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HomeCNC LatheMy CNC Lathe and Why I Don't Use It Anymore

My CNC Lathe and Why I Don't Use It Anymore


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G’day everyone,

In this video I want to go over my Sherline 4410 CNC lathe. I occasionally get asked about doing CNC upgrades to my milling machine or mini lathe or outright buying a CNC. However I have already owned a CNC mini lathe for about 3 years, except it is rarely mentioned or used on this channel. In this video I want to explain the history of the lathe, my thoughts on it and why I don’t use it much anymore.

#CNC #CNCLathe #machining



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  1. glock cnc sells some upgrades for the sherline mill and lathes, like a much better headstock and motor for example. Its very pricey but its brings the already good sherline to another level. You will need to machine spacers or tool holders though but its worth it. I have it set up to be able to use a 5 inch precision chuck.

  2. I have a Sherline mill that I converted to CNC. Since I did my own wiring, I have ready access to the stepper motor wiring. Using the mill manually with the handles turns the motors into generators, which can apparently blow the output drivers on the control board, but if they are disconnected, then that problem goes away. I'm about to put in relays that I can energize remotely to disable the motors, making manual use much more convenient.

    About backlash: I rarely do any work that requires better than .002 – .003 accuracy. The X and Y axes are pretty simple to keep adjusted. The Z axis I have counterbalanced with a weight that tends to raise the head, which eliminates the backlash for most applications.

  3. This lathe is made out of aluminum… As a machinist for 40 years, it’s not worth buying a sureline Mainly because they are not made to last. Unlike small machines of the past they were made of cast-iron. the machines of today are of substandard quality. Anyone who wants to buy a leave you’re better off buying an old 6 inch vintage Lathe Or larger And restore it

  4. That kind of lathe would be great for me. because it would work good for making bushings and spacers and such. which is something I do quite a bit. and I like the fact it can be used with or without the CNC.

  5. I have a CNC lathe so I can relate. I got it because I wanted a benchtop lathe and that was the first used lathe that came up for sale near me. I actually didn't like it at first because it was cumbersome to use in CNC only mode and I ended up buying a mini lathe. Since then I've added manual controls and made a GRBL based controller board and adapted it to use in sort of a hybrid manual / CNC method. I've actually come to enjoy it and have more plans to modify it and plan on selling my mini lathe as I don't use it any more.

  6. I love your content on manual machining, and as someone who loves robots (who doesn't?), I like to see the cnc side too, including converting manuals. I do think a lot of your content is making tools for yourself or modifications to your machines, which is great and I love seeing that, but maybe you could try designing parts that can be made on the cnc in order to sell to support the channel. Once you have something designed you could make production runs with little additional effort in terms of programming and such, but could still give you additional content to share for improving the cnc just like you do for your manual machines. One off parts on a cnc lathe does sound like a lot of work compared to doing it manually but it might be fun to see how well you can shape the production over time. Just a thought. Love your videos!

  7. I agree that CNC machines aren't as useful in most home workshops. However, I still want to try to (reversibly) convert my 111-year-old South Bend lathe (originally a treadle-powered lathe) to either "NC" or "CNC" to give me a "productive" use for (i.e., way to play with) one of my PDP-8 minicomputers & Teletype, just to see if I can do it. I seriously doubt that I'd ever need a (C)NC lathe in my workshop though! 😉

  8. I bought the Rocketronics ELS (electronic lead screw) for my G0768 (S3) and it really does a great job of being the step over from manual to CNC. I can do complex curves, balls, tapers, and threading with ease with the ELS but my lathe is still manual. The nice thing is the ELS doesn't require programming other than to set the starting position in the X and Z, and then setting the length. Even small production runs are possible with the use of a couple stops. Thank you for the interesting video and if you are doing some CNC, I'd like to see it.

  9. On your shot at 4:09 you are missing the most important part on these machines: the anti backlash nut. That is why you have all that slope. I get 0.001” backlash on mine using the anti backlash system correctly. You should have one on the z axis and x axis.

    Edit: just finished seeing the video. I guess mileage will very.

  10. The problem every single person here has is they are relying on CAM. YOU CAN EASILY CAM FROM YOUR BRAIN. I’m 2 months into a new job being a Cnc setup operator and on the first week, one week they taught me how to write cam from scratch. It’s not that hard guys, Cnc is faster than manual ALWAYS but only if you can write gcode from scratch. I’m writing gcode every single day with nothing but a blueprint and a two axis lathe controller. Forget about any cam system and level yourself up to knowing what you are doing.

  11. Interesting (to me, at least) is that both Taig and Sherline were originally Australian designs, bought up by USA companies or individuals. I have a Taig (manual) lathe. Nice machine.

  12. You can occasionally find smaller ball screws on the bay. I picked up 5 10mm ball screws for approx. 250 and retrofit both my sherline mill and lathe. The result was unbelievable. The backlash has been under .001 for over 2 years. I was adjusting the backlash every other day before I modded them. I can post some pics if you want.

  13. (Only because you asked) I tend to skip any channel’s videos involving CNC. I understand their vital role in production and the precision they reap. The work just doesn’t interest me; I get enough automation at work. Manual milling is the art I enjoy watching.

  14. Fixed backlash compensation always has errors that add up over time. One reason I designed my ELS to use the DRO as feedback to make a "closed loop" backlash compensation that works really well. It makes it harder to do it for CNC unless you build a custom gcode processor and servo driver. It's easier to switch to ballscrews would miss the manual lathe though, especially getting tactile feedback.

  15. Sher were an Australian manufacturing company before outsourcing assembly and some production to the US in the mid 1970s and eventually moving all production there in the late '70s (apparently because it cost too much to build machines locally and export into the US for the 'catalog' stores like Sears).

  16. I have been using Sherline tech for quite a while now and here's some of my tips:
    1: The QCTP your using is complete crap. I have used that exact one before and it significantly reduced rigidity. Get a nice OXA tool post, they aren't cheap, but they are worlds better than that one.
    2: You're not using the anti-backlash nut on the crosslide. Look up how to install it, it reduces backlash SIGNIFICANTLY.
    3: Make sure you don't ding the dovetail ways as it might mess up your accuracy and also give you ocd.
    4: Dont abuse it, like you said, the sherline tools are a whole different class of machinery than the imports and should be treated as such. I keep my sherline lathe and mill oiled and clean as well as covered and away from grit. They are kept in an air conditioned space but that may not be necessary. Keep it clean, and dont take massive cuts unless your just testing the limits of it and dont care about the quality of the part.
    I used to have a chinese import and It drove me crazy, it had zero rigidity and it couldn't cut even the easiest to machine grades of steel I had. But then again, you did some serious upgrades. Just my two cents

  17. I'm not very interested in seeing more CNC content. It's pretty boring to watch most of the time, and manual machining is far more interesting unless you're into coding.

    There are loads of channels dedicated to CNC. Your channel is enjoyable largely because it's manual work and well narrated.

  18. Multiple parts, production parts – CNC wins. You want to have fun, manual is fine but you are limited to shapes. I have the Sherline ball screw milling machine. Repeatability is excellent, I can make exceptional parts from it but I can afford the lathe and I like the small footprint. I still have my precision manual lathes and I still use them daily. It comes down to what you want to do and what you want the machine for, each has its place in the shop. I wouldn't give up either one.

  19. The Centriod Acorn CNC is very nice. I started with a ELS and more, after 7000 lines of code, and still no g-code interpeter, I went for the Acorn CNC. It has everything what I needed : Encoder input with a Z-chan, analogue speed control, 4 axis control, digital inputs, relais outputs, touchscreen option, and a special easy job editor to generate g-code, and Fusion g-code input. I use it with Stepperonline integrated servo's z:180W x:90W on a Sieg SC1 from Paulimot. Works great. About manual : my biggest problem were ball-turnig, threading and keeping everything in propper dimensions. What I also hate is doing things twice or more. This is perfect for a CNC. Baby-sit for the first part and leave the other parts for the CNC. I have also a MPG, so I can do still manual things "fast".

  20. Most points you made resonate with me as a hobbyist. CNC is great for production work but leaves a lot to be desired in the one-off parts, repairs, and fun department.

  21. I'm a hobbyist, but I first learned on CNC mills (well… routers), and then moved on to manual machines. Even if I need three or four of a part, it's so much quicker on the manual lathe and mill than the CNC. I can spend as much time fiddling with toolpaths in Fusion 360 as actually making the part. And it isn't like the CNC machines require any less focus during operation: parts can move, positions can slip, and tiny errors in the gcode can add up to big problems that require immediate attention. I once lost a part because the endmill had been sharpened enough to change the diameter, and what should have been a move turned out to be a plunge cut. I'm sure for large production runs they are absolutely worth it, but I find them far more frustrating than satisfying.

  22. I have the manual Sherline, and it works pretty well. Even got the milling head attachment. With patience, I can usually get to a .0005" to a .001" size tolerance, and about .002" position for holes. Works pretty well, but it really needs axis locks, especially on the Z axis. When I made an axis lock, it turned parting from a screeching banshee to a relaxing cutting sound. I don't think I'd get any decent results in parting off steel without the lock.

    The backlash adjustment nut works pretty well on the Sherline. I got mine within about .001" or so backlash, which should be more than good enough for the vast majority of stuff. I am a little concerned that the leadscrew probably isn't hardened though.

    Good god the endless cranking sucks. 20 turns for every single inch on every single axis. That's the entire reason I'm going to make a power feed for it. It's going to turn me into Popeye the Sailor Man if I don't!

  23. I know extremely little about CNC but can you program in the direction of cut to keep backlash pretty much nonexistent?
    Similar to the way I do hand crank work on manual machines I consciously make up for backlash by cutting only with movements from the same direction.

  24. I own a bench top CNC mill, but like you, I seldom use it. From having been a machinist for 30 years and counting, CNC fits best with complex shapes and long production runs. My CNC mill sits idle mostly because most parts I can crank out manually in less time.

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