It seems like, there is a new lathe on the market every time you pick up a new issue of a woodturning magazine. Most of them are of little or no interest to me. However, recently two new lathes have come out that really get my attention. I think they are going to become very popular. I think the new Powermatic 2014 is really going to revolutionize the under $2000 market.
The new lathes are in the $2000 price range. A very popular price range.
I normally like to try things out before I recommend them. This has not been possible with these new lathes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus I am going on what I have seen on the web, and in magazines. I have NOT seen these lathes up close and in person!
Eventually, I am going to add this blog entry to my very popular “So you want to by a lathe? A real Lathe?” blog entry. After, I see the lathes up close and in person.
All prices below are manufacturer list prices on 8/2020.
Laguna Revo 15/24 Lathe – $2000, 110 Volts
The specs that interest me are sliding headstock, 288 lbs, 1 phase 110v, 8 amps, 1-1/2 hp DC motor with PWM inverter, adjustable floor to spindle center 36″ to 51″, 24″ between centers, 15-1/2″ swing over bed, 1-1/4″ x 8 TPI MT2 headstock, ball bearings on the inboard AND outboard side of headstock, MT2 tailsock with 4-1/2″ travel, steel bed, cast iron head/tail stock, cast iron and steel tube legs. From PDF manual on web.
I really like the looks of this lathe! It would be my top pick in the 110 volts category if Powermatic did not come out with a new 2014 lathe.
This lathe can NOT be converted to run on 220 volts. It is 110 volts only.
I am not thrilled by the DC motor. What we basically have here is a DC stepper motor that is being run at high speed. DC motors on smaller lathes are usually adequate. They may be pushing things here. DC motors must be driven by a MATCHING control box (PWM inverter) that is generally not an off the self item. The DC motor is also not an off the shelf item in most cases. If the control box or motor fails you will be going back to the manufacturer. This could make this lathe unpopular on the used lathe market. Selling this lathe and moving up to a bigger one may not be easy.
The belts and pulleys on the Laguna 15/24 look good. They probably match the HP of the motor. About the same as PM 2014.
Note: Laguna also has a relatively new $800 Laguna Revo 12/16 lathe. I have seen it up close. I have NOT turned on it. I just kicked the tires and it looks like a contender. The spindle is only 1″ x 8 TPI. The price may be right for some people. Otherwise I would go with the new Powermatic
Powermatic 2014 Lathe – $2400, 110 Volts
I don’t known what to recommend about the stand. I would build my own very STURDY stand out of two layers of 3/4″ plywood from local big box store. Sort of like this one on the PM web site. However, most people don’t known how to build a STURDY stand with out going overboard. Thus, I have decided to recommend the stand.
The specs that interest me are sliding headstock, 238 lbs with stand, 1 phase 110v, 13 amps, 1 HP 3 phase 3 amp 230v AC TEFC motor with VFD, adjustable floor to spindle center 38″ to 48″, 20-1/4″ between centers, 14-1/4″ swing over bed, 1-1/4″ x 8 TPI MT2 headstock, ball bearings on the inboard AND outboard side of headstock, MT2 tailstock with 4-1/4″ travel, cast iron bed, cast iron head/tail stock, sheet metal and steel tube legs. From PDF manual on web.
Note: The PM 2014 and Laguna 15/24 specs are almost the same. The only real difference is the motors.
The PM 2014 plugs into a 110 volt single phase 15 amp outlet. The VFD converts the 110v input to 3 phase 230v for the motor via voltage doubling and frequency modulation. FM is a well known, and much loved method to get good torque out of a motor at low speeds. The motor is 3 amps. The input to VFD is 110v, 13 amps. i.e. the lathe should be plugged into a 15 amp, 110v circuit.
The web says this lathe comes prewired for 115v. The owners manual does not tell you how to convert it to 220v. Thus you probably can’t convert it 220v with out voiding your warranty.
I really like the looks of the big beefy bed on PM 2014. It reminds me of the great bed on my PM 3520C. One of it’s best features. It does not twist or flex for any reason. Thus I got really excited when I saw the new PM 2014. However, today I looked up the specs and I was baffled.
The PM 2014 looks big and beefy but the specs say it is only 238 lbs. The Laguna 15/24 specs say 288 lbs. Something is rotten in Denmark here. The headstock on Laguna looks heavier. And I guess the Laguna cast iron legs must add a lot. But, I really rather have the weight and rigidity in the bed like the PM. See side by side photo above.
The wimpy looking bed on the Laguna 15/24 reminds me of the wimpy beds on Nova lathes. I really don’t like the wimpy beds on Nova lathes. The bed twists and flexes to much when you extend the banjo and really bear down on the tool rest. The tool rest bounces up and down and thus you end up with a rough surface that requires lots of sanding.
The motor on the PM 2014 looks great! The specs clearly state it is 230 volt motor. Thus the VFD (Variable Frequency Drive, aka the control box) is converting from 110 volts single phase to 230 volts 3 phase. i.e it is voltage doubling.
An AC motor with a VFD is better than a DC motor with pulse width modulation from an electrical engineering point of view. i.e the PM 2014 is better than the Laguna 15/24. My GUESS is the PM is a lot better than the Laguna, but this is only a guess. I have not seen the lathes up close and personal.
The belts and pulleys on the PM 2014 look great. Big and beefy. They probably match the HP of the motor. The Laguna 15/24 belts and pulleys also look good.
Some people are not going to like the sheet metal legs on the PM 2014. They want the big beefy cast iron legs on the PM 3520C lathe. Well, you get what you pay for! If, I had to make a trade off, I would do what PM did. Go with a big heavy cast iron bed, headstock and tailstock. Live with a metal stand. The big cast iron bed on the PM 2014 blows away the Laguna 15/24. If you don’t like the PM stand then you can make a better one.
Given the amount of cast iron in the 13″ Bed Extension, I think the $250 price is reasonable. If you want to turn long spindles (chair parts and railing balusters) then you will need this. You may eventually need it if you want to turn bigger items. But, I would not purchase it from the start.
My Take (Laguna Revo 15/24 versus Powermatic 2014)
My opinion is largely based on my PM 3520C lathe ownership experience. Click here for my PM 3520C blog entry. The PM 3520C is the best lathe out there in the big lathes $4500 category in my not so humble opinion. The new PM 2014 looks like a smaller version of the PM 3520C with the same great features. I think the PM 2014 is really going to revolutionize the under $2000 market.
The controls (on/off button, speed dial, digital speed read out, forward/reverse switch) on the PM and Laguna look to be about the same. However, the PM control box is movable. This is a desirable safety feature.
I am not a big fan of the newfangled DC motor with PWM inverter stuff used on the Laguna 12/24. I personally, strongly prefer a good 3 phase AC motor with VFD, any day of the week. I known what I am getting. If it fails, I can get a good deal any day of the week on a replacement motor and/or VFD from www.dealerselectric.com. Then you add that big cast iron bed on the PM and it is no contest!
The 20″ or 24″ length of these smaller lathes makes good sense to me. You only pay for what you really need. No one turns spindles these days. Everyone does bowls or artistic stuff. Why? Because you can purchase finished spindles and other furniture parts from the adverts in the back of any woodworking magazine. Finishes parts, cost less then, what you would pay for nice clear straight grain blanks. You only need 20″ for bowls and artistic stuff.
The extra 4 inches of bed length on the Laguna is ONLY 4 inches. Not enough to really change anything. You are going to need to purchase the bed extension for the PM or Laguna if you want to do anything long. Or better yet, just make one out of plywood. You don’t need a cast iron bed to turn long thin spindles! Anything that holds the tailstock up in the proper position will do.
The extra 1″ of swing on the Laguna is nice. But, the big beefy cast iron bed and AC 3 phase motor with VFD on the PM are more desirable! I STRONGLY agree with Nick Cook (a well known and respected woodturner) that no one really needs a bowl that is more than 10″ to 12″ in diameter. You are really going to insult your guests if you put enough salad for 4 people in a 16″ salad bowl. It is going to be a little pile, way down in the bottom of the bowl. What, is that all the salad you can afford? You cheap bastard!
Dinner plates are 12″ or less. You don’t need more than 14″ of swing for plates.
The 14″ swing of the PM 2014 is enough to get you started. If you want to go bigger then 1″ more on the Laguna is not going to be enough. Sooner or latter you are going to have to purchase and install the optional bed extension in the low position on the PM or Laguna.
The Laguna bed extension is 20″ long. The PM bed extension is 13″ long. I think 13″ is enough for turning bowls and plates. I like the big and beefy PM bed extension. If you want a longer extension for turning spindles then make it out of plywood. I am sure some people are going to disagree with me here. It’s my blog.
The PM is 1 hp. The Laguna is 1-1/2hp. The PM is using a AC motor with VFD. The Laguna is using a DC stepper motor. Thus, it is like, impossible to do an apples to apples comparison here! My GUESS is the extra 1/2 hp is a don’t care or does not exist. Foreign manufactures are well known for over rating their motors. What is the load? How may HP into the load? Oh, no load. Well then, that is a useless HP number!
HOWEVER, the PM banjo blows away the Laguna banjo. The Laguna banjo holds the tool rest up via a split cast iron hole that is tighten by a handle. Like on the bigger Laguna lathes that I have used. It is nothing to write home about. It is better than the cheap lathes that just use a handle on a set screw.
The PM banjo is a smaller version of the new one on the PM 3520C lathe. It holds the tool rest up via an internal bushing that is tighten by a knob. Almost as good as the Oneway. Far better than the Laguna design. You move the banjo and tool rest around a lot on a lathe while using it. Thus, the better banjo on the PM makes a big difference.
You have to hold the spindle lock button in on the Laguna. The red button in photo. Some people are going to really hate this! I think the spindle lock lever on the PM is better. You don’t have to hold it up? I don’t really known.
The bearings on PM and Laguna are roughly the same (based on web owners manuals). The Laguna ones may be a little better. They both have ball bearings on the inboard AND outboard side of headstock. Good! The outboard side bearings are a little smaller than the inboard. This is typical. Cheap lathes ONLY have one bearing on the inboard side of the headstock. The outboard side just passes thru a hole in the cast iron headstock.
Both, the PM and Laguna have adjustable stands (legs). With good height ranges. My GUESS is they are about the same quality and stability. The Laguna comes with the stand. The PM stand is $400 extra.
The tailstock on the PM has an ACME thread. i.e. it goes in and out fast when you turn the hand wheel. I strongly prefer this. The Laguna manual does not specify the tailstock thread. It may or may not be ACME.
I don’t like the looks of the optional L shaped tool rest extension on the Laguna. You use it when you have the optional bed extension in the low position. I have learned the hard way that these tool rest extensions suck big time! The tool rest bounces up and down because they are not robust enough. You screw up several pieces and then the tool rest extension becomes a boat anchor! The little straight tool rest extension that comes with the PM bed extension looks like it is usable. See picture above.
The wheels for the Laguna look ok. But, a lot of sheet metal. They are a $225 option. There are no official wheels for the PM 2014. I think you could get the $60 Workbench Caster set from Rockler to work on the PM. Look around on the web and you will find lots of DIY wheel solutions.
The Laguna light is a $150 option! It looks REALLY nice on the Laguna video. I like it, because you can dim it and it is NOT a single point source. I am not a fan of single point source super bright lights. I hate them! Old people needs lots of light from multiple sources! Not ONE really bright light that burns out your eyeballs! With a little DIY, I think you can mount the Laguna light on the PM. Some people are probably going to really love this light.
New Lathe Book
I just purchase a copy of Ernie Conover’s new book. “The Lathe Book – A complete guide to the machine and its accessories – Third Edition”. The third edition was just published in 2019. I am still reading it. So far, I like it. I think it is a really good reference for people who are thinking about purchasing a new lathe. It explains all the terms with pictures. Headstock, tailstock, live versus dead center, etc.
I ONLY recommend the new “Third Edition” of this book. The older versions of this book are way to out of date! To much old school stuff. The new book features modern Oneway, Powermatic and Robust lathes and modern ideas.
However, I do not agree with everything in “Chapter 2 – Shop Safety”. 1. Just safety glasses are NOT acceptable for any reason! You should always use a face shield! 2. You should NEVER touch a piece while the lathe is running. It may be ok in some cases, when you are spindle turning, but not all. Touching running work can become a REALLY bad habit! Some day that bad habit will get you in big trouble on a natural edge bowl, etc. You will lose your fingers or damage them beyond repair!
I am probably going to add this book to my “Essential Books & DVDs for Students” blog entry.