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CabDriver

Any Taig Lathe owners here?

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I did a search but there wasn't a bunch on here about them...

I've been tossing up between this...:

https://taigtools.com/product/10171-starter-set-1/

...and a Sherline, and while I like the Sherline I don't think the extra money you pay to buy one will gain me much compared to this Taig, which seems like it has great reviews.

At just over $450 the starter set seems like it would have everything you'd need to get going on making some little aluminum 'hop ups'...but I'd love to hear any advice from anyone more knowledgeable about these.  And given my lathe experience is almost zero it'll all help...

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I am Taig lathe curious. I want a lathe for some scratch building projects, and have been threatening to get one for some time. The Taigs are quite capable, and suitable for the vast majority of work one would use one for on  1/24 scale models. A full range of accessories is available. There are numerous hobby machinist forums online where Taigs have been discussed and modified in various ways for increased capability. Taig owners generally seem pleased with them. I had some of these conversations bookmarked, but unfortunately I lost them in a computer crash. I don't have one and haven't used one, but I believe they are definitely worth consideration.

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I posting here because I want to see what Taig owners have to say.  I am a Sherline person and have never see a Taig in person, so I am not qualified to comment.  I hope you get some constructive comments.  

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I found Taig's dealer in Oregon from their website. I just filled out a pre-order questionnaire to get a quote for one that will meet my needs. I have been hankering for a mini lathe for some time. I am just too wary of the under powered Chinese ones to spend $300 and up.

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Sherline works fine for me, has oodles of accessories, and is made and fully supported in USA.  I'm also curious about what Taig owners will say.

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Technically I am a Taig owner, but I have little experience with it only having had it for about a month. I have had a Sherline lathe and mill for several years.

My initial impressions, the Taig lathe is a decent machine and for some tasks, particularly at the larger end of the scale it might have some advantage over the Sherline lathe. It is slightly larger (4.5" swing vs 3.5") and is heavier. When it comes to machine tools weight is good, it helps to dampen vibrations. It is also available with a power feed for the Z axis (length) which is not available for the Sherline lathe. The saddle can also be released from the lead screw allowing rapid movement for set up, vs having to crank the lead screw the whole way. There is only one length of bed for the Taig providing 9-3/4" between centers and an overall length of 16-1/2". The standard motor on the Taig is 1/4 hp vs about 1/6 hp on the Sherline, but it is unlikely that the small belts can actually transfer the whole 1/4 hp, so the larger motor probably makes no real difference.

The Sherline lathe is much more refined, the hand wheels are calibrated, where the Taig only has a calibrated handwheel on the cross slide. As an option (and a very worthwhile option) Sherline offers hand wheels with a resettable zero. The Sherline has a much more precise tail stock (the tail stock is an extra cost option on the Taig lathe, and it is operated with a non calibrated lever vs a calibrated hand wheel on the Sherline). The Sherline motor is a variable speed DC motor, so you change speeds with a turn of a dial and have a continuous range of speeds between 70-2800 rpm (with optional high speed pulley, it can run up to 10,000rpm). Taig controls speed by changing the belt position on the pullies, providing 6 speeds from 525-5200 rpm (this is very common on larger machines, but most of the other mini-lathes are variable speed). Sherline offers two lengths of bed providing 8" between centers, or 17" between centers and an overall length of 23" or 32.5". 

Sherline has a great deal of customer support, a huge range of accessories, good instructions and even a youtube channel with instructional videos. Taig, doesn't even have a good website, I had to go to one of the Taig resellers websites to figure out what the differences were between the different Taig lathe options / kits. Sherline offers a gear train that will allow you to cut threads. The only way you can cut threads with the Taig is using a tap and die (honestly this is usually how I do it on the Sherline as well, but I can single point higher quality threads if I need to, which the Taig can't).

While it might sound like I'm putting the Taig lathe down, I'm not. I think the Taig lathe is a decent small lathe, and has some clever features. It is well made, with quality workmanship. I'm sure it can do good work and there are certain types of work that it probably excels at. If you plan to work mostly by eye, rather than exact measurements then you aren't going to benefit from some of the Sherline features. The Sherline lathe is one of the more expensive mini-lathes out there because without getting into crazy expensive instrument lathes (take a look at Levin if you have deep pockets) it is arguably the best available as long as the work will fit. It is one of the smallest lathes you can buy which can be a problem if you become interested in larger work.

Having had a good look at both, if I could only have one, it would be the Sherline, hands down I don't think it is even a contest. However I do like the Taig lathe, and expect I will find some projects that it might even be preferred for. Why do I have both, well I've kind of gotten a small lathe addiction, I've found I really like tinkering with them. 😃  

 

Looking at the basic package, it doesn't really compare well to any of the Sherline set ups. It has a little more tooling than the basic Sherline 4000 ($600), but less than the 4000 with the A package ($721). That basic package does not include a tailstock, which I think you will find you will eventually want. Sherline's package deals are a very good value, and will save you a lot of money over buying individually later.  I wouldn't get anything less than the A package, and if there is any way you can up your budget to the C package, you will be happy you did. I know $1000+ is not a small amount of money, but this can literally be a lifetime purchase. Unless you mistreat it, you will not wear out the lathe. 

Edited by Aaronw

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On 11/19/2020 at 6:51 PM, Bainford said:

I am Taig lathe curious. I want a lathe for some scratch building projects, and have been threatening to get one for some time. The Taigs are quite capable, and suitable for the vast majority of work one would use one for on  1/24 scale models. A full range of accessories is available. There are numerous hobby machinist forums online where Taigs have been discussed and modified in various ways for increased capability. Taig owners generally seem pleased with them. I had some of these conversations bookmarked, but unfortunately I lost them in a computer crash. I don't have one and haven't used one, but I believe they are definitely worth consideration.

 

I've gotten the impression Taig owners like to modify their lathes. Unlike the Chinese mini-lathes these modifications are not made due to poor quality control, but more that the Taig lathes offer a good platform to customize. 

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I really appreciate the feedback guys - and thank you @Aaronw for your detailed response.  What a huge help!!  

Got some more reading and researching to do now!  

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Yes, thank you Aaronw for the comparison.  My Sherline is more than adequate for any model-related machining I do. What's nice is that it is relatively light and portable, so it can be easily moved.  I don't have enough bench space for both, the lathe and milling machine. I have each machine mounted on a wooden base, and I can easily swap between them as needed.

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Aaronw, good to hear that perspective.  Sounds like each tool was built for a range of jobs and the overlap in ranges is somewhat limited.  I've always like Sherline for the plethora of options.  Often times it is not the tool but post sale support you get that becomes important as time passes.  It seems like I often run into something I can't do with the basic tools.  Nice to have a catalogue of options.  Oh and I like Sherlines catalogue for the descriptions of how the tool is used.  Thanks again.

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2 hours ago, CabDriver said:

I really appreciate the feedback guys - and thank you @Aaronw for your detailed response.  What a huge help!!  

Got some more reading and researching to do now!  

I was in the same place you are 5 or 6 years ago. I was very close to buying a Taig lathe myself, but after checking around with other modelers who had a lathe most were running a Sherline. There were also a few with other lathes, and most of them told me to buy a Sherline instead of the one they had. It is hard starting out because there is a fairly steep learning curve, and you don't really start learning about all this stuff until after you have a machine, so you are making a fairly significant purchase half blind.  

If you do go with a Sherline, give some serious thought to the longer 4400 (17"). It is an extra $100, but that also includes the zero-able hand wheels as well as having twice the length available (works out to $55 for the hand wheels, and $45 for the added length). The distance between centers is not the length of a part, that stated length also has to account for any tooling, chucks, drill bits etc. If you have a part in a chuck, that takes about 1-1/2", a drill chuck is another 2", a drill bit could be 2-4". If you do any drilling, reaming or boring the extra length is very handy. I've never needed the full 17", but there are many times I would have come up short on the 8" model. 

I will warn you, buying the lathe is just the start, machining can be addictive and the machines will talk you into buying more stuff for them. 🙂   A nice feature is Taig and Sherline both use the same 3/4-16 spindle thread and 3/8-24 for tail stock tooling (Sherline uses a Morse Taper, but the drill chuck comes with an adaptor), so many of the accessories can be used on either lathe. I have some Taig tooling I got for the Sherline, and since a lot of my Sherline tooling will work on the Taig, I won't need to buy much to run it. 

 

There is a really good youtuber Blondihacks who is very beginner friendly in her content. She explains things very clearly, and keeps things at a basic level. She uses machines that are bigger than a Sherline or Taig, but the concepts basically the same. About 3 years worth of video so if you have the time to binge watch it is time well spent.

Blondihacks

 

38 minutes ago, peteski said:

Yes, thank you Aaronw for the comparison.  My Sherline is more than adequate for any model-related machining I do. What's nice is that it is relatively light and portable, so it can be easily moved.  I don't have enough bench space for both, the lathe and milling machine. I have each machine mounted on a wooden base, and I can easily swap between them as needed.

 

I've found the Sherline lathes really stand out from the other mini-lathes. Because I developed further interest in machining, some of which was larger than I could do with the Sherline I eventually bought bigger machines. The Sherline lathe and mill are still used more than the bigger machines because they are easy to use, accurate and a little less likely to murder me. As you mention their light weight is very handy if you don't have a lot of space. I did the same at first, having a shelf under the work bench for whichever machine wasn't being used. Because the mill is rather messy, I ended up moving them downstairs into the basement and set up a larger work area so both machines could have their own spot. Then they started inviting friends over and I have been their servant ever since. 

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7 minutes ago, Pete J. said:

Aaronw, good to hear that perspective.  Sounds like each tool was built for a range of jobs and the overlap in ranges is somewhat limited.  I've always like Sherline for the plethora of options.  Often times it is not the tool but post sale support you get that becomes important as time passes.  It seems like I often run into something I can't do with the basic tools.  Nice to have a catalogue of options.  Oh and I like Sherlines catalogue for the descriptions of how the tool is used.  Thanks again.

Oh, yeah, that Sherline catalog, I thought buying the lathe was the expensive part. 😄  

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3 minutes ago, Aaronw said:

I was in the same place you are 5 or 6 years ago. I was very close to buying a Taig lathe myself, but after checking around with other modelers who had a lathe most were running a Sherline. There were also a few with other lathes, and most of them told me to buy a Sherline instead of the one they had. It is hard starting out because there is a fairly steep learning curve, and you don't really start learning about all this stuff until after you have a machine, so you are making a fairly significant purchase half blind.  

If you do go with a Sherline, give some serious thought to the longer 4400 (17"). It is an extra $100, but that also includes the zero-able hand wheels as well as having twice the length available (works out to $55 for the hand wheels, and $45 for the added length). The distance between centers is not the length of a part, that stated length also has to account for any tooling, chucks, drill bits etc. If you have a part in a chuck, that takes about 1-1/2", a drill chuck is another 2", a drill bit could be 2-4". If you do any drilling, reaming or boring the extra length is very handy. I've never needed the full 17", but there are many times I would have come up short on the 8" model. 

I will warn you, buying the lathe is just the start, machining can be addictive and the machines will talk you into buying more stuff for them. 🙂   A nice feature is Taig and Sherline both use the same 3/4-16 spindle thread and 3/8-24 for tail stock tooling (Sherline uses a Morse Taper, but the drill chuck comes with an adaptor), so many of the accessories can be used on either lathe. I have some Taig tooling I got for the Sherline, and since a lot of my Sherline tooling will work on the Taig, I won't need to buy much to run it. 

 

There is a really good youtuber Blondihacks who is very beginner friendly in her content. She explains things very clearly, and keeps things at a basic level. She uses machines that are bigger than a Sherline or Taig, but the concepts basically the same. About 3 years worth of video so if you have the time to binge watch it is time well spent.

Blondihacks

 

 

I've found the Sherline lathes really stand out from the other mini-lathes. Because I developed further interest in machining, some of which was larger than I could do with the Sherline I eventually bought bigger machines. The Sherline lathe and mill are still used more than the bigger machines because they are easy to use, accurate and a little less likely to murder me. As you mention their light weight is very handy if you don't have a lot of space. I did the same at first, having a shelf under the work bench for whichever machine wasn't being used. Because the mill is rather messy, I ended up moving them downstairs into the basement and set up a larger work area so both machines could have their own spot. Then they started inviting friends over and I have been their servant ever since. 

I had intended to use the over/under shelf method after I bought the mill. I've owned the lathe for much longer than the mill.  However I found if far more efficient to have both out at the same time espeically for making tire rims.  Each rim I make required several operations on each machine and it is much easier to chuck the raw stock up in a three jaw chuck an swap that between mechines( I generally have the rotary table mounted on the mill) than try remounting it on each machine after each operation.  Keeping it mounted on the chuck and just unscrew the chuck off and screw it onto the other machine. 

 

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2 minutes ago, Aaronw said:

Oh, yeah, that Sherline catalog, I thought buying the lathe was the expensive part. 😄  

Oh yea!  I have probably sent easily twice or three times the amount on tools as I did on the basic machine.  I also have the advantage/disadvantage of living 30 minutes from the factory.   That means that the only time I have to reconsider needing the new piece is the 30 minutes in the car before I get there.  😬

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1 minute ago, Pete J. said:

Oh yea!  I have probably sent easily twice or three times the amount on tools as I did on the basic machine.  I also have the advantage/disadvantage of living 30 minutes from the factory.   That means that the only time I have to reconsider needing the new piece is the 30 minutes in the car before I get there.  😬

 

Their sales have got me several times.

I'd love to visit their factory and miniature craftsmanship museum, but it is more like 10 hours for me. 

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1 minute ago, Aaronw said:

 

Their sales have got me several times.

I'd love to visit their factory and miniature craftsmanship museum, but it is more like 10 hours for me. 

The factory isn't all that remarkable but the Joe Martin Craftsmanship museum is a not to be missed destination if you are ever in the area.  When ever I am feeling full of myself as a model maker, I go by just to get a solid dose of humble!😏

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I bought the basic Sherline lathe about 35 years ago, from Micro-Mark.  Way before the Internet and online merchant presence. Micro-Mark stopped selling them for many years, but they are again carrying the Sherline line of products.

Then I started adding accessories, a little bit at a time. I describe this in:

I recommend reading that entire thread.

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The Taig  mini lathe has been marketed as the Peatol lathe in the UK for many, many years. Having looked at them at our Model Engineering Exhibition they are a very well made piece of kit. They tend to market to model engineers rather than general model makers so they offer a very basic machine that model engineers can customise to suit their specific needs. Sherlines are well made machines that are obtainable over here in the UK but less well known to the UK and European modeller than the Emco Unimats that also have many accessories available in a similar fashion to the Sherline machines.  Another well made mini lathe is the Proxxon of German origin. Proxxon make a comprehensive range of machines for model makers, both for metal and woodwork. In fact you could fully equip a model making workshop with their range of bench and hand tools. Well worth a look on their website. Almost all the others tend to concentrate on lathes and milling machines. In the UK there is a manufacturer named Cowells who make miniature lathes. They are considered the Rolls Royce of miniature lathes and are built to tool room standards with a price tag to match I might add!   I have an Emco Unimat 4 that is adequate for what I use it for and a larger Emco Compact 8 for bigger stuff. I decided to go for a separate milling machine as I felt that the milling attachments as fitted to the Sherline and Unimat 4 would only be a compromise due to their size limitations.

Over on the Scale Motorcars website forum there is a section devoted to scale machining that is well worth looking at.

Edited by Bugatti Fan

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