In-Depth Review: Nova 46301 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Bundle

Summary

Nova 46301 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Bundle
90 %
Review

The Nova 46301 Comet II Mini Lathe compares favorably to many of its competitors, with specs comparable to those that are cheaper or slightly more expensive than this machine. The unit is only smaller by a few inches compared to other min lathes and it can even be lighter than some of them. Most importantly, it really performs at peak 4,000 RPM or even its low 250 RPM for big work pieces or stock, lending credence to its versatility when all is said and done.

From the results, reliability and the joy I got from using this, I highly recommend purchasing it (check here for the lowest price) if you are planning your next woodworking project.

We Like

  • Nova 46301 Comet II has a ¾-HP motor that can vary its speed from 250 RPM to 4,000 RPM, making it one of the fastest and most powerful mini lathes available that isn't a metal mini lathe.
  • The machine's slowest speed is ideal for dealing with larger detailing projects with big stock or work pieces.
  • You can use a bed extension accessory to expand the swing capacity to 41.5 inches. The normal swing capacity is 12 inches and the between center capacity is 16.5 inches.
  • You're given the ultimate amount of flexibility to make any piece of wood into a thimble or bed post.

We Don't Like

  • Issues include the tailstock quill threads binding up, adjustable feet that are barely used, the location of the switch for varying speed, and belt slippage.

Introduction

A mini or micro lathe like this keeps you from crumbling a soft-material work piece into dust or allows you to penetrate to smallish yet dense stock from hardwoods or hard metals. These lathes are regularly seen in places like workshops for woodworking and metalworking. Any work piece that's too small to knurl, sand, drill, cut, and grind into smaller pieces by a hand tool or tabletop tool can be rotated via a micro lathe to shape or manipulate it any way you want.

You typically use a chisel or a drill on the spinning work piece as it spins in order to properly shape it. It's like a potter's wheel, except this time instead of mud that you're supposed to form into a wet pot that you dry in hardness you can instead carve up a work piece as it spins on its axis care of your lathe.  Lathe rotation keeps you from wearing down drill bits, blades, and chisels since it's the work piece that's being worn down more and is directly connected to the unit's powerful motor.

Who Is It For?

Mini lathes are used mainly by woodworkers unless you get a metalwork mini lathe instead with a decent to high top speed (up to 20,000 RPM in some units or 4,000 RPM on average). There are also lathes that can cater to both metalworkers and woodworkers thanks to their speed range (slower RPMs are best used for woodworking and faster ones do well with metal materials). This micro lathe or miniaturized lathe also gets loads of uses from machinists, wood sculptors, carpenters, factory maintenance, mechanics, and construction workers.

It's also used in fine-detail machine part repair or manufacturing, astronomy, microscopy, model railroading, and RC model racing. Both professionals and dedicated hobbyists make extensive use of this device that most of the masses don't even know exists. It's mainly utilized for the sake of doing detail work on small work pieces that you can't accurately cut with a bench top, tabletop, or handheld rotary tool any longer, necessitating a device that spins the stock itself instead of a drill bit, saw, or chisel. You can specifically do grinding, drilling, deforming, knurling, sanding, and cutting with a mini lathe or rotational device for work pieces.

Buyer's Guide

What Benefits Should This Mini Lathe Have?

Here are the benefits that a mini lathe should have.

  • All-Purpose Applications

As mentioned above, your average mini lathe should be capable of doubling as a grinder, saw, cutter, drill, sander, and the like even though it rotates the work piece itself rather than putting a rotating tool bit on the surface of a work piece. There are micro lathes that are superior at, for example, cutting or grinding than all the other applications. Choose in accordance to your needs.

  • Specializing in Woodworking

A mini lathe should specifically specialize in grinding, drilling, deforming, knurling, sanding, and cutting small work pieces with the right amount of speed and RPM to avoid the downsides mentioned above. They can also include various accessories and attachments that help you to further manipulate a given work piece in every way possible. It should be able to do detailing work in low RPM settings and cut through the smallest and densest of hardwoods at its highest RPM setting.

  • Hard Metal Machining

You can use a metalworking mini lathe in order to shape solids, plane surfaces, and screw helices or threads. A metal micro lathe can't work with a wooden work piece because its high RPM could cause it to burn, break, splinter, or crumble unlike in the case of metal or some other similarly hard surface. It's a unit that should take into account the high melting point and malleability of metal. A mini lathe is useful for breaking metal work pieces so small they're otherwise indestructible.

Things to Consider When Buying a Mini Lathe

Here are the things you should leave into consideration when buying a mini lathe.

  • Ensure Cost-Effectiveness

For some, it's more practical to buy a $400-$500 mini lathe with only the slightest discrepancies in terms of specs compared to something that costs $1,000 or more. For others, they'd rather not take the chance and get the best micro lathe that money can buy for $1,450 to $1,460 in order to get that 4,000 RPM average. Still others might view a small $200 to $250 mini lathe a steal thanks to its high 20,000 RPM setting for metalworking.

  • Extra Accessories versus Bare-Tool

You can either avail of a bare-tool or tool-only product featuring just the mini lathe itself or get everything complete with trimmings because you can't be bothered with hunting for useful accessories that are sold separately. These extra accessories include the tool holder, adjustment wrench, spindle lock assembly, live center, spur center, knockout bars, and much more.

  • Know the Potential Uses of the Lathe

By default and by nature, all mini lathes that are worth their salt can be used for different purposes. They're naturally multipurpose pieces of equipment. However, in turn, some types or classes of micro lathe are better at certain applications than others. Be aware of what you're going to use the machine for (like making a brass lamp or machining a spare part for your RC racecar) to narrow down the best possible mini lathe for you.

Product Details

Nova 46301 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Bundle

Description

The Nova 46301 Comet II Mini Lathe is a lathe that comes with a ¾-HP motor, variable speed ranging from 250 to 4,000 RPM, and the Nova G3 COMET II Reversible Chuck for better lathe action that's precise and controllable. Other lathes may have 1-HP motors, but they're usually more expensive and lack the quality control guarantees that the Comet II has (which allowed it to get high Amazon.com ratings in the first place).

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 33 x 9 x 18 inches
  • Item Weight: 81 pounds
  • Top Speed: 4,000 RPM
  • Horsepower: ¾ HP
  • Power Source: Corded electric

Features & Benefits

  • Best Technical Specs

Few mini lathes can match this unit's variable speed range of 250 RPM to 4,000 RPM on a ¾-HP electric motor, and even those that can go up to 20,000 RPM tend to have vibration issues due to their size-to-power discrepancy.

  • Swing and Center Capacity

You're able to turn various woodworking projects thanks to the 12-inch swing capacity of this device over its bed, which you can expand to 41 inches through an extension. Meanwhile, the center capacity is 16.5 inches for good measure.

  • Versatility and Ease of Use

The Nova Comet II also scores high in terms of versatility thanks to its myriad of features and extras, its inherent specifications that fall within the standards of a topnotch mini lathe, and its ability to turn work pieces such as bowls.

  • Ruggedness

This unit is known to be rugged and stable compared to larger machines with more moving parts. It's built to last in light of all the metal used on it to ensure survival even when faced with heavy-duty usage.

Pros

  • The Nova 46301 Comet II features an industry-standard 4,000 RPM top speed that can go as low as 250 RPM to handle turning bigger work pieces as well.
  • It weighs 81 pounds and has a decent lengthy size, which means it's one of the lightest mini lathes around without sacrificing stability for the sake of mobility.
  • There's quite a lot of torque behind its quick rotations thanks to its ¾-HP motor.
  • Saves you space with its size dimensions and inherent portability.
  • Your finish is assured topnotch thanks to the forward and reverse switch.

Cons

  • Some units arrive with damage to the bed and won't turn on.
  • Other units last only two months and have issues in terms of belt slippage and the binding of tailstock quill threads.

Alternative Choices

Here are the alternatives you have to the Nova 46301 Comet II Mini Lathe.

1) PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe

The RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe is a few inches bigger than the Nova 46301 Comet II, but it's definitely outdone in terms of top speed (3,900 RPM versus 4,000 RPM), being lightweight (91.4 pounds versus 81 pounds), which implies more people were satisfied by the Nova 46301 and had fewer returns of purchase due to quality control faults.

What's more, the 70-100 has a weaker ½-HP motor so you have less torque to go with the slower 3,900 RPM. However, when all is said and done, there are still people who are willing to buy the RIKON 70-100 over the Nova 46301 Comet II because of the price.

2) RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe 

Regarding the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Mini Lathe, it's many inches bigger than the Nova 46301 Mini Lathe dimension-wise (40 inches versus 33 inches, for example). The PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS also outdoes its Nova counterpart in terms of its top speed of 4,100 RPM (but not by much, since the Comet II has a 4,000 RPM top speed). However, the TCLC10VS has a wider speed range than the 46301 and even has its own guide light to boot.

To be more specific, the Comet II goes from 250 RPM to 4,000 RPM while the PSI Woodworking Mini Lathe goes from 150 RPM to 4,100 RPM. The point goes to the PSI lathe in that regard. Even in terms of pricing, the TCLC10VS comes out as the winner versus Nova 46301 Mini Lathe. Why spend more on the Nova when you can get so much more with the PSI? 

3) Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe Variable Speed

The Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe has less-than-impressive specs compared to the previous two. It has a comparable size to the Nova 46301 Mini Lathe but its heavier than the Nova at 92 pounds (it's slightly heavier than the Rikon lathe too). It falls behind in terms of top speed as well, mustering only 2,500 RPM as a maximum setting (same as the Grizzly G8688).

However, the Mophorn shares the same rating as the Nova 46301 Comet II, but with one caveat. Only five people have reviewed this lathe, so take their opinions with a grain of salt and be aware that overenthusiastic reviews by a small group of people don't reveal as much as a high or low rating from at least dozens of customers. The sampling in this case is too small.

4) Signswise High Quality Motorized Mini Metal Working Lathe Machine 

The Signswise Mini Lathe Machine is an unusual lathe that's on a different class of lathe as the Nova 46301 Comet II. While the Nova and even the PSI mini lathes are probably capable of turning metal work pieces, the Signswise Mini Lathe is more up to the task because it's specifically made to deal with metals, as evidenced by its significantly high 20,000 RPM.

On the other hand, the Signwise unit is also significantly smaller and lighter than the Nova 46301 Mini Lathe or any of the other alternative lathe machines on this list. It only weighs 7.2 pounds and has literally less than half the size of the other, bigger mini lathes. It might be more prone to shaking and instability thanks to this fact, but it's affordably priced.

5) Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 x 12-Inch

Last but not least is the Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe. It's honestly more of a Teddy Bear than a Grizzly Bear with its 2,500 RPM top speed (which is comparable to the Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe). Its size is more or less the same as all the rest of the mini lathes on this list with the exception of the Signswise Mini Metal Working Lathe (which is the smallest mini lathe of the alternative lathes in discussion but offers the fastest rotational speed of 20,000 RPM).

The unit weighs about 89.2 pounds, which is also about average for the rest of the mini lathes on this list save again for the Signswise Metal Lathe, which appears to be in a different class of lathe altogether.

Alternative Choices Comparison Table

Alternative Choices

Our Rating

Price

PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe

RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe 

Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe Variable Speed

Signswise High Quality Motorized Mini Metal Working Lathe Machine 

Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 x 12-Inch

The Final Cut

The Comet II 46300 from Nova is an updated version of a previous best-seller of a mini lathe that improves upon all of its major selling points. It's a relatively affordable lathe for its size and anything less affordable than its price tend to have inferior specs, a lower speed cap, 10 pounds or so heavier, and the like. The extra payment guarantees you have a better product when all is said and done. Essentially, it's like the Nova Comet II is what you get when you combine the PSI's top specs and the lower specs of RIKON 70-100. It's like the medium Coke to their small and large Coke, in other words.

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