So you may remember that in my last shop tour I gave a quick mention to my new lathe, a few of you have asked me for more detail and what i think of the lathe so here it is! I have had the lathe for a while and I think it is time for me to give an overview of the tool. Now this is not a formal tool review but as this lathe is pretty similar in specs to its rival like the Jet 3520 Etc. But costs less than half it could be a good alternative for anyone looking for a versatile lathe but without spending much more than £1000.
When it was delivered it came in a wooden crate, suffice to say this is the only tool I have ever purchased which was big enough to necessitate such packaging! The lathe did require some assembly of course and it was defiantly a two person job- even in pieces it was pretty heavy and trying to it bolt together on my own would have been unfeasible.
The lathe I own, the Axminster AWVSWL 1200 is actually the predecessor to the AWVSWL 1200D which is identical to mine, but instead has a single phase motor instead of a three-phase. The change seems to make no difference in terms of power supply or performance as far as I can know. The lathe is also the same in every way, other than its name and colour, to the Laguna 1847 and also the Jet JWL-1642. I am pretty sure in fact they all come out of the same factory, so this lathe is also available to those in the U.S and elsewhere.
I will try to miss out most of the boring stuff and not bother quoting all of the specs which you can find for yourself. What I really want to do is provide my obsertations and let you know what I think of this tool.
The lathe does have an 18” swing over the bed (not quite as much as the JET) but enough to do some descent sized turnings. You can also increase this by moving the headstock to the edge of the lathe and turning off the front using the optional extension or a floor standing tool rest.
The length of turning possible is quite reasonable also, the lathe as standard provides a turning length of 47″ which is most likely longer than anything I plan on making. You cannot sadly use the optional extension to increase the bed length which if I am honest is missing a trick!
The variable speed is specified to range from 130- 3200rpm, I was however able to achieve 50- 3200rpm which could be useful should I ever turn a particularly large unbalanced piece of wood. Needless to say, although it stated 50rpm this could be due to an inaccurate speedometer, which struggle to measure low speeds at the best of times.
I did encounter a small amount of vibration when running at the highest speed 3200rpm. I think this is due to the upper pulley being slightly out of line with the bottom one, causing the belt to vibrate. This could be an easy fix, simply undo the set screws in the pulleys and align them slightly better. Having had a quick go I decided the issue was not worth the hassle and the risk of messing something up so I left it alone.
Construction and Built Quality
The lathe does weigh less than most of its competitors at just 180kg, this is still pretty heavy however and pretty difficult to budge. An unbalanced piece of wood could however cause it to “walk about” and if I did encounter such an event I would have to think about adding some additional weight. This could be done by building a frame at the base to hold some sand or perhaps even bricks. Another option would be to bolt it to the ground, although I have never enjoyed drilling into concrete if I am honest, nevertheless it is still an option.
The lathe is built solidly, it has obviously been built to last. The banjo is reasonably heavy and the tailstock turns smoothly. One concern I do have is regarding the bearings, the bearings appear to be quite close together and I do wonder if the lathe would have benefitted from them being mounted further apart perhaps enabling it to cope with much heavier turnings. I will of corse have to wait until I turn a really heavy piece of wood to see if the lathe has any trouble coping.
One other small issue I have found with the lathe is the removal of the banjo, and this is probably not one which most people would have. Some of you know I have the need to attach the a router duplicator to my lathe, this requires me to remove the banjo. However this didn’t appear to be possible as the bolt holding it to the lathe protruded just slightly too far and hit the end of the lathe stopping me from sliding it off. I will have another look to see if it is something I have done wrong but this otherwise is a little frustrating and means that I have to undo the nut to remove the banjo. Now as I say, this probably is not an issue for most but another instance where this may be problematic is when one attempts to do some outboard turning.
The finish, or appearance, to me like most woodturners is not a priority. The parts understandably have a mottled, rough texture which has been painted. I assume this is because the cast iron parts were sand cast and have received little in the way of finishing work. This is certainly not an issue for me, and I still think it looks great! The bed of the lathe is ground sufficiently and everything slid along the bed well. Some woodturners may feel the need to give it a final polish themselves however. I am still yet to give the bed a coat of wax. A coat of wax allows parts to slide more smoothly but also, if like me, you finish on the lathe, means those splatters of finish which you get on the bed should scrape right off.
I have enjoyed turning the few projects I have made since aquiring this lathe. It runs smoothly and the 2hp motor has enough power to cope with even the heaviest cuts which the mini lathe I had before could not.
So I will just conclude by saying that I can thoroughly recommend this lathe to anyone who can afford it, although there are some better lathes out there, there is not much you can’t do on this that you can do on others. In my opinion, for the price, there’s no beating it!
If you have any further questions on the lathe please feel free to post a comment bellow.