Lathe recommendation for garage hobbyist?

Sasquatch

May Cause Drowsiness
Staff Member
First, I'll tell you what I tell everyone who asks this question: My advice is take 400 dollars and put it in the toilet, flush it down, watch it spin and disappear. Get used to this feeling, because it's what pipe making is all about. Next, buy a Castello.

Now, at this point, you have spent about 800 bucks, but you have a pretty good pipe.

If you insist on making pipes, 800 dollars is ... nothing... compared to what you are about to sink into it. That's the reality. Can it be done "one the cheap"? I suppose, but not done well, and not done easily.

So, for real, a metal lathe with about a 10x20 or so swing/bed. The Mathews PM1022 is a solid choice. You can go smaller/cheaper but at some point you'll run into something you can't do on a smaller machine. The lathe fills up fast with chucks, jaws, briar, drill bits, chucks on the other end... But this will allow you to drill stummels, manufacture stems and bands.

You need shaping tools, this consists of sanding setups be they belts or discs (french wheels). This requires dust collection. REQUIRES.

You will need some way to finish/polish, so buffing wheels (possibly lathe mounted, possibly on a grinder, possibly in a drill press) of some kind, tripoli, diamond, wax, separate wheels.

And a bunch of files and sandpaper. Round rasps, half round rasps, good quality flat files.

A drill press is handy. A second lathe is handy (wood lathe).

And I don't mean to put you off - I got going making pipes with a drill press and a 1x30 belt sander. I got my little JET mini lathe rigged up eventually, but it was a few years in. Then I got a bigger drill press, then I got a metal lathe, and I've rigged out all kinds of stuff for the Jet honestly, I can sand up to about 500 on wheels on that thing, with dust collection. I run 2 different belt sanders, a 1" and a 2", both connected to bag-filtered shop vac. And I have about 20 different files/tools mostly for stem work. Add a dremel, a mouse sander.... I mean, this is just stuff to make things go nicer. We haven't even talked about sandblast setup.


On the simple end, to make a pipe, you have to solve the problem of how the tenon/mortise is going to get made. You can use delrin and a drill press - a drill press and files is all you need to make a pipe, but it will take you 800 hours and give you tendinitis.
 
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Sasquatch

May Cause Drowsiness
Staff Member
Yes, there's ways to do everything. The problem (with my wood lathe, and most) is one of accuracy - you need to drill a hole with no runout at all for the mortise, and wood lathes just... aren't good at that. The tailstocks aren't designed for precision drilling, they are designed to hold a live center and sit there. Can you get around this? Yes. Are you a magician with hand tools on the lathe? I cut a hundred tenons by hand, it sucked, but it can be done.

So you'll have to invest in a chuck, like a Oneway Talon or a Nova, and jaws that will fit briar (vermont freehand sells some for example). And you'll have to cook up some way to spin a stem, either in a collet chuck or between centers -
5NOWuqd.jpg


You just have to.... make it work. Wake up in the night and think "Oh yeah, I could just...." and go do that thing.
 

SubComMarcos

Professional Relaxer
Patron
Sales
First, I'll tell you what I tell everyone who asks this question: My advice is take 400 dollars and put it in the toilet, flush it down, watch it spin and disappear. Get used to this feeling, because it's what pipe making is all about. Next, buy a Castello.

Now, at this point, you have spent about 800 bucks, but you have a pretty good pipe.

If you insist on making pipes, 800 dollars is ... nothing... compared to what you are about to sink into it. That's the reality. Can it be done "one the cheap"? I suppose, but not done well, and not done easily.

So, for real, a metal lathe with about a 10x20 or so swing/bed. The Mathews PM1022 is a solid choice. You can go smaller/cheaper but at some point you'll run into something you can't do on a smaller machine. The lathe fills up fast with chucks, jaws, briar, drill bits, chucks on the other end... But this will allow you to drill stummels, manufacture stems and bands.

You need shaping tools, this consists of sanding setups be they belts or discs (french wheels). This requires dust collection. REQUIRES.

You will need some way to finish/polish, so buffing wheels (possibly lathe mounted, possibly on a grinder, possibly in a drill press) of some kind, tripoli, diamond, wax, separate wheels.

And a bunch of files and sandpaper. Round rasps, half round rasps, good quality flat files.

A drill press is handy. A second lathe is handy (wood lathe).

And I don't mean to put you off - I got going making pipes with a drill press and a 1x30 belt sander. I got my little JET mini lathe rigged up eventually, but it was a few years in. Then I got a bigger drill press, then I got a metal lathe, and I've rigged out all kinds of stuff for the Jet honestly, I can sand up to about 500 on wheels on that thing, with dust collection. I run 2 different belt sanders, a 1" and a 2", both connected to bag-filtered shop vac. And I have about 20 different files/tools mostly for stem work. Add a dremel, a mouse sander.... I mean, this is just stuff to make things go nicer. We haven't even talked about sandblast setup.


On the simple end, to make a pipe, you have to solve the problem of how the tenon/mortise is going to get made. You can use delrin and a drill press - a drill press and files is all you need to make a pipe, but it will take you 800 hours and give you tendinitis.
I'm always thankful for your in depth explanations of how complicated and laborious pipe making is because they completely temper my otherwise rampant enthusiasm for getting into the craft. Every time I think about it I remember what you've written and think "or maybe I could save $1200 by just buying a nice new pipe".
 

Cramptholomew

It's, like, Phyllis Diller funny.
Sales
Bruh, it’s not simple, even though it seems like it should be. People make pipes on a wood lathe. I did my first 6 on a wood lathe and promptly got a metal lathe. Wood lathes are a PITA, and lack the accuracy.

It’s not a self righteous thing, it’s guys who decided to make pipes and stuck with the fiddle sticksing mess until they made something halfway decent, and CONTINUED to bang their fiddle sticksing heads against the wall to make ACCEPTABLE pipes. I decided to make pipes ,because I need a hobby, and couldn’t afford the nice artisan pipes I wanted. So I decided to make them. And threw thousands and thousands of fiddle sticksing dollars at it. I guess the attitude you perceive is a response to “I think I might wanna try making a pipe for little to no money”, and the guys that have been doing it for years have heard that time and again. It comes from a place of hard earned skill, and I think it’s apropos to throw the whole carp show at someone so they understand what it takes. It’s like, “hey, I wanna make a motorcycle. Can I do that with a hobby stick welder, a 5hp lawnmower engine, and a pair of WISS snips?”. The answer is “yeah! Sure! It’ll take you a fiddle sticksing millennium, but it can be done.”

I mean, see what it takes to make a well shaped, flush mounted stemmed pipe with no round over, and no tool marks. Start with a block of briar and a rod of ebonite. Make it smooth, too. Keep the lines crisp. If you have questions, I’ll be glad to help.
 

DitchPig

Active member
Ya I never said it looks easy or any of these assumptions, I also stated I would have a starting budget of $2,000. I’m ok spending upwards of that, no one cared to ask.
Also looking for where I assumed that it doesn’t take time and skills to produce pipes?
I never said pipe making is simple. I asked questions on tools and lathes people could recommend and received super self entitled you’re not good enough answers.

pretty simple.
 

Red

Well-known member
Ya I never said it looks easy or any of these assumptions, I also stated I would have a starting budget of $2,000. I’m ok spending upwards of that, no one cared to ask.
Also looking for where I assumed that it doesn’t take time and skills to produce pipes?
I never said pipe making is simple. I asked questions on tools and lathes people could recommend and received super self entitled you’re not good enough answers.

pretty simple.
Wow
 

SubComMarcos

Professional Relaxer
Patron
Sales
Ya I never said it looks easy or any of these assumptions, I also stated I would have a starting budget of $2,000. I’m ok spending upwards of that, no one cared to ask.
Also looking for where I assumed that it doesn’t take time and skills to produce pipes?
I never said pipe making is simple. I asked questions on tools and lathes people could recommend and received super self entitled you’re not good enough answers.

pretty simple.
Maybe I'm misreading but I sincerely don't think anyone's accusing you of the things you're feeling defensive about. Sasquatch's advice sounds realistic but encouraging (not to mention comprehensive) to me, and I think Cramptholomew is speaking to a general tendency towards wide eyed optimism from pipe smokers with an ambition to get into pipe making, not necessarily how you're coming across.

And then there's jpberg, who's been ornery since they cancelled ALF. Not to suggest that's why he is how he is, just a note on the longevity.

It sounds to me like you're willing to sink a good chunk of money into a new hobby and I hope it goes well for you, but you might want to take a beat and look for the helpfulness in people's responses rather than jump on anything that feels critical.
 

Cramptholomew

It's, like, Phyllis Diller funny.
Sales
Preferably:
- Metal lathe: variable speed 10x22 - I have a 9x20, and am going to upgrade sooner than later
- 1750rpm motor with 5/8” shaft to accommodate arbor and shaping disks - equipped with VFD to change speed
- Rubber backed disk for hook and loop sanding disks
- 40 grit disks
- Additional motor with arbor for buffing - variable speed also a plus because different stem materials buff better at different speeds
- 1x30 belt sander
- Massive shop vac for dust collection
- Good sized band saw for squaring up blocks
- 3 jaw Chuck for stems
- 4 jaw Chuck with Vermont Freehand briar jaws, or dedicated briar jaw Chuck that mounts in 3 jaw chuck
- Live center
- Indexed cutters with head rated for cutting aluminum
- HSS for making specialized cutters
- Grinder for sharpening
- Drill press
- Foredom or dremel for fine shaping, cutting, sanding
- Files of every sort and cutting strength
- 3 axis vise
- All the sand paper
- counter sink bits
- tapered bits for stem airways
- either ground spade bits for chambers or dedicated chamber bits from rawkrafted or Vermont Freehand
- 6-8” aircraft bits for stummel airway
- 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8” bits for mortises
- calipers
- kemper saws for stem slot funneling
- a bunch of handmade tools to do things they don’t make specific tools for
- briar
- delrin in various tenon sizes
- stem rod
- buffing wheels and compounds, each wheel for specific compound/wax
- danish oil, shellac flakes, powdered carnival wax
- heat gun
- paper towls
- a metric ton of pipe cleaners
- ca glue
- various epoxies
- little dremel saw for starting slot
- about 49 acissors
- various sanding backers

that’s all I can think of right now.

ETA: at least two cans of denatured alcohol, and a bunch of Fiebings leather dye.
 

DitchPig

Active member
Preferably:
- Metal lathe: variable speed 10x22 - I have a 9x20, and am going to upgrade sooner than later
- 1750rpm motor with 5/8” shaft to accommodate arbor and shaping disks - equipped with VFD to change speed
- Rubber backed disk for hook and loop sanding disks
- 40 grit disks
- Additional motor with arbor for buffing - variable speed also a plus because different stem materials buff better at different speeds
- 1x30 belt sander
- Massive shop vac for dust collection
- Good sized band saw for squaring up blocks
- 3 jaw Chuck for stems
- 4 jaw Chuck with Vermont Freehand briar jaws, or dedicated briar jaw Chuck that mounts in 3 jaw chuck
- Live center
- Indexed cutters with head rated for cutting aluminum
- HSS for making specialized cutters
- Grinder for sharpening
- Drill press
- Foredom or dremel for fine shaping, cutting, sanding
- Files of every sort and cutting strength
- 3 axis vise
- All the sand paper
- counter sink bits
- tapered bits for stem airways
- either ground spade bits for chambers or dedicated chamber bits from rawkrafted or Vermont Freehand
- 6-8” aircraft bits for stummel airway
- 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8” bits for mortises
- calipers
- kemper saws for stem slot funneling
- a bunch of handmade tools to do things they don’t make specific tools for
- briar
- delrin in various tenon sizes
- stem rod
- buffing wheels and compounds, each wheel for specific compound/wax
- danish oil, shellac flakes, powdered carnival wax
- heat gun
- paper towls
- a metric ton of pipe cleaners
- ca glue
- various epoxies
- little dremel saw for starting slot
- about 49 acissors
- various sanding backers

that’s all I can think of right now.

ETA: at least two cans of denatured alcohol, and a bunch of Fiebings leather dye.
thank you, this helps me a lot.
What brand lathe do you have? Other than needing to up the size has it been a good piece of equipment for you?
 

Cramptholomew

It's, like, Phyllis Diller funny.
Sales
fiddle sticks, dude, I’ve been doing this for 4 years, and I’m STILL new. I’m still cutting my teeth. Get a Precision Matthews 10x22. Short of that, get a Grizzly. Make sure it’s variable speed. That’s my lathe recommendation.

Apart from that, you asked a question. We answered. It’s the progression of where things go when you decide to make pipes. @Sasquatch advice about throwing $800 in the trash is right. It’s an $800+ gamble off the line, which, if you’re fine with that, is totally cool. And this advice STEMS from remembering what it was like to start, and what it took to make a passable pipe - tooling and expense wise. It’s just a “be prepared” statement.

That said @DannoH makes a good pipe with basically no tools. He can weigh in on what that’s like.
 
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