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Old 07-23-2010, 02:06 AM   #1
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I realize that this is a question that has been asked a million times, but can someone tell me what would be a good minimum size lathe for gunsmithing? Any info would be helpful

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Old 07-23-2010, 05:15 AM   #2
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A 12x36 or 13x40 is probably the ideal. I've been using lathes of either size for gunsmithing work for over 30 years and they are just fine. An 18x60 I used for a while was OK in many respects but was too large and cumbersome for chambering. GD

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Old 07-23-2010, 10:44 AM   #3
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Hey greydog, what do you do while gunsmithing that you need a 13" swing?

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Old 07-23-2010, 02:14 PM   #4
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I agree with greydog on the size. The thing is you don't need that much swing but usually when you choose the length center to center then the lathe is made with that much swing. A 36" is big enough for anything I need to do.

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Old 07-23-2010, 02:24 PM   #5
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A 13" swing also gives you a rigid headstock with a relatively large spindle bore. A large spindle bore allows you to work with a large diameter barrel through the tailstock. In addition, the larger the machine, the more rigid it is likely to be. This is a real benefit when contouring barrels, for instance. GD

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Old 07-23-2010, 02:45 PM   #6
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Not trying to hi-jack this thread but do you guys see that you need a lathe or a mill more?

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Old 07-23-2010, 02:45 PM   #7
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OK, I can understand wanting the larger lathe for it's beefiness and length. I couldn't picture anything gun related needing that much swing.

I can't speak for them but in my experience having access to both a lathe and mill, the lathe gets used much more frequently then the mill. Don't get me wrong, when you need a mill, you need it but the lathe sees more action.

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Old 07-23-2010, 05:01 PM   #8
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Thank you for the replies everyone. I'm just getting started in the gunsmithing field and want to make good choices in buying my equipment. Does anyone have an opinion on combo machines? (lathe/mill)

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Old 07-23-2010, 05:16 PM   #9
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My experience with machines designed to do two or more things well, is that they don't do much of anything very well. Besides, the decent looking ones (Smithy) cost too much. Harbor Freight makes some real cheap & crappy ones...

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Old 07-23-2010, 09:22 PM   #10
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You can mill things with a lathe but you can't turn things with a mill. This is not entirely true of course but it's true enough. With an inexpensive milling attachment for the lathe, one can do a respectable job of milling as long as cuts are light and the jobs small. For instance, sight dovetails and extractor cuts are easily done with a milling attachment on the lathe. GD

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