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Differences in Craftsman 101 and 109 lathes

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  • Differences in Craftsman 101 and 109 lathes

    I am new to this and have been looking on Ebay for a used lathe. I don't want anything really big and don't mind having to clean and fix minor problems.

    My question is what are the differences in the 101 and 109 series lathes? Here are two that are on Ebay right now. I did a search on Google and on the forum and couldn't find anything.

    I can see that there are differences in the lead screws. The 101 looks like it is built heavier. Is that the case or is it just the way the picture was taken? Are there any other major differences?

    Craftsman 109 - 460&rd=1

    Craftman 101 -

    Thanks in advance


  • #2
    They are two very different machines. The 101 was made by Atlas, the 109, by AA.

    Tha 101 is a good machine, and a real lathe. The 109 is not a bad machine, and I would probably prefer it to a Sherline, but it is a lightweight machine. has information on both. Look under Craftsman for the 109, Atlas 618 for the 101.
    Jim H.


    • #3
      Thanks for the link. That helps a lot.


      • #4
        I had a 109. I would not recommend them.
        To invent, you need a good imagination - and a pile of junk. Thomas A. Edison


        • #5
          If you had a choice and both were in reasonably good shape, the 101 would definitely win out in my opinion.

          The one thing I think you'd REALLY love over the 109 is that the 101 has a crank handle for the carriage. With the 109, you have to have the halfnut on the leadscrew engaged anytime you want to traverse along the carriage. If the halfnut is ever disengaged, you can slide the apron up and down the bed with your hands.

          That said, I have a craftsman 109 that is just about finished being cleaned up. A friend gave it to me and it has been fun to get back in working order.

          One nice aspect of the 109 is that you can get replacement parts quite easily. Go to

          If I was purchasing a lathe of that size, I would probably get one of those import 7 x 10 or 7 x 12 with a dc motor drive and graduated dials on the carriage and cross slide (the 109 doesn't have them; can't tell in the picture if the 101 does)

          I've probably put ~$200-250 (after having it given to me for free) into my 109 now that I've gotten all new handles and few bits and pieces, paint, etc. I consider it a labor of love and a learning experience. I don't have lots of experience with American lathes vs. Imports, but I like getting "old iron" and restoring it. However,in the case of a lathe this small and such limited options, I don't think you'd be getting any worse of a lathe by getting a small import. Just my 2 cents.



          • #6
            I think the 109 has a 1/2 x 20 spindle. I owned one many years ago for a short time. The spindle was bent when I acquired it.


            • #7
              Ive got a 101 and am happy with it, it is not "super" rigid but it is a good machine, and is much more sturdy than the 109, the 101 in the link is a latter model than mine though, it has the integrated counter shaft, which can make it somewhat siimpler to mount. I would go for a 101 again withought hesitation, the parts are very common on ebay. just watch for overall condition when you buy, a 101 with worn out ways and burnt up spindle bushings is just an anchor.


              • #8
                I'll echo what Chad said. The 101 is about half again longer than the 109, and at least twice as heavy. I consider the 109 a useful toy. Like Chad, I just finished rebuilding an old AA lathe for fun. It looks good on the bookshelf.
                That old iron has an appeal. I much enjoy buying an iron hulk, stripping it down to the last bolt, cleaning, de-rusting, restoring, painting, replacing fasteners etc until it looks, runs and feels new. But I have a good lathe and a Chinese minimill to make parts for them
                And for the money, you will be better off with import if your primary purpose is to USE the lathe. This 101 (aka 618) will likely go for $450 or more. The 109s go for half that. In that range you can get a 7x14 minilathe with some tooling, parts are readily available and cheap, and the internet support is enormous. Just building all the mods and projects can keep you busy for years.

                I will note that both these lathes have a feature not found on any of the low-cost 7X or 9x20 or even 10x24 lathes - a leadscew reverse tumbler. i use mine fairly frequently.


                • #9
                  <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by JCHannum:
                  The 109 is not a bad machine, and I would probably prefer it to a Sherline, but it is a lightweight machine.

                  Well, everyone has their opinion, but I would NEVER IN 1000 YEARS prefer a 109 over a Sherline. I had a 109. It worked brass ok, with care. it was a 109.20630, which is one of the best. I have seen VERY lightweight 109s that were even worse than mine.

                  The Sherline is a good tool. The 109 is almost a lathe.

                  The sherline has a bigger diameter spindle, running at higher RPM (good for that size work), it has real attachments, etc, etc, etc.

                  The 109? Problems? Lets start with a crosslide that has a 24 pitch it is 41.6 thous per turn.....get real.

                  Little 1/2" spindle, almost every one you can buy the spindle will be bent already.

                  No attachments worth the name, except maybe from Bill Hardin, he is making a business out of the 109. I think he offers a larger nose spindle...someone does, I made one (on the Logan) but never put it in.

                  About the only better thing on the 109 is that the 109 is set up to be able to cut threads. I don't think the Sherline can cut threads without a pile of extras. But the 109 still doesn't do it well.

                  BTW, the highest price I have seen for a 109 was $580.....I bought a loaded Logan 10" for $35 more than that.

                  Go for the 101, given the choice you describe. "it is a real lathe"....very true.

                  Keep eye on ball.
                  Hashim Khan


                  • #10
                    The 101 is the better choice in all respects.

                    As far as my opinion of the Sherline goes, I feel it is highly over rated and overpriced. Accessories are available from Sherline at equally high prices, and its use is severely limited without them.

                    The 109 is no prize, but one in good condition will cut threads with only change gears, and has a power feed. Both items are sorely lacking in the Sherline.

                    As far as price goes, I bought my 13"X56" Sheldon for $425.00, tooled and ready to go. Picked up a Mill Rite mill the same day for $50.00.
                    Jim H.


                    • #11
                      Thanks for all the replies. Thought that the 101 looked beefier. It is better to ask those who know though.

                      Thanks for pointing out the differences in the smaller lathes including the sherline.