One of these little Craftsman lathes landed in my shop not too long
ago. I call
it little, but it's the largest of the three lathes in my shop.
Everything in my shop
is small, so I guess this is the biggest of the small things.
These lathes are often the source of frustration to their owners.
Some first time
lathe buyers start with this one, but it's not really a beginners
lathe. It takes some
time and care to make one run well, partly because they were a light
begin with, and partly because even the more recently made ones are old
with. The one featured here was made around 1948. That's 61
In dog years... it would be dead! So, there's a good chance it
came to me with
considerable wear from the get go, not to mention what ever abuse it
received from previous owners.
These lathes are commonly referred to as the Craftsman 109, or AA109,
I take it, because they were sold by Sears and all had the model number
with a prefix of 109. The AA comes from the company that
manufactured them, which was the Ann Arbor Company in Michigan.
particular model is the 109-20630. They must have made a bunch of
they're everywhere. There were other models, earlier ones looking
similar to this
one, and later models with a slightly more modern appearance including
chrome strip on the head stock, but as far as I can tell, they are all
the same basic
machine. Some older ones had narrower ways, some had longer beds.
I mentioned above that I don't really think this is a good candidate
for a beginner.
I believe they take a bit too much fiddling to get them to really
perform, and that
a new hobby machinist may become frustrated with them. A better
choice in my
opinion would be the Taig lathe, my personal favorite, or the Sherline
owned both these makes and they are both fine machines, able to do very
work right out of the box, and easier for the beginning home machinist
to work with.
That's not to say that someone shouldn't get one a 109. They can
up to do good
work. It's just that to get one to work for you, you have to work
for it a little, too.
The ups and downs of it all.
First thing you need to realize is, the 109 lathe is what it is.
A small, light machine.
The spindle is only .550" in diameter, and it runs in plain
bearings. These bearings
need to be in good shape and properly adjusted to do good work.
The spindle bore is only 1/4", and the tapers are little #0 Morse size,
so it can't
be expected to swing a 6" hunk of iron, even though it's a 6" lathe.
All the screws are American thread, which is usually considered a good
considering a lathe for us American type folks, BUT, they all have a
The "not-easy-to-divide-by-thousandths" type, like 16 pitch on the lead
and 24 pitch on the cross slide and compound. Plus there are no
Something that you will have to make yourself if you want 'em.
The gibs as they came from the factory were not a very good
design. The upshot
is they are easy to modify for better adjustments.
Most of these lathes have full thread cutting ability, and will cut a
lot of pitches.
The fine feeds are kind of nice for roughing out stock.
Lastly, they are pretty easy to work on for people even mildly
and the fixes and care needed to make them run well are not rocket
So, after all that blabbering, here's where the project begins, with
links to the start of it below.