If you've been considering making the transition into some metal fabrication, the first thing you'll need to do is get yourself a metal lathe. If you've never purchased or worked with them before, you may not really know what you're looking for. Here are a few tips to help you find the right lathe for your first-time purchase.
Only Buy Equipment In Good Condition
You might be tempted to buy a well-worn lathe for your first purchase simply because it's more affordable and you're just getting started. The problem is that when you opt for one that's worn out, you're risking inaccuracies, sloppy cuts, and potential component failures that you won't really know how to deal with as a new operator.
It's in your best interest to choose a machine that's in pretty decent condition instead. That way, you can learn on something that works well, cuts where you need it to without causing excess jagged edges, and isn't at as great a risk of malfunction.
Understand The Machine Size
One of the things that many new buyers don't understand is how the size rating applies with a metal lathe. The sizes that are referenced, such as 12x36, refers to the size of the material that the lathe can safely turn without binding. That means a lathe that's rated as a 12x36 will handle a piece of metal that's 12 inches in diameter by 36 inches in length. Think about the largest pieces of metal that you are likely to be working with, even those that you may move up to in the next year or two, to ensure that you get a machine with enough capacity without having to upgrade again right away.
Choose What Type Of Speed Regulation You Want
The speed of your lathe is controlled by the gears. You can control that speed either through manual gear changes or a gearbox that's designed for quick changes. The gearbox design is great for quick speed shifts, but you're more restricted in the speeds based on the gearbox capacity. If you opt for this style, make sure the speeds are sufficient for your needs. Otherwise, consider a manual change system. It may take longer to change your gears, but it gives you greater control over your speed.
For more help, talk with an industrial equipment contractor who can help you choose the right machine for your needs. He or she will talk with you about what you're hoping to do and help you determine the best fit based on those plans.