Woodturning lathes

How to choose the right wood lathe?

Wood lathes are made in different materials and dimensions, and are offered at very different prices. All this makes choosing a lathe, especially the first lathe, not so easy. Of course, the choice of a lathe depends first and foremost on the budget you want to spend on it, but it is also important to list your own specific requirements in advance.

Which pieces do you want to turn?

Which pieces do I want to make, how long, and which (maximum) diametre? Many people immediately think of a turning length of 1 metre, but actually 95% of the wood turning takes place within 60 cm.

Which motor do I need on my wood lathe?

A mono-phase motor (220 V) can be used anytime and anywhere; a three-phase motor, on the other hand, is much better. It runs more quietly, becomes less warm, in short, a three-phase motor is much better suited for intensive use.

Does the lathe have to be taken on the move? In that case, a three-phase motor is not a good solution (except in combination with a frequency inverter).

In addition, it is also important to know that a number of things really determine the quality and user comfort of the lathe.

Your wood lathe made from cast iron or steel?

Contrary to what is often heard, the discussion about the material that makes up the lathe (cast iron or steel) is not that important.

Of course, a sturdy construction is an absolute requirement, but it is mainly the weight of the lathe that determines the stability and the ability to absorb vibrations. These vibrations that are mainly caused by the workpiece itself - that is, low-frequency vibrations - are generally not better absorbed by a cast iron than by a steel structure.

In that regard, the frame of the lathe is also very important, its weight, its stability, and setting and adjustment possibilities.

Adjustment possibilities for your wood lathe.

The loose head, and especially the chisel support, must be able to be moved and clamped quickly. An eccentric clamping is recommended here.

Choose a lathe with a recording thread for which you will be able to purchase attachments later without any problems. Some lathes have their own specific thread, which usually requires an adapter to be able to use accessories. Such a thing is always at the expense of precision. Common threads are: M33 x 3.5mm, 1 "x 8 TPI, 3/4" x TPI.

A morse cone in the main axis and in the axis of the loose head is recommended.

A pierced shaft, especially from the loose head, is useful when drilling.

A rotatable fixed head is comfortable when slewing and increases the capacity of the lathe. Of course, that capacity (read: maximum diametre) also has everything to do with the power of the motor. A rotating fixed head that can be placed in the middle of the lathe bed at the same time makes the whole setup even more stable, especially when turning large pieces.

Choose the right speed of your wood lathe.

The speeds available to a lathe are of great importance. It doesn't really matter if there are 3, 4 or 5, but it is important that the lowest speed is low enough (400 rpm to max.) And the highest is high enough (2000 rpm.). The power of the motor is of course also important. It determines the capacity (max. diametre) of your lathe. When comparing powers it is important to know that powers are sometimes indicated with P1 (= the power absorbed) and sometimes with P2 (= the power actually delivered).

Choose the right speed regulation of your wood lathe.

The most common speed regulation is the multi-stage belt pulley with poly-V belt drive. The regular V-belt is hardly used anymore, because the belt itself generates quite a lot of vibrations. Some lathes are equipped with variable V-belt pulleys. In that case the speed of the machine with the motor running can (must) be changed. The speed change with this system is limited to approximately 1 in 4 (eg 500 to 2000 rpm).

With the larger machines, more and more people are opting for a combination of a multi-stage pulley with an electronic frequency inverter.

This combination guarantees a constant torque, even at very low speeds, and moreover ensures incomparable user comfort. This electronic frequency controller is also the (only) means to connect a three-phase motor to a 220 Volt socket.

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