My lathe is a Laguna CL1200-V, and I probably use it more than any other tool in the shop except sanders. I am not a professional turner, but I do really enjoy producing something that shows off the beauty of the wood and at the same time is interesting, unique, or practically useful. I do table legs, chair spindles, bowls, cups, wine glasses (out of wood), plates, platters, ornaments, tops (toy type), lamps, pieces for use in furniture building, decorative posts, and anything else that looks challenging and interesting. I also have done some duplicating to produce multiples of the same part, such as table legs.
I find the lathe to be very versatile and user friendly. It has plenty of power to turn large chunks of wood into bowls (salad bowl size) and yet can also handle a ½ inch chair spindle as well. I find the variable speed and reversible features particularly handy and use both these specialties on every turning that I do – reversible for sanding, and variable speed for beginning the turn at slower speed and gradually increasing the speed as the item becomes rounded and balanced – no belts to change and no pulleys to loosen, just turn the speed selector and go. I would recommend the installation of a stand-held dust collector opposite the operator to help with the dust collection while sanding. It really puts out the dust during that time, and my turnings all require lots of sanding. I also recommend a longer tool rest for table leg turning. I had to file my tool rest to smooth the top edge so my gouges would not snag when turning the last passes when smoothness in critical.
The strengths of the machine include its top-quality construction, heavy-duty slide arms, and variable speed features. I would never go back to a fixed speed rig.
The duplicator works well and is very fast. The one area that still gives me trouble is smoothing the new item with the duplicator. It is probably due to operator inexperience, but I have resorted to taking the item and smoothing it by hand with spindle gouges and sandpaper. I have not found anyone locally who can sharpen the duplicator cutters, and it is important to use only sharp tools. Bear in mind that I have had no professional instruction on the machine, and so this is a learn-as-you-go situation.
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