About Variable Speed Wood Lathes

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Variable speed wood lathes are either operated by physically changing the speed between turning or by using a variable speed mechanism that is changed by adjusting a lever. Compare the older and newer versions of variable speed lathes with information from a woodworking craftsman in this free video on wood crafts.

Part of the Video Series: Wood Lathe Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dave Trull with the Trull Gallery, a custom shop in St. Petersburg, Florida, and today we're going to talk about variable speed wood lathes. There are two basic types. There is the older version where you have to physically change the speed of the machine by adjusting a belt on pulleys, and this is the more recent version. It's a variable speed mechanism built into the lathe. The biggest difference between the two is with the belts you stop the lathe, adjust the belts. With a variable speed, it has to be done with the lathe turning, and very simply... it's just a matter of adjusting your lever... and with most lathes today you're going to find that they go to around anywhere between 500 and 3500 RPM. They vary between manufacturers, and the actual speeds vary as well in the five or six positions per lathe. Okay, so you may want to know why you'd want to change the speeds on a lathe, and it's more of a safety issue and a quality of cut issue. A large, rough blank, you want to turn your stock at a very slow speed. As you get more detail in your turning, and you're in your finishing cuts, you want a much higher speed, and when you're sanding on a lathe, you want the highest speed possible to get that really nice finish you're looking for at the end. Okay, that's a little bit about variable speed wood lathes. I'm Dave Trull, with the Trull Gallery, the fine art of furniture making.

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