A question for the turners

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Forum topic by armylogger posted 03-03-2011 04:34 AM 953 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View armylogger's profile


41 posts in 2365 days

03-03-2011 04:34 AM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning

Ok, so I have been wanting to get a lathe for some time now. I got $250 worth of gift cards from woodcraft at christmas and have been saving them for this special occasion. I have looked around and finally decided on a Rikon. Now my biggest problem is whether I should get a variable speed or not. I want to turn all kinds of items. Small bowls, pens, lidded boxes, pepper mills, and many other items. I have talked to a few people who have told me that the variable speed lathes do not have enough torque to turn larger bowls. ( bigger than 6 inches). Is this true? I will be getting the rikon 1216 with a 1/2 hp motor. It comes either with or without variable speed and they are both the same price on sale at woodcraft for $299. I would really appreciate as much feed back as humanly possible as it will seriously help in my decision making. I will be posting this in the blog section also. Again, thank you all.

-- Of all the people I have met in my life, you are one of them!

6 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1472 posts in 2230 days

#1 posted 03-03-2011 04:58 AM

As for your torque question, I do not know. What I can say is that I have vfd on mine and have turned some pretty hefty objects without failure. I have turned for several hours at a time on many occasions and I don t think I would want to be without the variable speed (electronic).

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2495 days

#2 posted 03-03-2011 05:39 AM

Electronic variable speed and the variable speed on the Rikon you are considering are quite different. I’m quite sure the variable speed on the Rikon is a mechanical system referred to as a “Reeves System”.

IMHO – The Reeves system is okay but you need to plan on changing belts frequently because the system is hard on belts. I would not pay a lot extra for a mechanical variable speed (Reeves System) but it is worth a little more. If they are both the same price, get the variable speed.

I do not agree that the variable speed system would reduce torque by any noticeable amount. Your bigger problem/limitation will be the 1/2 hp motor. That. more than anything else, will limit your ability to turn bigger bowls.

I own a 2 hp lathe but I have used other people’s 1 hp lathes. The difference is very noticeable. In my opinion, a 1/2 hp lathe will be disappointing on a bowl greater than 6 inches.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View GavinSA's profile


21 posts in 2064 days

#3 posted 03-03-2011 08:13 AM

I have to agree with Rich,
To note, a VFD aka (Variable Speed Drive -VSD) come these days with built in torque regulators especially on the single to 3-phase units. They are able to detect the motors actions and adjust the power settings accordingly. the great thing about a VSD drive is you can either set the start up speed from 1-30 sec so it will automatically step the power up to give you a more controlled start up and with your emergency stop or function you can set the motor to electronically brake from high speeds slowly, fast or even dead-stop (Which I would be scared of doing with a big chunk of wood anticipating to shoot off and cut me in half!)

I still use a belt driven late for my speed control but I am seriously thinking of upgrading my motor stock to a 3-phase 1Kw unit with an single phase-3 phase VSD drive.

Just a thought?

-- An unfinished project makes great firewood for winter!

View thughes37's profile


23 posts in 2082 days

#4 posted 03-03-2011 04:55 PM

Hey army, for what it’s I own the Delta 46-460, has a 1hp motor with a 12” swing, and I LOVE IT! Woodcraft has this lathe on sale through today for $509. If funds are where you can swing it, that is a great deal. You can make your own stand and it’s more than enough lathe to turn what you are looking at doing. Just an idea.

-- All things are possible, only believe.

View TheDane's profile


4936 posts in 3084 days

#5 posted 03-03-2011 05:32 PM

I would 2nd thughes37’s advice … the Delta 46-460 is rock solid. It is quite a bit more than the Rikon you are considering, but IMHO it is a tool that, depending on what you intend to do with it, you’ll be much happier with.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 2452 days

#6 posted 03-03-2011 07:33 PM

Given the choice of the two lathes, I would buy the variable speed model. The documentation provided by the Woodcraft website states that it is an electronic variable speed.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

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