Lathe Selection - Variable Speed or Not

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Forum topic by smartlikestick posted 08-28-2013 11:17 PM 1636 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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54 posts in 2998 days

08-28-2013 11:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning question

I’m about to take the plunge, and purchase a full size lathe. I plan on turning everything from wooden tops to pepper grinders, to bowls and platters and everything in between. I’ve narrowed my search down and have basically settled in on the Nova line of lathes and am trying to decide between the Nova 1624 and the Nova DVR-XP. My decision is primarily based on availability of machines in my region of Canada. I’m relatively limited in what is available in my region, and all my research leads me back to the Nova. The money between the two models is not really an issue, but I would really like this to be the last lathe I buy.

How important is variable speed – is it something that really justifies the additional cost between the two models? Any other minor features which I’m not considering which sets the two apart?
Any beefs with either model?


-- -- Mike Beauvais

9 replies so far

View ScrubPlane's profile


190 posts in 1615 days

#1 posted 08-28-2013 11:23 PM

I purchased the NOVA DVR-XP just over a year ago and it is an excellent machine with lots of available power in a small footprint. I did not purchase the cast iron legs and have my machine bolted to a heavy old maple kitchen table cut down to serve as my lathe bed. Using Teknatool’s cast iron legs or not, you’ll want to ensure the entire unit is sufficiently weighted down. Not sure what your power options are in Canada but I re-wired my lathe for 220V and it has more than enough power for my needs.

There ya go and good luck with your choice…

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Dan'um Style

14167 posts in 3403 days

#2 posted 08-28-2013 11:42 PM

Variable speed is a huge option. I luv my variable speed 2hp lathe. Turn the knob to speed up of slow down. Nothing better then taht

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View rum's profile


148 posts in 2005 days

#3 posted 08-29-2013 12:00 AM

Do you turn (or want to turn) bowls, especially larger bowls and more especially starting from unbalanced stock?

If the answer is yes then the variable speed is worth it. You can dial up the speed slowly and not get in trouble nearly as fast with variable speed if you have something of questionable stability. Also the low end of the speed on the XP is 100rpm vs 215rpm for the 1642 – which is useful for similar slow start reasons and also for sanding.

If all you ever want to do is spindles, then probably not.

View Jimbo4's profile


1420 posts in 2182 days

#4 posted 08-29-2013 12:52 AM

Ditto for ScrubPlane – except I bolted mine to a 10 drawer Craftsman work bench, with 2” maple top.

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3517 days

#5 posted 08-29-2013 12:53 AM

How do you feel about moving belts every time you want to adjust the speed?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Ron Ford's profile

Ron Ford

200 posts in 1152 days

#6 posted 08-29-2013 12:56 AM

Absolutely go for the variable speed model. Does it also reverse? Both are very worthwhile features in a lathe. I own a Jet 1642EVS-2 and it has both. Very useful in just about everything I turn


-- Once in awhile I make something really great. Most days I just make sawdust.

View doitnut's profile


8 posts in 1268 days

#7 posted 08-29-2013 01:47 AM

Variable speed for sure. I have owned the Nova 1624-44 for five plus years—fine machine—and I have the factory bed with extensions and the out-board banjo. I have just ordered the variable speed upgrade motor and can hardly wait to get and use it. The lathe has ample power for my use. I have turned one bowl at 13.5 inches and
4 inches in overall height from osage orange which is fairly heavy. Again—get the variable speed.

-- E. Gene Rose

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3067 days

#8 posted 08-29-2013 02:22 AM

If you’re spending real money on a lathe, get a machine
that will make your work easier. Larger size pieces
have higher rim speed at a given RPM and this factors
in safety, cutting tool usage and heat buildup, and
in sanding success too.

View JTJr's profile


11 posts in 2094 days

#9 posted 08-30-2013 03:25 AM

I have a Delta 46-460 and bought the 1624 for turning larger bowls. The belt swapping is a nuisance, but it’s not that bad. Yes, it does reverse. My primary is the VS Delta because of the variable speed. Since you said that the money wasn’t a real show stopper, I’d definitely go with the variable speed. You can also get the wrist remote controller for it, so as to stay out of the line of fire if things go awry with a large bowl. I figure that I can always go cowboy and replace the motor on the 1624 and add a VFD, or get the new upgrade kit for the 1624 to get variable speed. The stock legs on the DVR XP and the 1624, don’t have much options for adding weight without putting some extra iron on for support brackets, so you might consider the cast iron legs or the custom stand route. The 2024 comes with them standard. If you’re thinking last lathe, then the DVR might fall a tad short.

Bob Hamilton got a oneway banjo for his DVR XP, because he felt the stock was a little light. I’m not going to exceed my 1624 capacity for a while, but I’m not thinking I’m going to be turning 100 lb bowl blanks anytime soon. Some folks like the sliding headstock on Jet/Powermatic rather than swivel, but swivel saves me some room off the end of the lathe in my small shop area. I can pick up the outboard attachment, even though I don’t consider it ideal if I decide to turn larger than 16”, because of the travel restrictions (you’re not on a banjo, you’re on a swivel) I dealt with a swivel toolrest on the old ShopSmith that I have, and it was a pain to fiddle because you always had to adjust two or three points of attachment since you can’t move in and out you have to move in arcs. (Since I don’t have the outboard attachment for my 1624, I’m having to remember why I lusted after the upgrade to the ShopSmith with a banjo attachment before I just said forget making all the changes to my 1956 SS 10Er, and got a dedicated lathe).

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my Nova 1624, but there are a couple of things to nitpick.

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