“Create wooden objects easily and beautifully with this wood lathe.”
Be it hobby or profession, a wood lathe is a must-have power tool that assists in making wooden objects like chairs, spoons, bottle openers, bowls, home décor or personal accessories.
It works by rotating a wooden piece around a horizontal axis and thus allows you to cut, turn, sand, drill, and shape the wood into perfect shape.
If you are looking to invest in a wood lathe to enhance your woodworking skills, we recommend you to consider these key factors.
There are three main types of wood lathes available – mini/bench-top, midi, and full-size. One has to select the best type of wood lathe based on their space availability in your workshop and project requirement.
- If you have limited space and want to make small objects like candle holders, pens, cups or bowls, then go with a mini lathe.
- If having a huge workshop and want to make larger objects like baseball bats, or table-chair legs, then go with a full-size lathe.
- If you want to take on larger projects with less floor space, then go with a midi lathe.
Motor Power –
It is measured in Horsepower (HP), and it ranges from 3/4 HP – 2 HP. A motor with a higher HP will increase the lathe’s speed and thereby allows you to quickly finish your task. Here mini-lathe has an output of 3/4 HP to do light-duty woodworks. Full size has 2 HP to deal with industrial/large projects. Midi lathe has an output of 1HP to do light turning projects.
It is measured in rotations per minute (RPM), in which the speed range of the wood lathe will be 250 – 4000 RPM. It aids in faster, controlled, delicate, and the precise cut of wood pieces (smaller or heavier). Some models offer multiple speed settings, which let you shape different types of materials and wood as needed.
For more information and detail specifications, we recommend you to read our “Buying Guide”. Using the same information, we have shortlisted some best-selling wood lathes after thorough research.
Best Wood Lathes
5 Best Wood Lathes Reviews
JET is a highly popular brand of wood lathes that is highly popular among users because of the various features it offers to the user.
This JET JWL-1221VS wood lathe is the most reliable and durable option present in this article. Just like much more expensive options out there, you get a 5-year long warranty with this wood lathe. It even comes with an excellent build quality that ensures that you can keep using this wood lathe for a long time without any issues.
Talking about its performance, you get supported dimensions of 12-inch x 21 inch with this wood lathe that should be more than enough for most users out there. Its 1 HP motor is also quite powerful for the given price tag that results in a high value for money. Unfortunately, this motor is slightly on the louder side and can be an issue for some users out there.
- Power rating of 1 HP
- Dimensions of up to 12-inch x 21 inch
- 5-year long warranty
- Excellent build quality
- Justified price tag for high value for money
- Most durable and reliable wood lathe mentioned in this article
- Comes with a powerful 1 HP electric motor
- Small and compact form factor
- Motor can be slightly loud
WEN is known for making value for money and affordable power tools, just like it’s wood lathes models available out there.
This WEN 3421 wood lathe is present in the 2nd position in this article as it is the cheapest option present here in this article. While it is a mini benchtop wood lathe, you get decent performance from it for a compact wood lathe for home-usage. You get an 8 inch by 12 inch capacity in this wood lathe that is ideal for simpler applications.
As for its motor, it uses a ½ HP electric motor that should be more than enough for most users out there. Even though it is a budget option, it comes with a 2-year long warranty that is always great to have. You even get a decent build quality with this WEN wood lathe for longevity.
- Power rating of 0.5 HP
- Dimensions of up to 8-inch x 12 inch
- 2-year long warranty
- Small and compact benchtop wood lathe
- Affordable price tag for budget users
- High value for money wood lathe
- Decent performance from ½ HP electric motor
- Easy to use design and controls
- Not ideal for industrial usage
Rikon is another brand of power tools that is known for making reliable and durable models, just like its wood lathe models.
The Rikon 701-105 wood lathe can be another great option for a lot of users out there who are looking for a highly reliable and durable option. Just like the Nova and Jet wood lathes mentioned earlier, this one also comes with a 5-year long warranty. You even get a great build quality with this wood lathe that is always great to have.
Although, unlike other options in its class, it is not a full-sized wood lathe, but a mini lathe. Due to its smaller size, you get an average supported dimensions range of up to 10-inch x 18 inch with this wood lathe. Although, its ½ HP electric motor is quite powerful for the given dimensions and should not be an issue for most users out there.
- Power rating of 0.5 HP
- Dimensions of up to 10-inch x 18 inch
- 5-year long warranty
- Great build quality
- Mini wood lathe for benchtop usage
- Decently performing wood lathe with 0.5 HP motor
- Comes with a great build quality and long warranty
- Easy to use controls and adjustment options
- A bit on the expensive side
If you are looking for the most sophisticated tools for in-house or commercial projects then Mophorn is the brand you should definitely check out. The Wood Lathe from this brand we have here comes with a subtle ½ horsepower motor that can work smoothly at the voltage of 110V.
It comes with a large working capacity with a 40-inch distance between the centers and a 14-inch cutting diameter. You can move the tailstock for adjusting the distances with respect to the workpieces. Moreover, you can adjust the speed of the motor between 1100 and 3400 RPM effortlessly suiting your job.
The Lathe is made of the best quality solid steel that gives it high durability and long-lasting strength. Its sturdy mini lathes give stability throughout your job and let you finish the work smoothly. It is an ideal tool for cutting, drilling, sanding, etc.
- ½ HP motor
- 35.2 x 15 x 9 inch dimensions
- 370 W power
- Large capacity
- 4-grade variable speed
- Solid steel material
- Convenient accessories
- Wide applications
- After-sale service needs to be better
Grizzly Industrial is mainly known for its heavy-duty power tools that are made for industrial usage because of the features that you get with them.
This Grizzly Industrial G0462 wood lathe is the most powerful option present in this article. It comes with a highly large supported dimensions of up to 16-inch x 46 inch that is much higher than most other options present in this article. Similarly, its electric motor that is rated at 2 HP is also highly powerful and allows the user to easily work on wood pieces.
Despite the large size of this wood lathe, it can go up to 2400 RPM that is quite great. While the build quality offered by this wood lathe is quite good, you only get a 1-year warranty with it that is not expected at the given price tag.
- Power rating of 2 HP
- Dimensions of up to 16-inch x 46 inch
- 1-year long warranty
- Motor speed of up to 2400 RPM
- Offers 10-speed motor
- Best performing wood lathe mentioned in this article
- Ideal for large and industrial-scale applications
- Offers a highly powerful 2 HP electric motor
- Only a 1-year long warranty
Factors to Consider While Shopping for Wood Lathe:
Not all wood lathe tools are created equally to fulfil everyone’s requirements. So, based on your space availability, the type of your woodworking projects, and the required power output, you have to choose the wood lathe.
Here are some key factors to consider when shopping for a wood lathe tool to pick the right one that meets your needs.
Wood lathes are available in three different variants – mini/benchtop, midi, and full-size. You have to select the required type depending on the project requirements and available space in the garage. Also, you can attach a wood lathe to a drill press for turning wood vertically rather than horizontally. Let’s know about its types in detail.
Mini/Benchtop Wood Lathe –
A wood lathe having DBC (distance between centers) of 20 inches or less and SOB (swing over bed) of 12 inches or less is generally considered a mini or bench-top lathe. It is the smallest type of wood lathe that makes it the best option for small workspaces/garages.
Here the SOB is the maximum diameter of wood, rotating on the lathe. Whereas, DBC refers to the maximum length of wood used. The mini lathe is a perfect option to add intricate details to larger items (or) to work with small intricate items till they fit perfectly inside the lathe capacity. It is the cheaper option, which makes it suits best for beginners to learn and improve their skills.
Midi Wood Lathe –
Compared to the mini wood lathe, this midi wood lathe drops frequently in DBC that range below 20 inches in size, yet SOB remains the same or above 12 inches in diameter. So, it falls in between mini and full types of lathes in terms of size and power.
This mid-size lathe has a compact size like benchtop type and delivers some power potential as a full-size lathe. Thus, it allows you to use them on larger projects with less floor space, especially useful while working in a crowded workspace/garage. With an increase in its size, its cost will also be increased, but it is still an affordable option compared to a full-size lathe.
Full-Size Wood Lathe –
A wood lathe having a wide DBC that ranges over 45 inches in length and an SOB exceeding 15 inches in diameter. These large lathes occupy much space and come with powerful motors that stands on the ground at a 4 feet height. Thus. It allows you to handle a variety of projects like making your baseball bat, or creating detailed table legs with ease.
Both the power and the size of this full-size wood lathe is more compared to other types, which makes it a more expensive product. So, we suggest you use/purchase this wood lathe type only if you need a large capacity for intended projects (or) have some experience in using these wood lathes.
Verdict – If having limited space in a workshop (or) looking to turn small objects like candle holders, rings, pens, & bowls, then choose a mini/benchtop lathe. If having a huge workshop (or) looking to turn wood into large objects like baseball bats, table-chair legs, etc., then choose a full-size lathe. If having a medium space to handle projects (in between mini and full size), then choose a midi lathe.
The power output of any power tool (including this wood lathe) is measured in horsepower (HP). The power output of wood lathes will range from 3/4 HP – 2 HP, in which the light-duty mini wood lathes offer an output of 3/4 HP, whereas full-size wood lathes come at an average of 2 HP.
The motor power will increase the speed of the lathe and thereby allows you to complete your work and the project quickly. Usually, 2 HP lathes will produce more strengths to let you easily shape up heavier wood. Thus, it makes suits the best option to deal with large/industrial projects. While a motor with 1 HP is enough for handling light turning projects (or) for those not professionals in this work.
Also, the voltage of the wood lathe has to be observed to know whether it works with a regular 120V outlet (or) need to use a 240V power source. However, the location of the power switch on the wood lathe will not directly affect the speed or power output. But it will be bothersome or dangerous to use/work if the power switch is at the hard-to-reach/remote portion of the lathe.
The speed of power tools is measured in rotations per minute (RPM), in which the speed range of the wood lathe will be 250 – 4000 RPM. Speed is an essential factor to consider before buying a wood lathe, why because the smaller pieces, which requires more delicate cuts has to rotate quicker than large, heavy pieces. Thus, it ensures properly controlled cutting as this cutting instrument moves through the wood.
The best wood lathe will aid in multiple speed settings, which allows you to shape different types of materials or wood, as per your requirement. Different speeds either work better or worse based on the type of material being shaped – harder materials need faster speeds and softer materials require slower speeds.
The distance between centers (DBC) and swing over bed (SOB) will determine the capacity of a particular wood lathe. Let’s know about them in detail.
DBC – The distance between the tailstock and the headstock is termed as DBC, in which the DBC range for wood lathe will be from 12 inches (small) to 40 inches (long). This measurement will help you to determine the maximum wood length you can use with this wood lathe.
SOB – It is used to determine the maximum diameter a piece of wood can have before it can no longer fit in the wood lathe. Here the SOB of mini wood lathe has low as 6 inches, whereas the greater SOB of full-size wood lathe will have a 15-inch that allows you to handle much larger projects.
Consider the space availability in your garage or workshop along with the location to place this wood lathe before making its purchase. Generally, the power tools are quite heavy that won’t shove the wood when working. So, a sturdy surface is required for midi and mini wood lathes (as they are compact, lightweight and portable).
While full-size wood lathe placed on the ground at a 4 feet height, which means not compact or portable. If you are looking for this big model, then you require a lot of floor space. For this, measure your available space and check it out with product dimensions to know whether or not it fits in your space before buying.
We know that even a small vibration on the wood lathe will cause unintended gouges and cuts that affect your projects and can be a possible safety hazard. So, the base of a wood lathe is essential to check whether it provides a solid foundation to absorb vibrations while operating.
A wood lathe having a cast iron base is considered the best option to keep the wood steady without much more vibrations while working. Iron is a dense, heavy metal that ensures the lathe to remain stable and thereby its vibrations caused while working won’t affect your project.
We notice some mini and midi wood lathes use cast iron, yet make sure that it won’t affect its mobility at any cost to perform your work well.
It is a vital feature to consider before buying a wood lathe, as it allows you to apply force constantly with precision while shaping a workpiece. Whereas an unstable wood lathe will ruin the workpiece.
As we already said, most wood lathes use cast-iron for various possible components and the base to absorb vibrations produced by the rotation of the spindle and motor. Coming to outside of its build, the inclusion of non-slip feet and the ability to bolt the lathe down to a floor or bench will also improve its stability.
8. Headstock and Tailstock:
Wood lathe’s headstock is the side, which comes with a power converter to the motor and thereby gives you speed control over its operation. Here a small metal piece called headstock spindle that easily gets extended from the headstock to the center of the lathe. It is made to pierce the project to provide essential powered rotation.
One can easily adjust the wood lathe’s tailstock to perfectly fit the wood length, which we place in the center of the lathe. After it is positioned, the tailstock gets locked to deter any movement of wood either horizontally or vertically, but allows it to evenly rotate. So, the wood with this pincer-like grip will ensure that the finished product is symmetrically designed, yet there is some skill and experience you need to get before the results start to look like the actual plan.
9. Tool Rest:
This feature will make the lathe quite safer and more convenient for woodworking, why because this tool rest is a horizontal bar that allows you to place all your cutting tools. Thus, they remain stable and use while cutting into rotating wood. All you need is to ensure that you set the tool rest to the proper distance from the rotating wood. In case, if the distance is too far away, then the tool rest won’t be able to give the essential support.
The tool rests on the midi and mini wood lathes are directly attach/clamp to the lathe, which allows you to get close to small projects. While full-size wood lathes used only on larger wood pieces, which offer extending tool rests that fold out from the lathe to position them for wide woodworking projects.
One has to be careful while working with this powerful and dangerous tool like a wood lathe. Or even simple mistakes like wearing jewelry and loose-fitting clothing that caught in the lane rotation, and pulls you toward the rapidly rotating wood. Thereby it results in injuries and accidents.
Personal protective equipment (or PPE) is a safety consideration to wear along with a face shield (to prevent flying wood chips) while working with a wood lathe. Also, a set of work gloves will help to protect your hands without interfering your ability on woodworking.
Finally, these power tools operate at high volumes that might damage your hearing. So, it is quite essential to use a pair of earplugs (or) any other hearing protection to safeguard your hearing.
11. Variable Speed Control:
If you are looking to have control over the specific speeds of the lathe at different times. Then variable speed control is the best feature that let you adjust the speed -either slow or fast and thus provides more flexibility.
Otherwise, you have to change the belts to get different speeds if your wood lathe won’t have a variable speed control feature. Though it costs you a little more, it is going to work quickly and more accurately.
12. Reverse Spin Function:
A few lathe models let you reverse the spin direction. Since sanding against the grain will offer you a much smoother result. So, it is quite useful while sanding. If your wood lathe won’t have this feature, then you have to switch the whole piece around, which is not possible in some cases.
Wood lathes have a wide range of accessories that let you grab the best results from your work. Here are some common accessories mentioned. Check out them before buying your wood lathe.
When a chisel attached to a wood lathe, it aids mainly for finishing work. The chisel’s flat edge seems to daunt initially because it has a higher likelihood to skip when you are working than the double edge of the gouge. So, a chisel will cut down on the need to sand and attain the same smooth surface. Thus, it makes your project get done perfectly.
It is a type of chisel having a range of sizes and cut profiles that let you use them for making fine, medium or broad cuts. For instance, roughing gouges are used initially to remove unnecessary surface wood (if any). While shallow fluted gouges or spindle gouges are meant for more designs and precision cuts.
Spring Calipers –
It will let you know when you reach your desired cutting depth. Since it measures the diameter of the wood as you work/cut on the wood lathe. Yet, this accessory is not meant to use for sanding, cutting or shaving wood.
It is widely used to remove the metal burrs from the cutting tools and wood lathe. Usually, burrs happen even in the normal use, which means we won’t avoid them from happening. So, use this inexpensive hone to remove those burrs and thereby have a clean cutting edge.
Other Safety Accessories –
Also, you require certain things like dust masks, a face shield, a dust collector, earplugs, etc. These may or may not come with your wood lathe, yet quite essential accessories to consider your safety.
Most people believe that branded product is the best quality product that is durable, last longer and provides a better support system than a non-branded product. In case, choosing a no-name generic wood lathe at a cheaper cost may let you face some issues afterwards. So, we suggest you pick a quality product from a branded company even though a bit expensive.
Depending on your woodturning purpose/project requirement, you have to spend money on buying the wood lathe and it differs a lot. Here is the average budget/price range based on your skills/requirements.
- For hobbyists and beginners who won’t arise any income from this expertise, they can choose a mini lathe, which costs between 200 – 500 bucks.
- For experienced people in this field will have to spend somewhat more than hobbyists, they have to go with a midi lathe, which costs $500 – $900.
- Professional and expert woodturners have to spend a lot more money, they should pick a full-size lathe, which costs thousands of dollars.
How to Use a Wood Lathe?
A wood lathe is somewhat a dangerous power tool, which means you have to know how to use the tool perfectly before buying. Most experts suggest you get some knowledge on the new tool and try some test pieces before starting them on your project.
Tightly secure a piece of the wood stock in the lathe and check that it won’t fly off while you start working. Place the tool rest to provide a comfortable distance between the wood stock and the cutting tool. Then turn on the wood lathe and ensure that you start at the lowest speed setting (beginner) to get resistance to feel that pushes against the cutting tool when you work.
In case, if you have experience in using the lathe, then set the speed level appropriate for the stock you are working on. When the wood stock is rotating, then use the cutting tool to start cutting the wood stock. But take care to shape the wood in the way you desire.
After you are done with your work, then put down the cutting tool away from the lathe, and turn off the power. Avoid touching the wood stock till it stops completely.
Frequently Asked Questions:
We can easily make a wide range of wooden objects like bottle stoppers, spoons, cups, pens, bowls, rings, and decorative art on a wooden lathe, as per your skills and creative levels.
It won’t be wrong to wear gloves (or) not compulsory to wear gloves. Most people think that wearing gloves and working around those rotating power tools at a higher speed might cause any damage to their hands/unable to make perfect cuts. So, it depends on your personal safety preference, if you feel comfortable wearing gloves while using power tools then you go for it.
Beech is the perfect hardwood, as most species won’t have a typical grain pattern and has a light color. A few woodworkers prefer it and a few won’t. However, beechwood is durable and abrasion-resistant, which makes it perfect to make bowls and other wooden items.
For this, you have to check the thread size. A few lathes come with 3/4-16 spindles and some are 1″-8. Usually, these days, it is by the size of the lathe. For instance, a 10″ lather (or small) comes with a 3/4-16 spindle and 12″ – 16″ lathes have 1″-8 spindles, whereas lathe bigger than this will have 1-1/4″-8 spindle.
We suggest you keep your tools sharp that let you produce a high-quality piece. Besides, it deters the chisel from skipping or bouncing. You will want to ensure that your blade is sharp enough to cut into the wood, even while if it is harder pieces of lumber. You can also use high-quality wood stock, which will be quite challenging to use wood with knots or cracks.
Here is the list of some ideal features of a quality lathe to check.
*Morse taper 2 headstocks and tailstock
*Electronic variable speed
*Common headstock thread (1″X8 in US)
Thus, it provides a lathe to perform most types of turning and turn the wood into decent sized pieces. Also, you will be able to purchase accessories.
Whether you are a professional carpenter or want to perform basic operations on a given wood piece, a wood lathe can be handy. It is considered to be an all in one machine that allows for performing various operations as per your needs. Hence, we have mentioned some of the best wood lathes up above in this article. And to help you in choosing the perfect one, we have even mentioned their major features and options. You can even find a detailed buying guide in this article that allows you to easily pick the perfect wood lathe for you. But if that is not enough and you are still confused, then we are here with some of our recommendations:
If you want the largest and most powerful wood lathe for industrial usage, you can go with the Grizzly Industrial wood lathe. It offers a large 16-inch x 46 inch capacity for easily fitting large wood pieces for performing operations using its 2 HP electric motor.
Although, if you are on a budget, you can go with the WEN benchtop wood lathe as it is the cheapest option present in this article. Despite its lower price tag, you get a decent ½ HP electric motor for its 8-inch x 12-inch dimension support.
You should also consider the JET wood lathe as it is a highly popular option among users due to its 5-year long warranty. When combined with its excellent build quality, you can expect it to be one of the most durable and reliable options out there.
Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments section. You can also post any questions down there if you have any!