Laguna Revo 18|36 Lathe

About as close as it comes to sheer perfection in a woodworking lathe.

Laguna Revo 18|36 Lathe

Laguna Revo 18|36 Lathe



The Revo 18|36 is the newest entry in Laguna's line of professional grade woodturning lathes. I've had the opportunity of using the lathe for the past three months. In this review I'll share my impressions about the Revo, and what I feel are it's key features.

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480 pounds of heavy metal

Considering the weight, I was surprised that the Revo 18|36 came packaged in cardboard boxes – I expected it to be more sturdily crated in a plywood box. Nonetheless, upon inspection, nothing was missing or damaged. Depending on the accessories you order with the Revo, unpacking and assembling can take upwards of 3 to 4 hours.

During the assembly process you'll see how impressive this lathe is – no plastic to speak of, no aluminum, no fiddly little pieces, just heavy metal and polished steel. All the components are well machined, and everything fit together like bacon and eggs. Assembly is straightforward, but you'll definitely need someone to help you – in particular, for uprighting the base once it's assembled, and attaching the headstock.

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Heavy cast iron legs provide stability and reduce vibration

The base of any lathe is crucial, as it supports the weight of the lathe, provides overall stability, and helps reduce vibration. Each of the two cast iron legs on the Revo weigh about 80 pounds, making for a super robust base. Large adjustable nylon feet screw into the bottom of the legs, which enable you to level the lathe, and make it somewhat easier to manhandle the lathe across the shop floor.

As you see in the photo above, you really need to assemble the base upside down, and once the legs are bolted to the bed, turn the unit right-side up. You can then adjust the feet to level the lathe – it's a lot easier to do the leveling before attaching the head and tail stock.

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Heavy duty polished steel bed adds structural integrity

The bed is sweet – made of steel, a full 1/2" thick, rather than toughened cast iron. Steel provides greater tensile strength and shock resistance than iron, and is less susceptible to distortion and deflection. Plus, the highly polished surface provides smoother banjo travel. And, it looks a heck of a lot nicer than cast iron.

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Stop bolts limits headstock and tailstock movement

Stop bolts on both ends of the bed prevent the headstock and tailstock from inadvertently sliding off the bed. The bolts are easily removable by finger-power.

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2HP Motor (L) operates in tandem with the Variable Frequency Drive unit (R) 

The Revo headstock consists of the motor, variable frequently drive unit, drive belt, speed control panel, and spindle. While it must weigh close to 100 pounds, it glides across the bed like butter on toast. It's outfitted with a powerful 2HP, 5.2A, 230V, 3-phase motor. You don't need 3-phase power in your shop to run this motor, though you will need a 20A, 220V electrical circuit. This is because the Revo is equipped with a variable frequency drive, located on the back of the headstock. The VFD converts single phase power to 3-phase power that the motor can use. A 3-phase motor delivers power optimally at any speed, as it senses resistance and increases torque to maintain constant speed. What this means for you is a motor that runs exceptionally smoothly and quietly, and no stalling under load.

This motor provides ample power for the full range of turning that the lathe is designed to accommodate – up to 18" for face plate turning and 36" for spindle work. But, if that's not enough, you can extend your face plate turning to 32" and spindle turning to 56" with the addition of the optional bed extension. 

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Two easily switchable speed ranges

There are two speed ranges that you can choose from. Access to the poly groove drive belt is via a pulley located at the front of the headstock. Switching the belt takes less than a minute. I use the 'low' setting (50 to 1,300 RPM) for bowl turning and some spindle work, and the 'high' setting (135 to 3.500 RPM) for most spindle turning. The Revo delivers infinitely variable speed within each of these two speed ranges. You adjust the speed via the speed control panel located on the front of the headstock. 

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Nicely laid out speed control panel

The speed control panel is angled so that the LED display is easy to see and the large colour coded controls easy to manipulate. It features a nicely anodized aluminum panel for durability and good looks. I found the large bright LED display easy to read even under bright fluorescent ceiling lights. The speed control dial is located closest to the spindle, and the large dial is easily adjusted. Being able to dial-in your speed level means a minimal focus away from your work. Over time I found that I didn't need to constantly look at the display, but could regulate the speed by sound and feel.

Along with a large, push-style emergency stop button, the Revo has a reverse setting, which is very convenient when sanding. It has the added benefit of directing dust back towards a dust hood if you use one – or the rear of the lathe – rather than on you.

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Thoughtfully designed headstock

The Revo has a hefty 1-1/4" spindle with 8 TPI right hand thread and a MT 2 spindle taper. This is the only lathe I've seen with a cone shaped headstock design. Anyone who does a lot of bowl turning will quickly realize the benefit of the design – no sharp corners to deal with and much easier access to the outside (bottom) of the bowl. A stellar improvement in headstock design.

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Front located spindle lock (L); and drive center knock-out rod (R)

The Revo comes with a standard drive center and a 3" faceplate. A spring loaded spindle lock, conveniently located on the front face of the headstock, makes it easy to remove the faceplate or chuck, while the supplied knock-out rod 25.7makes quick work of removing the drive center.

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Uncomplicated indexing

The Revo spindle has three sets of indexing holes – 14, 36, or 48 stops – selectable in 25.7°, 10°, and 7.5° increments. It provides for precise orientation of the spindle for those who add decorative fluting to spindle work, or like to mark out bowls or spindles for radial or axial painting, carving, or drilling. Setting up, and using the indexing feature on the Revo is straightforward.

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Large, heavy, easy-to-adjust tailstock

Just like the headstock, the tailstock is a robust piece of kit, and glides equally smoothly across the bed, locking firmly in place via the large handle located on it's far side - conveniently out of the way. The super sized, smooth rotating, self-ejecting live center is as good as any aftermarket live center.

The quill has an impressive 4-1/2" of travel. The tip of the threaded rod on the locking handle is brass tipped, so that it won't mar the quill as it's locked into place. And, the quill has an easy-to-read laser etched scale, rather than a painted scale that would most likely wear off in no time. 

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Hefty banjo and tool rest (L) with innovative locking system (R)

The banjo/tool rest assembly gets a lot of use, while the top of the tool rest, in particular, is subject to constant friction from turning tools. Keeping with the 'heavy is better' motif, the Revo features a robust cast iron banjo and tool rest – both of which further help absorb vibration. The large banjo locking handle is nice, especially if you frequently adjust it's position while turning. The 6mm steel insert on the top edge of the 12" tool rest provides a very durable, smooth, rounded surface for tools to glide against. 

Laguna has come up with a unique locking system for the tool rest. The clamp secures the whole post rather than just a single point along the post. And, it won't mar the post. It's extremely effective at keeping the tool rest rock steady. 

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Convenient accessory/tool rack

The Revo comes with a handy tool storage rack that you can attach to either leg. It holds the lathe accessories and a small selection of frequently used turning tools.

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An outstanding mobile base

The Revo is as heavy as an elephant. If left stationary in one spot – no problem. However, if you want the ability to move the lathe around the shop, then the mobile base accessory is an invaluable addition. Dual gas struts make it easy to raise and lower the lathe, while four large unidirectional urethane wheels enable you to turn the lathe on a dime. Without a doubt, it's the best mobile base I've ever used.

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Optional bed extension and halogen light

You can turn pretty decent size bowls and platters on the Revo (up to 18" in diameter), and table and chair legs, balusters, bed posts, and all manner of spindles up to 36" long. If you get to the point where your turning requirements exceed the capacity of the Revo, you won't need to replace the lathe. You can purchase an optional bed extension that increases the swing from 18" to an impressive 32" and spindle distance to a whopping 56". The bed extension comes with a tool rest height extension that adds 7" to the height of the tool rest to accommodate the lower positon of the extension bed. 

While the bed extension is likely to be an accessory for future consideration, the halogen light accessory is one that fits in the "can't live without" category. Good lighting is, after all, essential for good work. This light can be mounted on the headstock or the tailstock, and it has a triple jointed arm that enables you to precisely position the bright white light exactly where needed. 

I've been using the Revo 18|36 for just over three months, and am very pleased with it's performance – a better lathe is somewhat hard to imagine. It's very well thought-out, and has the power and features that should satisfy the most fastidious woodworker. Whether you're looking for a first stationary lathe, or an upgrade, you'll want to take a serious look at the Revo.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Motor: 2HP, 1Ph (3 Ph output), 220 V, 1725 RPM, TEFC
  • Drive: Delta S1 Variable Frequency Drive 
  • Belt: Poly-Groove Drive Belt with EZ Access
  • Speed: High:135-3500 RPM; Low: 50-1300 RPM
  • Spindle Taper: MT #2
  • Spindle Size: 1-1/4" x 8 TPI RH
  • Spring Loaded Spindle Lock
  • Tailstock Quill: 4-1/2" of travel, engraved scale, self-ejecting
  • Distance between Centers: 36” 
  • Swing, Outboard: 32"
  • Swing over Bed: 18"
  • Swing over Banjo: 13-1/2"
  • Floor to Spindle Center: 41-1/2" with Pads
  • Floor to Bed: 32-1/2" with Pads 
  • Floor Space: 26" D x 47" H x 60” L
  • Weight: 427 pounds
  • Includes: 3" face plate, face plate removal tool, tool rack, drive center,  rotating center, knock out rod, tool rest, 2 accessory mounting brackets, 4 leveling feet, user manual

COMPANY:Laguna
MODEL:MLAREVO 1836
PRICE:$3,499.00 CDN
MADE IN:Overseas, CSA Certified
SOURCE:Where to Buy

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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