Cool Tools Woodworking Special

My mate, Chris Grundy and a woodworking special edition of Cool Tools (complete with small blank sections for ad breaks)

A Cool Nova Tool

For regular followers, you will remember my little jaunt over to the land of the red, white and blue, to Denver Colorado to appear on Cool Tools.  Haven’t forgotten the experience, from the flight on the A380 to getting around Denver, being on the show, meeting and working with Chris Grundy, visiting Rockler, and, well, the whole experience.

It all jumped back in mind when I was reading up about a tool sitting out in the shed, and heard it was about to be featured on….Cool Tools!

The tool in question: the Nova Comet II midi lathe, from Teknatool.

Nova Comet II

It is a very interesting addition to the midi lineup, and simply based on name, it has quite a pedigree.

There are a few other lathes in the same niche, so lets pull them all out, dust them off and see what we have here.

Jet Midi, Variable Speed

Jet Midi, Variable Speed

Carbatec Midi, Variable Speed

Carbatec Midi, Variable Speed

There are others, but these are the ones I have some familiarity with.

Must admit, I didn’t have variable speed on a lathe until I got my DVR.  My old Jet midi lathe didn’t have the feature.  Variable speed is pretty cool, and means you can quickly change the speed to suit what you are doing at the time, rather than stopping to change the belts (or simply ignoring the speed isn’t ideal, mores the point!)

Both the Jet and the Carbatec have the variable speed tacked onto the side, as if the lathe was designed without and on certain machines they get the upgrade.  For both the Jet and Carbatec, this is pretty much the case.

The Comet has it designed to be much more integrally part of the lathe from the outset.  This may just be an aesthetic, but it also means there isn’t a speed control box sticking out the side.  Dust does build up, and objects do fall or hit things that are sticking out.

While we are looking at it, some other specs, side by side

Specification Comet II Jet Carbatec
Price $639 $849 $799
Speed 250 – 4000 200 – 4300 250 – 3600
Swing over bed 300mm 304mm 355mm
Distance between Centres 419mm 510mm 430mm
Reverse Yes No No
Weight 32kg 45kg 39kg

All have 3/4HP motors, indexing heads

So in the first rounds, the Comet II really is holding its own.  Especially given the price.

There are some aspects that do come in though, and this is probably price-related.  I like cams on the various movable items, and although it is only the tailstock, I would have preferred it to have been a cam.

Although the finish on all user areas is good, there are some rough castings underneath.  The foundry really needs to invest in an angle grinder.  It wouldn’t have been hard to tidy up the casting a bit more underneath.

Toolless access to the belt drive.

Other than those points, there are some distinct advantages too!

Reversible. The other lathes can’t run backwards! (Correct me if I am wrong (update – the Carbatec does))
Excellent access to the belt drive – much better than either of the others.
Ability to add accessories, such as a grinder (for sharpening chisels during turning)

It may be a bit lighter (weight is a bonus for lathes), but not too much so, and it does make it more transportable.

I’ll revisit the accessories when they arrive, but the concept is very interesting!

When I have a chance to really put the lathe through its paces, I will feed those experiences back.  The initial testing didn’t reveal any issues.

So a very promising addition to the lineup, and at a rather cost-competitive price point!  You can afford to add a Nova G3 chuck and still be ahead.  Don’t forget, the 4 jaw self-centering chuck which is now the standard for wood turners was invented by Teknatool.

12 Hours

About now, in 12 hours time I will be sitting in my seat on a Qantas A380-800 taking off for LA.  The adventure begins! 14 hours in the air to LA, about 3 1/2 hours on the ground, then 2 1/2 hours to Denver.  Hope there is some snow on the ground, and more-so, hope to see some falling.  Closest I have come in my memory is sleet in London. (I have actually been to Denver, lived there a couple of years, from the age of 0 to 2! (No, I wasn’t born there, but it was a close thing!) I can actually still remember my Father cycling to work, through snow that looks to be 8″ deep or more (I was standing at the front gate) Apparently some days he’d cycle to work in -15 degrees C (loon! 😉 ))

I know it isn’t a big deal, bit it still seems kind of cool to be arriving in Denver with all that travel time, only 2 hours after I left Melbourne (does that mean I became slightly younger?  Or just that I aged slower!)

Monday afternoon I am heading off with one of the Cool Tools gang to assemble the Torque Workcentre, getting it all up and running nicely ready for the following day.  Apparently a Home Depot is right across the road (damn 😉 )

Tuesday is an early start (home my bodyclock is a bit adjusted by then!) with a full morning of filming the Torque, with Chris Grundy (he normally isn’t on-location, but apparently this is an exception).  I get to relax in the afternoon, as the Cool Tools gang film the rest of the episode content, which will be good to see too.

The Torque Workcentre itself will get picked up after the shoot and is heading down to Texas.  (Hmm – missed opportunity – should have seen if the Texan could source me a genuine cowboy hat!)

The next day is all about Rockler.  Meeting up with one of the regulars here (Ken, who makes mind-puzzles – you can follow his work through his website “No Piece Left Behind“.  Have to ask him what he means by the name, presumably based on the fact that his puzzles are typically made up of numerous pieces of timber, native and exotic.  I also like to substitute something more specific for the word “piece” – ‘No brain cell left behind’), and he has kindly offered to drive us to the Rockler store in Denver, about 12 mins from where I am staying.  Hope he brings a crowbar, otherwise I will miss my flight later in the day! I’ve tried to ensure I have some extra capacity in my baggage weight allowance, but I fear it will not be enough!

Get to the airport mid-afternoon, and again begin the 21 or so hour journey back to the land down under, “Where women glow and the men plunder.  Do you hear, do you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover” (Men at Work lyrics)

While in Denver, I still am expecting to be able to keep this site up to date with what is going on, so watch out for that.  There will be larger than normal gaps in transmission – don’t think you can be a mile-high blogger! (Although while in Denver I guess I will be, seeing as Denver is at an altitude of a mile up!)

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