Last edition, we reported on a discussion about lathes on the Women in Woodworking forum. One of the more experienced turners commented that most of his projects were either less than 12″ long or more than 24″, with very few in between.
If that’s the case, the new Delta Midi-Lathe (model 46-250) seems ideally designed to meet the needs of woodturners. It’s a benchtop lathe with 14 1/2″ between centers, but it has also been designed to accept an extension bed that puts 37″ between the centers. That means this lathe can be used for small projects like pens and can also be extended to handle larger projects like table legs or chair legs.
Talking to the Turners
We talked to Scott Box, manager of product development for Delta, about creating this lathe. It was designed for the novice to intermediately skilled wood turner and based on a lot of input, a lot of focus groups and a lot of simple observation. Scott and his team went out to shows, attended seminars, and brought in a special group of turning experts to find out what kind of lathe to design. “That’s where you get your best information,” says Scott, “by talking to the end users.”
They realized that with a small benchtop lathe, there was always going to be a limit to how large a bowl you could turn. In the case of this new lathe, the maximum diameter for a blank is about 10 inches. So Scott and crew decided to focus on what would make this lathe useful for woodworkers who were just starting to turn, and they thought the extension bed was the answer. It gave the beginning turner a machine he or she could use right away and gradually grow into its other features.
No More Hernia Belts
Along with the extended reach on this machine, Delta designed it with an easily accessible power switch on the top of the lathe, and six different speed settings. The top RPM for the Midi-Lathe is 1,725. The asking price for it is $329, putting it in a price range that’s approachable for most woodworkers.
Although it’s designed for new or moderately experienced turners, says Scott, it’s also popular with the more experienced turners who have the very big, expensive lathes. This lathe is portable and easy to take with them to turning shows and events, so they can just throw it into the back of the car and leave the hernia belt at home. And for those of us with space issues in our shop (i.e. all of us) the benchtop design gives you a lot of lathe without taking up a lot of room.
Scott says that Delta will be introducing three more lathes this year, so keep an eye out for them.
– Bob Filipczak