Top 6 Best Wood Lathes In 2020

Every carpenter knows how a wood lathe is very crucial in a woodworking shop. Just like sawing and planning, turning wood into a beautiful piece of woodwork is only made possible through a lathe. But then, it can be challenging to have the best wood lathes given the various choices in the market with unique features.

Having a wood lathe can allow you to enjoy working with wood to create different accessories like table legs and spindles, as well as baseball bats, pens, or even bowls. It is a better alternative for carving wood due to its speed, consistency, and result.
Best Wood lathe


The Top 6 Wood Lathes Review 

If you desire to bypass several brain strain, this wood lathe reviews will help you have a better understanding of the different unique features of each item. Here are some of the top lathes that you can consider buying.

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Our Favorite Features 

  • Item Weight: 136.7 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 32.8 x 14.6 x 21.2 inches
  • Voltage: 115 volts
  • Motor: 1 Horsepower
  • Speed: 3600 RPM
  • Spindle: 1 X 8"
  • Warranty: 5 years

This model is one of the most prominent wood lathes from intermediate to pro woodturners due to its speed control, options, and ranges.

With its unrivaled speed control, you have the option of whether you will use the discrete mode or the continuous mode. Using the discrete control allows you to manage the speed of the spindle at fixed RMP. You will further have options to set from 430 up to 3900. Other options include 2670, 1819, 1230, and 810.

On the other hand, if you choose the continuous mode, the spindle speed can be set at any RMP for as long as it is within the range of the machine. Say, for instance, you set the speed within 60 RMP to 3600 RPM on the machine. The machine, in turn, shows the speed at which it runs through its digital readout.

The JWL 1221VS comes with an integrated spindle lock that is loaded with spring for safety purposes. Not to mention, its controls and DRO are placed in a convenient location so you can have a smooth transition from forward to reverse. This is built with a ratchet-style tension system with a tailstock acme thread.

Weighing 136.7 pounds, this variable speed wood lathe is quite heavy. It means that it can be very stable, though some users find it a problem. Since its center-to-center distance is 21 inches, you may need to have a bed extension if you’re turning wood that is longer than the capacity. Lastly, it’s quite costly.

Pros

  1. Comes with digital speed readout, especially useful if you use the continuous mode.
  2. Discretion whether to use continuous or discrete control.
  3. Ensures safety with spring-loaded spindle lock.
  4. Convenient control locations.
  5. Provides smooth transition from forward to reverse.

Cons

  1. Quite a heavy machine weighing more than 100 pounds.
  2. Jet lathe for sale is expensive.
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Our Favorite Features

  • Item Weight: 400 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 87 x 57 x 38 inches
  • Motor: 1 Horsepower
  • Speed: 400-3000 RPM
  • Warranty: 5 Years

If you want to finish numerous projects at a faster rate, this versatile lathe can give you the best features when it comes to speed, headstock, and many more!

Weighing about 400 pounds with its 87 x 57 x 38 inches dimension, this lathe is undoubtedly one of the biggest wood lathes in the market. The headstock can slide 360 degrees, which is a good idea for protecting and accessing the spindle for your maximum comfort. It comes with a different speed from 400 to 3000 RMP.

With its 7 locking positions, including 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 270, you will be ensured of optimal variability. The innovative tailstock comes with an anti-rotational key, so it is capable of holding the workpiece firmly. Plus, it comes with clamping that is redesigned to keep the positive locking tool in place.

The JWL-1440VSK contains an easy-to-read display so you can easily see the rate at which the lathe spins from 400 to 3000 RMP. Much more, this is a good idea if you require larger outboard turning as it has an optional bed extension that can be mounted in 3 different positions. However, it does not cater to a reverse spin.

You can use this to turn items up to 60 inches. Using a 1 HP motor, this lathe is a powerful single phase tool that can bear high volumes of piece work. You no longer need to obtain a leg set as it is already included therein. Being CSA certified also means that it has met the standards required for efficiency.

Pros

  1. Comes with a sliding headstock that can be turned up to 360 degrees.
  2. Provides different speed up to 3000 RMP.
  3. Equipped with an anti-rotational key and new tailstock locking to improve safety.
  4. Easy-to-read display to determine RMP.
  5. Can turn woodwork up to 60 inches.
  6. CSA certified ensuring efficiency.
  7. Powerful! Its 1 HP water.

Cons

  1. Heavy equipment weighing 400 pounds.
  2. No reverse function.
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Our Favorite Features

  • Item Weight: 97 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 36 x 11 x 17.8 inches
  • Motor: 1 Horsepower
  • Speed: 250-700, 600-1,800 and 1,350-4,000 RPM (3 ranges each variable)
  • Warranty: 5 Years

Featuring a durable knockout bar, ball-bearing live center, and built-in storage to easily access various adjustment tools, this machine can handle heavy-duty tasks with ease making it the wood lathe for sale.

The Delta Industrial 46-460 uses 1 HP max and 1725 RMP motor, which means that it is powerful enough to handle tons of workloads. Having a variable speed with 12 ½ inches swing capacity can help provide a precise and consistent result. It is dubbed as the largest in its class, though weighing only 97 pounds.

Because it comes with three-speed ranges, it will be easier for you to choose the speed needed to turn your project. This only means that you no longer have to change belt positions most of the time. Since this has “forward and reverse” functions, you will certainly achieve an excellent finish. How is this possible?

The best way to achieve a smooth finish is by rotating the piece in both directions. Some lathes require remounting, which may be time-consuming. But with its function, the process becomes more simplified as you are merely required to flip the switch. Plus, it is made of a patented belt-tensioning system for the utmost speed.

You can make quick speed changes while setting itself at the appropriate tension to obtain optimum power transfer as well as promote longevity. Furthermore, it is equipped with six groove belts ideal for large objects. And because it is constructed with cast-iron, the Delta 46-460 has superior strength and durability.

Pros

  1. Weighs only 97 pounds.
  2. Powered by 1 HP and 1725 RMP motor.
  3. Provides different speed options to promote precision and consistency.
  4. Has a forward and reverse function to achieve a superior finish.
  5. Equipped with a belt-tensioning system for longevity and quick speed changes.
  6. Constructed with casted iron for improved strength and durability.

Cons

  1. Center-to-center distance is shorter.
  2. Needs bed extension for pieces longer than 16 inches.
  3. Not equipped with speed readout.
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Our Favorite Features

  • Item Weight: 82.4 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 33 x 9 x 18 inches
  • Voltage: 230 volts
  • Motor: 3/4 Horsepower
  • Spindle: 1″ x 8TPI RH
  • Speed: 250 to 4000rpm
  • Warranty: 1 year

This innovative and versatile compact lathe can deliver heavy-duty stability and capacity of larger lathes, making it the best mini wood lathe in the market.

With its center-to-center distance of 16 ½ inches and 12 inches swing over bed, it can cater to different woodworking tasks from spindles to bowls and even pens. This is also made possible with its variable speed range from 250 to 4000 RMP, as well as the forward and reversing switch that adds flexibility to obtain a superior result.

Much more, it has a digital readout so you can quickly set the appropriate speed for the material, condition, and job. This puts you at a lower risk of danger compared to using a fixed-speed machine. The easy-to-read display shows the speed for easy and quick adjustments. With its 3-step pulley system, you can access speed ranges.

Usually, the middle step is already sufficient for most wood-turning applications. But if you need a more demanding application, the additional 2 steps can offer more torque. The 46300 Comet II is undoubtedly durable being made with quality materials, specifically of the solid iron cast throughout the machine.

Because a wood lathe is used to turn a piece, this model comes with strong 2MT spindles making it the cheap lathe machine in the market. It also comes with NOVA smart accessories and quick action cam controls for a flexible and ease of use. You can also purchase extendable beds for added capacity.

Pros

  1. Comes with easy-to-read digital readout to quickly make speed adjustments.
  2. Versatile speed range from 250 to 4000RMP.
  3. Its forward and reversing switch allows a superior finish.
  4. Made with a 3-step pulley system.
  5. Constructed with solid iron throughout thereby ensuring quality.

Cons

  1. Uses 3/4 HP motor.
  2. Center-to-center distance is shorter.
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Our Favorite Features

  • Item Weight: 48.5 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 27.9 x 13.7 inches
  • Voltage: 110 volts
  • Motor: 1/3 Horsepower
  • Speed: 700-3200 RPM

Tackle project turning, small cutting, or shaping with this durable and cheap lathe machine featuring iron construction and adjustable tool rest with very little vibration.

This machine is one of the most used woodworking lathes with its 7.1 x 27.9 x 13.7 inches product dimension and 48.5 pounds weight while being built to last due to its iron-casted heavy-duty construction. Given its size and weight, the W1704 can suit neatly on different workbenches without being too noisy.

With its 1/3 HP and a variable-speed motor, you can control levels of speed from 700 to 3200 RPM. However, it has a shorter center-to-center distance of only 13 inches, and 8 inches swing over bed. Not to mention, it also features a spur center, live center, faceplate, tool rests, and a ¾ x 16 inches TPI RH spindle.

This lathe is a good idea if you want to accomplish several turning projects, whether you use soft or hardwood. Since the benchtop lathe also includes a faceplate that threads onto the headstock, you can use this for non-spindle turning, making it ideal for items that cannot be held from the tailstock.

Much more, it has an analog display, so you will be able to check the speed of the spindle most of the time. Being one of the light-weight options means that it is compact and portable, so you can easily transport it from one location to another. Given all of its features, this offers the best value for its price.

Pros

  1. Made to last with its cast iron construction.
  2. Fits neatly on different workbenches.
  3. The variable-speed motor gives several speed options between 700 and 3200 RPM.
  4. Also ideal for non-spindle turning, especially for those works that cannot be held from the tailstock.
  5. Ideal for small projects such as pen turning.

Cons

  1. Features only 1/3HP motor.
  2. The shorter center-to-center distance of only 13 inches.
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Our Favorite Features

  • Item Weight: 44.1 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 10 x 12 inches
  • Motor: 2 Amp
  • Speed: 750-3,200 RPM

If you want to fill your home with lots of table legs, get the WEN Wood Lathe, features variable speed operation, MT1 spindle and tailstock, slow start motor, and more accessories.

This machine can give you variable speed from 750 to 3200 RPM by simply turning the speed knob. Being made of MT1 spindle with tailstock taper, your workpieces are surely gripped tightly, giving you a smoother finish. Much more, it includes two tool rests that can support various tools and chisels during operation.

Although it merely uses a 2 AMP slow start motor, it is very powerful in various speed operations. This is beneficial in avoiding motor damage, thereby maximizing safety. Anyway, the 1-inch x 8 TPI threads allow the spindle and tailstock to obtain different accessories, including a faceplate, cup center, and more.

It is made of a clamping system that is easy to use so you can adjust the tailstock and the tool rest with simplicity and precision. With product dimensions of only 26 x 10 x 12 inches and weighing only about 44.1 pounds, this is a good idea if you want to turn small works like pens and chess pieces at different speeds.

The 5-inch faceplate is made of metal designed for enhancing the appearance of the device as well as for protection. Because it can only cater to workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide, this is only suitable for small projects. Not to mention, it is compact so it can fit in any workstation and it is budget-friendly.

Pros

  1. It is budget-friendly.
  2. Ideal for small piece works such as pens and chess pieces.
  3. Comes with variable speeds from 750 to 3200 RPM.
  4. Includes 5-inch faceplate to perform non-spindle workpieces.
  5. The soft-start motor protects the machine from damage and increases safety.

Cons

  1. Not ideal for big projects.
  2. Can cater to only workpieces with a width of only 8 inches and a height of 12 inches.

What to Consider for the Best Wood Lathes?

A lathe is used to turn wood by spinning or rotating it in place. Thereafter, the wood can be sculpted and shaped using a cutting tool or sandpaper to obtain your desired result. Various types of wood lathes available in the market come with unique features, but you should opt for only the best lathes.

Here are some of the things that you should consider.

Power Level

This is a very crucial factor in determining the capacity of the lathe to handle large projects. In wood lathes, the two important features to consider are its speed and the horsepower of the motor.

If its motor offers greater horsepower, it can hold bigger projects and vice versa. But, it is worth noting that not everyone needs to accomplish large projects. That means that you can choose a lathe that offers lesser horsepower.

Moreover, a lathe that offers variable speed is useful in carrying out both big and small projects. If you want better flexibility, it is a good idea to have varying speed options.

Motor size

This feature is very crucial to ascertain the speed to which the machine can cut wood. And this means that if you choose a lathe with a powerful motor, you can cut wood quickly. Larger motor size is ideal for large projects.

However, if your lathe has a less powerful motor, then you should expect that its speed is quite slower when cutting wood. Using a higher speed during operation with lesser power can lead to machine damage.

Speed

The first thing that you should bear in mind is the kind of project you want to accomplish. This will enable you to determine the speed that you deem appropriate for the work.

It only means that wood lathes with faster speeds are not necessarily ideal for all users. Say, for instance, bowl making only requires slower speed while making a table leg requires higher speed.

Build and Size of the Lathe

As always, you need to know what projects you desire to accomplish. Smaller projects only require a small lathe. But if you have several large projects to finish, you should have a bigger lathe.

Moreover, you have to opt for a lathe that offers a heavy-duty built. Look for one that gives importance to durability. Tough wood lathes are built to last so you won’t be needing expensive maintenance or much worse, replacement.

Sturdiness and Stability

Additional speed may result in more vibration, which can affect the sturdiness and stability of a wood lathe. That is why in choosing one, you should consider if it is rugged and heavy enough to stay in place even with sudden shifts. This will not only make the work faster, but it can also prevent accidents from occurring.

Weight

In most cases, but not all, heavier lathes are assumed to be stable during operation. On the other hand, light-weight lathes are more prone to shifting, especially when operating at higher speed or with several large works.

Vibration Level

Although it is natural for this machine to produce vibrations, you may find it harder to control especially when it is in excess. Usually, vibrations occur when the lathe is light-weight or if not properly stabilized in place. This may affect the quality of your finish product.

Noise Level

There are several reasons why your wood lathe should be fairly quiet. First, it is frustrating and irritating to work near a noisy wood lathe. Second, you need to hear how the lathe and the cutting tool interact to ensure that they are working properly.

Capacity

Its capacity is determined by the center-to-center distance and the maximum swing. You can turn large wood if the distance between centers is large and vice versa. That is why in some best lathe reviews, users don’t prefer a wood lathe with shorter center-to-center distance as a bed extension may be required.

Furthermore, a greater swing can be applied to wood with larger diameter without the risk of contact with other components of the wood lathe.

Price

There are many wood lathes available in the market at different prices. Usually, it is determined by different factors such as the brand, quality, size, motor, and capacity.

However, it is worth noting that not all items that are expensive offer great qualities. You should look for the best value for money without compromising several useful features.

Purpose

If you are buying a more expensive machine, you should understand whether it is worth the investment. Ask yourself if you need it for your desired project.

For example, if you just want to make pens, bowls, and chess pieces, then having a smaller wood lathe may be sufficient. But if you are into producing massive amounts of larger projects, then investing in a bigger and more costly machine may be a perfect idea.

Frequently Asked Questions​

  • What is the difference between a wood lathe and a metal lathe?

Both lathes are different in weight, precision, purpose control, and motor power.

  • What is the ideal wood lathe for starters?

If you’re a neophyte, you might need a smaller and less powerful wood lathe. But then, depending on your purpose, you can opt for larger and powerful ones. In choosing one, you need to think whether or not it is worth the investment.

  • How does a wood lathe work?

It works by turning wood into a nice piece of work. When you use a machine, you only need to set everything up, operate it, set the speed, and start, just as simple as that!

  • Are wood lathes expensive?

It depends. Usually, bigger machines are expensive. Great features usually come at a higher price.

  • Is a wood lathe better than a metal lathe?
It depends upon your purpose. These are completely different machines, so if you will be working on wood, then the answer is yes.

Final Words

Due to the number of choices in the market, you may still be in doubt, but knowing the importance of each feature can help you determine which one suits you well. Hopefully, after you have read all the pages, you already have the best wood lathe in mind.