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Proxxon FD150/E Metal Lathe - Review


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I ordered the Proxxon FD150/E Metal Lathe from TBS Aachen, Germany, at 6pm on 26th December 2013.  It arrived here in the middle of Wales (UK), at 11.30am on New Year's Eve.
That's under 5 days, including a weekend, and in the Christmas period.  Pretty good, I reckon.

[Picture 1:]  The outer box measured 18ins by 10" by 9".  Nice thick, protective cardboard.
[Picture 2:]  The product box.  No sign of damage in transit.  Hopefully the 'extras' I ordered have been tucked inside.
[Picture 3:]  First opening.  Yes, the extras are there!  And everything's nicely held and protected in expanded polystyrene.
[Picture 4:]  Partly extracted from the packaging.
[Picture 5:]  The FD150 and its parts.

I had sensibly checked that the lathe works on 220/240v AC current, but I hadn't thought to mention that I'd need a plug that fitted UK electricity sockets.  The lathe, as delivered, has an European 2-pin plug.  Fortunately TBS Aachen included an adapter without charging extra.

I plugged the lathe into the electricity supply, and pressed the 'go' button.  It works!
Later, when the Christmas visitors have gone and my workshop (the kitchen) is no longer smeared with turkey fat and littered with discarded wrapping paper, I'll see what it can do in the hands of an almost-total-newcomer to the art of metalworking.

If you're interested, watch this space!

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Hi Brian, congrats on your new addition! 

 

The 'unknown' bag of parts appears to contain two levers for adjusting the lathe chuck, and 3 handles for your hand wheels.

 

I have a DB 200 Unimat on which I learned metal turning but have since bought a much bigger lathe to handle much larger projects (so I am selling the DB200).  My Admiral is very supportive of my insanity, er I mean hobby, and allows me to have most of the cellar so I am fortunate to have plenty of room.  In return, I help her with her crafts, jewelry repairs, furniture etc. 

 

To get started, read the manual, then chuck a hunk of brass and make chips.  This will give the feel, how fast to go, the right cutter, the right cutter height.  One thing with brass, avoid back rake on the tool.  Brass (and bronze) is scraped, not cut like steel.  You don't want the tool to dig into brass (the same goes for drilling holes it).

 

Have fun and best regards to your Admiral.

 

Duff

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What Duff just said is the best advice you can get to get started. Put a piece in and start making chips, listen to the sound and you will learn when you have to much speed or not enough speed. More isn't always better, believe me I have learn and it's the same on a mill, more isn't always the answer.

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If you fancy it your nearest Model Engineering Show is the Midlands one.

 

http://www.meridienneexhibitions.co.uk/our-events-detail.php?id=0000000007

 

Well worth going next year if you can make it. Check out the list of dealers that will be there. They are one of the best places to get tools at good prices.

 

I generally start drawing up a list of stuff I need a couple of months before the show. The entry cost is paid for with the savings you can get on tools.

 

I've only been to the London shows myself but believe the Midlands show is even better.

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Michael - I too have the Proxxon DB250.  I was given it last July as a birthday present.  It's lovely for small scale woodturning, but I couldn't see an easy way to upgrade it for turning metal.  Hence this purchase, six months later.

Nigel - the cheapest deal I could find in the UK was from Axminster, who would have charged £491.25 for lathe, cutters and tail-end chuck.  Free delivery.  Buying from TBS Aachen, the total price was €507.95 including delivery, which Paypal turned into £440.49.  I do still have a slight niggling feeling that I might have got a better exchange rate if I had paid by credit card.

Duff, thanks for the explanation of my little bag of 'things'!  I would probably have worked out the chuck levers easily enough, but the rest might have needed some deep reading of the manual.
That's not to say I won't be reading the manual in detail before I start work!  After all, there's only 8 pages in English for me to read!  Plus the pictures ...

QA, thanks for the Arceurotrade link.  I knew I'd be needing some centre drills, but I wouldn't have known what to look for, nor where to look for them!  By the way, is it OK to use an ordinary HSS twist drill to drill deeper centre holes?  I'll need to put a 1mm hole through the middle of the 3.5mm diameter pulley wheels I want to make.
Thanks also for the Model Engineering show link.  That venue is 130 miles from me, but only a couple of miles from the Admiral's sister, and we do have an open invitation to visit her.
And as a matter of interest, there's the 'International Model Boat Show' 3 weeks later (7-9 November) at the same venue, staged by the same people.

Christmas is over.  My final guest goes home tomorrow.  At last I'll have some peace and quiet for playing with the new lathe!

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Yes, those are nice, interesting, useful links.  Many thanks.

 

Two questions before I spend a whole lot more money on this lathe.
Somewhere in my searches, I did see that the FD150/E lathe takes ER11 collets.
The Proxxon collet set (24154) seems to be rather expensive.  I've seen prices ranging from £75 upwards.  Seriously upwards, I mean.  But there are ER11 sets available on Ebay that look like the Proxxon ones for a mere £25.
Frankly, the collets (Proxxon or otherwise) don't look to me as though they merit high prices.
So ...
First question - do I need them anyway?  The 3-jaw chuck seems able to grab anything in the range that the collets are designed for.
Second question - if I do need them, is there something special about the Proxxon own-brand collets that make them three times (or more) better than the supermarket own-brand ones?

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just a few words to amplify the good report on TBS-Aachen given by Probablynot.

I ordered goods from them on Dec 28th and they arrived at 0800 this morning. Considering that the New Year and a weekend intervened this is remarkable service. I also saved quite a bit of money by buying at Euro prices.

 

I would recommend this company to anyone in the UK buying Proxxon tools.

 

Thank you to all those who have highlighted this company previously.

 

Mike.

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Yes. They're very good on emailing too. I have asked about spares and they not only reply promptly, telling you how to order and giving a part number, but their spares are much cheaper than in the UK.

 

Their payment options also include PayPal.

 

Tony

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Well made ER Collets will hold work more accurately than a three jaw chuck. They should also cause less damage to the workpiece. They vary quite a bit in price as you've seen. I've bought quite a few (ER32) from Arceurotrade. It's probably cheaper buying a set but I just bought the sizes as I needed them.

 

This is what Proxxon have to say about their Lathe Collet sets.

 

"For accurate use on round components. Concentric accuracy better than 0.2mm, much better than a chuck"

 

http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Collets/ER-Collets/ER11-Collets

 

Is the lathe supplied with a collet nut? If not you'll also need one of these and a spanner. The bearing type nuts are really nice to use.

 

http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Collets/ER-Collet-Nuts-Wrenches-and-Spanners

 

Once again you can get these on ebay, look out for Gloster tools, I've bought stuff from them as well.

Edited by Q A's Revenge
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Two items arrived today.  The first was my centre drill set.  Second was the courage to put down the manual and actually DO something with the Proxxon FD150/E.
I placed a piece of 3mm brass rod in the chuck.   I added the appropriate cutter for face-turning the end of the rod, pressed the start button and started to shave off the tiniest-possible sliver of brass.  Seconds later the chuck came to a stop, but the motor was still running!  Panic!  I turned everything off and tried to identify the problem.
The drive belt was in place, and taut.  After a few turn-on, turn-off experiments I found that the drive belt pulley on the end of the motor spindle was loose.  Loose?  I don't think it had ever been tightened before it left the factory!  The little hex-headed insert required at least twelve full turns to tighten the pulley onto the spindle.
Incidentally, that drive belt pulley is made of WOOD!
Back to work.  Face turning went well, then I drilled a 1mm diameter hole through the centre.  With a v-shaped cutter I added a groove about 1mm along the brass rod - that went well too.  I tried using the provided parting tool to cut off just after the groove (to create a 3mm diameter by 2mm pulley wheel) but it wasn't right for the job.  Very slow to cut, and tended to get dragged under the workpiece.  I resorted to cutting a small second groove and using that as a guide for a saw cut to release the (nearly) finished pulley wheel.  A careful bit of sanding with very fine wet&dry finished the job.
A second pulley wheel was made in the same way (but much more quickly!)

First impressions:  A nice, precise tool, and a pleasure to use.  But hex keys are cheap enough, so it's disappointing that they didn't include the three (4mm; 3mm; 2mm) that I found vital while I was doing this bit of elementary turning work.
It's small enough to set up on my sitting room window ledge, and light enough to pick up and put away when not being used.  I haven't mounted it on a base board, but the screw holes in my window ledge aren't all that obtrusive ...
I would like to find a parting tool with a cut that's 1mm wide (or less) for tiny jobs like this one.  The one that comes in Proxxon's cutter set is 2.5mm across.
I still haven't found out what most of the 'assorted things' in pic 5 of my OP are for!  They consist of 3 short (20mm) plastic tubes, 3 short (17mm) brass tubes that will fit inside them, and 3 small (28mm) hex-headed bolts that fit inside them.   Ideas, anyone?

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I would like to find a parting tool with a cut that's 1mm wide (or less) for tiny jobs like this one.  The one that comes in Proxxon's cutter set is 2.5mm across.

I still haven't found out what most of the 'assorted things' in pic 5 of my OP are for!  They consist of 3 short (20mm) plastic tubes, 3 short (17mm) brass tubes that will fit inside them, and 3 small (28mm) hex-headed bolts that fit inside them.   Ideas, anyone?

Brian the link earlier to the model engineer site had a neat article on using old hacksaw blades as parting tools, I have not tried this myself but I do intend to try it.

 

Also I was surprised by the wooden pulley

 

Michael

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The three sets of tubes and bolts seem to be handles for the hand wheels. I would make a new pulley to replace the wooden one as soon as possible. I may have a suitable size lump of aluminium you can have if you let me know the size.

 

Small parting tools here. You can grind the blade a bit thinner at the tip for small stuff if you need to.

 

http://chronos.ltd.uk/acatalog/info%5fPTO%5f%5f%5f%5f%2ehtml

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Michael:   Almost every hacksaw blade I've seen has had offset teeth (about 5 to the left, then 5 to the right, and so on).  I do understand it's possible to get hacksaw blades without the offset, but although I've searched I've never found them for sale.
For today's job I used a coping saw with a metal-cutting blade (straight teeth).  Worked nicely.
<<Also I was surprised by the wooden pulley>>.  Did you mean you were surprised by my wooden pulley?  Or have you got a FD150 of your own that was similarly fitted?

QA:   Oh, clever!   You got it right!  Now my hand wheels have sweet little handles!  But that means four Allen keys are needed in the box, not three.  The hex bolts have 2.5mm recesses!
(And many thanks re the wooden pulley and the aluminium lump - I'll take some measurements and send you a private message later)

 

In the making of my two little pulley wheels (each about 2mm wide) used up something like 60mm of 3mm-diameter brass rod.  Some of the wastage was due to my own woeful efforts at parting-off.  But the main cause of waste was damage to the brass rod where it was being held in the 3-jaw chuck.
QA said (#14 above) that <<ER Collets will hold work more accurately than a three jaw chuck. They should also cause less damage to the workpiece>>.
However, Wefalck said (in a thread about the DB250, but which made a sideways mention of the FD150) that it (the FD150) <<has a conus for standerd ER collets, but the capacity of the ER11 collets is rather small at 7 mm. One has to remember though, that ER collets are made for toolholding and not workholding. They don't hold properly, when not using stock that is as long as the collet itself.>>
Proxxon themselves offer (at an enormous price) a set of collets for the FD150, and they're ostensibly ER11 collets.  Non-Proxxon ER11 collets are available at up to a fifth of the price of Proxxon ones.  If collets really are a less wasteful way to hold round stock (of 7mm diameter and under) than the 3-jaw chuck, I'll soon be buying a set.

I wasn't intending to set this up as an argument.  However, there do seem to be conflicting views.   Should I get the collets (plus ancilliaries) and save on wastage of materials?  Or should I tell myself that the materials wastage only amounts to a few pence each time, and I'll be dead before the collets would show a significant cash saving?
 

Edited by probablynot
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Brian I was surprised by the wooden pulley on your lathe, I do not have a proxxon lathe. I think that the parting tool from the hacksaw blades was using the body part of the blade not the teeth, they can be ground off Hacksaw blades are brittle they can be snapped into shorter lengths I have always ground my own parting tools from standard 1/4 inch square tool blanks but as I mentioned I will try the blade gig.

 

Michael

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Collets (there are many types) have been used on Lathes for over 100 years. To suggest that collets are for tool holding only is incorrect. Collets are a clamping system capable of holding any suitable material within their clamping range. 5C Collets are even available to grip square and hexagonal stock.

 

http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Collets/5C-Collets/5C-Collets---IMPERIAL

 

One of the most popular is the ER32 which many model engineers use on their Lathes. Here's a couple of shots of some components turned on my lather held by an ER32 collet.

 

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In all cases the component was made from the end of a much longer bar passed right through the collet chuck but after parting off the component was put back in the collet to clean up the other end.

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It's good to know these tool 'reviews' are actually interesting and helpful to potential purchasers.
I confess I'm still puzzled about the wooden pulley wheel.  Looking closely at it, I'm fairly sure it's wood.  It looks like wood.  It feels like wood.  Although the end grain is a bit ambiguous, and I guess it's possible it's a wood fibre-plus-plastic composite.
I've sent a message to the Proxxon tech advisors asking about it.  When (if) I get a reply I'll report back.

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Even before I ordered this lathe, I was uncomfortably aware that "accessories mania" was likely to strike.
I tried to pre-empt this by getting the set of six cutting tools, and the tail chuck, at the same time as I bought it.  Unfortunately that didn't work.
I now have some centre drills as well.  I've ordered a special little parting tool, and an ER11 collet nut.  If the collet nut turns out to be the right one, I'm planning to order (next week) the collets that it's intended to hold.

Then it's materials - chunks of brass, aluminium (with the second 'i', you colonials!) and plastic that I can reduce to chips and shavings while I try to learn the skills of the machinist.

As things stand, each of my two tiny brass pulley wheels is costing me roughly £240.  I think I'd need to live to the age of 150 to make this purchase economically viable.  On the other hand, if I regard the lathe merely as a geriatric's toy, I've already had my moneys-worth of fun from it already, so the pulley wheels are free!

Depends how you look at it, eh?

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Here's a close-up.  Nowhere near as smooth as Tufnol.  I'm now inclined to think it's some sort of composite, but honestly it felt like wood!  And the 'endgrain' looked almost convincing!

 

Meh, you have a lathe ffs. Make a new one.

 

:P

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Can't think why they used Tufnol unless maybe it has more grip than metal? I wouldn't change it though, Tufnols strong enough. My lathe had a cast iron pulley and the first job I did was replace it with a much smaller alloy one (used what I had to hand) in order to slow it down. The lowest speed was a bit fast for thread cutting.

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