Top Overall Pick
Delta Industrial 46-460
Everyone who has a passion for wood is certainly going to think about getting the best wood lathes sooner or later, but before you rush with making that purchase, you need to be a little more aware of what makes a wood lathe a good choice for your needs.
- Our Favorite Wood Lathes on the Market
- 10 Best Wood Lathes - Reviews
- 1. Delta Industrial 46-460 Wood Lathe - Best Overall Pick
- 2. WEN 3420T Mini Wood Lathe - Best for the Money
- 3. Powermatic 1352001 Wood Lathe - Premium Choice
- 4. Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe
- 5. Grizzly G0462 Wood Lathe
- 6. Nova 46300 Comet II Mini Lathe
- 7. PSI Woodworking KWL-1018 Multi-Speed Midi Lathe
- 8. RIKON 70-100 Wood Lathe
- 9. JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe
- 10. Shop Fox W1752 Wood Lathe
- Final Verdict: Our Overall Winner
- Buyer's Guide: Choosing The Right Wood Lathe
Our Favorite Wood Lathes on the Market
10 Best Wood Lathes - Reviews
1. Delta Industrial 46-460 Wood Lathe - Best Overall Pick
Anyone who wants to consider larger projects, such as medium sized sculptures small pieces of furniture or even bowls, will find that this midi lathe is everything they need to use. Its engine has 1HP and it speed can be adjusted up to 1725 rotations per minute. The swing capacity is twelve point five inches and on top of that, the 46-460 is in a class of its own thanks to the fact that it features the largest swing capacity in its class.
Full reverse using this midi lathe model is very simple and it can be done at the flip of a switch, meaning that getting a smooth finish is possible without having to adjust what you’re turning manually. But there is a special lathe feature about the Delta 46-460 which makes it stand out of the crowd. It has a patented belt tensioning system that allows the user to modify the turning speeds on-the-fly without having to meddle with the belt position, which makes it our choice for the best wood lathe.
As for the base, it’s made from cast iron, it has a variable speed settings (both forward and reverse) and has wide swing adjustments, too. If you have a lot of turning projects, then the Delta 46-460 is going to be the best wood lathe for you. Don’t worry about it breaking anytime soon (which is less likely), but even if it does, the 5 years warranty makes it simple to get it repaired or replaced with a new model.
If there is something you may be upset about, it doesn’t have to do with the functionality of this wood lathe, but actually the poor customer service Delta is known for.
2. WEN 3420T Mini Wood Lathe - Best for the Money
The best wood lathe for beginners and the best for the money is the WEN 3420T that can help you craft bowls, chess pieces and other small items from wood. With the soft start, two-amp motor, it slowly reaches the RPM that you want without overheating the motor. You can adjust the speed from 750 to 3200 revolutions.
As it has a five-inch faceplate, the lathe can operate without an additional spindle. Beginners may like the compact design too that takes up less space than other lathes do.
3. Powermatic 1352001 Wood Lathe - Premium Choice
Our choice for the top premium wood lathe comes from Powermatic and features a 220V, two-horsepower motor that runs at different speeds. A digital speed readout on the top of the lathe shows both the current RPM setting and how fast the lathe spins.
The accessories that come in the box with this cast iron lathe include a guard tool, faceplate and spindle lock. Though you do need to assemble the lathe yourself, most found that the included instructions were easy to follow.
4. Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe
Measuring twelve by twenty inches, the JWL 1440VSK features a 1 horse power motor, a cast iron lathe bed that improves its stability and it’s backed up by a 5 years warranty which offers most people enough peace of mind when wanting to consider this purchase.
Getting down to its weight, the JWL 1440VSK weighs around 400 pounds and it features a 14-1/2" inch and a 11 inch tool rest.
If this is the wood lathe you want to get, then the good news is that you won’t have to worry about purchasing safety goggles, since this model include as pair already.
Also, for maneuvering the stock easily, this machine features a tool free adjustment making it much easier to use it. And for those who want to meddle with it from time to time, they’ll be happy to know that there is a 3mm and a 5mm hex wrench, while the JWL 1440VSK's indexing capabilities easily allow for fluting.
If you take a close look at the lower gear door, you’ll find that it doesn’t have a normal hinge. Its handle is designed strangely and it may fail on you in a short time.
5. Grizzly G0462 Wood Lathe
Grizzly offers a 13-1/2-inch swing over the tool rest on this lathe and increases that swing to up to 16 inches when used in other directions. Made from durable cast iron, the lathe is heavy and durable with a solid base.
A tool rest extension gives you extra space for chisels and other woodworking tools and is larger than those found on larger lathes to accommodate bigger tools. It also features a powerful 110V, two-horsepower motor and an extensive RPM range.
6. Nova 46300 Comet II Mini Lathe
The best wood lathe for turning bowls is the Nova 46300 Comet II, which has 16.5 inches of space between the turning spots. You can extend this space with the addition of optional products from Nova.
With a 230V, 3/4-horsepower motor, the Comet II has an RPM range of 250 to 4000 that you can adjust in seconds with the pulley system. This lathe has a swing of 12 inches over the bed and 16.5 inches across the center to give you more working space.
7. PSI Woodworking KWL-1018 Multi-Speed Midi Lathe
With 18 inches available across the center and a 10-inch swing, the KML-1018 offers more space than similar lathes do and can help you create small items from wood. It has a 3/8-inch spindle bore and a tailstock of the same size.
PSI woodworking gives you a bed with a turning capacity of 18 inches that can help you make bowls with a diameter of 10 inches. While the 3/5-horsepower spins up to 3000 revolutions per minute, the cast iron base is compatible with extensions from PSI woodworking.
8. RIKON 70-100 Wood Lathe
Those who are looking for the biggest mini lathes on the market will find that the Rikon 70-100 is the one that’s going to fit the bill. While this may be a small device, rest assured though that it doesn’t make any compromise when it comes to quality and functionality.
Capacity wise, it’s twelve by sixteen inches between centers and because of that it allows you to create a wide range of carvings ranging from small to medium sizes. Getting down that motor, it is a 6 speed model that can easily accommodate itself to the difficult of the task, meaning you can switch between four hundred and thirty and thirty nine hundred rotations per minute. Changing gears is very simple though and you can do it by lifting up the access cover and adjusting the drive belt manually.
Everyone knows that delicate tasks require a great level of attention to detail, but the good news is that since you have the twelve position indexing head, the workpiece can be locked in a variety of positions that allow you to get the extra accuracy you need for completing your projects. No matter if we’re talking about layout, drilling, grooving or fluting, you can count on the Rikon 70-100 to get it all done with impressive results.
Those that have been using the Rikon 70-100 for a while have expressed their dissatisfaction with the tailstock which they said it’s a bit weak. However, the good news is that after a few minor adjustments, you’ll have it working exactly the way you want it.
9. JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe
Weighing around one hundred and thirty seven pounds and measuring twelve by twenty one inches, you could say that this little bad boy is a big guy that offers smooth transition of moving forward and reverse. It also has a digital readout and a speed knob.
The belt tension system is a very innovative ratchet style and it also features a speed control ability. And if you’re worried that the machine may fail on you, then stop worrying about it, because the Jet JWL-1221VS comes with a 5 years warranty.
The variable speed motor options are also great and they range from sixty and up to thirty six hundred rotations per minute which is basically one of the hottest features of this model. In short, you’ll find that the Jet JWL-1221VS is currently one of the top wood lathes you can get and it’s definitely going to help you complete various projects with stellar results.
Well, it seems that no one has reported anything negative about this model, but if you’ll need to return it, then the 137 lbs weight may qualify as a con.
10. Shop Fox W1752 Wood Lathe
Featuring an ten inch swing, being very well built and having an attractive price to boot, there are little negative things you can say about the Shop Fox W1752 mini lathe. Its engine is a variable speed motor 1/2 HP model which gives you control over the six speeds and that is because it has an analog interface.
Weight wise, it weighs ninety nine pounds, so it’s not that heavy and can therefore be transported from one place to another without too much effort.
You’ll love the fact that the Shop Fox W1752 features a 3-inch face plate and tool rest, but also the fact that it’s pretty affordable. If you want to get the best wood lathes for pen turning, then this is for certain one of the best you can get.
Some adjustments may be required to be made before using the Shop Fox W1752 and that is because according to some people, the head stocks and tail don’t always line up.
Final Verdict: Our Overall Winner
Delta Industrial 46-460
After checking the wood lathe reviews to choose the best wood lathe that I would personally use and that is why I went with the Delta 46-460. This bad boy is built like a tank and since it’s made for larger projects (which I generally deal with) it was a no-brainer for me to go get it right away. I love the fact that I can easily adjust the rotation speed of the 1 HP engine, while the large swing capacity is just an added bonus.
And if you’re like me and always worry that the power tools you buy may break down after the warranty expires, then worry no more, since this model comes with a 5 years warranty. This gives you the peace of mind that whatever happens to it, you’re covered for a very long time.
Buyer's Guide: Choosing The Right Wood Lathe
A wood lathe is a tool that helps you make intricate pieces from all types of wood. It has two pieces that spin and allows you to place a piece of wood in the center to create the design that you want. Whether shopping for the best midi wood lathe or any other type, there are important things to consider.
Therefore, it’s only natural that you first of all consider the types of projects you are going to use it for; Check out other top tools for your project type. For example, if you love making small items, like wooden toys or pens, then a tabletop lathe is going to be a good choice for you. People who love undertaking big projects though, including lamps or tables, may find that sturdier models made from cast iron or steel are a better choice.
Another consideration is the size of your workspace and it’s very important that you measure it before you buy a wood lathe. Since they are very large, they can take up a lot of space and you’ll be surprised how small your workspace will look after installing a wood lathe in it.
Also, when it comes to wood lathes, the bigger the machine is, the better, since it can be more versatile and therefore useful for a larger variety of projects.
What is your method of speed though? I’m asking this because lathes turn wood in 1 of 2 ways: using an electronic speed drive or using manual adjustments. If you want more accuracy, then you should get a model that allows you to adjust the pulleys manually, but if you’re a beginner, then you’ll have it easier by going with an electronic speed adjuster. Lastly, don’t forget to check the available accessories for the model of your choice and check the wood lathe’s height as well.
Things you must consider in choosing a Wood Lathe
Most woodworkers prefer lathes that have a cast iron base over those that use aluminum and other lighter metals. Cast iron is more durable and can absorb any shaking that the tool does, which will keep your hands from vibrating.
Compact and small lathes are best for beginners as well as those who have less free space in their workshops. These smaller lathes usually have a small RPM range and a basic motor. If you want to turn wood bowls faster or create larger pieces, you need a larger lathe.
Lathes have a center space, which is the distance between the two turning points or spots. This can range from just a few inches to 10 inches or more. Those with a larger center space can accommodate more types of wood than those with a smaller center space can.
No matter what type of lathe you buy, you should always check the speed, which manufacturers often call the RPM range. This tells you how many revolutions the lathe can make in one minute. While the range will start at around 600 rpm to 900 rpm, it can climb to a maximum of 2,500 rpm to 3600 rpm.
Wood lathes come in different types such as full-size and compact models. You may want to look for the best benchtop lathe too, which is one that you can mount onto a worktable. Benchtop lathe models do not have a solid base because the bench or table that you use will serve as its base.
Another feature to consider is the diameter of the spindle, which on compact and midi models is one-inch. These spindles can make bowls with a 10 to 12-inch diameter and turn posts for railings and furniture. You cannot use these tools for larger pieces though as they do not have the force or space that you need.
When looking at the power of wood lathes, you'll find that the motors have two measurements: volts and horsepower. The volt rating tells you how much power you need in an outlet to use the tool and is usually 110 to 230 volts. With the horsepower rating, you can see how quickly the lathe runs.
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