There are many considerations you should take before buying your wood lathe, which includes ease of use, build, speed, and power as well as the types of wood that are in need of shaping and reshaping altogether.
With that said, what is a wood lathe? Simply put, a wood lathe is a wood-turning machine that rotates or spins the wooden workpiece to sculpt it against sandpaper, a grinder, or some handheld cutting tool so that you can shape it up in ways you couldn’t come with other tools.
These turners are usually of the faceplate or spindle variety. The one you should use depends on the type of wooden piece and the supposed look of the final product. This piece of equipment enables you to have more versatility and control over the movement of your hands as you go about machine-sculpting your wooden piece instead of depending on a blade that you push against the workpiece, which could lead to accidents (among other things).
These power tools are also made to operate at varying speeds depending on what your needs are and what effects on the piece of wood you want to produce as you shape it quickly into whatever final product you wish to get.
Wood Lathes Buying Guide
Table of Contents
- 1 Wood Lathes Buying Guide
- 2 How to Search for the Best Wood Lathes?
- 3 6 Best Wood Lathe Reviews
- 4 Conclusion
The Different Types of Wood Lathes
In the market, you will encounter many different types of wood lathes for sale. You should research these things to ensure that you can make an informed decision when buying whatever it is you want to buy.
Aside from expensive high-end lathes and affordable lathes, you have a full-sized lathe for heavy-duty woodworking and mini lathes for intricate designs and smaller wooden pieces that require less horsepower and more precision lathing.
The most common lathes are capable of turning a 10-12 inch diameter piece to a chair leg, table leg, lamppost, arts, and crafts workpiece or what-have-you. This measurement is otherwise known as the swing. The bed or spindle length for standard lathes is three feet in length or 36 inches.
Benchtop lathe is another name for mini lathes, and these are the ones you attach to bench tops, hence their other moniker. Standard-sized lathes are huge stationary lathes or floor lathes that can serve as a “table” in and of itself.
Its sheer size should serve as its leverage when doing some lathe-related woodworking. For a half-horsepower motor mini lathe, you need a 36-inch spindle length and an 11-inch swing.
Even compact lathes can never be described as lightweight because at their heaviest; they tend to weigh up to 300 pounds. Don’t use a weak table or bench for a lathe, even a mini lathe. You should have something that’s similarly heavy duty.
For the beginners who want to know more about how to use the Wood Lathe, this is a quick 5-min clip to get you up to terms 🙂
Why Wood Lathes Should Matter to You?
Sculpting wood is easier when you have a wood lathe around to spin the workpiece for you, as though you’re shaping pottery except instead of using centrifugal force to make wet mud get into the shape of a vase, you’re this time chiseling and grinding hardwood toward a result that you desire.
The most popular models of dedicated modern woodturners are a result of manufacturers striving to meet the ever-growing needs of their clients while keeping in competition with each other regarding innovation.
This has led to an arms race of sorts on which model is the most efficient and powerful of them all, with varying results overall. You need to review them one-by-one to know which ones the best one for you.
No one wood lathe is alike, and they’re not created equal at all, even when it comes to comparing one model to another. The best wood lathes around are those that are stable, have decent power, isn’t an electricity hog when used, and can shape all types of woods, from softwoods to hardwoods, with slight adjustments in its settings.
There are a variety of wood lathe types you can choose from (as showcased below), and your choice of them will determine what type of wood items you can create. You can go about getting better arts and crafts results from this or do decorative furniture sculpting if you so wish.
How to Search for the Best Wood Lathes?
There are many considerations you need to keep in mind when searching for the right wood lathe machine. For example, you should pay attention to the headstock or the whole side of the lathe that has the drive motor, making it the active end of the machine.
You should also take a gander at the cone pulleys of these lathes that go from larger to smaller. The smaller the diameter of the wheels, the less speed it generates and the bigger the diameter of the wheels the more speed it generates. If you want heavy-duty RPM out of your woodworking lathe, pay attention to the cone pulley size.
Intricate work might require smaller cone pulleys as well as a bench top or mini lathe, but big hardwood planks and logs need heavy-duty cone pulley action the multiple-horsepower stationary lathe.
For beginners, it’s desirable to have a lathe with a big red button labeled “Stop” so that you have a failsafe or a method of turning off the lathe during emergencies; it’s like a reset button in a sense. The power button also serves as a means of turning off the machine; it’s smaller than the stop button, and it’s there to help out with wood lathe safety.
The spinning part of the machine is the spindle, and it’s also where the wood lathe chuck is mounted. Make sure it’s the proper size for your project as well.
6 Best Wood Lathe Reviews
JET JWL-1221 Variable Speed Wood Lathe
The main claim to fame of the JET JWL-1221VS, on the other hand, includes its smooth transition from forward to reverse, optimally designed speed ranges, 60 RPM to 3,600 RPM variable speed, and unrivaled speed control (PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS has more upper RPM speeds, but JET JWL-1221VS has more variation in the lower RPM settings).
It also has a unique, patent-pending propriety feature called the ratchet-style belt tension system. This woodworking lathe is worth every penny because it provides a wonderful and amazing turning experience.
It’s particularly dependable when it comes to turning bowls, which is something a half horsepower mini couldn’t handle.
As good as the RIKON Mini Lathe, if you want power you go with something like the JET JWL-1221VS. It’s the truly heavy duty lathe you want for heavy duty woodworking.
This is the power upgrade you need to get a good woodworking lathe action. The equipment weighs about 130 pounds, and you’ll need a hoist to lift it into a lathe stand.
It works fine, save for the lack of a knockout bar for the MT2 fittings or the 3 millimeter Allen wrench that allows you to loosen set screws that lock to the spindle its faceplate. You’ll have to have one of those on hand in any case.
Meanwhile, you should make sure that the chucks run through so that the JET JWL-1221VS doesn’t wobble when attaching the faceplate to the spindle.
Read our review of JET JWL-1221VS.
RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
Even though it’s miniaturized, that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful. The RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe is a lot like a typical smartphone nowadays; it’s a small piece of equipment, but it can do many of the things its larger counterparts can do plus a lot more.
You have your industry standard speed change controls that you can easily access as you work because it provides ample room to allow you to change speeds exactly when you want to do so without delay.
It also has a self-ejecting tail stock, which means there’s no need for you to use the knockout bar to remove its center.
Rikon lathe is also renowned for its laser-engraved ram and the ability to add multiple extensions as you need them. The motor also has half a horsepower in it.
Your work will be as accurate as possible thanks to this powerful mini lathe’s 12-position index and compact design that allows it to have the ability to fit tight spaces, like a small woodshed.
It’s also quite mobile and easily storable, which is always convenient if you want to lathe on the go, or you want to put away your tools in a snap without having trouble finding a place to put them away with. The
It’s also quite mobile and easily storable, which is always convenient if you want to lathe on the go, or you want to put away your tools in a snap without having trouble finding a place to put them away with. The RIKON 70-100 12- by 16-Inch Mini Lathe finally locks the wood in multiple positions, ensuring accurate detail work every time.
Read our detailed Rikon 70-100 review.
PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Midi Lathe
The PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Lathe is considered one of the best wood lathes around because of the control it provides you. You can vary speeds from 150 to 4,100 RPM depending on the type and grade of wood you’re working on, plus there’s a digital readout that gives you a precise idea of the speed you’re currently going at that.
This is also a high-tech kind of woodworking midi lathe with an SBC microprocessor technology included that gives you more reliability and control when everything is said and done. It even has convenient carrying handles to boot as well as spindle locking and 24 indexing positions.
This is also a high-tech kind of woodworking midi lathe with an SBC microprocessor technology included that gives you more reliability and control when everything is said and done.
It even has convenient carrying handles to boot as well as spindle locking and 24 indexing positions.
If that’s not enough, then how about the fact that it has a work light with a convenient 18-inch flex cable so that you can see every detail of your work when doing something meticulous or intricate with your lathing and whatnot.
The ball-bearing tailstock center is also heavy-duty in the sense that it can take a lot of abuse, and its grip is so ergonomic that splitting and stress is altogether avoided.
Meanwhile, the tool storage rack keeps many of your woodworking tools like chisels and hammers on hand at all times. If you want to turn projects sized up to 43 inches, you can avail of an optional extension that’s accepted by the product’s sturdy cast iron base.
Read our PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS review.
Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe
As for the cast-iron Rockler Mini Lathe, it’s another lathe in the same vein as the RIKON Mini Lathe, but with several unique specs that make it stand out.
For example, it has Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe that could turn bowls of almost 10 inches in diameter and can create spindles that are about 17.75 inches in length.
You can become a regular workstation for woodworking thanks to this highly mobile and highly effective wood lathe capable of making an endless array of decorative turnings, small table legs, and chair legs galore. It has five specific speeds you can work with as well, which include 760, 1100, 1600, 2200, and 3,200 RPM.
If that’s not enough, then there’s also the fact that it has a cast-iron body that minimizes vibration, wobbling, and stable turning while at the same time ensuring maximum stability and durability. If you wish to increase spindle capacity, just buy the separately sold Mini Lathe Bed Extension to get an increase that will give you a 38.5″ rating. What’s more, the
What’s more, the Rockler Excelsior also has cam-locking ratcheting adjustment levers, convenient belt access door, chrome-plated hardware, non-slip feet, spindle taper for an MT2 1″ x 8 TPI spindle, the heavy-duty knockout bar for spur center, spur center on the headstock, and ball-bearing live center on the tailstock.
Finally, like Rikon’s mini lathe, the Rockler also sports a 0.5 HP motor. Read our Rockler Excelsior review here.
Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35-Inch Wood Lathe
As for the Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B, this wood lathe is about as advanced as PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS because they both have digital readouts that showcase the exact RPM of the speed they’re currently running.
This way, there’s way less guesswork when it comes to what speed you’re using, giving you more control. It also has a 20-inch swing and 34.5-inch gap at the center so that you’d have more leverage when doing some wood-lathing-related activities.
Unlike your typical mini lathe, this full-sized industrial-grade wood lathe offers a two-horsepower, 220-volt motor that runs at variable speeds. It’s also backed by a one-year warranty.
It also has a 20-inch swing and 34.5-inch gap at the center so that you’d have more leverage when doing some wood-lathing-related activities. Unlike your typical mini lathe, this full-sized industrial-grade wood lathe offers a two-horsepower, 220-volt motor that runs at variable speeds. It’s also backed by a one-year warranty.
Assembly is however required when you receive this heavy-duty cast iron piece of equipment. It’s 50 inches by 24 inches by 44 inches and has accessories that include a spindle lock, knockout rod, wrench, faceplate, tool rest, and guard. The Powermatic 3520B Woodworking Lathe is a proud addition to the classic Powermatic lathes family.
It does its product line proud by offering many great innovations like the digital RPM readout, a redesigned tailstock for internal storage purposes, and a laser-etched quill that can self-inject itself at your convenience. The
It does its product line proud by offering many great innovations like the digital RPM readout, a redesigned tailstock for internal storage purposes, and a laser-etched quill that can self-inject itself at your convenience. The 3520B is everything you’ve been looking for in a wood lathe and more, rivaled only by the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS.
Read our detailed review here.
JET JML 1014I 10 Inch X 14 Inch Indexing Mini Lathe
This rigid, tough, durable, strong, and dependable mini lathe can compete against the Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe and the RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe by being a lathe with a heavy-duty cast iron lathe bed, tailstock, and headstock. For something that’s “mini”, it packs quite the punch.
Hole boring is also a breeze with the JET JML 1014I because of its hollow tailstock. Meanwhile, the levers are quick release, which enables woodworkers to position the tailstock and tool rest correctly and effortlessly every time.
Meanwhile, its half-a-horsepower motor is fan-cooled and offers six spindle speeds from 500 to 3,975 RPM.
Meanwhile, the levers are quick release, which enables woodworkers to position the tailstock and tool rest correctly and effortlessly every time. Meanwhile, its half-a-horsepower motor is fan-cooled and offers six spindle speeds from 500 to 3,975 RPM.
Regarding specs, there are many aspects of the JET JML 1014I that outdoes its competition, from its six-inch tool rest to its inclusion of safety goggles.
You’ll also get a spur center, tooling knockout, three-inch faceplate, and a variety of other goodies designed to make sure that your wood-lathing experience is a streamlined and problem-free one.
It even has 24-position indexing and arbor locks to boot. You have so many indexing choices that it’s now possible for you to run decorative grooves lengthwise down the spindle if you wish for more intricate designs from your wooden workpieces.
Read our detailed review here.
The stationary or standard lathes to be on the lookout for are the
- JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe
- RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe
- PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Midi Lathe
- Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe
- Powermatic 1352001 Wood Lathe
- JET JML 1014I Mini Lathe
As for the mini lathes, you have the RIKON 70-100, and JET JML 1014I. This should make choosing the right lathe for you a little easier. Remember, fine detail woodworking requires a benchtop mini lathe.
Meanwhile, heavy-duty furniture making that’s more than just a small chair leg needs a floor wood lathe. Just read the reviews above in case you need a certain range of RPM for your wood-lathing requirements or perfect something high-tech and precise like an RPM readout that digitally showcases the speed at which you’re working.
Wood lathe shopping should always be done on a case-by-case basis. The best wood lathe for the money should allow the turner to efficiently and quickly work so that there’s less physical effort on your part. It should also have a stable base and avoid wobbling.
Check out other Wood Planer too!
Last update on 2020-11-16 at 21:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. More info.