The difference between the 5-speed and variable speed:
- The larger the diameter of the piece you are turning, the greater the velocity of its outer edge. Big wood must spin slow, small wood must spin fast.
- No way can you turn a 12” bowl at the same rpm as you would turn a pen, so changing speeds is an absolute necessity.
- 5-speed lathes usually accomplish this by using stepped pulleys. Every time you want to change speeds you must stop and move the drive belt.
- Variable speed control allows you to change speeds with a lot less time and effort.
- If you only turn pens; then a 5-speed machine will do fine, and save some money.
- If you want to do a wide range of stuff, including bowls, you need a variable speed machine.