My lathe is a Homier 7 X 12. It is essentially the same as the Harbor Freight and Grizzly models, give or take a little bed length and some accessories. The big difference is the price. Homier's usual price is $299.99. It is a rather nice little lathe, but needs a bit of upgrading to be a really nice piece of equipment.

NOTE: It appears that since this page was originally written, Homier has discontinued this lathe.

 You can see some of the changes in this photo. I have changed the cross and compound slide handles to roller types. The replacement toolholder T-handle and the half nut handle are made from drill rod. The T-handle was inspired by a picture on minilathe.com. The cam lock on the tailstock is a Littlemachineshop.com kit. It is worth every penny of the $29.95 I paid for it. It is definitely a must-have kit if you do many drilling operations on the lathe. They also carry a 4 inch, 4-jaw independent chuck that adds a great deal of versatility.

 

 Homier used to handle the quick change tool holder I use, but seems to have dropped it. That is a shame. I paid them $34.95 for it and it goes for $54 and higher elsewhere. Some people have rated it as mediocre, but I like it and there are a lot of holder types available for it and they are reasonably priced. I have everything from boring bar holders to cut off holders and many turning holders between.

NOTE:  I have stopped using this toolholder in favor of one I built based on a combination of commercial designs and new ideas of my own.  See the new QCTP on the projects page of this site, or click here.  Drawings and instructions are available.

   
  I didn't care much for the original handles on the slides. They don't turn and I didn't like the shape, so I decided to improve them. The original handle was pulled out and the hole drilled through and tapped to 10-32 on the cross slide and 8-32 on the compound slide.
  The center shaft for the handle is smooth to the length of the handle and then threaded to a ridge on the end and screwed into the holes. A touch of white grease on each shaft completes the unit and they turn very smoothly. These are much more comfortable on long cranking runs than the originals. All handles are made from non-hardened W-1 drill rod.

 

   The half nut engagement lever was also changed to a home made one that is longer and terminates in a ball. It is much easier to handle (no pun intended). One of the things you cannot see is the chip guard on the trolley assembly. Basically, it was a piece of 1/8 inch plexiglass cut to match the back of the gear box and mounted by three screws in newly drilled and tapped holes in the margins. It did a fine job of keeping swarf out of the gears.  NOTE: I have changed this and gone ball bearing on this gear. Click here to see the modification.
 The ways often get loaded up with tiny metal specks that easily grind into the non-hardened bed. This will cause the carriage to drag and wear the ways excessively. A guard can easily be made from the accordian material used for guard purposes on the mini-mill. A large piece of it sells for under $10 at Littlemachineshop.com. It is big enough to make several guards. Just cut a piece as shown and attach to the carriage base by way of the traveling rest mount holes. I use a metal strip top and bottom to stiffen the mounting. Star washers hold the screws well without requiring much pressure. Excessive pressure would squeeze out the neoprene and cause it to tear out around the holes. This works great.

 
   The carriage lock is ala Vicki Ford with a few minor modifications. I attached the pivot differently and changed the screws. It works very well. She does not give specifications on her site so it took a little time to work out all the dimensions. Needless to say, it is very handy to be able to lock the carriage in place without using the half nuts. Locking that way is not very rigid. With this lock you can lock in place while the lead screw is running.
 This is the bench I built for the lathe. It is 2X4, plywood and tempered hardboard. It works very well to keep the swarf confined to a small area. One of the must-haves is showing, the T-handle hex keys. Operating the lathe with the typical L-shaped hex keys does nothing but generate foul language. The magnifier lamp does double duty as a close-up lens and flying chip shield. It makes it easy to closely monitor a close, careful cut.  

Click here to read my maintenance recommendations for the mini-lathe.