Bohning Junior Cresting Lathe
I always feel that putting "Junior" is a marketing ploy to make me buy the other option of this crester, the "Pro". It's unlike me to buy something which isn't the top version of a product - I don't know why that should be I just always feel if I spend more I get more, I am a marketing mans dream !!. Whilst it is generally true that you get what you pay for, that isn't always the end of the story.
What separates the Junior from the Pro is a small tray, which is billed as a drip tray but basically just separates the Motor and arrow receiver from a small plastic rest for the shaft to lie on whilst turning. Luckily I had been given the heads up from several friends who own either one or other version, two of whom use cresting lathes to make custom arrows commercially, a saving of $35, which represents the price difference between them.
When it arrived and I unpacked it from the box I was a little disapointed, it looked bigger and more expensive in the pictures. Once again this is an American product so users in the UK will require a converter as this was designed to run on 120V AC. Of course being an American product it is robust and well made, I love Americans, they won't put up with shoddy kit and tend to want a quality product more than they want to save a few quid - and this is no exception to the rule. The Motor too is quality, you can hear it when you turn it on and just know that all the cogs, levers and whatever else is in there are not going to chew themselves to pieces in 5 minutes.
If you are going to use a product like this you are probably looking for a quality finish to your arrows, otherwise why bother using a crester just use a brush, so using the correct type of paint is essential, I would in fact prefer to use the Bohnings range of cresting paints and lacquers but as yet I have not put in an order as there is a premium to the carriage because they are flammable ( I can't see how the extra charge will pay for a new A300-600 Airbus if it goes tits up but I guess the airlines like to use every ruse in the book to grab a few extra quid off you).
However I use a number of different paints and Lacquers which probably give much the same results. One of the prerequisites to using a machine like this and indeed for cresting in general is that you need a straight shaft, you may think your shafts are straight but when you put them in this crester you will find out how straight they really are not !
I actually spend quite some time getting my shafts straight and a good supply of fresh shafts are very good, but sometimes you do get shafts that have been stored for a long time and they will have taken a set if not kept perfectly aligned. So given that your shaft is now straight the arrow can be put into the receiver in front of the motor.
Rather surprisingly this is just a rubber grommet which fits over the turning spindle with a hole slightly smaller than a shaft, it's just the friction of the rubber that keeps it in ( see pic 7) -I had been expecting something a little more substantial. The point is though that it does work once the machine is switched on, if you buy one of these though I would say buy a spare as without this small bit of rubber the whole thing is useless.
Once the shaft is in, it's just a case of positioning the arrow rest so that the shaft is running straight. I actually use a bit of sponge with a very light pressure to press the shaft down on to the rest, I find this helps to keep everything solid - you can mount the rest on a workbench but I would still use the sponge. Although the arrowguide (rest) has pre drilled holes so you can mount it on a board the motor unit itself does not, in fact if you want to do this you will have to mess about adding some brackets to the sides as there isn't actually any bottom to it- this is a major niggle because you really do need to have the whole set up stable. The Arrow guide itself is better off with a little felt on it to stop any possibility of scratching the shaft.
The one off switch is a dial on the lead and works well, I actually like the fact that whichever way you turn it will switch on and the next turn either way will turn it off (see pic 6).
It turns at a nice sensible pace, not too fast and not too slow. The knack of cresting can be discovered at your own pace, it isn't as easy as it looks and it does take practice, I like to use a paper template underneath the arrow I am working on as it gives me a guide for the cresting pattern. Important too will be the brushes you use, some quality sable brushes will mean a much finer finish.
The real question is - does it work ? and the answer is yes, this tool will teach you to be very unsatisfied with shafts that are less than perfect.
This isn't by any means the final word in cresting lathes, but it is the only one that is readily available. I also use this when burning crest patterns into shafts and I find I use this more than I actually thought I would.
Features & Design
Motor is good but the arrow rest itself is a bit cheap and nasty, despite the receiver being just a thin rubber grommet the quality of the important bits is good, gets less than full marks because there is no bottom and no easy way to fix it to something solid.
Performs very well and completes the task of turning an arrow with reliability. The arrow rest must be positioned properly and just perhaps the "Pro" version with it's drip tray cum arrow rest holder might have helped.
Value for Money
It's good value, a friend of mine did make his own with some Lego and an electric screw driver - to be honest I couldn't be arsed for what this costs, if you want to do it properly this crester will help
If you enjoy building arrows and want to take them to the next level this will without doubt enhance the arrow making experience. Put some brackets or a way of attaching it to a board Bohning, then you will get a higher mark !!