NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Review

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Throughout my time working with different lathes, I’ve encountered a range of models, each distinguished by their specific features, strengths, and weaknesses. Within this varied landscape, the NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe has consistently emerged as a noteworthy option. In this review, I aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of my experiences with the Comet II, focusing on its operational performance in key areas.

I will also offer comparisons with similar models to highlight its relative advantages and disadvantages. This detailed examination is intended to assist both seasoned woodturning enthusiasts and those new to the craft in making a well-informed choice when selecting a lathe that meets their requirements.

NOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe with digital controlsNOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe with digital controls

NOVA 46300 Overview

The NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe is a compact, yet powerful tool designed for precision woodturning. It features a variable speed range of 250 to 4000 RPM, allowing for flexible control over the workpiece for both roughing and detailed finishing. Equipped with a 3/4 HP motor, it provides sufficient power for a variety of projects, from small pens to larger bowls.

Person using a NOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe in a workshopPerson using a NOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe in a workshop

The lathe’s solid cast iron construction ensures stability and minimizes vibration, enhancing the quality of the work. With its user-friendly design, including quick adjustments for the tool rest and tailstock, and a digital speed readout, the Comet II is suitable for woodturners of all levels, offering a blend of versatility, performance, and durability.

Key Features:

  • Versatile Variable-Speed Range: This lathe offers a wide speed range from 250 to 4000 RPM, accommodating various woodturning operations from rough cutting to precise finishing, providing users with full control over their projects.
  • Digital Readout – Easy-to-Use Speed Adjustment Screen: The digital readout presents a clear and convenient way to monitor and adjust the spindle speed, ensuring optimal control and precision during the turning process.
  • Forward and Reversing Switch: With the ability to switch between forward and reverse rotation, this feature allows for superior finishing capabilities and the flexibility to achieve desired surface textures and effects.
  • Flexible Capacity to Match Your Project:The Comet II is designed to accommodate a broad range of project sizes, offering ample capacity for both small and moderately sized workpieces, making it versatile for various woodworking tasks.
  • Three-Step Pulley System: This system offers different speed ranges, allowing users to select the most suitable torque for their specific project, enhancing the machine’s efficiency and adaptability to various materials.
  • Solid Cast-Iron Construction Throughout: The heavy-duty cast-iron construction provides exceptional durability and stability, reducing vibration for smoother operation and finer finishes on workpieces.
  • Strong MT#2 Spindles: The lathe features robust MT#2 spindles, known for their reliability and compatibility with a wide range of accessories, enhancing the machine’s versatility and performance.
  • NOVA Smart Accessories: NOVA offers a range of smart accessories designed to extend the functionality and capabilities of the lathe, allowing users to customize their setup according to the specific needs of each project.
  • Precision Machining: Every component is precisely machined, ensuring high accuracy and alignment, which contributes to the superior performance and longevity of the lathe.
  • Long Reach Tool Slides: Designed to leverage the lathe’s extended capacity, these tool slides provide additional support for tools, allowing for more control and precision in turning operations.
  • Extendable Beds: The option to extend the bed offers increased flexibility for handling longer workpieces, making the lathe adaptable to a wide range of project sizes.
  • Quick Action Cam Controls: These controls enable quick and precise adjustments to the tool rest and tailstock, significantly reducing setup time and facilitating smoother workflow during projects.

Efficiency and Adaptability

The NOVA 46300 Comet II is a robust machine, designed to offer precision and flexibility to woodturning projects. One of the most remarkable features is its variable speed range, which spans from 250 to 4000 RPM.

Close-up of a NOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe with wood pieces in the backgroundClose-up of a NOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe with wood pieces in the background

This wide speed range allows for complete control over your work, whether you’re roughing out a piece of hardwood or applying finishing touches to a delicate project. The digital readout is a game-changer, providing real-time speed monitoring that enhances precision and safety. Powering the Comet II is a 3/4 HP motor, which I’ve found to be more than sufficient for the demands of most projects I undertake.

NOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe in use with tools and hand adjustingNOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe in use with tools and hand adjusting

Whether I’m working on pens, bowls, or small furniture parts, the Comet II has consistently delivered the torque needed without bogging down. This performance is a testament to its well-engineered design, which is something both beginners and seasoned turners can appreciate.

Construction and Architecture

NOVA has a reputation for building durable and reliable machinery, and the Comet II is no exception. The lathe’s solid cast iron construction not only provides stability but also significantly reduces vibration, a common issue with lesser quality lathes.

Close-up of the spindle on a NOVA Comet II mini latheClose-up of the spindle on a NOVA Comet II mini lathe

This stability is crucial for achieving smooth finishes and precise cuts. The design also incorporates a versatile 12″x16.5″ capacity, which I’ve found to be ample for a wide range of projects, from small to moderately sized workpieces.

NOVA Comet II mini lathe on a workbench with a person's hand on the headstockNOVA Comet II mini lathe on a workbench with a person's hand on the headstock

Another design feature worth mentioning is the quick-adjustment system for the tool rest and tailstock, which makes setup and changes swift and hassle-free. This user-friendly design is particularly beneficial for those new to woodturning, as it reduces setup time and lets you focus more on the craft itself.

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The developer’s strength lies in their detailed graphics, sophisticated gameplay mechanics, and immersive game modes, which collectively elevate the player’s experience. Despite facing criticism for incorporating microtransactions, Visual Concepts continues to refine their games with each release, focusing on enhancing realism and player interaction.

Their ability to blend cutting-edge technology with intuitive game design makes them a leading developer in the sports genre, appealing to both casual gamers and hardcore sports enthusiasts.

Comparable Options

When considering other lathes, it’s important to weigh factors like motor power, size, build quality, and price. Models such as the RIKON 70-100 are often compared to the NOVA Comet II. The RIKON offers a similar build quality but with a slightly smaller motor, making it a contender for those prioritizing compactness. The Jet, on the other hand, has a comparable motor and variable speed range, but at a higher price point, making the Comet II a more cost-effective option for many.

Table of Comparisons vs. Competitor

Below is a comparison table that highlights the key differences and similarities between the NOVA 46300 Wood Lathe and the RIKON 70-100 Wood Lathe. This table is designed to help you easily compare their features, capabilities, and specifications at a glance.

Feature/Specification NOVA 46300 Comet II RIKON 70-100
Motor Power 3/4 HP 1/2 HP
Speed Range 250 – 4000 RPM 430 – 3900 RPM
Construction Solid Cast Iron Solid Cast Iron
Variable Speed Yes, with Digital Readout Yes, Manual Adjustment
Swing Over Bed 12 inches 12 inches
Distance Between Centers 16.5 inches (expandable with accessories) 16 inches (expandable with accessories)
Spindle Thread 1″ x 8 TPI 1″ x 8 TPI
Tailstock Taper MT2 MT2
Forward and Reversing Switch Yes No
Digital Speed Readout Yes No
Weight Approx. 82 lbs Approx. 89 lbs
Included Accessories Handwheel, Knockout Bar, 2MT Live Center, 2MT Spur/Drive Center, 3″ Faceplate Handwheel, Knockout Bar, Live Center, Spur Center, Tool Rest
Product Dimension 33 x 9 x 18 inches 33.75 x 18 x 11.5 inches

This table provides a comprehensive overview of both lathes, focusing on their primary features and specifications. The NOVA 46300 Comet II offers advanced features such as a wider variable speed range with digital readout and the ability to reverse the spindle direction, enhancing its versatility.

RIKON 70-100 mini lathe isolated on a white backgroundRIKON 70-100 mini lathe isolated on a white background

On the other hand, the RIKON 70-100, while having a lower motor power, includes features such as an easy access speed change and an indexing head, making it a strong contender for detailed work. Both lathes are constructed from solid cast iron, ensuring durability and stability, and they share a common spindle thread and tailstock taper, indicating compatibility with a wide range of accessories.

Maintenance and Safety Procedures

For the NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe, adhering to proper maintenance and safety procedures ensures the longevity of the machine and the safety of its users. Here are essential guidelines:

  1. Regular Inspection: Periodically inspect the lathe for any loose bolts, worn belts, or damaged components. Ensure everything is tight and in good working condition before use.
  2. Lubrication: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for lubricating moving parts. Regular lubrication prevents wear and tear, ensuring smooth operation.
  3. Cleaning: After each use, clean the lathe to remove wood chips, dust, and debris. A clean machine prevents operational interference and maintains precision.
  4. Speed Adjustments: Always adjust the speed according to the size and type of the workpiece. Starting at lower speeds before increasing is advisable for safety and control.
  5. Use Correct Accessories: Only use accessories recommended by NOVA for the Comet II to ensure compatibility and safety. Improper accessories can lead to accidents or damage.
  6. Wear Safety Gear: Always wear appropriate safety gear, including eye protection, hearing protection, and a dust mask, to protect against flying debris and noise.
  7. Avoid Loose Clothing: Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the lathe. Tie back long hair and keep hands clear of moving parts.
  8. Power Off During Adjustments: Ensure the lathe is powered off and unplugged before making any adjustments, changing accessories, or performing maintenance tasks to prevent accidental startups.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Variable Speed Range: Allows for precise control over the workpiece, suitable for both roughing and finishing.
  • Solid Construction: Minimizes vibration for smoother operation and better finishes.
  • Versatility: Capable of handling a wide variety of projects, making it an excellent all-rounder.
  • User-Friendly Design: Quick-adjustment mechanisms and digital speed readout enhance the overall user experience.

Cons

  • Motor Power: While adequate for most projects, those looking to work on larger, more demanding pieces might find the 3/4 HP motor a limitation.
  • Price: Compared to some entry-level models, the Comet II might be considered a significant investment. However, the quality and features justify the cost for serious hobbyists.

Recommendations

Based on its robust performance, versatile speed range, and solid build quality, the NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe is highly recommended for anyone interested in woodturning, regardless of their skill level. Its combination of user-friendly features, such as the digital speed readout and reversible motor function, make it an excellent tool for a wide range of projects.

While its motor may not cater to the demands of extremely large projects, its overall efficiency, precision, and durability make the Comet II a smart investment for those seeking a reliable and adaptable lathe.

Final Assessment

Following thorough testing and evaluation against other models, the NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe clearly distinguishes itself within its category. It combines efficient power, high accuracy, adaptability, and an intuitive design, establishing itself as a superior choice for both novice and experienced woodturners.

Although its 3/4 HP motor may not suit the demands of very large projects, the lathe’s overall operational excellence and construction quality strongly advocate for its selection as the optimal choice for a wide array of woodturning tasks. For individuals embarking on their woodturning journey or those contemplating an enhancement to their existing equipment, the Comet II warrants earnest consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the motor power of the NOVA 46300 Comet II?
    The NOVA 46300 Comet II is equipped with a 3/4 HP motor, providing sufficient power for a variety of woodturning projects.
  2. Can the speed of the NOVA 46300 Comet II be adjusted?
    Yes, the lathe features a variable speed range from 250 to 4000 RPM, allowing for precise control over your work at different stages.
  3. Does the Comet II have a digital speed readout?
    Yes, it includes a digital speed readout for easy monitoring and adjustment of the spindle speed.
  4. What is the swing over bed and distance between centers for the Comet II?
    The lathe has a 12-inch swing over bed and a 16.5-inch distance between centers, which can be expanded with additional accessories.
  5. Is the NOVA 46300 Comet II suitable for both beginners and experienced woodturners? Absolutely, its combination of power, precision, and user-friendly features makes it ideal for woodturners of all skill levels.
  6. Can the spindle direction be reversed on the Comet II?
    Yes, it features a forward and reversing switch, enhancing its versatility for different finishing techniques.
  7. What type of construction does the Comet II have?
    It boasts a solid cast-iron construction, ensuring durability and stability with minimal vibration.
  8. What type of spindles does the Comet II support?
    The lathe supports strong MT#2 spindles, known for their reliability and compatibility with a wide range of accessories.
  9. Are there any special features of the Comet II?
    The lathe features quick action cam controls, extendable beds, and precision machining, among other notable features.
  10. What accessories are included with the NOVA 46300 Comet II?
    The lathe comes with a handwheel, knockout bar, 2MT live center, 2MT spur/drive center, and a 3″ faceplate, providing a solid foundation for various projects.

We’re eager to hear from you! Share your experiences and insights about the NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe in the comments section below. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodturner, your feedback can greatly assist others in making well-informed decisions about this lathe. Let’s help the community by sharing our personal observations and tips!

Edward SmithEdward Smith
Edward Smith

Forestry Author

Woodworking is about more than crafting; it’s a harmonious connection with nature, mastering tools, and preserving our environment. I’m here to share my knowledge and experiences with you, forging a future where we can embrace wood’s beauty and utility while safeguarding our forests’ health and diversity.



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