Powermatic 4224 24" Lathe

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Review by Jon Spelbring posted 04-04-2012 02:12 PM 18392 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Powermatic 4224 24" Lathe No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I bought this used, and having used it for the past couple of months, I thought I’d post a review.
For background, my first lathe was a Jet Mini. I turned on that for about a year, then wanted to do larger work, so I upgraded to a Nova DVR. Both of these are excellent lathes. I have become much more serious about turning, and I’m moving toward larger hollow forms, and large platters/bowls.

When I decided to upgrade (again), I researched quite a few large lathes – Robust, Stubby, and Powermatic were all on my short list – the PM 3520b. I had written off the 4224 in favor of the 3520 because of the movable headstock feature on the 3520. No sooner had I done that, then I found the used 4224. Being a used machine, it was cheaper than a new 3520, and was local, so no tax or shipping (yes, I’m aware of Amazon’s deals, but this was cheaper still).

So, I made the move and got the beast (now called Godzilla) transported to my shop – all 900 lbs. This involved a forklift, some heavy duty casters, and a trailer. I did have a bit of help getting it the last few feet (had to lift it up and over the doorstep into the shop – no room for a ramp). However, it’s now safely in it’s (final) resting place. I really like the look and feel of it too (as to the color, well…). It’s in good company with it’s heavy, cast iron bretheren – a MiniMax MM20 band saw and a MiniMax FS30 12” jointer/planer.

Once in place, I wired a plug for it. The previous owner had been a cabinetry shop. The used it a few times for turning table legs, and had it wired directly to a breaker box.

I spent some time getting it cleaned up (and out). I did have to disassemble and clean the remote switch, as it would not always work. This is a known issue with both the 3520 and 4224 – the remote switch is prone to getting chips/dust inside and failing to close the circuit properly. I also gave the variable speed controller a good cleaning, as it was a bit stiff.

So, on to the actual performance review:

It turns like a dream! There is no discernable vibration. Yes, I can make it shake with a large enough blank that is far enough out of balance, but I think that’s true of any lathe that’s not actually bolted down. I do feel that I can turn larger pieces (unbalanced) much faster than I could with the Nova. Speaking of which, I really like the simple dial for speed control. Frankly, I never really liked the Nova’s up/down button control.

So far, I’ve been unable to bog it down, or stall it out. The largest thing I’ve turned so far was a piece of Elm weighing in at about 100lbs. Again, the 3HP motor takes it in stride. It’s also very quiet. I think a spinning, square spindle blank makes more noise than the motor.

Everything about the machine says “mass”. The only downsides that I’ve found are that the thing is a bear to move (I removed the casters, as they made the spindle height too tall for me), and removing the tailstock – it’s a bit of a workout. Size-wise, it’s a little longer than the Nova it replaced. The Nova had a 44” bed length, while Godzilla has a 42” – but with a larger headstock.

The finish is good, though there is some scuffing and a chip or two from it’s former life in the cabinet shop.

I don’t know if I’ll ever exceed the 24” swing, but should I desire a larger platter or bowl, I can always turn outboard (providing I get a standalone tool rest).

Things that I really like:
  • 24” swing – No more trimming large blanks down to fit the lathe swing (well, not yet anyway)
  • 3PH 3 phase motor (with the phase converter unit). As much power as I could want
  • Self ejecting tailstock (a small thing, but convenient)
  • Bed long enough that I don’t need to remove the tailstock for a regular bowl – just hollow forms
  • Spindle lock has a screw-on lock for the spindle lock (I think the 3520 just has a push botton – need 3 hands to remove the chuck)
  • Lots of mass. I don’t feel the need to add extra weight to it
Things that I don’t like:
  • Remote switch failure issue (the solution seems to be a ziplock baggie over the switch housing)
  • No swing away options for the tailstock. I had it on my Nova, and there are 3rd party options for the 3520b, but not the 4224. I may have to build a dedicated cart for this.
  • The low end of the variable speed doesn’t seem to go as low as I thought it would – if the readout is to be believed, it’s low end speed is 75rpm or so? Maybe a new/better POT?
  • No sliding headstock. This is minor, and a give/take. I would like to have it, but I’ve also read that for larger hollow forms, a fixed headstock is more stable. No idea if that’s true or not. As other 4224 owers have said – I can always throw a saddle over the ways if I want to turn a bowl without leaning over.
  • The cover over the motor tends to be a dust/chip collector. I have to remember to get rid of the chips before sliding the tailstock too close to the headstock.

Overall, I give it a 5 out of 5 stars. Unless I stuble across a killer deal on an antique pattern makers lathe, I think this will be the last lathe I’ll ever need.

-- To do is to be

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Jon Spelbring

200 posts in 5745 days

12 comments so far

View Delta356's profile


463 posts in 4345 days

#1 posted 04-04-2012 05:30 PM

WoW, I would like one like that some day. Is it USA made??? Thats a lot cast iron.
Congrats on your new toy.

Take Care, Michael Frey
Portland, OR


View StumpyNubs's profile


7854 posts in 4292 days

#2 posted 04-04-2012 11:07 PM

That’s a great lathe and a great review!

Thanks for posting!
-Jim, aka “Stumpy Nubs”
Latest episode of Blue Collar Woodworking is now online!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4977 days

#3 posted 04-05-2012 05:28 AM

buy the best, cry once. congrats, it’s a beauty. and that is coming from someone that doesn’t turn, even just a little bit.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

200 posts in 5745 days

#4 posted 04-05-2012 04:52 PM

Micheal – I’m not sure if it’s USA made or not (I suspect not). I believe this one was made around 2005? Yeah, it’s quite the boat anchor – I really like heavy cast iron machinery.

-- To do is to be

View Bertha's profile


13635 posts in 4185 days

#5 posted 04-05-2012 06:08 PM

the solution seems to be a ziplock baggie over the switch housing
Wow! That’s really surprising for a machine of this caliber.
Great and thorough review. Thanks!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5483 days

#6 posted 04-05-2012 06:13 PM


If you were not aware Robust makes a Swing away type of option for the 3520 tail stock. I wonder if this would fit the 4224?

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

200 posts in 5745 days

#7 posted 04-06-2012 04:18 PM


Sadly, the devices out there for the 3520 are not compatible. I looked at the Robust and the Swing Away by Butler. I’ll either build up a cart, or make something myself. It’s not a huge deal, but it would be nice to have.


-- To do is to be

View Chris 's profile


1880 posts in 5483 days

#8 posted 04-06-2012 07:11 PM

I understand…. I have the 3520b and would like to be able to move the tailstock out of the way easily.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Sanity's profile


176 posts in 4182 days

#9 posted 04-15-2012 05:07 PM

Congratulations, that is one serious lathe. I can’t imagine that you will ever need to upgrade again…....! The only thing I would like with something that big is a knee bar switch.

I am currently thinking about upgrading from my Delta midi to the 3520b. I am trying to see what price I can negotiate.

-- Stuart

View Swindlehurstguy's profile


10 posts in 3408 days

#10 posted 02-26-2013 07:59 PM

That is a great piece of hardware, I had a Wadkin RS pattern makers lathe. (1600 lbs) which I sold in a moment of insanity, but somehow, I’m inclined to prefer the Powermatic, my dream machine for one day… Yup, I’m all envy here, Godzilla is a beast, you are really fortunate to have such a nice machine. It will give years and years of great service no doubt.
Regards and great turning

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4358 days

#11 posted 02-26-2013 08:51 PM

I’m just getting into turning and I sure would like to have one like that for my new shop. I’ve done enough turning now to know that I will like it. However, I’ve read a lot of cases about how people end up going through 3 or 4 lathes before they get to the one they end up with. I probably won’t get one like that but I sure would like to. Thanks for the review. It’s a beautiful machine and I like PM.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View ldl's profile


1135 posts in 3857 days

#12 posted 02-27-2013 01:43 PM

Jon I have the 3520B and love it. If I could have found one like that I’d a jumped on it like a duck on a June bug for sure. I know they make a bracket to remove the tailstock but with a Son and brother that welds I will make my on as soon as I have room for it. That would be an option for you if you weld or know someonr that does. I also have seen several places where the owner built their own bed extentions.

Congratulations on a great lathe find and I know you will enjoy this for years to come.

-- Dewayne in Bainbridge, Ga. - - No one can make you mad. Only you decide when you get mad - -

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