View Full Version : harbor freight

01-19-2004, 01:14 PM
new to the forum and have a question. i am thinking of purchasing a harbor freight mini lathe and am wanting to get some feedback on there mini lathe (7 X10). i also considered buying the next size up and am looking for pros and cons?? sorry for the generic question but not sure whre to start. i am wanting something to "assist" me in making small parts, brackets, experiment etc.. i searched around a while but couldn't really tell much difference in the mini lathe reviews. thanks in advance

01-19-2004, 02:08 PM
If you can afford the next size up, do it! Always buy the biggest most capable tool that your budget will allow!11111

01-19-2004, 02:54 PM
Do a search right here on this site, visit homeCnC web page, click on the members list and find his home page. Lots of info already here.

01-19-2004, 04:18 PM
Buy the same lathe from Homier.com instead -- it's 7x12 and $30 cheaper. I've been quite pleased with mine.

http://www.mini-lathe.com/ has lots of details on these machines.

01-19-2004, 05:34 PM
If you really like the Harbot Freight unit, print out the one mentioned with the price and Harbor Freight should match the price, they have done this on items I have purchased.

01-19-2004, 07:09 PM
I bought the 7X10 about two weeks ago. It is a functional piece of equipment out of the box, but it is not a precision instrument. I'm taking mine apart and polishing pieces, and trying to get slop out. You get what you pay for. I could buy 10 harbor freight 7X10s for the price of a comparable prazi.

The lathe as it came out of the box was unusable for me. Expect to set it up, and set all the gibs, after you've taken the entire lathe apart to clean all the red grease off everything. Now that it is partly back together, the crosslide has about a thousandths slop, and the handwheel has about 5 thousandths backlash. I'm in the process of converting the handwheels to ball bearing to help that. The threading leadscrew has about 1/4" of slop. All kinds of stuff needs a little bit of shimming and massaging.

If you like to tinker, and get to know your machine, and have some free time, the 7X10 is very workable. It doesn't come with much in the way of accessories, expect to spend 150$ more minimum just for the basics (jacobs chuck, tooling, a 4 jaw chuck, etc).

The 7X10 is really a 7X8. I'm looking at the bed extension kit available from www.littlemachineshop.com for 150$ for another 6" of travel, to make an honest 7x14.

The 9X20 lathe floor model at HF didn't look any better. I imagine that you'd have to do all the same things to make it workable. The 7X10 has a cult following, and all kinds of parts and assistance is available from littlemachine and from www.mini-lathe.com

I bought mine on sale at $329.99. Print out the ad and bring it to the store or it will be floor price at 399.99.

Good luck.

01-20-2004, 01:08 AM
thanks for all of the replys so far. great information from all. i will prob go with the 7 x 10 (9) and work on improving it if needed. but is it safe to say that everyone agrees the larger HF lathe will also need some attention as well. if that is the case i will most likely go with the smaller one. please keep any opinions or experience with them coming. i am open to listen to what is said. thanks again.

01-20-2004, 01:51 AM
I have a speedway, (identical to the HF) I love it, for what I do, it works great. I would go for a bigger bed, the smaller bed is hard to work around, I'm going to buy the 14" converstion when I get a chance.

01-20-2004, 03:23 AM
if you don't mind telling me what would a longer conversion cost if i decided to upgrade at a later date??? i am pretty much sold on the mini HF unless something here makes me want to spend the extra 300 - 350.

01-20-2004, 03:34 AM
150$ for parts, 15$ more for taps and bolts, and 4+ hours of time. I'm getting tired of my 8" of throw, I'm about to throw in the towel and order it. Doesn't everbody need a few more inches?

01-20-2004, 04:26 AM
From what I hear, all of the mini lathes need this kind of "blueprinting" done to them. Personally, I am going to get rid of my big wood lathe, and buy a metal lathe that I can still cut the wood pieces on. 20" would be good...9" is way too small. Plus, if I have a larger bed, I can make more things (is something burning? Oh...wood fire up above.)!

01-20-2004, 12:43 PM
I just wanted to make a comment on the Asian lathes. I have the 9 x 20 from Enco. I got this because I was very happy with the Enco drill/mill. Needless to say that they are two different animals. My mill is quite capable of doing very good work with good finishes. The lathe on the other hand is CRAP! To this day I can't get any kind of a "Good" finish on my cuts. I even have preminum carbide insert tooling.

I have done the so called 4 bolt fix for the tool post holder. I can't even guess what would happen if I used the old 2 bolt mount.

Forget parting off anything over 3/4" inch in size. The vibration will shake things off the wall. The real scary thing is when you do try to part off something it trys to pull in the tool. There is so much play in the slide. I have varaible speed on this thing. I have tried all speed under the sun. It's not like I don't know what I'm doing. I do have a background in machining!

I have heard from other 7x people that this lathe is fine when you do the required changes. I would stay away from the 9x lathe at all costs. Go find a old used Atlas or Clausing, they would be 200% better.

01-20-2004, 01:37 PM
rs 1300, I'am glad HomeCNC (Jeff ) replyied to you. After reading the info on his home page I hoped you would read it also. His experience with these type of machines speaks volumes. It mirror"s a large number of guys that I have known that went down this road. Most of these machines end up in a dusty box under a bench or on the shelf. If the issue is money then look at the Taig or Sherline If money isn't the issue then look to the Kruts, ie. Prazi. Or the best way to go IF you have the room is a full size Lathe as Jeff suggests. Luck to you, which ever way you go!;)

01-20-2004, 04:28 PM
I have the HF 7x10 its not bad for only 300.00

01-20-2004, 06:27 PM

What size stock can you part off with the 7x10? If it can do about the same work buy has a longer bed then maybe it's worth it. Perhaps because the mill is bigger folks are putting much heavier materials in it then they would on the 7x10 models.

Also, this is the canadian version (see link). Is it the same as yours? This one is designated 10x18.



01-20-2004, 07:31 PM
Not the same thing. Check out


For 300$ it will get the job done, but it isn't a precision tool.

The spindle bore on the lathe is a 3/4" morse taper, so no chucking up work through the spindle bigger than that. The bore can be reamed to 13/16".

The 3" chuck will hold 1.15" using inside jaws, and 2.75" with outside jaws. The 4" 4 jaw chuck will hold 2.75" inside, and 5" outside.

4" or larger chucks are essential. I'll be adding a 4" or maybe a 5" 3 jaw as soon as I can afford it. Chucks are 50-80$. 6" chucks will not work.

01-20-2004, 07:58 PM
I know it's not the same as the 7x10. I was wondering if it's the same as jeffs 9x20 Enco.


01-20-2004, 08:08 PM
Looking at the enco site, it doesn't apear to be the same lathe. Different bed casting etc. Busybee does seem to carry a lathe similar to the enco. They call it a 8 3/4x19 and it is found here:


The specs on the one I am looking at is here:



01-20-2004, 09:04 PM
Your first link looks real close to the castings of the 9 x 20.

01-20-2004, 09:18 PM
More like this one then?


Sorry about that.

01-20-2004, 09:39 PM
Well, after I buy the 10x18, I will let you all know if it's as bad as the 9x20! I plan on going to busybee to have a closer look first tho.


01-21-2004, 12:54 AM
That is the best way to do it. If I could have only looked and maybe even gave it a try first.

01-21-2004, 01:26 AM
Eric if that price in the link shown is in U.S. funny money then I don't get it? The Prazi 5X12 is the real deal from Enco. And Jeff your right about seeing it first. Even better running it first (test bar would be great). Or short of that, mag base and ind the spindle at least. Not that it will tell you anthing about much of anything else. Alot can and has been written about setting up a lathe I just sometimes wonder how many of us pay attention to that all inportant first steps to getting it right?

01-21-2004, 12:41 PM
That's $1000 CAD. (about $750 USD)


01-24-2004, 07:55 PM
i did the deed today.. went and picked up a HF 7 x10 for 329. got it home and it looks great (but what do i really know???) now i just need to get things "rolling". plan on searching the site for some more info.

01-24-2004, 08:52 PM
I got a oil pan at a autoparts store, it's a drip pan that goes under a parked car.

02-04-2004, 07:49 PM
The smaller HF lathe 7 x 10 I have had pretty good luck with. It uses plastic gears in the head, so keep your cuts very light.

Jeff you have a gem in the rough, so to speak.

The HF 9 X 20 turns into a real sweet machine when you eliminate the two bolt compound clamp. Here is a link with very good pictures on the modification. This guy uses four 1/4 inch bolts to hold down the new compound clamp. I recommend inverting the bolts so that the head is down with the nut on top. I also recommend using four 3/8 inch grade 8 bolts. The reasoning behind inverting the bolt is a 3/8 inch bolt is to large to fit into the slot. You will have to grind or cut the head down so that it is thinner, the sides of the bolt also need to be ground down, just enough to get it to fit into the slot. This bolt when ground properly, fits into the slot and will not rotate. This is not a problem when the nut is on top. 1/4 inch bolts are much better than the factory setup, but the 3/8 inch are much stronger. This makes the new compound clamp ROCK SOLID, and turns the 9 X 20 into a real champ. I can cut 1 inch stainless on mine now with good results. The 3/8 bolts make a real solid mounting. The gib screws have to be reworked too, to get the machine to be solid.


The other mod that helps is a Gib Screw Replacement on the
cross slide, and top slide. On the cross slide I used three 8-32 x 1 1/4" long screws, and on the top slide I used three 8-32 x 3/4" long screws. The holes tap right out without any drilling. Here is a link with photos.


This guy also has other mods on his site. If you have one of these lathes these two mods are a must.