I really like this machine, but be aware it is a "hobby grade" lathe and will need some TLC to set it up and make it work well. Initial tests with this lathe showed a run-out of .0015" on the 3-jaw chuck that comes mounted on it.
I measured with a dial indicator on 1/2" drill rod, about 1" out from the chuck. This was about what
one could expect from a lathe at this price, and I was quite happy with it. Seems to have plenty of
power, even for turning steel.
Definitely invest in a quick change tool post to replace the one that comes on it. The provided tool
post works okay, but it's a pain changing tools compared to what a QCTP can do. And be warned,
you will probably need to do some machining or clever modification to make a QCTP fit this lathe.
The steady rest and follower rest use solid bronze fingers - no roller bearings. This makes these two
pieces quite useless. They will horrible score up anything that spins in them. About $50 and some
bearings, shoulder bolts, washers, and work on my milling machine, and I mounted my own bearings
on the steady rest fingers and now it is usable.
Most of of the dial controls work quite well out of the box, but I did have to adjust the gibs on them
to get smooth operation. The automatic carriage feed works smoothly.
The 4-jaw chuck that comes as an accessory is badly bell mouthed, a common problem with that particular
San Ou model 4-jaw chuck. If you have the ability to do milling or grinding to correct it, it can be made to
work well, but as-provided, it won't hold much of anything straight in the jaws. If you use it for light work,
and don't try to cut more than an inch or two away from it, you might get away with it, but otherwise, no.
The tailstock is about .005" high compared to the main spindle, so if you plan on suspending long stock at both ends, you'll have error unless you fix this. I took the tailstock apart and just ran the base back and forth over some 100 grit sandpaper on a flat concrete floor. Then put back on lathe, check height alignment with main spindle, and repeat until you get it accurate. Then finish up with some 400 or 800 grit.
The tailstock quill has some annoying "notchy" points in its movement, and I plan to take it apart and see if there is a burr or other ding in the worm drive causing this.
This sounds like I'm a downer on this machine, but I'm really not. Once I fixed up the 4-jaw chuck and
the steady rest, and adjusted the gibs and ran it for a while, it is doing a really good job. I can turn
small parts with accuracy down around .002", which is all I was expecting from a machine like this,
and it does a nice job.
It's exactly what I expected, and it works for me. Just be aware of these issues with machines in this
price range. You will need to put in some work to get it to its full potential.