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Old 09-19-2011, 07:08 PM
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AJinNZ AJinNZ is offline
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Default Machinist Level

I am looking at getting a Starrett machinist level to get my lathe set up properly.
I went to a local supplier for engineering tools and got some prices.

12 inch 'standard'....$430
15 inch model 199......nearly $1000

Now the $430 is one thing, but nearly a thousand for the one that would be the better level, I dont think so. No way can I justify that sort of money.

Where would be a place to look for one? I did a google and so far didnt come up with much of any use. Trouble with here is by the time freight, import tax, markup, more tax, more markup and of course yet more tax gets added things get out of hand fast.

I dont think I need a super extra precise model, but I sorta think if I am going to do it then might as well do it right. I have no idea how much better the 199 is over the 12 inch.....might not make any difference for all I know.

Any opinions?
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:57 PM
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Probably not any better but that extra 3 inches might make it more useful. Especially if you were doing machine sit up all of the time.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:37 PM
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The page "Search Tempest" searches craig's list for you.

http://www.searchtempest.com/results...min&maxAsk=max
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:16 PM
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I'm just in the process of setting up a new lathe--initial leveling done a couple weeks ago, I'm letting it settle a bit before fine-tuning. All I've got is a 6" Moore & Wright and except for the fact that it won't span the bed cross-wise it's fine. The 12" would be more convenient but not necessarily more accurate. You should use the level to get as close as possible and do your final setup by machining a test bar anyway.

Just FYI I checked the latest KBC catalogue (Canadian) and the price for the Starret "Improved Machinist Level" is $118 for the 6", $145 for an 8", $205 for the 12" ($277 with a fitted wooden case) and $330 for an 18". The Master Precision 15" (Model 199) is $812. You might consider ordering from them...
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:46 PM
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Is it that critical that a lathe be perfectly level, and if so, why? (In a nutshell.)

Honest question – I am a complete idiot newbie when it comes to machine tools, so I apologize if this is a dumb question.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfram View Post
Is it that critical that a lathe be perfectly level, and if so, why? (In a nutshell.)

Honest question – I am a complete idiot newbie when it comes to machine tools, so I apologize if this is a dumb question.
It's probably more correct to say that the lathe bed should be straight and free of twists, rather than level. Having a straight bed eliminates twist which is the cause of runout. If the bed could be held straight while the lathe was tipped over on a 30 degree angle it would still (in theory) cut straight. We talk about leveling the bed because it's the easiest way to get the bed straight and true...
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:24 PM
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you likely don't need anything more than this. http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?P...&PARTPG=INLMK3

If you need it longer just set it on a parallel or something true. I was aghast at the prices when I looked at Enco, I have a couple in my tool chest that I have been using for general shop work. I think I may wrap them in velvet and put them back in the machinist tool chest and go back to my torpedo levels.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJinNZ View Post
I am looking at getting a Starrett machinist level to get my lathe set up properly.
I went to a local supplier for engineering tools and got some prices.

12 inch 'standard'....$430
15 inch model 199......nearly $1000

Now the $430 is one thing, but nearly a thousand for the one that would be the better level, I dont think so. No way can I justify that sort of money.

Any opinions?
You will cry more than twice as hard when you drop the more expensive one
If you are setting up a typical manual machine I doubt you will be able to justify the cost difference . If you are setting up and maintaining a shop full of CNC machines and you know the limitations for that degree of level accuracy you can justify the better level.
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:08 PM
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If you go to that supplier your getting screwed I just checked McMaster-Carr that level sells for a little over $700.00. You need to remember that a lathe does not have to be level it needs to be parallel meaning no twist in the bed ways, I've been leveling lathes and machine tools longer than I can remember in excess of 40 years.
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Old 09-20-2011, 12:43 AM
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Thanks for all the info.

I used my 'normal' level to get it to where it is now, but knew at the time that it would need more. Plus I have to improve the floor it sits on.
I have a wooden floor and will add some steel under it with adjustable feet.

Once all that is done I wanted it set right, hence the machinist level.
I will never be able to afford CNC, nor do I have the inclination. Looks like the $430 model will be plenty. It wont get used a whole lot and as I just fart round for myself, the super deluxe model would be overkill it seems.

I have to factor in exchange rates and shipping if I order offshore. I will look though the outfits suggested and see how that pans out.

The place I went to had chinee made ones that were supposedly 'good quality'. I dont think those words and china belong in the same sentence. The cost was only 50 bucks less than starrett, so dont see the point. Besides, I have no interest in supporting the chinee economy.

I did however buy a nice little set of needle files made in Switzerland. Cost a bit but at least they will be made of something better than recycled woks.

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