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Powermatic 3520B Lathe (2006)
I sold the Jet
1236 lathe and took delivery of a new PM
3520B. I honestly never outgrew the 1236, but I got the bug
quieter, smoother, more powerful lathe with more swing and my attention
soon turned to a few 16" and 20" models. When I was able to get the
3520 for 20% off and no shipping or tax I jumped, and I now have a
sweet lathe in the shop. What a diffence a couple grand makes! ;-)
Delivery & Setup:
it up at a local freight
depot. One of the beauties of owning your own pickup is not having to
pay or wait for a lift gate delivery to your house.
- The shipping carton was undamaged and securely
Everything came in one big carton on a pallet, and it all fit (barely)
into the back of my F150.
- Getting downstairs was fun. I dissassembled the lathe
its main components (headstock, tailstock, bed, legs, misc items) and
tool it downstairs one chunk at a time. A 2 wheel moving dollie with a
strap was invaluable. I needed a friend to wrestle the bed off the back
of my truck, but other that that everything was done by myself (not
recommended but certainly do-able).
- Read the manual, bolt it together, level the feet,
a plug, and you're off to the races. There isn't much to set up, and
the main checks (head-to-tailstock alignment, etc) all needed no
- The free shipping from Amazon was fast - only took a
few days to get the lathe once the order was placed.
- The sliding headstock is
great. For turning
spindles or anything else needing tailstock support you can keep the
headstock on the left side of the bed as usual. But if you want to turn
faceplate work without a tailstock you can slide the headstock all the
way down the right side of the lathe and have unrestricted access to
the work. No need to lean/climb over the bed when hollowing. It
effectively becomes a spindle lathe and a bowl lathe in one.
- 20" swing over the bed. Wow. Slide the headstock down
bed and you can turn something to the floor with an outboard tool rest.
- The variable speed is amazing. Turn a knob and you
very fine control over your speed. Makes it easy to stay away from
resonances and dial in the best possible speed.
- I like the digital speed readout very much. I know
folks say this is uneccessary, and they're right, but it's a very nice
feature - especially for a geeky engineer like me.
- Torque out the wazoo. There are two speed ranges
by 2-step belt sheaves. The lathe came from the factory at the high
speed range, and I haven't needed to touch it since. Even for big mongo
bowl blanks there is more torque that I've needed.
- Heavy. Getting it set up is fun, but once it's there
stays put. I haven't had a need for any additional ballast, but there
are built-in provisions for a ballast shelf in the legs.
- Quiet. My old lathe was fine, but the Reeves drive
the noisy side and there were always things rattling around (esp the
locking handles). The 3520b's drive system is incredibly quiet, and
everything is build solidly enough so that there is nothing
rattling during operation.
- The knock out bar is very nice. Because it's a slide
you don't have to beat on it to release a stubborn morse taper fitting.
- The little storage doodads are handy. The tailstock
has a door to store a few small items (I keep my live center
accessories there), and there is a shelf that bolts to a leg for
storing drive centers, copy centers, the spindle wrench, knockout bar,
- Not cheap. I got mine
for a little over
$2200 which is a lot of money. If you pay list price ($2799) plus tax
and shipping you're talking a sizable chunk of change. But if you
compare the lathe to others in its class (Oneway, Stubby, etc) you soon
realize the price compares favorably to others on the market. [EDIT to add on 11/11/07:
I get lots of email about this price, so I thought I'd add a
comment here to answer a frequent question. I got the lathe at
$2200 from Amazon. It was a fleeting 20% off sale (with free
shipping) that lasted less than a day. I was watching pricing on
this item for a looong time, and I was prepared to jump right on the
sale price immediately as it happened. I got lucky, and I haven't
seen a price that good on this lathe ever since.]
- If you work with the headstock at the far left of the
you need a large amount of room between the lathe and a wall. Because
the motor hangs off the left side of the headstock, and because the
knock out bar is long, you need leave a good bit of room between the
headstock and any wall.
- Because my old lathe had a 1"x8tpi spindle I had to
chuck and buffing wheel adapters for the 3520b's 1-1/4"x8tpi spindle.
Same for the tool rests - I had to buy bigger rests for this lathe.
Minor issue, but these things have a way of adding up, and are
something to be aware of if your budget is tight.
- You're not moving this thing around your shop very
That's mostly a good thing for stability purposes, but if you want to
adjust its position even slightly you better think hard about how to
move it safely.
- Fugly color. (yeah I know, but I'm stretching here
Sweet! If you can manage the cost, and you're serious about turning,
this is a fantatstic lathe.
By the way:
I have a couple pics of the lathe work area including the tool storage
racks I built. You can check them out and read a bit about
them on this
2007 Chris Billman