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Impressions of the Powermatic 3520b after 4 months of ownership

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Review by Chris posted 03-29-2009 05:34 AM 10340 views 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Impressions of the Powermatic 3520b after 4 months of ownership Impressions of the Powermatic 3520b after 4 months of ownership No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Some of you may remember my blog post regarding this Christmas Gift . I just wanted to post a review now that I have used it for a while….

Assembly: Ouch! Get help, Get a Friend but whatever you do don’t do it by yourself! It’s heavy and unwieldy; you could easily hurt yourself if you are not careful. Make sure you assemble it where you plan to leave it, moving it is no simple chore. Make sure there is enough room behind it for the cage to open fully and plenty of room on the right hand end if you plan to do any outboard turning (anything over 20” diameter).

Quality:
Outstanding!!!! If you purchase this lathe you will not be sorry… When assembling this lathe all of the parts fit perfectly and there were none of those little fit & finish issues you normally just put up with.

Stability:
Simply put, Rock Solid. My first Lathe (a Jet mini) would shudder and shake if a blank was the least bit out of round. Weighing in at 650lbs the Powermatic just hums away. I’m sure it is possible to make it dance if you turn a large blank outboard, but it’s not a problem I have experienced as yet.

Ease of Use:
Variable Speed: The use of the dual range variable speed motor is simple and intuitive. No issues what so ever here.
Reversible Motor: Where has this been all my life? Finish sanding time if significantly reduced and removing torn out fibers is a lot easier with this feature.
Spindle Lock: It works as advertised. What more can I say?
Head Stock/Tail Stock: Nothing on this lathe is small; If you must remove the tail stock I recommend having a table or cart nearby at close to the same level as the lathe bed. Your back will thank you! As for the head stock, it slides fairly easily along the bed even to the far end for outboard turning. It’s no light weight either so be prepared to put your mass into it.
Drive & Tail Centers: The drive center is simply a spur drive, enough said. The Tail center is a ball bearing cone center that works wonderfully. —Update— I forgot to mention that the cone is removable and you are left with a a spur, which is also very useful.

Noise Levels:
This very large lathe is quiet as a mouse; if you are more than a couple of feet away you hardly even hear it. Typically the only noise you will hear is the tool against the wood and not much else.

I was reminded to post this review today while hollowing a Cherry vase. During the hollowing process it occurred to me that I was getting zero deflection in the headstock (this happened quite often on the mini); it makes turning a dream instead of a struggle. I am glad that I waited to purchase this tool instead of settling for one of lesser quality. However, if it had not been for the experience gained on the mini I would not have known what to look for when I upgraded.

One other note: It is my humble opinion that no matter which lathe you own you should purchase the best quality chuck possible as well. One is not much good without the other…...

Additional Notes:
This lathe requires 220v, so keep that in mind if you intend to purchase. Also, it has an indexing head, which I have yet to use, so I cannot comment as to it’s operation.

In case anyone is interested Tom Hintz of NewWoodworker did a review on this lathe as well.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein




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Chris

1867 posts in 2650 days



21 comments so far

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Scott Bryan

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#1 posted 03-29-2009 04:49 PM

Thanks for the review. As a Powermatic fan I have yet to see anything that I would not give a 5 star rating to. I have one of these on my list so this info has been helpful.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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RBWoodworker

416 posts in 2010 days


#2 posted 03-29-2009 05:49 PM

Im in need of a good lathe, and was wondering just how much do these Powermatics go for? I was looking into a Oneway lathe but want to do my research first

-- Randall Child http://www.racfurniture.com/

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Chris

1867 posts in 2650 days


#3 posted 03-29-2009 06:41 PM

Powermatic, like many mfg’s, raised their prices at the end of the year. So from what I can tell it seems to be selling for between $3,000 and $3,500. Shipping will be a nice chunk added on as well if you cannot pick it up at a store.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

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Chris

1867 posts in 2650 days


#4 posted 03-29-2009 06:50 PM

Also, in talking to various folks about lathes prior to my purchase it seems that there are three very dedicated camps: Oneway, Powermatic & Nova owners. Each seems to have it’s quirks; I chose the Powermatic over the Nova because I got the 35” bed right from the start without adding an extension.

I have used Powermatic machines in the past and have always been impressed by their level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. Combine that with their reputation for standing by their product and that they have a local reseller (Woodcraft in my case) and it was a done deal. Of course I still think $3k is lot of money but on the flip side I don’t think I’ll ever need to purchase another lathe and I could easily expect to pass this one one to someone else in the family.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

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knotscott

5473 posts in 2034 days


#5 posted 03-29-2009 07:11 PM

Now that’s a lathe! Nice job on the review.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View peruturner's profile

peruturner

317 posts in 2021 days


#6 posted 03-30-2009 12:38 AM

That is the lathe Ill get some day,or make one like it(have made 3 lathes and they still working like the first day

View Big_Bob's profile

Big_Bob

164 posts in 2367 days


#7 posted 03-30-2009 02:43 AM

FYI

I recently checked with The Tool Nut, http://www.toolnut.com/ they will sell it for less than $3000 with a free bed extension and free shipping. I think this offer is over is only good until April 1st. However they say they will always have the lowest price. I also know someone that bought this lathe from them and he was vary happy with them.

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View Chris 's profile

Chris

1867 posts in 2650 days


#8 posted 03-30-2009 02:57 AM

That’s an excellent price Bob…. The bed extension alone is usually somewhere around $300 – $400.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View DocK16's profile

DocK16

1140 posts in 2745 days


#9 posted 03-30-2009 03:23 AM

AS someone in the market for a heavier lathe this was a very helpful review. As always the price is the biggest hurdle.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View Roper's profile

Roper

1359 posts in 2372 days


#10 posted 03-30-2009 04:11 PM

this is a great lathe, plenty of power, smooth and quiet. so far the only time mine has shaken was when spinning an offset winged bowl, but a little shelf underneath the lathe and a couple pieces of hard maple and no more shaking. 5 stars is the right grade for this lathe. also oneways are great lathes, a little more expensive, but the hollow tube the lathe is made of is know to hum while the machine is on, not a big deal just an anoyance.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust- www.roperwoodturning.com

View Eduardo Rodriguez's profile

Eduardo Rodriguez

37 posts in 2029 days


#11 posted 03-30-2009 04:39 PM

Envy…

-- Tempus fugit...better work wood!!!

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PurpLev

8476 posts in 2307 days


#12 posted 03-30-2009 09:00 PM

nice review, looks like a terrific tool.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Lemonpie's profile

Lemonpie

1 post in 2002 days


#13 posted 03-31-2009 10:40 PM

I have owned a Powermatic 3520a for about 5 years. Wonderful machine. Only one problem with mine and I am sure others as well. Don’t turn on an AM radion while using the lathe. Reception is wiped out even for neighbors!

View Chris 's profile

Chris

1867 posts in 2650 days


#14 posted 03-31-2009 11:48 PM

Wow built-in Radio Jamming!!!! What a nice feature…. :)

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Padre's profile

Padre

930 posts in 2147 days


#15 posted 04-01-2009 03:48 AM

Pat Johnson in Wetumpka, Alabama makes one great set of wheels for the 3520b. His email is wdturn@bellsouth.net. I have no interest in his business other than being a happy customer.

-- Chip -----------http://www.penmanchip.com-----------------Micah 6:8

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