Oliver Milne from Forge Creative joins us to review the Axminster Trade AT406WL Woodturning Lathe. From their first impressions to giving us a run through of their favourite features. Oliver tells us more about what they like most about the lathe and why it’s ideal for the work they do.
About Forge Creative
Featuring on BBC’s Money for Nothing, Forge Creative is the partnership of designer-makers Josh Kennard and Oliver Milne. Founded in 2013 with an ambition to put their creative skills to something meaningful; Oliver and Josh combine traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design to create beautifully unique items that can be enjoyed for generations.
Forging a friendship with Trade
First impressions of the lathe
We were impressed with the Axminster Trade AT406WL Woodturning Lathe straight out of the box. Looks aren’t as important as functionality but it’s great when you can have both, and this thing really looks great. We really like the understated and sophisticated grey colour.
The lathe comes well packed, with some wooden support so you can feel confident it will be delivered without being damaged on the way. As we unboxed the lathe and bolted the cast legs onto the bed, you could straight away feel how solidly built this machine was.
…perfect for our requirements.
The reason for purchasing this lathe is that we were looking for a second lathe to go alongside our trusty old Jet 1642 and wanted something of a similar spec. We were looking for a machine that would be mostly used to make our small wooden Tree ornaments with the occasional use for larger items like stool tops, bowls, and vases. The Axminster Trade AT406WL seemed perfect for our requirements. We mostly turn smaller items but power is still key as we work quite fast and need something that can handle our slightly aggressive woodturning style. We will also be putting the lathe through its paces day in day out so we need something strong, industrial and reliable.
Need for speed
Like excited kids with a new toy, we didn’t waste much time in getting this thing plugged in and running. The first thing we noticed is the incredible speed that it runs at. When we are working on smaller items we can take advantage of this and remove a lot of material very quickly. It’s also great when it comes to working on details as you can skew, texture, sand and part quickly. For us, speed is important when making a lot of small items – you can’t afford to get slowed down. Even just the positive impact of feeling like you’re working faster makes a difference.
Capable and versatile
An additional great feature of this lathe is that it’s a solid, heavy machine. Obviously, if you are looking to turn a lot of heavy lumps of unbalanced timber you may want to consider a more heavy duty machine but this lathe is very capable. The motor feels really powerful and the bed and legs feel solid enough to take some mid sized lumps. Switch the belt down to the slower setting (more torque) and you can turn a bowl up to 400mm in diameter over the bed. Or pivot the motor and shuffle the tool rest around and turn something bigger off the side of the bed. When it comes to sanding your bowls it’s a joy to be able to pivot the headstock to a more convenient position.>
…turn bowls of up to 400mm in diameter over the bed”
Another piece we frequently make is table legs. The AT406WL is reasonably compact and between centres you only have 710mm. However, the optional bed extension gives you the capacity to turn longer spindles. Not only are you able to turn lengths of 1170mm but you’re also able to turn bowls of up to 860mm in diameter.
Ease of use
One of our favourite features of this lathe is the moveable control panel. Being able to place this where ever feels most comfortable is such a nice touch. As well as just making working at the lathe enjoyable, it could also be seen as a safety feature or something to help you work more efficiently. When working on something a little bit scary then it’s great to be able to place a kill switch in a position that you can get to as quickly and easily as possible.
the ease of movement makes me that little bit more efficient.
If you are like us and you find yourselves turning a lot of small items a day anything that helps you to work a little faster is valuable. When turning our small Trees I like to place the switch on top of the motor. Or just behind the lathe on the left side. Once I finish sanding I can hit the off button with my left hand while reaching for the friction polish with my right. I know it’s only a matter of a few seconds but just the ease of movement makes me that little bit more efficient.
My final comment about the lathe is that the overall quality is great. It’s something that is difficult to see looking at a photo of a product online but I can confirm the machine is well made and you can feel the quality when using the machine.
The power, design and build quality of this lathe makes it a joy to work on, whether you are woodturning as a hobby or a profession you will quickly feel at home on this machine.
If you need help or advice on Axminster Trade AT406WL Woodturning Lathe, get in touch with one of our Axminster Experts. Simply pop into your local Axminster store and chat with our experienced sales advisors, or call our dedicated Customer Services team for advice. Alternatively, talk to us through our Online Chat function on our main website. As always, you can get in touch and ask questions via any of our social media platforms. We are here to help you!
If you’ve enjoyed reading Oliver’s review of our Axminster Trade lathe, why not take a look at Max’s review of the AT305WL Woodturning Lathe. Or, if you’re a keen bowl turner and looking to make the most of you time, wood and money then find out more about Woodcut’s unique Bowlsaver.