Record CL4 Variable speed lathe review

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My biggest problem was that I did not have a great amount of money to spend on a lathe which would be capable of giving me the variability that I wanted. The Record seemed to meet my needs and everyone I knew with a Record sung their praises; also each time I went to a show where Woodturning clubs were demonstrating, the most popular choice for demonstration lathe was a Record. These were however the blue Sheffield made Records and I was not aware of the changes to the company and that the lathes were now imported. What did stick in my mind were the images of the new Record lathes all with ‘5 year guarantee’ labels on them.

I bought my Record CL4 with the new variable speed box in March 2005 and paid £799 which included a free stand and bowl rest saving me almost £119.

The lathe was delivered direct from Record Power and comes mainly unassembled on a very large pallet. My wife and I were able to assemble it in a couple of hours. I did have a problem in that the bearing was not fitting correctly on the spindle and not being an engineer, I did not want to start unscrewing bits and not having a clue what I was doing. I called my supplier (John Johnson of Silverstone) and the following morning at 7.30am, he picked me and the lathe up and took us up to Record Power at Chesterfield.

Visiting Record Power is an experience – arrangements had obviously been made and the staff were there waiting for us with coffee ready. Their resident engineer only works in the mornings as there are insufficient repairs to justify his full time employment. Anyway we were treated almost like family. The problem lay in the original factory assembly of the spindle and bearings but a few minutes later the problem was working and tested. The lathe spun quietly with not a flicker on the dial testing any out of balance movement of the spindle. Whilst not open at the time of my visit, the company now have a large new showroom where you can ‘Try before you Buy’. I was able to visit this when I recently went to Chesterfield to buy my Record 350 bandsaw of which I am also delighted.

On return home, I was able to begin ‘playing’. I was a little concerned that having been used to the Poolewood digitally showing me the exact speed of the lathe, for the Record, I initially have to have the drive belt on one of the five sets of pulleys and then reading the scale on the variable speed box, adjust the dial to get the right speed. The speeds vary between 13 and 4600rpm. I have found that you can settle on one speed that suits 99% of your requirements and then adjust the dial according to what you want. You soon get used to the speeds and it is every bit as easy as looking at the digital readout – no matter how high or low you go, the speed setting is not a problem.

For my small threaded boxes, despite its large looking size on its stand, the lathe is perfectly suited, but I also wanted to do large spindle work but with 1hp of quiet running motor and 36” between centres, it is capable of all but the largest columns or table legs. If that size isn’t enough for you, then 48” solid bars are available.

I also wanted to make larger bowls and hollow forms. Providing that your chuck or faceplate will hold the piece, the Record will turn it and if your stand is bolted to the floor, there is very, very little movement. I have just finished a 30” diameter bowl made of a very hard burr oak which really punished my tools – again the lathe coped admirably with it. Slide the bowl support out of the way and I am ready to turn a small box again.

The lathe is quiet and feels ‘safe’ allowing you to enjoy your turning. If anything does go wrong, you do have the 5 year guarantee and if my experiences are anything to go by, excellent backup and after-sales service.

The lathe is not perfect but at that price, there is not a new lathe available that would give me the options that the CL4 does. I do have my criticisms – to remove the chuck, you have to undo the pulley housing cover and hold the spindle with a rather flimsy spanner and then undo the chuck on the outside. It would have been nice to have the flat spots for the spanner on the outside of the housing. The housing itself is held by an Allen key type bolt but one of the Trend jig accessories fits this perfectly and does make it a lot easier to undo the plate.

The method of locking the headstock, toolrest banjo and tailstock is by winding a handle under the double bars. Movement of these, particularly the toolrest is a pain as you seem to be constantly winding the tightness on and off. This however is easily overcome with the purchase of a cam locking system which a couple of firms advertise now. With these, a quarter of a turn of the forward facing handle and the banjo is locked or unlocked. You only really need one for the toolrest banjo and the extra £40 or so, it is a worthy investment..

So I have the 2 criticisms but these are overcome and for me to change away from ‘my baby’, it would have to be an exceptionally good lathe and would cost far more than what I paid for the Record.

All in all, I do not regret a penny of what I spent on this lathe and the purchase of this piece of equipment gave me the confidence in going to Record when I wanted a suitable bandsaw, particularly after reading and receiving comments from members of this forum.


Established Member
2 Jul 2005
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Nailsworth, Glos
An excellent review - thanks for taking the time to write it.

It was a little worrying that the headstock bearings were installed incorrectly at the factory although RP seem to have looked after you well and fortunately you are close enough to go to the factory to get it sorted. (How did you spot they were wrong in the first place?)

Anyway - good luck and happy turning!


I couldn't quite fathom out what the problem was at first but the chuck or the stebcentre I was using, without any pressure or things in them, wasn't running true. When I looked the face of the bronze bush was further out than the end of the spindle so when I was tightening the chuck etc up, it was up to the bearing. The bearing isn't machined like the spindle is hence the movement. I have put a couple of pictures on a website that I run - and

I'm quite happy that this was the first one that Record had seen like this but they could see the problem as soon as they had a look.




Established Member
11 Nov 2003
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Whaplode Lincolnshire
Hi Paul
I'm a little gob smacked after reading you excellent review.
I had exactly the same problem on my CL3 which I bought last March.
It took me a few weeks to realise that there was a problem and I have just put a washer on the spindle to stop the chuck tightening against the bearing. All seems fine now though but it was a surprise to read that you had the same problem.
All the best