Powermatic 3520B: This is a review of the Powermatic 3520B 20×35-Inch Wood Lathe with RPM Digital Readout.
The Powermatic 3520B lathe is a well made, very sturdy and well-designed machine. It is made out of heavy duty cast iron and weighs approximately 682 pounds.
The reason that the 3520B has remained popular is because it has kept and enhanced many of the key features such as the sliding headstock, electronic variable speed control with low and high speed ranges, a reversing switch, pull on/push off button, digital RPM readout just to mention a few.
Powermatic 3520B Lathe Features:
- Spindle lock and built-in spindle indexing on the headstock for drilling hole patterns, routing flutes and other equally spaced features
- Set of dead centers which hold a spindle for visual comparison
- Redesigned toolrest geometry allows for better chisel movement along the toolrest
- Laser etched quill is self ejecting
- 2 position mount for the optional bed extension
- Brass tipped knockout bar concentrate the action in the sliding handle; the brass tip will not damage drive centers
- Attached tool caddy allows convenient access to centers, wrenches, etc
- Chrome trimmed handwheels are ergonomic for a comfortable feel
Powermatic 3520B Lathe At A Glance
The Powermatic 3520B has a 20” swing, a 34” spindle capacity and fits into the same floor space as many 14” lathes.
The variable speed dial, forward and reverse switch, pull on/push off button and the digital readout (that gives you real time information of the spindle speed) are all built into the headstock. This design puts you firmly in command of this tool at all times because the controls are easy for you to get at, no matter what you’re doing.
The variable speed controls are a particularly nice feature because it lets you adjust the RPM instantly, whilst you’re working, to whatever speed you want. You can either turn it all the way down onto the lowest setting or take it right up to full speed in a matter of seconds.
The tool rest base and banjo are both extremely well built and designed, and lock down easily into place. If you take a closer look you’ll notice that the tool rest base is offset towards the front. This design helps you to get more out of the tool rest base near the stock without it interfering with it.
The tail stock locks down and helps prevent any rocking motion that you may have come across in other brands of tail stocks.
The comparative feature is standard on the Powermatic 3520B. It uses a mount on the back of the head stock and a similar one on the back of the tail stock along with a set of dead centers. These are adjustable so that you can align a sample piece directly behind the piece being turned.
With the sample piece placed directly behind the one being turned, not only can you transfer critical diameters, but as you’re turning a feature, you can make sure that you’re turning it exactly the same way as it is on the sample piece.
This method makes it so much easier to get a whole set of table legs, or whatever you need exact duplicates of, that are visually identical.
The safety cage, that’s also included with the Powermatic 3520B, is also a really nice feature because whether you’re rounding off an old log or a ball blank, it does an excellent job of preventing injury caused by any larger pieces of material getting thrown off. Please note that you still have to wear a face shield, but the safety cage will stop any larger pieces from causing you any injury.
Click here for more details about the Powermatic 3520B
Powermatic 3520B Lathe Customer Reviews
First off, let me tell you that the Powermatic 3520B lathe is one of the best lathes on the market. It’s certainly not cheap but if you’re in the market to invest in one, then there’s no doubt that this will be a great investment.
One reviewer summed up the price of the Powermatic 3520B lathe perfectly…
“I firmly believe that if you do the research and then buy the best that you can afford, you’ll only cry once, (OK maybe several times as the Visa statement gets mailed….)”
At the time of writing this review, there were 20 customer reviews on Amazon.
15 customers gave it a 5 star review
2 customers gave it a 4 star review
3 customers gave it a 1 star review
There were no 2 or 3 star reviews. These types of reviews speak for themselves really.
Out of the three customers who gave the Powermatic 3520B a 1 star review, two of them complained about the price and the third customer was unhappy about the size of the faceplate. He didn’t think it was big enough and couldn’t find any larger one for larger bowl turning.
All the other reviews, the other 17 out of 20, they were huge fans. Besides being happy with Amazon’s delivery service, they all spoke highly of the 3520B and how the extremely high quality of this Powermatic lathe will speak for itself.
There were also comments made that the Powermatic 3520B lathe is a great design for a bowl turner.
There was one particular person who was a little concerned about the limited 20” swing. However, he had this to say:
“It is also VERY versatile. I was a bit concerned about its somewhat limited 20″ swing. My skills are getting into the advanced category (I think), so I wondered if maybe I should go for one with 24″ of swing or more, but not to worry! With the 18″ bed and banjo extensions (about $400 additional) installed, and the headstock moved to the end of the bed, the PM 3520b swings 32″! This lathe is more capable than any other, in most respects it seems, if your goal is to turn bowls.”
Many reviewers also found the variable speed control invaluable:
“The continuously variable speed is INVALUABLE – the 450 rpm minimum with my Jet was just too fast (and so too dangerous) in many cases for less well balanced bowl blanks. It’s REALLY nice to be able to throttle down to, well, ~130 rpm in the high range, 50 rpm in low. ”
Over 95% of customers who left a review agreed that the Powermatic 3520B is a well made, sturdy and functional machine. The 200V variable speed motor is quiet and smooth and the adjustment between high and low range is a fast and simple process and eliminates vibration with an out of balance piece of wood.