7 x 12 Mini-Lathe

latheA version of the 7 x 12 metal mini-lathe is sold in Canada under the King Canada brand. There is also a 7 x 8 metal mini-lathe version sold in Canada under the brand name of Craftex by Busy Bee Tools (www.busybeetools.com).

The 7 x 12 mini-lathe part number is KC-0172ML and costs CAN $1000.00 (in 2010). It is more expensive than similar versions sold in the U.S. Altas Machinery (www.atlas-machinery.com) in Toronto sells this lathe model.

All 7x mini-lathes are the same but each brand will be slightly different. The KC-0172ML lathe comes with a 4-inch, 3-jaw chunk, for example. All the other assessories are similar, such as the steady rest, face plate, etc. Some other minor conponents may have a slight difference in design. In this lathe, the tool holder is made for 3/8" cutting tools.

These 7x lathes are made in China, so it makes a very good price for hobbies. All the major parts are made by cast iron and steel. When the machine is taken out of the box, you will need to clean up the grease. There may be a poor finish in the sharp edges so it can cut your fingers during the grease cleaning.

king_latheAll versions of 7x mini-lathes have the same standard features: a gear box for thread cutting, high-low speed selection, speed control, forward and reverse selection, and a emergency stop button.

The original cross slide and compound slide dials are marked with each fine feed division going by 0.001" and 0.025 mm. But the lead screws are 1 mm pitch metric thread, so each division is 0.9843" mil. One turn has 0.6 mil difference. Most of time I will use the English dimensions where in many cases it is acceptable. Sizes less than a mil does not seem to be a huge difference, but usually the cumulative errors can cause mistakes and inconvenience when making precise parts are crucial.

dialFirstly, the lead screw needs to be upgraded.

So I bought a set of English scale upgrade kit from Little Machine Shop (www.littlemachineshop.com) to replace the original lead screws and dials. It is a true 0.001" increment
dial and 0.050" pitch lead screw.

The kit comes with 0.050" pitch lead screws,
50 division dials, and nuts for both cross slide and compound slide.

Another inconvenience is the missing fine-feed dial on the carriage apron handwheel and tailstock. The tailstock only provides a 0.125" and 1 mm division on making the quill.

The 7x lathes is worth for the price with the provided features, especially for the hobbies and tight budgets.

However, some parts of the design may require some improvements, such as adjustment in the backslash and gib. You can find in the website, below, showing some owners have done improvements/modifications/upgrades on the lathes.

www.mini-lathe.com          This external site provides a very good source of information about 7x mini-lathe.