5 Best Wood Lathes for All-Purpose Carpentry

Best Wood Lathes

First, let us know what is a best wood lathes, and where do we use it? A wood lathe is nothing but a machine that is used to cut or shape a piece of wood in the desired form. We attach a piece of wood to a spinning arm. We can handle various stools to shape it into our desired shape, whether you would like it as a bowl, a spindle, vase, or any other useful or decorative wood items, just a spin on this beneficial device.

History & Significance

It is not now that wood lathes have come to the forefront and is being used by people even at nuclear levels. Cutters have been around in history ever since the Egyptian times. Initially, they were just rope spinners or bow lathe, which has been shaped more complicatedly with the passing years. Earlier, lathes were used for making wheels and other parts of furniture or jewelry.

Even though it might not sound much, but wood lathes have been a major important step in the development of civilizations. In today’s time, there are not just wood lathes but also others that are used for various purposes like pottery-making, glass-working, metalworking, and spinning.

Utility & Function

All you need for this is a good wood lathe and parting tools. The modern available lathes generally have a spindle and tailstock where the wood is attached for turning. There are various tools also available separately as per your needs and requirement. They are a major help in cutting and saving time that is required to carve wooden implements or vessels. It is possible to carve the same by hand, but the evenness and smoothness are much better in the case of a wood lathe.

However, it is imperative to be careful and cautious while using a wood lathe as it involves many spinning parts, which can be dangerous. It is vital to ensure that the wood that you are working on is firmly secured on the machine. It is advisable to wear safety gear like a dust mask, steel-toed boots, and safety glasses while working with a wood lathe.

Choice of lathe

It is necessary to access the nature of work for choosing the right kind of lathe. There are things to be kept in mind while doing so, such as the maximum thickness of wood that you would like to turn, which directly affects the swing over bed and tools involved. Then, the maximum length of the wood influences the distance between the centers. This will, in turn, give you an idea if an extension is required or not. Next, the RPM range which depends on the size of the wood to be turned.

The power of the motor is crucial here to determine a commercial or otherwise use. The dimensions of the machine may seem not so important, but it depends on the space availability storing the same.

Budget

Wood lathes are available in all budget spaces. It is necessary to buy the correct product as per your level of experience in woodturning. Knowing whether you are a beginner, an intermediate or an expert level woodturner, help to buy the suited product for the job.

For beginners or amateur woodturners, it is necessary to learn the basics of woodturning. We can easily find low budget ones within the range of $200-$400. For intermediate workers, mid-range lathes are available within the scope of $400-$800, while high-end lathes can cost up to thousands of dollars.

Now, let’s check out a few of the best wood lathes that are available in the market now and compare them based on the various utility factors.

We will now individually check for the features of every one of the above wood lathes and discuss why it is definitely worth the buy-

#1 WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8″ by 12″ Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe

WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe Price: $169.65 WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8 Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 12/15/2019

Priced decently, this wood lathe from the house of WEN is packed with various advantages and features that stand out from the rest of its kind. It is a perfect choice for both amateur and professional woodturning users.

The wood lathe has a cast iron construction that promises stability while limiting vibrations. It also features a positive locking indexing that is capable of carving out anything you throw at it.

It is a 15-inch mini-lathe that offers ample power and precision for versatile user experience. It is an excellent affordable and user-friendly starter lathe option and supports various indexing positions. It comes with a 2.3-inch faceplate that is ideal for non-spindle works.

The 3.2 Amp motor in this wood lathe works wonderfully well, offering almost 50 percent more power than most 8-inch wood lathes. It can fit workpieces in the variations of 12-inches long and 8-inches in width.

Also, the soft-start variable speed motor can be used at any desired speed between 750 to 3200 RPM. This wood lathe also features an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper, which helps in firmly gripping the workpieces. While the lever clamping system makes adjusting the tool rest and tailstock precise and straightforward. It also features a knock-out rod for the non-spindle workpieces.

Pros

  • Live center in the tailstock
  • Integrated faceplate
  • Adjustable variable speed

Cons

  • Not ideal for large workpieces

#2 Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe

Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe Price: $499.99 Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 12/15/2019

Make your wooden implements and vessels using this 15-inch mini wood lathe. It is a prevalent model among intermediate to expert woodturners. One of the primary reasons for this lathe to be a great choice is the variable speed controls.

The discrete speed controls let you adjust the spindle speed at fixed RPMs, such as 500, 840, 1240, 1800, 2630, and 3975. It further comes with a whopping 24 integrated indexing positions that let you carve out workpieces seamlessly without issues as per your need.

The easy access to the belts improves the tensioning system of the wood lathe. It has a center to center distance of 15-1/2,” which is a downside of the lathe. This is because if you would like to turn anything longer than 15-inches, you will need to extend the bed while turning wood. You would like to set anything longer than 15-inches; you will need to extend the bed construct. However, the foundation is wide in shape, and this provides increased stability while turning wood.

Pros

  • Improved tensioning system with easy access to bets
  • Six spindle speeds
  • Integrated 24 indexing position

Cons

  • Not a budget buy
  • Bed extension needed for pieces more than 15-inches

#3 Mophorn 10 x 18 Inch Wood Lathe Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe 5 Speed

Mophorn 10 x 18 Inch Wood Lathe Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe 5 Speed Price: Mophorn 10 x 18 Inch Wood Lathe Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe 5 Speed Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 12/15/2019

This woodturner from the house of Mophorn is a well-known one with extensive features for intermediate to expert level work. It is one of the top picks owing to the various features it provides. It is reliable and highly effective in multiple types of wood projects to offer an incredible result.

This 10 x 18-inches wood lathe is a sturdy one that works smoothly for almost all kinds of woodturning. The compelling 370W motor use in this heavy-duty wood lathe is a work of wonder. It works on a voltage of 120V/60 Hz.

This product has a design to slowly start the motor, which ensures safety with quiet operation. While the durable cast iron construction of the wood lathe ensures a smooth operation, the high precision-built provides stability and rigidity of the machine for a great result.

It offers five different spindle speeds within the range of 500 – 3200 RPM. The MT2 headstock, along with a 3-inch faceplate, are its significant features, which makes this product stand out.

The swing over bed reached up to 10-inches and has a center to center distance of 18-inches, which is better for a wide range of woodturning. It is a benchtop wood lathe that can be used in labs, workshops, and educational purposes as well.

Pros

  • Variable 5-speed control of 500-3200 RPM
  • Stable cast iron construction
  • Benchtop application
  • Budget buy

Cons

  • Short bed reach
  • Bed extension needed for pieces more than 18-inches

#4 Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe Price: $599.00 Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 12/15/2019

Undoubtedly, one of the best wood lathes available in the market is this one from the house of Delta. It is premium make wood lathe that ensures smooth operation even for extensive woodturning jobs. It is a favorite for most expert woodturners.

This wood lathe has a cast iron construction, which makes it extremely stable and durable even for heavy-duty operations. The 3-inch faceplate, along with the 6-inch and 10-inch tool rests, offers multiple devices supports for various types of woodturning applications.

A massive 1HP motor powers it with a spindle speed up to 1725 RPM. It is a perfect choice for high RPM options. The different speed controls let you select the ideal one for your project without having to change the belt system. The forward and reverse functions of this lathe give you the freedom to rotate the spindle in any direction you would like.

Delta has a patent belt tensioning system, which allows you the liberty to make quick changes in the speed while setting the belt to the correct position for optimum usage and longer tool life.

It comes with a five-year warranty, which is an important aspect which is a miss for most of the other products. This product has a superior finish to it by providing the various innovative extra advantages that make it worth the money.

Pros

  • Variable speed with three pulley-speed ranges
  • Stable cast iron construction
  • Powered by a 1-horsepower max, 1,725-rpm motor for robust performance
  • Budget buy

Cons

  • No speed readout
  • Bed extension needed for pieces more than 12-inches

#5 Grizzly Industrial T25920 – 12” x 18” Variable-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe

Grizzly Industrial T25920-12" x 18" Variable-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe Price: Grizzly Industrial T25920-12 Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Last Updated: 12/15/2019

Rated as one of the best wood lathes that are available in the market currently, this machine from the house of Grizzly is all set to take woodturning to the next level. It has a heavy cast iron construction making it highly durable over other products.

Its other features include secure access door to belt changes, forward and reverse spindle rotation, a digital RPM tachometer, adjustable rubber vibration dampening feet, and handles on each end for a smooth and firm grip. The variable speed of this wood lathe ranges between 300 to 3300 RPM and has a spindle indexing of 15 degrees. The swing over bed and tool rest also makes it extremely handy for any kind of woodturning. Also, the benchtop design of the wood lathe makes it portable and can be stored easily without any space constraints.

Pros

  • 15-degree indexing spindle
  • cast iron construction
  • rubber vibration-dampening feet

Cons

  • High on budget

With a variety of wood lathes available currently in the market, it is inevitable to have questions about these. The machines now have come a long way since the birth of these over 3,000 years ago, where it was mainly made out of wood itself. The style of operation, performance, features as well as capacity is extremely important while choosing the right one.

If you are looking for a compact and smaller version of the lathe, then the WEN 3421 is the correct choice as it is a benchtop model of a lathe.

In case there is a budget constraint, you can go for the Mophorn 10 x 18 Inch lathe, which is the right choice. It offers a heavy-duty application while being low on the pocket.

If you do not have a budget or space constraint and would like to go for an all-rounder, then the Delta Industrial 46-460 is one of the best options for you. It has a consistent speed and choice of tools for carrying out every kind of woodturning.

And if you are just starting as a woodturner, it is but obvious to first learn the basics of the job. Perfect for beginners, the Jet JWL-1015 will not be a turndown. Not too extensive and not too wide, this wood lathe lets you get accustomed to the ways and methods with its versatile application. It is also smooth and sturdy for new users.

But before that, take some time and learn about the various uses and applications of wood lathes and crucial safety measures.