Opinions of the Nova DVR XP

Spent about three hours out giving the DVR a solid workout, and I have come to the conclusion that the DVR XP is not a good lathe. In fact “good” and “DVR XP” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence.

The DVR is not good.  It is spectacular.  I am so sorry for turners out there (or would be turners) who read this blog: you are going to have to be seriously tempted by this machine, even if you don’t consider it in your budget. This lathe kicks some serious butt.

This lathe makes me want to be a better turner.  It inspires me to try to be a better turner.  This makes turning a particularly enjoyable exercise, and it was already fun!

Getting a hand in

I started with a couple of pens (go with what you know!), dials in the muscles – reminds them what they need to be doing for the task.  More on that later.  To the left of the head, you might notice an additional extension that has been added – the Nova Outrigger, with the bowl tool rest.

So once I had gotten the pens done, it was time to try out what really excites me about this lathe – the swinging head.

I took a bowl blank I had tried a few years ago, and quickly set aside as I found I could not do anything with it, without completely wasting it.  I have gotten better since then, progressing up the learning curve.

Outrigger and Bowl Tool Rest

The outrigger is an impressive addition, and if you ever intend to swing the head it is invaluable.  The bowl tool rest is an excellent accompaniment – a strange term perhaps for a lathe accessory, but turning and playing a musical instrument do have things in common.

Spinning Bowl

Working out just which of the degrees of freedom of the outrigger and rest to release to achieve the ideal placement is taking a bit, not that it is particularly arduous – operating the releases that are upside down I find frustrating – keep turning them the wrong way!  But the curved tool rest is exceedingly cool.  Now if only I could master the skew (chisel that is).

A Fine Finish

The timber is stunning, and it came to a very fine finish with a combination of sanding with the Ubeaut Orbital Sander, then EEE and Glow finish.

Last Time to See

A recess was cut into the base, and a dovetail cut for the pin jaws to engage.  Was going well, until the base blew out.  I just didn’t have enough timber supporting the clamping.  Sad, but not the first failure I’ve had, nor will it be the last.  I can’t think of another woodworking activity that takes timber so close to the point of failure, deliberately, consistently.  Taking timber to the point of failure tends to occasionally result in less than ideal results!  I might be able to get something out of the timber that remains, but that is an exercise for another day.

I do have some niggles with the lathe – the lockpin for the headstock needs a separate bar to operate (which is ok), but needs an on-tool storage for the bar, and it is hard to know just how tight, and loose the lockpin needs to be.  The operating bar also hits the power lead if you are not careful in its operation, which is a silly design flaw – minor and unnecessary.  The lathe starts at 500 RPM, and you can hold down the accelerate and decelerate buttons to achieve different speeds (takes a few seconds to achieve the entire speed range – it is faster with the spindle stationary), or you can go to one of your preset speeds.  However, selecting the preset speed you want requires two buttons to be pressed simultaneously, then a third one to confirm the decision – significant overkill personally.  5 single buttons, and one confirm button would have been more than sufficient.  Or toggling with one button through the preset speeds available, and a second one to then confirm.  Or something less cumbersome.  However, these are all pretty minor, and don’t distract from the lathe’s beautiful operation.  The speed thing might be negated in any case with the new wrist-mounted start/stop and speed controller that is retrofittable to other DVR lathes.

Back to the turning.

Next, I picked up a piece of Mahogany that had been sitting in a discard bin ready for burning, at a timber merchant and mounted it up.

Bowl Blank Mounted

Starting with the blank mounted and the tailstock supporting while roughing down the blank to round.

Blank Spun Up

With the blank spinning (1000RPM for this stage), it was a bit out of balance, but certainly bearable.  I decided after this photo to knock the corners off on the bandsaw – no point doing more work than I needed to.  While at this stage, I turned down a foot that would fit the 75mm jaws in contraction.  The underside of the bowl was shaped up to the foot, before reversing the bowl into the 75 chuck.  The head was then turned outboard as well to shape the interior.  Speed was increased to 2000RPM.

Raw Bowl

With the free spinning sander, the interior and exterior were sanded to 400 grit, then EEE applied, followed by Glow.

Glowing

During the finishing process, I got just a little carried away, applying just a little too much pressure which generated a bit of smoke at the periphery.  Nothing too drastic, just a bit of discolouring but it immediately showed me what it could look like, so I carried on, creating significant burning, cutting through the cloth (and a bit further, unfortunately – my finger was behind that, which got a bit warm!)  But the result was perfect for the bowl.

One Surface Finished

With the inside finished, and the outside also done as far as could be reached, it was time to again reverse the bowl to complete it.

Reversed in the Cole Jaws to Finish the Base

I used mini Cole Jaws to secure the bowl, gripping tightly enough to be able to turn the foot away, without causing extra damage.  These have the optional dovetail feet, which provide a more positive retention.  The lathe was again back to 1000RPM for this – didn’t want to go too fast with the Cole Jaws.

Base Turned Away

With the base turned away, it was time for the final sanding and finishing.

Finished Base

The base felt thin – lots of flex, so I didn’t want to overdo the sanding and finishing.

Completed Bowl

The finished bowl feels amazingly light – the average thickness is about 2.5mm.  Maximum 4mm, and down to 1mm or so.  As I get more practice, I will be looking for more consistency in wall thickness, however at this stage I’m just pleased to get a result!

Testing Thickness

When you get this result holding the bowl to the light, for me to go any thinner at this stage would be rather prone to disaster!

So with the first successful result off the Nova DVR XP, I’m pretty ecstatic with the new machine.

Nova Cole Jaws

Bought some of these the other day- seemed like a good idea at the time (still is, but I’ll get to the but…)

Nova Cole Jaws

Nova Cole Jaws

They are designed to be able to reverse-mount a bowl (I have these delusions of grandeur that I might actually be able to turn something so elaborate as a bowl one day – I know it isn’t THAT hard, but like a lot of things, there is expecting that one can do something, and actually proving it).

Expanding vs Contracting Modes

Expanding vs Contracting Modes

(These images were taken from the Nova web site fwiw).  The benefit of being able to mount a bowl like this is to be able to remove the chuck marks from the bottom of the bowl, or remount it for finishing.

Cut-Away showing the jaws in action

Cut-Away showing the jaws in action

Now for the but…..I read the boxes for the Cole Jaws and the Mini Cole jaws, and it suggested for my lathe that I should get the mini.  But bigger is better right? I determined that I could fit the full sized ones – they cleared the bed of the lathe, so that should be fine!  However, and it wasn’t suggested that this was the critical dimension: they don’t clear the tool rest!  Bugger.

So I’ll have to swap them over and get the mini ones after all.  Oh well, it was worth a try.

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