I've been a home machinist as a hobby for quite a while. A couple of other tools to keep close by is a digital caliper and a bench grinder and of course a PC with an internet connection to search for help when questions arise. That last one really helped me when learning how to properly cut threads and make/sharpen custom cutters like internal thread cutters.
1st thing I do with every new machine is completely disassemble it and clean off all the packing grease and oil the parts and apply good lithium grease where needed. Not only does that help get you very familiar with the machine's design and how it operates it allows you to ensure that all parts are properly tightened and aligned and working properly.
After that get scrap stock material and practice. Best way to learn how to use this machine after you read up on some techniques is to just get your hands on it.
***** I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!! ALWAYS! ALWAYS!!! ALWAYS!!!!!!!!! WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WITH THIS MACHINE AND BENCH GRINDERS!!! ******
The cuttings that fly out are hot. Also be advised that some cuttings come off in long strips and are as sharp as razor wire. I've made so much 'razor wire' like steel wool it's not funny.
For your own safety and to protect your valuables always remove rings, necklaces, tie back long hair and stuff down the back of your shirt, wear safety glasses, use a fan to blow smoke from cutting oil away. Rings can also cause damage to what you're working on in the lathe.
As others mentioned use proper cutting speeds for the material you are working with. and make practice parts with cheaper material if working with expensive material. I worked with stainless steel which is expensive yet regular steel is cheap. I like to make my mistakes on the cheap stuff and adjust my techniques before I make the real thing.
Once you get the hang of using your lathe and mill to make your own parts and tools (yes you can even make your own taps and dies with drill rods and save a ton of money) you'll be in 7th heaven and the envy of your neighbors too.
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