Re Axminster Trade AT150PPL Precision Pro Lathe


I’m looking the Axminster Trade AT150PPL Precision Pro Lathe mainly for pen turning but also some larger projects. Is this lathe “big enough” to turn a pepper mill? I’m looking at the kits for the working parts and would like to make the smaller mills. If I buy the right mounts etc to fit the lathe would this project be possible?
Any information will be most welcome.


Hi there,

The way to determine the largest object you can turn it to check two critical dimensions in the lathes specifications.

One; maximum diameter over bed, which is the largest piece that will fit in the lathe.

Two; distance between centres, which is the longest piece that will fit.

Beware of working at or near these dimensions. Things will be rather “tight”, it could be difficult to work with your material so close to the tool rest for one thing.

My advice would be to purchase as large a lathe as you can afford and fit into your work space.

I am a metal worker, I make scale model steam engines. When I purchased my first lathe I bought the smallest machine possible to get the job done, it was under powered and difficult to fit my material into.

Within a couple months I found myself trading it in for a much larger machine.

I looked at the specs of the model you mention. They are; maximum length 250mm, max diameter 150mm,

So I would imagine that you should be able to easily work material that is 200mm long and 100mm in diameter.

When I was younger my father worked in wood and would occasionally play with his lathe. He would take me into the forest with him and we would search for “burls”, which are those knobbly bits of wood you sometimes see growing on the sides of tree trunks.

He would saw them off with a bow saw and leave them in a warm corner of his shop to dry.

Dad always had a few of them ready to turn. The most beautiful bowls used to come out of those bits of wood. The patterns in the grain would captivate me.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do. Just remember this hobby can become addictive. Allow yourself some room to grow when it comes to purchasing key pieces of equipment for your shop.


Jenny is so right about the sizing of a lathe (remembering, for instance, that the quoted ‘distance between centres’ is actually the maximum distance between the spindle nose and the fully retracted tailstock quill, and will rapidly reduce as you add a chuck and live centre). Plus you can always make small things on a big lathe but never big things on a small lathe.
You will always want to buy extra bits for a lathe as you progress with this (highly addictive) hobby but the AT150PPL will demand special parts to produce almost anything that is not a pen. Those special parts (adaptors, collets etc) will be peculiar to the lathe and not transferable to another lathe should you decide to go larger in the future.
I believe that, for the same price you could get a lathe and some accessories suitable for a wider range of turning than the AT150PPL offers.
Talk to members of the local woodturning club, and discuss your aspirations with the staff at your local AT&M store before making a final decision.
All the best with your new hobby.