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SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

3.7 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews
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  • Motor: 1/3 HP, 2 Amp, 110V, Single-phase, 60 Hz
  • 12-inch distance between centers
  • 8-inch swing over bed
  • Cast iron construction and infinitely variable speed control
  • Includes two tool rests
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Product Description

1/3 Horsepower bench top lathe with variable speed motor

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Warranty [pdf ]

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Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here [PDF ]


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Shields on May 2, 2009
What a shock; free shipping arrived almost overnight! I unpacked this lathe, wiped off the shipping grease, waxed everything down, and evaluated how to make this lathe work well. The tool posts have a cast and painted surface; that would work, but a flattened and polished surface would work smoother, so I filed down and waxed the toolrests. Tested sliding a tool across it and it was smooth as butter. Now it was time to try turning a few pens. Lots of chatter and my mandrel kept behaving very strange. Looking again, I realized that I'd dialed the faceplate (less than 0.06 runout) but that I hadn't checked headstock to tailstock alignment. Height was good (the headstock and tailstock center heights matched) but the headstock was about a degree off. Removed the motor and controller, loosened the allens holding the headstock in place, and banged the headstock with a soft faced hammer until it lined up. Luckily there was enough play in the castings to bring it back to true. Tightened down the headstock, reassembled everything, and tried a few more pens. Perfect. Quiet, nice cuts, and the variable speed control works very well.

So if you have never worked with a lathe before you may have better luck with a more expensive machine, one with better QC at the factory. However, if you know the nitty gritty of lathes and can tweak it yourself, this is an excellent value. I would give it 5 stars if I knew everyone out there would be happy with it out of the box but I've removed one star for the headstock misalignment. Once that was repaired I had a solid, well-built lathe for about a third the cost of most comparably sized models.
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Compare this midi lathe to the PSI Turncrafter Plus, Wilton 99177, Harbor Freight 95607. It has more horsepower 1/3 vs 1/4 and metal parts vs plastic and a two year warranty. The instruction manual is well written and 30 pages long. The unit came well packaged and with no damage. The alignment was right on and the unit runs smoothly. Comes with 2 tool rests and and a face plate. I am using it for pen turning and feel it is the best buy out there for $126 and free shipping.

9/19/09 Update on my previous review. I have been waiting on a part from Shopfox for this lathe since April and they have told me it is now due in October. If anyone thinks this kind of support is acceptable then buy this product, otherwise look elsewhere that's what I will do next time.
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If you're looking to get started with pen-making or other small turning and you're on a budget, this lathe is certainly one to consider. It has better bones than many comparable midi lathes and a better price to boot. My lathe arrived well packaged and in perfect working order. There were no adjustments needed. I just attached the handles and was ready to go. It does have that short delay when I turn it on like someone else mentioned.

The Shop Fox features Cast Iron construction and is heavy enough to keep vibration down without the need to bolt the tool down. The infinitely variable speed dial is an extremely desirable feature not found on other lathes in this price range. Other lathes require you to stop the lathe, open an access door and change the tension or reposition the drive belt. With this lathe, you just turn a knob and set the speed wherever you want it. It's definitely a time saving and convenient highlight of this product. The tapers on this machine are #1MT. That's small but adequate for the size and purpose of the lathe. The spindle size on this lathe is also small at 3/4" by 16 tpi but an adapter is available to make use of the more readily available 1" by 8 tpi accessories.

The one feature absent on this lathe that I would really like to see is a handwheel on the headstock. Since a big selling feature of this lathe is it's low price, I suppose Shop Fox opted to leave it off to keep the price down. However when finishing projects, it is necessary to turn the piece by hand and without a handwheel, it's quite cumbersome to do. While I wouldn't trade a handwheel for the variable speed knob, I don't think it is too much to ask to make the handwheel available as an optional accessory.
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This lathe possesses many of the features of the 4-500 dollar mini-lathes. Full variable speed without having the change belts, #1 Morse Taper head and tail-stocks, and everything you need to start a hobby that will last a lifetime.

The quality is much better than I expected, and while some of the features of the more expensive varieties are not there (like a head-stock wheel or tail-stock auto-eject), you learn quickly how convinces are not really needed if you just want to turn. This lathe was my start, I have since picked up a Jet midi as well. Now my wife and I both turn pens, bottle stoppers, goblets, tops, and are starting on bowls. We both use both lathes, and have found that while this one was a quarter of the price of it's nearest competitors, it's not due to a lack of quality or features. We've managed to turn out fine quality woodworking on it.

It's solid, feels like it's well built, stays in alignment, and by all indication will last as long as the more expensive lathes. I've had no issues finding #1 MT attachments like pen mandrels, live centers, drive centers, or even nuts to fit any of our chucks, all at my local woodworking store and for the most part all in stock. This lathe allows me to go from 400 to 3200 RPM with just a dial (on my jet I have a dial PLUS I have to change a belt to one of three pulleys). It even has a child lockout on the switch, something missing from the 500 dollar lathes.

I can see myself using this to make pens and bowls for years, and I have recommended this exact model to several of my friends that are thinking about getting into woodturning.
Worth every penny and then some, a great investment.
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