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A potentiometer is a resistor and using one lowers the output voltage to the motor which is not good. What you should use is a VSD or variable speed drive or a motor controller. These devices basically interrupt the voltage many times a second and is variable allowing you to control the speed of the motor on your sectional machine. You need a VSD rated to exceed the amperage of the motor you are controlling.
Another downside with a potentiometer based controller is that you will be dissipating the unused power in the pot. This is a waste of energy and the potentiometer may run hot.
As was mentioned a chopper type controller is the better way. A thyristor/SCR "chops" the supply many times a second and the duty cycle is what controls the speed. When the SCR is turned off there is no power dissipation so on lower power setting you are not wasting any energy.
on an instant acting clutch like a k-60, it's a waste of time. the sectional is more of a high speed cuter than a torque monster. i can easily throttle the cable from full to slow and stop.
i would think on a heavy drum flywheel that a slow speed start and variable speed would be much better. would also cut down on initial jump and add safety when encountering a stopped cable at a short distance in when there is no spring to absorb the fast build of of torque.