Storage Wars

It is proving a very busy end to a very busy year.  Turns out, preparing to move involves a lot of work (not unexpectedly).  Sorry if I’ve been a bit quiet here – been packing.

We’ve been moving things as they are packed into a storage unit (and thus the title of the post for those unfamiliar with the A&E channel on Foxtel).  Like a shed, just neater (and more costly per square metre in the long term).

In the meantime, I have also been planning the layout of the new house – scale drawings, and it is really looking like my original concept of using the double garage as a shed for a while until I sort the shed out, is not going to be the most practical option.  Based on that, I will need to solve the shed (or lack thereof) issue as quickly as possible.  It will definitely be interesting to then layout a new shed, and I’d love to get right into it, but at this stage I don’t even know what shape, or area the shed will have.  That may sound strange – sheds are normally rectangular, rectangular or….rectangular (yes, some are square, but that is a subset of rectangular).  The area on the new block where the shed will go is triangular, so either the shed will mimic the block shape, or will be made up of a combination of increasing sizes of rectangular sheds joined together.  Definitely will be talking to some suppliers to see what may be possible.

I finally found a few minutes to open the boxes of Nova accessories that arrived just before Xmas – a grinder that attaches to (and is powered by) the Nova Comet II lathe, and a Titan chuck.  The grinder attachment is pretty cool, whereas the Titan is simply awesome.  It makes the PowerJaws look, well, like the 50mm jaws that come with other chucks!

We’ll be having a look at that shortly, as well as a dado blade from Amana Tool / Toolstoday.com

Busy start of 2013 coming, but I will be endeavouring (as in not promising!) to get back to the ideal of a post/day.  Need some more videos as well!

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.

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