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Warco WM280V Metric or Imperial

Advice for a beginner

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ChrisB19/03/2017 20:56:54
171 forum posts
79 photos

Hello, I'm about order a milling and lathe from Warco and while checking the specs on their online shop noticed the WM280 lathe with imperial leadscrew is discounted £445 over the metric, any particular reason for that?

I'm used to both metric and imperial (but would prefer metric) but I was anyway planning to install DROs, so my thoughts were get it imperial and with what I save I can get the DRO but will have to be quick about it as there's a note saying "Almost sold out!"

When it comes to thread cutting, is the WM280 able to cut both metric and imperial threads?


SillyOldDuffer19/03/2017 22:21:37
2782 forum posts
563 photos

Only Warco could explain why they're discounting the Imperial version. My guess would be that they overstocked on Imperial and are shifting them to make space. Possibly they didn't sell as many imperial lathes as expected, perhaps because new customers aren't so keen on them.

It would be Interesting to know if other vendors are seeing a trend. I would guess in 2017 that most newcomers to the hobby would be more comfortable with metric than Imperial, but who knows?

Yes the 280 can do metric and imperial threads. The ranges aren't identical but I don't think you would miss much.


ChrisB20/03/2017 06:25:57
171 forum posts
79 photos

Thanks Dave, so the 280 will come with change gears covering both metric and imperial and I won't need to order any, right?  will check with them, at least to comfirm it is identical to the metric version ie its got VFD no DC motor drive.

Any recommendations on what tooling should I get for starters

JasonB20/03/2017 07:31:31
12658 forum posts
1147 photos

As the imperial 280 uses a 63T changewheel to cut metric threads they will be very close with a minimal error as it has an 8tpi leadscrew. Then again a metric lathe will do the opposite and give imperial threads with a slight error so choose which system you are more likely to cut threads in.

ChrisB20/03/2017 12:44:32
171 forum posts
79 photos

Most likely if I need to turn a thread it will be imperial but it should be one offs. In the meantime been in contact with warco and although they didn't explain why the discount on the imperial lathe they confirmed its the same version like the metric with VFD etc. They also confirmed they do test run the machines and check them before dispatch particularly those for export; which will be my case. So probably I'll place the order as soon as I get confirmation from my shipper.

Any ideas regarding what tools should I get along to get started?

JasonB20/03/2017 13:18:12
12658 forum posts
1147 photos

1-13mm Keyless chuck and arbor

Live tailstock ctr

Quick change tool post

Tailstock die holder

Set of soft jaws while that chuck is the current model.

SillyOldDuffer20/03/2017 15:05:56
2782 forum posts
563 photos

Jason provides a very good list though I haven't bothered with a quick change tool post, yet! A keyless chuck is well worth the extra money.

Stating the obvious just in case, a set of 8 or 10mm HSS or a set of 10mm indexable cutting tools. These sets normally have all that's needed for turning, facing, threading, boring and parting off. I bought both HSS and carbide and can't decide which I prefer! HSS tools need a grinder to keep them sharp, carbide is low maintenance but likes to be worked hard.

On the subject of parting off, a rear tool-post is available for the 280. Without doubt this is a 'very good thing'.

Perhaps not so obvious, a DTI and magnetic stand; also a micrometer and/or digital caliper.

I use a clamp knurler a lot, but I like making tools rather than models. If you're going to be tapping threads a spring tap guide and a small tap wrench help enormously to keep the thread straight. Some centre drills of course.

Old toothbrushes are OK for clearing swarf. A magnetic tool holder to stick spanners etc on the back of the lathe is handy, and I use a 99p magnifying glass a lot. The lathe is easier to work if the chuck area is well lit: some people fit extra lamps.

The lathe arrives in a plywood box held together with nails and steel bands. Bits of steel band are handy for making shims and for checking that tool height is correct. It's good to have some thicker shimming handy, for example an 8mm tool will need about 4mm of shim.

I bought some way oil and headstock oil with the lathe. The way oil is is sticky (anti-rust as well as lubrication); I'm not sure it's that much better than an ordinary oil. It's recommended to change the gearbox oils of a new lather after a year.

For the purpose of installing both a lathe and milling machine, and planning to reorganise later I bought an engine crane and lifting straps. They can be hired, or you may have several strong mates who know all about rollers etc. By my pensioner standards the 280 is very heavy. The centre of gravity near the headstock means you have to be careful to keep the lathe balanced. However, once balanced, I had no trouble lifting mine onto its stand with a crane and daughter to assist. The daughter made the job much easier!



ChrisB20/03/2017 18:26:39
171 forum posts
79 photos
Cheers for that Jason and Dave. Glad I asked as there were a bunch of things I didn't think of. When it comes to lifting (having no one to help me apart from my wife and 9 month daughter) I'll use a chain block. I'm building the bench myself with caster wheels so I can position the bench under the lathe rather than the otherway round. Should still work; while on the subject what's the recommended height for the bench? I'm 5ft9", was thinking of a bench 32" high,does it sound right? The Warco stand seems to be a bit short...
JasonB20/03/2017 18:48:10
12658 forum posts
1147 photos

I'm about the same height and have my stand stood on a couple of layers of plywood so to underside of tray thats 30.5" , you could go a bit higher to save stooping but remember its more height to lift teh chucks upto.

mechman4820/03/2017 18:52:42
1938 forum posts
361 photos

Hi Chris, I have the WM250V-F on the Warco stands; & as you say they are a bit short... & very cheapo sheet metal i.m.o. none the less they do support the weight.. Considering my arse is nearer the floor than yours ( 5' 6" ) the height seems to suit me at the moment. I can measure the height next time I'm in the garage let you know .


ChrisB20/03/2017 23:01:33
171 forum posts
79 photos

Ok so 31" or thereabouts should do. Will sketch something and get going with it...

Edited By ChrisB on 20/03/2017 23:02:24

Bazyle20/03/2017 23:24:59
3912 forum posts
166 photos

Height: a) make it higher than whatever you first think of because it is easier to stand on duckboards than rebuild the bench. b) Try and thread a needle or read a micrometer if you have one held in front of you. Freeze. The position you are holding the object is the natural distance your current eyesight quality dictates you want to be to see things clearly. Arrange the centre height to be an inch or two below this at most. If you have it lower you will be forever leaning down without realising it to get a better look and get a bad back.

Between the chain block and the lathe what are you using? You don't want the chain round the lathe. Get a short nylon strap and if you wrap it round the bed on many lathes it must go inside the leadscrew - look carefully at the geometry but if possible run it down through the bed, round the foot and back up so it isn't near the leadscrew.
It will now be top heavy lifting like this.
Run a rope through the spindle and tie it round the strap pulling it back tight into the spindle (but the spindle takes NO weight). This makes the tipping action re-reference to the spindle line well above the c of g so it doesn't tip. Run another rope from the tailstock end to the hook to pull up that end using the saddle and tailstock to balance it all. LOCK the saddle and tailstock!

ChrisB21/03/2017 07:07:19
171 forum posts
79 photos

Sound advice, I have straps and shackles laying (remnants of my offroading days) was going to use them.

I'm tempted to start building the bench straight away, but perhaps it would be a better idea waiting for the lathe and milling to arrive first? As I'm also getting the WM18 mill, should it be set at the same height?

ChrisB21/03/2017 10:41:28
171 forum posts
79 photos


Plan for the bench, doing them separate for ease to move them around but when in place they will be side by side as in the photo, that's why I left some space apart, it's for the milling table travel.

Will use 4"x2" and 2"x2" box section. Mounted on caster wheels and

adjustable machine mounts:**LINK**

Not sure what to use for the bench top, split between a 1/4" steel plate or 1" plywood. Probably will go with plywood as the bench will be heavier than the machine! Then will either put some drawers or cabinet doors in the empty spaces.

Bazyle21/03/2017 13:46:30
3912 forum posts
166 photos

Bench. It may be easier to use thick ply sheet instead of old fashioned timber legs like a kitchen cabinet. Do the sums and the cross section is the same but you get 100 times the front to back stiffness (can't think of a good word for that). Ditto thinner sheet along the back. Also easier to mount runners for shelves and drawers.
Tiddly adjustable feet will wobble. 3 of the feet will sit ok and the last one can be packed for a proper firm base. Casters yuk. It will slide and a lathe has no business being on wheels.

If you ever do need a movable bench still don't have the castors fixed and the feet jackable. Make the feet fixed and the wheels move down on the rare occasions they are needed. (hint. make one end so you can pop your trolley jack under to save half cost of wheels).

ChrisB21/03/2017 18:10:48
171 forum posts
79 photos
Actually my intention was to use 4x2 steel hollow section, not timber, maybe it was not clear from my post. Caster wheels 80mm dia rated at 200kg each but when the bench is in position I'll take the weight off them by adjusting the pivoting machine mounts I linked in my previous post. Those are good for 500kg each, and as they are of the pivoting type any misalignment will be counteracted. I'm not much of a wood worker...prefer welding! I do get your point regarding not placing the bench on casters tho.

Edited By ChrisB on 21/03/2017 18:14:58

Journeyman21/03/2017 18:48:07
489 forum posts
68 photos

Chris, the Z-axis handwheel on the WM18 mill is on the right hand side at the top of the column. Could be uncomfortable to reach depending on height and depth of the bench. Possibly site mill at right and lathe at left to give more access.


John Alexander Stewart21/03/2017 21:02:47
707 forum posts
51 photos


My larger (British) 1124 lathe is in inches, but I do everything in metric.

Threading is so-so; long threads into longish nuts causes binding. The quick change gearbox has markings for metric on it. The extra change wheels for metric are not "exact" but close. (they have never been off since I purchased the lathe - no need for inch threading in my workshop)

I do use 0-25mm dial indicators stuck on with magnets; this was a temporary solution about 15 years ago; have not put a DRO on it yet.

I do wish it was a metric lathe, through and through, though.

My smaller lathe is fully metric, and it is a pleasure. Again, no DRO, but do have a dial indicator to easily see what the carriage travel is.

I think the problem with DROs and the display behind is that, you are not looking at the machining operation, but a screen elsewhere. It's not actually a problem to do that, but you do need to feel confident in what you are doing. I have a mill with a DRO on it, and often I'll mill by feel/sound, while looking at the DRO.

Just some thoughts to ponder, if you wish.

ChrisB21/03/2017 23:22:51
171 forum posts
79 photos

The picture could be misleading due to the perspective it's been taken at Jonn. In reality the distance from the lathe cover to the centre line or the mill is approx 980mm. I don't have the exact dimensions of the mill but from the description the total width including handles is 1118mm, Longitudinal traverse is 565mm, so when the table is all the way to the left it the distance from the mill centre line to the edge of the handwheel should be approx 840mm, so I was thinking I'll be fine.

Probably it would be a better idea if I waited till I have the lathe and mill delivered and then build the bench accordingly, makes better sense.


JasonB22/03/2017 07:30:24
12658 forum posts
1147 photos

Chris, I think John was suggesting that with the mill on the far right you could step around to the end of the bench to raise the head rather than reach up and across.

This would really depend on where any walls are located as obviously would be no good if there is a wall at right hand end of bench and also could limit what sticks out teh back of the lathe spindle if a wall on the left.

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