General - Midi-Lathe 25-100 M1 - Fine Woodworking Tool Review
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Midi-Lathe 25-100 M1

General - Midi-Lathe 25-100 M1

General’s benchtop lathe has a 10-in. swing and offers the capacity to turn up to 15 in. between centers.

$300 (As of 10/1/2002)

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Editor's Review: Tool Test: Midi-lathes

by Andy Barnum

review date: October 1, 2002

Many woodworking shops don't have a lathe, most likely because of cost or space. But the arrival of a new category of small lathes has made cost and space less of an issue. Introduced in the late 1990s, these machines—often called midi-lathes—are generally bigger and beefier than the so-called minilathes, yet they're smaller than full-size machines. Midis are affordable—selling for between $285 and $350—and take up very little space. For someone unsure whether wood turning is going to be worthwhile, a midi-lathe might be the best way to test the waters. Not only are the midis relatively inexpensive, they also have enough power to do some serious work. But how well do they work? To find out, I tested five midi-lathes for a semester in my wood turning class at the School of Art and Design at Purchase College in New York.

The General is, by far, the heaviest of the midis, weighing in at 106 lb. At 15 in., it ties with the Fisch for the most distance between centers, without a bed extension. Add the long bed extension, and it provides 45 in. between centers, more than any of the other midis reviewed. A long bed extension is $145; a short extension is $85.

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Editor Test Results:

Stability of Base N/A

Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturer General
Manufacturer's Web Site
Manufacturer's Phone Number 1-888-949-1161
Taper Size Headstock Spindle: 1-in. by 8-tpi threads, #2 Morse taper; Tailstock Spindle: #2 Morse taper, 3-1/2 in. travel
Distance Between Centers 15 in. (35 in. or 45 in. with extensions)
Maximum Swing 10 in.
Outboard Turning Option No
Faceplate Included Yes, 3 in.
Speed Settings: 480, 1,270, 1,960, 2,730, 3,327, 4,023 rpm
Horsepower 1/2 hp
Amps 3.8
Volts 115v

Before I bought a lathe I took a turning class at Lee Valley. All the classroom lathes were General Midi Lathes. After the class I spoke with Greg, the instructor, and he said you can't go wrong with the General. Lee Valley uses them in their classroom because they will stand up to any abuse that students put them through. They are simple and reliable. I've had my General Midi Lathe now for almost a year and I love it! I do pen turning, small bowl turning and spindle turning for my other wood working projects. For me it's the perfect lathe!

I purchased this tool, needing a smaller and easier to set up lathe that I could still turn longer spindles on when my large machine was unavailable (I sometimes leave unfinished things in it for weeks at a time).Lee Valley up here uses them for their workshops, so I felt comfortable enough to purchase one. I had looked at a few, but I wanted one with a longer capacity, and this one had the longest bed with the extension.Buying it was a breeze. Getting the 100 lbs lathe out of the box was a chore, as I did not want to cut the box apart in case I needed it again.The lathe was a gummy mess of tacky grease on all exposed cast iron surfaces, to protect it from moisture while being shipped. I bought a Delta tenoning jig, and so was experienced in removing this protective layer.It took several tries, but I got it off, with the help of a bit of 'Polycleanse'. Thankfully, it did not take off the paint.All in all, it was easy to set up, and I quickly used the screw-legs to eliminate the wobble it had. It did come with a face-plate, live center, spur center and a tool rest, all greatly appreciated by me.However, the top of the rest was marred by grooves left from the machining process and had to be filed out before the gouge would make smooth transverses on it. It is also far too short, and needs repositioning even for small work. The bed of the lathe also shows such marks, which took me over an hour to lap out using a diamond stone.In using it to turn a couple of small pieces, I found the tension release for the motor so you could change the speed of the lathe very stiff until I cleaned the grease out of it.The motor leaves the lathe a bit under-powered, especially when you are using a roughing gouge on a piece that is near its full capacity.Also the bed extension is nearly the price of the lathe again, making it an expensive purchase just to turn longer objects. The turning capacity is also a bit small, and General could make this lathe more usable by making a head and tailstock riser for it like other lathes. As it is, having a friend with a machine shop, I plan on building myself a set of these, at least for the headstock, so I can turn larger bowls.

I bought this lathe as my first. General lathes that are made in Canada have had a good rep for years and are the standard in schools here. This Maxi 25-100, made overseas, is however poorly made. I have found that the tailstock has 1/16" play in the bed and the quill has some looseness as well, thus not allowing my centers to properly line up. The hollow threaded bolt that moves the tailstock quill in and out had a machining defect in the snapring groove and therefore the snapring would push out of the groove and you could not advance the quill. I had a custom part machined at my expense to fix this problem. The drive pulley got loose after a short while and was making a knocking sound as it slightly wobbled on the motor arbor. I finally figured this out but the set screw that hold the pulley and then scared the shaft and would not allow the pulley to be realigned and retightend on the flat. I had to use locktight on the hex nut and really tighten down to prevent it from vibrating loose.The ergonomis of the lathe are good however and I think it is a winning design just sloppily made, mine is anyway.My recommendation...if you can buy a ONEWAY 1018 or can afford a 1224 buy one and avoid all these entry level midi lathes because after you gain some experience you will be desiring the added quality like I have.Happy turning...Jason GuestNanaimo BC Canada

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