Magma Lathes archive

Friday 4 July 2008

Mark Baker and Mark Hancock take the Magma Series 2-Plus lathe for a spin


Lathes are designed to rotate a piece of wood in a controlled manner. This requires stability in the lathe to prevent undue vibration and, generally, all the parts correctly proportioned so that they work together as a complete unit. This is true of the mini lathes through to the hulking great giants with a massive turning capacity. Just look at the old-style pattern makers' lathes.

Magma, a tool retail company in Austria, is renowned for selling quality tools. Their catalogue is stylish and one of the best I have seen, and they have recently introduced a range of lathes, the Series 1 and 2.

My first impression of these lathes was that they are typically European, unsurprisingly, as it is made in the EU. By that I mean they are massively built, with lots of heavy castings; no-nonsense lathes, where everything has been considered, evaluated and then made to a higher spec than anticipated to make sure that they can cope with everything that can be chucked at them. That includes ham-fisted turners like me.

The Series 2 lathes have the bigger capacity and heavier fabricated stand. The Series 2 is variable speed and has (via a belt change) three speed ranges to choose from and has a moveable speed control console, so you can move it where you choose for maximum safety and ease of access.

These have been developed for the turner who turns a lot and a variety of projects. The lathe has a 1m between-centre capacity, so you can turn chair and table legs, spindles and balusters, and a 450mm (8in) diameter capacity is more than suitable for bowls, platters and hollow forms. The spindle is the European standard of 33.3.5 and both spindle and tailstock are 2MT, both being hollow for lamp boring.

The variable speed is excellent, allowing micro adjustments. Three belts provide three defined speed changes and changing the belt position is quick and simple via a quick release handle, lift the motor, move the belt, and retighten the motor. No fuss, simple and effective. The levers, handles and hand wheels are all heavy-duty versions, I don't mean that in "marketing speak", they are good quality ones that will take punishment and abuse.

The lathe in use is at the top end of stability. It is a solid lathe and by default is better at dampening vibration that a lathe half its weight. The adage that usually holds true is the more weight in the lathe the less vibration you get, This lathe really is very simple to operate. The micro adjustments possible in the variable speed makes out-of-balance work a breeze to turn, and the solidity of the lathe is great for both large and small work. I am sure that they have based this on a pattern-makers lathe, from a design point of view. I liked the weight and mass of this lathe.


The price tag of £2900 certainly places this in the high end of the lathe price bracket and will no doubt limit the market for it. That said, for those that can afford it, it is, in my opinion, well worth it. It is a well-built lathe, which oozes build quality.

We will revisit this lathe, along with some other well known lathes featured in this magazine in the past for long term tests/evaluations.

Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

Magma , Mark Baker , Lathe , Mark Hancock

"Error reading XSLT file: cwsTerminology.xsltcwsTerminology.xslt

"It is a well-built lathe, which oozes build quality"

The Numbers

Magma 2 and 2-Plus Lathes
Prices (inc. VAT correct at time of publication:
750 Watt (1HP) Model: £2,845.00
1.1 KW (1.5HP) Model: £2,968.00
450mm bed extension: £385.00
- Swivelling headstock
- 2MT headstock and tailstock
- 33 x 3.5tpi spindle thread
- Swing over bed 225 (8 15/16in) mm
- 1000mm distance between centres
- Cone bearing
- Cast iron head stock, tailstock, banjo and bed - Variable speed 100 rpm to 3000 rpm with forward and reverse
- Flexible control panel
- Forward/reverse
- Weight: 230kg
- Made in UK 5-year Magma warranty

Contact Details

Contact: Magma Lathes
Tel.: +43(0)77 52-880 600

Mark Hancock On The Magma Lathes

The Magma 1S and 2-Plus are very similar lathes, with different turning capacities. The only other differences are the fabricated bed on the 1S compared to the cast on the 2 Plus and the heavier fabricated legs on the 2-Plus. On the 1S the legs can be filled with sand to give extra weight and stability. Both are no-frill lathes, built to a high specification with attention to detail. The heavy cast, swivelling and sliding headstocks have a tray area on top where that annoying range of Allen keys and the like can be placed. It is these little details that the turner often overlooks when assessing a lathe. The tailstock and banjo are also of heavy cast construction but both can be moved smoothly and locked solidly in position with one hand with ease. The range of movement of the long banjo allows the tool rest to be placed in the most appropriate position, even with the headstock swivelled. The magnetic backing to the mobile control box is strong enough to allow it to be positioned in the most accessible – and therefore safest – place for all turning situations. You do not have to reach for it as it can always be at hand. The lathe height on the 1S is a little low for me, so I have mounted it on blocks. With the 2 Plus I have not had to do anything. With all the other lathes I had, I have had to alter or add to in some way. For example move the switch because it is located in a dangerous position; change kip handles to better quality ones; add a handle to the tailstock wheel to making drilling easier. I have not had to do this with the Magma lathes and it is this attention to detail I like about these lathes