Top 5 Best Wood Lathe Reviews 2020 [With Buying Guide]

best wood lathes

For anyone who has embraced woodworking as an indispensable part of their lifestyle, you have come to realize that a wood lathe is rewarding. Yes, you can indeed choose to finish a woodworking project without getting to use one. However, you will put in a tremendous effort to get results that correspond to a lathe. I do not see any need for you to go through the whole trouble when you can simply invest in a decent wood lathe. You can choose to do product finishing with the help of a lathe; it is a great strategy to seek advantage from a machine.

Best Wood Lathes Review 2020 [Comparison Tabe]

Last update on 2021-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

best Wood Lathe Reviews in 2020

A wood lathe can work on wood to give pretty much anything wood related. Whether it is simple bangle or rings, wooden bowls and even intricate handle designs and sculptures. The list is lethargic. You will have the opportunity to test your skills and sharpen them at the same time. This is a tool that is worth having in your garage or workshop despite your role as a beginner or professional. The best tools should be your companion in any practice you engage in for the best outcome. Exploring and growing is inevitable, so flow with the essential partners that will take you the journey to make it worthwhile.

Top 5 best wood lathes review.

1. Delta Industrial 46-460 12 ½ inches - best midi wood lathe.

Delta Industrial 46 460- best midi wood lathe


  • It offers a continuous speed control feature.
  • A revitalized belt tensioning system for easy speed adjustments.
  • It comes with a 5-year warranty.
  • The motor engine runs at a powerful 1hp speed.
  • An elevated swing control for flexible performance.


  • It does not have a digital speed readout.
  • Short center to center measurement.

What is included?

This midi lathe has a continuous speed control feature that helps you alternate between different RPM speeds. The three ranges are 250- 720 RPM, 600- 1800 RPM and 1350- 4000 RPM. It provides better speed ranges at high RPM. The electronic speed control assures you of consistency and sputters free spins over round edges. With this, it is easy for you to complete a speed changing project at a fast rate. The lathe also includes a 5-year warranty- an expression of fine quality.

The horsepower engine performs at 1 hp- powerful enough to undertake versatile tasks. It can take on both large and small stock wood pieces. At a swing rate of 12.5- a matchless spin rate for other wood lathes, it is ideal for handling all sized pieces. This is mostly impossible for other lathes. The bed has a measurement of 16.5 inches which is good for turning stocks that need a short tail bed. But you can add an extension if necessary. It is fairly cheaper than the 1221VS and a high-end option for a good budget.

My favorite feature: Belt tensioning system.

What I love about the belt tensioning system is that it is refined to make speed adjustments without altering the belt. Therefore you will not have to refer to the belt before changing the speed- restructured belt drive model. This also gives it the ability to work on full reverse mode igniting uniqueness in it.

JET JWL 1221VS 12 - best wood lathe for the money


  • It has a discrete and continuously variable speed control.
  • Displays spindle speed on a digital screen.
  • It comes with a 5-year warranty.
  • Has a smooth reverse to forward transition.
  • Has 24 indexing positions.


  • Quite expensive making it out of reach for some workers.
  • Needs a bed extension for 21 inches longer wood stocks.

What is included?

For reasonable reasons, I would say this is the best wood lathe available in the market. I will back up my intuition by highlighting the story behind its astounding performance. This would be the best choice for intermediates and professional wood craftsmen. It seems costly for the beginners but if you can afford it no one will stand in your way.

The wood lathe has a spring-loaded spindle lock mechanism for controlled spins. The spindle also has 24 indexing positions that are ideal for detailed rounding of workpieces and making complex designs. It is also easy for the tailstock and tool rest to move on the bed to suit your needs.

My favorite feature: Digital control and variable speed.

The variable speed control profile has won over the hearts of many wood craftsmen. It is nothing but impressive, no wonder it's my favorite. For this reason, it stands head and shoulders above all other wood lathes. The speed control is a combination of two types; discrete and continuous. The discrete control varies between 430, 810, 1230, 1810, 2670 and 3900 fixed RPM. The continuous control lets you spindle between 36 and 3600 RPM. The digital readout displays the speed at which it is running, unlike the 46- 460 model.

WEN 3420T 2Amp - best mini wood lathe


  • It has a variable speed control.
  • It is the best wood lathe for beginners.
  • Good to make small projects.
  • It has a compact and lightweight design.
  • It is available at a fairly affordable price.


  • It is a bit underpowered.

What is included?

The WEN mini wood lathe is perfect for small workpieces such as chess pieces, pens, small bowls and plenty of others. This is the time for you to use your skill sets and fill your house or antique shop with self-created treasures. There is no other way to gratify your desire for self-sufficiency in a way that can potentially bring you profit.

The spindle and tailstock taper are constructed to tightly hold workpieces. You do not want your precious pieces falling apart when still fragile. The tool rest between the tailstock and headstock can be interchanged to provide enough room to hold all the equipment required for the project. The center to center distance is 8 inches while the bed length is 12 inches long. This is incomparable to the RIKON 70- 100 with larger dimensions. But as we said, they are good for small projects; there is no need to impose larger wood stocks. It also includes a 5-inch faceplate for performing non- spindle jobs.

My favorite feature: best wood lathe & 5-speed variable speed 

You can alter the speed of the spindle anywhere between 750 and 3200 RPM. The variable-speed motor has a soft start that ensures the preset spindle speed stays intact. As we all presume, speed changes can sabotage your results so to avoid this, the soft start motor plays a major role.

RIKON 70-100 - mini wood lathes


  • You can adjust the speed with the help of an access cover.
  • Has an indexed spindle for different turning positions.
  • It bears a compact and light structure that is easy to handle.
  • The self-removing tail stock makes it easier to move the center.
  • You can customize the mini-lathe to suit multiple operations.


  • There could be assembly defects.

What is included?

Despite it being a mini wood lathe, it has the largest capacity among all other mini lathes. You can ultimately use it to work on larger wood stock pieces. The bed size measures 12 inches while the distance between the centers is 16 inches. The flip-up handle is suitable to move the compact lathe to and from the benchtop. The plate washer is made from nylon to prevent the spindle from sticking to the accessories.

It has a discrete speed changing mechanism that is easy to adjust but narrows down on the speed ranges to choose. This is not similar to the 46-460 and 1221VS models. The speed intervals are 430, 810, 1230, 1810, 2670 and 3900 RPM. It has an open cover access system that allows you to easily adjust the belt together with a handy cart that determines the spindle speed.

My favorite feature: Indexing head with 12 positions.

The spindle in the headstock can be locked in 12 different positions to make room for larger bowl turning, straight fluting, grooving, layout, and decoration. You can adopt as many angles as you would want to improve your workpiece.

SHOP FOX W1704 benchtop wood lathe


  • Suitable for small woodworking projects.
  • Includes a variable speed motor.
  • Has a faceplate for non-spindle turning.
  • It comes with a 2-year warranty.
  • It has a compact and not heavy figure.


  • The bearings might be weak.

What is included?

The distance from center to center is 12 inches and has an 8-inch swing over bed. This is a reasonable range for a mini lathe to perform all turning processes and cut bevel edges. Almost similar to the WEN the RPM rating is from 700 to 3200 enough to run a small project. You simply turn on the switch for the spindle to start spinning and tune it to the end; 3200. Another thing that matches with WEN is the fact that it has an interchangeable tool rest to hold all the equipment you need.

The structure of the Shop fox is created from cast iron on the headstock and tails stock. This kind of structure is compatible with a benchtop work surface. Has a 5.75-inch faceplate that does not- spindle turning and is commonly relevant for making items that do not have tailstock support.

My favorite feature: Motor.

The motor includes a horsepower speed of 1/3, 2 amp, 110V, 60Hz and single phase which is good for small woodworking projects.

Woodturning for beginners - youTube

Wood Lathe Buying guide.

Since all woodturning projects will lead you to a wood lathe, it is best to have preparation before getting one. To reduce your debates on what wood lathes to get, you can do the evaluation below and get on to the next part.

Type of project

You first need to ask yourself what kind of projects you will work on with the help of the lathe. The bigger the project, the bigger the investment. You will need to invest in wood lathes that are larger in size and speed ranges. Smaller projects are easily handled by smaller lathes.

Space available.

If the space in your garage or workspace is too little for a large wood lathe, you had better get one that matches your workspace. However, you can make more room or use it outside and then put it back inside.


This consideration always comes first due to quality satisfaction. Even after thinking through and making your considerations make sure that everything fits within your budget. Most lathes will cost you over a hundred dollars; spend if it's worth it.

Types of lathes.

Mini Lathe.

They are the smallest wood lathes available on the market. Because of their small-sized engines, they are used for light-duty tasks. They come with a horsepower of ¾- 1-1/4 for turning small wood projects such as pens, bowls, and rings.

Midi lathe.

These wood lathes are medium-sized therefore larger than the mini-lathe in every respect. They can perform all the tasks that the latter can undertake and are available as stand-alone units having legs.

Full-sized lathe.

They are bigger and have greater performance. In most cases, they are used for heavy-duty activities.

Customer Ratings.

There is accelerating support and welcome for the idea of having a wood lathe in your workshop. This is after assembling reviews of the above wood lathes. They all pose a rating of 4 out of 5 stars and above. The winner points for most of the wood lathes are the continuous speed control system which makes them versatile.

A craftsperson will now work on multiple speed altering projects within a short period. To also improve on flexibility, the spindle of the lathe has up to 24 different indexing positions to make rounds more efficient. This also a great contributor to producing detailed intricacies in wood designs.

There is no better power tool than one with the best performance; it makes the whole ride memorable and fun. Tools such as lathes are meant to make life easier and it's doing just that. With more improvements, the brands focus on granting the user better working controls.

Most complaints from customers would be noise from the machine, poor customer service and some misplacement in the structural parts. Yes, it would be best if the flaws could be fixed however this is not reason enough to dismiss their fulfilling performance.

Frequently asked questions.

Q: What is the best wood lathe for the money?

A: JET JWL 1221VS 12 inches by 21-inch variable speed wood lathe.

The speed control is invincible.

· RIKON 70- 100 12inch by 16-inch mini-lathe.

Has a commendable speed profile.

· Delta Industrial 46-460 12 ½ inches variable-speed midi lathe.

Provides simplified speed options for high RPM.

· Powermatic 1352001 models 3520B 20 inches by 35-inch wood lathe with RPM digital readout.

The headstock and tailstock have revitalized additions.

· Grizzly H859 wood lathe.

Get a purchase without compromise on the quality.

Q: What is the best beginner wood lathe?

A: These are the most qualified wood lathes that any beginner will find relevant to their practice.

· Powermatic 1352001 models 3520B 20 inches by 35-inch wood lathe with RPM digital readout.

It is a mighty station that takes on heavy-duty tasks.

· JET JWL 1221VS 12 inches by 21-inch variable speed wood lathe.

It has an incredible speed control that has raised awe among its users.

· SHOP FOX W1704 1/3 Horsepower benchtop lathe.

Includes simplified control features.

· Delta Industrial 46-460 12 ½ inches variable-speed midi lathe.

You can work on a speed changing project quickly.

· NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable speed mini lathe 12 inch by 16 ½ inches.

It has impressive flexibility for speed ranges.

Q: What is the best wood lathe for turning bowls?

A: Delta Industrial 46-460 12 ½ inches variable-speed midi lathe.

It has a matchless swing capacity of 12.5 inches.

· JET JWL 1015 variable speed wood lathe.

It has six variable speeds for a higher spin rate.

· RIKON 70-105 Power tool.

An excellent choice for the money.

· Shop fox W1758 wood lathe.

Powerful motor with high RPM speed.

· NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable speed mini lathe 12 inch by 16 ½ inches.

High spin rates for speeds as high as 4000 RPM.

Final Verdict & Recommendation.

It seems to me that a tenacious woodworking tool, in this case, a wood lathe that delivers commendable results for every piece should appear thrilling to all woodworkers. Because it boasts user-friendly functionality, sturdy structure and outpaced speed, the outcome is everything above impressive. With a well-thought display of the top wood lathes, making a pick won't be that hard.

I hope you have all quantified the buying considerations and aligned them with what you have in mind. From now on elevation in your game is all you will hear and speak of since several things are about to change for your craft.

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About the Author James Robert

I am James Robert, a licensed Tools expert passionate about all things, tools and machinery.

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