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Work bench to mount lathe

work bench height

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les peacock10/07/2018 10:58:09
18 forum posts

Im going to build a work bench to mount my ml2 lathe, what is a comfortable working height, for working on a lathe

Brian Sweeting10/07/2018 11:06:32
442 forum posts
1 photos

Some people say that with your elbow at 90° your hand should fall onto the cross slide operating handle.

Also consider how bent your back may be when watching the work piece and turning the controls.

Martin Connelly10/07/2018 11:37:43
1444 forum posts
166 photos

I was looking at the Grizzly manual for their G9249 lathe which is supplied with a stand and the floor to centre height for that is specified as 44.5".

Martin C

Hopper10/07/2018 11:42:48
4804 forum posts
105 photos

If you are about 6-foot or 6'1" tall, a bench about 40" high works well. Puts the cross slide handle right about bent elbow height.

HOWARDT10/07/2018 11:46:10
595 forum posts
15 photos

Why not sit it on something then pack it up until you feel comfortable with it. You need to reach all the controls and read all the dials without standing on something, including the drawbar. It is different for all of us, the standards only relate to the average person so modern floor standing machinery all are very similar in work height. But if you are 5' 4" or 6' 6" you may have problems, this is why this type of question always needs plenty of information to give an pertinent answer.

Bazyle10/07/2018 13:00:28
5462 forum posts
206 photos

Whatever method you use, elbow etc, make it 3 inches higher then you can always make some duckboards to stand adjust the final level.

Roderick Jenkins10/07/2018 13:19:43
1942 forum posts
503 photos

+1 for cross slide handle at elbow height.


mechman4810/07/2018 18:21:12
2745 forum posts
422 photos

My lathe is set onto its own OEM stands & it stands approx 39" to the cross slide which approximates to my handle at waist level... but there again my arse is too near the floor, I'm only 5' 7" devil


Andrew Tinsley10/07/2018 19:01:42
1179 forum posts

I am still working on a 920 lathe for a friend of mine. It came on a stand which made the cross slide to be 4 inches above my elbow. Too high you might think, no not a bit of it. It now makes me realise how poor my ML7 and ML10 are on their Myford stands.

There is no problem with back ache crouching over work.


Samsaranda10/07/2018 21:47:55
965 forum posts
5 photos

Andrew, mounted my lathe on a bench that also gave me crosslide about 4 inches above my elbow, no more back ache from bending over the lathe, also have my two work benches at similar height, so much easier to work with, would recommend anybody to try it.

Dave W

Brian Sweeting10/07/2018 22:16:59
442 forum posts
1 photos

I have to admit that my mini-lathe is mounted higher than my suggested elbow height to save me bending over the workpiece so much.

SillyOldDuffer11/07/2018 08:57:57
6313 forum posts
1382 photos

My vote would have been for elbow level until I read all the responses. Now I think the best height for a lathe is the height that suits the operator! Elbow height is a good starting point but may not be comfortable if you have poor eyesight, a bad back or some other health issue. The amount of time spent using the machine makes a difference; I would have expected a hobbyist to have much less trouble than a professional turner at it day after day plus overtime. But many hobbyists work a lot harder than I do and take more time getting a good finish!

The type of turning I mostly do - not tiny or heavy - rarely has me hunched over a lathe for long periods or weightlifting. I always stand at the lathe, sitting would make a difference. Perhaps start at elbow height, and if you find yourself crouching, stretching, or uncomfortable for any reason, consider repositioning the lathe, or standing on a box.


Peter G. Shaw11/07/2018 09:11:13
1163 forum posts
44 photos

When I set up my present workshop some 20+ years ago, I started by setting the top of the vice jaws to my elbow height, thus setting the bench height, and this has proved satisfactory. I then set my "machinery" bench, which is located adjacent to the vice bench, to the same height thus giving a consistent height across the benches, and thus determining the lathe and drilling machine height. This proved to be too high for the lathe, but satisfactory for the drilling machine, so I made a wooden "step-up" about 4 inches/100mm high to stand on when using the lathe. This proved satisfactory for lathe use and no problem at all in use.

Eventually, I increased the height of the drilling machine by 4 inches/100mm and discovered that the operating handles were too high for comfortable use. I now use the same "step-up" as for the lathe, but need to move it across from one end of the "machinery" bench to the other to be able to use it. Somewhat inconvenient, but usable.

It would seem therefore, that for me, an ideal height for the "machinery" bench would be 4 inches/100mm or so below the main work (vice) bench.

One final point. I am 5ft 5in tall. My grandsons are 6ft 6in tall: they simply kick the "step-up" out of the way!


Peter G. Shaw

larry phelan 111/07/2018 09:40:17
818 forum posts
17 photos

I find that the lathe height is OK,but the mill table height gives me a pain in the back,from stooping,and also a-pain-in-the-arse. Might have to think about raising that.

pgk pgk11/07/2018 10:38:51
1911 forum posts
288 photos

Other options to consider.. poor illumination is more likely to lead to stooping and for us geriatrics there's a good argument for sitting down to work.. a pneumatic stool on castors can solve height issues with different kit.


David George 111/07/2018 17:05:19
1331 forum posts
447 photos

Image result for i know my place sketch

There is always a short answer. As I am only 5ft -11/2 inch tall my lathe cross slide is 39 inch but I have a 6 inch duck board so that I can use a metal cupboard as the base for lathe and mill.


Samsaranda11/07/2018 17:36:23
965 forum posts
5 photos

My lathe is at a comfortable working height but my mill could do with raising to save stooping but I would need an extension in the roof above to accommodate it so I will just stick with it.

Dave W

Peter G. Shaw13/07/2018 12:01:47
1163 forum posts
44 photos

Further to my comments above, I have now taken some measurements which may be of interest. Remember I am only 5ft 5in/1650mm tall.

Height to workbench top: 35in/890mm

Height to vice top: 42in/1065mm

Height to Cross-slide top: 44.125 in/1120mm

Height to lathe bed top (flat top similar to Myfords): 42.75 in/1085mm

Step up: 4.375 in/110mm.

I find these heights completely satisfactory. Presumably, if I was 6ft/1830mm tall, then I would add 7in/180mm to the above dimensions for a satisfactory height.


Peter G. Shaw

BOB BLACKSHAW13/07/2018 12:45:17
334 forum posts
68 photos

I am 5ft 5in tall and have just measured my set up and have the same measurements as Peter G Shaw, but with a 2,1/4 inch step for the lathe

The mill has the standard metal base for the machine and gives 40 inches to the bed, if I was much taller the milling set up would be uncomfortable as I would be bent over.

The mill base should be at least 3 inches higher for the average height today, but I think cost of manufacture comes into this


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