The new addition to my workshop...

30 October 2013, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

For quite a while now, I have been looking for a second lathe. My VB bowl turner is a fantastic machine and without doubt my first choice for making larger pieces. However, I’d prefer two lathes for certain processes and also need one for making smaller items, such as tea light holders and pegs for my peg boards.

After much research, I opted for the Jet 3520b. I guess I’ve read just about every blog post and review on wood turning lathes, but still found it hard to decide. However in the end, the sheer weight and stability of the Jet was the deciding factor, combined with what seemed to be great value for money. A trip down to Axminster tools soon confirmed my choice and I came back in a much heavier van!

The lathe comes very well packaged. In the photo below, I've removed the cardboard box to show the contents inside - it is all well protected and sits securely on a wooden pallet...

Jet-lathe-in-box.jpg

Assembling the lathe was fairly straight forward, although care must be taken when moving the larger sections. The headstock and bed require two people to lift and help is also needed when bolting it all together. It is definitely worth test fitting the bolts before assembly, since I encountered a couple of holes which were full of paint and these were awkward to clean out when working underneath the bed.

Unpacked and waiting to be assembled…

Jet-lathe-components.jpg

Supporting the bed during assembly makes it a lot easier…

Powermatic-lathe-assembly.jpg

The hard bit done…

Jet-3520b-lathe-bed.jpg

Fully built up and ready to be tested – it looks far too clean for my liking!...

Jet-3520b-assembled.jpg

The first test was a batch order of tea light holders. Hardly the most demanding of tasks, but it performed faultlessly…

Powermatic-lathe-in-use.jpg

I have to say the overall quality is superb and I have no regrets at all with my choice. There are loads of things I want to talk about, but would rather leave these until I do a full review – hopefully very soon. However, I have included some useful dimensions below, which will be of interest if you’re looking to buy the 3520b;

The lathe is advertised as measuring 1473mm long x 685mm wide. However, the lathe bed is actually 1280mm long and the legs are 610mm wide at the base. To allow full movement of the tool rest banjo, the legs must be set at about 140mm away from the wall. If the lathe was pushed right up to a wall, the tool rest assembly would need to be angled sideways, if working on smaller spindles (the photo above should hopefully illustrate this). With the headstock positioned at the far end of the bed, the motor overhangs by 320mm.

I do hope the above is useful, but you're welcome to give me a call if you have any questions about the set up or space requirements. A full review will be posted soon...

Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

Your comments

  1. Gravatar of Ralph Hodgson
    Ralph Hodgson13 February 2014 10:28

    Hi Jonathan,
    great piece of information I got my 3520 delivered yesterday (12 Feb 2014) and quite an awesome item. Your information will be really useful in getting the thing out of its 'cage' and taming the beast. really looking forward now to getting it set up and I feel more confident in the task ahead. Thanks for the information and all the best in your endeavours with it.
    Ralph

  2. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech13 February 2014 22:57

    Hi Ralph,
    I'm so pleased you find the information useful. I've been impressed with the lathe so far, but will soon be bolting it to the floor - I always forget to turn the speed down when tackling larger pieces! It really is a superb machine and a once in a lifetime purchase.
    Do email me if you encounter any problems with the set up and I'd be more than happy to help.
    Best wishes, Jonathan

  3. Gravatar of Ralph Hodgson
    Ralph Hodgson24 February 2014 19:46

    Hi again Jonathan, finally got the 3520 fired up. Had an initial glitch, switched it on, all system ready, lights... but no action - what was wrong. Pondered check all sockets and plugs, switches and levers......scrutinised the manual again and again.. assuming I had missed something. Phoned Axminster technical guys and after a few minutes silence they asked me if I had turned the emergency magnetic stop button to release it in the OUT position. After that little adjustment I was away. Brilliant piece of kit, purrs like a cat and I am very pleased with the product. The speed adjustment is great and the stability is sound so far. As you say a once in a lifetime purchase.
    Kind regards and good luck
    Ralph

  4. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech25 February 2014 21:56

    Hi Ralph,
    That magnetic switch is easily overlooked! I've just shortened the cable on mine - I don't think I'll be needing three meters of cable attached to it, when the lathe is only half as long!

    I'm really pleased you are happy with the new lathe and wish you all the best with your turning.

    Kind regards, Jonathan

  5. Gravatar of Aubrey Dean
    Aubrey Dean29 November 2014 17:50

    Hi Jonathan,
    I am looking at upgrading my lathe and the 3520B is winning at the moment. I found your post most useful - paricularly the bit about dimensions and spacing from the wall. You mention in your reply to Ralph that you're going to bolt the lathe to the floor. What is your primary reason for this; have you encountered issues with the adjustable feet? From what I have read on the Internet, the threads are M8 which sounds rather small - is that correct? I'd have thought that if you were working on items large enough to necessitate bolting down you would have used your VB36.

    Best regards
    Aubrey

  6. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech30 November 2014 19:05

    Hi Aubrey,
    I'm so pleased you've found my post of help. To be honest, I've not bolted my Jet to the floor yet and probably won't get round to it for a while - I've been using it mainly for smaller pieces and have had no trouble with movement or vibration. I do use the VB for my larger work, but there are times when I have to use the Jet as well. This is usually if I'm waiting for a finish to dry, or turning large forms between centers (I prefer the Jet for between centers work). The adjustable feet thread directly into the base of the lathe and are fine, if a little wobbly. They have M8 shafts, which do seem thin, but I will probably get some better ones made at some point - I thought about drilling out the holes in the feet, but I think cast iron can crack quite easily?

    Do let me know if you've any more questions on the lathe.

    Best regards
    Jonathan

  7. Gravatar of Aubrey Dean
    Aubrey Dean7 December 2014 10:59

    Thanks for confirming the thread size of the feet. M8 seems far too small for a lathe of this size, but I suppose if they are only used to even up differences of a few millimetres or so then they should probably be OK; I would have prefered something more substantial though - at least M12.

    Yes, cast iron does not have the same properties of steel, but if you consider that things like car engine blocks (or even other parts of the lathe - headstock, tailstock, etc.) are machined after casting (drilled/threaded), I think you should be able to drill the feet holes without a problem provided you go carefully and don't just dive in with a blunt 20mm bit at full speed! Another approach might be to use the existing M8 holes to attach a meaty piece of angle-section steel and fit new adjustable feet to that or ask your local toolmaker to knock something up? This has the advantage that you might be able to jack the lathe up to fit them rather than having to dismantle it completely.

    These might be of interest:

    http://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster-adjustable-machinery-feet?sel=953494

    The only other concern I have about the lathe is the fact the tool rest is clamped by the locking bolt directly with the potential of marking a tool rest's shaft. My current lathe uses the same locking approach and I've never found it an issue, so perhaps it's nothing to worry about, but the banjo of the 42xx model has a nicer clamping mechanism.

    Best regards

    Aubrey

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