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 speed 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.


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