by Chuck Bender
Teknatool’s new Nova Comet II wood lathe is feature-packed at a price that’s hard to beat. Not only does it have variable speed, it has a reversible motor – not usually found on lathes of this size – that’s tucked out of the way under the tail end of the lathe.
That might not sound like a major innovation, but many small lathes have the controls mounted on an arm off the back; the Nova’s setup saves space and, because you don’t have to stretch over the spinning work to reach the controls, it’s safer.
I like the reversing switch because I think you can do a better job of sanding with the work spinning in the opposite direction.
An easy-to-adjust three-step pulley works in combination with the controller to vary speeds from 250 to 4,000 revolutions per minute.
The Nova has a 3⁄4-horsepower, direct-current motor, which gives you plenty of power, yet you can plug it into a standard wall outlet.
I tested the machine by spindle turning, because as a furniture maker, that’s the operation I need most often. The machine handles a reported 161⁄2″ between centers (though I was able to fit 181⁄2″), but an accessory bed extension takes that up to 42″.
With its 12″ swing (the largest diameter the machine can turn inboard), you can, of course, also turn bowls and platters on this lathe (for outboard turning, however, you’ll want a bigger lathe).
For furniture makers, the 12-point index on the head is a plus; it’s easy to adjust, accurate and locks the head firmly into position.
I found the Nova to be powerful enough for my needs, quiet and vibration-free; the 77-pound weight helps.
Right out of the box, this lathe is almost fully assembled. You only have to attach the hand wheel, the rubber feet (unless you’re mounting it on a stand), the tailstock-adjustment handle and the tool rest. That’s it. You’ll be turning in a matter of minutes.
The tool rest, however, could be longer – but I have yet to meet a lathe on which this is not a common problem.
My primary complaint about this machine is that some of the edges on the castings are rather sharp. Between and under the ways, and inside the headstock housing, could all use a little softening.
If you want accessories, this machine has them – everything from a grinding-wheel attachment, belt sander, disk sander and wire wheel, all of which mount outboard, to the previously mentioned bed extension. With the accessories added, you can get your tools sharp, turn a bowl and polish it, all without stepping away from the machine lathe.
The Nova Comet II is a full-featured turning package suitable for most home woodworkers – it’s a compact and powerful midi lathe that won’t break the budget.
From the June 2014 issue, #211