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Emco Unimat 3

I've been using this lathe for the past 32 years. This is what I learnt to turn on and all those years on still use it on a very regular basis to machine very small parts.


The Unimat 3 is the size of the larger watchmakers lathes. You can turn items up to around 80mm diameter at a push. This lathe though excels turning small parts at the higher speeds.

Centre Height: 46mm (1.79") centre height by
Between Centres: 200mm (7.8")
Spindle speeds: 130, 200, 350, 560, 920, 1500, 2450 and 4000 rpm

The headstock of the Unimat 3 is solid. The spindle nose is threaded 14x1mm.

The belt drive system allows for 4 different ratios between the drive motor and the headstock, the other 4 speeds are achieved with the 2 speed motor. I must admit that I have never been very happy with the lower speed on the motor and so use just the 4 speeds with the higher output speed of the motor.

Just recently the 3 jaw chuck has been starting to get very tired. I managed to find a brand new original chuck, not cheap, but the reviews of the Unimat 4 chuck were not so great. This came in it′s original box.

The bars are for tightening and releasing the chuck.

To reverse the jaws so as to hold larger diameters it is a simple process of scrolling the chuck until each jaw is released. The jaws are then turned around and Jaw 3 is placed in the slot where Jaw 1 was, Jaw 2 goes into Jaw 2 slot and Jaw 1 goes into slot 3.

This is a very accurate and well made chuck.

Circular Saw

The Unimat 3 had a great circular saw attachment. The real benefit of this was the prcision with which you can strip and machine wood for model making purposes.

The only downside is the Unimat 3 motor is a tad underpowered for this type of work and so you do need to take your time or you will stall it. Quite frankly anything thicker than 6mm with hardwoods is just too much for it.

If you fit the saw with a slotting saw, so there is no set on the blade teeth, the finish of the cut is very close to what you can achieve by planing - just great for model furniture etc.

Here you can see a U-section piece of wood that I machined.

Firstly I cut the wood down from a 6mm thick plank into 6mm square pieces.

The I set the guide to give a 1.5mm wide cut and lowered the saw blade to 4.5mm above the table - this is actually done by moving the table upwards on the post.

I then machined the groove firstly down one side of the wood, turned it around and di the other side. I repeated this for the 3 strips of wood that I needed.

I then moved the guard over 0.5mm and repeated the cuts to remove the wood from the centre. Once all of the wood had been removed I finished with some fine sandpaper.


The lathe converts very simply into a small precision milling machine.

In this case I have fitted the T-slot milling table to the cross slide and the vice is just sitting on the table.

I have now made a simple base and bracket to allow me to use the drill on a more permanent basis: Unimat 3 Drill

The mill was fitted with a sewing machine motor some years ago.

The motor is not the most powerfull, but the speed is quite high and it is very quiet when running.

Quite frankly this has been a very good conversion and would highly recommend.


The weakness with the original Unimat 3 was the motor. It was designed to have a continuous rating of just 8 to 10 minutes and would get very very hot - too hot to touch if not careful.

The motor on my Unimat 3 packed up after 33 years of service. I looked around for replacements, but the prices appeared just too high.

That made me wonder whether I should just open up the motor and see if it was just the brushes.

You can see by the amount of black dust and the very short brushes that are left that the brushes have worn down and nolonger making contact.

The first job was to brush out the inside and hoover up all of the dust.

The commutator was still in very good condition, so no need to get it skimmed.

I made replacement brushes from a piece of graphite that I have laying around - the brushes are simple rectangles with a hole in the end for the electrical contact.

I installed the new brushes, put the case back together and switched the motor back on.

At first the motor was a bit hit and miss, but after a few minutes of running it was back up to speed and very consistent - I assume the ends of the brushes had ground down slightly and were making better contact with the commutator.

Price: No longer in production. The Unimat 4 is a very close copy, not quite the same quality from the reviews I have read and a basic lathe costs ~350


Just would not part with this lathe as I use it all the time. Mine is a tad tired in some areas but with adjustments here and there is still able to machine almost anything.

See also: Lathe Reviews, Tools.

I have listed here images and links to articles of models where parts have been milled, turned or machined in some way using the Emco Unimat 3:

Picaxe Robot

The wooden beams are a U-section and these were cut using the circular saw attachment for the Unimat 3.

Lamp Post Steam Engine

The flutes in the lamp post were machined using the Unimat 3 Milling head on the Hobbymat lathe.

V-Twin Solenoid Motor

The gears were cut using the milling head attached to the Hobbymat.

5 Cylinder Rotary Engine

Lots of the milling operations were done using the Unimat mill.

Wood and Metal Beam Engine

A compressed air beam engine built from metal and wood, the idea deing to build an elegant pretty engine - well hopefully - this may be very hopeful as I'm starting the wrong way round...

Low Temperature Stirling Engine

A home design (maybe more of an evolution) low temperature stirling engine that runs using the heat from a mug of hot water.

Two Cylinder Two-Stroke

The two cylinder two-stroke aero engine was designed around a commercially available piston, liner and connecting rod from an OS 25FSR. The crankshaft was made in parts and the crankcase machined from a solid billet of aluminium. Model by Nigel Taylor