April 21, 2021

Powermatic 3520b vs 3520c | How These Lathes Compare

As I was looking for a Powermatic, I landed on the Powermatic 3520b vs 3520c comparison page- but it seemed like they were too similar to really matter which one you pick! After comparing them closely, though, there are minor differences that could make all the difference in your decision process.

One of these is where the tailstock and headstock attach; both types use ball bearing slides with an adjustable gib stop system (which will be especially helpful if anyone else ever needs to operate this machine). Still, only one has been designed so far as having no lost motion at any point when set up correctly – making single square turning infinitely more efficient than before. The other model requires adjusting parts separately from each time we change tools. 

Overview of the Powermatic 3520b

The Powermatic 3520b is a lathe, ideal for amateurs and professionals. It comes with thick-walled iron castings that make it durable. It weighs up to 682lbs. You do not feel vibrations when it is in operation. The 20inch swing and 34 ½ inch space center capacity allow you to work on large applications efficiently. The 18inch extension kit is applicable when there is a need for more spindle capacity. 

It is mounted to extend the bed rails. It comes with a 2hp 220 Volt motor that is fan cooled. The lathe motor is powerful enough to withstand the speed variance of the 3520b. Using the front-mounted tension levers and the access door makes it a tool-free lathe. The two phases of speed include a speed variance of 50-1,200 and 125-3,200 rotations per minute. The motor controls are at the front of the powerhead. 

They are easily accessible. The toggle switch is meant for forward and reverses the motion. The speed control dial gives you rotations per minute control in different speed ranges. The LED display gives you the speed rate of the moment. Your preferred speed depends on your material. The On/Off switch is there to activate and deactivate the lathe machine. There is a brass-tipped hammer rod that you use for accessories that use the #2 Morse taper in the spindle. The tailstock is of heavy iron casting. 

Pros

  • Durability 
  • Stability
  • Cooling system
  • High-quality spindle bearings
  • Powerful motor

Cons

  • The headstock could be wider
  • Minimum height

(See The Price)

Key Features of the Powermatic 3520b

Motor

The 2hp motor comes with an inverter. That allows it to receive a single-phase current since it is in 3 phases. The single-phase is ideal for high torque at the low end. The power is in two pulleys that a Poly V-belt connects. The belt design is durable and prevents surging. It is fast and easy, ranging from 50 to 1,200 and 125 to 3,200 rotations per minute. 

Safety features

The inverter prevents an unexpected starting of the machine. Just in case the electrical power goes off whilst the lathe is in operation, you need to switch off the lathe before you switch it on. 

Spindle locking mechanism

It comes with a button loaded with springs. It is at the front of the headstock. There is a pin that is screwed into three holes on the spindle housing. It gives you 24 indexing positions. They drill hole patterns and other decorative patterns on spindle activities. 

Clamping disc

The clamping disk locks the tailstock to the bed. It is at the headstock, and its function is to avoid deflections of the tailstock ram. That is bound to happen when pressure is on the material in use. It also allows the extension of the tailstock base. The handle locks the tailstock in position. It becomes secure. 

Overview of the Powermatic 3520c

The Powermatic 3520c has a new ergonomic spindle lock design and an anti-rotation tailstock for smoother operation. The lathe machine maintains low speeds that are as low as 15 rotations per minute. It weighs up to 726lbs and is cast iron. It has a new leg shape that is easy to enclose. There are riser blocks that make the lathe machine taller. You have about 6inches more on the height of your lathe.

It comes with a tool rest that is 14inch long and weighs 5lbs. The heavy-duty dual ball-bearing live center makes the lathe ideal for heavy-duty activities. The riser blocks are simple and compatible with the one-way adjustable legs. Adding or removing the riser blocks is easy. When adjusting the legs, you have to crank the feet on the bottom of the legs in or out. It has a new spindle nose on the right side. 

The new spindle nose is convenient when you are working on materials that are close to the headstock. The new control box that the lathe comes with is movable. It has the On/Off switch, direction, and speed features. Unlike the old model lathes with one switch button, the 3520c model has a two switch button. That old switch could be hard to operate at times. The control box is magnetic at the back, and it has a thin layer of soft foam. That is protective of the lathe. 

Pros

  • Adjustable height
  • New control box
  • New indexing system
  • It comes with the On/Off switch buttons
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • No power cord
  • Heavyweight

(See The Price)

Key features of the Powermatic 3520c

Headstock and Tailstock

When you want to remove the headstock, you slide the pallet back and remove the headstock. The grip is not easy. It is manageable. The headstock is a silver handwheel. The tailstock is easy to remove as well. 

Feet

The feet of the Powermatic 3520c has a steel and hard plastic bottom. The plastic bottom makes it sturdy. The steel feet are durable. The nuts of the feet are removable. They determine the height of the lathe. The riser blocks give you a taller lathe. 

Legs and riser blocks

The legs are also easy to install. You use the Allen wrench when installing the legs. You do not have to forget to put the four black socket head cap screws for tightening the legs into place. The bottom of the legs is compatible with the feet. The riser block has holes in the legs, ready to accept the feet. When attaching the riser block, you need the cap screw that runs through the riser block hole as it goes through the foot hole into the leg.

Indexing system

Above the control box, there is the new spindle lock knob. It is big and easy to use. You twist it to lock or unlock. The new indexing system is easy to control. It is activated by pushing the Index button. When it is in operation mode, the index number is displayed. Turning the spindle changes the index number.

Similarities

  • The bearings on both models have the same distance between the in-board and out-board.
  • They are both in the high-end class. 
  • They use the same belts and pulleys. 

Differences

  • The 3520b has one leg option, whereas the 3520c has a leg riser.
  • The headstock of the 3520b is on the right side, whereas the 3520c has it on the left side. 
  • There is a new spindle nose on the right of the 3520c that the 3520b has an old model one on the left side. 
  • The 3520c model has a 10inch wide headstock, whereas the 3520b has about 8inches.
  • The 3520c is 1/4inch taller than the 3520b.
  • The 3520b has a manual spindle lock, whereas the 3520c has the automatic one. 
  • Indexing on the 3520b is more difficult than on the 3520c.
  • The Variable Frequency Drive on the 3520b is not enclosed, whereas the one on the 3520c is enclosed. 

Cost 

The 3520b is more affordable than the 3520c. The 3520b ranges from 3,000 to 4,000, whereas the 3520 c ranges from 4,500 to 6,000.

Verdict

There are a lot of similarities between the two models. They both use bearings on their bases. There is an equal distance between the inboard and outboard sides. The belts and pulleys used by these two machines are also identical, which means you won’t have to replace any parts if you want to change your lathe from one model to another! If budgeting for tools is tight, the 3520b would be perfect.

It’s cheaper than its counterpart. Don’t worry about quality – they’re almost exactly alike with only a few slight differences. These include a better riser block, more accurate readings. That is thanks to digital readouts as well as enclosed Variable Frequency Drives included within this new design! Have you read our Milling Machine vs Lathe post?

David D. Hughes
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