General - 25-650 Lathe
This 1.5 hp heavy-duty lathe from General features a 16-in. swing, a 43-in. distance between centers, and variable speed in three ranges.
The General 25-650 was among seven heavy-duty lathes I tested ranging in price from $1,200 to $3,200. I measured each for ease of speed control, vibration, lathe movement, power, tool-rest design, and ease of adjustment for outboard turning. I also evaluated the tailstocks and live centers, and tested how each lathe performed both on small and large workpieces.
The General has less real power than other lathes tested of this size. Still, it could run at about 200 rpm and still deliver adequate power to handle a large bowl blank.
Like most others in this class, the headstock slides and swivels for outboard turning. However, the headstock spindle should be beefier to handle large outboard turning projects and to be truly competitive with the rest in its class. Although the headstock spindle has 1-1/4-in. threads, the shaft itself is thinner and prone to flex under heavy loads. Also, the extension needed for the tool rest to turn these larger diameters is a very flexible casting.
A well-designed tool rest will stay locked in position, allowing you to make heavy cuts safely when turning a bowl. In extreme cases, a shifting tool rest could cause you to lose control of the tool. I locked the rest tightly, then let a length of ipé on an MDF stand swing freely to strike one end of the rest. While some models showed no measurable movement; the General’s rest moved 1/8 in. or less.