Review By Dean Bielanowski  GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com


GMC ML-1000 Wood Lathe
Review
By Dean Bielanowski

"Beware, Turning Wood Is Addictive!"

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ML-1000 Quick Specifications

  • Motor: 1/2 HP
  • RPM: 4-Speed - 850, 1250, 1750 and 2510 RPM
  • Bed: 1000mm between centers with 178mm swing
  • Auto Shut-off Safety Switch
  • 2 Year Home-Use Replacement Warranty
  • 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee

    Lathe stand NOT included

Please note: Since this review was published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com appears to still be available online and offers some product information and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support or spare parts for their products.

Of all the woodworking arts, woodturning is potentially one of the more exciting, addictive and creative. The Lathe is the heart of the woodturner's haven and it is amazing what can be produced with such a simple-concept machine. Wood lathes come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges and you can spend a large fortune on the top of the line model.

Global Machinery Company (GMC) aims to meet the requirements of the 'budget-tool' market in price, while attempting to produce machinery that meets much higher standards than what the price tag may indicate. Their ML-1000 Wood Lathe (which is priced at a very affordable AUD$150) we are taking a look at today, is a budget-model lathe that is suitable for the occasional turner or woodworking hobbyist. It is also a great investment if you want an introduction to woodturning and don't want to spend several thousands just to find out that the craft is not for you!

Set-Up
The ML-1000 ships in an 870mm x 380mm x 220mm box. But wait a minute I hear you say. Doesn't the specifications box above list a 1000mm bed? Well, yes it does, however, the bed on the ML1000 is a 2-piece setup requiring assembly. You may initially frown at the idea but once the lathe bed is assembled via the use of 4 supplied screws and nuts/washers etc, and mounted to an appropriate stand, everything aligns perfectly and the tailstock can easily slide along the bed, so it wasn't a major concern for me. I guess this was done to make shipping easier, cost-effective and more efficient with smaller boxes perhaps?

Motor, Assembly and Motor Housing
The ML1000 ships with a 1/2HP induction type motor as standard. This is situated in an enclosed motor housing which has angled covered ventilation slots on the rear side of the machine to prevent saw dust, chips or shavings from easily entering the housing while providing some avenue of heat release on the motor. The lathe motor does get quite hot after extended periods of constant use. The ML1000 is not a 'production' lathe, so you do need to give it a break every so often to ensure it does not overheat. The motor sits directly beneath the headstock spindle and is driven by a standard v-belt between the two pulleys, which in turn, provide the lathe with 4 separate turning speeds. Speeds of 850RPM for larger stock, 1250, 1750 and 2510RPM for smaller stock are available. Speed variation provides versatility in this budget priced lathe and is certainly acceptable for any beginner to intermediate woodturner's learning needs. The entire motor housing is accessed via a hinged rear cover secured with 2 standard screws. A clear plastic rectangular viewing port near the top of the lathe and the the upper left of the main switch controls allows quick viewing of the pulleys to determine the current speed setting. In use, the lathe runs very quiet as smaller induction motors tend to do and there is virtually no working vibration when secured down to a solid stand or workbench.

Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of these budget priced lathes is their inability to rotate the headstock assembly 90 degrees for easier bowl turning and the like. You can certainly still turn bowls and similar items on this lathe, however, you must use a somewhat awkward stance to achieve a suitable position for turning with the bed of the lathe getting in the way. This can be remedied due to the unorthodox design of the lathe however. Remember the 2 piece lathe bed? Well, you can actually remove the 'tail' piece of the bed and that grants you much better, and much closer access to the headstock and faceplate/jaw chuck for faceplate turning work. Bolt holes are situated along the base of the lathe to allow you to always maintain a securely clamped lathe to your workbench, which is very important for safety reasons.

Drive Center & Faceplate
Included with your ML1000 lathe are standard drive center and faceplate attachments (see images to the right). The drive center is used in conjunction with the tailstock center to turn spindles "between centers" once you have marked the midpoint of your stock and secured it correctly the the centers on your lathe. As mentioned previously, everything lines up perfectly on the lathe and there were no problems there in testing. The ML1000 allows a 178mm swing which is suitable for most general and common woodturning applications. An optional 4-jaw chuck is also available to further extend the machine's holding capabilities.

What this machine doesn't have is a headstock or tailstock with morse tapers. This means you are somewhat limited in using more standard accessories that can be used on the more expensive machines, such as a drill chuck for the tailstock, as an example.

Tool Rest
Basically your standard tool rest here. To most people, a tool rest is a tool rest as long as it is solid, can be maneuvered into various positions and has a height adjustment, nothing fancier is needed. The tool rest can be quickly disengaged from the lathe bed, moved and re-engaged and tightened securely relative quickly. On the review unit, the tool rest featured a nice smooth running surface as you would hope for to run your tools along while turning the wood.

Turning A Basic Spindle
I don't claim to be the world's best woodturner... In fact, I consider myself an amateur/ intermediate in the art. It takes many years to perfect the fine art of woodturning, however, a 'newbie' can also learn the basics relatively fast with a little practice. For this article, I decided to turn a few basic-patterned spindles for a clock project I hope to start in the very near future. Let me say that it took me several attempts to come up with a spindle that gave me some kind of satisfaction. This is no fault of the ML1000 of course, but rather my lack of practice on the lathe in recent times :-) Due to my skill level in this art, the ML1000 is the perfect machine for my developing woodturning career. Turning the classical-style spindle you see in the pictures on the right took me about 2 hours, although I admit I was going pretty slow and had a few breaks in between just to make sure I wasn't going to make a mistake! A professional woodturner could carve one of these out much quicker of course. For this size of workpiece, the ML1000 lathe performed flawlessly and no stalling of the motor was experienced. The use of sharp chisels is particularly important when you have a lower-powered motor onboard. You need those tools to be slicing through your wood, rather than chipping away at it. Most chisels and turning tools you buy off the shelf are half-blunt and require a good workout with a grinder, oilstone, water stones or whatever sharpening system you prefer before they become 'effective' turning tools. If you are a beginning woodturner or possibly planning to get into it, a good first investment would be a quality book on sharpening tools. You will certainly need to know how to undertake this task if you are planning a long woodturning 'career'... even if it is only a hobby!

Perhaps the best aspect of woodturning is the ease in which an item can be sanded on the lathe. Once turned, you can quickly and effortlessly sand your newly turned item just by holding a piece of sandpaper or other abrasive against the workpiece while the lathe does all the hard work. No need to get you hands into small and awkward places in the process either and the ML1000 has no obstructions to name over the top or around the actual working space, except for the area immediately around and behind the headstock/chuck, but you don't want to be putting your hands in that area anyway when the machine is in operation.  

4-Jaw Chuck
The 4-jaw chuck is an optional extra on the ML1000 but is an essential extra for any serious woodturner, whether you are a beginner or seasoned expert. The advantages of a 4-jaw are plentiful:
 


 

Advantages of a 4-jaw chuck

  • Allows grip of rectangular and non-cylindrical workpieces
  • Centering of cylindrical stock to very precise points
  • Can turn work 'off center'
  • Round stock can be gripped slightly better than with most other chucks

The 4-jaw chuck is not self-centering like 3-jaw chucks, however, this allows each jaw to be positioned independently, and hence allows for gripping the workpiece 'off-center' as listed above. Each jaw can be moved in or out by use of the supplied hex key wrench and in testing, the 4-jaw chuck gripped our workpieces very firmly as we would have hoped. It is a valuable item to have, but does come at an additional cost to the standard ML1000 outfit.

Second Opinion
With Stuart Lees - GMC ML-1000 Owner

For the price - awesome fun. Ok, so it does stall fairly easily under a heavy load, but that just means things take longer, as you can't 'carve' out huge bits of wood like the better lathes with more powerful motors. The best bit is that I haven't used any others to know
what I may be missing, and in this case, it is definitely a matter of "ignorance is bliss"

Would I get one again as a first lathe... sure wood (sic)!

And don't think you can't turn table legs on it - you can, it just takes a bit longer! Once your wood has been made round, it is quite easy. The hardest time is getting the initial square section to round (that's when you are putting the most load on the work, and more likely to stall the lathe (by getting your tool too far in and having a corner of
the piece catch on the tool, rather than being chipped away by it) and by stall, it means only the drive belt slips, so no real risk to the motor. So something the diameter of a pen is absolutely basic. I've turned all sorts of wood on it - pine is really easy, but very hard to get a nice finish (nothing to do with the lathe, everything to do with
pine being harder to stain) Red Gum is really difficult (being very hard), but the finish is great. I've turned Red Gum spheres, a container with lid, candlesticks, and of
course pens, all with relative ease, lots of sawdust and a lot of fun.

The other thing definitely worth getting is the GMC 4-jaw chuck, available separately to the lathe. This is also a worthwhile upgrade, so you have the choice between turning
between centers, and actually grabbing the piece with the 4-jaw. (You can't hollow out a bowl if you are turning between centers).


Conclusion
The ML1000 is a great introductory lathe for the beginner, but will also suit the intermediate user as well. An advanced turner could also produce fine work on this machine if they wanted to, and for the price of around AUD$150, it really is a no-lose purchase. After all, the real craftsmanship in a turned piece is often in the crafter themselves! The motor, while small compared to higher priced lathes, is adequate for turning most small-medium sized pieces and even some larger stock (with a little extra time invested). Overall, the ML1000 is what I consider a 'good buy' as long as you don't expect it to perform at the same level as the several thousand dollar machines. With a 2-Year Home Use Warranty attached (and GMC are excellent with warranties), you have that added piece of mind as well if the machine decides it has had enough well before its time.

GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com
 

ML1000 Photos
All photos copyright. Use without prior written permission prohibited
 


The GMC ML1000 Wood Lathe


The ML1000 Bed is a
2-part assembly...


Motor Housing and Hinged
Door Cover for easy access.


Inside the door, we have a handy speed chart.


Standard Faceplate attachment included.


Headstock with drive center attachment in place.


Tailstock with generous
turning wheel.


Just your 'run of the mill'
standard toolrest.


Turning the spindle on the ML1000.
I did clean up the chips before taking the shot. No one likes 'dirty photos'...or do they? :-)


Ready for Sanding...


Optional 4-jaw chuck installed.
 


You can adjust each jaw individually which can allow for 'off-center' turning.


A few additional items turned on the GMC ML1000 Wood Lathe.
Woodturner: Stuart Lees.

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Reproduction in any form prohibited without  prior written permission. Copyright 2003