reply! :)

Emco would be ok….. just be advised that you want your tools usable on other machines.

Emco does indeed make good lathes, both small and medium sized. My first lathe was an Emco Unimat. It was small, but was a great little machine.

One thing to look at with an Emco is availability of parts and accessories here in the US. They used to be a bit hard to come by…. but nowadays with the Internet, that may have changed.