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6 Best Wood Lathe In The Market Today


If you have ever seen a zucchini spiralizer, a wood lathe is similar to that.


 Instead of producing thin strips of zucchini, a wood lathe stabilizes cuts and sands wood as it rotates.


 It is a versatile tool that is used in woodworking and manufacturing.


It can be hard to cut certain angles and sand wood with just your hand, and a wood lathe can do it easily.


If you are looking for a tool to stabilize your wood and form it into what you need it to be, you may want to invest in a quality wood lathe.

What Is a Wood Lathe?

A wood lathe is a product that holds a workpiece in place while rotating against a cutting tool.


It can do a number of different things such as turn, deform, cut, sand, drill and face workpieces for a variety of different uses.


They are specifically designed to use on wood, and are not optimal for cutting materials harder than metal.


There are different types of lathes that cut different types of materials.

A wood lathe simply holds the material in place and requires skill to accurately cut on the workpiece.


The tool has a spindle that is driven by a belt, which the motor powers.


The speed is adjusted by moving the belt to the different pulleys.


Wood lathes are usually stable and able to be clamped down while you move the lathe tools to cut, sand or drill into the wood.

Main Components


In order to choose the best tool for your needs, it is important to look at the main components that make up a wood lathe. This way you can understand what the tool features, and choose the one that fits your work best.

Lathe Motor

The motor that works best for a wood lathe is a variable speed motor.


This means that you are able to adjust the speed and torque of the motor by adjusting frequency or voltage.


This is important to match the demand of the work the lathe is used on.


It ensures that the tool’s motor is working at the right level it needs to.


The horsepower usually ranges from ¾-3HP depending on the size of the wood lathe.


The motor is usually located on the left side, which is also known as the headstock.

Headstock and TailStock

The headstock on the wood lathe is the left side of the tool where the motor, tension pulleys and drive belt are.


This side is where all the power is located.


The spindle on the headstock is what your wood attaches to and the reason why it rotates.


The most important measurement to note is the swing distance.


This determines the largest radius of cutting material the lathe can handle.


The tailstock on the other head is located on the right side of the lathe.


The tail end is able to be adjusted to the correct length of the cutting material.


This part helps the spindle to stay in position, which makes the wood rotate evenly.

Power & Speed Control

The power and speed control location depends on the manufacturer.


On some models, the switch is closer for safety, and on others, they are located further.


Be sure to find one that works best for you, or you won’t be able to get the most out of your too.


 In order to use the lathe effectively, you need to use different speeds depending on the application On smaller woods, a higher revolution per minute is needed to help control the cut.

Tool Rest

The tool rest is arguably the most important feature on the lateh.


It is located to the right on the lathe bed.


The tool rest like the name suggests allows you to rest your tools on the support to make safe and even cuts.


There are different types of tool rests to best fit your needs. This feature is for convenience as well as safety.


It allows you to swap between tools easily and also keep your hands away from it.


The rests are also adjustable, meaning that you can move it along the lathe bed to the exact place you need it.

What to Look For


A quality lathe is important to produce the best results when woodturning. Here are some things to look for in a good wood lathe for all your projects.

Good Base

The foundation of the lathe is extremely important for stability of the tool.


There are different sizes of lathes; however, on all sizes of the lathe, a solid bed is extremely important.


The bed is the horizontal beam that makes up the base of the lathe.


It is usually made from cast iron, which is a great heavy material that keeps the tool from moving. 


Since the motor is spinning quickly, it could cause vibrations, which we want to reduce with the weight of the base.


The vibrations make the turning uneven and difficult, which can even lead to serious injuries.


We suggest staying away from a lightweight portable option, even though it may be tempting.


 It may be a slightly larger investment in terms of money and space for your tool, but it is worth it in the long run. The heavier the base, the more stable the lathe is, which makes it easier to use.

Bed Length

As well as the weight, the length of the bed is also important to consider before making your purchase.


 The headstock is permanently anchored, but the tailstock is able to adjust to the needed length.


There are different sizes of lathes, which also determine the size of the bed.


Be sure to carefully consider the type of materials you will be turning before choosing your lathe.


There are smaller lathes that extend, but if you are turning larger objects, we would suggest investing in a larger and sturdier lathe.


Larger lathes in general are more heavy-duty and stable.

Swing

The swing of the lathe refers to the height that the machine swings over the bed.


 In order to make sure that your cutting material fits, be sure to measure or look at the swing listed to see if the lathe works for you.

Motor

The motor on a lathe usually ranges from ⅛-3 horsepower, which is what gives the tool its power.


 Generally you want a stronger horsepower, but if you are only working with smaller materials, it is not needed.


Lathes also range from 500-4,000RPM, depending on the size of the tool and the variable speed controls.

How to Use One

  • Setting Up - Position the tool hold on your lathe and set up your tools before your lathe is even on
  • Starting the lathe - start ot the lowest speed at a 90° angle
  • Cutting - Drive the blade in at all directions to keep it cylindrical an do not be afraid to practice first

T is that easy! Now that you know all the basic components and how to operate one, we list some of our favorite options for you to check out.

Jet 12x21in. Variable Speed Wood Lathe

The Jet variable speed wood lathe focuses on maximum control.


 It has an unrivaled speed control that ranges from 60-3600 RPM speed variable which ensures the utmost versatility.


The controls are also conveniently located so you can easily switch between different materials.


A great feature of this lathe is the ability to transition between rotating forward and reverse.


This allows for customization and makes it easier than ever.


This tool truly stands out with all its unique features.


It has an innovative ratchet style belt tension system that holds the material firmly in place.


The Jet lathe also comes with 24 indexing positions which allows for a variety of different dividing options.


It weighs a hefty 126.4 pounds for stable cutting without any vibrations.


If you want a heavy-duty product with truly unique features, this lathe does it all.

Pros

  • Optimized customization
  • Unique features that add to convenience
  • Great variable speed for variety of tasks

Cons

  • Comes in weak packaging
  • Does not come with a stand
  • Is quite noisy to operate

Delta Industrial 12.5 in. Midi Lathe

This Delta Midi Lathe is a medium sized lathe that has a powerful motor that ranges from 250rpm to 1750rpm for different tasks.


It is designed with a great pulley system that helps to minimize vibration even with a smaller lathe.


Like the Jet lathe, this one also comes with 24 indexing positions.


 This is a heavy-duty lathe that weighs 97 pounds constructed from cast iron.


This adds to the stability and durability of the product.


It has an incredible swing of 121/2 swing capacity which is the largest in the midi lathe class.


Even for a midi lathe, this tool has a great lathe and consists of heavy-duty components made to last.

Pros

  • Unique belt tension system for easy adjustment
  • Cast iron construction adds to durability
  • Great swing height that is great for even larger materials

Cons

  • Has slightly lower speed range that others
  • Noisy to use
  • Can be hard to replace parts if needed

Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe

This Jet Wood Lathe also boasts a wide variable speed range from 400-3000RPM. This is great if you have a wide range of materials that need customization.


 A great feature of this lathe is the sliding headstock that is also able to lock at certain degrees for maximum versatility.


The lathe also features a positive locking tool rest that has an easy-to-read RPM display.


This allows you to easily switch between different tools and also switch the speed of the motor quickly and safely.


Unlike the other Jet lathe, this one comes with a stand, which is much more convenient for some users.


This saw is a heavy-duty product that weighs 400 pounds.


It is a large investment, but is completely worth the price.

Pros

  • Comes with stand for convenient use
  • Heavy-duty product that eliminates vibrations
  • Motor is extremely quiet, especially for size

Cons

  • Can be too heavy for some home users
  • 400 rpm can be too fast for some projects
  • Stand may be too high for some people

Wen 8x12 in. 3.2-Amp Mini Wood Lathe

The Wen mini wood lathe is made to be used on a benchtop.


It features an incredible 3.2-Amp motor, which is more than other 8 in. lathes. The bed length fits workpieces that range from 8 in.-12 in.


This tool is easy to use and features a heavy-duty cast iron composition.


A great feature of this lathe is the interchangeable tool rests.


This adds to the ease and versatility of the product.


Along with other extra features, this saw is simply a reliable heavy-duty lathe, especially for its size.

Pros

  • Great for beginners
  • Great compact option with its size and weight
  • Easy to set up and use

Cons

  • Motor can be too weak for some tasks
  • Tailstock can start to weaken
  • Basic model that may not be enough for some users

Nova 12 in. Woodworking Midi Lathe

This Nova Midi Lathe is a great medium sized lathe that ranges from 250-4000RPM for smaller and larger work pieces.


This lathe also comes with the great added feature of a forward and reverse switch. This adds to the versatility and leads to a smoother finish to your projects.


The lathe is also compatible with a bed extension if you need additional space.


This is a great base product that you can always add toIt has an easy digital readout for you to quickly monitor and adjust.


This lathe only weighs 82 pounds which is a great portable option.


Even for a smaller wood lathe, this one gets the job done.

Pros

  • Lightweight for easy moving
  • Compatible with a variety of different accessories
  • 3 step pulley system for maximum flexibility

Cons

  • Lightweight design can lead to vibrating
  • Has less indexing stops than other lathes
  • Poor tech support if you have additional questions

Wen 8x12 in. 2-Amp Mini Wood Lathe

The Wen mini wood lathe is similar to the other one mentioned above, but this has a slightly less powerful motor.


The speed ranges from 750-3200 rpm for great versatility, especially for a mini lathe.


It features two different tool rests, which can be great for those that have a variety of different tools.


The lathe also comes with an easy-to-use level clamping system that allows for easier adjustments.


The tailstock adjusts easily to the length of your work piece.


Even though this lathe has a slight weaker engine, it is great for small projects that require a portable lathe.

Pros

  • Ultra lightweight for maximum portability
  • Has a cast iron composition
  • Easy to use especially for beginners

Cons

  • Decreased speed range
  • Can have some vibrations
  • Tailstock design can start to loosen

Last Thoughts


Wood lathes are a useful product that does most of the work for you.


We found that our overall winner is the Nova 12 in. Woodworking Midi Lathe.


Even though it is a slightly smaller lathe, the heavy-duty components provide a stable construction.


For such an important piece of equipment be sure that all the basic components meet your needs. 

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