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Lathe for a new starter

warco 250v ?

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Chris1205/08/2022 15:28:35
8 forum posts


i'm considering starting some home machining (and model engineering at a later stage) and I've been looking at various lathes.

Though the Myfords look quite nice, I think I will stick with a new model, import type.

I quite like the Warco wm250V but would like to have some feedback from experienced users :

  • Inverter drive : what is the advantage of it vs a standard motor ? is it a real plus ?
  • This lathe would be my first one : is a smaller model more appropriate (such as wm180 or wm240), considering all the additional bits and bobs that need to be added (tools, measuring, etc)
    • the wm240 doesnt have the inverter nor power cross feed (not sure about longitudinal power feed -> is it a "must" or just nice to have)
    • the wm180 has a much smaller motor (600w)

Any advice is welcome !



Nicholas Farr05/08/2022 18:17:39
3414 forum posts
1590 photos

Hi Chris12, it would help if you could say what type of things and what sort of size/scale you intend to do, both now and later on.

Regards Nick.

Nicholas Wheeler 105/08/2022 18:19:41
956 forum posts
88 photos

The additional bits&bobs will be the same for any of the three machines you listed, so you might as well get the biggest machine you can afford and have space for.

Whatever work you do, you'll always run into jobs that would benefit from a bigger machine, and will have some that can only be done on a bigger lathe.

Having a more powerful motor makes for better productivity - cranking handles shaving off bits of metal for dozens of passes gets old really quickly, when more power could do the same job in two or three passes.

Power cross feed is similarly useful especially for large diameters. And it makes parting off much less fraught.

Inverters give better and more reliable speed control than the simpler DC motors.

So buy the 250.

Journeyman05/08/2022 18:50:10
1174 forum posts
236 photos

I have been using a WM250 since 2007. A basic but good lathe not too pricey for the beginner. The original (may still be available) was fitted with a brushed DC motor and control board. More up to date is the version with brushless DC motor and controller and the latest (most expensive) has an AC motor with VFD controller. The VFD machines would appear to be a better bet than my old DC controller machine. More reliable electronics (basically in a separate box) an easier job to replace than the DC control boards. Better low speed torque and good speed control.

The mechanics of all the lathes in this series (made by Weiss) are pretty similar but variations across retailers will exist. The latest Warco offering has power cross-feed, a most desirable addition. Older models don't have this.

For more info on the original WM250 have a look at my website Journeyman's Workshop there are a few pages devoted to just the lathe and some mods and additions that could apply to a newer model. I think the WM250V would be a great starting point. Not too big but heavy enough for some serious work. Don't forget that within reason you can make small things on a large lathe but not vice versa.


Chris1205/08/2022 19:44:00
8 forum posts

Thanks all for your feedback !

As for the size of work i intend to do, it would be ultimately stationary engines. But i think at the beginning it will be mostly small shop devices and tools (clamps, mallets, etc). But I'm not planning anything bigger than stationary engines.

Well noted for the power cross-feed. I've read that indeed parting off can be tricky for beginners.

and thanks Journeyman for the link, I've already read your reviews few times laugh

I think I will go to the midlands exhibition and see them in the flesh (and maybe get some deal offer for a 250v ?)

Mick B105/08/2022 21:12:44
2219 forum posts
125 photos

Another vote for WM250V. I've had mine since 2015 and had no trouble that wasn't of my own making - and ultimately fixable by me as well.

The 3-jaw chuck will at its best run within about 0.0002" TIR. The range of screwcutting pitches is good.

The twin T-slots on the crossslide allow mounting of a vertical slide (mine's a Myford), which I've used extensively for milling, flycutting and coordinate drilling. The power crossfeed is very useful for milling and flycutting, and the standard as-delivered geartrain gives a good fine feed.

Howard Lewis05/08/2022 22:27:01
6301 forum posts
15 photos

Hi Chris, and Welcome.

Whereabouts are you located?

If you can, find a local Model Engineering Club and Join. You will enjoy the company and learn a lot just by listening ton the conversations.

With regard to "What Lathe", your choice depends on a variety of factors. Which ones are known only to you.

How much space do you have for it? Having a congested workshop, take it from me that extra space is always useful.

What do you plant to make eventually?

You can do small work on a big lathe, but the reverse can be difficult.

So, if in doubt, go for one a bit larger than you first though.

With regard to lathe features.

Varieble speed drive is useful, but not obligatory. A very useful "Nice to Have"

Almost any lathe capable of screwcutting will provide a power feed for sliding.

Power cross feed tends tom feature on larger machines. Having changed from Myford ML7 , (I found the 2 MT Headstock bore very restrictive - Cue howls of protest from Myford users )with a single phase motor to a larger lathe with VFD and PCF, they are marvelousn features to have..

If you want PCF, have you considered the Sieg SC4? It has variable speed drive and VFD. It is offered by Arc Euro Trade and Axminster. The price difference is caused by the difference in warranty ans accessories supplied with the machine.

Power feeds don't remove the need to learn how to provide a steady feed by hand.

I am good at spending other people's money. You don't have to completely fit out a workshop from the start, but some kit soon becomes essential.

You will need measuring equipment, and very probably, a bench grinder.

At some stage you will find a need for a 4 jaw chuck (£ jaw chucks are self centering, but do not hold work absolutely concentric. For that you do need to centre in a 4 jaw independent, and need at least one Dial Test Indicator (Clock) and a magnetic base Then you can set work with as little run out as you wish. And of course you can hold square or irregularly shaped work to machine it.

And of course, it enables you to deliberately machine work eccentric for some jobs.

It is a very good idea to "learn your trade" by making small tools. You can make mistakes more cheaply on a bit of mild steel bar than on a casting from a kit.

One of the first tools that I would advocate, is a Centre Height Gauge. It saves a lot of time mounting a tool on Centre Height. Imperative if it is to cut properly,

You will receive differing advice on what tools to buy and use. Some will advocate HSS or a Tangential Turning Tool, (All of which can be ground to resharpen. Another trick to learn! ) Others will advocate carbide tips, either brazed or replaceable.

All have their pros and cons. Some of us use a mixture to sut what we are doing.

I have found brazed carbide tips VERY easy to chip, so avoid them (that might be me being clumsy

Carbide needs to run at high speed to work well (The normal moulded types are not REALLY sharp, the ground ones are better) Carbide relies on a lot of heat being generated at the cutting edge to soften the metal.

For maching hardened steel or chilled cast iron they are vital HSS literally won't cut it.

HSS can be ground at home, and you don't suffer the frustration of chipping the last carbide tip at 8 pm on a Saturday night. Yoiu get get boutb the bench grinder and resharpen the HSS tool!

Some of use love Tangential Turning Tools. Thes use a HSS toolbit. My first toolbit lasted form about 4 nyears w before becoming too short for hold for regrinding. For the price of one replaceable carbide iti you can buy a short HSS toolbit.But you have to do the sharpening. It is more forgiving, but won't shift metal as fast as Carbide.

You pays your money and makes your choice.

What do I use|?

For most turning / facing: a Tangential Turning Tool. (Needs a simple jig for grinding and definitely needs a Centre Height Gauge for setting the toolbit )

For roughing: a replaceable Carbide tip

Form Boring: , a replaceable Carbide tip.

So a foot in both camps.




Edited By Howard Lewis on 05/08/2022 22:28:05

Hopper06/08/2022 03:03:05
6616 forum posts
347 photos

Rule of thumb: Get the biggest lathe you can afford/accommodate.

You can do small jobs on a big lathe but you can't do big jobs on a small lathe. And the extra size of a bigger lathe gives it extra rigidity which makes it work better even on small jobs than a smaller, less rigid lathe would.

Niels Abildgaard06/08/2022 06:53:11
430 forum posts
163 photos

I have had a WM 250 with MorseCone 3/20mm bore spindle/sold it and do not miss it.

My present WM250 with Morsecone 4/28mm bore is the one the one to put on top of my grave.

It will miss me.

The first was sold because parting off was marginal at best and the present does it for breakfast.

The last picture shows how it can do ugly things to a piece of oxy -acetylen cut steel of lousy breed.

(order of Photos and text is not easy to handle)




Edited By Niels Abildgaard on 06/08/2022 06:58:16

Edited By Niels Abildgaard on 06/08/2022 06:59:04

Chris1206/08/2022 09:53:00
8 forum posts

Thanks all for your replies, particularly Howard for the detailed information. Seems that the Warco 250v is appreciated. Hopefully I will be able to see it at the Midlands expo and place my order there...

Model Eng clubs : There is one in Stafford (where I live) and one in Stoke on Trent (where I work). Not sure they are very active but I may give it a try. I'm not the most sociable person, maybe it's definitely a good way to get some knowledge

How much space do you have for it?

I'm lucky to have a double car garage, though it has to be shared with woodworking machineries (cleanliness will be paramount to keep wood dust at bay). Trying to figure out at the moment how to reorganize the workshop/garage.

You will need measuring equipment, and very probably, a bench grinder.

I have a belt sander/linisher already, so that's one less thing to buy ! Though as you mentioned, I will need to buy measuring equipment. I dont have much of those (well, precise enough for metal working at least) and they quickly add up ..

Regarding the centre height gauge : I believe this would be useful for a 4 way tool post. I was thinking to get a quick change tool post to have some repeatabilty. Or am I misundertanding ?

One thing im curious about : what graduation would be best for a micrometer : 0,01 mm or 0,001 mm ?



Journeyman06/08/2022 10:01:47
1174 forum posts
236 photos

Warco did not attend the last Midlands Exhibition so don't expect them to be at this years. Their showroom is in Chiddingfold, Surrey if that's near you. You may be able to see similar machines (different colour) at some of the other dealer locations.


JasonB06/08/2022 10:03:57
23022 forum posts
2763 photos
1 articles

Half decent digital calliper will do to get you started and cover a wider range of sizes. Plus it will be a lot easier to use that to convert all those imperial sizes on stationary engine models to metric with the callipers as it sounds like you are metrically minded.

You would still need to set the tool on ctr if using QCTP but once done should not need resetting much if you have a holder for each. That's what I do for the commonly used tools and have never felt the need to make a height gauge in 35yrs of using a lathe.

SillyOldDuffer06/08/2022 11:08:56
8862 forum posts
1995 photos
Posted by Chris12 on 06/08/2022 09:53:00:...


Regarding the centre height gauge : I believe this would be useful for a 4 way tool post. I was thinking to get a quick change tool post to have some repeatabilty. Or am I misundertanding ?


One thing im curious about : what graduation would be best for a micrometer : 0,01 mm or 0,001 mm ?

QCTPs are a bit like Marmite, not everyone loves them! I'm not convinced and - so far - have stuck with a 4-way. I've a suspicion beginners often spend money on QCTPs they don't need and their dosh would have been better spent on something else! QCTP are good if the work being done on the lathe uses HSS rather than carbide inserts AND involves lots of rapid tool changes. Six to eight cartridges are needed to maintain momentum, which pushes the price up. But will you need to maintain momentum in your workshop - are you a gentleman hobbyist or a Victorian piece-rate worker? And if you prefer Carbide inserts to HSS, they don't need a QCTP because the tool height isn't disturbed for resharpening. Plus it's easy to provide insert holders with shims pre-selected for height making them almost as quick to swap as a QCTP.

Apart from the cost disadvantage, QCTP are also less rigid than other tool-posts. It might matter.

Micrometer: most hobby work is done to about 1 thou / 0.02mm, so I use a digital caliper most of the time and only get a 0.01mm micrometer out on special occasions. Working more accurately than 0.01mm is a mare's nest of complexity, and is rarely required because most hobby work is done by fitting, not by measurement. For example drilling a hole and then turning a shaft to fit.  The fit could be anything between slack and a tight press-fit and using the parts as gauges eliminates the need for accurate measurement. In my workshop a 0.001mm micrometer would be a waste of money, particularly as I would have to calibrate it. Personal opinion, but I think believing in an uncalibrated tenths micrometer is a form of self-delusion! 'About a thou' is realistic.

Fitting works extremely well for most hobby purposes: it only fails as a system when large numbers of interchangeable parts have to be made. We rarely do that and in some types of work a certain amount of slop is positively helpful. Modelling horizontal engines is an example.

Deals at exhibitions? Worth asking, but don't expect much. Times have changed. Because of the high cost of attending, several vendors no longer go, and if they do it's to show off a small selection of kit. I suspect it's easier for them to take orders and supply from base than to transfer an unboxed lathe into a customers car.


Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 06/08/2022 11:10:32

Jim Guthrie06/08/2022 12:56:00
110 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by Chris12 on 06/08/2022 09:53:00:

I'm lucky to have a double car garage, though it has to be shared with woodworking machineries (cleanliness will be paramount to keep wood dust at bay). Trying to figure out at the moment how to reorganize the

Just a note to say that you should keep your garage above dew point temperature over wintertime or you are liable to get surface condensation leading to rust on your lathe. I found out the hard way forty years ago and the marks on one side of my three jaw chuck are a visible reminder. smiley

My lathe and mill are in my garage workshop and I keep the area above dew point with a thermostatically controlled 1.5kW electric heater set to come on at 50F/10C. I've had no rust problems in thirty years. But with the huge increase in electricity prices, I'm getting covers for the machines and fitting 40W thermostatically controlled heaters on the drip trays to cut down the consumption. On cold winter nights the present garage heater was consuming about the same amount of power as the rest of the house. smiley


Howard Lewis06/08/2022 13:01:45
6301 forum posts
15 photos

A digital calliper will suffice for measurements upto 6" / 150 mm in most cases.

Some of the cheapies consume batteries keeping their memory alive when switched off.

My very old LIDL one does not seem to be of that breed, fortunately, but it does now show signs of old age!.

The better ones show zero current drain when switched off.

Some time ago, MEW reviewed digital callipers from the cheapest to a Mitutoyo at about £80.

Almost indistinguishable from it was a £24 Moore and Wright from Machine DRO

When you get a 4 jaw independent chuck, you will need a Magnetic Base and at least one Dial Test Indicator, (either plunger or "finger" type ). I have both, but use the finger clock most of the time.The plunger clock is useful when setting up the lathe, and aligning the Tailstock.

A finger clock is useful for aligning a part with bored hole as the important datum.

You do not need a fully equipped workshop, prepared form any eventuality.

You can start off with the minimum of basic equipment, and add items as you find a need for them.

(ie. You may not find a need for a Vernier, or Digital Height Gauge and a Surface Plate, for a very long time, so spend that money on something which you will use frequently. )

Whatever machine you buy, what is important is the after sales support, if there is a problem.

Prices will vary for very similar machine, depending on the accessories "bundled" with the machine, or the length of warranty, so check carefully that you get what you require, and that technical assistance will be there should you require it.

Some importers are excellent and will support with advice, spares or even exchange for a new machine.

Others will take a long time to answer your query, if at all.

I am a 4 way toolpoist fan. I have both a front and home made rear one, so six tools available, in about the same time as changing a QCT

Additional carriers for QCTs cost, and need space to store (Which I lack, so make a virtue of a necessity! )

But this is purely my opinion! Others will disagree..



Chris1206/08/2022 18:30:11
8 forum posts

thanks for the heads up regarding Warco at the Midland's exhibition. I checked and indeed they are not in the list. As for visiting their showroom, it's quite far from where I am (Stafford). So I might rely on the good old internet...

Regarding the humidity on the garage/workshop : I had this issue with my woodworking machines, and bought a dehumidifier couple of years ago. Not cheap but does the job quite well (keep the humidity level below 55%). First thing I did when buying the house was to install a new insulated garage door. The place isnt draught proof but much better than it was. Could still spend a bit of time improving that.

As for micrometers/calipers and their precisions, I indeed suspected that 1 micron was a bit too much. Mitutoyo has a nice basic micrometer on sale at 40£ (RDBarrett). Might go for something like that.

Regarding the 4 way tool post : if my understanding is correct, you can put 4 tools in it. But in that case, each tool/cutter is hold only by 2 screws. Is that enough holding power to support the tool during the cut ?

I have read about the loss of rigidity when using a QCTP. I might wait a bit and start using the 4 way TP.

Journeyman06/08/2022 19:27:49
1174 forum posts
236 photos

I would indeed start with the 4-way tool-post. 2screws for each tool is plenty to keep it firmly in place. If the top-slide is similar to the one on my old WM250 then fitting a QCTP isn't always straightforward. See *** Fitting QCTP *** two pages.


Nicholas Wheeler 106/08/2022 20:09:37
956 forum posts
88 photos

Be very careful of all this common advice, because much of it is just repeated dogma: QCTPs might reduce rigidity compared to a 4way post, but it's barely going to be noticeable even when working the size of lathe mentioned really hard. There are better things to spend the money on when you're learning to use the machine. I wouldn't be without one, but using the lathe is just work on the way to having the required part so it needs to be efficient.

The same applies to centre height gauges and their 'necessity'. One made in a couple of minutes from a small block, some fine pitch studding, a washer and a couple of nuts all loctited together will work just as well as the various fancy designs that are a lot of work. The actual value of those is for a beginner to learn about fit, finish and how parts need to work together, using a piece that isn't actually important. On the rare occasions I need one, I just set my digital height gauge to the dimensions I took when I got the lathe, and use that.

I've had a set of micrometers that measure from 0-100mm for almost twenty years but have never used the biggest one. For most of my work, a digital caliper is more than good enough. The DTI has barely been out of its box because I rarely use a four jaw chuck.

I've never needed a travelling steady, despite having bought one for the mini-lathe and the WM250 being supplied with it. I do use a toolpost spindle a lot because it simplifies cross-drilled holes(for R-clips, split pins, safety wire etc) but one probably shouldn't even be on your might come in handy list.

I would suggest buying a few cutting tools - both pre-ground HSS to give yourself a fighting chance, and carbide - a set of good quality drill bits in the size and range appropriate to the work you expect to do. That will decide whether you need number and letter drills, or just 0-10mm in 0.5mm increments. Add a few pieces of the sort of material you're going to use and start making stuff. That will then show what you do, and more importantly don't, need to buy.

Having somebody physically looking over your shoulder while you do that is worth dozens of internet posts....

Andy Stopford06/08/2022 21:15:40
165 forum posts
25 photos

A four-way toolpost has slots for four tools, but you can very rarely actually use all four slots, since some tools need to be arranged pointing in conflicting directions (this is hard to describe but becomes all too apparent when you try to load the selection you want). The tools not in use are also perfectly positioned to take a chunk out of your hand if you brush against them while trying to set something up in the chuck.

Personally I would give a QCTP high priority amongst 'non-absolutely essential' accessories, they make life so much easier and you don't have to buy all the holders at once - some suppliers give free carriage for orders above a certain value, so adding an extra holder can take you into the free category allowing you to convince yourself that with its purchase you are actually saving money.

Ron Laden07/08/2022 05:28:10
2312 forum posts
452 photos

If you can afford the Warco 250 with the inverter drive then I would go with it rather than going for something smaller. The 250 looks to have a pretty decent spec and some nice features plus good capacity for its size 10 inch x 22 inch and 28mm through the spindlle. Re a qctp I wouldnt be without mine, I have a Dickson one on my old Warco 918 and it certainly doesnt lack rigidity. The Warco 250 also comes with 125mm 3 & 4 jaw chucks a pair of steadies and a face plate plus other extras so seems to be a decent deal but the final choice of machine is of course yours.

Edited By Ron Laden on 07/08/2022 05:29:15

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