In the profession of woodworking, or even simply doing some woodworking as a hobby, the proper tool is necessary to get the best results. One can use substandard tools, or even tools not particularly crafted for the task at hand and just accept the results as they are, or one can use the tool made for the exact project it was designed for. The choice ultimately shows the mark of an expert or that of an amateur. This is especially true when it comes to the art of woodturning.
Many decisions go into a woodturning project such as what wood to use as well as what object to create. Such decisions are critical. However, all decisions are for naught without the proper tool for woodturning, a wood lathe. Then comes the decision of which wood lathe to use for the project. Different wood lathes are designed for various kinds of woodturning projects. It is a difficult decision as many wood lathes currently exist on the market to suit any would-be woodturner. For the purpose here, wood lathes best for turning bowls will be highlighted.
Best Wood Turning Lathes: Our Top Picks
This model is comparable to other midi wood lathes like the Delta Industrial 46-460 in terms of features and reviews, and the Jet JWL-1015 with being user-friendly. Though it has a higher price tag, this is because the 70-220VSR is designed as essentially a portable version of a free-standing lathe.
As such, this model is a powerhouse in a smaller package, a worthy choice, and perhaps the best choice for turning bowls.
The 70-220VSR holds many features requested by professionals such as a powerful 1 horsepower motor, forward and reverse functions for more precise woodturning, variable speed controls, as well as increased stability with a solid steel frame. It has everything a much larger free-standing lathe has, but compacted.
This gives it the versability and efficiency to do the best work when it comes to woodturning, especially turning bowls. It has the same capability to adapt to the work as a larger lathe but has the perfect size to handle something that needs more precision such as turning bowls.
The Delta Industrial 46-460 is a midi-lathe, a subclass of lathe much like the mini variant. However, this model is slightly heavier than the JWL-1015 by about twenty pounds. Regardless, this model stands in deep competition with the JWL-1015.
In fact, the competition is so tight that either can be on top, depending on the person. The price tag is what sends it to second place as well as its reviews. Other than that, it stands as a worthy wood lathe for any woodturning projects, especially bowls.
The Delta Industrial 46-460, while comparable to the JWL-1015, does have some advertised differences. It has three pulley-speed ranges whereas the JWL-1015 has six spindle speeds.
It has, perhaps, a more user-friendly set up, i.e., the belt tensioning system it has makes it easy to change speeds while also setting the belt to the tension needed for more prolonged as well as more efficient use of tools.
It also boasts the largest swing capacity in its class, 12-½ inch. It ensures a perfect woodturning experience with its forward and reverse functions, allowing for more precise turning even for novices to the craft as less time is spent rotating the wood in certain positions given that the model rotates the wood for turning in variable positions and more accurate precision for the inexperienced woodturner.
While better for more experienced woodturners given its capabilities, its user-friendly potential makes it a big competitor to the JWL-1015.
The JWL-1015 is a mini-lathe, a subclass of lathes that suit turning bowls perfectly given its size. This model is particularly useful for novices to the craft of woodturning given its ease of use. It is also a welcomed addition to an experienced woodturner’s shop as nothing is reduced or taken away to make it more user friendly to novices.
This maintenance of integrity and durability shows this lathe’s versability for any woodturner working on turning bowls.
The features of this wood lathe relate to its being made more user friendly compared to other wood lathes in the past. For turning bowls, it is important to have the least amount of resistance given that the work is so precise. This work is made easier by the wider bed ways for increased rigidity so the work is done more solidly, as well as easier access to belts for better precision and ease of use even for novices to the craft.
This model also has six different spindle speeds, adding to its versability and guaranteeing a virtually universal experience when it comes to any project, especially turning bowls. The warranty is also five years, adding more ease of mind to an already complicated craft.
When it comes to woodturning, the tool makes the project. Picking just the right tool for the job is complicated as there are so many on the market claiming to be the right fit for the job. Ultimately it is up to personal preference and experience.
Practically any wood lathe can turn bowls. However, if one chooses to do it the most efficient and precise way, the most efficient and precise tool is needed to get the job done. Of the three showcased here, it is in my opinion that the RIKON 70-220 VSR is the appropriate choice.
It is a powerhouse in a portable form with many of the features other wood lathes have but done right for its class. Though it is pricier than others, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to this device. It can tackle any woodturning project, and would serve to the best of its ability when turning bowls.
The DELTA 46-460 is comparable in features, and even costs less, but its drawback is getting replacement parts. All machines need parts replaced once in awhile due to wear, so the easier the process is to get those parts ultimately the easier it would be to complete a woodturning project such as turning bowls.
The JET JWL-1015 is also a good choice given its low price. It, however, does not have as many features as either the RIKON 70-220VSR and the JET JWL-1015. It is up to personal choice, however. To each their own. The RIKON 70-220VSR would be the best bet in my opinion, though, as illustrated by it being the top choice in this article.