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Jeff Krieger

mini lathe recommendation for making buttons

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If you're just talking buttons, anything down to the tiniest jewelers lathe will do. I know one maker who turns 3 part buttons freehand.

I Started with Unimat sl-1000. Gorgeous piece of miniature steam punk. Still have it. Still love the look of it. And it's fine for buttons. But the twin bars in lieu of an actual bed flex too much for anything more demanding.

Ended up with Sherline Lathe/Mill. Not a toy. Plenty of torque and rigidity for anything bow related: buttons, milling internal architecture of frogs, tool making (nipple and button mortise cutters, stepped drill bits from 01 steel). Motor/headstock shared by both machines, transfers in seconds. And when you're done with them, small and light enough to easily lift and stash under your workbench, even with my iffy back.

Two cons:

1. Limited headstock pass through already mentioned. They have some newer larger ones at 1/2", but pricey and still not large enough for bass.

2. You're more or less limited to Sherline accessories (though selection is pretty extensive).

Question: do most of you do your stick drilling on the lathe? I guess I'm kind of nervous about it.

 

 

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7 hours ago, bengreen said:

...do most of you do your stick drilling on the lathe? I guess I'm kind of nervous about it.

You should try it on some junk sticks.  I have done a little stick drilling on my lathe.  I have drilled butts and glued in nipple replacements, then drilled screw holes in the new nipples and turned the nipple outside diameters to size.  I've never tried drilling an inner hole on the lathe.

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I use an Emco Compact 8.  Some of the small lathes mentioned here will work fine for making buttons, although not for more serious restoration or making cutters effectively.  The Sherline is a hobbyist lathe, I will not refer to it as a toy, but I would certainly be more than justified doing so.

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I have run lathes for 38 years.  From little Hardinge collet chuckers , through turret lathes, VTL's with 5 foot diameter beds, to the more recent CNC machines.  I have a little mini lathe at home that I make pegs, and the occasional Christmas gift.  I'm not a fan.  It was cheap, and it works.  That's about it.  If I had $1,000,  maybe the Sherline would be about the best you could come up with for small things like pegs or buttons.  

Table top lathes would be ideal, but they don't come cheap.

Bigger lathes are much easier to run.  They have regular size handles and knobs.   The bed is long enough to get the tailstock out of the way.  The Sherline looks a little sturdier.  Some of the cheap mini lathes are REALLY cheap now.  I'm talking price?  

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1 minute ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

I use a Emco Compact 8.  Some of the small lathes mentioned here will work fine for making buttons, although not for more serious restoration or making cutters effectively.  The Sherline is a hobbyist lathe, I will not refer to it as a toy, but I would certainly be more than justified doing so.

Jerry,  That looks like a nice little lathe.  I didn't see anything even remotely similar to that on EBay.  Not even close.  There you go Jeff.  Emco  looks nice.  Handles still look a little small.  That's the only thing I wish they'd change.

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4 hours ago, Ken_N said:

Jerry,  That looks like a nice little lathe.  I didn't see anything even remotely similar to that on EBay.  Not even close.  There you go Jeff.  Emco  looks nice.  Handles still look a little small.  That's the only thing I wish they'd change.

EMCO makes some stunning stuff and unless one needs to shave the last quarter of a tenth, it's all nicer to use than Schaublin. Though not cheaper.

This is a small mill which used to be available in manual :

https://www.emco-world.com/en/products/industry/milling/cat/28/d/2/p/1000782%2C28/pr/emcomat-fb-3.html

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6 hours ago, Ken_N said:

Jerry,  That looks like a nice little lathe.  I didn't see anything even remotely similar to that on EBay.  Not even close.  There you go Jeff.  Emco  looks nice.  Handles still look a little small.  That's the only thing I wish they'd change.

It is rare to find one on eBay anymore, at least the Austrian made machines.  I would like to have Hardinge machines, but these Emco 8 ‘s are perfect for what we do.....which is why they stopped making them.

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1 hour ago, carl stross said:

Thank you Dwight - never heard of those. Nice Christmas present.... :)

No problem, truth is I really don't know much about them.  I just knew that my bow guy Josh had one.

DLB

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Surprised no-one from the US is using a South bend or Atlas, i think Eric uses one for his button making. But for simply button making anything will really do ,even the `string and bow` powered lathes ,easily hand made.

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20 hours ago, carl stross said:

.....................unless one needs to shave the last quarter of a tenth...............

25 millionths?  Here's what you need!  https://www.ebay.com/itm/JAPANESE-sword-polishing-stone-Optional-uchigumori-JI-or-HA-zuya-50g-ea-toishi/391139056511?

[Throws a quarter-kilo jito stone at him] :lol:

Wonder what happened to the OP? :huh:

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27 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

25 millionths?  Here's what you need!  https://www.ebay.com/itm/JAPANESE-sword-polishing-stone-Optional-uchigumori-JI-or-HA-zuya-50g-ea-toishi/391139056511?

[Throws a quarter-kilo jito stone at him] :lol:

Wonder what happened to the OP? :huh:

Diamond burnisher. 8 bucks. :) None the less. if one day I get a lively chicken I'll try one of those Japanese swords. :) 

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32 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Wonder what happened to the OP? :huh:

That's worrying... I don't know. ( For a split second I thought you're wondering what happened to the subject - this is MN, what subject ?? )

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2 hours ago, fiddlecollector said:

Surprised no-one from the US is using a South bend or Atlas, i think Eric uses one for his button making. But for simply button making anything will really do ,even the `string and bow` powered lathes ,easily hand made.

I have one, but they are a little clumsy for the work.  A well constructed lathe that is small is the best bet....a Hardinge second operation lathe or lens lathe is perfect.

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brad and jerry good to know ,nice lathes but i agree can be a bit clumsy for bow work which is why i tend to use the Pultra small lathe ,i posted a few posts back. may be small but were intended for production work , heres a load of woman using them during WWII. Though i have mine driven directly from the motor and an inverter drive.

img85.thumb.gif.1e1c1cb53bfb1a59fd9b9de9837db223.gif

 

This is my 1964 south bend after doing it up a little, looks a bit dirtier now though. Not as easy to find in good condition in the UK. I have another one partially completed that i intend selling.

 

P1240873.JPG

 

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56 minutes ago, fiddlecollector said:

brad and jerry good to know ,nice lathes but i agree can be a bit clumsy for bow work which is why i tend to use the Pultra small lathe ,i posted a few posts back. may be small but were intended for production work , heres a load of woman using them during WWII. Though i have mine driven directly from the motor and an inverter drive.

 

I never heard of that lathe - thank you for mentioning it. Looks like a nice machine and it's great it can be used even by women.

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I was born in South Bend and I remember the South Bend Lathe Company and that it was owned by it's employees for a time.  It has moved to Washington and I really don't know much about the present company.  They used to be famous for how patient they were about making the beds for their lathes. They used to let them age and if they warped they would correct them set a while longer until they got a product that would stay put.  This may be a common practice, but I don't really know at all.

That and a need for the Fighting Irish to win at football seems to be my legacy from the city of my birth :-)

DLB

 

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Thanks for all of these responses. My original message did have a huge typo. I meant $1000.00 as a budget. Sorry about that. I am only making buttons and plugs for rebushing bows. I know the Sherline mini come highly recommended so I am looking for a specific model, or another comparable brand. 

Do you have to buy the cutters separate when buying a lathe? I assume I will need a specific cutter to make the indent in the silver ring closest to the stick.

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37 minutes ago, Jeff Krieger said:

...I assume I will need a specific cutter to make the indent in the silver ring closest to the stick.

I have been cutting the collar ("indent") with a form tool that I ground for this specific purpose.  This tool is mounted rigidly in a tool holder, and it is moved by turning the cross slide and compound rest handles.  But I understand that some bow makers cut the collar free hand with a hand-held generic cutting tool.  I've been meaning to try this.

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2 hours ago, Jeff Krieger said:

Thanks for all of these responses. My original message did have a huge typo. I meant $1000.00 as a budget. Sorry about that. I am only making buttons and plugs for rebushing bows. I know the Sherline mini come highly recommended so I am looking for a specific model, or another comparable brand. 

Do you have to buy the cutters separate when buying a lathe? I assume I will need a specific cutter to make the indent in the silver ring closest to the stick.

Thanks awfully for your typo, it led to a very spirited and interesting thread on large, precise, expensive lathes that some of us are nostalgic about.

Your question worries me, as it implies that you have never used a lathe before.  Yes, tooling is generally separate, though some small "hobbyist" lathes may come with some limited selection of cutters or cutter blanks, and various attachments.  Using a metal cutting lathe in your own shop generally requires a knowledge of tool grinding (using specialized small grinders, special wheels, etc.), and precise measurement, using micrometers (and "indicators" for set-up), along with experience with "speeds and feeds", what cutting tool geometry goes with which operation (and material), what chuck to use, how to center drill a long workpiece to accept a "live" or "dead" center for support from the tailstock, how to absolutely center your work in the chuck before you start cutting..........and a number of other things (like threads and threading).  Purchasing a machinist's lathe is a big step, because it isn't something that you simply pull out of the box, plug in, fit a precut standard bit to it, and use, like a hand drill, or a Sawzall, or something.  It requires other accessories, and some serious know-how to use it well.  I'm sure that many of the posters who've been having fun in this thread first learned machining in high-school or college shop courses, perhaps as an adjunct course to an engineering or science degree, and already know all this.  Machining is a very skilled trade, in and of itself.

Before you choose your lathe, you might want to buy a book or video set on how to use them.  If you are planning on machining the screw yourself, you will need to choose a lathe which allows this, by design.  You should also be aware that quality in a small lathe has a lot to do with how little microscopic uncertainty in the position of the chuck center it has during rotation at speed.  Small workpieces, like bow screws, will require more accuracy in this regard than big ones.  The headstock bearings in cheap lathes are usually terrible as far as accuracy goes.

Please don't take this post the wrong way.  Like others here, I'll be more than glad to help with detailed advice as you proceed.  Leaning from scratch is better than not learning at all.  Just get a feel for what you're getting into, before you waste a lot of money on an inferior tool that won't do a precision job for you, or get something for $500 that will require $2000 in auxiliary tooling to use.

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Thanks for your concerns. I did work with a shop lathe in a 2 week frog making class this summer at the Violin Craftsman Institute, George Rubino. He had an excellent assistant who was available to help with the lathe emphasizing safety.

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2 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I have been cutting the collar ("indent") with a form tool that I ground for this specific purpose.  This tool is mounted rigidly in a tool holder, and it is moved by turning the cross slide and compound rest handles.  But I understand that some bow makers cut the collar free hand with a hand-held generic cutting tool.  I've been meaning to try this.

Cutting the collar free hand sounds amazing!

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