Best Value Wood Lathes: A Comprehensive Review and Buying Guide
A good woood lathe is every woodworker and hobbyist’s favorite tool. With them, you can make anything from wooden spoons to goblets, bowls, bangles, bottle stoppers, or even pens. Since they are vital for woodturning, little wonder, then, that the need for this tool is on the rise.
If you want to save time and find the top lathes in the market, then this is a great place to start. We’ve handpicked and provided detailed reviews of four of the top ones for woodworkers and hobbyists.
In this article, you’ll also get an ultimate buying guide that you might find useful whenever you decide to get the best wood lathe available.
The Best Wood Lathes of 2020: Our Top Picks
#1 JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe
- Manufacturer: Jet
- Model number: JWL-1221VS
- Dimensions: 32.8 x 14.6 x 21.2 inches
- Weight: 136.7 pounds
Top of our list of the bestt woood lathes in the market is the JET-JWL-1221VS model. It has a unique design, wide speed ranges, and an rpm digital readout, which makes it one of the most popular units to have. It is safe to use and requires only a few maintenance steps to keep it up and running.
The JWL-1221VS scores high points in almost every category you’d want to grade a woood lathe by. As an affordable lathe, you might find it quite useful in getting any light or heavy-duty job done easily.
Features and reviews
The JWL-1221VS packs some of the most amazing features of any woood lathe. As a flexible unit, it has a variable speed motor that comes in handy in turning different sizes projects. You might not find such off-the-chart speed range in any other lathe.
Another feature of this top woood lathe is its innovative ratchet-style tension system. It also has a spring-loaded pin that you can use to lock in 24 positions. This would make it a lot easier to hold your workpiece in place. Also, moving from forward to reverse operations with the lathe should be pretty smooth.
This unit’s reviews have been nothing short of favorable. The JWL-1221VS has a 4.3 out of 5 rating, which shows that it’s perhaps the bestt woood lathe available.
Overall, the JWL-1221VS has almost everything you’d like in a woood lathe. Its simple digital controls make it one of the most suitable lathes for beginners. We also like the sturdy design of the head and tailstock, which makes it easy to work on woood.
With a large swing capacity, you should be able to fit different sizes of stock on this product. You might also love the variable speed that this product offers.
Therefore, if you are looking to get a woood lathe that would spin your workpiece at incredible speeds for a premium price, then consider this unit.
- It’s a high-performance woood lathe.
- It is simple to operate.
- It is a durable unit.
- You can use it for any type of woodturning project.
- It does not come with a stand.
#2 Rikon 70-105 Mini Variable Speed Wood Lathe
- Manufacturer: Rikon
- Model number: 70 – 105
- Dimensions: 35.5 x 10.5 x 14.8 inches
- Weight: 75 pounds
The second lathe on our list is this power tool from Rikon. It is an upgrade from previous models in its series, with individualized features for pen turners. It offers ample speed for its operations, especially when you compare it with other mini lathes. Built from cast iron, the Rikon 70-105 lathe dampens vibration and is sturdy. So, you would expect it to last for many years.
As a small lathe, this model is best suited for light workpiece turning only. It comes with an instruction manual, so you should have no problems fixing all its parts together. The unit also comes with wrenches, a tool rest, knockout bars, and a live center.
Features and reviews
The 70-105 unit justifies its price with top specifications. The tailstock in this unit ejects by itself, and you can easily access its speed controls to change it to the five available ranges.
Like many lathes out there, you can use multiple extensions with this model, which makes it versatile. Its user interface is intuitive, which is rare for mini lathes. As you’d expect, this model allows you to firmly hold your workpiece in place, and it is made from superior quality cast iron.
Users have had nothing but positive reviews to give about this model, and it has an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on popular B2C sites. Most users who reviewed it claimed that it is suitable for both beginners and experts and that buying it might be a worthwhile investment.
The Rikon 70-105 is one of the best little lathes we’ve seen. You can use it to boreholes, rough-out pen billets, and finish up light projects easily. You might also find the unit useful in rough cutting or finishing projects.
Although the 70-105 unit is heavy for its size (no thanks to its cast iron build), we recommend you ground it to prevent electric shocks. You should be able to troubleshoot and adjust all its components by yourself because everything you need is in its manual. Its speed range or speed control might not make your eyes pop, but you might still find it useful for woodturning on a lathe.
This unit might be the woood lathe you’ve been looking for to work on your small projects.
- It is easy to operate.
- It is easy to maintain.
- It’s great for small and light jobs.
- It doesn’t offer the best speed control.
#3 Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe
- Manufacturer: Delta
- Model number: FBA_46-640
- Dimensions: 36 x 11 x 17.8 inches
- Weight: 97 pounds
Coming in third on our list of the best lathes in the market is the Delta Industrial 46-460 unit. The powerful electric tool is suitable for both large and small projects. So, you can turn objects that are as big as the leg of a bench, or as small as a thimble.
As a medium-sized lathe, this unit needs to be grounded before you can use it work. It has a heavy-duty steel knockout bar, which is one of the reasons it is safe to use.
The Delta Industrial 46-640 is made from top-grade cast-iron, which makes the unit stable and durable. It comes with a two tool rests and a base, a faceplate, a live center, and wrenches.
Features and reviews
This midi lathe packs a lot of features for its size. In its class, the 46-640 offers the largest swing capacity. This allows it to take workpieces of different sizes. It has a variable speed motor that let’s you choose from its three speed settings, as well as both forward and reverse functions. So, you can use it to produce items with the top-quality finish.
The Delta Industrial 46-640 has a unique belt tension system and multiple groove belts. These make it easy to turn large items at once. It also has an indexing pin that allows you to fix its headstock spindle is up to 24 positions. And perhaps the most exciting feature is the lathe has an onboard storage compartment.
This woood lathe has an average rating of 4.2 stars out of 5. Also, most users agreed that it is perhaps the best woood lathe to produce accurate items with a superior finish.
Overall, we think anyone would be pleased with the performance and features of this cast iron unit. The detailed manual that comes with the unit should explain everything you need to know about assembling the lathe. As an estimate, it should take you less than 30 minutes to put everything together.
You can operate this lathe at a speed that’s as high as 4000 rpm, which works in including fine details on almost any workpiece. The power switch is located over the headstock, and it has precise speed control, which makes it easy to operate.
We’d suggest you go for this lathe if you want a medium-sized but powerful unit.
- It can take different workpiece sizes.
- It is an affordable unit with wide speed ranges.
- It is built to last and sturdy.
- Its variable speed motor is relatively quiet.
- It doesn’t have a digital speed display.
#4 Nova 71118 Comet II DR Woodworking Lathe
- Manufacturer: Teknatool
- Model number: 71118
- Dimensions: 8.9 x 17.8 x 32.9 inches
- Weight: 82 pounds
Finally, we have the Nova 71118 Comet II DR Midi Lath. It’s a portable yet handy tool that woodworkers and hobbyists would find useful. You can use this lath on a wide range of projects, and it is an upgrade from the mini lathe in its class. It is a flexible model with a switch to alternate between the forward and reverse functions.
The Nova 71118 Comet II DR is made entirely from cast iron and is suitable for precision machining. It comes with a live tailstock center, a manual, one tool rest, a faceplate, and a handwheel unit.
Features and reviews
This woood lath offers some of the best features you’d want in the best woood lathes. Woood turns at amazing speeds on this product.
It works on a 3/4 hp variable speed motor. So you can use it to achieve a superior finish on your workpiece. Furthermore, it has a digital readout for its spindle and an easy-to-use speed control.
The Nova 71118 Comet II DR can take a 12-inch stock over its bed and a 16-inch capacity between the centers. However, you can use an accessory to extend the available space and attach anything, including a grinding wheel.
It has a 3-step pulley that might be suitable for turning any project you want to use it for.
Overall, there’s a lot to not like about the Nova 71118 cast iron midi lath. It is quite easy to operate and control, and it has a user-friendly digital interface.
We figured that if you use the manual, it should take you all but 20 minutes to put everything together. The unit has long-reach toolsides and a 2MT spindle to handle for different types of projects. And you can always refer to the comprehensive manual to get directions on how to attach a bed extension.
Indeed, the reverse function won’t work without a faceplate or a chuck. However, the unit comes with one faceplate. So, you might not see this as a setback.
We figured the Nova Comet II DR requires only light cleaning after each use for it to last for many years.
So, if you are thinking of getting a power tool with a large swing capacity, then this model might be one of the best woood lathes you’d find.
- It is sturdy and durable.
- It provides a wide range of speed options.
- You can include accessories to the midi lath.
- It is easy to use and assemble.
- It requires a high voltage input.
- You need to use a reversible faceplate or chuck with the reverse function.
FAQs - A Buyer's Guide
What is a good wood lathe for beginners?
For any novices or first time uses of a wood lathe, it is highly unlikely that they will require one that has a horse power of 2 or greater than that. One with 0.5 horsepower is likely to be more than enough for such users. This is because, to begin with, they will be sticking to smaller type project.
A smaller less powerful lathe is great for allowing beginners to learn the skill of working with wood. It is also important that a beginner’s lathe is not too expensive as it could be the case that as the individual betters their skills they may wish to upgrade to a better and more powerful lathe. Oppositely, if they decide to give up the hobby of woodworking, then they have not lost out by purchasing a highly expensive power tool.
Some of the best wood lathes for beginners include the PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander 12″ Variable Speed Midi Lathe, the Laguna Tools Revo Lathe, the RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe, the JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe, and the Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35-Inch Wood Lathe.
What is the best wood lathe for turning bowls?
When making a bowl out of wood, you want to ensure that you get a really good professionally quality finish. To be able to achieve such results, a lathe is an essential power tool to use. However, finding one that is well suited to this task is not as easy as it may first seem.
Having looked into this, we found that some of the best wood lathes for turning bowls include the Grizzly Industrial G0462-16″ x 46″ Wood Lathe, the Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe, the RIKON Power Tools 70-105 10″ x 18″ 1/2 hp Mini Lathe, the Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe, and the Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe.
All of these can be use to turn bowls, as well as for other larger projects also. This is because they come packed full of various functions and features that are designed for various projects.
Are grizzly wood lathes any good?
Grizzly is an American power tool manufacturer that currently produces a range of 14 different wood lathes, which come at a range of different price points. This because there are many variations in terms of functions, features and sizes, depending on what the power tool is going to be used for.
Some of their most popular and best selling wood lathes include the G0632Z – 16″ x 42″ Variable-Speed Wood Lathe, the G0462 – 16″ x 46″ Wood Lathe with DRO, the T25926 – 10″ x 18″ Variable-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe, the G0766 – 22″ x 42″ Variable-Speed Wood Lathe, and the H8259 – 10″ x 18″ Benchtop Wood Lathe.
These all come with countless numbers of customer reviews, which on the whole are all very positive. This goes to show that they are, in fact, good wood lathes that are worth purchasing.
What should I look for when buying a wood lathe?
Any wood lathe that you buy should have a good solid foundation, in the form of the bed. This is true regardless of the size of the wood lather that you go for. The bed should be made from a cast iron so that it is heavy enough to stop the power tool from vibrating when it is in operation.
Something else that you need to look our for when buying a wood lathe is the type and size of motor that it has and the headstock. Typically, the motor size ranges from anywhere between 500 RPM and 4,000 RPM. If you are planning on work on bigger projects, then you should consider going for a wood lathe with a motor at the top end of this range. Similarly, if you are only going to be working on small scale projects, then a smaller motor will be more than fine.
Other things that you need to think about before your buy a wood lathe include the power switch, the tool rest, and the tailstock. A good tailstock provides you with a good amount of versatility in all and any type of wood turning that you wish to do with the power tool.
The Best Wood Lathe of 2020 Of Them All
Jet JWL-1221VS lathe
The Jet JWL-1221VS lathe is our top pick. It has two functions that you can easily switch to and a patented belt tension system. The high-power unit has unrivaled speed controls, safety features, and well-positioned buttons,that makes it easy to operate. But the icing on the cake is that putting all the parts together is a walk in the park.