Top 10 Best Wood Lathes of 2020 | In-depth Buyer’s Guide & Reviews
Without the best wood lathe, no woodworking shop is complete and every carpenter knows this. Making beautiful workpieces out of wood is nearly impossible for you if you don’t have a wood lathe machine. But in order to get the best out of the machine, you got to choose the right one. And that could be very daunting for you if you are a beginner.
However, we are here for that! In order to save you from both wasting money and time, we have put together a list of 10 best wood lathes. These are the top-rated machines of the market which are serving and satisfying the need of beginner to professional carpenters. Have a look below!
- 1 Quick Comparison: 10 Best Metal Lathe For The Money
- 2 1. Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35 Inch Wood Lathe
- 3 2. Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe Machine
- 4 3. Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe Machine
- 5 4. RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR VSR Midi Lathe
- 6 5. JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe
- 7 6. Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe Machine
- 8 7. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Machine
- 9 8. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Midi Lather Machine
- 10 9. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Wood Lathe Machine
- 11 10. WEN 3420 Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
Quick Comparison: 10 Best Metal Lathe For The Money
After spending more than a couple of hundred hours, finally, the expert team have come to these final products which truly worth every penny. These machine models made to the list after going to several tests and comparisons. Have a deep look at these wood lathe comparisons and get the one that suits your need most.
1. Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35 Inch Wood Lathe
Let’s get started with the powerful one, the Powermatic 1352001 wood lathe. Do a large chunk of your income comes from woodturning? Then you are professional and you definitely need something powerful. And this Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35 Inch Wood Lathe would be a great option for you since it is a commercial-grade wood lathe machine.
It comes with powerful 2HP motor which offers two variable speed levels, high 125 rpm to 3500 rpm and 50 rpm to 1500 rpm low-speed level. This is a full-sized lathe machine designed for tackling heavy-duty woodworks. The machine has a digital easy readout as well which will let you know at which speed level you are operating.
When it comes to capacity, this very lathe machine is the winner here. Its swing over tool rest is 17 inches and swing over the bed is 20-inches. And center to center distance is 36 inches, so working on massive wood projects is not an issue for this Powermatic beast. This machine also comes with modified headstock and tailstock.
The headstock comes with a spring-loaded locking button and install/remove accessories faster and easily. And the tailstock comes with built-in storage that allows you to store often used tools. Overall, the Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35 Inch Wood Lathe is a high-quality machine, designed for the professional woodworkers.
2. Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe Machine
Are you a beginner on this woodworking field? Then you need a machine is beginner-friendly and we have the Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe Machine for you. This is one of the best wood lathes for beginners. Not only that, even intermediate woodworker can comfortably use this machine as well. That being said, this machine is a little expensive as well.
What differentiates this lathe machine from the crowd is the speed control system that it offers. There are two types of speed controlling system discrete control and continuous control. With the continuous control, you will be able to set the spindle speed at any rpm but that is within the range of the machine. With this machine, you can set any rpm between 60 to 3600.
On the other hand, discrete control will allow you to set the spindle speed at permanent RPMs (revolution per minute) which are, 430 rpm, 810 rpm, 1230 rpm, 2670 rpm, and 3900 rpm. The machine got an easy digital readout as well which tells you the exact speed at which the machine is operating, it makes this machine a bit versatile.
Even the moon has black spots and likewise, this high-quality machine also has few drawbacks. The center to center distance of this machine is 21-inches, anything longer than this will require bed extension. And this Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe Machine weighs 120 pounds, so you are going to need a heavy-duty bench to put the machine on.
Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35 Inch Wood Lathe Vs Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe Machine
The Powermatic 1352001 is our top pick since it comes with great power and is capable of handling heavy-duty jobs. On the other hand, the JET JWL is also top-notch model tackling heavy tasks for quite a long time now. Both come with expensive price tags and delivers the expected value. That being said, the JET model gets weaken in the center to center distance section, the length is very low!
3. Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe Machine
If there is any machine that could compete with the Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe Machine, then that is the Delta industrial 46-460 machine. This is one of the best midi wood lathe machines in the market right now. Like the jet model this delta model also comes with continuous speed control, it will allow you to set the speed within these three ranges, 250 rpm to 750 rpm, 600 rpm to 1800 rpm, and 1350 rpm to 4000 rpm.
Though the jet model offers more range at lower RPM which this delta model doesn’t. That being said, this delta lathe machine offers more range at higher RPM which the Jet doesn’t offer, so it’s a balance. The large range on the higher rpm makes the machine suitable for massive woodworking projects. This machine comes with patented bell tension which makes selecting the range easier, shifting the range is no issue at all.
Comes with a powerful 1HP max 1725 RPM motor that is enough for tackling some heavy-duty tasks. Also features a 12/12-inch large swing capacity, it is undoubtedly the largest capacity compared to other similar models. The smooth forwarding and reversing function give an excellent finish to the work piece. Another best part of this machine is, it comes at an affordable price.
And now let’s take a look at some downsides of this machine. First of all, it doesn’t come with a digital readout, you have to guess the speed. Second, the center to center length is short, for larger material than 16-inches you will require a bed extension. But we can say with no doubt that the price and features of this machine easily outweigh the drawbacks.
4. RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR VSR Midi Lathe
Are you looking for the best midi wood lathe that comes at an affordable price? Have a look at the RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR VSR Midi Lathe machine. In terms of swing over bed and swing over tool rest, this is our top pick. If you are about to turn thick short stocks instead of thin and long stocks, then the very lathe machine is for you.
This is one of the best wood lathe machines for the money, even after coming at an extremely cheap price the manufacturer didn’t compromise the quality, it comes with all the must-have features.
Like some high-end models, this lathe machine has a low RPM setting as well, the lowest RPM it can obtain is 250 RPM. That resulting in a great speed profile. It comes with continuous speed control so you can set the RPM to 810, 1230, 1810, 2670, and 3900.
Having that said, this machine offers very low center to center distance, 16-inches only. But you can overcome this if you use an extension bed. The extension bed will break the limitation on the length of the bed but that won’t increase the machine swing.
Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe Machine Vs RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR VSR
Both of these machines are same, they offer great value even at a cheaper price. The basic features are all the same. The difference is, the Delta model doesn’t come with a digital readout for showing speed, you would need to guess it. And both of these machines offer low center to center distance. So it’s a tie, you can choose any.
5. JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe
This is the second JET product in this list and is not surprising to see more because they have that reputation and quality in them. The brand jet is serving the market with top-notch products for more than 50-years now. However, the Jet JWL-1221VS variable speed wood lathe is another high-quality successful production which is satisfying many woodworkers already.
This 1221VS model is the improved version of 1440VSK model, you are going to have more enhanced woodturning experience on this machine. This very machine is absolutely perfect for working with thicker woods or tackling bigger woodturning projects, the machine weighs around 130 pounds that quite heavy.
And the heavyweight will maintain an ideal precision and accuracy since it will absorb all the vibrations that might affect the accuracy. Comes with powerful 1HP motor which can reach the maximum speed at 3600 RPM, and lowest RPM setting as well, at just 60 RPM. You can control the speed at three ranges, 60 to 900 RPM, 110 to 1800 RPM and 220 to 3600 RPM.
This variable speed makes this machine highly versatile since you can control the speed according to the tasks. Also has forward and backward transition which is pretty smooth and capable of giving you a beautifully smooth finished wood work piece.
6. Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe Machine
Are you one of the professional woodturners who require heavy-duty highly powerful wood lathe machines for their projects? Then you might want to have a deep look at this Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe machine. Before you proceed any further let me tell you, this is not an inexpensive model, for this model you have you put your hand deeper in your pocket. Having that said, the machine excellently pays for each penny.
This machine got 2HP induction motor that runs at 220-volts which is highly powerful, the machine has one phase output. Comes with spring-loaded spindle lock which has the highest outbound swing of 32-inches. Also features 3 phase output poly groove drive belt.
You can the lowest RPM to 50 to 1300 and highest 135 to 3500 RPM. The adjustable RPM makes the machine highly versatile since you can set the speed according to the need.
Jet JWL-1221VS variable speed wood lathe Vs Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe machine
There are a lot of differences between these two models, the Jet model is inexpensive on coming with a 1HP motor that offers decent power. And the Laguna Tools model is a highly expensive model that comes with 2HP induction motor. The last one is a more heavy-duty model than the first one.
7. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Machine
Wouldn’t you appreciate a mini lathe machine that offers a powerful motor at a highly cheap price? We definitely would! The NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Machine comes at an extremely cheap price but still offers great value. This is one of the best mini wood lathe machines and is a highly innovating and versatile lathe machine for some reason, discussed below!
Comes with a ¾ HP highly powerful variable speed motor which offers a large range of speed from 250 RPM to 4000 RPM. And features forward and backward transition which delivers smoothly finishes wood work pieces.
Offers a swing capacity of 12-inches over the bed and the center to center distance is 16.5 inch but that can be extended with the extension bed. It also got top-notch cast iron construction which offers accuracy and precision.
8. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Midi Lather Machine
This is another excellent midi lathe machine coming from PSI woodworking and got loads of positive customer feedback, which should be a good reason to trust this machine. Comes with a decently powerful 1HP high-performance induction motor and also features SBC microprocessor which makes this lathe machine highly versatile.
With this machine, you will get the right amount of precision and accuracy. Plus, it is highly reliable as well. Offers two belt positions, 500 to 1800 RPM and 1950 to 3800 RPM. Comes with a digital readout that allows you to see what speed you are at, instead of guessing it.
The headstock thread is 1-inch 8TPI, and taper of headstock and tailstock is 2MT. This machine offers a large center to center distance, 18-inch. There are built-in handles which are highly convenient. The cast-iron foundation base adopts extension bed as well.
NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Machine Vs PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Midi Lather Machine
One common thing in both these lathe machines is the price, both come at a cheap price. The Nova 46300 is a mini lathe machine and the PSI one is MIDI machine. When it comes down to quality the PSI midi lathe machine seems to be the winner since few users have said, the motor of the NOVA 46300 model doesn’t last long.
9. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Wood Lathe Machine
This is another top-notch wood lathe machine that comes at a cheaper price. It is a benchtop lathe and heavily constructed with cast iron. And designed in a way that it suits most of the workbenches. Comes with a powerful 1/3 HP motor which offers decent power to tackle some light-duty and even few heavy-duty woodturning tasks.
It offers variable speed and the spindle speed can be set between 700 to 3200 RPM. You will get a safety puddle switch as well with this machine. The center to center distance is 1-inches that is short but if used extension bed, there shouldn’t be any problem. The over bed swing is 12-inches. Comes with two tool rests and the faceplate is included as well.
10. WEN 3420 Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
And finally, here we present the last wood lathe machine of this review list which is the WEN 3420 Variable Speed Benchtop machine. It comes with adjustable variable speed; you can set the speed from 750 to 3500 RPM. It also features an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper which grips the work piece tightly. Comes with two tool rest which offers the needed support.
It features a 2A motor which offers a moderate amount of power. This machine offers a lever which is very easy to use, that makes the adjustment of both the tool rest and tailstock easy and simple. With the purchase, you will get a flat wrench, a tailstock cup center, a headstock spur center, a knock out rod and needed cups.
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Wood Lathe Machine VS WEN 3420 Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
Both of these are benchtop wood lathe machine and comes at an affordable price range. Highly versatile machines both, coming with all the must to have features. That being said, compared to the SHOP Fox model, the WEN 3420 model comes with low-quality construction.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Wood Lathe Machine
If you want to get your hands on the right machine that will get your job done nicely, you got to consider the following factors right before making a purchase decision.
There are different types of wood lathe machines that come in different sizes. So have to pick a model that is suitable for you. If you have a small space, then going for a giant lathe machine doesn’t make any sense at all. There are full-sized lathe machines, MIDI lathe machines, Mini lathe machines, Benchtop lathe machines, these are the most common one. So before you buy one make sure you have the space for the machine.
Which Lathe machine you should buy that mostly depends on the tasks you have in hand. IF you have large wood projects then you need something bigger that can tackle such heavy works. And if you will be doing light duty woodworks, then a mini lathe machine will do the work.
How well you will be able to finish your work that will depend on the speed. You should choose the speed depending on the thickness of the stock. If you are turning a 4-inch stock, then the speed should be with 1500 RPM to 2250 RPM. Lower then that range might damage your stock. And always try to pick machines that offer variable speeds.
Where can you find the technical specification sheet?
Usually, every woodturning lathe comes with a user manual that describes all the relevant technical specifications that you should know to operate the woodturning lathe.
If the included user manual is lost, please visit the manufacturer's website and check it through its search engine. Most official websites feature the search engine either at the top middle or top right corner. As you type the product name in the search box, it searches for the keywords or characters specified by you. Once your desired product appears in the search result, click for the product page.
On the product page, the user manual is usually given in the form of pdf format. Download the document and open it. Once you open the file, you'll see some table contents that list your product's specifications.
However, if you don't see any search window, then search through the product section. The rest procedure is the same, as mentioned above.
The tech specs look confusing. Is there a fast way you can process the info?
Of course, here we come up with an easy and fast way that can help you to process the info thoroughly. You have to follow these sections while you go through the technical datasheet:
Motor Power: Under this section, the motor power of your woodturning lath is detailed. And the value of the power is expressed in the form of horsepower (hp). Generally, the value ranges between ½hp and 2hp.
Power Transmission: For the various levels of power transmission, most Woodturning lathes have built-in standard poly-V-belt. The standard width of this belt ranges between 4-ribs and 16-ribs.
Swing over bed: The value mentioned in this section refers to the maximum diameter of a workpiece that you can rotate on the spindle without striking the bed. In other words, the maximum diameter that your woodturning lathe can handle. To turn a large bowl or plates, you will need a bigger woodturning lathe. But for mini bowls or plates, a small lathe will work fine.
Swing over Tool Rest: This section details the maximum diameter of a workpiece that you can turn while not hitting the tool rest. The tool rest is an adjustable horizontal surface on a wood lathe. Without it, you won't be able to rotate your workpiece.
Swing over Cross Slide: The mentioned value refers to the maximum diameter that can clear the cross slide atop the carriage.
Distance between Centers: The distance between the spur center on the headstock and the rotating center in the tailstock. The value mentioned in this section refers to the maximum length of stock that you can turn on that woodturning lathe.
Spindle Speed and Characteristics: Under this section, you will find the RPM details of your woodturning lathe. Most lathes offer a range between 500-rpm and 4500-rpm. Depending on the machine, the RPM level can be less or more than this. This section also talks about the speed control mechanism. The details of the spindle bore dimension, and spindle nose type is also given here.
Tailstock: The section details about the size of the Morse Taper of your lathe's tailstock. The most standard sizes of conventional woodworking lathes are MT-1 (18mm), MT-2 (12mm), and MT-3 (24mm). You will also find the details about the length of the tailstock quill – clamped at the mouth of the tailstock. Other information about tailstock is also available in this section.
Dimension and Weight: In this section, you'll find the dimension and weight of your lathe. It'll also be mentioned whether the machine's dimension and weight include the outboard turning attachment or not.
Material: This section describes the raw materials used to build all the major parts, including headstock, tailstock, and lathe bed.
Great, I think I know enough to buy a wood lathe. So, what are my options?
There are plenty of wood lathes available on the market. Yet, we recommend you consider the lathes from our review, as mentioned earlier. That's because the review section of this article covers all the premium quality lathes. Also, you'll find here a variety of woodturning lathes ranging from entry-level to the high-end level. However, if you want to scout around the market for a different level of lathe machine, you can consider the lathes from Delta, Jet, RIKON, Nova, and Laguna tools.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wood Lathe Machine
Which wood lathe machine is the best in the market?
The Powermatic 1352001 wood lathe machine is trending for its excellent power performance and is definitely one of the bests.
What is the best lathe machine for the beginner?
The Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe Machine would be a great choice for the beginners.
What will be the perfect speed for me?
You have to choose the speed according to the wood stock you will be turning, so it depends on the stock.
These are the best wood lathes you will find in the market, we have reviewed them in detail and didn’t hold anything back so that you can get a clear picture of the performance of each. Hope that helped!