So pleased with the VB lathe!

23 January 2012, Woodturning in practice, Would you like to leave a comment?

It’s been six months since I splashed out on a new VB36 lathe and have nothing but praise for its performance. Interestingly however, this was the first machine I used when I started turning and I’ve wanted one ever since. Over the past six years I have used a variety of machines, but nothing compares to the power and solidity of the VB.

Financially, they are a good investment too and will last a lifetime. Just recently, a ten year old model was sold locally for only a grand less than I paid for mine new. The bearings hold a ten year guarantee, but correct maintenance could allow them to last almost indefinitely. This is the only machine I’ve owned, in which I’ve had utter confidence in and will probably never discover its limitations.

It is however, designed for turning large bowls and platters and would not be the right choice if used primarily for turning spindles. My version has the short bed tailstock and whilst this is a big improvement for bowl turners, it has limitations when used for spindle work. For this reason, I still intend to keep my old 1940’s Dominion for the spindle turning jobs I get from time to time (it is for sale though, if anyone wants it!)

I’ve used the VB for a variety of pieces from small tea light holders to huge off centre hollowed burrs. It is when turning the bigger pieces that its design is a real advantage. The main shaft bearings consist of an inner and outer sleeve, which are precision machined to an almost exact fit inside each other. In fact only a few drops of oil cover the entire bearing surface. The tolerance is so fine, that no metal to metal contact will ever occur. This translates to reduced vibration – a huge advantage when finishing the rim of a large fruit bowl for example. Any vibration would result in a rougher cut and more time sanding to make amends.

The tool rest beam is rock solid and passes through a big gap in the centre of the lathe. This enables unlimited adjustment and scope for tackling all sizes of project without the use of any accessories. It is easily clamped and can actually reach the other side of a bowl if you wish to turn in reverse!

So far, so good and absolutely no regrets with my choice. I don’t think I could ever own a different lathe and my hat goes off to its designers – buy British and you won’t be disappointed!

VB36 lathe toolrest

Toolrest and beam assembly

Jonathan Leech

Written by Jonathan Leech

Jonathan Leech is a woodturner working and living in Cumbria. He specialises in making bowls, dishes and platters from local sustainably sourced timber. Read more or about Jonathan or see a selection of his work.

Your comments

  1. Gravatar of Glyn evans
    Glyn evans7 May 2012 14:13

    Hi Jonathan, that's a tidy bit of wood you'r turning there mate.
    I've recently taken to carving bowls and hopefully turn some soon, i have a huge quantity of different wood, spalted and oak-burr roots, black bog-oak etc.. many bits for sale, if your interested. pics available if your wanting to view.

  2. Gravatar of Jonathan Leech
    Jonathan Leech9 May 2012 20:55

    Hi Glyn, I'm always looking for new and interesting pieces of timber - if you can send me some photo's, that would be great. If you have any burr elm that would be very useful. Where abouts are you based?
    Best wishes

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