About the Author
Tony Jeffree has owned and used a Taig lathe for several years, during which time he has written a number of articles on the Taig lathe and other aspects of model engineering for Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop magazines.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The Taig lathe is one of the class of lathes that are used for "desktop machining". It is small enough that it can be attached, along with its drive motor, to a base-board, used on a workbench or desk, and then packed away in a cupboard when not in use. Its capacity is not large; it can swing a work piece that is up to 4.5" in diameter and up to about
9" between centres. However, at this extreme of its operation, attempting to machine hard materials like cast iron or steel is a challenge that has to be approached with very sharp tools and very light cuts.
It is possible to use riser blocks to increase the spindle height of the lathe by an extra inch; however, this reduces the stiffness of the machine, and is therefore only of use with softer materials.
The major applications of this kind of lathe tend to be at the small end of what is sometimes known in the UK as Model Engineering and in the US as Home Shop Machining; making scale models of various kinds, clockmaking, small steam engines...and so on. However, they are also widely used in small commercial production and prototyping activities.
It is a mistake to view these lathes as being only metalworking lathes. There are many users that have bought Taig lathes for machining other materials, such as plastics and wood for pen-making. There are even users of somewhat modified Taig lathes that use them for machining pool cues.
In my own association with these machines, the only times that I have felt the Taig lathe to be at all limited have been when I have needed to machine stock that is physically beyond the lathe's capacity; as my main preoccupation in machining has been making clock parts, this hasnt happened very often. As with any machine tool, the Taig lathe has a limited operating envelope in terms of depth and rate of
cutting (speeds and feeds) that it can support; this envelope will depend on the diameter and type of material being machined, the workholding method employed, and the type of cutting tools in use.
There is no point in pushing any machine beyond its operating envelope and expecting it to perform well. The only possible end results of such abuse are damage to the machine, poor surface finish, de struction of the component, and frustration on the part of the operator.