When you’re looking to expand your shop’s capabilities, our top ten list of woodworking lathes should help. These unique machines use a shaft to rotate a piece of wood, so you can put the finishing touches on it. Lathes are useful for a huge range of projects — turning, carving, sanding, shaping, cutting, and more. You might use a lathe to shape table legs, for example, or make decorative bowls and vases. Because a lathe is an investment, it’s important to pick the right one for your needs. From mini models to full-size lathes, these are the best models on the market.
1. WEN 3420T Mini Wood Lathe
When you’re looking to try out a lathe while keeping costs low, the WEN 340T is a great choice. It’s a mini model, so it fits easily into a small workshop. It’s also one of the cheapest woodworking lathe options available. Given its compact frame, this lathe is ideal for projects that measure up to 12 inches long, such as chess pieces or candlesticks. The 2-amp motor gives you plenty of power, and two tool rests help you keep your blades steady.
2. SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe
Compact get durable, this SHOP FOX model accommodates a range of projects. This affordable woodworking lathe comes with a 5.75-inch faceplate, enabling you to make medium-sized items such as bowls or vases. Or, thread a spindle into the machine for more delicate projects. This lathe is built with a variable-speed motor, which means that you can cut through both hard and soft woods with ease. Choose from speeds ranging from 700 to 3,200 revolutions per minute.
3. Jet 719115 Wood Lathe
The Jet 719115 is one of the top woodworking lathe options on the market. It’s a great blend of price and power, particularly if you’re new to wood turning. The six-speed, step-pulley drive mechanism makes it easy to find the right speed for any type of wood. Meanwhile, 24 indexing positions help you rotate each piece precisely for professional-quality results. Best of all? This lathe comes with tools and a tool caddy, so you have everything you need to get started.
4. PSI Woodworking KWL-1018VS Turncrafter Commander
If you’re hoping to work on bigger projects, this midi-sized PSI Woodworking Tuncrafter Commander lathe fits the bill. It measures 18 inches between spindles, giving you plenty of space for tall vases and decorative woodworking. The headstock and tailstock hold your spindles securely, and the heavy-duty cast iron base creates stability. A powerful .75 horsepower, variable speed motor gives you the ability to work virtually any type of wood.
5. Nova 71118 Comet II Midi Lathe
When it comes to flexibility, the Nova 71118 Comet II can’t be beat. This affordable midi lathe comes with some serious configuration options. Use the lathe as it is to work on projects up to 16.5 inches long. Or, add the optional bed expander to increase the distance between centers to 42 inches. This lathe also comes with a faceplate for larger items and a handwheel drive option for delicate work. Use it in forward or reverse to achieve a wide range of visual finishing effects.
6. Jet JWL-1015VS Lathe
The Jet JWL-1015VS lathe is built for precision. The wide bed provides stability, so your cuts are clean and even. Use the 24-position indexing system to create accurate turning, and set the perfect tension using the adjustable belts. With 15.5 inches between centers and an efficient half-horsepower variable speed motor, this lathe is ideal for small to medium-sized spindles.
7. Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe
If you have some experience with wood turning, the Delta Industrial 46-460 is one of the best woodworking lathe options on the market. Powered by a 1-horsepower motor and a six-groove belt, this lathe delivers serious turning power. The variable-speed design enables you to perform a variety of tasks without stopping to change the position of the belt. Use this lathe in both forward and reverse modes for precise detailing. It comes with a live center and a 3-inch faceplate for flexible woodworking.
8. Nova T30590 Comet II Bench Lathe Set
Get started with wood turning using this Nova T30590 Comet II bench lathe set. It comes with everything you need to complete a basic project, including a bench lathe, a chuck, and a mini chisel kit. The variable speed motor features a powerful .75-horsepower design, and the three-step pulley system allows quick changes. This lathe rests on top of your work bench, so you don’t have to worry about a special stand. Between uses, you can set the lathe aside to free up extra space.
9. Steelex ST1008 Benchtop Wood Lathe
With the Steelex ST1008 lathe, you can explore the possibilities of woodturning without making a big commitment. As it is, this lathe has a 15-inch distance between the turning centers — use the optional extension bed to expand that distance to 38 inches. The base is constructed from heavy cast iron; it rests easily on your work area using four rubber feet, providing a stable, wiggle-free installation.
10. Mophorn Wood Lathe
For delicate tasks and intricate carving, this Mophorn model is one of the best woodworking lathe options you can buy. The secret is in the stable design. The cast-iron body provides durability and stability, and the rubber feet help reduce small movements. Inside, carefully ground gears create a smooth turning motion. With 18 inches between centers, you have plenty of lengths to work with. The benchtop design is a breeze to install and move, making it a good option for dynamic workspaces.
The right lathe can take your wood shop to the next level, enabling you to take on complex projects. Whether you want to tackle custom banisters or tiny chess pieces, a lathe can help you get the job done. With so many different woodworking lathes on the market, it’s a breeze to find one that meets your budget, skill level, and goals.
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By BCR Writing Staff