Home Forums General Discussion Forum Lathe Debate Is Over

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 26 total)
  • Author
  • #49321
    chris mabbott

      As most of you know, I’ve been looking for a larger lathe for about 5 months.. Like the Mill search, I’ve been confused, bamboozled, read to death and horribly, horribly thrown off track by my own want’s :?

      I’ve received a lot of good advice from most of you, and I’ve taken it all into consideration, but the time came to DECIDE..

      The thing I lost track of was MY ORIGINAL INTENTION. I would love a full sized bad boy metal workers lathe, but for now at least, my needs and plans do not require a full sized machine..

      I feel that I, as well as many others, just follow a progression of big, bigger, biggest, as I caught myself looking at super expensive beautiful machines.

      The other consideration is my location. Whereas I could have picked up a nice used lathe back home for little money. Here in Spain, it ain’t that easy..

      Ach zo, mit das in mind, I returned to my original plan “A” of a not too small of a lathe, something that could easily handle what my immediate needs required, BUT, could also handle something larger in the future, IF the need arose..

      Once more, I was faced with the flood of Chinese clone machines that dominate the EU market. But which bloody one??
      OK, I set my price limit, because I also need to add some tooling.
      I read & read & read, watch forums, machinist forums, individual forums, dealers web sites etc etc etc.

      But there was no definitive information, just a lot of chatter and varied opinions, not even any photos 😮

      So with what little info I could find, armed with the many suggestions and opinions that had been graciously provided, and given my geographical location.. I decided to go for the Optimum Lathe..

      My reasons… The price, size, what little I’d seen on youtube, it was sold here AND this model separated itself from the other growing list of China import machines by being tweaked in Germany, where they are known for fastidious, correct work. Apparently

      I picked it up a few days ago and I’ve been completing a strip down, inspection and thorough cleaning.. NEVER run any of these machines out of the box, it’s just not good practice.

      Based on my own failed attempts of finding any useful information, I decided to do a comparison between the Optimum, finished in Germany lathe, as compared to the Seig Milling machine that I also recently stripped down.

      I wanted to actually see for myself if there was the difference that Optimum claimed, between their stuff, and the rest of the Chinese machines.. I’ve also made a list of pros & cons that I will impart to assist future purchasers on making their decision.

      This will take a few days as I intend to go and have a play and do the first run after posting this… But for now, here is the finished product all nice and shiny, setup, oiled and ready to go..


        Hey Chris,
        Good lookin’ lathe!
        Good luck with your new purchase.


          Pink saddle? Cheeky :)
          Looks like a nice machine and knowing how fastidious you are about cleanliness and lubrication I can imagine it now runs better than it ever did.
          Well done Chris.

          bernie weishapl

            Hey Chris that is one good looking lathe. Should serve you well for many years. You are as bad as I am when it comes to buying machines. Glad you decided to either …. or get off the pot. 😆 😆


              @Chris Mabbott wrote:

              I’ve been completing a strip down, inspection and thorough cleaning.. NEVER run any of these machines out of the box, it’s just not good practice.

              SURE, OF COURSE NOT! We HAVE TO totally strip down and rebuild, with gold plating on all screwheads, chucks, rotors, etc

              Chris! I’m just kidding buddy, the truth is, I wish I could be as good at doing these “teardowns” and “rebuilds” that you, William, and others do to RULE over these pieces of machinery and tools that SERVE YOU. Very, very nice job Chris!

              As others, I, too, am taken by the hot pink trim :)

              OK, I’m officially jelly about that work you’re doing over there, Mr. Spaniard :)

              Tim :)

              chris mabbott

                Funny, because like myself, I could have guessed immediately which gentlemen would also have been attracted to the hot pink detailing 😆

                Bernie, thanks buddy, seems those micro centers, like many other tools, are very hard to find.

                bernie weishapl

                  Yes they are Chris. I just had to laugh because I could see me doing the same thing you did. I just need to sit down to begin with the easy questions such as what do I need, how much machine do I need, will it do the job for now and into the future then go find me a machine that will do it. 😆 Naw I have to look and read everything there is and look at every machine there is before buying. 😯 Oh well such is life.


                    I do the same thing, research it to death and then have a good long think about it, research a bit more and then buy it, but, there have been occassions when I have been offered such a good deal I just had to have it. Nobody needs 8 lathes now do they! 😳 I did have 10 but sold one last month and one the month before, just three more to sort out and sell and I will be left with just 5 which should be enough ;)


                      WOW!!! I am looking to buy a lathe to work on watches and clocks general stock like work both. I have not considered that I would need more than one or two at the most, but as I have never machined anything, I guess I probably do not know enough to make that call just yet. As far as annealing a piece of steel, I do know that you should heat it to cherry red and then just let it cool by taking the heat away until the piece has reached room temperature, and that if you do it a second time this should take any temper and hardness away so it is easier to then machine (drill or cut). Also, if there is a portion of the arbor that should not have the hardness taken away this poses a problem of annealing ONLY the part that needs to be worked on and leaving the rest of the piece hardened. I think after working on it it should have the hardness or temper restored somehow as well. Also, it should not be heated (for annealing) so hot that the carbon is burned out of it (thus making it useless for re-hardening) Regards to you all.


                      Bob Tascione

                        Nice Chris!
                        Congratulations. Looks solid. Let us know how the first cut goes.


                        chris mabbott


                          You really only need one lathe if you’re working on watches, it’s when you decide to make other things that require a larger, or different machine, that you then begin to look in that direction.

                          Again, it’s application that decides what you need. You don’t want to invest in a large lathe if you only want to make a couple of bolts, unless you want to of course, but that’s want and not need, there’s a fine line between the two :?

                          I have four lathes, two of which are dedicated polishing machines, do I need them…..NO, they just happened my way so I figured….WTF might as well use them for convenience 😆

                          It’s like the toss up between a drill press or mill, a mill can perform both functions, whereas a drill can’t mill, or isn’t intended to cut on that axis, but most people go for both.

                          It’s very easy to get caught up in this addiction as well….Tools, which is just as bad as watches/clocks and is a lot more expensive. You can end up with a fabulously equipped shop that you rarely use, just look on epay at many of the “rarely used” equipment that shows up regularly.


                            Very nice lathe Chris, I wonder if the German finish would be more than the finish you did on your mill ;) .
                            You are right there is a very fine line between want and need. I noticed that when I want something I start to need it. I think tools are even more addictive than watches. As soon as you made up your mind and bought one, you realise it is still missing something you will need sooner or later 🙄


                            chris mabbott


                              I’m going to do a comparison post but I have to get all the photos and info together, which takes a bit of time, plus I have to go away for a week or so, so I’m not sure if ill have time this week..

                              I will say though, that finish wise, the German lathe is far better that what the Seig was. The casting was very crude and rough on the inside of the mill, paint was a quick afterthought.
                              Optimum is finished nicely, as in it is smooth on those areas that cannot be seen, time has been taken there, and also more time has been taken on the important parts. It has also been properly painted, the paint is tough as a couple of knocks while four of us were grunting it in place, proved, the paint didn’t chip.
                              A small detail but it shows that if the paint was done correctly, then there is hope for the other stuff, I think 😆

                              That being said, both the Seig and the Optimum have their pros & cons. While the Seig has full bearing placement, the Optimum doesn’t , there are no bearings on any of the control handles, so these will wear quickly under constant use, steel on alloy. Also the lead screw uses a sleeve rather than bearings, also not very good. So I’m feeling a retro fit coming on 😆
                              I would eventually like to bore out the housings and install roller bearings.
                              It may be better if I do this while its new and tight so that I can maintain the correct centers… Ya know, but I hate to start tearing up a new rig 🙄


                                as Chris says, you only need 1 lathe for watchmaking and maybe something a bit bigger if you want to start making a few tools. I dont “Need” 5 lathes, I “WANT” 5 lathes :)
                                I am lucky in that I have a workshop and a bit of room.
                                1. 6mm Wolf Jahn Geneva style watchmakers lathe – for doing fine work and balance staffs.
                                2. 8mm American Watch Tool Co Lathe (WW Style) – It came with a 3 jaw, a four jaw, a cross slide for only £150 and is for bigger stuff than I want to do on the wolf Jahn.
                                3. Vario-Lux (Minilor) – 130mm swing but has a milling attachment, this is going to be set up just for wheel cutting.
                                4. Holbrook C8 – for tool making and bigger stuff
                                5. Unknown maker turn of the century (Victorian) grey lathe with about 100mm swing which will be used for a “handy lathe” set up next to my bench for barrel arbor polishing, screw polishing etc.
                                6. Pinion Cutting mill – (forgot about that one!)
                                7. Jacot Tool – is a small form of lathe
                                8. Watchmakers Turns – Another small form of lathe

                                See what I mean about tools!

                                This doesnt include another two watchmakers lathes I have for sale and a Myford 4″ Precision lathe, rare thing, only 500 ever built.



                                  Hey man, I’m not the one who bought it or chose the “hot pink” for maximum visual effect HAHAHA! You’re somewhat a funny guy, aren’t you? 😆

                                  Since you just basically vomited a list of all your great shop tools, I have a question that’s been a bit of a burning issue lately…and, since I know you like things nice and shiny, I thought I’d ask for a little background and direction. In other words, if you can, briefly (I know, hard for you…hehe) tell me how you started, what worked, and what the best polishing method is, in your eyes, I would greatly appreciate it. When I say “polish”, I’m referring to making something shiny, not de-burring a part or anything of that nature. I just won an auction on a beautiful Elgin 16s, and when I received it, I found it to be highly polished into a beautiful, shiny finish. It’s just so, so beautiful. I think I want to know how to do that – the exception would be where making something shiny would adversely affect the value.

                                  Ummmm…do I need a buffing wheel or something?

                                  Regarding cleaning, I read somewhere you use a brush – but you must hold the piece with tweezers, right? The winding wheel in the first watch I’m working on came apart in two sections – a stationary hold-down with a circular ring around it with gear teeth to wind the mainspring gear on top of the bridge. When it came apart, I noted it to be a bit dirty – with hard dirt on it – but just decided (I can change my mind, ya know… :):):)) to do a manual quick clean.

                                  Thanks Chris! Hey everyone, feel free to post your opinions, tips, advice, etc. I’m just picking on Chris because he’s making a pink joke about a guy who doesn’t own anything in hot pink…or otherwise… :D 😯


                                  Tim :)

                                Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 26 total)
                                • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.