Mini Lathe

I recently, and quite reluctantly purchased this little jewel from my good “friends” at Harbor Freight tools and thought I’d share my experiences. Based on previous tool purchases here, I knew spending $500 on something like this was a huge gamble. I quelled my fears by telling myself that if it was going to break, it would do so very soon after purchase and that I would have no problem exchanging it within the 90 day warranty. So far I’ve been mostly right. Since I had a HF gift card, and had found a 20% off coupon, my total cost on this item was $350 but because I had a bit of xmas money stashed in a pillowcase my total outlay was only $200 plus tax. I rolled the dice…

The worst part of owning something like this is that by the time you’ve removed all the packing grease and have the tool adjusted and modified to be working properly, you have 3-6 hours invested in it and doing all that over again is the last thing you want. The first signs of trouble came after the first prolonged project – making a barrel band for my Crosman 1377 pellet pistol. After long periods of use, the controller board acts up and only turns on the relays after removing power for a long period of time. I suspect there’s a cold solder joint somewhere on the board, but because the manufacturer coated it with some type of clear insulating coating, it’s really difficult to find the problem and even harder to do anything useful about it. So I’m biding my time before I have to box the thing up and take it back for an exchange (and again rolling the dice that I get a non-lemon).

Anyway, I’ll update this page if and when things change with it. In the mean time read about what I’ve turned with it so far.

Repairing cheap propane heater regulator click

Building a barrel band for a pellet pistol and threading the muzzle click

Update: (2/14/2012) I’ve found that the problem I believed to be a cold solder joint with the DC motor control board may actually be some sort of overload protection mechanism going awry. After several frustrating hours wasted waiting for it to “reset” I discovered that turning the speed control to 100% and flipping the main power switch on and off repeatedly seems to do the trick. Stupid, I know. But I guess I got exactly what I paid for. 🙂 Other than this inconvenience, I’ve had no major problems with the lathe.

Update: (1/30/2013) Control board overload protection problem solved. Click here to revel in my embarrassment.

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