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Lathe bench height

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Keith Matheson07/02/2018 20:56:56
41 forum posts
16 photos

Hi I just about to purchase a 290 type lathe either a warco, amadeal or toolco (1130GV). For a number of reasons I'm going to build my own bench to suit the space (and build in some d cent drawers) Having lived with a Boxford C on its standard bench and stooping down to use it ( I eventually put the cabinet an a raiser block) I want to get the height right. Does anyone have a version of this lathe and can comment on the bench height that works. I m 6 foot. I'm planning to build the cabinet this weekend so it's ready for when the lathe comes. Suggested bench heights in imperial or metric will be gratefully received. Best regards keith MM

Journeyman07/02/2018 21:18:29
1114 forum posts
221 photos

Keith, apparently the rule of thumb for bench height is to get the cross-slide at elbow height. Seems to work my WM250 sits on a home built bench about 900mm high and I find it quite comfortable to use for long periods. I too am about 6ft tall. I think the 290 is perhaps a little taller than my lathe so 850 to 900mm probably in the right area.


David Standing 107/02/2018 21:49:04
1297 forum posts
50 photos

My understanding is the same as John's, same as the rule of thumb for a bench vice is to hacksaw or file with the forearm straight.

norman valentine07/02/2018 22:03:29
280 forum posts
40 photos

I disagree with both of the above, my lathe is set with the cross slide at 1100mm from the floor and I still find myself stooping. I have thought of raising it another 100mm.

duncan webster07/02/2018 22:31:00
3710 forum posts
69 photos

I find that cross slide screw level with navel is about right

Bazyle07/02/2018 22:57:03
6181 forum posts
222 photos

Consider why you stoop. It is a subconscious reaction to bring the thing you are looking at to the point that feels comfortable for your eyesight to get the best view. Normally you lift the item up to your eyes but a lathe is a tad too heavy so you stoop down to it.

Even if you wear glasses they will not have been specified to magically focus things at the length of your upper arm if you happen to be tall and gangly. So put your glasses on and hold up a fiver up so you can see the time on Big Ben. Measure how far that is off the ground and set the cross slide dial to that height if you don't have a DRO or at centre height if you do. This is the farthest point you will try to look at and for the nearer tings like topslide dial you can lean back a bit.

Jon Cameron08/02/2018 00:28:29
359 forum posts
113 photos

I was going to say the same as Duncan above. Its around where mine is set and seems to be quite handy there too. I'e been out at the lathe four hours tonight and I don't feel like I've been stooping over it, apart from when I've set up tooling, or to look closely at a measurement on the verniers. Essentially getting my eyes level with where I'm wanting to see.

clogs08/02/2018 06:11:06
621 forum posts
12 photos

simple answer what ever suits u.......don't care what anybody else thinks, they'r not gonna use it.....

put the thing on a stillage if u can and adjust the height till u get it right......all my machines (2 large mills and 2 lathes, C/Student and S7) are on an adjustable steel frame/chassis so that they can be moved easilly by pallet truck.....did the same stillage wise but allowed for 4" for the pallet frame / truck to go under...the Bridgeport needs a duck board cos I'm a short axse.

apart from my inpending move I like to empty the shop and have a good sweep and a mop a couple of times a year......yes I'm completely mad......hahaha.


Martin Kyte08/02/2018 09:55:10
2638 forum posts
46 photos

Well, unless you are a habitual filer of things in the chuck lathe height is a bit moveable.The operational height of hand wheels stand a fair degree variation without becoming awkward so I would aggree that since a natural stance with a straight back is to be desired that this is mostly tied to being able to see the work as has been suggested. So it's easier to get the lathe too low than too high. The added advantage of a high lathe is you get more storage space under it.

To digress slightly to milling machines a freind of mine has just ordered a mill from Warco. It is floor mounted and has a rise and fall head rather than a knee and he is planning on standing it on a plinth. His logic was that he tried the ones at the last show for height which was fine but they are generally on pallets for shows so hence the drop it onto a plinth when it arrives idea.

regards Martin

Bazyle08/02/2018 13:29:47
6181 forum posts
222 photos

Clogs inadvertently made a good point. Set the bench waaay higher than you thought or actually want but then make an adjustable duck board to test out the operating height. So much easier than trying to decide on the ideal height before you have ever used it.

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