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Old Jun 02, 2005, 10:49 AM
Tinkerer in Training
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Guelph, ON
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Unimat-1 Classic, anyone?

I have been considering purchasing a mini- or micro lathe for some time now, when a co-worker stumbled across this item: Unimat-1 Classic 6-in-1 Cool Tool,

It looks nearly perfect for the small modelling chores that I have been hacking with a drill press and table saw.

Does anyone have experience with this tool? Will I be happy, or have a $350 paperweight, and need to buy something "beefier" like Harbor Freight's mini lathe
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 12:17 PM
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PDX, OR
Joined Dec 2002
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I know several people that are happy and recommend Unimat. For small light duty jobs it looks very versatile. I thought I had seen a Unimat lathe, but this is a different animal. The limitations would seem to lie in the size of the chuck, which looks limited to collets.

I had a friend discourage me from buying the micro mark lathe, he said it used proprietary tooling, and that a He has a mini lathe from bear?... "Grizzly" because he could buy standard tooling for it. He later bough a Mini Mill from Harbor freight, and then a $5 laptop from goodwill. A motor here, a control card there... The mill is now CNC.

Choosing really depends on what you see your needs being in the future.
I have yet to actually aquire a lathe or a mill...Laser cutter, now...Hmmm.
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 12:27 PM
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The harbor freight looks to be a real Lathe so thats the one i'd choose. Mills are always best kept as seperates so i'm told. The unimat looks just like a childs toy although unimat do a larger more robust unit which is eminently useable. Just bought one of these Miller and one of these too Lathe not the biggest or the best by any means but should get my projects moving along Ebay can be addictive the pair cost 1218.00 which is less than the cost of the Mill new from Warco hth
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Kipperfillets:
Nice buys there! Unless my daughter gives up dance lessons, and my son gives up hockey, they are a little out of my league at present.

(Or as my wife would delicately phrase it, "If there is money lying around waiting to be spent, there isn't a chance in (loud cough masking language she would never use in public) that we're going to spend it on that!!!")

$350.00 - $400.00 fits nicely in the Christmas/Birthday/forgivable impulse buy category , $2400-$3000... well not so much .

Umi:
CNC you say...hmmm... Do you use a laser cutter for the architectural models, or is that wishful thinking? I'd suspect that would pay for itself in no time, when combined with software like 3D Home Architect. (I'm on the development team)
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 01:24 PM
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PDX, OR
Joined Dec 2002
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Sigh, Laser cutter is just wishful thinking right now...,
And It would need to run DWG and autocad files, otherwise I would have to do a lot of redrawing myself.

How are you creating the Trebuchets?
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 01:48 PM
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The trebuchet kits are made in 50 piece batches, using a tablesaw, a mitresaw, a router table, and a drill press, along with custom jigs for each part. The process is pretty labor intensive. It takes most of a day to make a batch, and an evening or two to package them.

I don't think CNC machine tools or a laser cutter would help me much, or I could justify it as a business expense.

By the way, CatapultKits.com picked up our product and is selling it online now!! Thanks again for the inspiration!
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 01:56 PM
Veni, Vidi, Feci
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I have the Harbor Freight lathe... a little crude, not so finely crafted, but bigger, heavy, has power feed and threading, and there's plenty of tooling available. It can be tuned up, you can get a longer bed version and a camlock tailstock from Micromark... I use mine all the time!
Pat M
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 02:12 PM
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Oh no!!! So after I get lured into buying the bigger lathe, I'm going to want to get more goodies for it?! (sadly shaking head)

It sounds like the Unimat may be an interesting stopgap tool if I can't immediately afford the larger lathe, but that if I'm going to keep playing in the workshop, sooner or later I'm going to want/need the bigger toy.
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 03:48 PM
Grumpa Tom
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RG: the little Unimat-1 is a very versatile tool. I have the Chinese copy and I have used it quite a bit. First things first: it will not machine metals very well so forget that idea! Even though they claim you can machine metal, it is inaccurate, and gives an unsatisfactory finish. I have some Unimat parts on my Chinese version too (they are 100% interchangeable) and no the Chinese version is not lacking in quality. It boils down to the fact that the plastic frames/housings just are not rigid enough for metal, including aluminum and brass.

Wood and plastics, however are perfect for this little lathe/mill. I have used mine to lathe wood; mill plastics; and scroll saw plastics and wood. It is infinitely configurable to get access to whatever part you need to machine/saw on. As long as it is plastic or wood.

Here is the maker of the current Unimat:

http://www.unimat.at/index_e.php

And the Chinese version I have:

http://www.xendoll.com/

If you want to machine metal, you need to get a real metal machining lathe such as the very popular 7x10 mini-lathe:

http://www.mini-lathe.com/

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Old Jun 02, 2005, 04:03 PM
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Kmot:

Thanks for the info. It wasn't what I wanted to hear, but on the bright side, you saved me from flushing $350.00 down the drain.
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 04:56 PM
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Good links Kmot, I especially like that one at Minilathe.com theres an interesting article on safety! His thumb is like my index finger we live and learn lol Looks like a nice Lathe all metal is the best way and a good price too. Everyone should have one but they are dangerous if you're distracted especially at lower speeds and power feeds well..... thats when you lock the door and put the do not disturb sign up! RGinCanada could you not buy an old Lathe or are they like in the UK overpriced? My "Old" one was made in the era of the Titanic lol it's over a hundred years old and still goes strong but only in imperial and spares arent forthcoming and screwcutting is now important to me so I pick up my two new additions tomorrow night from Wales (240 mile round trip) it's like the night before Christmas to me
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 05:03 PM
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Harbor Freight minilathe and rotary tool

I have a HF 12" minilathe. As delivered, its a mess - greasy, not well calibrated, etc. But after disassembly, cleanup, reassembly/calibration and lubrication its a great tool. Have easily done brass and aluminum.
There's a great web site that has step by step info on setting up the lathe, making improvements, etc.
The best thing I've found is that by mounting a Dremel (with parts from the Dremel drill press stand), you can mill a rotating piece in the lathe. Allows you to make complex shapes without making special cutting tools. Also can give great finishes, do fast cut-offs, etc.
I've also put a sanding disc in the chuck, laid a flat board from the lathe backplate to the front rail and flush to the sanding disc, and have a nice little sander.
The lathe can do alot with minimum extras. Nice extras to get: live center, drill chuck, 4-jaw chuck (it comes with a 3 jaw), tool blanks, and a grinder to shape tools.
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 05:09 PM
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Kipperfillets: My grandfather was a blacksmith with a grand total of five fingers, and I inherited all of his coordination (or lack thereof) . I have more slices and scars than good sense, but so far I still have all of my digits.

Whenever my children interrupt me in the workshop, I quickly turn off the machine, grab my hand and start screaming. It worked wonderfully the first couple of times, but now they're getting cynical (Picture a six year old saying, "Show me the stump, Dad!"). At least now they wait quietly across the room until I acknowledge them...

As far as the lathe, I guess I'll sock away the cash, and look for used deals locally and on eBay.

Enjoy your new toys!!

DanL: Thanks for the heads up on the HF lathe, and the Dremel trick!
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGinCanada
Kipperfillets: My grandfather was a blacksmith with a grand total of five fingers, and I inherited all of his coordination (or lack thereof) . I have more slices and scars than good sense, but so far I still have all of my digits.

Whenever my children interrupt me in the workshop, I quickly turn off the machine, grab my hand and start screaming. It worked wonderfully the first couple of times, but now they're getting cynical (Picture a six year old saying, "Show me the stump, Dad!"). At least now they wait quietly across the room until I acknowledge them...

As far as the lathe, I guess I'll sock away the cash, and look for used deals locally and on eBay.

Enjoy your new toys!!

DanL: Thanks for the heads up on the HF lathe, and the Dremel trick!
lol i'm sat here looking at your post matey with the same pins and needles i've had since I sliced it off and i'm still as daft mate so Dont suffer my fate and take care of yourself.

Keith
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Old Jun 02, 2005, 06:36 PM
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Sydney, Australia
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RG

I borrowed a friends Unimat to machine some nylon pulleys and brass propshaft ends.

I wont borrow it again. Very hard to machine accurately on it. Way to much flex on the headstock.


Save up for a decent lathe. eg http://www1.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=TL4000
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