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Laguna 1836, 2436, or PM3520C Lathe

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Forum topic by crb posted 04-05-2018 12:45 PM 2389 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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crb

32 posts in 832 days


04-05-2018 12:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe turning question

I am looking for a new lathe but am unsure which way to go. I started by ordering a Laguna 1836 – it seems to have great reviews and looks like a lot of lathe for the dollar. The local Woodcraft had one and the instructor used it during a class I took and it looked like a solid machine. After ordering my 1836 which was on back order I woke up the next morning telling myself that I’d be kicking myself in the future for not going with the 2436. If I ever bogged down the motor motor or needed more room for doing larger blanks I wouldn’t care about the extra money I had spent years ago. Just ask my tablesaw – never have I regretted buying a larger or better tool. So I canceled the 1836, plopped another $1200 on the credit card, and ordered the 2436 during last month’s 10% Laguna sale. The problem is of course the 2436 doesn’t have a lot of reviews, so I started thinking about the Powermatic 3520C (Craft Supplies is loving my phone calls). Carl Ford did a rundown of his new 3520C and his only complaint was the banjo. The PM is another $1200 which buys lots of shop goodies.

What do I want to turn? I enjoy using lumber that I can save from the landfill for projects (lawn trees). I have come across some good sized bowl blanks. Also – the normal stuff a smaller lathe can handle: handles, knobs, spindle work, etc. I am not a professional turner or anything and I still like building stuff with corners – this will only get a few hours of week use.

So what is my question – what does the PM3520C get me for another ~$1200? With the PM you’re paying for the mustard color, but what else? They are both Taiwanese machines probably from the same factory, but different castings. PM has the customer service reputation while Laguna does not, but I have heard Laguna CS is improving. I do have a Laguna bandsaw and contacted them a few times in the past year and received the help I needed.

My list of differences:
Warranty
3520C: 5 yr 2436:1 yr
Motor
3520C: 2 HP 2436: 3HP
Swing:
3520C: 20” 2436: 24
Weight:
3520C: 746 lbs 2436: 530 lbs
RPM:
3520C: 15-3200 2436: 50-3500
Can the 3520C really turn a 30lb blank at 15 RPM?
Ways:
3520C: cast iron 2436: steel
Headstock Bearings (same series):
3520C: 3 2436: 2
Indexing wheel rings
3520C: 1 2436: 3

As far as accessories I do like the Laguna’s bed extension vs the PM. The Laguna lamps are also very nice, but spendy. I did not order either accessory, only the comparator pins. Laguna wheels are also very nice but super spendy, at half their cost I would consider them. I do not need the riser blocks on the PM as I am 5’9”.

PM probably has the Laguna on resale value unless the Laguna ends up being classic, which I am not counting on. I, however am looking for a “forever” lathe. So my question is – is the PM worth an additional $1200? On paper I don’t think it is, but maybe it will be in 10 years? I know it is possible the PM may go on sale in the next year but that isn’t a guarantee and I am tired of tripping over blanks in my garage.

My issue is the 3520C and 2436 are so new I haven’t seen one in person and the local PM dealer doesn’t have any floor 3520C models. One of the youtube 2436 reviews looks like it was done by Laguna, but there are a few other less partial videos around. Even harder to find 3520c reviews. Has anyone turned on one or both of these machines? Is the PM worth yet another $1200?

-- Tighten it until it breaks, then back off a quarter turn!


7 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5655 posts in 4086 days


#1 posted 04-05-2018 01:18 PM

I went through the same process a month ago … after all things considered, I landed on the Powermatic.

I had a Nova DVR 2024 that was a good machine, but fairly light in weight … even with added ballast on a shelf, I could still make it dance with a slightly off-balance blank. I added a shelf with a a couple of sand tubes to the PM3520C … total weight now is 850+ pounds.

I have a small shop, and IMHO, the Laguna wheel set looks like a real trip hazard. I opted for PM’s swing-away tailstock, which is a real godsend.

The PM warranty is much better than Laguna’s, and I also have some reservations about Laguna’s customer service. I understand it has improved in recent years, but a recent episode centering on my Laguna cyclone gives me pause.

I will admit to a bit of bias for the Powermatic … I am a part-time instructor at a school that has 8 PM3520B’s in the turning lab, so I have had about 6 years of experience with them. In another thread, LJ Jerry (in Tucson) said that the PM is essentially a one-time purchase. I agree with him.

I ordered my lathe March 15, the last day for a terrific deal through Craft Supplies USA … free shipping and a $480 in gift cards plus $150 in frequent buyer points.

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

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

1292 posts in 1331 days


#2 posted 04-05-2018 01:29 PM

You’ve broken down the differences pretty well, IMO. Here’s what stands out for me (full disclosure: I don’t own a lathe nor have I used either of the two you’re considering).

The warranty, motor size, swing and mass are pretty significant differences. Those four things divided by $1,200 equals $300 per advantage. When buying a “forever” machine, over the course of 10 years, that’s a total of $30 each per year, for advantages you’re likely to appreciate every time you use the machine.

Resale value of the PM, if there’s ever a need for it, is nothing to sneeze at.

You’ve got the money? You won’t miss a mortgage payment? It’s okay with the wife either way? Get the damn PowerMatic. No regrets!

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View crb's profile

crb

32 posts in 832 days


#3 posted 04-05-2018 02:22 PM


I will admit to a bit of bias for the Powermatic … I am a part-time instructor at a school that has 8 PM3520B s in the turning lab
- TheDane

Have you had any problems with the 3250B’s? I presume they get a good work out if it is a school?


Get the damn PowerMatic. No regrets!
-Ripper70

Money matters I think in this case less than longevity. Looks like the 3250B was sold for 10 years.

Thank you guys for the feedback, now leaning more toward the PM…

-- Tighten it until it breaks, then back off a quarter turn!

View JollyGreen67's profile

JollyGreen67

1676 posts in 3185 days


#4 posted 04-05-2018 06:21 PM

If I had to do again it will be the PM3250.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5655 posts in 4086 days


#5 posted 04-05-2018 06:33 PM

Have you had any problems with the 3250B’s? I presume they get a good work out if it is a school?

Students beat the crap out of them … but never a problem beyond ordinary wear and tear in the 7+ years they have been in operation.

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

View crb's profile

crb

32 posts in 832 days


#6 posted 04-10-2018 06:45 PM

Well, for some (temporary) closure I canceled the Laguna 2436 last week and I am going to wait for AAW and see if Powermatic does a promotion in June. Always have that thought in the back of my mind about the extra swing and HP on the Laguna vs the quality and weight of the PM. Then again the tailstock riser on the Laguna might come in handy, too. PM doesn’t offer that on their 20” extension. Decisions, decisions…

-- Tighten it until it breaks, then back off a quarter turn!

View mborosch's profile

mborosch

6 posts in 468 days


#7 posted 04-11-2018 02:20 PM

I bought the Laguna 1836 and it’s a great lathe for the price. I’m happy with my decision.

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