How to fit DRO to a lathe

Following on from our post about installing DRO to a milling machine, we wanted to share some pointers on how to do something similar with a lathe. We’ve shared some example images below to help show how to fit DRO, these show where we’ve mounted the glass optical digital readout scales to a Warco WM 250V. Also shown in these examples is a WM 290V – the same principles will apply to machines in a range of different sizes.

Cross slide DRO on lathe
Showing the scale for the cross travel. This is after we have drilled and tapped the necessary holes and mounted it into position.
DRO lathe cross travel
Another view of the cross travel scale fitted to the lathe.
Warco WM 290V
A view from the front with scales fitted. Here a WM 290V is shown (note the milling attachment at the rear).
Glass optical scale - view from rear on Warco lathe
View from the back of the lathe showing the longitudinal scale. Note we’ve removed the machine’s rear splash guard for better fitting access.
DRO scale - view from back of lathe
Another view from the back, showing the scale mounted after drilling and tapping in the appropriate places.
Warco WM290V DRO
And here’s another example of that same axis with the splash guard refitted – here on a WM 290V lathe. Note on this lathe there’s a milling attachment in place; the narrow section design of the scales means with that even with the milling column mounted, movement is still unrestricted.
Warco WM250 Lathe with DRO
Finally, there is the mounting of the counter. Positioning of this is less critical than the scales, so you are free to locate it wherever is most convenient. We’ve gone with the headstock end as it makes the most sense for readability, shown in this example on a WM 250. Supplied general purpose fitment bracket is intended for modification depending on your specific application.
DRO Warco WM 250V
The end result of a fully configured WM 250V with 2 axis DRO. The visible cables would usually be tucked neatly out of view – we have them on the swarf tray here for convenience as this is a display model.
DRO manual
Warco DRO systems come with the above installation manual, illustrated throughout with step by steps. 

With any luck, with the manual to hand alongside these example images, you should be well equipped for completing the satisfying job of your own installation. Anything we missed, or something you’re still not sure about? Let us know in the comments below!

See also:

Warco brochure

We’ve just released the latest Warco metalworking catalogue.

Warco catalogue

With 100+ colour pages of machinery and tools, it’s a handy way to see our range in one place.

Warco brochure

If you have already requested a copy, thanks! It will be with you shortly. If you don’t think you’re on the list and would like one, we will be happy to post you one for free – just send us a message with your address details here: warco.co.uk/contact.

Warco DRO for lathes and milling machines

We’ve noticed more and more people keen to fit glass optical digital readout systems to their machines, but found existing systems too expensive to justify, especially for home workshop and small scale engineering businesses.

With that in mind, we introduced an all new glass optical system specifically designed for metalworking lathes and mills at an affordable price.

This system has the added advantage of using small section scales, so where space is tight on smaller machines like the WM 14 / 16 mills or WM 240 / 250 lathes, there is still no space issue.

Because this system is sold for self fitting, there’s a big saving. Each counter two comprehensive manuals – 1x operation instructions and 1x guide to fitting. You can read more about the counter shown above here.

If you aren’t using coolant on your machine and don’t require a waterproof system, even cheaper options than this exist.

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This digital readout counter in combination with the corresponding scales is a cheap alternative to the more professional level systems. You can find these here.

Find the full range of digital readout systems at warco.co.uk/dro.

Warco WM 180 lathe unboxing video

We recently received some requests for a video of our WM 180 lathe, so with that in mind it was lucky a customer of ours shared with us footage of him taking one out of the box.

Warco WM 180 lathe. The compact design means it’s favoured by customers using one for smaller scale projects such as model engineering or general home workshop metalworking.

We thought it was a pretty good introduction to the machine, especially if you haven’t seen one in person yet. It’s only a few minutes long, you can check it out below.



We’re very fond of this machine. We first introduced it 20 years ago now as an entry level option and it’s fair to say it has long been amongst most popular small bench top lathes.

We regularly hear back positive reviews from our customers about WM 180s they bought from us over a decade ago still going strong today.

Ideally suited to smaller scale engineering projects, the compact size means it’s most often bought by folks using one as part of a home workshop such as model engineers and hobby metalworkers.

You can find the specs in full here: Warco WM 180 lathe.

Shown above is a newer addition to our range – the WM 180 offered with a 2 axis digital readout (DRO) system installed

Last updated: September 2021


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Warco machine installation at Prospects College

Prospects College asked us to supply and install a large workshop as part of a new training centre they were building. As one of the most prominent providers of vocational training in the South East, Prospects have over 40 years experience in education.

They have an innovative approach to teaching which involves working in partnership with businesses, which enables them to deliver a range of unique training courses tailored to match the skill requirements of industry.

One focus of the college in particular is engineering, and as part of this they approached us to see if we could help. We were able to work with them to offer a fitting that was tailored to meet their very specific requirements, involving equipping a set of workshops with a range of Warco machinery and tools.

We’ve added a few pics of the installation below.

A range of Warco milling machines loaded onto a truck for delivery.
Another truck loaded with mills about to leave for Prospects.
Warco milling machines
The milling machines and lathes are all set up and in place after our installation.
Note the guards fitted to the mills, we offer these as part of our safety measures for education customers.
The end result with the workshops fully equipped and machines all ready to use.

Now those machines are being used intensively on a regular basis, helping with the teaching of engineering apprenticeships and hopefully training a new generation of future engineers.

At Warco we don’t consider any project too large or small, and are always happy to offer advice or a bespoke quote centred around your requirements. So whether you’re looking to update a garden shed workshop or are after some machines for a large scale installation – and anything in between – we’ll be happy to help.

You can find our full product range on the Warco site, and if you have any questions or are after a quote, please feel free to get in touch.

Warco at the London Model Engineering Exhibition 2015

This January sees the London Model Engineering Exhibition at Alexandra Palace.

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With over a thousand models on display, lectures and some of the finest quality model engineering displays in the country, it promises to be another top weekend.

The Warco stand at the London Model Engineering Exhibition

The event will be well worth paying a visit if you’re in and around the south east and are interested in model engineering.

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We will be exhibiting with a large stand, bringing along the majority of our lathes and milling machines, as well as bandsaws, grinders, polishers and sheet metal tools. We will also have a huge range of smaller engineering tools – virtually our entire range of metalworking equipment, including just about anything for a lathe or mill you could need – it will all be there at special show only prices. We will also have many brand new product lines on display for sale at the same time. Dates are 16th to 18th January 2015.

Keep up to date with Warco exhibitions here.

Warco machines at home in another new academy

We’ve always been strong believers in the benefits of equipping a new generation with engineering skills, so some of our most rewarding work is working with schools and education facilities to supply ranges of machinery for students to learn from.

From small scale private training facilities to state of the art new build academies, we’ve been involved with projects at every end of the education spectrum and are proud to have been involved with all of them.

We recently supplied a range of machinery to an all new facility, the WMG Academy in Coventry.

WMG Academy in Coventry
Nash Maliko and Engineering Technician Chris Parry in the WMG Academy
Warco Milling Machines in the classroom
Warco milling machines in the classroom. Photos credit: Coventry Telegraph

The opening was covered in the Coventry Telegraph.

This new state of the art facility will be teaching students vocational and practical skills, with the aim of boosting future career prospects and gearing up students to work in industry. With a focus on the automotive, aerospace and manufacturing sectors, the academy is working in conjunction with the University of Warwick as well as partners including Jaguar Land Rover and Bosch.

We were able to supply and install a range of machinery tailored around the very specific requirements of the teaching workshops and it was a really interesting project to be involved with.

Now that a new term has started, it’s great to hear that the machines we supplied over the school breakdown period are already being put to good use.

Full details of the academy can be found at wmgacademy.org.uk.

We’re highly aware safety is a paramount in a school or college environment, so we always specify stop switches, spindle brakes and other precautionary measures. Everything we supply is fully endorsed and follows all the latest guidelines, and we work with highly qualified and talented individuals who are certified to handle any aspect of machine maintenance, safety and installation.

Other posts on Warco machine installations include:

JCB Academy

Prospects College

Winter Open Day 2014

Update: We had a  fantastic turnout at this year’s Winter Open Day. Our thanks to all of our loyal customers and many new faces that made it down to us for the day. We’re already planning the next event for this Spring. In the meantime, you can keep up to date with the latest Open Day news on our Exhibitions page. Original post below.


Next up on the show calendar is the forthcoming Warco Open Day on November 8th 2014.

winter-banner-14

This show will feature our entire range of new metalworking machinery and tools, with just about everything at special show only prices, so it promises to be a good chance to pick up a bargain. There will be on site catering, free entry and the chance to check out all of our products in the flesh. In addition, we’ll have displays showcasing the large volume of new products we’ve been introducing to our range over the last few months. Find a preview of the new items on offer here.

As well as new tools, we’ll also have just about more used and ex demo tools than ever before. We regularly take machines in part exchange, take part in workshop clearances and have older showroom machines to offload, and they end up being offered for sale at our Open Days at low prices. There will be a barn full of used tools for sale, so if you’re after that elusive second hand deal the event could well  be well worth a trip.

The Warco Open Day is among our favourite events of the year, it’s a great chance for us to speak to some of our loyal customers in person, which is always welcome.

Address: Warco House, Fisher Lane, Chiddingfold, Surrey GU8 4RZ

Date: Saturday 8th November 2014. Opening times are 9am – 2pm.

Warco at the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition

We’re currently gearing up for the largest Model Engineering show of this time of year over in the Midlands. This year’s show is particularly exciting for us as we’re bringing along more small tooling than ever before, and introducing more new products at any one show that we can remember. We’ve been busy over the summer expanding our range of rotary tables, introducing new polishers and grinders, along with our new GH550 lathe and more, there will be plenty to see on our stand at the show.

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Best of all, we’ve got special show only prices on just about everything, so if you pay us a visit there’s a good chance of finding a good deal.

The show runs from Thursday 16th October to Sunday 19th October 2014. It’s open from  10.00am – 5.00pm daily (closing at 4:00pm on the Sunday).

The venue is: Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, Fosse Way, Nr Leamington Spa CV31 1XN

Hopefully we’ll catch up with many for you there!

PS Next up the show calendar is the Warco Open Day in November. You can keep up to date with that and other forthcoming shows on warco.co.uk.