Craftex Mini Metal Lathe
This Craftex lathe is the perfect tool for model engineers and beginning metalworkers. This mini metal lathe is small, but it delivers the accurate results you'd expect from a much larger model. The low price you get from Busy Bee Tools makes this a great starter metal lathe for hobbyists or do-it-yourself enthusiasts.
This mini lathe from Craftex comes complete with 3 jaw chuck, change gear set, wrenches and Allen keys. Its cast iron construction features an auto longitudinal feed and collars calibrated in inches.
Cast iron construction, auto longitudinal feed and collars calibrated in
Complete with 3 jaw chuck, change gear set, wrenches and Allen keys
Swing over bed: 7"
Swing over cross-slide: 4 1/2"
Distance between centres: 8 1/4"
Spindle taper: MT3
Spindle speed range: 200-2500 RPM
Threading range: Inch 12-48 TPI
Tailstock taper: MT2
Tailstock spindle travel: 1 7/8"
Motor: 1/3 HP, 110V, Variable Speed
Size: 28" x 11 3/8" x 11 1/4"
Gross weight: 47kg.
Carton size: 12" x 13 1/2" x 27"
2 Year Warranty
Posted by Tall Man on 12th Mar 2013
First thing I noticed after turning the lathe on and feeding into material was toothed belt skipping. Root cause is the motor mount that is adjusted by 2 screws protruding pretty far out. They bending cause motor to twist and belt to skip. Inserting a strip of 5/8" plywood between the motor and cast iron frame above it fixed the skipping issue.
Next thing I noticed when continuing to cut was toolholder tilting and tool diving under pressure from the material being removed. Root cause: top ways gib too thin and screws holding the gib protruding too far. The screws bent under pressure from material and the whole top way with toolholder tilted. I ordered a custom gib which was snug fit into the way and it fixed the issue with tool diving.
I knew when I bought it that the there was no zero mark on the compound rest, so I zeroed it and marked it myself.
I don't know about other users, but in mine the chuck taper is totally useless, as inserting a provided MT3 center reduces the lathe from 7x8 to 7x2. Thus I never turn between centers and actually bored the taper out of the chuck to be able to use stock larger than 1/2".
Bottom line: this lathe is OK to work on the small parts, but not too small as it has problems at high RPMs decribed by Unknown below.
Posted by Unknown on 20th Dec 2011
I agree with Fraser that the metal gears are a definite bonus, and that there are benefits to taking the time to improve the stock accuracy. I did encounter some difficulties with functional aspects of the lathe which unfortunately were not quick fixes:
A few of the projects I used this lathe for required the full speed output (very small diameter parts). Running the motor at full speed resulted in significant arcing at the brushes, ultimately resulting in the consumption of one of the brushes, and annealing of the brush spring (which may have contributed to the arcing of the brushes). The brush holders were held in place with what appeared to be silicone adhesive and this had debonded (brush holders could spin in the motor housing). The arcing caused some damage to the commutator. After turning down the com on my other lathe, undercutting the mica, regluing the brush holders, and replacing the brushes, the motor now runs tolerably up to 50% of full speed. Reinstallation of the motor was very tedious: the mounts are difficult to adjust to achieve proper belt tension. The arcing becomes more pronounced above half speed, so in the interest of avoiding future problems, I don't run it above half speed.
The speed controller is, to me, unnecessarily complex, requiring a button push and a knob turn with a seemingly redundant 'off detent'. The button only seems to work after the knob has been brought past its off detent, and I believe is an unnecessary step (A kill stop button would make more sense).
The rated fuse for the speed controller will blow at what appears to me to be a low motor torque, and since the motor does not seem to have trouble with the higher torque at lower speed, the added cost of a more robust power transistor, in conjunction with thermal protection of the motor might enable more torque output at these low speeds.
The Stock gears for thread cutting include a wide variety of ratios for different threads. However, the lowest ratio provided, is still a bit coarse for smooth cuts while parallel turning. Grinding a radius on the cutter offers some improvement, but with the limited stiffness of a small lathe, this tends to result in chatter. Reducing speed and increasing feed brings you back to the issue of coarse parallel cuts that you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Changing the chuck/gear ratio is a tedious process, so one needs patience to use this lathe. I am in the process of modifying a small 4 jaw chuck, which Busy Bee sells for their rotary tables, for use on this lathe.
All in all I give this lathe an average review, since one must recognize that there are limits to a machine this small. Electrical issues aside, the mechanics of this lathe seem to be reasonably robust. For those who are considering buying this lathe, I will say:
The lathe is best suited for working softer materials: brass, copper, aluminum, in sizes up to 1". While it will turn steel and harder materials at larger diameters, great patience is required, since only light cuts are possible. Manually moving the hand wheels for parallel turning will yield better results than using the automatic feed. Make sure you get a shim kit with the lathe, along with the appropriate cutter stock.
Posted by Fraser on 27th Sep 2011
This lathe is like any other chinese low cost lathe... if you spend the time to clean it up and adjust it, it will reward you with accuracy and smoothness that is similar to bigger more expensive lathes. Two really nice features about this lathe is that it comes with all metal gears while another lathe that looks almost the same comes with weak plastic gears that will eventually wear out or break and it has a cam lock tail stock. One thing to keep in mind with these lathes is that half the fun is using it to make mods for it to increase accuracy and usability or just make upgrades for it. there are many great websites totaly dedicated to mini lathes or 7x's as their often called. These sites will give you great mods that you can make for this. It is important to keep in mind when buying one of these that it will have its qwerks that can be over come. On mine the shaft for the carrige rack and pinoin gearing was bent so I had to make a new one which i did in about 20 minutes. Over all I think this is a great hobbiest machine with huge potential that with a little messaging will make a great machine. I look forwards to many hours spent in the shop with it.