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Tool: 12-1/2″ Variable Speed MIDI-LATHE

Manufacturer: Delta

MSRP: $659.99

If you need a lathe in a small shop and don’t have the room or just don’t want to wrestle with a full-size machine, bench top lathes are a great solution.

Delta has introduced two bench top lathes: one lathe has five speeds while the other lathe is a variable-speed model.

Interestingly, the variable-speed lathe has an extra feature that I think makes it the best choice. The #46-460 Midi-lathe is the only bench top lathe with a reversing function, a feature found on some larger, more expensive machines.

Reversing the spin (without remounting the workpiece) allows for a better-sanded project. If you spin the workpiece in the opposite direction, you can smooth areas that would simply lay to one side with one directional sanding – that translates into a better finish without as much variation or blotching. And when in reverse spin, you can aim sanding dust directly toward a dust collector to keep the cleanup at a minimum.

The #46-460 Midi-lathe has a 1-horsepower motor and a 3″ faceplate for bowl turning; the faceplate has set screws that lock the plate to the spindle to safely work in reverse. Also included is a 6″ tool rest to fi t into small or tight areas and a 10″ tool rest for maximum usage, a ball-bearing live center and a spur center, as well as the necessary adjustment tools.

The variable speeds are from 250 – 4,000 rpm. There are three pulley speed ranges (250 – 700, 600 – 1,800 and 1,350 – 4,000 rpm). These are adjusted with a patented belt-tensioning system that’s accessible through a large door on the lathe’s front. Flip the door up, release a small lever, move and adjust the six-groove belt (more grooves offer better power transfer and reduce slippage), then simply push the lever back to tighten things again.

Seals the deal. If you’re a lathe devotee, you know the value of being able to reverse the spin as you work. This Delta midi-lathe is the only bench top lathe in its class to offer this function.

The #46-460 lathe has a 24-position indexing pin to lock the headstock spindle for easier layout work with flutes or when carving at the lathe. The maximum turning on this lathe is a full 12 1⁄2″ in diameter (9 1⁄2″ over the tool rest support) and 16 1⁄2″ between centers. The lathe also features a self-ejecting tailstock.

A bed extension adds 25 1⁄2″ to your turning length to tackle almost any standard turning work. At 97 pounds, the lathe is light enough to move in and out of storage whenever you need to put it to work, but heavy enough to sit rock-solid as you turn. (The company suggests that you bolt the machine to a bench for maximum rigidity.)

— Glen D. Huey

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