Live Center Upgrade - Robust & Why I Chose

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Jul 17, 2017
Washington, IN
In a previous thread I inquired about upgraded live center experience and I researched a lot on my own. I ended up choosing the Robust Live Center and thought why I made my choice may help others make their own, Robust or not.

Two disclaimers up front:
1- You do not need and upgraded live center to turn pens, or likely a lot of other things. This is more a luxury item to make turning other stuff a little easier on me.

2- Any of the upgrade live centers will work great for their intended purposes. The differences are small and inconsequential.

I looked at the Nova Live Center System, the OneWay Live Center, and the Robust. The Axminster could be worth a look but did not seem as readily available or widely used in the US. There are privately branded versions of some of these and knock off versions of most. The knock off versions are typically 1/3 - 1/2 the price and are surprisingly well reviewed. I’m not much of a knock-off guy though.


Here is the Robust Live Center, cone, cup, dead center and ring center adapter that fits both the dead and live center. Total investment $235 from

My Opinions (for what they are worth)
The Nova Live Center System comes with lots of adapters and points and is the only 3 bearing system in the bunch. It has two thrust and one load bearing. It is typically the most economical with a little trade off on machine work and finish. The entire outer body spins with the center and people who buy it like it. Most also never use many of the extra parts and pieces. The add ins use a 2MT fit into the live center. The points are removable but not adjustable.

The OneWay Live Center could well be the King of upgrade live centers, has a huge following and it’s own aftermarket of other products. Those who own it love it and they seem to last for ever. The center turns within the body which is preferred by some so they can contact the outer body while turning. This is the most common private label design and most common knock-off design. It is a two bearing system with one thrust and one load bearing. I believe the thrust bearing is in front and the load bearing in the rear with the bearings being smaller based on the rotating center design. It must be sent back to OneWay for repair, but the cost is typically reasonable. The point is removable but not adjustable. Accessories attach using the 3/4-10 male portion of the nose.

The Robust Live Center is also a two bearing design with a rotating body. The load bearing is in the front and the thrust bearing is in the rear. It can be purchased with a cup and a cone attachment. The point is depth adjustable and flat on the opposite end. It can be rebuilt by removing the snap ring retainer. Accessories attach using the 3/4-10 male portion of the nose.

I chose the Robust because:
- I am used to a rotating body so the rotating center, while intriguing, was not important to me.
- The bore through both the OneWay and the Robust is the same at 5/16, even though my lathe does not allow for through bore at the tail.
- All the One Way accessories will fit the Robust if needed.
- The Robust has options available using fewer parts to keep track of.
- With the rotating body design the bearings are larger in the Robust than the OneWay, though this is not know to be an issue for the OneWay.
- The load bearing is in front and thrust bearing in the rear in the Robust. A design I am familiar with.
- a matching dead center is available with a larger ring attachment for larger turnings. The larger ring can also be used on the live center.
- I can rebuilt it myself.
- it is made in the USA.

You choices and reasons may differ from mine. These are simply the things I thought about and you may want to also.

Have a great day!
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Local Chapter Leader
Jan 2, 2008
Indianapolis, In.
Thanks for the write up Mike! I always like when you do this. A little too late for me, since I just bought the Knock-Off a few weeks ago. Still good information.


May 2, 2017
Northwest IN
Great summary, thanks for your work! I was less analytical…
A few years ago I bought the Nova on a whim—stumbled into one in Amazon warehouse. Liked it, but it seemed complicated enough that I felt short of smart, and I understand folks not using the accessories.
Last year I got a Robust live center in a lathe purchase. Simple and solid. Larger cup installs easy. Just a nice piece of machinery. Even at 2 bearings instead of 3, and being used…way smoother than the Nova.

I gotta agree, no wrong decision, just good and gooder. What a great country!!
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