Running It Up Against The Limits

Can't Take Anymore

I decided to try and tackle a little spur of the moment project with my little Mini lathe and wound up literally pushing it as far as it would go tooling wise.

All I wanted to do was get a 5/8’s hole drilled down the middle of a 3 inch piece of Aluminum round stock.

Shouldn’t be too hard, right?


I got a pilot hole drilled in it after I had to go back to Harbor Freight and get a new #2 Morse taper with a 1/2″ drill chuck mounted to it.

I already have one but it is in my Drill Press and it has a keyless chuck on it right now. Just looking at it was enough for me to decide it was going to be way too long.

Instead of Fiddle Fucking around with that, I figured I’d just go get another one. All I needed was the Morse Taper actually, I lost count of how many damn drill chucks I have laying around but they don’t sell those separately, you gotta buy the chuck to get the taper.

Even better, you have to cut a 1/2 inch off the back end of the taper so it will fit in the Tail Stock on the Mini Lathe. That all took a while to get situated.

I finally got a pilot hole in it and went to go up to a bigger drill bit when that new Tail Stock started acting up.

The hand wheel started acting like something was bound up inside.

So I had to stop and tear that thing apart. As I was doing that, the locking lever came off in my hand!

The damn thing was GLUED to a short piece of 6 mm All Thread!

Are You Kidding Me?!

So I had to stop again, put the little handle into a small clamp on bench vise, drill down the inside of the handle and then tap it to 6mm. Even that turned into a shit show but I finally managed to get it drilled and tapped, dug around and found a 6mm bolt I could cut down and then thread it all back together.

Back to the Tail Stock, after I got it all apart I didn’t see any good reason for it to be binding but some parts felt like they had grit in them so I cleaned up the parts, lubed it all then put that back together.

After all that it worked beautifully.

Back on the lathe, go to put in a half inch drill bit and here we go.

I could have tried using a boring bar at that point but I didn’t want to be there all damn night and the finished hole doesn’t need to be that damn precise. I am just wanting a sleeve to go over the shaft of a small electric motor.

With the 1/2 inch bit it was close but I got it through. Then to the final size 5/8’s bit and it was maxed out.

Between the 3 inch Aluminum bar, the drill bit, the chuck, the Morse taper and the Tail Stock, it wound up looking like this,



Notice the Tail Stock is literally hanging off the back end of the ways.

This trying to drill out a piece THREE INCHES LONG!

Um yeah, I did finally get it finished after three and a half hours of fucking around.

But this is the reality,

Bigger Lathe

I have already informed The Wifely Unit of this.

Of course, she can’t understand why.


Much explaining and helpful pictures like those above and I think I finally made my case.

Instead of a whole new lathe, I am probably going to look into ordering a longer bed for this one. The Little Machine Shop sells a 12 inch bed which actually makes it a 14 inch lathe,  some kind of Math Magic fuckery going on there but that’s what they claim. I believe they also sell a 14 inch bed for under $200 plus shipping.


It’s not a bolt on deal of course. There are like 9 little holes you gotta drill and tap for things like the Lead Screw bushings and other things.

It comes with all the extra parts required though like a longer Lead Screw and rack.

Instead of a 7X10 mini lathe, it would be a 7X16, again with their Math Magic.

I don’t know where they are getting that extra 2 inches or why they don’t just change their advertising.

This whole being unemployed bullshit thing as it is right now though, I am going to hold off either way.

But that seed has been planted.

That means it is just a matter of time now.



20 thoughts on “Running It Up Against The Limits

  1. 12 inch lathe beds being 14 is like 10 watt stereos being sold as 50 Watts. They come up with “creative” ways of measuring it.

    Measure from the chuck to the tailstock at the end of its travel and that’s all you get. The most honest way is from the face of a chuck to a center in the tailstock, but lots of companies rate with a center in the Morse taper of the headstock and tailstock – turning between centers.

    My big lathe is a Little Machine Shop 8-1/2 x 20, the 3540. It’s a Chinesium lathe (SIEG) probably the guys who made yours, but it’s a pretty solid lathe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a nice lathe. I think it’s the same one Blondihacks has on Youtube.
      The extra length, four inch chuck standard and the initial quality are light years ahead of my little Harbor Freight special as it was when I first got it.
      I have literally spent more time fixing and upgrading the dang thing than I have turning anything on it.
      It’s kind of the Sprite of lathes.


  2. It seems small home lathes are like race cars… you do one thing, you see a picture of a cool new gadget and next thing you know you are throwing money and time at it like a drunken sailor…You Phil and Sig ever been in the Navy…?


    • I tried to enlist in the navy back in about 81 during a bad recession but they wouldn’t have me. I never did hear why but I have my suspicions.
      Sssssssssssssssst, ‘ere!’
      Long hair, beard , skinny as a rail and a very prominent tattoo of a Marijuana leaf on my arm.
      Might have had something to do with it but I have no proof.


  3. A number of years ago, I picked up a Jet 9×20 lathe and stand for $500. Almost broke my hand reaching for my wallet that fast. I don’t use it all that much (primarily a woodworker) but when you need a lathe, nothing else will substitute for one.


  4. The Philly Shipyard had lathes so big that they had tractor seats mounted on the apron.
    And I’m sure there are still bigger lathes elsewhere.
    I’m imagining the conversation with my wife when the lowboy carrying a giant metal working lathe shows up in front of the house.
    I have a 9×20 and yes, I want a bigger lathe!


  5. The extra 2″ is probably figured out the same as you did above, hanging the tail stock 2″ off of the ways. Good luck on getting what you need, er, want.


  6. You guys with your lathes amaze me. All I could ever do with one is make jack handles with knurled grips.

    My brother-in-law picked up a small lathe at an estate sale and now makes his own reloading dies with it. They look just like they were store-bought, and function that way, too.


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