If you’re serious about getting a high quality lathe, no doubt Powermatic is a brand that has come across your radar. In this post we’re going to review and cover everything you need to know about the Powermatic Wood Lathe 3520C, which is a professional grade lathe for wood turning.
Powermatic wood lathes have a reputation of being heavy, strong and durable, which of course is why they are often a popular choice for professional wood turners. However, there are a lot of things to consider before you buy this lathe.
We are definitely going to get into all the benefits and features of this lathe and what makes it a great choice for many wood turners – but first let’s talk about things you may not consider and what many people leave out when they write about the different types of lathes you can buy.
The Powermatic Lathe Is Very Heavy
One of the first things you should be aware of is that this lathe is VERY heavy, weighing at 726LBS. In fact, there are pianos that weigh less.
When you order the lathe from Amazon or another retailer, it is going to be shipped via freight – often times simply dropped at the end of your driveway.
For most people, moving a 726 pound item from the driveway to your wood shop is going to require some help!
Much Assembly Required
Because the unit requires some assembly and you are going to need to move the lathe to install it, it can be well worth the investment to get a Crane Hoist Lift that is capable of lifting up to several tons. This will make your life MUCH easier!
Another alternative is you could also use a block and tackle safely mounted to a strong beam. If you do not have a hoist lift this can work but the hoist lifts do make it a lot less stressful for some people.
In order to get the feet under the legs right you will need a floor jack to adjust the feet to the desired height. After that you need to consider how you intend to move it around. You could try heavy duty floor dollies or casters that you would have to mount on your own such as this SPACECARE Workbench Casters kit which can handle 800Lbs.
Next, when you go to assemble the headstock it is extremely heavy and it needs to be lined up perfectly so once again an engine crane would be very helpful.
You May Need an Electrician
Another important factor to consider with this lathe is it is 220 volt. Most standard homes only have 110 volt.
If your workshop is a professional grade shop with 220 volt, then you may not need to consider for an electrician. However, for most people it makes sense to have a dedicated breaker box specifically for the Powermatic wood lathe.
Another thing to factor in is the power plug is NOT supplied with the machine. You will need to do some basic wiring and possibly also buy an additional plug such as this 20 Amp industrial grade plug by Leviton. The provided cord already has what you need to attach it to the motor.
With these important considerations out of the way, let’s talk about what the features are of the Powermatic Lathe and what it is capable of!
Features of the Powermatic 3520C 35″x20″ Lathe
The Powermatic wood lathe is a heavy duty professional grade machine that is capable of handling large wood turning projects.
It can handle a 20 inch unbalanced capacity so you could lathe a 20 inch round log from the back yard that is 35 inches long no trouble.
The 2 HP motor is powerful and does not get bogged down like many other lathes. There is very little vibration due to the heavy weight and stability of the lathe.
It has a magnetic movable control box and adjustable risers. It also is really easy to operate. It has a special clamp that makes tool rest placement really solid.
The tail stock is also impressive. It has an anti-rotation key and Acme threads which make it really smooth to run. It has a digital readout and amazing speed precision. Spindle speeds can be run on low at 15 RPM all the way to high at 3200 RPM.
The Powermatic lathe also comes with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.
Powermatic is a well-known brand amongst professional heavy duty wood lathe machines and a popular choice for many wood turners if their budget and workshop space allows for it.
If you are thinking about buying this machine, we recommend first taking a look at the User’s Manual supplied by the manufacturer online, as it carefully goes over everything from assembly to operation of the machine. Reading the user manual first will give you a good understanding of what you will need beforehand.
Is the Powermatic the Right Wood Lathe for You?
No doubt, the Powermatic is a beautiful machine to use for wood turning, with it’s main key feature being that it is capable of many large scale projects you may not be able to do on other lathes.
However, before you spend the money on this lathe, it is important to consider whether you really actually need all of the features and benefits.
It’s a pro grade machine and it’s price also reflects this – which means for beginner wood turners this is probably not the right tool to start with.
While it is relatively easy to learn how to operate and beginners certainly could learn on it, many beginners may find themselves much more comfortable on a smaller machine suitable for smaller projects.
On the other hand, there are many woodworking business opportunities that could open up to you by owning a lathe such as this one. Large scale projects, which often fetch higher dollar amounts could be made with ease. In that case the investment could be well worth it over time.
You should also consider the size of the machine and whether you have the space required to run it safely. Because it is capable of handling 35″ blocks of wood, it no doubt is a large machine, measuring at 69 1/2 inches x 36 1/2 inches by 47 inches.
Again, this is fine if you have a large wood shop and dedicated space – but for those who are hobbyists looking for a lathe they can use in a small shed or their garage, it is probably best to consider a smaller machine.
I hope this review of the Powermatic 3520C Wood Lathe is useful for you to decide on whether or not it’s the right one for you. If you have this wood lathe, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below – what has your experience been with it?