May 7, 2022

Powermatic 3520a Wood Lathe

Overview and Features

The Powermatic 3520a Wood Lathe is an outstanding machine. The cast iron construction, which includes the legs, ensures stable and vibration-free functioning. The bed rails are thick and wide. The 2 HP motor makes heavy roughing cuts. The variable speed drive varies from 0 to 3200 RPM based on the step pulley setting and is very responsive. Throughout the speed range, the spindle and motor are pretty quiet. With electrical braking, deceleration is quick, and hand braking to stop the spindle is eliminated. The spindle is reversible, and the speed control is random.

All third-party chuck and faceplate manufacturers accept the 1-1/4 x 8 spindle nose as a standard size. Spindle runout is minimal, and tailstock alignment is exact. The flexibility to adjust the headstock to any location on the ways is an added plus; it allows for a more comfortable stance while turning and helps manage where the majority of the shavings fall. By moving the spindle to the end of the bed and adding a floor-mounted tool rest, the workpiece radius may be as large as the height of the spindle from the floor.

The tool rest banjo is hefty and robust, giving the tool rest plenty of support. With moderate pressure on the clamp handle, it clamps easily and tightly. The tool support allows for height, bed position, and work angle adjustments. The 14″ tool support comes standard on your 3520A lathe. The legs contain built-in shelf support to attach a shelf 6″ above the floor. An 18″ long bed extension gives 56-1/2″ between centers. When operating out of reach of the headstock, a remote on-off magnetic base switch is helpful to override the headstock switch. This option is present.

Pros

  • The cast iron construction, which includes the legs, ensures stable and vibration-free functioning.
  • Its changing speed is highly responsive.
  • Throughout the speed range, the spindle and motor are pretty quiet.
  • It decelerates exceptionally quickly.
  • The spindle is reversible, and the speed control is random.
  • The durable and robust tool rest banjo supports the tool rest.

Cons

  • There is no through-hole in the tailstock ram for extended shank on-center drilling.
  • The spindle is not capable of indexing.
  • The drive-speed LED readout is hidden behind the headstock, and you cannot see it from the front.

How to install the Lathe machine

  • Insert the four leveling screws in the legs, modify them to a steady, level position, and secure them in place with the jam nuts.
  • Place the guard support rod in the rear of the headstock’s guard mounting bracket. Place a locking collar on either side of the mounting bracket, one for guard and one for load, so that the lock pins line up with the holes in the guard pivot rod. The guard will be held in each position by a spring-loaded lock pin.
  • The lathe will run on a 230-volt single-phase or three-phase power supply. 
  • The inverter comes with a three-wire pigtail for usage with 230-volt single-phase electricity that can be hard-wired to the power supply or connected to a receptacle connector. 
  • Connect the black and white leads to the 230-volt store and the green lead to the ground. 
  • If you use three-phase electricity, you must replace the pigtail wire with a 12/4 wire and connect the three hot leads to the inverter. Connect the ground lead at all times. 
  • Ensure the on/off switch is off and the speed dial is turned counterclockwise before connecting to the power supply. The inverter will trip out if the control is on when the power is on. 
  • Turn off the power, wait 30 seconds, and then reconnect the power if this happens.

Machine Maintenance

Periodic maintenance on the 3520A lathe is valuable to ensure that the machine is in good operating order, that all fasteners are snug, and that the device is adjusted. The engine should be inspected and maintained more frequently the more you use it. At least twice a year, inspection and maintenance are necessary.

Spindle

The spindle bearing preload is fixed at the manufacturer for typical turning applications. You should compress it just enough to eliminate end play and allow the spindle to rotate freely. Spindle looseness along its axis should not have any “end play.” If the bearing lock nut on the left end of the spindle becomes loose, tighten it to remove it. The spindle bearings will overheat if you tighten the lock nut too much.

Set the drive belt to the low range to offer maximum horsepower to the spindle at prolonged speeds.

To adjust speed ranges, open the access panel in front of the headstock, release the pivot lock handle in the motor tension slot, lift the motor by lifting the motor plate handle, and relock the lock handle to keep the engine in place. The belt should have enough slack to be repositioned to the next step. The belt loosens the tension lock handle and lowers the motor to tension. Make that the belt’s Poly-V grooves are seated correctly in the pulley’s matching groove. Avoid over tensioning the belt; a slight touch on the motor plate handle will suffice to keep it from slipping.

Operating instructions

Check that everything is in working order each time before using the lathe:

  1. Level your machine: To help prevent vibration, use the adjustable levelers.
  2.  Check bearings: only adjust if endplay is present.
  3. Examine your belts: they should be snug but not too tight.
  4. Ways – maintain it clean, use steel wool, and wax to avoid rust and finish accumulation.
  5. Remove nicks and dings from the tool rest with a mill file.
  6. Tapers on the spindle should be clean and free of dust and chips to ensure appropriate taper seating. Use scotch brite or taper cleaner to clean.
  7. Clean and lubricate the ram and locking device in the tailstock.
  8. Lighting – enough lighting is critical.
  9. To remove excess sanding dust, use a dust extractor.

Long hours when using the lathe will be more comfortable with an anti-fatigue mat.

Verdict

I would enthusiastically suggest the Powermatic 3520A to any woodturner seeking a machine in its capacity range. It’s an excellent machine for a variety of woodworking jobs. You can use it for bowl turning, generating highly satisfactory results. The deep fluted bowl gouge is the most important and flexible tool for most bowls and faceplate turning. It also enables considerably faster and less vibration wood removal than other gouges. Even though it is older than other advanced Powermatic lathe machines, you will not go wrong with this lathe machine.

David D. Hughes

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