The Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe is an economical, sturdy and powerful mini lathe that comes with some great features. Made from cast iron, this lathe comes with ½ HP motor.
The Rockler Excelsior comes with 17-3/4” length between the centers, which makes it an ideal choice for turning table legs as well as an array of other decorative pieces. It can turn bowls up to 10” in diameter. If you add its lathe bed extension (#32307), you will be able to turn wood pieces up to 38-1/2” in length.
With this wood lathe you have to manually change the speed, and the five available speeds are 760, 1100, 1600, 2200 and 3200 RPM. Before you start to feel that manual speed adjustment is not for you and turn to buying the variable speed wood lathe, then you should know that once you have manually changed the speed a few times, it will only take a moment to change it next time. You have to change the speed by opening the plastic door and moving the drive belt on stopped pulleys.
Rockler Excelsior Mini Lathe’s headstock and tailstock (self-extracting) have #2 Morse tapers, and these accessories are largely available on the market. The manufacturer has thrown in a knockout rod to free the headstock tooling. In addition to the 3” diameter faceplate, you get a drive spur.
If you look carefully, you will see that there is a slight error in the alignment of the spur and the live center of the tailstock and the headstock. But this error is almost invisible.
The fact that the spindle is benched on dual ball bearings makes Rockler Excelsior quiet when in operation through all the speeds. There is a chrome handwheel installed.
The product dimensions are 30”x7-3/4”x15”. Weighing about 81lbs, this one is heavier than the Shop Fox W1704, which weighs only 50.8 pounds. The cast iron bed extension adds 22” to its overall length and 19-lbs to the weight.
The Rockler Excelsior Mini Lathe is easy to set up, but before using it you must check its belt tension. You will find that even at higher speeds the vibration is much less – it will operate smoothly and turn any wood piece easily.
Overall, the Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe is a well-designed machine priced reasonably. It includes features that a beginner wood turner would need and has the capability of growing as the needs of projects grow. Ideal for turning pens, spindles and bowls up to a little over 9” diameter. There is no stand specifically made for this one.
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Standout features: wallet friendly, 17-3/4” length between the centers with option of adding more, 5-speeds, 10” swing.
Tip: If you like to do smaller projects you should buy a mini wood lathe with a higher top end speed (2400 RPM). You should look for features like ease of moving the tool rest and tailstock, ease of changing speeds and a weight of under 50 pounds if portability is an issue.