Have you ever been intrigued by an intricately beautiful wooden object?
Wood has a unique elegance – whether it is used for home decor, personal accessories, ornaments, or anything else. What makes it even more interesting is the evident absence of joints or screws holding these wooden objects together. So how does a block of wood turn into pots, bangles, rings, furniture legs, goblets, and more?
The answer to that question is a wood lathe! If you ask a professional wood craftsman today, they will most likely tell you that they cannot even imagine a woodwork shop sans one of these machines.
There are a plethora of wood lathes available in the market, and it can be challenging to find the best option. That’s where these recommendations of ours come into the picture!
Best Wood Lathes
Table of Contents
- Best Wood Lathes
- 1. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Lathe – Best For Powerful Performance
- 2. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Wood Lathe – Best For Beginners And Small Projects
- 3. Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe – Best For Versatility
- 4. Delta Industrial Variable-Speed Midi Lathe
- 5. Jet Wood Lathe -Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
- 6. Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe
- Best Wood Lathes Comparison Table
- Buying Guide For The Best Wood Lathes
- Frequently Asked Questions
We have used each of these 6 best wood lathes extensively for a range of projects to get firsthand experience and identify the pros and cons of each of them. Be sure to check our informative buyers’ guide after the reviews.
Without further ado, let’s get straight to all the details!
1. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Lathe – Best For Powerful Performance
We are starting our recommendations list with the most powerful and easy-to-use lathe in its class. The KWL-1218VS from PSI Woodworking is an exceptional product with some top-notch functions that will simplify and accelerate all of your woodturning projects.
- KWL-1218VS replaces TCLC12VS. ETL Listed and...
- Powered by 1hp Variable Speed high performance...
We wanted to keep a midi lathe as our first pick because of its more significant consumer base – you are less likely to use a mini or full-sized lathe. And when it comes to midi lathes, few machines come close to the KWL-1218VS in terms of functionality and powerful performance.
It features a powerful 1hp motor that has variable speed (120V-60HZ). We especially liked its digital readout as it allowed us to monitor and work at precise speeds. What sets this lathe apart from its competition is its dual belt positions – 500 to 1800 RPM and 1950 to 3800 RPM.
- Features built-in handles that add a ton of convenience for the turner
- Has an 18-inch distance between centers
- Cast-iron base can be extended for turning up to 42-inch projects
- With a 12-inch swing capacity, this lathe can be used for a variety of projects
- Its digital readout feature enables you to monitor the speed precisely
- The flex shaft for the work light could be more durable
2. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Wood Lathe – Best For Beginners And Small Projects
A bench-top lathe is an ideal choice for beginners, students, hobbyists, and DIYers. This version of a wood lathe is portable, reasonable, and can be used only for turning small pieces of wood. Our first bench-top lathe recommendation on this list is the impressive W1704 from Shop Fox.
- Safety paddle switch
- MT#1 spur center
If you are looking for a portable, lightweight wood lathe to keep on a desk or bench, you should go for the W1704. It packs a decent punch with its 1/3 hp motor. The variable speed ranges from 700 to 3,200 RPM. You can rest assured that this machine will excel at turning pens, rings, and small bowls.
We especially liked the thoughtful inclusion of a 5.75-inch faceplate that threads onto the headstock. It allows you to turn objects like bowls that cannot get the support of the tailstock.
- 2-year limited warranty backs it
- Features durable cast-iron construction
- Has a spindle capacity of 13 inches and a swing capacity of 8 inches, making it ideal for turning small projects
- Includes a 5.75-inch faceplate that attaches to the headstock and enables non-spindle turning
- The bolts that hold the locking plate on to the bed come loose easily and have to be tightened frequently
3. Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe – Best For Versatility
If you want a versatile wood lathe that can help you accomplish a wide range of woodturning goals, you should get the 1440VSK from Jet. It is a premium product that commands a high price and is accordingly packed with many features that the majority of its competitors do not offer.
- Sliding headstock pivots 360 degrees with 7...
- Variable speed from 400-3,000 RPM
The sliding headstock is perhaps the first thing you will notice about this wood lathe. It pivots a full 360 degrees and locks in seven different angles – 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 270 degrees. This enhanced range of headstock positions coupled with its variable speed settings, ranging from 400 to 3,000 RPM, provides optimal user convenience.
A special mention goes to its optional extension bed that can be attached in three different positions and used to extend the center-to-center distance up to a massive 60 inches!
- CSA certified
- 5-year limited warranty backs it
- Features an easy-to-read RPM display, which enables you to monitor the speed easily
- Redesigned clamping system of its tool rest ensures secure locking
- One of the most expensive wood lathes on our list and is suitable only for experts
4. Delta Industrial Variable-Speed Midi Lathe
Perhaps the best midi lathe on this list, this product from Delta certainly deserves considerable praise. It comes with a knockout bar, tool rest base, wrenches, live center, chrome 3-inch face plate, manual, and 10-inch and 6-inch tool rest. Let’s see what makes this wood lathe tick!
- Powerful 1 hp max, 1,725 rpm motor
- Large 12-1/2-inch swing capacity provides the...
You should know right off the bat that the Industrial Variable Speed Midi Lathe from Delta is perfect for professional woodworkers. Although it is a midi lathe, you can efficiently complete some heavy-duty projects with this powerful machine. Beginners should preferably get accustomed to using a mini lathe before switching to this machine.
A 1hp motor powers it. Having the most significant swing capacity in its class (12.5 inches) gives it a significant competitive edge. We especially liked how the required speeds can be selected without changing the belt position, thanks to its three pulley-speed ranges.
You will not have to worry about inaccuracy while using this lathe, as it has both forward and reverse functions.
- 5-year warranty
- Features a sturdy cast-iron construction
- Patented system for belt tension ensures quick speed changes
- You can rotate the turned piece in forward as well as reverse directions
- It has a 16.5-inch distance between centers, so you would have to get an extension for larger projects
5. Jet Wood Lathe -Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
We have already recommended a full-size lathe from Jet, and now it is time for the best bench-top lathe that comes with the same brand name. The 1221VS speed wood lathe is the crème de la crème of mini lathes for people who need to work on small projects and have a better-than-average budget.
- Innovative Design: Ratchet-style belt tension...
- Optimal Speed: Choose from three speed ranges...
The first thing we noticed while installing the 1221VS is its weight – at 120 pounds, it is one of the most massive bench-top lathes out there. Thankfully, our bench is very sturdy and could easily withstand it, but you might want to look into that before getting this machine.
What helps this lathe be a notch above its peers is its exceptional variable speed range. You can select a speed as low as 60 RPM and as high as 3,600 RPM, which is something you will not see with any other recommendation of ours!
- Has an innovative and unique ratchet-style belt tension system
- You can smoothly transition from forward to reverse turning action
- Features a spring-loaded, integrated spindle lock
- 5-year warranty
- Comes integrated with 24 indexing positions
- Its price considerably exceeds the standard bench-top lathe price
6. Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe
We are down to the last three recommendations, and it is time to introduce the most expensive and most potent full-size wood lathe on this list. The MLAREVO 1836 from Laguna Tools is a top-notch product that we recommend to experts and professionals who have a lavish budget.
- Electrical: 2HP, 220 volt, 60 Hz, motor:...
- Spring loaded spindle lock, Max; outboard swing:...
Spending close to three thousand bucks on a wood lathe is not a matter of joke! But if you are willing to spend that much, we can assure you that 1836 from Laguna is your best bet. It features a powerful two-hp, 220-volt electric motor.
With a swing capacity of 32 inches and a 41.5-inch distance between centers, you will not have to worry about any extensions even for large projects. Also, you can choose from two-speed ranges – 50 to 1,300 RPM or 135 to 3,500 RPM.
- Control panel has an ergonomic, angled design
- Steel bed allows smooth movement of the cast iron headstock
- Lock handles for its headstock and tailstock are situated on the back to ensure uninterrupted work time
- Comes equipped with a digital readout that gives accurate RPM readings
- At a price of over $2,800, this wood lathe is suitable for a very niche group of woodturners
Best Wood Lathes Comparison Table
|Product||Motor Power||Swing Capacity||Distance between Centers||Variable Speed Control||Included Accessories|
|PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Lathe||1 HP||12″||18″||Yes||Spur center, live center, faceplate|
|SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Wood Lathe||1/3 HP||8″||13″||Yes||Tool rest, live center, spur center|
|Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe||1.5 HP||14″||40″||Yes||Tool rest, faceplate, live center|
|Delta Industrial Variable-Speed Midi Lathe||1 HP||12.5″||16.5″||Yes||Faceplate, tool rest, live center|
|Jet Wood Lathe -Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe||1/2 HP||10″||15.5″||Yes||Tool rest, live center, spur center|
|Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe||3 HP||18″||36″||Yes||Tool rest, faceplate, live center|
Buying Guide For The Best Wood Lathes
Now that we have reviewed the best wood lathes, it is time to understand the thought process that should influence your decision. You will have to select one of our recommendations, and this guide will help you do just that!
Although the utility derived from each of our recommendations is going to be subjective, you can use some generic determining factors to select the machine that would work best for you (given your requirements and budget constraints).
1. Type of Wood Lathes
As we have already mentioned during our detailed reviews, you can choose from three types of wood lathes – mini or bench-top, midi, and full-size. Based on the space in your workshop and your requirements, you can go for any of these three types.
Go for a mini lathe if you have limited space and you want to turn small objects like pens, rings, and bowls. Go for a full-size lathe if you have a huge workshop and you turn to wood for a living. If you do not get a resounding yes for either of these two options, you should look at a midi lathe.
2. Budget Required for a Great Wood Lathe
Your budget will differ significantly based on the purpose of woodturning. For beginners and hobbyists who do not derive substantial income from this craft, a mini lathe is ideal as it costs between 200 and 500 bucks on average.
For people with some experience in the field who have a better budget, a midi lathe in the range of 500 to 900 dollars would be ideal. Experts and professional woodturners will likely have thousands of dollars to spare for a full-size lathe.
3. Speed of a Benchtop Wood Lathe
How do you know if the wood lathe you want to buy has the optimal speed range? There is a general rule of thumb that has something to do with the stock’s thickness. If you get a number between 6,000 and 9,000 by multiplying the width of the stock with the RPM, you can buy that machine.
So the ideal speed depends significantly on the size of the wood stock you will be working with.
Frequently Asked Questions
What safety precautions should I take when using a wood lathe?
When using a wood lathe, it is important to wear protective equipment, including safety glasses and a dust mask, and to ensure that the lathe is properly secured to the workbench or other surface. It is also important to properly secure the material to the lathe’s spindle and to check for any sharp edges or splinters that may be present.
What can I do with a wood lathe?
With a wood lathe, you can create bowls, spindles, platters, and other decorative and functional items.
What types of wood are best for a wood lathe?
Softwoods such as pine and cedar are best for a wood lathe as they are easier to shape than hardwoods.
What type of tools do I need for a wood lathe?
You will need a range of tools, including turning tools, chisels, gouges, scrapers, and sanding tools.
After thoroughly testing and examining these six wood lathes, we have presented a comprehensive review of their different aspects. This allows woodturners ranging from hobbyists to professionals to find the ideal wood lathe tailored to their specific needs and budget. Informed decisions can be made with ease using our assessments, whether for choosing beginner-friendly options or more powerful lathes suited to larger projects.
Out of these six wood lathes, here are the top three expert recommendations:
Best for powerful performance: The PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Lathe stands out as an ideal option with its 1hp motor, dual belt positions, and digital readout feature. Suitable for a wide range of consumers, this choice provides powerful performance without compromising on functionality and ease of use.
Best for beginners and small projects: The SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Wood Lathe is a good option for those new to woodturning or dealing with smaller projects. This portable, lightweight, and reasonably priced lathe is perfect for turning pens, rings, and small bowls.
Best for versatility: If you seek a versatile wood lathe capable of handling a wide range of woodturning goals, the Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe is the right choice. Offering a premium experience, this lathe comes with features like a 360-degree pivoting headstock, variable speed settings, and an optional extension bed for extended center-to-center distance.
In conclusion, considering your specific needs, budget, and expertise, it is essential to select a wood lathe that aligns with these factors. Carefully review the top three expert recommendations to ensure successful woodturning projects and a satisfactory experience.
1 thought on “6 Best Wood Lathes of 2023 | Reviews + Buyer’s Guide”
The Wen 3420T does have mounting options. Turn it over and look! I just purchased one and mounted it to my work table. They are threaded and hidden.