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Older Sherline 4000 for Beginners First Lathe?

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Hello all, and thanks for all the information I've been absorbing since finding this forum.

I have an interest in learning model machining with the goal of making a few simple projects, and then moving on to some beginner air/steam models, and ultimately small IC / Hit & Miss models.

My original plan was to get something similar to the LittleMachine Shop 5100 7x16" lathe to learn on, prove that I like machining, and then likely move up to something like a Precision Matthews PM1020 lathe and PM25 mill as my skills and projects increase. However, even the LMS 5100 is a big investment for me in an unproven hobby.

Today a 1976 Sherline 4000 came up locally on Craigslist. It includes the Sherline 3050 Milling Column attachment for the lathe base, 3 and 4 jaw chucks, and a jacobs chuck for the tailstock. This is the original US made model with a brass lathe bed and milling column and a 1/5 HP AC/DC motor. It has been owned by the sellers father since purchased new in 1976. Looks like it has been sitting for a while with some flash rust on the chucks and ways. They are asking $500, and I was thinking of offering $350. That would leave me some money to get the quick tool post and some basic tooling. Sherline also offers and upgrade package to install their current 90V DC 1/2HP motor and controller on the 4000 for about $300.

What are the thoughts on getting this as an intro setup to work on basic skill for a few years while I save up for the PM1020 and PM25 and skip the LMS 5100 all together? I think I understand the limitations of the micro Sherline lathe/mill setup, but it looks like some have tackled small model engine builds with similar equipment.

Any and all input or comments are welcome.


Hi Mals,

I have a newer generation Sherline lathe and mill, was great when I was starting out, and its still my only lathe and mill. I don't know about that first generation, but I think they have kept things compatible so you could upgrade it piecemeal to newer ways etc if desired later on.
Big thing to check for is wear on the ways and cross slide, wiggle things and look for movement.

Flyboy Jim:
Hi Mals,

Welcome to MEM.

I started out several years ago and, like you, had an interest, but no experience in machining.  The one thing I figured out early on is that I wanted to start with a Sherline lathe and mill after seeing the work that Chris (Crueby)and others have done with theirs. They are accurate and work right out of the box and are an excellent platform to start ones machining journey. There's lots of great accessories available. They have worked out great for me and at this point have no desire for anything larger. If I did ever get anything larger, there's no way I'd ever part with my Sherline system. They are so nice for making smaller parts. By the way getting larger machines isn't necessarily an upgrade, depending on the work you want to do.

As far as the lathe, with mill attachment, you're looking at I think that it would be a real pain changing back and forth from mill to lathe. For some parts, I've found myself starting on the mill, then move it to the lathe, then back to the mill, and finally back to the lathe.............for just one part. That said, I can still see some good learning opportunity with the lathe and milling attachment you're looking at, if you can get it for the price you mentioned. Is there any additional tooling or accessories that go with it, besides what you've mentioned? It it needs a motor upgrade, that would be a deal breaker for me. It'd be better to get a new lathe in that case.


Let me be the counterpoint on this one. I have one of those old brass bed Sherline lathes and well, I never use it. Itís had a hard life prior to me acquiring it. The ways are very easy to damage. Mine is barely serviceable. The big show stopper for me was the headstock and motor bearings are shot. By the time you replace the motor, speed control and headstock you are most of the way to the price of a new lathe and you still have the brass bed to contend with. If you are going to use it the way it is then it might be worth it. If you have to replace the motor and headstock I would pass.

My two cents


500 seems a bit pricey....I'd save my shekels
 and buy a new one.....not really that much more money....



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