Best Wood Lathe Reviews

If you’re looking to sculpt wood in any meaningful capacity, investing in the best wood lathe will make your life much easier.

Woodturning is a form of woodworking almost in and of itself. There are many craftsmen who have absolutely no interest in anything but turning. On the other hand, there are plenty of generalist woodworkers who also enjoy a spot of turning.

In today’s best wood lathe reviews, we’ve aimed to present a broad spread of machines so there’s something for all skill levels and requirements.

Before we get into the review section, though, what exactly is a lathe?

Editor's Choice

  • 1HP motor
  • Variable speed: 60RPM to 3600RPM
  • Proprietary ratchet belt for tensioning
  • 2 tool rests
  • 24 indexing positions
  • Indexing pin and spindle lock
  • Scale reads in imperial and metric
Rated as
4.5/5
Budget Friendly

  • 3/4HP motor
  • Variable speed from 250RMP to 4000RPM
  • 3-step pulley system
  • Swings 12 inches over bed
  • Swings 16 ½ inches between the centers
Rated as
4.5/5
Amazon's Choice

  • 1Hp variable speed motor
  • 400RPM to 3000RPM
  • ​7 locking positions on head stock
  • Tool rest has positive locks
  • 14 ½-inch swing over bed
  • 42-inch swing between centers
Rated as
5/5

REVIEWS OF THE BEST WOOD LATHES – COMPARISON TABLE

​If you’re on the trail of the best wood lathe, you’re in for a treat today. We’re here to cut through the overwhelming choice so you can get the right tool with ease.

Check out this table of 5 great wood lathes before we get started…

Table of Contents

Main Features
  • 1HP motor
  • Variable speed: 60RPM to 3600RPM
  • Proprietary ratchet belt for tensioning
  • 2 tool rests
  • 24 indexing positions
  • Indexing pin and spindle lock
  • Scale reads in imperial and metric
Rated as
4.5/5

Very rarely are products truly innovative these days but the JET JWL 1221VS is a totally overhauled lathe that offers a remarkable experience combining unparalleled control and stunning results.

This cast iron lathe mini lathe is certainly no lightweight in terms of performance and although it might not seem particularly cheap, it offers exceptional value for money if you’re serious about woodturning.

A swift glance at the main features before we walk you through the JET mini lather in more detail…

Not everyone wants a full-sized monster of a lathe or even has the space to accommodate one. If you’re on the trail of a mini lathe that offers almost the capability of a midi, you’d be well advised to look into the JET JWL 1221VS.

The 1HP motor is more than fit for purpose and it kicks out a surprising amount of torque. This motor drives some rugged sealed bearings making use of a drive belt with 6 grooves.

Although it’s termed a mini lathe, the JET weighs in at a hefty 137 pounds so it gives you all the weight you need, an advantage rather than a handicap with wood lathes.

Speed control is first-rate. You can start as slowly as 60RPM and crank it right on through to 3600RPM when the application calls for it. All you need to do is turn a simple dial and there’s a digital readout to let you work without breaking your stride. If there’s any issue, you’ll get an error reading on the display so you can make the necessary tweaks to the speed.

Comfort needs to be uppermost when you’re woodturning. JET has placed all motor controls in one place in a handy panel. You’ll be able to access the on/off, spindle speed and forward/reverse without fiddling around.

Another time-saver is the ability to switch between forward and reverse without needing to turn the lathe off. Continual motion is key when you’re turning and this is a nifty feature.

You’ll be able to enjoy full customization thanks to the 24 positions on the indexing head.

The belt tensioning system features a pioneering ratchet for which JET has a patent pending. This comes into its own for belt changes meaning you can deal with this awkward task much more easily.

If you need to remove any threaded accessories, you’ll appreciate the indexing pin and spindle lock.

The scale on the tail stock comes with both imperial and metric measurements so you won’t need to undertake any tiresome mental arithmetic when you’re trying to focus on your work. The tail stock itself is extremely rigid and it slides over the bed like a dream.

The center aligns effectively which is one of the core needs if you want an efficient wood lathe.

Vibration is kept to a complete minimum. If you scour user reviews, you’ll find a handful of people complaining about the vibration but we have to disagree. It’s more than weighty enough and absolutely stable giving you a seamless woodturning experience.

The crowning glory with this fantastic mini wood lathe is a first-class 5-year limited warranty. This shows how JET stands behind this lathe and allows you to buy without a headache.

Why we like it

  • Very capable 1HP motor offers ample power for a mini lathe and a great deal of torque at the low end.
  • Compact benchtop model perfect for regular light or medium turning work.
  • Motor controls all neatly grouped together for your comfort and convenience.
  • Precise and responsive speed control allowing for maximum flexibility.
  • You can run the lathe in reverse without needing to switch it off which is superb for maintaining your workflow.
  • Exclusive ratchet system for belt tensioning enables super-swift belt changes when required.
  • Bigger and bulkier in its uprated incarnation offering you better stability and a wider bed.
  • Rock solid when running and almost vibration-free.
  • 24 indexing positions offering you a wide range of scope.
  • Limited 5-year warranty for complete peace of mind

Conclusion

The JET JWL 1221VS is one of those rare beasts, a redesigned product that features genuinely worthwhile tweaks.

There’s no such thing as the best wood lathe period because it’s very much a case of horses for courses. That said, if you’re looking for a smaller mini lathe that punches well above its weight, you’d have to search far and wide to come up with a better machine.

While it’s not exactly cheap, when you consider what you’re getting for your money and the enormous variety of applications at your disposal, it represents pretty solid value.

Give the 1221VS a crack and we can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Main Features
  • 3/4HP motor
  • Variable speed from 250RMP to 4000RPM
  • 3-step pulley system
  • Swings 12 inches over bed
  • Swings 16 ½ inches between the centers
Rated as
4.5/5

Next on the list in our best sander reviews is another random orbit sander from the highly reputable Bosch.

While this sander is not as cheap as the BLACK + DECKER, it’s still remarkably affordable and it offers uprated functionality along with more power so it’s not money spent for nothing.

A glimpse at the main features before we explore this sander in detail…

With home workshops, there’s always a degree of compromise involved and that usually concerns space constraints. If you have limited room and you need a lathe with a small footprint but packing a decent punch, the Nova 46300 Comet II is a winning solution.

Although the 3/4HP motor is not the most powerful on the block, it’s able enough to cope admirably with modest woodturning projects. The fact it’s a direct current motor means you can plug it into a standard outlet fuss-free.

Assembling lathes can induce an immediate headache but the Nova comes almost good to go. Just attach the hand wheel and feet – or attach it to a stand – then pop on the adjustment handle and tool rest. It really is as simple as that and you can get right down to turning your first project.

You can fine-tune the speed from 250RPM up to a mighty 4000RPM at the upper end. This is accomplished thanks to a user-friendly 3-step pulley system in tandem with the controller. The reversible motor is a nice touch in a mini lathe at this price point, too.

The Nova swings 12 inches over the bed and 16 ½ inches from center to center so allows you to turn a diverse range of projects. You can also roll with a bed extension if your needs are slightly more ambitious.

The composite guard is nicely reinforced and set off with an easy-access latch to simplify things. The On/Off switch is responsive and equipped with a no-vault release to put your safety uppermost.

If the motor or electronics let you down during the first year, you’ll get a complete replacement. There’s also a 2-year limited warranty on all parts so Nova has your back all the way.

Before rounding out, there are a couple of drawbacks worth mentioning…

The housings have pretty sharp edges so bear this in mind to avoid slicing your fingers. Some users have reported that the tool rest feels a bit too short but this is subjective and you should make up your own mind about this rather than being put off.

Overall, the shower of benefits found with the Nova Jet II more than compensate for its minor downsides.

Check out our honest appraisal of its pros and cons and judge for yourself…

Why we like it

  • 3/4HP motor delivers more than sufficient performance along with electronic variable speed
  • Direct current motor allows you to plug in to a regular outlet and get going straight out the box
  • Almost no assembly required so a great choice for beginners
  • Fine-tune the pace from as little as 250RPM right through to an impressive 4000RPM at the top end.
  • Motor housing fashioned from rugged die-cast metal so it’s built to last.
  • Regulation 3-step pulley system lets you operate in low, medium or high speed ranges
  • 12–inch swing over the bed lets you turn bowls and platters (although it’s not cut out for outboard turning)
  • 16 ½-inch swing between centers renders the Nova ideal for furniture making
  • Extremely cheap but offering all the functionality a home woodturner needs
  • Super-simple to mount accessories onboard
  • Operates without much noise or vibration

Conclusion

If you need a smaller lathe but you don’t want to sacrifice performance or power, the Nova 46300 Comet II stands alone in its class. You’ll be able to turn your hand to a wide range of applications and it’s incredibly friendly on the pocket into the bargain.

Not everyone wants a behemoth wood lathe eating up every square inch of workshop space nor does everyone have the budget for a range-topping machine that might only come out to play once in a while.

If you’re just starting out on your woodturning journey or you’re a capable turner looking for a pocket-friendly mini lathe, we stridently urge you to check out the Nova Comet II. It delivers fully without requiring a bank loan.

Main Features
  • 1Hp variable speed motor
  • 400RPM to 3000RPM
  • ​7 locking positions on head stock
  • Tool rest has positive locks
  • 14 ½-inch swing over bed
  • 42-inch swing between centers
Rated as
5/5

Next up in our investigation of the best wood lathes is another entry from JET, this time a more expensive model that comes with legs.

Although it’s not cheap, if you take advantage of the offer currently available here, you can enjoy a nominal discount and use that money to offset the cost of any accessories you might want to pick up.

Getting the best lathe, as we underscore throughout this article, is a simple question of matching appropriate equipment with your specific needs. If those needs encompass turning larger bowls and spindles, you’re in safe hands with the 1440VSK.

With its cast iron base and legs, the JET 1440VSK offers that perfect combination of stability and precision so crucial in a wood lathe. The added advantage is that you won’t be plagued by vibration either.

The 115-volt motor develops 1HP and delivers more than enough power for robust woodturning projects, drilling, sanding or cutting. This is a multi-purpose machine that will add a new dimension to your workshop.

The vintage Reeves drive pulley system might be showing its age but it does a remarkably efficient job when it comes to speed control. Whether you’re running your lathe at the lower speed of 400RPM or maxing it out at 3000RPM, the motor rarely stalls even under unbalanced loads.

This colossus weighs almost 400 pounds so you could consider it a kind of mid-range lathe in terms of performance and price. You can tell by taking one look at it that it’s not the sort of machine for a casual hobbyist looking to turn a pen or two. Think seriously about your needs before investing in something that verges on overkill.

If you want to occasionally work with larger pieces, you can pick up an extension table that gives you a bit more room for maneuver. This mounts in 3 positions and will enable you to engage in outboard turning.

The spindle has positive lock indexing. These stops are set out at optimized 10-degree intervals.

The head stock has a pair of positive stops and the entire stock swivels through a full range of motion giving you a fantastic turning experience.

Cam locks on both the head stock and tail stock mean you can make any adjustments tool-free. Due to the shallow nature of the tail stock, you can also carry out boring which comes in useful if you’re making something like a lamp.

We’ll outline where this lathe stands and falls so you can see in an easily digestible format whether it’s the right machine for you…

Why we like it

    • 1HP, 115-volt motorgives you enough oomph for pretty any woodturning project.
    • Variable speed from as slow as 400RPM up through 3000RPM thanks to Reeves drive pulley system.
    • Almost impossible to stall motor whether at low speed or under heavy load.
    • Clear display so you can determine speed without breaking your stride.
    • Positive lock indexing on the spindle at 10 degree increments so you can flute or vein with ease.
    • Live center features a removable pin so you can bore your way through stock.
    • Weighing 356 pounds, you’ll get almost no vibration from this incredibly stable wood lathe.
    • 2 positive stops on the head stock (45 degrees and 90 degrees) and able to be swiveled through 360 degrees lets you work with total flexibility.
    • The optional extension bed you can mount in 3 positions facilitates more ambitious outboard turning.

Conclusion

If you want something a bit more substantial than a mini lathe without stepping things up to the extreme of a full-sized lathe, the JET 1440VSK makes a wonderful halfway house.

For a stable and high-performing lathe that offers complete stability, minimal vibration and will last you for decades if properly maintained, give some serious consideration to this awesome legged model.

JET’s industry-leading 5-year warranty ensures that you’re covered in the event of any malfunction. If you do plump for this lathe, just be certain to maintain it properly and you’ll minimize the chance of anything going amiss in the first place.

Main Features
  • 1HP motor
  • 1725RPM
  • Variable speed with 3 pulley system
  • 12 ½-inch swing
  • Forward and reverse functionality
Rated as
4.5/5

As we near the end of our best wood lathe reviews, we’ve got something a little bigger for you in the form of the Delta Industrial 46-460.

This 12 ½-inch midi lathe is sturdy and very heavy duty while remaining simple enough to use even if you’re not the most experienced woodturner.

For bowls and ornaments, spindles and pens, read on to see if the 46-460 fits the bill for your workshop…

Obviously, the motor on a wood lathe is central to its performance. Kicking out 1HP, the Delta can take even demanding turning applications in its stride. Plenty of torque is delivered to the head stock spindle and it’s very resistant to stalling.

In order to get the very best finish, it’s necessary to have forward and reverse on your lathe and the Delta. You can rotate your turned piece without needing to remount it meaning you can take care of an otherwise laborious task by flicking a switch and achieve superior results into the bargain.

You’ve got a choice when it comes to speed control…

If you want to harness the manual belt adjustment, simply lift the head stock and refer to the simple diagram to avail yourself of the 3-speed setting:

1: 250 – 750RPM
2: 600 – 1800RPM
3: 1350 – 4000RPM

There’s also an electronic speed control knob so you can fine tune while you’re working. This has 10 speeds and is a nifty bonus allowing you to make micro-adjustments without needing to stop turning.

The Delta runs quietly and also dampens down the vibration that can plague some poor quality wood lathes.

Surprisingly for a cheap wood lathe, you’ll get a nice range of accessories thrown in. There’s a 6-inch and 10-inch tool rest so you can swap them out accordingly for cruder turning projects or more precise finishing jobs. Both accept custom bases. You’ll also get a 3-inch face plate so you can attach your workpiece to the tail stock without causing any damage. As if this wasn’t enough, you’ll also get a live center, a knockout bar, a tool rest base and some wrenches.

While you’ll be provided with a limited 5-year warranty, it’s worth noting the Delta has a reputation for questionable customer service. When this is a repeated motif across many customer reviews, it’s something worth at least bearing in mind. After all, a guarantee is purely academic unless you get the full and timely support of the company when you need to call it in. Do your own due diligence here.

Woodturning is not something you can master overnight but, with the Delta 46-460, you can get going directly out the box and enjoy using a lathe that’s ultra-simple to use while not stiffing you in terms of performance.

Why we like it

  • 8-amp, 1HP motor powerful enough for heavy turning projects while also offering plenty of torque.
  • Despite the power and performance, this lathe takes up remarkably little space in the workshop.
  • Forward and reverse to get a smooth finish with minimal effort.
  • Dual speed control (automatic and manual) giving you complete flexibility.
  • Belt tensioning system designed for rapid speed changes and optimized tension.
  • Fashioned from cast iron offering ultimate durability alongside outstanding stability.
  • 5-year limited warranty covering all normal wear and tear.
  • 2 tool rests (6-inch and 12-inch) can be guided with ease in any direction offering wonderful support.
  • User-friendly tail stock hand wheel finished in metal alloy for longevity as well as comfort.
  • User-friendly tail stock hand wheel finished in metal alloy for longevity as well as comfort.

Conclusion

For a wood lathe with this kind of performance, the Delta 46-460 is extremely cheap. That’s not to say the price is low period but it’s low for a midi lathe.

Although the manufacturer markets this lathe as suitable for professional woodworkers, if you’re going to be giving your lathe some serious action on a daily basis, you might want to consider something a little more upscale.

Overall, though, the Delta is a robust performer for this size and price point. If you’re operating on a budget, it might be just what you’ve been waiting for, a cost-effective wood lathe that copes well with a nice spread of applications.

Pop one on your shortlist and see how it compares to the opposition.

Main Features
  • 110-volt 2HP motor
  • 10 speeds from 600RPM to 2400RPM
  • 16-inch swing over bed
  • 46 inches between centers
  • Digital readout on spindle tacho
  • Cast iron bed and legs
Rated as
4/5

As we round out our best wood lathe reviews, it’s time for a very attractively priced model from Grizzly, the G0462.

This brand sometimes attracts some bad press among professional woodworkers but then a lathe like this is not marketed at those with heavy and continual woodturning needs. Try to disregard much of this chatter. It would like a graphic designer buying a budget laptop then complaining it can’t perform like a MacBook Pro.

We’ll give you a basic look at the main features before outlining some of the strengths of the Grizzly so you can make up your own mind if this inexpensive wood lathe deserves a place in your workshop…

The first thing worth pointing out is that for a lathe of this stature, the price is incredibly competitive. It’s also worth noting that this is a lathe for the hobbyist rather than the seasoned pro.

Once you have this straight, you can focus on what the Grizzly offers which, in our opinion, is far more than many competing and pricier lathes.

The motor is a single-phase 110-voltunit with 2HP so you get a great deal of punch from it with plenty of torque.

You can adjust the speed between 600 and 2400RPM. You’ve got 10 options affording you total flexibility in your woodturning. Match the pace to the application and enjoy a fantastic finish. Making these speed changes is simplified as you don’t need to fiddle around with belts at all. There’s a handle instead so this lathe is perfect even if you’re a novice woodturner.

Tipping the scales at 350 pounds and made from cast iron, the Grizzly is built solidly as its name hints. This also helps to damp down the vibration, although there are occasional complaints about this lathe vibrating at lower speeds. You can even add more mass by slotting a custom shelf into the legs which are built to accommodate this.

You’ll enjoy a 16-inch swing over the bed with 13 inches over the tool rest. The head stock rotates fully through 360 degrees. Combined with the tool rest extension, this makes outboard turning a breeze.

Although, as we’ve pointed out, this is not the type of lathe to slot into a busy turning shop, the fact it’s simple and user-friendly makes it the ideal lathe for its target market of home hobbyists. It couldn’t be simpler to get up and running and the Grizzly features excellent ergonomics married to decep

Why we like it

  • Single-phase 110-volt motor develops 2HP to cope with even heavier turning projects.
  • Exceptional value for money considering the power and diversity at your disposal.
  • Variable 10-speed between 600RPM and 2400RPM with a digital readout for your convenience.
  • Ultra-simple to change speeds with no belt thanks to a nifty handle allowing changes to made on the fly.
  • Swings 16 inches over the bed and 13 inches over the tool rest while the distance between centers is 46 inches: a hard-hitting all-rounder.
  • Tail stock and head stock feature user-friendly levers for lock and release.
  • Tool rest extension allows for outboard turning.
  • Cast iron bed and legs offer staying power along with stability.
  • Weighs 350 pounds so a heavyweight lathe without the corresponding price tag.
  • 6-inch faceplate, spur center and cup live center included.

Conclusion

Price always plays a role in any purchase and, with some wood lathes costing a fortune, it’s a pleasant surprise to come across something like the Grizzly G0462 which gives you a great deal of bang for your buck.

With a powerful variable speed motor, rugged construction and digital readout, you’ll be able to use this lathe at home for a nice assortment of turning projects. If you keep your expectations in check and don’t wade in expecting an industrial powerhouse built for extended commercial use, you are in for a bargain.

We recommend this lathe but with reservations so take a long hard look at the upsides and disadvantages before committing to buy.

It’s not the best lathe for everyone, but it might just be the best lathe for you and that’s all that counts!

best wood lathe: Looking for more information?

Interested to learn more in-depth details about selecting the right tool for your needs? Read our Informational Buyer Guide and Frequently Asked Questions sections on this topic for more details.

Final Words...

​We very much hope you’ve found some useful hints and advice in these best wood lathe reviews.

Whether you’re an experienced woodturner looking to upgrade or a complete beginner on the hunt for your first lathe, any one of the above products would be a fine addition to your workshop. All the wood lathes above come with our strongest recommendation.

If you’ve got any questions or feedback for us, just drop us a line and we’ll get back to you promptly.

Come back soon for more woodworking gems and, until then, here are 10 of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to wood lathes…

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