Monday, 14 January 2013
MC900 Wood Lathe
A while ago I talked about my very first wood lathe, well today I shall talk about my current wood lathe. After a year with my ebay lathe I decided the bug had taken hold and it was time to upgrade. A little research and I settled on the MC900 form Carbatec. The reason for my choice, availability (they were in stock and only an 90 minute drive away) and they were within my small budget.
One point first of all, it is heavy and is a two person lift. This was frustrating when I got home waiting for someone to help me lift it out of the box and bolt to the bench (which I had newly constructed for the purpose).
OK so onto the actual review. The MC900 seems to be available with a variety of different badge names, but presumably roll out of the same factory in China. I will state now you get what you pay for, and at $497 it is at the budget end of the market. It is not as smooth as a Nova or Wood fast or higher end lathe. It can be noisy and the drive belt is a little rattly in sound though doesn't slip.
I like the variable speed handle on the front giving a range of speed selections from 500RPM through to 2000RPM. However, the minimum of 500RPM can be too fast some projects, especially heavy objects that aren’t balanced. In fact I did have a big lump of red gum on there that I nearly shock the house down before I could press stop. This lack of a really slow speed I find a shortfall, however for most of my turning, mainly pens and already round bowl blanks it does the job easily.
The variable speed drive worked nice and smooth on purchase, but now three years down the track it is a little stiff to change down speeds even with a little TLC and preventative maintenance (I expect I will need to replace the drive belt soon).
It is certainly a sturdy cast iron construction, although the legs supplied do look a little flimsy and may require some additional bracing.
I was seduced by the rotating headstock for bigger items, but if truth be known I have used it twice, neither time I was comfortable with. The head is easy to turn, just release two nuts and has three positions. The lathe comes with an extension Banjo for outrigger turning but it never seems to fit in the correct spot. The tool rest also is a little chunky for small turnings and you cant always get close enough for thin objects (a definite downfall for making pens). In addition the tool rest is a little long again getting close to the headstock spindle and tailstock for short barrel pens. The position of the drive motor is also not ideal, it is close to the dust and can get in the way of some bits of wood when using a small face plate.
Although a nice solid construction I have found that the friction nuts below the banjo and tail stock do become a little loose and are hard to access to tighten whilst mounted to the bench. There are a few things I wish it did have. Firstly a lockable and index able headstock, for ease of chuck change and allow more intricate work. Secondly a hand wheel on the headstock so that it is easier to turn the spindle to rotate the work piece.
So am I happy with my Lathe? Yes. It was the right lathe for me at the time and price, and will continue to cover my needs for the foreseeable future.