I’ve been using this Emco Unimat 3 lathe for the past 3 decades (and counting…) and thought it was about time I reviewed it. I learnt to turn on this lathe and all those years on it is still in use on a very regular basis to machine very small parts. It originally had a number of other optional extras: circular saw, fretsaw, pillar drill, milling machine, grinder etc
Unimat 3 Lathe
The Emco Unimat 3 is the size of a large watchmakers lathe. You can turn items up to around 80mm diameter at a push. However, this lathe though excels turning small parts at high speed and with precision.
The lathe adapts into a very small drill / milling machine / circular saw amongst other options.
- Centre Height: 46mm (1.79″)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. If there is one area where this lathe is weak it is the brush motor – they get hot and have quite a short rating so every 10 minutes or so you need to switch it off, go make a cup of tea and let it cool down. We will come back to this problem later.
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.
You can buy a modern small chuck that is very similar to this chuck at around half the price, but must admit that I do think with a chuck it is worth buying the best you can afford to buy as the quality and feel of it will pay back over the years of use.
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.
The Emco Unimat 3 lathe has been part of my life for over 40 years and I just would not part with it. Mine is a tad tired in some areas but with adjustments here and there is still able to machine almost anything.
Unimat 3 Circular Saw
The Unimat 3 had a great circular saw attachment. The real benefit of this was the precision 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.
The image shows the saw having just been used and the pile of saw dust that is dumped over the leadscrew and onto the base of the lathe. This saw can produce very fine wood dust and so I highly recommend using a mask and dust extraction.
Unimat 3 Motor
The weakness with the original Unimat 3 was the motor. It was designed to have a continuous rating of just 8 to 10 minutes. It gets 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.
There are alternative motors if it has completely failed.
The closest you will get to this lathe now is probably the Sieg C0. I must admit that I’m impressed with the quality of the Sieg machine tools.
This particular lathe is the Sieg C0 in the Axminster tools colour scheme.
Unimat 3 Pillar Drill
The pillar drill is a great extra for the Unimat 3 system. It is essentially a sensitive drill and quite capable of drilling holes in nearly any material and from 0.5mm to 6mm in diameter.
The one thing that I found frustrating was that I kept having to change the lathe around so that I could use the drilling function.
I thought why not make a base to hold the pillar and make a new fitting on the column to hold the table?
The result of is a really nice small pillar drill with a reasonable amount of power. The design of the base, table etc is also very pleasing on the eye. more…
Wood Turning on the Unimat 3
Haven’t done this for a long time and so thought I would have a go.
I use a mix of wood and metal turning techniques, not really correct but it works for me.
Gear Cutting with the Hobbymat MD65
I modified the angle plate with additional 6mm threaded holes that allow me to bolt the Unimat 3 mill column to the plate – I have created a small precision drill using the same Unimat 3 mill.
17 thoughts on “Emco Unimat 3”
Hi everyone using emco unilat 3.
i am from the Seychelles island. i have bought this lathe very cheap, look like a gift
the owner was using the lathe for building boat model from scratch.
i am beginner with lathe,íjust to a hobby hist during pandemic covid
this machine has no toolpost,motor and other accessories for metal work.i am will to buy accessories for model lat 3
many thanks in advance
other email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi I’have just bought one myself.. It was a lot of tools with it and it was not cheap. I’m a totaly beginner and unfortunately have I found out that many of the tools was to an earlier model…
Here’s somthing I can’t find out what it is.. Perhaeps sombody vcan help me ?
Hi Nigel, I recently inherited an Emco Unimat 3. I cannot figure out how to remove the cross slide. I want to use the lathe for wood turning using hand chisels and the toolrest. Can you help me?
Hello Nancy, I must admit that when I’ve done wood turning on the unimat 3 I’ve always done it with a combination of metal turning technique and then using a metal turning tool as a tool rest. That way you can do beautiful parallel turns and square edges if you want. However, if you want to remove the cross-slide the first task is to remove the leadscrew and for this I believe you have to remove the handle at the far end of the lathe bed and then unwind it from the cross-slide at the other end. As I remember their are then pads bolted under the slide that then have to be released completely to finally detach it. When turning keep an eye on the motor temperature as the white enamelled motor gets very hot after around 8 minutes. Best regards, Nigel
Hi, added a page about wood turning on the Unimat 3 here: http://www.glue-it.com/tools/lathes/wood-turning-on-unimat-3/ Best regards, Nigel
Quise escribir tornito unimat y lo tengo hace 45 años
I had mine when I was 11 years old and so it must now be over 40 years old. It is one of the best small lathes to learn with.
Es un sitio magnífico , tengo un tornito unimat desde hace 45 años y me divierto como enano de circo , soy aeromodelista retirado.tengo 82 años . saludos
Es un sitio magnífico los felicito , tengo un tornito unimat desde hace 45 años , y me divierto como enano de circo usándolo,soy aeromodelista retirado , tengo 82 años . saludos
Upgrade your EMCO 3 with a Sherline DC motor it is fun
send you photo
Hello Gerhart, very interesting, drop me a line at email@example.com Best regards, Nigel
does the shaft on the sherline dc motor and the shaft on the unimat 3 motor the same size?
Hi Alfred, not sure, but if it’s undersize then you could sleeve it with some brass tube and just slit down one side to allow it to compress. Not perfect but normally works very well. K&S metals have lots of different size brass tube and available at most model making supplies. Best regards, Nigel
Who sells parts for the unimat 3
There are a few sources, for original Emco parts then best to regularly search ebay.
There are some modern copies, although they were very inferior I’m not sure what they are like now:
Hope this helps, Best regards, Nigel
are you willing to sell your unimat 3 ?
Hi, sorry not able to sell as I’ve had this for over 40 years and I’m still using it. Best regards, Nigel