Nice lathe, too bad it's got a few issues

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Review by glen posted 11-11-2020 04:21 PM 1151 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Nice lathe, too bad it's got a few issues No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I bought this as an upgrade to my craftex lathe (akin to Grizzly in the US) that served me well for years. The laguna unit has good and bad features. I am a hobbyist turning mostly small things, like pens. I’ve had it for about a month and have turned a few pens on it

The good:
-way more torque than my old one. Combined with a sharp tool, this really feels like a “real” lathe, not just a toy. Sanding with MM actually gets a full shine on the wood (I could probably not put finish on it)
-variable speed and direction change is convenient. Belt changes are a bit awkward, but not as much as on my old lathe. I think they’re about as good as they get for a unit this size
-finish – it’s a nice looking lathe
-outboard turning: the ability to get an extension to mount on the outboard side of the lathe is great if you want to do a bigger bowl
-quiet with no vibration
-tool rest is nice and solid

The bad
-headstock and tail stock are misaligned. Putting the drive and live centers in, bringing tail to head, I see the points are off (see picture). My craftex, a much cheaper unit, to this day is perfectly aligned
-Laguna customer service – when I contacted Laguna about the above issue, they sent me a picture and some short replies about how to fix it. When I asked further questions, the replies were short and sometimes didn’t answer what I was asking. Ok, there’s no hand-holding here, but at least answer the questions I ask in the email. They “closed” my ticket before I had considered it resolved. Weak…
-The spindle handle is crooked. It wobbles – not so much that the machine shakes, but I’d expect it to be perfect. I’m going to take it off some day to see if it’s just a mounting issue UPDATE – I remounted it and it’s fine. Probably got knocked a bit in shipping
-Live centre is weak – it is a 2-piece design where the point is seated in a tapered hole. Unfortunately this hole is the exact same size as the knockout bar, so trying to remove the live centre with the bar just results in knocking the centre point out, so you have to fiddle to get the rest of the body out. Some CA glue should fix this, but I shouldn’t have to do this on a lathe this expensive.
-No on/off switch – the LED RPM output will stay on unless you unplug the machine. I’m going to install a switch for the plug that I have it set up to, but it would have been nice if they would have just put a power ON/OFF switch

I would probably buy this lathe again, but I’d look hard at other units. If it came properly aligned I would have given it 4 or 5 stars. These shortcomings are leaving me a little disappointed.

View glen's profile


175 posts in 3469 days

14 comments so far

View ras61's profile


118 posts in 2437 days

#1 posted 11-11-2020 07:51 PM

Is it made in China?

-- "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum" - James L. Petigru, 1860

View robscastle's profile


7519 posts in 3120 days

#2 posted 11-11-2020 08:23 PM

rest assured it would be, ... have a look at the documentation

-- Regards Rob

View TheDane's profile


5882 posts in 4579 days

#3 posted 11-11-2020 09:31 PM

Looked at this lathe before I bought my Powermatic 2014 … glad I went with the PM. Had it for going on 6 months and not a single problem or complaint. More money, but a lot less grief.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View dorald's profile


88 posts in 2708 days

#4 posted 11-11-2020 11:48 PM

I can relate somewhat to what you’re saying Glen. I have a smaller Laguna, a Revo 1016 but I didn’t purchase it. Actually my wife won it in a raffle a few years back. I had been thinking about purchasing one but only real experience with turning was wa-a-a-a-a-y back in high school shop so no real hurry.

After fooling around with it for a while, more and more came back tome from those ol’ shop days. Even though this was “free”, just the $$$ for a few raffle tickets, I really don’t look for projects to turn. Really not happy with it. Too many things need “adjusting” and/or alignment. No torque to speak of. Went ahead and purchased the extension for outboard turning before really thinking a out it. Relied on the name too much. No reversing. Speed changing OK but could be better.

I agree that it is a good looking lathe BUT beauty is only skin deep as they say.

I wish you luck and success in making the corrections and adjustments my friend.

-- No one can make you feel inferior unless you give them permission. . .

View Madmark2's profile


1815 posts in 1504 days

#5 posted 11-12-2020 01:36 AM

Can you put a dimension on the offset? Have you tried different centers? Can you buck it out as you tighten the tailstock?

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Sark's profile


352 posts in 1276 days

#6 posted 11-12-2020 03:28 AM

That would really bug me. Can it really be adjusted to be centered? Or is the misalignment part of the superstructure, and you need to replace the whole unit? Keep bugging Laguna till you get some satisfaction. I think their stuff is made in Eastern Europe…or it use to be. Hopefully it’s still under warranty.

View mel52's profile


1744 posts in 1180 days

#7 posted 11-12-2020 04:06 AM

Possible metal shims in the right spot might bring it into alignment. Mel

-- MEL, Kansas

View glen's profile


175 posts in 3469 days

#8 posted 11-12-2020 04:29 AM

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

I don’t think it’s made in China (the build quality itself is good), but I haven’t been able to find a country of origin on it.

It is out about 2-3 thou in both the front/back and top/bottom directions when tips are close. At a full spindle length, that difference will be greater.

The headstock has some unfortunately placed set screws that can be adjusted to bring it into alignment. Good that they put them there, bad that I have to use them. They are tucked away in an ungodly place to get to, so I haven’t taken the time to do this yet. As a hobbyist, I’m more interested in making stuff than fixing tools, which is why I went with a “higher end” lathe.

This is my 3rd laguna tool – I have an 8” jointer and a bandsaw. The jointer worked well off the hop but the gears for moving the fence front/back never really worked well. Not a big issue since I rarely move my fence, but an issue nonetheless.

My 14” bandsaw (laguna 14” SUV) is pretty good. I’ve had issues with drift that I think relate more to me being able to properly set my blade and guides than a problem with manufacturing. I had a laguna blade on there that was warped from the factory and laguna, without many questions, replaced it for free, so I can’t knock them too hard. I’m just disappointed on a few things with this lathe, enough to make me question my purchase. After my buyer’s remorse settles and I have my headstock properly aligned, I’ll probably forget that I had my undies in a bunch over lathe issues.

Take care everyone!

View Buck_Thorne's profile


115 posts in 1987 days

#9 posted 11-15-2020 11:46 PM

I’ve never owned any Laguna tools, but have seen them at Rockler and Woodcraft so assumed they were reasonably decent, if not high quality. Sounds like I maybe made an assumption that I should not make? Are they trouble?

View mike02719's profile


267 posts in 4702 days

#10 posted 11-16-2020 12:06 AM

I bought a Lagtuna 1836 two years ago. Have had absolutely no problems. Your alignment issue is common and Laguna has a remedy for it. I adjusted mine with no difficulty. Not sure if your model will be as easy. I have known other owners of lathes made in China that have had similar issues caused by shipping and handling. American made lathes do use products made in China and other countries so no one is assured that they will never have complaints.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View glen's profile


175 posts in 3469 days

#11 posted 11-16-2020 12:39 AM

Buck – They are good quality tools but they sometimes have issues that customer service isn’t always great at helping with. They have a history of bad service, not bad tools. As mentioned, I own a jointer and bandsaw by them as well. When I got my SawStop everything was 100% out of the box. Same for my planer (Powermatic). With my Laguna Tools I feel It’s like buying a high end car but the seat wobbles or the radio knob falls off. You’d expect more. The car is still good, but it’s frustrating that it’s not 100%.

Mike – Yes, Laguna sent me the remedy. It’s an annoying thing to align, the tech said flippantly “you may have to remove pulleys to do this” without any discussion of how to do that. From what I can tell it would require a bearing puller and a lot of time I don’t have. The bigger units have an easy “precision point” means of lining things up – 4 bolts and an Allen key is all you need. I wish mine had that. Oh well – I guess I’ll get to know my lathe inside and out.

View Sark's profile


352 posts in 1276 days

#12 posted 11-16-2020 04:12 PM

Glen, your observation of a Laguna tool being like a high-end car where the seat wobbles, is spot on. Laguna is a high-value vendor where for the price you get a lot of features that would cost a lot more if you bought the tools from the more established vendor. So it’s like the lowest cost luxury sedan, one that’s fully equipped but the detailing found say in a BMW or Mercedes just isn’t there.

15-18 years ago I bought a Laguna Sliding Table Saw. What a nightmare. I had to threaten Laguna with a lawsuit in order to get them to pay attention. Ultimately the owner of the company drove to my house (I live in Orange County) and swapped out the motor himself. When that didn’t work, he came back and swapped out the pulleys for a matched set. That cleared up the vibration. Since that solved the problem, he took out the high-end motor and replaced with the original cheaper motor. That worked for quite a while till the wiring burned out on it.

View TheDane's profile


5882 posts in 4579 days

#13 posted 11-16-2020 04:45 PM

Here’s why I don’t see myself buying any more Laguna tools.

Five years ago, I bought a 2hp Laguna cyclone dust collector. The manual provided with the machine didn’t match, so assembly involved a lot of guess work.

About a year after I installed it, I began to notice dust accumulations on the top of the bin. On closer inspection, I discovered that the hose that connects the cyclone to the collection bin was full of pin holes. I called Laguna’s tech support, and the tech admitted there was a design flaw in these machines in that the dust and chips are abrasive and wear away the interior of the hose on their way into the bin. They sent me a replacement hose at no charge, but installing that damned thing is a royal pain.

Then about a month after the warranty expired, the motor started squeaking and wouldn’t start. It it would begin to spin up, but would kick the overload protector off. If I got the overload to reset while the motor was still spinning, I could get her to start and run. I called Laguna, and the tech told me it was probably bearings, and I should order a new motor (about $500). Unfortunately they didn’t have any motors “in the country” and didn’t expect any for 6 to 8 weeks.

I found a guy with the same model that had a “new in the box” motor in a city a few hundred miles away for $100 plus shipping. Why did he have an extra motor? His machine died while under warranty, and while he waited for Laguna to ship him a motor (they were on backorder then, too), he discovered that the centrifugal switch had failed. He replaced the centrifugal switch and all was good before his replacement motor arrived. Rather than ship it back to Laguna, he sold it to me.

I installed the replacement and took the original motor to a motor shop … they determined the problem was a defective centrifugal switch, so for another $85 I have a spare motor.

The last week or two, the replacement motor motor is starting to squeak, and I notice that the dust is starting to show up on the top of the bin. Any one want to guess what the problem is?

So to me, it comes down to this. If you want to spend your time fixing machinery that you paid good money for and waiting on backordered parts, knock yourself out. I would rather spend my time using the machines in my shop to enjoy my time there. That’s why there are 2 Powermatic lathes in my shop (a 3520C and a 2014), and soon there will be an Oneida Supercell dust collector. I’m done with Laguna.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Madmark2's profile


1815 posts in 1504 days

#14 posted 11-16-2020 06:10 PM

Sounds like Laguna is the Harley Davidson of wood tools. Rides nice but bits keep falling off.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

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