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Benchtop lathe with power cross feed, looking to buy

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Stuart Munro 119/01/2021 12:00:40
80 forum posts

Hi, I am diving into a discussion between experts and confess to being an ex accountant with no engineering background. I make small metal bits for RC boats mainly from brass and aluminium.

But I do have a Sherline lathe. Californian and imho an excellent benchtop machine for which a powered crosslide can be fitted. Can go to full DRO and even CNC!

Look at youtube and search Sherline lathe cutting steel - looks good to me.

I think the one big downside is spares. Excellent importer in UK (Millhill Supplies Basildon) or get them from the main US exporter on ebay. But difficult to find suitable 3rd party spares in the UK.

Perhaps one day I'll have the courage to try some real engineering with it!

Howard Lewis19/01/2021 13:11:12
4868 forum posts
12 photos

If you have a lathe, MANY possibilities are available to you.

The latest Sherline looks to be quite a machine, which explains the price!

It is smaller, and in some ways less complicated, than what the OP is hankering after, but should be capable of some very good work for its size.


Stuart Munro 119/01/2021 14:55:40
80 forum posts
Posted by Howard Lewis on 19/01/2021 13:11:12:

If you have a lathe, MANY possibilities are available to you.

The latest Sherline looks to be quite a machine, which explains the price!

It is smaller, and in some ways less complicated, than what the OP is hankering after, but should be capable of some very good work for its size.



Thanks - had it about a year - its robust and easy to use for a 'learning' lathe and appears quite capable albeit as you say, small. When I researched them I saw some one write - you can have all the bells and whistles, you can have accuracy and you can have price, but you cant have all 3!

Gazz19/01/2021 16:13:54
77 forum posts

Placed a wanted ad,

I've narrowed it down to the Warco WM280V or Chester DB10VS, or something similar to that,

I've just bought a 250-000 QCTP for my mini lathe n all, so i guess that will be going on the larger lathe.. tho people usually use the next model up QCTP, the lathes i'm looking at say they take max 12mm tooling.

So i guess the 10mm stuff i have will be ok, just not as rigid as it could be?

SillyOldDuffer19/01/2021 16:39:41
7234 forum posts
1595 photos
Posted by Gazz on 19/01/2021 16:13:54:

Placed a wanted ad,

I've narrowed it down to the Warco WM280V or Chester DB10VS, or something similar to that,


So i guess the 10mm stuff i have will be ok, just not as rigid as it could be?

Yes, I often use 10mm tooling on a 280. My 12mm tools are best for larger work but get a bit clumsy for certain jobs. It happens 10mm suits much of what I do. Occasionally use 6mm on small diameters. If I was only allowed one size it would be 10mm.


Gazz19/01/2021 18:45:44
77 forum posts

Has anyone compared the 2 lathes mentioned in real life?

the warco WM280V's advert makes out it is a much 'beefier' lathe compared to the chester DB10VS.

Warco v Chester

Centre height: 140 v 125mm
Swing: 280 v 250mm
Between centres: 700 v 750mm (so one smaller dimension on the warco, 500mm would do me tbh)
Bed width: 180 v 135mm
Cross slide travel:140 v 115mm
Weight: 210 v 175kg

Both use a 125mm chuck, MT4 spindle taper, 26mm through bore, MT2 tailstock etc. warco mentions an overload clutch on the feed shaft, i'm sure the chester has a similar arangement? or is it just a shear pin and hope the scr's / thyristors don't blow before the pin shears 'when' i do something silly.

And of course the warco has a 1.5KW motor AC motor and inverter drive, the Chester a 750 watt, which i presume to be DC motor and drive the same as in the mini lathes?

The warco it seems comes with the chip tray and no stand, the chester comes with the stand... but i dont need the stand (would be nice to get a discount on the chester if i can get the lathe without the stand)

But the warco is £495 more, and they only have an imperial one in stock, and i'm a metric guy, i will fit a DRO to this lathe some time in the future, looking at the Yuris toys diy dro that uses an old tablet (which i have 4 just laying about doing nowt) but even a chinese DRO kit shouldnt be more than £200 for all the bits.

But basically, is the WM280V really a much beefier machine like they make out?

Stuart Smith 519/01/2021 20:27:52
206 forum posts
26 photos

I am in a similar position and I am also going to upgrade from my mini lathe. After looking at the various options I came to the conclusion that the Chester DB10VS is nearest in size to the Warco WM250v rather than the WM280v.

As you say, the DB10VS has a separate power feed and leadscrew and has a stand, but a smaller motor.

I have now decided to spend more and have ordered a WM290v - hopefully on its way from China to Warco at the moment! If you do decide on a Warco lathe, don’t do what I did. I emailed them last August to ask when they would be back in stock, but didn’t realise that I needed to order one to reserve it. When the batch arrived in November, they had all been sold before they got to Warco. So if you want one, you may have to ‘back order’ one to reserve one from the next delivery.


Gazz20/01/2021 13:13:13
77 forum posts

Metric an imperial:

The imperial version of the warco lathes, i know they will have an imperial many TPI, and they can cut metric threads with a changewheel change,

but are the dials marked in imperial only, or dual marked?

i know it wont be 1 rotation = 1mm or that, but i'll fit a DRO later, but wondering if a purely metric guy can get on with an imperial lathe

JasonB20/01/2021 13:30:33
20640 forum posts
2296 photos
1 articles

Imperial dials and screws on all axis. I've made many a metric model on my imperial machine but if buying now would opt for a metric one as when I originally got mine I was making more older designs in imperial than my own design metric ones that I now build.

Brian G20/01/2021 13:59:54
761 forum posts
34 photos

A digital mike takes out most of the hassle of unit conversion on a lathe. Set it to the diameter you want in the drawing units, zero it and switch to the machine units. Then when you measure the diameter you can directly read the amount to come off. My son's Chester is graduated in mm off of the diameter, so there is no arithmetic at all (yet he still talks about adding a DRO).

Brian G

not done it yet20/01/2021 14:02:28
5948 forum posts
20 photos

As per JB. Imperial these days is only best for imperial scale models 1” to the foot is a good example of 1:12 scale. Changing imperial built steam engines provides awkward metric conversions at 1:12 but in the future metric models at 1:10 scale will be sooo easy.🙂

My lathe is imperial but I would have bought a metric example, had a suitable one come up. My mills are split - I always use the DRO on the imperial one, but not always on the metric one.

Metric will become the popular choice eventually.

Howard Lewis20/01/2021 18:19:17
4868 forum posts
12 photos

Being a fully paid up Luddite, I use Imperial most of the time, but is just me.

My BL12-24 lathe is actually Metric, but dual dialled. so gives, hopefully, the best of both worlds.

Having heard of so many people having problems, possibly self made, with control boards and DC motors, my inclination would be to bite the bullet and go for the VFD and more powerful 3 phase motor.

The chip tray will be useful, essential even. Worth having a metal splashback behind the lathe, to keep the wall clean. It will wipe more easily than painted ply, or chipboard wall.

You could make your own bespoke stand so that the lathe is at a height that suits you. It can be tiring to be bending over a lathe that is too low.

Hopefully, you will be using the lathe for a long while, so it will be worth spending extra money to get something closest to your ideal.

You can spend a lot of time thinking "Oh, IF only, at the time, I'd..... "




Gazz20/01/2021 20:53:07
77 forum posts

yeah, when i got the minilathe first thing i tried to make on it was too big, so instant regret,

So i want this new lathe to be the one that'll last me for quite a while,

Clive Foster20/01/2021 23:39:26
2699 forum posts
96 photos

A useful sanity check before finalising this sort of purchase is to pick a full on, decent quality, industrial "if I win the lottery" machine as a reference and ask the "what can't it do / what hasn't it got" question of the machines you are considering. Turning the question round from the usual "I want something to do this and ....." sometimes flushes out the red faced "Oops I forgot that".

When shopping we tend to work through a wish list of what we'd like to be able to do and work out acceptable compromises where the depth of pocket won't stretch to match desires.

Which is a good start but sometimes you miss things from the list and sometimes the "better", usually more expensive machine doesn't actually win you anything as the "better" falls into a gap that you won't be using.

For example an 11" swing lathe specifies better than a 10" lathe but if you need to do up to 10" diameter work and would like to be able do some 11" to 12" jobs the 11" machine doesn't actually bring anything to the party. That particular example is something I'm quite familiar with as my small lathe is a 10" swing Smart & Brown 1024 and my big one a Pratt & Whitney Model B 12" x 30" which actually swings almost 14". For reasons I don't pretend to understand I just about never see jobs between 10" and 11" but I see enough over 11" to amply justify having the P&W, although the 1024 is my workhorse.

In practice you are usually balancing one lathe has "this" feature but the other has "that" questions so picking an unobtainium comparator with both onboard can be instructive. For most ME or HW types a Hardinge or my S&B would be sufficiently upmarket to make a good reference but you are already looking for a machine of that size so possibly better to go bigger. I'm partial to Holbrooks but a CVA, modern DSG or Colchester Triumph would be good choices. (Much easier for mills. Bridgeport or Deckel.)

Looking at your prospective purchases from the "can't do / hasn't got" perspective relative to my pair :-

1) The spindle bore is going to be restrictive, my S&B has a 1 3/8" hole which often is less than I'd desire. To save wasting material I often work with a long piece supported in the fixed steady and reduce it job by job.

2) In those sizes I'd rather see an MT3 tailstock than an MT2. But I have a MT3 spindle in my pillar drill so I can share chucks. I have both keyed and keyless chucks anyway but if buying new sharing reduces the cost. What taper is your drill (& mill)?

3) Anything under a true 4"/200 mm useful tailstock travel will be a right PIA when using larger drills. 24" between centres on the 1024 as opposed to 30"+ on the P&W can be limiting with big drills too.

4) Both P&W and S&B have effective, quite easy to use, taper turning units but the double slide set up on the P&W is much easier to bring into action.

5) The P&W has a single tooth dog clutch in the feed and screwcutting drive making turning or threading to an accurate shoulder trivially easy. One day I shall arrange an electric equivalent for the S&B.

6) The P&W has a quick withdraw system built into the cross slide assembly which is a great help when threading. The technique I use on the S&B is equivalent but slower and inherently cumbersome.

7) The P&W cross slide dial reads diameters not cut which I loathe, YMMD. The S&B has dual imperial / metric dials which are great.

8) The S&B has an accurate saddle travel scale, albeit metric only, so little need for a DRO set. The single tooth clutch on the P&W makes it relatively easy to work around the lack of a travel dial. My 6 position bed stop fits both.

9) The P&W has a clutch, the S&B doesn't so a bit more care is needed when starting.

10) The P&W is imperial, the S&B metric. I have a full set of imperial thread cutting conversion gears for the S&B but the standard way of changing over is an incredible faff. Things got modified to make it much easier.

11) The 1024 takes 5C collets direct in the spindle which is useful, I'd not like to go back to a collet chuck. Full sets of imperial and metric 5C weren't cheap!

12) The P&W has a two speed motor and tops out at 750 rpm in 8 speeds, the S&B runs to over 2,500 rpm in two continuously variable ranges. I rarely run significantly over 1,000 rpm so the lower top speed of the old P&W isn't a great handicap.

13) Both have full flood coolant systems, which are pretty much too messy to use, and Bjur mist systems modified to semi-fog buster style which can be incredibly useful. Most especially when parting off. Factory trim full mist version of the Bjur makes for an unpleasant environment tho'.

If I had to go down to one lathe I'd keep the P&W! Little chance of that as anyone wanting one will have to prise it out of my cold, dead hands.

They weigh in at over a ton each.


Gazz21/01/2021 17:21:44
77 forum posts

Well, the way i am working in my head about this lathe purchase,

it's replacing a CJ18 mini lathe with a 100mm chuck, and MT3 spindle bore.
So really any bigger lathe will be better here, i need more rigidity, must have power cross feed, and it must be metric,
i have no way to machine the ways of a lathe, i haven't got a clue about scraping, and no mill to make up new gib strips etc, so really buying a 50 year old english lathe is out of the question.

As much as i'd love to get the chester craftsman, to get the even bigger spindle bore etc, it's 400 kilo weight means i'd have to cut holes in the shed floor and pour concrete pads, so that will be a purchase to make in 10 years time when i might... no 'will' have a concrete floored workshop and my own house.

In my wooden shed/workshop that i built last year, I built a workbench for the mini lathe, it's 450mm deep, 1150mm wide, and 1003mm tall.

So i'm going to have to make a bigger bench if i get the Warco which is 620mm deep, and if the change gear / belt door is hinged like on the WM250, that'll make things even harder to accommodate.

The WM280's length is 1350mm, but the tailstock can overhang onto the other bench like i do with the mini lathe now :

Mini Lathe Bench

I've read that the warco chip pan does not sit direct on a bench, it needs chunk of ply under it to raise the centre a bit, so if i got some 18 or ideally 25mm ply, that'd hopefully help where i'd have the headstock and tailstock on different bench tops, the lathe will be bolted through the benches.

That shelf above the mini lathe will have to go too as the warco is 500mm tall, but the splash guard on both the warco and the chester is extra deep to allow a milling head to be bolted onto the back, here the older size splashguard that couldn't accommodate the mill head would be handier for me, wonder if i can get the lathe with an old style splash guard, or i could just chop the new one up, but don't want to do that with a brand new machine... hence why i really wanted to buy second hand, but no one seems to be selling one atm.

If i went for the chester lathe, i'd just remove the bench and put it on it's included stand in the space the bench was... but then i loose all that storage below which currently holds 4 large boxes of materials, bottles of oils and so on, but some of that can go in the 2 cupboards of the chester stand, and i can add extra shelves between them, even make an emergency stop bar that goes across them at the base n that.

Really my choices are Warco WM280V, or Chester DB10VS,

The toolco 1130GV version of these lathes is never in stock (TBH nothing is ever in stock on that site, been looking at mills for the past year) and emails asking when one would be in and it's price go unanswered, shame as that lathe has a 38mm spindle bore.
And the Amadeal AMA280VFF wont be in stock for 3 - 4 months

But the chester has the crappy DC motor drive the same as the mini lathe, and only 250 watts more than my current motor!!
Ok it's 500 quid cheaper than the warco, and i guess to retro fit an AC 3 phase motor and VFD would not even cost that much (about £60 for a 1.5kw inverter, and £150 for the motor it seems)
But doing that mod will bugger the warranty up i guess... yet again, if i could get one of these second hand that'd be my best option.

I could ask chester about this, but i've been emailing them asking about buying a DB10S lathe, as well a asking which vertical slide fits it, But after the first 2 replies when i asked about a discount (no) i am getting no more replies, ... wonder if chester are still on here? ...

I keep reading about the storage containers chester have full of machines they have taken parts off to sell to people who needed warranty replacements, wonder if they have a motorless DB10S in there i could buy?

The only other feature the warco boasts that the chester doesn't is the overload clutch on the fed shaft, now that is something someone like me would need, i guess it's a shear pin on the chester? wonder if that could be retrofitted too.
Chester even do a 500mm bed version of the DB10, that would slot in my shed just perfectly.

Gazz22/01/2021 22:31:38
77 forum posts

Well, absolutely nothing at all from Chester.

So i'm going to be in the Warco club soon.

I've put my name down for one of the WM280V's that are due in the country beginning of feb... to be shipped out to customers end of feb.
When i checked they had 2 available to backorder, i've had one of them, so one left if anyone else is after one of these in metric.

If imperial is your flavour they have 2 in stock, but will not give any discount at all...saying that the imperial ones are popular...and in stock, so basically pay full price for the imperial one and have it now, or wait for a metric one.

Been told the changegear cover is 2 bolts and it pulls straight off, that's a good thing for me... no extra space needed behind the lathe, i now need to get a diagram with the size of this lathe, it's mounting hole locations and that, and i can get on with modifying my workbench,

not done it yet23/01/2021 07:13:52
5948 forum posts
20 photos

Congratulations on making a decision. Keep us up to date on price and delivery - just in case they back-track on current promises. ‘Due in the country’ can mean ‘arrival at the port’...

I have found Warco good for communication and it seems as though they are among the better respondents to any problems which may be encountered.

I would be interested in the actual horse power rating of the motor - I expect it is likely only one horse power, or close to it, not the two horse power that the description might suggest.

I wonder how many of the new stock are imperial - somehow I think not many, if any.🙂

Howard Lewis23/01/2021 11:35:05
4868 forum posts
12 photos

Sounds like a good choice.

Hope that you will have MANY happy hours using it.

Do keep us updated on delivery, installation, first impressions and how you get on in the longer term.


Brian Baker 123/01/2021 13:07:51
158 forum posts
34 photos

Well done. and good luck with you delivery, things seem a bit difficult world wide at the moment.

Warco are a smashing company, have bought stuff of them for years and always pleased.



Gazz23/01/2021 14:30:33
77 forum posts

tar, it takes me a while to make my mind up but i didn't want to do what i did when i got my mini lathe, where my first project was too big for.
Thank bod for hackspaces (which are closed atm due to covid)
But last year i helped leeds hackspace move a kerry AG lathe from near where i live to the space, so if i need to do anything bigger than my new lathe can handle, i can use theirs, however LHS is not exactly just round the corner for me (130 mile round trip)

I really was ready to buy the chester DB10VS, i did want the 500mm wide one, but they have the 750mm wide ones in stock,
But if they can't reply to emails asking for info on the lathe before handing over 2 grand (plus another £115 for a milling slide... which i was trying to find out which one fitted this lathe from the 4 they sell)
Then i fear that'd be the same if anything went wrong with the lathe,

And reading on here seems to echo that, people with problems get nowhere until public posts about the crap service are brought to their attention.

Hopefully later on in the year i'll be buying a mill too (finally been persuaded not to consider a milling head on a lathe) so that'll be a WM 16B i think. and not a champion 20vs.

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