Upgradeable technology- the DVR advantage

Normally when you buy a lathe (or drill press), you look at the features, make your choice and that is it- they are the features your tool will have for the remainder of its life.

You normally would expect those features to be static, ‘locked in’ as it were. Fundamental things like torque, but also the operator interface as well, preset speeds, how you can change speeds, safety features (such as chisel dig-in detection) etc.

Not so with a DVR lathe from Teknatool. I was not aware of it, but there was an older version of the DVR lathe that didn’t have some features of the current machines, and an owner of an older one could be left wishing their machine had more of the features of the current machine. Instead of replacing the lathe with a newer model, a DVR owner can simply upgrade the control board to get the higher torque, the safety features and the variable speed selection by replacing the “plug’n’play” computer control board.

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Not that I need to at the moment, as my DVR lathe has all the current features, but it is great to know that if (or rather when), Teknatool come up with smarter ways to implement the onboard DVR technology, and add software improvements (as well), that existing owners are not left behind. They can choose to purchase the upgraded control board.

That is a pretty cool concept!
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Gold Plated Machines

You know, I get it. I can see why Marc (The Wood Whisperer) Spagnuolo has a workshop full of Powermatic. I’m sure it is all part of his huge sponsorship deal, and more power to him (pun intended), but he would also want to have the best workshop he can have too.

He may not have a SawStop, but the flame-covered tablesaw is pretty cool never-the-less.

He also doesn’t have a DVR, but I had a closer look at the Powermatic lathe today, and what a beast it is.

Not only enough cast iron for a small country, but every (moveable) component glides so smoothly.

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3 phase motor, with its own onboard converter from single phase. Built-in vacuum system for vacuum chucking. A 96 point indexing system with a heavy-duty indexing disc.

What’s not to like (except the price tag)? You’d have to be pretty dedicated to really make use of such a machine, but then, it would also handle some pretty significant turnings as well.

Had a look at one of their promotional videos, just to see what it looks like in use. Yup, that is a beast! Anyone got one? What do you think? And more importantly, what have you managed to make with one?

Mounting the Longworth

Despite knowing the Nova DVR XP is a pretty substantial lathe, I was still a bit iffy whether the Longworth chuck I had picked up at the wood show would actually fit.  It wasn’t whether it would fit and be able to be spun up – being able to turn the DVR head outboard means the lathe can mount a huge turning.  The question was whether the outboard tool rest would clear the chuck sufficiently so I didn’t have to find an alternate tool rest.

disk-1

I needed have worried.  A 24″ chuck fits just fine on the DVR.  It is too large for me to be able to use the tailstock, but that is just the price I have to pay for such capacity.

The Longworth chuck design was inspired by Mr. Longworth from the Hunter Valley Woodturning Club, NSW, Australia in 1989.  One of those simple yet cool concepts (or applications of a concept) that makes you wonder why it took so long for someone to think of it.

disk-2

Still, turning a bowl that then justifies having it reverse-mounted in this Longworth (at maximum capacity) would be quite an experience.  Or should I say will be!

disk-3On the back is a simple metal disk to be held in the jaws of a chuck.  In this case, nothing beats the power of the Titan II chuck, with the power jaws to boot.  Seems fitting to use the most powerful Nova chuck to hold such a large aftermarket chuck on the lathe.

Looking forward to giving it a workout!  Will need the room of the new shed however – the chuck may fit the lathe, but the combination is too tight for the current space.

 

In the Buff

Polishing can be a real time-consuming process, especially for unusually shaped items (or at least items that are not flat).  You can resort to the old elbow grease and a cloth, but many solutions offer a mechanical way to move the cloth against the work.

Mounting a swansdown mop in a hand drill certainly works, and allows you to get into all sorts of places, or bring the mop to bear against a piece turning on the lathe.

What would be useful, is having a set of cloth wheels, each with a differing amount of softness so as you get softer and softer, and charging the cloth with finer and finer particles you can achieve a superb finish, irrespective of the shape or complexity.

And that is what I saw when I visited the Roving Reporter recently.  And so I ordered one of my own from McJing Tools, for a whole $80.

The contraption consists of a bar with a MT2 taper at one end (compatible with most lathes and drill presses), and a dimpled end at the other that can engage with a live centre.

Photo 13-08-13 8 43 52

Very easy to mount and remove as required, or left set up if you have a spare old lathe lying around. (No, I don’t mean to say I have a DVR sitting around spare!)  When I have the new shed up and running, this will likely be found mounted on a Jet mini lathe I have.

Each wheel is marked for the compound that should be used on it, and from left to right is tripoli, white diamond, and wax.  (In the picture below the white diamond and the wax have been swapped).  I suspect that white diamond doesn’t contain diamonds, but is a finer grade than tripoli, which makes it pretty fine!

Photo 13-08-13 8 44 09 Photo 13-08-13 8 45 33There is no speed rating supplied for the wheels, but I”d tend to say anything over about 1000RPM is starting to push it.  I tested it up to 2000RPM, and although it was fine, I suspect it would significantly shorten the life of the wheels.

There is a lock nut on one side (seen in the photo above) to stop the direction of the lathe loosening off the nut.  I tried the contraption spinning backwards (reverse on the lathe), and that worked well – might source another nut so I can have a lock nut on either end, so I can go forward or reverse as a please.

I didn’t have anything particular to test it on, so I used the underside of one of my scrapers.  Now I have a very shiny scraper!

SSYTC046 Robbo’s baby lathe

Dropped round on Robbo recently, as he has been working gluing up a segmented block to turn into a table leg, and was about to turn it for the first time.  An opportunity not to be missed!  He didn’t do a great deal on the first day – too many competing priorities, but even so, it’s a pretty good segmented unit!

It was also being filmed for the forums, so any comments were directed to that camera.

SSYTC046 Robbo’s baby lathe

A Cool Nova Tool

For regular followers, you will remember my little jaunt over to the land of the red, white and blue, to Denver Colorado to appear on Cool Tools.  Haven’t forgotten the experience, from the flight on the A380 to getting around Denver, being on the show, meeting and working with Chris Grundy, visiting Rockler, and, well, the whole experience.

It all jumped back in mind when I was reading up about a tool sitting out in the shed, and heard it was about to be featured on….Cool Tools!

The tool in question: the Nova Comet II midi lathe, from Teknatool.

Nova Comet II

It is a very interesting addition to the midi lineup, and simply based on name, it has quite a pedigree.

There are a few other lathes in the same niche, so lets pull them all out, dust them off and see what we have here.

Jet Midi, Variable Speed

Jet Midi, Variable Speed

Carbatec Midi, Variable Speed

Carbatec Midi, Variable Speed

There are others, but these are the ones I have some familiarity with.

Must admit, I didn’t have variable speed on a lathe until I got my DVR.  My old Jet midi lathe didn’t have the feature.  Variable speed is pretty cool, and means you can quickly change the speed to suit what you are doing at the time, rather than stopping to change the belts (or simply ignoring the speed isn’t ideal, mores the point!)

Both the Jet and the Carbatec have the variable speed tacked onto the side, as if the lathe was designed without and on certain machines they get the upgrade.  For both the Jet and Carbatec, this is pretty much the case.

The Comet has it designed to be much more integrally part of the lathe from the outset.  This may just be an aesthetic, but it also means there isn’t a speed control box sticking out the side.  Dust does build up, and objects do fall or hit things that are sticking out.

While we are looking at it, some other specs, side by side

Specification Comet II Jet Carbatec
Price $639 $849 $799
Speed 250 – 4000 200 – 4300 250 – 3600
Swing over bed 300mm 304mm 355mm
Distance between Centres 419mm 510mm 430mm
Reverse Yes No No
Weight 32kg 45kg 39kg

All have 3/4HP motors, indexing heads

So in the first rounds, the Comet II really is holding its own.  Especially given the price.

There are some aspects that do come in though, and this is probably price-related.  I like cams on the various movable items, and although it is only the tailstock, I would have preferred it to have been a cam.

Although the finish on all user areas is good, there are some rough castings underneath.  The foundry really needs to invest in an angle grinder.  It wouldn’t have been hard to tidy up the casting a bit more underneath.

Toolless access to the belt drive.

Other than those points, there are some distinct advantages too!

Reversible. The other lathes can’t run backwards! (Correct me if I am wrong (update – the Carbatec does))
Excellent access to the belt drive – much better than either of the others.
Ability to add accessories, such as a grinder (for sharpening chisels during turning)

It may be a bit lighter (weight is a bonus for lathes), but not too much so, and it does make it more transportable.

I’ll revisit the accessories when they arrive, but the concept is very interesting!

When I have a chance to really put the lathe through its paces, I will feed those experiences back.  The initial testing didn’t reveal any issues.

So a very promising addition to the lineup, and at a rather cost-competitive price point!  You can afford to add a Nova G3 chuck and still be ahead.  Don’t forget, the 4 jaw self-centering chuck which is now the standard for wood turners was invented by Teknatool.

Woodturning for Learners

When you want to learn about woodturning, nothing beats getting to see how the experts do it.  Those in Victoria have an added advantage, a professional woodturner who regularly opens the doors of his workshop to show individuals, and groups the secrets of turning.  For those who don’t know, I am speaking of Robbo, who’s company is Cobb & Co Woodturning.

And when you see the size of his large lathe, well, this guy turns tree trunks!  I also have a fine goblet that stands 3″ high that he turned during one demo, so tree trunks isn’t his only stock!

Robbo was telling me once, that when he is in full swing with the tree trunks, he has a couple of guys with shovels and wheelbarrows (and a truck out back) just trying to keep up with the wood shavings he’s making!

But it is one thing to say Robbo can spin a tree trunk on his lathe, and another thing to actually see it.  So here it is:

Now what Robbo has done is produce a series of 4 videos for learners (and I definitely need to watch them all!)  They are available on his YouTube channel, Ozwoodturner1

And finally, one of Robbo’s pet hates – the danger of using a spindle roughing gouge on bowls

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