Taig Micro Lathe
I think the Taig micro lathe is far often overlooked as a viable lathe for the small parts hobbyist. It is an excellent choice for the miniature and small size model maker. The only thing considered missing by big lathe pundits is the powered feed and thread making ability.
The factory power feed has recently been added as an option. For many years hobbyists have added their own feeds – motor powered, complex gear powered and CNC versions. I have not seen the Taig powered carriage feed but assume it is motor driven. I have requested information from Taig Tools about the power feed and will publish it here. Update! – Here is the link to the power feed — http://www.taigmachines.com/Power_Feed.php
I presently (without seeing or using one) consider the power feed a luxury item and probably more work to use than just making small parts by hand. The power feed would be nice if a part being made was a long shaft. My hope is that there will be an easy option to use or not use the power feed.
The threading is another issue. Making small parts I almost never use single point threading such as a lathe produces. I use a tap and/or die which is much easier and accurate on small diameters. Cutting threads for a large diameter, inside and outside is another matter. That is a lathe project or a very good CNC milling operation. The stock Taig micro lathe is not capable of doing large threads. Note I said stock.
The best solution is a larger geared lathe. That is why I offer the larger lathes in my store. I reserve the use of the Taig micro lathe for micro parts. Within its limitations it is a very good machine. It is very simple to use and does not need to be pushed beyond its design limits. It is very easy to customize with no fear of damaging a larger more expensive tool.
The aluminum construction is not a problem considering it is a micro lathe and not intended for years of factory floor hogging operation. The Taig spindle is the heart of the machine. I have been running several Taig spindles for hundreds of hours each at over 10,000 rpm and with extreme side loads of CNC machining and routing. They now run better than new as a few hours of run-in reduces bearing drag without inducing run-out. The spindles do not get warm at 10,000 rpm after run-in.
I don’t recommend getting emotional about your brand of machine tools. Brand name loyalty does not need to become a cult although I know some folks are proud that they have the complete X-brand machine shop. In the world today some brand name products are serious pieces of junk. I always look at what will be the best investment for long term ownership under the conditions it will be used. Brand name recognition has been prostituted by mass consumer marketing. I think of it like sports teams. Some of the fiercest loyalty is for the worst teams.
Taig manufactures good tools, no junk. I think the micro mill is the best of their products but the lathe should not be disregarded. The lathe has limitations as do all small machine tools. The price is good. It is almost always purchased new. I don’t see many old ones for sale. The owners that have one, usually keep it.
So you may have a favorite machine brand but I suggest you consider Taig for your list of quality micro machine tools.