Laguna Revo 18|36 Lathe: Product Review

Laguna

Laguna recently introduced a new lathe to its product line: the Revo 18|36. This tool features a 2HP motor, variable speed control, and lots of neat features for both bowl and spindle work. Paul Mayer has put this lathe through its paces with many hours spent on a variety of turning projects, and shares his perspectives in this in-depth review. Here are his observations.

VFD

Power and speed control

One of the most noteworthy attributes of this tool is its power delivery: quiet, smooth running motor and variable speed control. This is a high quality, sophisticated system that accepts single phase 220V power in, and converts it to three phase power using a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) before delivering it to the 2 HP motor. How does this benefit the user? Three phase power provides a noticeably smoother running system across a range of speeds by controlling the power level at the motor itself, without requiring belt changes for each speed adjustment. On a lathe it is important to maintain smooth transitions from low to high speed, and steady operation with plenty of torque at any selected speed so that you can impart a chatter-free sheer on your work piece.

The 18|36 provides infinitely variable speed within each of two ranges. There is a simple belt change to go from low range (50 – 1300 RPM) to high range (135 – 3500 RPM). Within each power range, the speed is infinitely variable with intuitive dial control. For me, low range is for bowls and most other projects, and I can easily work within the 50 – 1300 RPM range without any need for a belt change. I can also do most of my spindle work within that range, but for turners who like to crank up the speed for spindles, a belt change takes less than a minute and the 18|36 is ready for high speed action. I turned a few spindle pieces with the lathe configured in high range, and it performed impressively, with smooth acceleration and great stability at any RPM.

The sophisticated power delivery system also senses resistance, and compensates by delivering more power as needed to maintain the desired RPM level. I found this to be particularly helpful when operating in the lower speed range while roughing out large bowls. When a large green bowl blank is first mounted, it is critical to maintain a slow RPM (I prefer 200 – 350 RPM for a bowl in the 14” – 16” range) so that blank can be safely rounded and brought into balance. When operating in this slow speed range, the 18|36 stands out in its ability to maintain speed and avoid stalls. As a result, I found I could get a blank round more quickly, and then dial up the RPM to an appropriate speed for shaping operations without stopping the machine. For those of us who have had to disrupt our turning to swap belts for every speed change on the lathe, and struggled to find that “just right for Goldilocks” RPM, the 18|36 comes equipped to delight.

control panel

User-friendly control panel

The anodized aluminum control panel is positioned at an ideal height as well as a convenient angle for easy access and viewing of the large format digital RPM readout. Buttons and dials are large, intuitively colored, and provide smooth operation. A large digital display indicates the actual spindle speed with real-time updates. I get the distinct sense that Laguna did their homework here, and anyone who spends a lot of hours in front of a lathe will appreciate the thoughtful ergonomics of this design.

Convenient reverse setting

Having a reverse capability on a lathe comes in handy for sanding projects. Simply flip the switch to change directions, and now you can safely apply sandpaper to the top of the spinning object for better control and visibility, and direct sanding dust right down the gullet of your dust capture system.

steel bed

Stout frame

The bed on the 18|36 is steel construction, rather than cast iron, which brings stability to the design. Its surface is polished smooth so that the banjo travels on it with low-friction ease. The lathe sits on a pair of massive cast iron legs that absorb vibration and provide great stability when turning large bowls.

on board storage

Ample on-board storage

Convenient on-board storage is included to help you keep track of the accessories that you will commonly use.

tool rest

Impressive Standard tool rest

The standard tool rest that comes with the 18|36 stands out in its class as a solid performing, durable component. The 6mm spring steel tip provides a solid, ergonomic balance point for controlling chisels during turning operations. To me, this essentially means that I won’t have to upgrade to an after-market tool rest as this one should serve me well for decades. Another great detail lies in the mechanism that locks the tool rest into position. The lever locks a collar that wraps around the entire perimeter of the tool rest post, applying even pressure that won’t mar the post’s surface or alter its ability to slide, and holds it solidly under considerable pressure.

cone shaped headstock

Cone shaped headstock

The conical shape of the headstock on the 18|36 extends the work piece outward and while tapering back, providing the user with better access to bowl bottoms without removing the work piece from the lathe. This is not only beneficial with using chisels, but provides great access during sanding as well.

tailstock

Live Center and Tailstock

I found the standard live center to be robust and effective at holding large work pieces steady during some aggressive turning. Even when turning a spindle that spanned the entire 56” capacity (36” plus the optional 20” extension), the rotation remained smooth and steady. The tailstock is substantial, providing smooth adjustability, and the tailstock quill has an ample 4-1/2” travel with a solid locking mechanism. The quill also has some nice details like laser etched measurements that won’t fade through years of use, and a brass tipped locking mechanism that won’t mar the quill as it locks it into position.

Ergonomics

Overall ergonomics, adjustability

The 18|36 is a thoughtfully designed machine in many respects. All of the adjustment levers are large with padded grip areas, and they lock down easily and securely. Users will also appreciate the positioning of the locking mechanisms for both headstock and tailstock which are located on the rear of the machine so as to not interfere with chisel placement during turning operations. The banjo and tailstock are easy to re-position, sliding smoothly on the polished steel bed. The spindle size is 1-1/4” x 8TPI, which is appropriately beefy for a lathe in this class. This machine also includes a neat mechanism to adjust the tailstock if it is not in perfect alignment with the headstock when you receive your machine. Mine was spot-on so I did not have to use this feature.

indexing system

Indexing

For those who turn fluted columns, the 18|36 provides a mechanism to lock the spindle in fixed increments around the perimeter of the work piece. This feature offers the flexibility to set up for 14, 36 or 48 stops around a rotation, with positive stops at each location for setup consistency.

Some Nice Options Available

Halogen Lights

halogen light

What a difference it makes to have task lighting right where you need it when you are turning. Having two high quality halogen lights mounted directly to the lathe ensures that you are always working under ideal lighting conditions, and the articulating mounting arms allow you to easily position the lights appropriately based upon the project at hand. On bowl projects I liked positioning one light to project on the outside and one on the inside of the bowl. On longer spindles it was nice to have one light on each end of the spindle.

bed extension

Bed Extension

The 18|36 functions well on both bowl and spindle work, and the optional bed extension brings additional capacity for both types of work. The extension adds a full 20” of additional length capacity for spindle work, and the step-down design provides bowl turners an additional 7” of clearance between the spindle and the bed which allows for turning of bowls up to 32”. The bed extension also comes with a tool rest height extension to enable placement of the banjo and tool rest on the bed extension which is 7” lower than the bed itself. While I did not turn any bowls with nearly a 32” radius, I did turn a few that were in the 16”-18” range, and had to run the lathe at a low RPM to minimize vibration. That is a large spinning mass of wet timber, and pushes the boundaries of a 500 pound machine. If I were to load up a 32” blank on this machine, I would first build a shelf that spanned the two legs and load it up with 100 pounds of sandbags to further stabilize the machine before powering it up.

mobile base

“Major League” Mobile Base

The 18|36 is a massive machine, so if you have a small shop like mine, you need the ability to move it around the shop. This impressive mobile base provides large wheels on each corner of the machine, and nicely balanced dual gas struts make raising and lowering a smooth experience. With the large urethane wheels engaged I can easily jockey the machine around my shop with one hand.

Conclusions

This lathe is an absolute overachiever in its price range. One additional feature that I’d like to see on a lathe with this much power is an automatic safety brake that stops the machine when it meets a certain resistance threshold, but this limitation is adequately overcome by having a large, highly visible off switch that is easy to reach. Another minor nit is that I’d like to see the tool rest sit slightly lower. It currently sits just a hair below spindle center, and there are situations where I’d like to have a lower point of leverage. I mentioned this to a Laguna representative who indicated that others users have mentioned it as well and they are planning to offer a lower mount for the tool rest within a few months to address this issue. In the meantime this is not critical to me; just a “nice to have” item when it becomes available.

Overall I think this machine is a winner. Laguna has clearly done their homework, and they seem to be making a statement that they want to be a serious contender in the lathe market. The 18|36 stands out in its class in terms of performance, control, superb attention to detail and ergonomics. Given its robust stature and refined capabilities, the machine seems modestly priced at $2,499.

Source:

Laguna Tools
www.lagunatools.com
800.234.1976

Revo 18|36 Lathe – $2,499
20” Bed Extension – $499
Halogen Lights – $149 ea.
Deluxe Wheel System – $499

Discussion
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26 Responses to “Laguna Revo 18|36 Lathe: Product Review”
    • WWGOA Team

      Hello and thank you for your inquiry. We do not have this information available but you should be able to obtain it easily by contacting Laguna directly using the following information.

      Lagunatools.com

      800-234-1976

      Reply
    • WWGOA Team

      Thanks for your question. Unfortunately I do not know. You might have to contact Laguna directly with your question, at 800-234-1976.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Todd. Indexing is the ability to lock the lathe position at a fixed number of locations around the rotation (while the lathe is turned off) to perform operations on the piece such as fluting. The numbers 14, 36, and 48 represent the number of stopping points at each one of the settings. For example, if you set it to 14, the lathe will stop at 14 even points around a single rotation of the spindle.

      Reply
  1. Dennis monroe

    I don’t understand about the indexing system on this can you still run machine when indexing or what is it used for

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Dennis. The indexing system is used to perform tasks while the lathe is stopped. A couple common uses for this would be to route fluting on a column in consistent intervals, or piercing where a series of holes or carvings are applied to objects such as bowls or plates.

      Reply
  2. Patrick O'Lynch

    Need direction for the VFD controls on my new lathe (revo 18/36). What to do with “run, stop, and dial for min and max? This appears to be all and more than expected!! See nothing in supplied manual.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Patrick. I treat the VFD as a black box. I haven’t done anything with it to this day. I don’t think you should do anything with it, which is probably why it’s not covered in the manual.

      Reply
  3. charles

    hello, is the banjo long an of to turn the out side of a32 inch bowl on the extension bed?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Charles. I haven’t tried anything close to this size, so I’d suggest contacting Laguna with this question.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Patrick. You shouldn’t have to do anything directly with the VFD. I have used this lathe for over a year now and haven’t touched it.

      Reply
  4. Robert Leri

    Got an 18/36. Tried turning an off center piece and the lathe did a ‘walk-about’. Any suggestions on weighting the lathe down? Cross timbers on the legs and sand bags?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Robert. Yes, you are spot on. There is a slot on the base that is designed to hold a plank that will span between the two members of the base. You can pile sand bags on top of that timber, and add quite a bit of weight that way.
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply
  5. Tim Hendrix

    I have been reading some reviews about poor service and a possible short life issue on the motor control unit. Can you shed some lite, I really like this lathe and am seriously considering a purchase.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      I did not have any negative product or service issues related to the 1836 at all. I no longer own the lathe as I have upgraded to a larger one.
      -Paul

      Reply
      • Tom

        Do you mind if I ask why you upgraded? 18″ with capacity to go to 32″ seems pretty big. Any issues/weaknesses/deficiencies with the lathe itself that made you upgrade?

        Reply
        • Customer Service

          Hi Tom. I never sit still for very long with my tools, so don’t take it as a sign of a bad experience with the tool. The 1836 served me extremely well, and if I had enough space for two lathes in my shop, I’d probably still have it. I have been turning a lot of 20-24″ bowls, with blanks going over 100 pounds. The 50% additional power is a great capability for turning bowls that massive. The 2436 also has a heavier frame to stabilize better when turning a huge mass. George also has the 1836 in his shop, as well as 6-7 other lathes, and I see him using the 1836 more than the others, so I think it’s fair to say that he likes it as well.
          Thanks
          Paul-WWGOA

          Reply
  6. Alfred

    I purchased the lathe 18 months past. From my view, it has the weight required, comfortable and simple controls, power and design that make it more joyful, safe and complete than my former lathe. I considered several models in comparison and decided Laguna had the right machine for me. I have no regrets. My last project turned 80 pounds of cherry into a table pedestal 22 inches in height and 15 inches in diameter. This machine handled the task with no sign of experiencing a challenge. I recommend the lathe for anyone.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      You will need a 220 volt 15 amp circuit to run this machine. You cannot run it on 110V power, although they do offer a 110V version of the machine. I do not have any experience with that machine, so I cannot comment on the actual amperage draw.
      -Paul WWGOA

      Reply
  7. Richard Mangi

    I am redoing my 1,050 SQ. FT. woodworking shop. In the last two weeks I purchased the 2 HP cyclone dust collector and the 19/38 Supermax drum sander. I am now ready for a wood lathe and I am leaning towards the 1836. I am an experienced wood worker but lack a lot of turning experience. So if you have any suggestions on accessories to purchase with the lathe please let me know. I am mainly interested in bowl turning at this time. When assembling the other two machines I needed to talk to customer service. I never did get a call back from customer service. The second time I did get an e mail the next day which was great, but when you are in the middle of putting a machine together who wants to wait on Laguna to send an e mail. Laguna you seam to have great equipment, please step up your customer service.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Richard. Sounds like you are stepping up to some nice tools. The 1836 is an awesome lathe. Here are some of the accessories that I have for mine:
      Nova Titan Chuck. This chuck has incredible gripping power, even on massive bowls or vessels. https://amzn.to/2NDJ5l4
      Nova 130mm jaws. This holds a wide bottom bowl or platter very effectively, and works well with the Titan chuck. https://amzn.to/2zn6J25
      Hurricane bowl gouges. These are moderately priced gouges that work quite well for the price. I uses all three sizes. https://amzn.to/2NCkayb.
      Robust curved J rest. The standard tool rest on the 1836 is very well made, but getting to the bottom corner of a larger bowl can be tricky. This J rest works well with the 1836 and solves the problem. https://amzn.to/2KYJlZY. You can find a cheaper tool rest, but beware of flimsy ones. You want one that is rock solid when you are cleaning out the bottom of a bowl. Chatter is dangerous. Sharpening system. I would strongly encourage you to get into a good sharpening system right away, because bowl turning is frustrating without it. Get a slow speed grinder like this one https://amzn.to/2u642gl and a sharpening jig. I really like the wolverine system, including the varigrind jig. This kit has everything you need: https://amzn.to/2KYAck3
      Good luck!
      Thanks
      Paul-WWGOA

      Reply