WOODFAST WL250A Cast Iron 10"x18" Mini Lathe

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Sep 13, 2021
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Gold Coast, Australia
Hi all,

Newbie here! Just wondering if anyone owns this mini lathe, or if you'd mind taking a look at these specs for me? I am a complete novice, looking for a hobby lathe and this seems ideal. I'm in Gold Coast, Australia and this supplier is relatively close to me.

If I wanted to turn very short items on this, as well as pens, would I be able to? I'm thinking tiny eggs - say 5cm in height.


Spindle Speeds - 5 (450-2640 rpm)

Thank you!
 
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I am not familiar with this brand of lathe. There are a lot of brands out there that make quality lathes in the entry level at varying price points from WEN to Rikon to Grizzly to Laguna to Jet and so on. This one you linked is under powered and changing belts will annoy you greatly.

What I can tell you though is that you want a lathe with variable speed. A mini/midi lathe being cast iron is nice but not a make or break feature in this size range because you are not able to make large items that will cause the lathe to bounce or move around a lot.

Most of that vibration and movement would be absorbed by a quality lathe stand. Making one from solid wood would help with that or a higher quality metal one you could buy.

I would suggest considering spending more on a known, reliable brand that has variable speed and a higher HP motor. A mini/midi should have at least 1/2HP for its motor otherwise you will bog down and stop the spinning while turning because your tool gets caught. A more powerful motor will allow you to turn more than just pens as well.
 

Dalecamino

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Indianapolis, In.
I can't offer you advice on a lathe on the Gold Coast, but agree with Markus on the HP. The rule is, you can turn small things on a big lathe, but you can't turn big things on a small lathe. Which is what I struggle with on my 7" Turncrafter.
 

Dalecamino

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That looks like a better choice, but I don't see variable speed being indicated. Good step up in HP though. I've never had to change belt speed. It just sounds like a pain of some sort. I've read many comments about it here.
 
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Thanks alot. I didn't realise I'd have to change belts on that one. Sounds annoying.

How about this one:

Even with variable speed belt changing can be necessary but not often. Typically variable speed will have 3 belt settings but you can adjust your speed within those limits which reduces how often you move the belt. I rarely touch the belt and adjust speeds on my Rikon midi lathe.

Yes, the Rikon is a better machine but that one still doesn't have the variable speed. Maybe look at the NOVA Comet II DR lathe as that one is a good starter with variable speed as well or the Rikon 70-220VSR.
 
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Even with variable speed belt changing can be necessary but not often. Typically variable speed will have 3 belt settings but you can adjust your speed within those limits which reduces how often you move the belt. I rarely touch the belt and adjust speeds on my Rikon midi lathe.

Yes, the Rikon is a better machine but that one still doesn't have the variable speed. Maybe look at the NOVA Comet II DR lathe as that one is a good starter with variable speed as well or the Rikon 70-220VSR.
Ah, I see - the variable speed costs a bit more, but sounds like a worthy investment - I will be using it alot. I looked at both of your suggestions, and they look great! I haven't pulled the trigger on either yet, but the advice here has been extremely helpful. Thank you.
 
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Ah, I see - the variable speed costs a bit more, but sounds like a worthy investment - I will be using it alot. I looked at both of your suggestions, and they look great! I haven't pulled the trigger on either yet, but the advice here has been extremely helpful. Thank you.

My pleasure. I still have and use the RIkon 70-220VSR that I started with. It is usually around the $750-800 range but periodically goes on sale for around $600-650. It is a solid lathe and continues to serve me well. To me, sometimes it is worth it to buy a tool that is a little more expensive up front than a cheaper one you have to replace sooner. Variable speed should be a requirement for all lathes as it allows you to start out slower while roughing out blanks and speed up for finer cuts or change speed for sanding, etc.

Let us all know if you have any furhter questions.
 

bmachin

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Woodfast is an old Australian brand that used to be priced just below Vicmarc. I know because I bought a 20x36 about 20 years ago from Craft Supplies. Believe I saved maybe $500 vs the Vicmarc. Anyway Woodfast seemed to disappear for a while. It appears that somebody has revived the name but not the quality. A 12x14 ready to go Vicmarc with variable speed is $2295 in the US. The 20x36 is over $6000.

Anyway, just a bit of history and pointing out that brand names aren't meaningful forever.

Bill
 

monophoto

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Saratoga Springs, NY
The Woodfast lathe is described as a 10"x18" machine with a 1/3Hp motor, belt-driven with five pulley positions but not adjustable speed.
The Rikon is also a 10"x18" belt-driven machine, also with five pulley positions, but with a 1Hp motor. Both are MT2 so accessories so accessories can easily be found.

Neither lathe has variable speed - understand that variable speed is a relatively new option, and for years turners got by without it. It's a real convenience, but it's not absolutely necessary. However, once you become accustomed to using it, you never want to go back.

The Woodfast claims to have a 60mm quill travel in the tailstock, while the Rikon is only 44.5mm. 44.5mm is very short and could be a nuisance if you need to do much drilling on the lathe. A typical pen kit will require drilling holes at least 50mm deep, and often deeper.

Either lathe would be fine for pens, bottle stoppers, and other small-diameter items. It would probably be possible to turn smallish bowls (say up to 9" in diameter) on the Rikon, but I wouldn't try to go past 5" on the Woodfast. The issue is that as you increase the diameter of the item being turned, the available torque decreases. As a result, attempting to turn larger diameter items will stall the lathe.

Another factor that should be considered - both lathes require that you change pulley positions to change speed, but it's not possible to tell from the web sites how easily that is done. But an even greater concern is that eventually, you will need to replace the belt, and depending on the design of the lathe, that can be a simple task that takes only a minute or so, or it can require disassembling the headstock. You might want to look into what is involved in changing belts.
 
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Messages
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Location
Gold Coast, Australia
I've pretty much settled on this one, but wanted to check with you guys first... The price is better for me - I know it only has 0.75HP, but at least it has variable speed. It's $649AUD + $30 shipping, which seems very reasonable. The others suggested here I can only find at around $1200AUD, or sold out.


I wouldn't be upgrading for a few years at least. Can you spot any problems with it? I'll attach some pics of what I've been making without a lathe.
 

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Joined
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Location
Gold Coast, Australia
And, if you don't mind - after seeing my photos, what attachments would you suggest I buy to turn items this small? What's the most efficient way to do it?

I also want to make pens and tiny boxes/containers eventually as well.

Thanks so much for all your replies!
 

monophoto

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That seems like a pretty good choice - surprising amount of swing, and with the option to add a bed extension. The motor horsepower seems to be a bit on the light side for the large swing, but you can learn to deal with that. I like the fact that it is reversible.

As to accessories - comments addressed to the items shown on the web page (these are my opinions - others almost certainly will differ):
Stand - you will need something to hold the lathe, but whether you need to purchase the stand offered by the manufacturer depends on whether you already have a bench or table you can use.
Bed extension - depends on what kind of work you plan to do. The extension will be useful if you intend to do long spindles. My own tendency would be to not rush into purchasing a bed extension, but rather to monitor the availability of the extension over time. Even if you don't plan on making long spindles, if you sense that the manufacturer might be planning to discontinue the extension, then it might be worth adding for the purpose of increasing the long-term resale value of the lathe if you ever decide to get rid of it.
Curved tool rest set - don't waste your money on this. If you get seriously into bowl turning, having a curved tool rest might be handy, but you could purchase a single aftermarket rest for a lot less than this set.
Carbide tool set - again, don't waste your money on this. First of all, you should try to learn how to turn with conventional tools - gouges, scrapers, skews, etc. They will give you a far better finish. That said, carbide tools do have their place (they make great hollowers), but you can purchase carbide cutters and make your own tools for a lot less than this set.
8-piece or 6-piece Conventional Tool set - again, a waste of money because you probably won't use all of the tools in the set, and tools in boxed sets tend to be inferior to individual tools. Start off by buying a good spindle gouge, parting tool, and skew, and then add other tools as your turning interests dictate. Over time you will add lots of tools - but it's always better to buy them individually rather than in boxed sets.

Other accessories that you may want to consider sooner rather than later:
Face mask - consider this to be an absolutely essential item before you turn anything. You definitely don't want to be hit in the face by shards from a blank that comes apart while spinning on the lathe.
Breathing protection - another essential safety tool. Usually not required while turning, but essential when sanding to prevent dust from getting into your lungs.
Sharpening/grinding accessory - this is a subject where if you ask six turners, they will offer you at least 12 opinions. Options include anything from a bench grinder to a belt/disc sander, or even a wet stone if you want to keep things very simple. But you will need a means to sharpen conventional turning tools - they don't come from the factory with a really sharp edge, and they dull very quickly. Conventional wisdom calls for a low-speed (1500 r/min in Oz) grinder with aluminum oxide wheels; I use a combination of things including a conventional high-speed grinder with a shop-made tool-grinding rig, a sanding disc that mounts on my lathe, and various diamond honing plates/paddles.
MT2 crown drive center - I almost never use the spur center that came with my lathe. A crown drive (aka 'Steb center') is a far better and safer drive center.
60deg cone type live center - far more generic than the standard live center supplied by the manufacturer
Scroll chuck - you will eventually want a four-jaw scroll chuck although there is an advantage in training yourself to find creative ways to mount blanks without a chuck. I opted for the simple 'tommy-bar' design although I think most people would get the slightly more expensive gear-drive version.
M30-3.5mm tap - I have found that having a tap that enables me to thread wood to screw directly onto the spindle of my lathe to be an extremely useful accessory - I have dozens of accessory chucks that I have made from scraps of wood rather than purchase specialty mounts - bottle stopper mandrels, screw chucks, face plates, friction drives, mounts for buffing wheels, etc.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 13, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Gold Coast, Australia
That seems like a pretty good choice - surprising amount of swing, and with the option to add a bed extension. The motor horsepower seems to be a bit on the light side for the large swing, but you can learn to deal with that. I like the fact that it is reversible.

As to accessories - comments addressed to the items shown on the web page (these are my opinions - others almost certainly will differ):
Stand - you will need something to hold the lathe, but whether you need to purchase the stand offered by the manufacturer depends on whether you already have a bench or table you can use.
Bed extension - depends on what kind of work you plan to do. The extension will be useful if you intend to do long spindles. My own tendency would be to not rush into purchasing a bed extension, but rather to monitor the availability of the extension over time. Even if you don't plan on making long spindles, if you sense that the manufacturer might be planning to discontinue the extension, then it might be worth adding for the purpose of increasing the long-term resale value of the lathe if you ever decide to get rid of it.
Curved tool rest set - don't waste your money on this. If you get seriously into bowl turning, having a curved tool rest might be handy, but you could purchase a single aftermarket rest for a lot less than this set.
Carbide tool set - again, don't waste your money on this. First of all, you should try to learn how to turn with conventional tools - gouges, scrapers, skews, etc. They will give you a far better finish. That said, carbide tools do have their place (they make great hollowers), but you can purchase carbide cutters and make your own tools for a lot less than this set.
8-piece or 6-piece Conventional Tool set - again, a waste of money because you probably won't use all of the tools in the set, and tools in boxed sets tend to be inferior to individual tools. Start off by buying a good spindle gouge, parting tool, and skew, and then add other tools as your turning interests dictate. Over time you will add lots of tools - but it's always better to buy them individually rather than in boxed sets.

Other accessories that you may want to consider sooner rather than later:
Face mask - consider this to be an absolutely essential item before you turn anything. You definitely don't want to be hit in the face by shards from a blank that comes apart while spinning on the lathe.
Breathing protection - another essential safety tool. Usually not required while turning, but essential when sanding to prevent dust from getting into your lungs.
Sharpening/grinding accessory - this is a subject where if you ask six turners, they will offer you at least 12 opinions. Options include anything from a bench grinder to a belt/disc sander, or even a wet stone if you want to keep things very simple. But you will need a means to sharpen conventional turning tools - they don't come from the factory with a really sharp edge, and they dull very quickly. Conventional wisdom calls for a low-speed (1500 r/min in Oz) grinder with aluminum oxide wheels; I use a combination of things including a conventional high-speed grinder with a shop-made tool-grinding rig, a sanding disc that mounts on my lathe, and various diamond honing plates/paddles.
MT2 crown drive center - I almost never use the spur center that came with my lathe. A crown drive (aka 'Steb center') is a far better and safer drive center.
60deg cone type live center - far more generic than the standard live center supplied by the manufacturer
Scroll chuck - you will eventually want a four-jaw scroll chuck although there is an advantage in training yourself to find creative ways to mount blanks without a chuck. I opted for the simple 'tommy-bar' design although I think most people would get the slightly more expensive gear-drive version.
M30-3.5mm tap - I have found that having a tap that enables me to thread wood to screw directly onto the spindle of my lathe to be an extremely useful accessory - I have dozens of accessory chucks that I have made from scraps of wood rather than purchase specialty mounts - bottle stopper mandrels, screw chucks, face plates, friction drives, mounts for buffing wheels, etc.
Thank you so much for your detailed reply! Great advice, especially the face shield and tools to start with. I feel reassured enough to purchase this lathe, so I'll be pulling the trigger soon.

I'm still not sure how to attach my miniature items to the lathe, but as you say - there's benefit in figuring some things out for myself!

Cheers
 
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