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4.1 out of 5 stars40
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 15 March 2010
The very first project presents the inexperienced already with a problem that cannot be easily overcome. How do I mount something on a center lathe for fly-cutting? How do I have to grind the fly-cutter?
There are no explanations available to the most complex procedure in the first chapter, which is the reason, I never completed that workpiece, not having the possibility to mount a milling post on my lathe.
There is good information in the book, but I consider it a rather "incomplete course".
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on 10 August 2010
I would have to agree with some other reviews that this book is not for the beginner. Having just acquired a Myford Super 7, I was hoping for somthing to help me get to grips with the basics. This book starts out using terminology which is undefined and gets increasingly complicated. The project based idea is a good one, it's just a pity the introduction doesn't start with the basics. "The Amateur's Lathe" by Sparey is much better.
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on 15 July 2008
Despite claiming to be "A Complete Course" and stating "This book assumes no previous experience", this book is somewhat lacking in basic detail for the beginner. Emphasis is placed more on learning through practical experience in the form of twelve projects rather than providing the reader with even some pretty important background detail. The projects are adequately explained and liberally sprinkled with photographs, but again lack some of the finer detail that would benefit the novice lathe user.
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on 25 November 2011
When it comes to writing about model engineering, Harold Hall is in a class of his own and few other books come close to his unique style of prose and sentence structure. Mr Hall writes with the clarity of an author using a broken typewriter whilst falling down stairs inside a locked filing cabinet. And reading his work is very nearly as painful.

I boggle at the thought he edited a mainstream magazine unless it was the Stanley Unwin Review. When the sentences aren't hard to follow there are some doozies that left me agape. Half way through he says "this brings me to a point I should have made earlier..." I'm sorry? Does your word-processor not allow you to go back and change things? It certainly seems that way from the odd punctuation and spelling mistakes (grove for groove in a couple of places) or perhaps he just wrote it in one sitting.

Then there is a candid admission that the cylindrical square he insisted we made two chapters earlier is "not that useful." Well, gee, thanks Harold.

Now, it would be sad to spend an entire review impuning the text so let's mention the photographs. On second thoughts, let's not. They're terrible. They lack contrast, making them hard on the eyes and the resolution is terrible. Going by the publication date it looks as though they were taken with an early digital camera that just wasn't up to print standards. They're pixelly and jagged. Not good.

How about the layout?

Nope, that's poor too. The photos & diagrams both have their own numbering schemes making it hard work to find them when the text references them; ie one must, say, flip forward to diagram SK3 but back to photo 3. And each chapter starts the numbering from one again. Parts listings for diagrams are incomplete, for example just what are parts 5 & 6 of the milling spindle? Bearings? Nuts? Unknowingly you read about them in the text but since that makes no reference to the part numbers you're still in the dark. The individual diagrams do eventually make an appearance six pages later.

But then, this is a project where he's cutting out the flowery text and limiting himself to a "production schedule." If his outlook is widespread then it is just possible this could explain what happened to the British manufacturing industry...

But the content. How's that, you ask?

Mr Hall knows how to make things. The later projects aren't bad and the actual ideas he's trying to get across are pretty good. It's just the execution that's terrible and there's no way a beginner would get off the starting blocks with just this book. And don't get me started on the use of the word "Complete" in the title. LH Sparey's book is streets ahead in almost every way for a beginner and to be recommended way ahead of this one. And Tubal Cain demonstrates how to be enjoyable to read.
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on 4 November 2009
Although I havnt read all the book yet, only the part up to where one stasrts to make something.
However, one of the reasons for stopping at this point was because I found several "terms" and statements that the writer assumes the reader knows already, and as A beginner, I do not. Thus I am finding that I will have to read again several times the first part in the hope I get to understand, before moving on to actually use the lathe.
Maybe someone can suggest a book that starts right from the begimnning, starting with how exactly to set up ones lathe, with photos/drawings etc. Also how to sharpen tools! The book mentions this, but does not say how to! Just one of the many statements where one is "left up in the air" wondering!
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on 19 February 2014
Love these books as a source of idea's. There are lots of pictures in black and white, the trouble with that is that some of the pictures are not as clear as I would have liked. Great value.
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on 7 October 2013
This is a Great little book for anyone wanting to use a lathe, and has little knowledge. Everything is explained well, and helps the novice do most things. I have shown it to a friend and he has one as well now. Well recommended. Mike B. Manchester.
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on 30 April 2016
Just what I needed to confirm what I knew and tell me what I didn't. Only criticism is that most times whan a photo or diagram was referred to it was on another page. Sometimes, several pages away. Some diagrams were difficult to work out.
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on 17 December 2008
I deferred buying this book because of the previous 2* review, but, new lathe delivery imminent, needed something to get started with. This book seems excellent, providing quite detailed information about a number of projects, from the simple to the complex. The first project in particular provides lots of confidence-building information on making the first tentative cuts on the lathe. Now all I need is to lift the new lathe out of its box ...
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on 25 April 2013
Although I have owned a lathe for many years this book is a reminder of the basics with a few extra ideas for the home workshop. Clearly illustrated and easy to follow. Well worth the small investment and a must for beginners.
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