I've got one that I use for my wax-working class.
As for what I think of it? That depends on exactly what you mean. I
learned machine work on large precision lathes, multi-ton monsters
that could hold measurements down to .0005" without really trying.
That's where my head lives. By that standard....err..... There are
some tweaks I would make.
OTOH, for what it is, it isn't bad. I've got mine sort of tricked
out to make life easier for the students.
Step 1 was to get that funny little angle thing they call some sort
of precision depth gage. Handy every so often.
The biggest change I made was to get something to hold it.
Initially it was one of those white plastic 'vise blocks' that Rio
sells, so I could clamp the handpiece in a vise.
I eventually switched over to one of those custom foredom handpiece
holders, but that was because I only had one vise that'd fit the
student benches, and I needed it for other stuff. The big advantage
to having it held is that you've got both hands free to work, and the
thing doesn't wave around in the air. I have no idea how anybody
manages to do anything with them without some sort of attachment
I also don't use the cutters supplied with it except to use one of
them as a tool rest. (Sometimes I use it to turn an outside straight
section, but rarely.)
I usually use engraving tools as small turning tools. (they work
great.) The thing itself is great for rotationally symmetrical
forms, especially rings, but it does tend to force you into "ROUND"
As far as rings go, you can (and I have) use the toolpost to bore out
a blank to the proper ID for whatever size you need. Not fun, but
After watching students have problems, I came up with a simpler
answer to the ID of a ring.
I use one of those sharpened cutting mandrels to get the wax sized
to where I want it. Then I use a little thing I frankensteined up
one dark moonless night.
I bought an extra set of the inside ring collets that go with the
GRS inside ring clamp for the Benchmate system. What they are are
little plastic drums that expand when forced by a cone & screw
system. So I used a real lathe to make a socket for the screw that
has on its other end a 3/16" dia shaft that fits into the flex
shaft. The idea being that the flex shaft grabs the shaft, which is
coaxial with the screw and cone, which forces the drums to be
roughly centered. Since the drums are only slit in once place
instead of 3, I'm sure it's off a little, but not enough to cause
problems. You find the drum that just fits inside your ring, stick
it onto the flexshaft, expand the drum slightly, and start turning
away. The good news is that within broad limits the rings
automatically end up centered around their ID, which makes life very
easy, and certainly easier than trying to bore out the ID.
Don't make the mistake of thinking the thing is in any way anything
other than a system for spinning wax, and holding a cutter while it
does do. But if you keep that in mind, it does a pretty good job.