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Affordable price. For someone with limited counter space would seem a good bet. Obviously one would not be able to do large turnings on it but would seem to fit the bill for creating smaller pieces.
All in all, I'd say it was a good buy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks!

Any recommendations on accessories?

James :)
 

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It's perfect for small stuff! I have one very similar to it (Unimat), and have been very pleased with it for years. The best thing is that it's portable, and that makes it easy to learn how to use. I ended up getting "all" the extra's that went with it eventually, though I really didn't need anything right away. A few years later I ended up buying a bigger lathe (Taig) for larger projects, but still use the Unimat one for anything small (I can use it in my room, as opposed to the Taig, which is in the garage). The one thing to remember is that when the ad says "for plastic" you have to be more careful because it melts easily, and is much harder to use than metal. The first project I ever did was to re-make the lazer cannons on the AMT X-wing fighter model. I tried with plastic at first, but didn't get the results I was looking for, but when I put a piece of metal in the lathe, it worked fantastic!

The one thing you should get are some extra "cutting" tools for the lathe part. You will be able to make custom cutting tools.

YO
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys!

YO, by looking at the picture in my link, can you tell if it comes
with a tool holder for the lathe? Or just a tool rest?

I was looking at a lathe bits set but they won't be of much use
without a holder. Right?

Thanks,

James :)
 

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James,

My Unimat came with one, I believe the "rest" is used for wood/sanding projects. The "holder" is that piece in picture "A" that slides (middle). That pretty much needs to be used with all metal projects in the lathe.

The pieces all interchange to make the different machines (like Micronauts), so the picture they show in the ad is of "all" the machines you can make, not of all the pieces you actually get. I actually upgraded mine with an extra motor piece so I could have 2 of the machines built at all times. What you should understand is that this machine is basicly made for kids/starters and does have it's limitations. But for small scale modeling/scratch building it's GREAT (they are nicely made too!).

Heres a link to the one I have:
http://naturecoast.com/hobby/uni3.htm


YO
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks!

So I can use the holder (that they provide for metal) with
the wood lathe setup?

That's O.K. I am only using it for small parts, cutting wood, etc... so I don't need professional equipment. Have no room for that larger stuff anyway.
Besides they make some pretty good stuff for kids today. LOL!

Will have to compare the two to see which one is better for me.
The Unimat one has the "any angle" milling operation - don't know if the
cheaper one does that or not. Can you tell?

James :)
 

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A few coments and observations (based on looking at the pictures on my old monitor).

I would concur that photo "A" appears to show the metal/plastic lathe configuration with a cross slide that must certainly include the tool holder. Photo "E" would appear to be the wood working configuration as it shows a tool rest and what appears to be a drive spur as opposed to the chuck seen in photo "A".

Generally speaking, you CAN use the metal working set up and tool holder on wood but that is rarely done and rarely required. That might be done when doing especially precise wood turnings like pen barrels. Metal working configurations tend not to lend themselves to woodwork because the tool position and type of feed tends to be painfully slow.

Don't buy any metal working tool bits UNTIL you receive the lathe or you get confirmation as to what kind of tool bits it uses. My Taig uses 1/4" square and other lathes use 3/8" square or other sizes. No sense spending any money on bits until you know exactly what will fit.

Strangely, even though that Harbor Freight ad says nothing about cutting tools for the lathe, it does include a milling cutter. Milling cutters are usually much more expensive than lathe tool bits so, if they are giving you a milling cutter, I must assume a simple tool bit for the lathe is included...even an unground tool bit for my Taig is only $2.95CDN.

It does seem that you will probably need some wood turning tools as I see no mention of that in the ad. Check to see if they also set a set of miniature wood turning tools.

This machine won't have the angle milling ability of the Unimat. That's not a deal breaker. Angle milling is not an operation that you are likely to make much use of. If need be, you can generally accomplish the same job by adjusting the work piece relative to the milling cutter. So don't sweat too much about that.
 

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I never experimented with the "wood" lathe of the Unimat, but I believe it's the same "base" part using other attachments. The "metal" lathe is the one to be used for plastics.

The Unimat is the "original" maker of this design and it's made in Germany. This looks like a knockoff to me. But that doesn't mean is less better than the Unimat. The problem with the one you are looking at is they don't really go into all the details on the site, I looked at the product manuel (from the site), and it looks very very close to the Unimat to me, and i'm sure pretty much does all the same stuff. I would just get it "as is" and then see what you might want after you try it a few times. Being that it's a "set" it should have everything you will need included (basic tool set) in the package for "all" the types of uses.

YO
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks Brent.

Just trying to figure out if this multi-tool is better than a couple of
mini tools. Found a Canwood 12 1/2" Mini Lathe (8" diameter capability)
at 47 lbs for $139.99 CDN, and a Delta 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saw
at 47 lbs for 149.99 CDN.

Trying to figure out if I really need the mill, drill, and sander options.

Some peple say these multi-tools are not really very good at any
individual function. It's a trade off I guess for getting different
tools all in one package.

Still looking into it.

James :)
 

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I would certainly advise you to be aware of tool prices in your area. Sears and Canadian Tire have almost weekly deals. This also saves the cost of shipping which can be substantial when it comes to machine tools.

For example, in the Canadian Tire flyer which expired October 6 (sorry!) they have 12" mini wood lathe with 2.3 amp motor, variable speed 750 to 3200RPM and 8" swing over bed (which seems identical to that Canwood lathe) for $99.00 (regular $149.99). Same flyer has a 16" variable speed scroll saw for $99.99. And it has an 8" drill press for $39.99!

You really have to get a grasp of the type of projects you have in mind. When I first started collecting tools, one of the first power tools I got was a scroll saw (similar to the Delta and Canadian Tire units). It was an absolute revelation. The ability to very quickly cut complex shapes from wood just amazed me. It was the most useful tool I ever owned. However, in my case, I was primarily a builder of large Radio Controlled models so a plastic modeler might have a different opinion. For that same reason, I'd be lost without my bench mounted belt sander...but a plastic modeler might have other priorities.

Here's one piece of advice: at least pick up a cheap, 8" drill press. Even if you don't do a lot of drilling, you can add a drum sander kit which makes it a usefull tool.

And keep an eye open for those weird little tool/surplus stores that keep popping up like Princes Auto and the The Northern Shop (we have these in Winnipeg but I know that they have a few national stores and Princess does mail order). I've been hanging around the local Northern Shop in the last few days buying all sorts of stuff. I just bought an 11lb anvil from them. I don't know what I'll do with an anvil but it was only $6.99 :)! They are also selling huge amounts of rotary tool (Dremel type) accessories. I just bought 3 sets of 20 diamond coated burrs for $3.99 each! Recently, I bought nine sets of 12" long brass punches (27 punches total) That might seem insane but they were so cheap ($4.99 per set) that the cost of the brass (which I use in my Taig lathe)is about 1/3 of the cost of brass barstock from the hardware store.

So be aware of the stores around you and that includes Wal Mart and Zellers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Brent!

Will check out Canadian Tire for sure.

Also, the Delta Scroll Saw has a few reviews that were all favourable
so that looks like a good one.

Can't find much on Canwood though.

Thanks again,

James :)
 

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I just checked out a picture of that Canwood lathe...it's EXACTLY the same as the lathe sold by CDN TIRE. Only the paint job and label are different. But it's exactly the same unit.

BTW, you will find that is quite common in the tool world so DON'T get too hung up on brand names.

I bought "Sears Craftsman" cut off wheels for my rotary tool but the container had "Dremel" printed on it. My "Craftsman" random orbital sander is manufactured by Ryobi as is the Mastercraft sander from Candian Tire. I'll bet you money that the 16" scroll saw at CDN Tire IS the Delta saw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I checked out Canadian Tire (on-line) and they have (like you say) the
same ones. Just under the Mastercraft label. I know about that.

Prices are O.K. too. $149.99 for the lathe, and $119.00 for the scroll saw.

They have a bench grinder for $39.99 too.

Their Chisel sets seem expensive (to me anyway).

Oh, the lathe comes with a straight tool rest. Does it swivel
around 90 degrees (for bowls) or do I have to get the tool rest
that has two sides?

Also, what size screws to screw the faceplate to the wood?

Should I get an extra faceplate?

Anything else I will need? Calipers I guess.

Sorry for all the questions. LOL!

Thanks again,

James :)
 

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The tool rest will swivel so you won't need another one. For serious bowl makers, you can buy curved tool rests that will follow the contour of the bowl...very nice but too expensive for the casual user.

Can't tell you the screw size except to say that faceplates use common hardware screws that you can buy ANYWHERE dirt cheap so that won't be a problem.

I can't see any reason for an extra faceplate. Again, SERIOUS bowl makers might have extra faceplates so that they could mount up several blanks and work on different projects without having to remove and remount the bowls. This is not something you're likely to be doing. Most model work is "spindle" turning. In my case, 98% of the stuff I've used my lathe for is spindle turning. Spindle turning doesn't even use the face plate! In fact, I bought my wood lathe in 1993 and I didn't buy a faceplate until 6 months ago!

Yes. Calipers are the essential wood turning guage. Get a steel ruler to use with those calipers.

CHISELS. Hmmm. I haven't checked the Cdn Tire site. However, if there is ONE thing where you must go "high end", this is it. I'm not one of those guys who thinks everybody has to have the best of everything...people don't need Iwata airbrushes, Nikon cameras and Rolex wrist watches. But I've tried cheap chisels on the lathe and I've had disasterous results. I just can't get them to work. Think about the type of work you intend to do and you can pick turning tools based on your most likely projects. If you wanted a full set of tools for bowls and spindles, you could spend a ton of money. However, if planned to turn mainly smaller spindles, you could probably get going with a pair of gouges and a parting tool. Hey, it's almost Xmas...tell mom, wife, or girlfriend that you'd like that HSS Super-Flute bowl gouge by Henry Taylor Tools for only $126.00 :).

A bench grinder is a virtual necessity once you start buying machine tools. Things need to be kept sharp.

The thing to remember about cutting and turning tools is that they are ONE TIME ONLY INVESTMENTS. They aren't like models where you need to buy one every two weeks or digital cameras where you have to upgrade every year. If you spend $40.00 or so on a 3/8 spindle gouge, you will never have to buy another one as long as you live. Buy $200.00 worth of turning tools (better yet, like I said: Xmas presents), the tools will outlast your lathe, they will outlast you and they will outlast your grandchildren.

When I bought my lathe, and had trouble with cheap tools, I bought a good, big roughing gouge, a 3/8 spindle gounge, a 1/4 spindle gouge, a skew chisel and a very expensive fluted parting tool...and I haven't bought another turning tool in the last ten years!*

And the expense of the tool always has to be weighed against the savings in producing your own parts. This Spring, I posted pictures here of an "Orbit Jet" model that I made from wood. All material was scrap except for the paint and primer. A resin kit the same size is $130.00US and my model is at least as good as the kit. The savings on that single project alone cover the cost of a good set of turning tools.


*One thing about having a lot of tools is that you can make more tools :). I just got a small welder this year. A while ago, I made my first practical project. I took some old water pipe and some scrap metal and manufactured a specialized tool rest for my lathe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Brrent!

Very helpful as always.

James :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Brent, as you know, Canadian Tire don't provide much info so I did
a google search for Mastercraft 12" Wood lathe and this came up:

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/halfpricetools/ind.html

Half Price! But am leery, as if it sounds to good to be true...
well, you know.

Ever buy anything through Yahoo?

James :)
 

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James, I've never bought anything through Yahoo so I can't comment on that aspect directly. Also, of course, you have to be wary of shipping charges on heavier items.

That being said, I don't have a problem with the item being priced so cheaply. That seems perfectly legit. Huge amounts of machine tools now come from China and India and they can sell for absurdly low prices. As I mentioned earlier, I hang around the local "Northern Shop" and some of the prices are absolutely ridiculous. An 11lb anvil for $6.99CDN. Set of 20 diamond coated burrs for $3.99. Set of 12 needle files for $1.99.

In many cases, identical items are masss produced in China and India and sold by various companies under their own label. I bought a magnetic base for a dial guage from Lee Valley Tools for $28.00 and found the EXACT sme item at the Northern shop for $14.00...with a different label!

And my mind boggles at the amount of stuff that must be imported. I use that anvil as an example. Sells at the Northern Shop for $6.99 but would probably cost $30.00 to mail it! They must have shipped a whole boat load of the things to get that price.

So I don't have any problem at all with the low price of that lathe. It's probably completely honest.

On a related note, most high quality turning tools and chisels are often made in England. They are of exceptional quality. Mine are 10 years old and remain perfect. But that's why you might find an $80.00 lathe and a $60.00 chisel!!

I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. I know a Chinese lathe ain't exactly as precise as a Cincinnati Millicron CNC mill. And I know my $39.00 Chinese surface plate might not be as flat as a $600.00 American Starret surface plate. But I'm not building the space shuttle!

I like the price of that lathe. Just remember to check and shipping and handling charges.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks!

Yeah, with the shipping it could actually cost more. And probably
the warranty would be a problem too if they are not a recognized
dealer.

Anyway, will check it out.

James :)
 
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