Q? Please tell us a bit about Robust Tools
- Robust is a small US-based manufacturer of premium woodturning lathes and related accessories. We employ skilled American craftsman dedicated to making you the finest tools they can.
Q? Where are Robust tools made?
- Barneveld, Wisconsin USA. We certify that by weight and value, all Robust products are at least 85% US content. Most are greater than 90%.
Q? Why should I buy a Robust lathe?
- Because you interact with a lathe differently than any other woodworking tool, you’ll appreciate our attention to ergonomics. Customers often tell us the Tilt-Away is worth its weight in gold. Stainless steel ways are really a plus. We don’t skimp on any of the components. Everything is very industrial quality and built to last. There is a seven-year warranty on everything. The list goes on… if you like nice tools that may be reason enough. Talk to anyone that uses a Robust lathe, our customers are our best sales people.
Q? How are lathes shipped?
- Lathes are shipped fully assembled in a full box crate. We can usually arrange delivery right to your door.
Q? Do you ship internationally?
- Yes. Duties, fees, taxes, etc. are the responsibility of the buyer. There may be a crating fee for international shipments.
Q? How long does it take to get a lathe?
- The American Beauty and Sweet 16 are built to order and they are typically shipped 6-16 weeks from order date – please contact us for current lead times. We try to keep major components for Scouts stocked and we can usually ship a Scout in two to four weeks.
Q? Is it better to buy direct or through one of your dealers?
- We are happy to work with you either way. The price will be the same and shipping will be the same as they all come from our location in Wisconsin. Some dealers stock popular machines here and that may shorten your lead times. Some independent dealers may also include extra service, such as a turning lesson or assistance with delivery, as part of the purchase experience.
Q? There is no dealer in my area and I would like to see a lathe in person before purchasing. How can that be arranged?
- Please contact us. We probably have an owner within a reasonable drive that would be more than happy to show off their machine. Our existing customers are our best sales people.
Q? How long have you been in business?
- We started doing market research and design in 2004. Our first lathes were produced in 2005.
Q? Did Robust really start in a garage?
- Yes. Like a lot of small businesses that grew into something bigger we started in a two car garage. Our business has grown incrementally and organically each year. In 2013 we bought our current 8700 ft2 building. With 8-10 people working here some days it feels a little small.
Q? Do you have a showroom?
- No, but if you make an appointment we are happy to show you around. Because we make to order and ship right away, you’ll want to call and make sure we have something on the floor to look at when you get here. There is always some work in progress!
Q? Who do I call about service?
- You call us. You can also talk to any of our dealers, their contact info is on our the dealer page.
Q? Which Robust lathe is best for me?
- We (and our dealers) are more than happy to talk to you and help you pick the right lathe for your turning goals. Sometimes we even recommend the competition!
Q? What is included in the seven-year warranty?
- Everything. All the electrical parts and all mechanical parts, including the headstock bearings. We are the only manufacturer to warrant headstock bearings that long.
Q? Are tool rests really warranted for life?
- Yes, just send back any damaged rest and we will repair or replace it free of charge. If you routinely destroy tool rests, we do reserve the right to modify that offer !
Q? Can the Tilt-Away be added later?
- Yes, but field alignment can be time consuming. If you are on the fence, we offer a six month trial. Call us for details.
Q? Can the gas shock for the American Beauty Tilt-Away be added later?
- Yes, if you can drill and tap a hole in the field.
Q? Can a gas shock be fitted on the Tilt-Away for the Sweet 16?
- We don’t offer one. The tailstock is light enough that we have found that a gas shock is not really needed.
Q? Does adding a Tilt-Away to the Sweet 16 interfere with using the gap section as a bed extension?
- Yes. You will need to unbolt and remove the Tilt-Away if you wish to use the gap section as a bed extension.
Q? Can I get a Tilt-Away for the Scout?
- No. The tailstock is quite light and we have found you really won’t need one.
Q? Can I upgrade my motor to the bigger horsepower later?
- Yes, but it is expensive because both the motor and the motor drive (“inverter” or “VFD”) must be replaced. If you are on the fence, it is cheaper in the long run to get the bigger motor from the get-go.
Q? What’s the point of the bigger motor selection?
- Most of the time it doesn’t matter. But it’s like buying a pick-up with a small engine. Most of the time you’re just getting groceries or driving to work, but when you pull your travel trailer over a long hill you miss the big motor. So on that occasional piece of big wood the big motor comes in handy. Also, over 90% of the lathes leave Robust with the big motor, so you’ll probably resell it easier when the machine ultimately changes hands.
Q? Can the Outboard Turning Attachment be added later to the American Beauty?
- Yes, the end of the lathe is pre-drilled to accept it. We UPS it in two boxes.
Q? What are the advantages of a sliding headstock?
- Ergonomics and access to the work. Being able to position the work at the end of the lathe really lets you get to it from a variety of angles without putting your body in uncomfortable positions. Good comfort = better tool control.
Q? Don’t sliding headstock lathes have alignment problems?
- Because both the headstock and tailstock move, and both need clearance to slide, there is always some potential for misalignment. We make ours so that when you press both the headstock and tailstock against the back way, the centers line up. Other factors like having the lathe bed twisted and dirt and debris on mating surfaces will affect alignment, just like any other lathe.
Q? I am considering the Scout with the Universal Stand, but am not ready to set down full time yet. Can the stand be easily changed between standing and sitting?
- While the stand is quite adaptable to a variety of positions, it is really designed to be used one way or the other. Switching between standing and sitting probably takes 20 minutes or so, and you should remove the lathe from the stand when you make the switch.
Q? I want to put my lathe in the basement. How hard is that?
- It’s usually a two or three person job. Click the links below to learn more.
Moving a Sweet 16
Moving an American Beauty
Q? How do I know how high to have my lathe set up?
- The distance from your elbow to the floor when you are standing normally is a good starting point. Try it there for a while and adjust it up or down if you are uncomfortable.
Q? How heavy is the gap section of the Sweet 16?
- About 35 lbs.
Q? How heavy is the tailstock on the Sweet 16?
- About 35 lbs.
Q? How heavy is the tailstock on the American Beauty?
- About 50 lbs.
Q? Can I get digital readout on the American Beauty?
- We do not offer this option, but the speeds are approximated on the legend plate for the speed control knob. The more experienced you get turning, the less you’ll probably look at a speed readout. Please keep in mind, digital readout tells you neither how fast you should or could be going. You only learn that by paying attention to the wood and your lathe.
Q? What do I need for electrical service?
- For the 1.0 or 1.5HP 110 volt set up, any dedicated non-GFCI 15 amp line should be fine. For the 2 and 3 HP models, we recommend a dedicated 20 amp, 220 volt circuit – again, non-GFCI.
Q? What’s the deal with GFCI?
- All modern motor drives (“inverter” or “VFD”) put something on the line that GFCI’s misinterpret as a ground fault. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Robust lathe or other brand. Please consult an electrician to help with a solution.
Q? What plug comes on the 220 volt machines?
- The very common NEMA 6-20. This is the straight blade variety that looks like a 110v plug, except one straight blade is turned 90°. Let us know if you want something different and we’ll put one on for you (international customers need to supply their own plug).
Q? If I buy the casters for the American Beauty, can I turn with the casters on the lathe?
- The American Beauty casters are for moving and storing the lathe only. They should be removed when you turn.
Q? Is it OK to bolt the lathe to the floor?
- Yes, so long as you don’t twist the bed, there’s certainly no technical reason not too. Please keep in mind that when an unbolted lathe starts to move or dance across the floor, that’s nature’s way of telling you to slow down and balance your work. You’ll lose this feedback if you are bolted to the floor. Also keep in mind the wood will fail before the lathe will, and flying wood can cause serious injury or death.
Q? What is a motor drive with “auto tune”?
- Modern motor drives (“inverter” or “VFD”) sense when the motor is under load and change the wave form of the electricity going to the motor to keep its speed constant – which provides full torque at all speeds. Each Robust lathe goes through an auto-tune function to match the drive to the inverter before it is shipped.
Q? What else does the drive do?
- It allows you to run forward and reverse and vary the speed. There is a dynamic braking function that controls deceleration; the lathe powers to a stop, it does not coast.
Q? Do the lathes have a Radio Frequency Interference filter?
- Yes. It is built in, not an add-on.
Q? What maintenance do stainless steel ways need?
- Not much. Keep them clean of glues and finish. A little paste or paraffin wax helps. It is also important to keep the bottoms of the banjo and tailstock clean too. A little wax can help there too.
Q? What is the best way to maintain my lathe?
- We wrote up this lathe maintenance document that you might enjoy reading
Q? Where do I find pricing?
- There is a link to a complete price list in the drop down menu under “Support”. For lathe pricing, go to the lathe page and click the “Build Yours” thumbnail. Pricing for other accessories can also be found on their respective pages.
Q? Do you make custom toolrests?
- Yes. We can do custom post diameters and lengths. There is an upcharge for custom sizes. We can also make long two-posted tool rests. You’ll have to phone these orders in.
Q? Can your banjos be used on other lathes?
- Probably, please call us and we’ll see if we can make it work. There may be a small fee for a custom keeper (clamp block).
Q? I’m stalling out my lathe while coring. Any suggestions?
- Coring uses up a lot of horsepower. If the cutter blade is dragging on the wood or chips, it’s like applying the brakes in a car. If you are using the American Beauty, be sure the belt is on the large spindle pulley (high torque range). Then make sure your tool is sharp and being presented properly. Also slow down your feed rate. Coring takes time. There are some coring wizards around that make it look easy. You’ll be that good too after you’ve done a several thousand cores.
Q? Help! My lathe isn’t working right. What should I do?
- Please start by checking the trouble shooting section of your manual. If you’re still having a problem, call us at 608-924-1133 during normal business hours. You can also send an email to email@example.com, we occasionally check that after hours.