Sunday, September 30, 2012

VEGA D-36 Lathe Duplicator

A few years ago my son and I took a drive from High Point NC to a little spot on the map in SC that I don't believe had a name, to take possession of a Total Shop clone of a Shopsmith.  There was a jointer, a bandsaw, a jigsaw and a belt sander, but what I couldn't take my eye off was a VEGA lathe duplicator and another odd duplicator that were in the pile of tools on the floor of the barn.  I was thrilled to learn that everything I saw was part of the deal that I already negotiated on the phone.  The duplicator is a D-36, which means it is designed to duplicate spindles up to 36" in length.  Considering that my lathe has a 34" capacity, it looks like I'm good to go. 

Here's a video of the duplicator that I found on Youtube.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Delta 46-460 VS Medi Lathe

OK, let's just get this out of the way: Delta was more than just a slight bit pretentious when they jumped on the mini lathe bandwagon, but instead of calling theirs a "mini" like all the other manufactures, they chose to call their lathe a "midi" lathe. 
Now that I have that out of my system, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with these lathes!   I currently own a Jet JWL 1220 12" X 20" mini lathe, and while I like it a lot it has a couple frustrating features that the Delta midi solves.  
The biggest thing is that I hate is that it's not variable speed.  The Delta 46-460 not only has a three step pulley, but it has a variable speed DC motor with a conveniently located speed control knob that allows speed adjustments on the fly.  Add to this the fact that the Delta is also reversible at the flip of a switch, which makes final sanding a breeze. 

Another thing that I prefer on the Delta over the Jet is something that I originally liked in the Jet.  I remember when I purchased it thinking that I liked how they put the access door for the step pulleys on the back, because quite frankly it was kind of ugly.  Fast forward ten years and I can't begin to tell you what a hassle that little door has been.  (See it at the 1;55 point in the video below)

You have to lean over the headstock to see what you are doing, and the sheet metal door is spring loaded like a rat trap.  The Delta has the pulley access door on the front, and they got around the "ugly" door by making it a nice looking feature.  When the door is open you have full access to the belts, and if you study the photo at right you'll also notice a lever on the bottom right that's used to raise the motor and the lower pulley, which give you the slack in the belt that you need to easily move it to a new position.  This is very slick!  Likewise you can also see the index pin and the division markings on the left hand side of the pulley.  This is handy for fluting spindles, drilling for joinery and routing dovetails for legs on table posts.  

Woodcraft currently has a super deal going on the Delta 46-460 Variable Speed Midi Lathe (That's a link, son) where you get the $179 metal stand for FREE with the purchase of the lathe.  Additionally you get a special discount on any of their mid-size lathe tools that you add to your order.  Hurry, the deal ends Sept 30th.

Also, there is a non-variable speed midi lathe available that can save you about $100, but I would argue against it.  Why?  Because it has a 3/4HP motor rather than the 1HP VS motor.  If that isn't enough, don't forget the free stand mentioned above.  Here's a like to the Non-VS Delta Midi Lathe.

The amazing Powermatic 4224B lathe

I just returned from the 2012 International Woodworking Fair (IWF) in Atlanta GA, and while most folks were enamored with such things as the hot dog cutting demos at the SawStop booth, or the amazing demos of the CNC machines at the Stiles Machinery booth, I couldn't pull myself away from the Powermatic booth and the demos of the Powermatic 4224B.  This lathe weighs in at over 900 pounds and is the biggest, heaviest, and most capable lathe ever offered by Powermatic.   
·        Some of the details include:

  • A sliding headstock with electronic variable speed and digital RPM readout.  This feature means that you’ll be able to select the most appropriate speed for turning and finishing. 
  • A spindle lock and built in spindle indexing on the headstock for drilling hole patterns, routing flutes, and other equally spaced features.  This would be excellent for indexing for wooden gears for wood clocks!
  • A cool, built-in vacuum system that provides quick method of chucking bowl blanks.  This was one of the most fascinating features of the lathe, and allows you to “suck” your bowl blank to the lathe!
  • An up-front 15-amp quad receptacle for easy powering of all powered accessories, such as lights, sanders, routers, strobes, etc.
  • Two 100W goose neck task lamps provide ideal lighting is standard. 
  • A built-in air nozzle with quick connect for clearing dust and chips.
  • A set of dead centers that are mounted behind the lathe bed which can be used to hold a sample spindle behind the spindle you are turning, for visual comparison while duplicated.  Man, this sure would have come in handy when I was turning a bunch of gazebo finials a few years back.
  • The laser etched quill is self ejecting, meaning that to remove any MT accessories, like your live center or drill chuck, you simply back if off, and the accessory pops free.
  •  A two position mount for the optional bed extension, allowing for HUGE bowls, platters and even table tops.
  •  A brass tipped knockout bar that will not damage drive centers.
  • An attached tool caddy allows convenient access and storage of centers, wrenches, etc.
  • This was a little weird: The tailstock has an internal storage compartment with a hinged door for additional accessories.  And why not?  This space is present on all tailstocks, but it’s always just wasted space.
  • The heavy, chrome trimmed handwheels are ergonomic and frankly feel amazing.
  • The magnetic-backed remote on/off switch can be moved anywhere on the machine, and who doesn’t like magnets?
  • A few more stats:
  • The swing over the main bed: 24"      
  • The swing over the tool rest base (banjo): 21"      
  • The distance between centers: 42"
  • Outboard turning capacity: 88" (That’s over seven feet!)        
  • Speed range from 40-3500 RPM      
  • Headstock taper: #2 Morris Taper (MT-2)     
  • Spindle thread: 1 1/4 " x 8 TPI     
  •  Hole Through Spindle: 5/8 "    
  • Tailstock taper: #2 Morris Taper (MT-2)     
  •  Hole Through Tailstock: 3/8 "    
  • Tailstock Ram Travel: 4½ "     
  • Centerline of spindle to the floor: 44 "      
  • Headstock Movement: full length of bed              
  • Indexing Positions: 98           
  • Bed Construction: cast iron              
  • Motor Power: 3 HP     
  • Motor Voltage: 220 V     
  • Prewired Voltage: 220 V   
  • Motor Phase: 3 Ph (Don’t worry, phase converters are available, but that needs to considered as you work this into your budget)    
  • Model Number 4224B    
  • Overall Assembled Dimensions: 83"L x 36"W x 65"H    
  • Height: 31.5 inch            
  • Width: 27 inch
  • Length: 68 inch
  • Net Weight: 948 pound  (The headstock alone weighs just shy of 200lbs!)
OK, now hold on to your hat as you click on this link to see the Powermatic 4224B lathe for sale at Woodcraft. 
Don't worry if they are too proud of it for your budget, because I have a plan B for ya: Here's the Powermatic 3520B Lathe for sale at Woodcraft.

Here are some great videos from Youtube of the 4224B lathe in action: