Best Wood Lathes

Review & Comparison, Last Update July 3, 2017
Woodturning allows creating a variety of wooden objects and it is undoubtedly impossible without a good and modern wood lathe. Our review features 5 best wood lathes that have been shortlisted to help you find the best one! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Power
Spindle speed ranges
Capacities
Headstock
Tailstock
Faceplate diameter
Conveniences
Footprint
Weight
Warranty
 
PROS
The patented tension system allows you to quickly strain or loosen the belt. The digital readout displays the RPM rate, which is truly convenient.
CONS
The tool is rather heavy for transportation.
OUR VERDICT
This wood lathe is suitable for professional home use. The innovative solutions and functions this lathe has will impress even experienced users.
detailed parameters
Power
1 HP
Spindle speed ranges
60-900 RPM 110-1800 RPM 220-3600 RPM
Capacities
Swing over bed: 12-1/2" Swing over tool rest base: 9-9/20" Distance between centers: 20-1/2"
Headstock
Spindle taper: MT2 Spindle thread: 1" - 8TPI
Tailstock
Quill taper: MT2 Quill travel: 2-1/4"
Faceplate diameter
3"
Conveniences
Variable speed dial, Innovative ratchet-style belt tension system, Digital readout, Forward/reverse switch, 24 index pin positions, Tools included, Extendable bed
Footprint
30-1/2" x 9"
Weight
121.25 lbs
Warranty
5-year warranty
PROS
The special 6-groove belt provides a quick speed change. The lathe makes low noise when it's running, so it won't bother you.
CONS
Some users have troubles with switches.
OUR VERDICT
Thanks to a decent performance and plain design, this Delta wood lathe will be apt for novices in woodturning. The machine will cope with a wide range of tasks owing to the high power.
detailed parameters
Power
1 HP
Spindle speed ranges
250-700 RPM 600-1800 RPM 1350-4000 RPM
Capacities
Swing over bed: 12-1/2" Swing over tool rest base: 9-9/16" Distance between centers: 16-1/2"
Headstock
Spindle taper: MT2 Spindle thread: 1" - 8TPI
Tailstock
Quill taper: MT2 Quill travel: 2-1/4"
Faceplate diameter
3"
Conveniences
Electronic Variable Speed, Three speed ranges, Reversing function, 24 indexing pin positions, Tools included, Extendable bed, 6" and 10" tool rests
Footprint
~ 31" x 7"
Weight
97 lbs
Warranty
5-year limited warranty
PROS
A compact size and small weight make the lathe perfect for small workshops. Besides, you can easy relocate this machine to any place you wish.
CONS
Buyers claim that the tool vibrates considerably while in use.
OUR VERDICT
It's the perfect lathe for medium woodturning projects. First of all, this tool will prove its efficiency in handling softwood and will come in handy for making souvenirs and homemade items.
detailed parameters
Power
1⁄3 HP
Spindle speed ranges
700-3200 RPM
Capacities
Swing over bed: 8" Swing over tool rest: 2-1/4" Distance between centers: 13"
Headstock
Spindle taper: MT1 Spindle thread: 3⁄4" x 16TPI
Tailstock
Quill taper: MT1 Quill travel: N/A
Faceplate diameter
5.75"
Conveniences
Variable-speed control, Safety paddle switch, 4-1/4" and 7" tool rests
Footprint
23-1/2" x 5"
Weight
45 lbs
Warranty
2-year warranty
PROS
The spindle lock is located on top of the headstock, which is very convenient. Besides, the spindle can be locked without tools for easy removal of faceplates and chucks.
CONS
According to users' feedback, the tailstock is a bit loosened.
OUR VERDICT
RIKON wood lathe is one of the most comfortable, reliable, and efficient tools in its class. It can be used in small workshops and will suit both beginners and professionals for occasional woodworking tasks.
detailed parameters
Power
1/2 HP
Spindle speed ranges
430 RPM 810 RPM 1230 RPM 1810 RPM 2670 RPM 3900 RPM
Capacities
Swing over bed: 12" Swing over tool rest base: 9-1/2" Distance between centers: 16"
Headstock
Spindle taper: MT2 Spindle thread: 1" - 8TPI
Tailstock
Quill taper: MT2 Quill travel: 2-1/2"
Faceplate diameter
3"
Conveniences
Six speed ranges, Tools included, 12 index head positions, Extendable bed
Footprint
27-9/16" x 7-11/16"
Weight
88.5 lbs
Warranty
5-year limited warranty
PROS
The lathe has a well-thought-out design for your convenience. The base features the rubber feet that prevent the tool from slipping.
CONS
The motor is prone to occasional overheating.
OUR VERDICT
This benchtop wood lathe is a great option for producing wooden dishware like vases and cups as well as other similar tasks.
detailed parameters
Power
1/2 HP
Spindle speed ranges
826 RPM 1205 RPM 1713 RPM 2422 RPM 3337 RPM
Capacities
Swing over bed: 10" Swing over tool rest: 6-1/4" Distance between centers: 18"
Headstock
Spindle taper: MT2 Spindle thread: 1" - 8TPI
Tailstock
Quill taper: MT2 Quill travel: 3-1/4"
Faceplate diameter
3"
Conveniences
Five speed ranges, Tools included
Footprint
29-1/2" x 7-1/2"
Weight
73 lbs
Warranty
1-year warranty

What is a Wood Lathe

Wood is in demand at all times. The finely turned and craftily decorated wooden items are valued really high. Moreover, wood has its own vibe. If you need to make a truly nice wooden object, common joinery tools might be insufficient. In this case, a wood lathe is evidently the best assistant. The range of capabilities wood lathes offer is overwhelming. These tools can be used for making furniture, dishware, toys, processing and shaping wooden pieces, and a lot more.

In addition, consider miter saws for precise angle cutting as well as circular saws for cutting up slats and planks in your woodworking jobs.

What Features to Compare

Performance

You should be guided by some important aspects for choosing a wood lathe which is right for you. First of all, pay your attention to the performance features, particularly the motor power and spindle speed range. The motor power may vary from 1/8 HP up to 2HP and higher. If you need a lathe for home use, a 1/2 to 1HP model will be enough. The wood lathes for industrial use are typically powerful. As for the spindle speed range, the picture is clear. The more speeds a lathe has, the better. Both high and low speeds are applied depending on a wood hardness and turning needs. So, a variable speed can be crucial for some users of wood lathes.

Capacities

Capacities are the next important point when choosing a wood lathe as they determine the size of pieces a lathe can process. Here, you need to consider a few parameters including the swing over bed, swing over tool rest, distance between centers, faceplate diameter, spindle travel, and the type of quill and spindle. So, choose the lathe the capacities of which conform to your workpieces and items you’re going to make.

Conveniences

Conveniences of a wood lathe are also important. They include such aspects as special materials the components of a wood lathe are made of, comfortable control elements, etc. These aspects affect the lathe controllability as well as its wear-resistance and durability. After all, the size of a wood lathe matters too. Commercial-grade wood lathes are usually quite big, yet some models (those for home use) are small and can be installed in tight workshops.

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JET JWL-1221VS

No Limits to Perfection

Woodworking is a deep and labor-consuming business. However, if you have a wood lathe like JWL-1221VS, your job is twice easier. This woodturning gear demonstrates an excellent performance and proves that a wood lathe isn't always complex and puzzling. Foremost, we'd like to note that JET engineers have done a nice job upgrading their lathes. Unlike its predecessors, JWL-1221VS has a wide bed made of cast iron. Generally, all the lathe components are made of cast iron, except a tailstock and headstock that feature steel components. Such design and impressive lifespan of a tool. Mechanical components of the lathe have also undergone improvements. Thanks to updated spindle bearings, the lathe can withstand higher loads. Moreover, the tool is fitted with a powerful 1 HP electric motor for a better performance. We'd like to mention that the lathe can process pretty large workpieces despite its compact design. Finally, the manufacturer offers the optional extension that allows you to double the bed length.

Review of JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe

Impressive Functionality

The versatility of JWL-1221VS is difficult to overestimate. All the controls, including an ON/OFF switch, a forward/reverse switch, and a digital readout of the spindle rotation speed are compactly located on the control panel. As for the digital readout, we should say that this solution is incredibly convenient and simplifies setting of the right speed. Also, pay attention to 3 speed ranges that allow turning different types of wood. Furthermore, you can set the minimum speed for processing delicate types of wood. Mind that such opportunity is rarely featured in wood lathes. The handwheels of tailstock and spindle work smoothly and precisely. The innovative ratchet system allows you to easily loosen or strain the V-belt. It is worth saying that JET has applied for a patent for this system, and it largely cuts the belt replacement time.

JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe in the use

Conclusion

This wood lathe makes an impression of the almost flawless machine. The headmost design solutions featured in this tool make it special, so professional turners will appreciate it and, maybe, even get the concept of the perfect lathe. We can also highlight a considerable weight of this unit, which is an important advantage. You may wonder whether the heaviness can be a benefit and we will shed light on this question! A weighty lathe causes fewer vibrations while working.

Detailed review of JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe

More Products to Consider

We recommend you to acquire a bed extension to double your lathe's bed length, a face shield to protect your face from wood shavings, and a set of chisels for manual processing your future wooden masterpieces.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Jet 1221VS Review and Tips
JET JWL-1221VS
JET JWL-1221VS
 

Delta Industrial 46-460

Quiet Gear

Delta Industrial 46-460 is the wood lathe elaborated for home applications, but it can compete with full-size models thanks to its decent power. It is hard to imagine that this small lathe can cope with a difficult task. It has all the functions typical of these tools, yet this wood lathe has some particular features distinguishing it from other models. As you know, this lathe has a compact size and it can be placed even on a small table. Don't worry about turning large workpieces, as you can buy an additional bed extension. The lathe body is made of cast iron, so the long operational life is guaranteed. We also noticed that the lathe motor works quietly and generates almost no vibrations. Furthermore, the lathe is practically noiseless even when it's running at the highest speed.

Review of Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe

Three Speeds

The electronic speed control is the first advantage of this wood lathe. 3 speed ranges help you pick the most appropriate spindle rotating speed for accurate turning. Also, the patented tensioning system provides the right belt tension after each speed change and, thus, ensures a longer life of the tool. We liked a V-belt featured this lathe has. This belt has 6 V-shape grooves that resist slipping better in comparison with common flat belts. In addition, we were glad of the reversing function that allows superb polishing. We'd like to note that Delta engineers provided a smart solution by installing lathe controls on top of the headstock. Firstly, controls are less exposed to shavings and chips, so controlling this lathe is safe and simple. Secondly, controls are located at your eyes' level, which adds to the convenience. Hence, you won't have to lean and fumble for controls as they are always at hand.

Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe in the use

More Products to Consider

We recommend you to buy a bed extension that will help you process large workpieces.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Woodturning My New Delta 46-460 Lathe
Delta Industrial 46-460
Delta Industrial 46-460
 

Shop Fox W1704

Lathe for Simple Tasks

This benchtop wood lathe manufactured by Shop Fox can be treated as a light-duty tool. Yet, it does not mean that the quality of this lathe is poor. Having the force of 1/3 HP, this wood lathe is apt for handling softwood, and if you are looking for such machine, no need to overpay for a more powerful one. We should mention that Shop Fox W1704 is based on a robust one-piece cast-iron bed that vibrates less comparing to the tools with composite beds. Also, not every lathe can boast such reliability. We'd like you to draw your attention to the stepless speed control. This is the dial that manages the spindle speed and allows you to set the spindle rotation depending on a workpiece hardness. Let's note the lock-out paddle switch among safety features of this wood lathe. This switch turns the lathe on only when the safety key is inserted and events an unauthorized use of the tool.

Review of Shop Fox W1704 Benchtop Lathe

Some Info About Softwood

We would like to mention some types of softwood that can be processed on a lathe. Basswood is one of them. Basswood grows from New Brunswick to east Manitoba in Canada and from the east of North Carolina to Kentucky and Nebraska in the USA. The timber of basswood is very soft and light; it isn't prone to cracking and drying. Basswood is easily machinable and cuttable and is often used in woodworking. The basswood timber is unfit for making furniture due to its softness, but it is perfect for making souvenirs, toys, decorative elements and interior adornments. Basswood can be softened with vapor, as well as hardened by means of drying. Willow is another example of softwood. Willow is able to vie basswood as it is also light, soft, tough, and elastic. Willow is used for making various implements like tennis rackets and prosthetic devices. The trunks of large willows are widely used for the construction. About 65 species of willow grow in the US and only 25 of them reach maturity. Salix alba is a species of willow most commonly used in woodworking because of its properties and structure.

Shop Fox W1704 Benchtop Lathe in the use

More Products to Consider

We advise you to purchase a plastic center finder for easy centering and alignment of your workpieces.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
SHOP FOX W1704 Lathe Unboxing and Setup
Shop Fox W1704
Shop Fox W1704
 

RIKON Power Tools 70-100

6 Speeds for a Better Result

Rikon 70-900 mini wood lathe is one of high-quality and functional woodworking tools. The unit is made of cast iron and fitted with quite powerful 1/2 HP motor. The lathe has a convenient power switch for turning the motor on or off. We'd like to highlight a comfortable speed changing among the functional capabilities of the tool. The lathe has 6 speed settings, so you can select the necessary rotation speed depending on a workpiece. The speed is changed when the belt drive moves on the pulleys in the headstock. You just need to remove the rear cover to get access to pulleys and change the belt position. Moreover, RIKON 70-100 has a spindle with 12 indexing holes, so you can lock the spindle in any of these positions to freeze a workpiece for further processing.

Review of RIKON Power Tools 70-100 Mini Lathe

Versatile Conveniences

The locking levers and switches of this lathe work faultlessly, while the quill and spindle are perfectly aligned, hence you'll get an accurate turning. The spindle revolves smoothly at each of 6 available speeds. The tool rest also moves along the bed easily. Let's take a closer look at the bed of this wood lathe. This bed isn't long but it's quite normal for a non-commercial tool designed for home use. Still, the lathe bed can be increased by 40'' with the help of a bed extension for processing large workpieces. In general, RIKON 70-100 is a moderately priced mini wood lathe that offers decent capabilities for pleasurable woodwork.

RIKON Power Tools 70-100 Mini Lathe in the use

More Products to Consider

We advise buying an extension for lengthening the bed (by 24"). Also, it's strongly recommended to wear a face shield for protecting your eyes from wood chips when turning.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
New Rikon 70-100 Mini Lathe (CMRW#35)
RIKON Power Tools 70-100
RIKON Power Tools 70-100
 

Grizzly H8259

Simple and Convenient

We have no doubts saying that this wood lathe by Grizzly is one of the best tools for beginners. H8259 is a compact benchtop wood lathe that tackles medium-scale woodworking projects. We'd like to note that the tool has 5 speed settings that make the woodturning as accurate as possible. Generally, we like this lathe and the perfect assembly quality. The cast-iron bed and other parts of this lathe featuring steel components confirm the machine's durability. The wood lathe is coated with the epoxy paint for the best protection against corrosion. The lathe controls are on a decent level, the ON/OFF switch is located conveniently and all handles and levers work precisely. We would like to note that the lathe has a convenient tool rest and a spindle that securely grip workpieces. The lathe motor delivers the power of 1/2 HP, which is more than enough for making dishes, cups, and other utensils.

Review of Grizzly H8259 Bench-Top Wood Lathe

Safety Rules

A wood lathe isn't the most dangerous machine in the world. Yet, you should follow some safety precautions while using this tool.

1. Start processing a workpiece only when the spindle reaches a full speed. Feed a tool bit gradually and slow the feed down while turning twigs.

2. Make sure your workpiece is free from nails and other metal inclusions before you chuck it, otherwise the processing might become dangerous.

3. Inspect the gears of your lathe regularly and clean and grease them when necessary.

4. Turn your lathe off as soon as abnormal noise, knocking, or vibrations appear.

5. Never stop the spindle manually.

Complying with these safety recommendations, you will protect yourself and extend your lathe's lifespan as well.

Grizzly H8259 Bench-Top Wood Lathe in the use

More Products to Consider

In case you perform some manual woodwork, get this handy chisel set.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Grizzly H8259
Grizzly H8259
 

Sources:

1. How to Select a LatheInstructables.

2. How to Choose the Right Size of LatheeBay. March 3, 2016.

3. How to Select a LathewikiHow.

4. Jess Buskirk How to Choose a Wood LatheOverstock.

5. Choosing a Woodworking Lathe for Your Woodworking ProjectDoItYourself.

6. Lathe, Wikipedia. November 16, 2016.

7. Chris Baylor How to Buy and Use a Wood Lathe, About. December 28, 2015.

8. Skill Set: Understanding the LatheMakezine.