The 10 Best Wood Lathes

Sara Mandeed
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A lathe is a machine that is used to shape a piece of wood into a different shape. Some lathes are simple enough for home use while others can be found in very intricate pieces of furniture, such as an ornate grandfather clock.

A lathe is a woodworking tool that can be used for various tasks. These include woodcarving, metal spinning, engraving and sculpting.

You will usually find a wood lathe at a woodworking shop, where it would be used for commercial purposes. A home lathe is a tool that requires a certain amount of necessary skill and experience.

Before you rush out to buy a wood lathe, you should check with a local woodworking shop to see what kind of work is done on a lathe.

Do you need a wood lathe for a simple task such as woodcarving? Or do you need a wood lathe for larger projects such as building furniture?

In this article, I will have a look at what distinguishes a wood lathe. We will also take a look at some of the different types of wood lathes to help you choose the best wood lathe for your needs.

NameCategoryProduct
RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2" x 24" VSR MIDI Lathe,Best OverallRIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2" x 24" VSR MIDI Lathe,
PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel SetBudget PickPSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel Set
Laguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency DriveUpgrade PickLaguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency Drive

1. RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2" x 24" VSR MIDI Lathe,

Our rating: 9 / 10

RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2" x 24" VSR MIDI Lathe,

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Pros:

  • Great value
  • Smooth work and stability
  • Quick set up
  • Great customer support
  • Quiet operation
  • Nice looking and durable

Cons:

  • May have issues sharpening
  • V-belt not durable
  • Wood stops are plastic
  • May need to purchase additional parts
  • Light duty materials

As a beginner wood lathe, the RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2" x 24" VSR MIDI with 110V is a good option. The specifications of this wood lathe are many. RIKON VSR wood lathes are manufactured from aluminum, steel, and cast iron. The bed is made of cast iron while the headstock is made of cast iron and the tailstock is made of aluminum and steel. The spindle is connected to the motor by a V-belt in which, according to reports, has a lifespan of 3,000 to 5,000 hours.

The maximum speed of this wood lathe is 4000 RPM and the minimum speed is 200 RPM. The power consume of the motor is 1.7 HP and the voltage requirement is 110 volts. This wood lathe has a maximum capacity of 18 inches in diameter and a maximum length of 24 inches. The travel length of the headstock is 12 1/2 inches while the travel length of the tailstock is 12 inches.

2. Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe

Our rating: 9 / 10

Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe

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Pros:

  • Plenty of horsepower at 16.5
  • Variable speed from 0 to 3500 RPM
  • Ideal for chisels, gouges, and parting tools
  • Solid cast iron base
  • Comes with excellent instructional DVD
  • Excellent customer support

Cons:

  • Issues reported with the work light
  • Need to thread adjustments

It’s hard to go wrong with a Jet model when it comes to wood lathes. The Jet JWL-1440VSK comes with lower-end price and fantastic performance. This model is an excellent choice for craftsmen that want a wood lathe that can be used to perform most woodworking operations. It’s also a great choice for beginners.

The Jet JWL-1440VSK starts with an electric motor of 16.5 HP, which makes it ideal for various woodworking tasks. Users that use this model for chiseling and gouging are particularly appreciative of the power it can generate. The lathe can be used with a variety of different accessories, such as bits, chisels, scrapers, grinding tools, and even carving knives.

3. Laguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency Drive

Our rating: 9 / 10

Laguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency Drive

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Pros:

  • Top-tier German and Japanese induction motors
  • Adjustable Speed Frequency Drive makes it easy to operate at any speed setting
  • Very smooth, with a four-step pulley system
  • Live tooling is very convenient and efficient
  • Ideal for both beginners and professionals

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with any extras – no woodworking handbook, no wrenches, etc.
  • Gotchas – slot for precision depth stop is in front of tailstock and belt can catch on the side of the track in the headstock

The 240v 2HP 18"/36", MLAREVO 1836, Live Center is a larger and more powerful version of its predecessor the MLA 1836.

What with heavy duty features like German and Japanese induction motors, a four-step pulley slotted headstock which is driven by a toothed belt, and a wide adjustable belt-driven angle, this version of the MLA 1836 is worth more than a look.

The fact that it also operates at a choice of three different speeds instantly, namely 1500, 1725, and 1975 rpm, makes it a stand-out performer and one of the best wood lathes in its class.

4. PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel Set

Our rating: 9 / 10

PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel Set

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Pros:

  • Great for polishing, scraping, and much more
  • 3 different designs of chisels
  • High-quality steel
  • Lightweight design
  • Affordable compared to high-end chisels
  • Includes plastic case, hex wrench, and a 6mm socket
  • Solid clamping system that holds chisels firmly in place
  • Feedback of wood while turning provides excellent control
  • Produces uniform and smooth cuts

Cons:

  • Some found rust after several uses, but it’s due to how the chisels are stored
  • Can be difficult to adjust the tools on the fly
  • It’s somewhat difficult for beginners to use, but it’s not impossible
  • A little difficult to set up, but it’s not the end of the world
  • The case is a bit flimsy, but for a price like this, it’s a minor detail

(20-160mm)

5. Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

Our rating: 8 / 10

Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

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Pros:

  • Variable speeds
  • Simple design
  • Comes with a ton of features
  • Easy assembly
  • Can handle a wide array of materials
  • Low price point
  • Warranty
  • Repairs can be difficult
  • Heavier than other options
  • Pulleys need to be replaced regularly

With a 3/4 -horsepower motor, the Delta 46-460 is ideal for both hobbyists and beginners as it has enough power to tackle anything you throw at it. The machine is capable of running on a variable speed range between 500 and 4000 rpm. The lathe is shipped with carbide cutting tools, a solid carbide three-jaw chuck, a wrench, and a starter tool pack that comes with the 5 accessories you need to begin using your lathe.

The Delta Industrial 46-460 is also quiet and is not prone to vibration, which makes it comfortable to use as you need it. It’s pretty easy to set up out of the box and comes with a decent set of manuals. You can choose to convert the head of the lathe for easy right or left-handed operation. However, it’s important to note the it is not as light as other options which makes it tiresome to use over time.

6. Nova 71118 Comet II DR

Our rating: 8 / 10

Nova 71118 Comet II DR

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Pros:

  • Powerful 3/4 HP motor
  • Flexible expandable design
  • Able to handle a variety of materials
  • Simple assembly
  • Easy-to-use controls

Cons:

  • Lathe stops spinning at 12,000 rpm so you need to get a chuck for faster speeds
  • The base is a little wobbly

Wood lathe with bed extension, worklight, digital RPM gauge, aluminum construction, digital RPM readout.

So there you have it, the best wood lathes, as well as other awesome items to consider on your next woodworking project.

If you have ever tried to actually build something, you will know that having the right tools can drastically increase your success rate.

7. JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe

Our rating: 8 / 10

JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe

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Pros:

  • Excellent affordability
  • Superior finish
  • Very powerful 1.25 HP motor
  • On-board wrench storage
  • Easy to assemble and easy to use

Cons:

  • Somewhat small for taller/larger users
  • Small workbench

This is a great lathe for beginners as well as hobbyists. It has a powerful and reliable 1.25 HP motor that performs well consistently. It comes with a 2-speed setting and has a surprisingly broad range in terms of speed … between 33 and 2600 RPM. This is a variable speed lathe, and the headstock drives the workpiece. It is important to note that the belt does not have high-speed reduction gears.

The workbench measures around 15 by 10 by 14 inches, which is pretty small. However, it is useful for making pens, bowls, and other smaller turnings. Note that the VMT cone set does not come with the lathe. However, it does have a detachable faceplate. The tool rests are made of hardened steel, while the handwheels are made of machined aluminum. The lathe has a full-cast iron body, while the headstock is made of cast iron.

8. Grizzly Industrial G0462-16" x 46" Wood Lathe

Our rating: 8 / 10

Grizzly Industrial G0462-16" x 46" Wood Lathe

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Pros:

  • Spindle Lock
  • Great for more than just wood
  • Quiet operation
  • Cost-effective in the long run, thanks to the included accessories
  • Variable speed control
  • Simple belt system for adjusting speed and direction
  • Great support from Grizzly
  • Includes microfine adjustments for the tool rest
  • Low Vibration Index
  • Overhang to this wood lathe is 46 in.

Cons:

  • 120v only
  • Unit is heavy. If you plan on moving it around a lot, you will need a forklift.
  • Minor vibration can transfer through to the tool rest.
  • Logs larger than 16" in diameter will be difficult to turn.
  • In use, the belt on the head become tangled with the belt on the tail

Wood turning is a top hobby and one that a lot of enthusiasts share. If you're looking to get into wood turning, your first step is to decide which wood lathe you want to purchase. In our opinion the Grizzly Industrial G0462-16" x 46" Wood Lathe with DRO boasts more than enough features to win over even the most seasoned woodturner. It's a great place to start and you can upgrade later on if you need to.

9. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander 12" Variable Speed Midi Lathe

Our rating: 7 / 10

PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander 12" Variable Speed Midi Lathe

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Pros:

  • User-friendly midi lathe
  • Comes with many accessories
  • Cast iron headstock and extension bed
  • Comes with variable speed control
  • 8 speed settings from 210-1200 rpm
  • Self-ejecting for better safety
  • Long-term user reviews are positive
  • Supports heavy workpieces
  • Lightweight and easy to operate
  • Easily accessible for larger projects

Cons:

  • Limited instruction and support
  • Some reported issues with the belt management system

The PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Midi Lathe helps you make creative and useful objects from wood. It supports large projects, and the sturdy construction makes it easy to carry out a wide range of woodworking projects. The midi lathe also supports many accessories, letting you enhance your work with a range of lathe accessories.

10. Mophorn Wood Lathe 10 x 18 Inch,Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe Variable Speed 500-3800 RPM,Mini Wood Lathe Regulation Digital Display,Benchtop Lathe Strong Power 550W

Our rating: 6 / 10

Mophorn Wood Lathe 10 x 18 Inch,Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe Variable Speed 500-3800 RPM,Mini Wood Lathe Regulation Digital Display,Benchtop Lathe Strong Power 550W

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Pros:

  • Durable and rugged
  • Budget-friendly
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Exterior is made of aluminum, which is sturdy and durable
  • Draw-bar is made of steel
  • Front and rear handles

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have a T-square or carriage
  • Only comes in a dark grey color
  • Has a slightly messy labeling
  • Wobbles a bit
  • Can only be used for smaller projects

Our top pick is the Mophorn Wood Lathe 10 x 18 Inch, a rugged, well-constructed product that is perfect for beginners and smaller projects. It is designed to last, and the price is quite reasonable when you consider the performance level.

The Mophorn Wood Lathe is constructed from 580mm x 540mm aluminum, and has a power rating of 550 watts. The lathe comes with a variable speed of 500-3800 rpm, and the maximum diameter supported is 18 inches. The draw bar is made of steel, as are the front and rear handles.

There is no locking mechanism, and the motor head is non-removable, so this is likely not the best wood lathe for someone looking to start professional work, but it’s a fantastic choice for casual, practice wood turning.

11. WEN 3420 8" by 12" Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe

Our rating: 5 / 10

WEN 3420 8" by 12" Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe

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Pros:

  • Great value for the price
  • Fast speed control
  • Quiet operation
  • Simple, intuitive controls
  • Metalworking abilities improve with every use
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Quick and easy set up and installation
  • Comes fully assembled

Cons:

  • Wobble in the headstock
  • Clamp bracket doesn’t fit the wood style well
  • Offers only one tool (7mm 3/8" morse taper)
  • No included guard or fence
  • Subpar customer service

For those looking to start woodworking and need a lathe for practice, this WEN benchtop lathe is a great place to start. It is affordable for beginners and has a small footprint (16" x 16") so it fits anywhere, but still has the size (10" x 12") to produce a relatively large work piece. The greatest feature of this lathe is the control it offers you to become an efficient woodworker. It's a simple, no-frills machine with significant power behind it for the price.

The WEN has a variable-speed motor that runs at 10-22,000 RPM, meaning you can do jobs from very small to very large with this one machine.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the best wood lathes?

Nowadays, many people choose a wood lathe to power their woodworking projects. If you are considering one for yourself, then you should take the time to consider several factors before choosing a wood lathe. To give you a head start, here are some of the things that you need to consider,

What is the best beginner wood lathe?

The best wood lathe for a beginner is the South Bend 16-Inch Wood Lathe with Stand. (See Full Review)

This wood lathe is a great buy for a first-time woodworker. It can operate up to 2 1/2-inch bowl centers. With its simple construction and ability to work on such a large project, this wood lathe is perfect for a first-time woodworker. Plus, it comes with a stand, making assembly a breeze.

How do I choose a wood lathe?

In choosing a wood lathe, it’s important to consider the type of work you intend to use the lathe for.

A benchtop lathe is smaller and have a smaller turning capacity compared to a floor-mounted lathe. They are easy to transport and are more affordable, making them ideal for hobbyists and those who do light to medium duty woodworking.

On the other hand, floor-mounted lathes are mounted on a chasis or legs. This makes turning larger pieces of wood impossible as the lathe is immovable. Floor lathes, however, come with a greater turning capacity, using a bed and a carriage for the major elements. The bed and carriage can be adjusted infinitely to widen or narrow the turning capacity of the lathe.

Are grizzly wood lathes any good?

Grizzly is a solid brand. It has been around for a long time and the company has a great reputation for making high quality lathes.

For a beginner woodworker, we recommend looking at their G1023 Z1 model. It is small enough to be easily transported but large enough to turn most projects. If you are in a hurry to get started on your project, you might also want to look at their G0620 model, which comes with a chuck and motor. However, that HWW recommends you start with a drill-powered lathe.

For a more advanced woodworker looking to expand his or her collection of wood lathes, you might want to look at the Grizzly G1062, G4203, and G1034. These lathes have all the features a seasoned wood lathe turned might need. However, HWW suggests that you buy the G1034 it at once. Let me explain why.

Conclusion

The wood lathe is one of the most versatile woodworking tools out there. When it comes to the projects you can make with one of these tools, the possibilities are endless.

Only a small selection of the different wood lathes on the market are designed for real woodworking.

Here are some factors you should consider when buying a wood lathe:

Size. The size of the wood lathe is important because it will dictate how big of a project you can turn.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2" x 24" VSR MIDI Lathe,Best OverallRIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2" x 24" VSR MIDI Lathe,
PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel SetBudget PickPSI Woodworking LCHSS8 Wood Lathe 8pc HSS Chisel Set
Laguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency DriveUpgrade PickLaguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency Drive