Best Wood Lathe: In 2020 – [10 Top Picks & Guide]

The best wood lathe will save you time and money as well.

When it comes to wood-turning, the primary tool that you need is wood lathes. We've discovered 10 top picks on the market available right now.

The woodworking lathe produces symmetrical pieces from the woods. Aside from turning groves, you can also use them in sanding, cutting, drilling, knurling, facing, and deforming wooden pieces. But if you want your wood getting into a nice turn, you must find some quality lathes with all useful features. 

In the market, different types of wood lathes are available. Some full-size large lathes are really incredible for their powerful torque and advanced technological engineering. In this category, JWL-1642EVS is well-known. 

The producer introduces some mini size midi lathes for some specific jobs and users. The hobbyists and beginners are inexperienced, and they are unfit for powerful lathes. Besides, while most other powerful lathes can't, the small lathes can perform better cutting small stock of wood for pen turning or things like that. 

Here you go for the top-ranking lathes on the market today for turning bowls, making a pencil, and any other wooden things you like.

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Product Name

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JET JWL-1221VS Review

Dimensions: 32.82" x 14.56" x 21.25

Weight: 136.4 pounds

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Delta Industrial Midi Lathe

Dimensions: 36" x 11" x 17.75

Weight: 97 pounds

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Powermatic 1352001 20x35-Inch Model

Dimensions: 55" x 27" x 31

Weight: 682 pounds

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RIKON 70-100 Lathe

Dimensions: 33.75" x 18" x 11.5

Weight: 88.5 pounds

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JET JWL-1642EVS

Dimensions: 64" x 20" x 50

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Revo 18"/36" Model MLAREVO 1836

Dimensions: 40" x 36" x 50

Weight: 452 pounds

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Grizzly Industrial Benchtop Lathe

Dimensions: 33" x 17" x 12

Weight: 77 pounds

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NOVA Comet II Mini Lathe

Dimensions: 33" x 9" x 18

Weight: 82.4 pounds

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SHOP FOX W1704

Dimensions: 7.1" x 27.9" x 13.7

Weight: 48.4 pounds

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PSI Woodworking Midi Lathe

Dimensions: 32" x 11" x 10

Weight: 106 pounds

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10 Best Wood Lathe Reviews

Here's the best wood lathe reviews. See our list of 10 Top Picks right here.

1. JET 1221VS - The Most Popular Large Wood Lathe

Read here the full review on Jet 1221VS review:

Best Wood Lathe

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JET wood lathe makes use of a ratchet style belt tension system that you can’t find in any other product. Its torque, speed change, and transitions are exceptional, to say the least. 

Power and Speed

JET 1221VS Wood lathe has a motor which is able to spin up to 3,600 rpm. It has variable speed controller, managed by the simple rotating knob at the side. There is also a three-step pulley that will give you better speed ranges. As an experienced turner, you can change the speed range when you need to. The first step pulley allows speed from 60 rpm to 900 rpm. The second step pulley allows running from 110 rpm to 1800 rpm. Its third and the last step pulley allows heavy speed from 220 rpm to 3600 rpm.

Ratchet Belt Tension System

The innovative ratchet belt tension system is something you may not find in other brands. Currently, JET is filing a patent for it. Change the belt and the system will automatically improve the speed in a magnificent manner. The transition from forward to reverse is smooth.

Design

In terms of design, JET 1221VS is better than the previous models. The lathe is bigger in size compared to its predecessors. The bed is wider while the banjo, tailstocks, and head are more muscular. The large wood lathe seems to have the design it has. 

Features

Other extra features of this wood lathe include 24 indexing positions. The center is aligned. There’s also an indexing pin which you can use to remove threaded accessories smoothly. The quill of the tail stock shows scale reading in millimeters and inches.

With its easy-to-turn dial, you can operate JET 1221VS with variable speed. It also shows error codes if it experiences an issue. Even when the motor reaches 3600 rpm, you can easily run it in reverse. In fact, you don’t need to turn off the device. This will definitely save you time. 

Pros

  • Variable Speed ranging from 12-Inch to 21-Inch
  • Three-step pulley changes variable speed
  • Great torque even at lower speeds
  • Smooth forward and reverse transitions

Cons​​​​​​

  • Hand wheels are not chrome plated
  • Sometimes comes with a loose headstock
  • Does not come with a hex wrench or safety goggles

Verdict

JET 1221VS Wood Lathe has a great design with innovative features. It will help in doing your jobs quickly and smoothly. It has a powerful motor, which will perform moderately difficult woodturning tasks.


Midi Lathe

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Powerful and feature enriched lathe machines are deserving to the professional wood-turners. In terms of performance, Delta 46-460 lathe is no longer backward, and anyone can rely on it. 

The Delta 46-460, a mid-level wood lathe, can fit in the smallest work-spaces. Though it has a small size, you have no reason to underestimate it. It can perform faster ensuring accuracy. 

Portability 

Midi lathes are usually compact; you can set them on a bench and swing up to 9.25 inches. Delta might be the best option for you because of its portability. In fact, it has been recommended by the Woodworkers Guild of America (WWGOA). 

Power and Speed 

When it comes to power, Delta 46-460 Midi Lathe can turn heavy materials with consistent and smooth rotations. It can spin up to 1,700 rpm. This is a strong motor for its class. Its reversing capacity allows finishing your jobs nice. It can handle heavy-duty woodturning with ease. 

This impressive wood lathe also comes with three pairs of pulley to produce different speed ranges. It remains quiet and non-vibrating even when you change the speed. You can use the 3-speed setting or the automatic variable speed control to set speed ranges. The former can be easily accessed through lifting the head-stock. 

Swing Capacity 

12-1/2" swing capacity of Midi Lathe gives you an extra facilities. It has an extended bed that reaches up to 42 inches. So, it is easy for you to work on larger lathes though it has a small frame. It has a nice combination of 'big and small' within the same frame, and that's why people recognize it when they go for a lathe machine.

Other Features 

Other features of this wood lathe include a switch that allows you to change the rotation of the spindle. Besides, it has a hand-wheel and tail-stock lock, a tool rest and tool rest base. You will find a manual to guide you. You can use a belt-tension system to change the belt speed. 

The tail-stock lock handle is big enough for a good grip. The tail-stock crank will support for easy adjustment. There’s a spring on the quill lock, so you can ratchet it out of the way if you want to. 

Pros

  • Compact, so you can fit in any small room
  • Comes with a large swing size and strong motor
  • The electronic variable speed helps to adapt to the material
  • The design is straightforward, so it’s easy to use

Cons​​​​​​

  • Can wobble if you’re working with a bowl bigger than 6 inches
  • Sometimes have problems with the quality of handles and other parts

Verdict

Delta 46-460 is a small wonderful tool. It is perfect for people who do rarely use wood lathes and have small work-space. With its power, speed, and swing capacity, you will be able to perform almost any wood-turning projects.


3. Powermatic 1352001

Read here the full review on WEN 3420 lathe:

Powermatic 1352001 has the latest additions to the modern wood lathes. If you search on the web you might find an electronic variable speed motor, a sliding headstock, and a spindle lock. But faster and safe to use is that you love to have this tool among them. 

 Powermatic 1352001 Wood Lathe

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Power and Speed

It has a swing of 20 inches and 35 inches applicable for various projects. It is powered by 2 horsepower for about 220 volts. You can use the inverter gear and adjust the speed using the single-phase or three-phase input.

An important fact is that the wood lathe is geared with an inverter. The single-phase and three-phase operation inputs help for effective torque. The digital RPM display is a good innovation that lets you track your speed at work.

Design

It has a strong iron casting that is steady and durable. It is also compact enough to repel vibrations. The sliding headstock is a great addition. Meanwhile, the tailstock offers you a quick access to wrenches, centers, and many more.

Versatility and Precision

Versatility is its well known feature which woodworkers love to have in their lathes. It is ideal for both skilled and beginners. For its swing capacity, you can use it for small and large lathes. It also comes with an extra pin that you can screw to the spindle housing. This offers up to 24 indexing positions.

Other Features

What you will miss from other lathes that it contains is the digital RPM which records your pace. Tool rest, face-guard, face-plate, wrenches, spindle lock and knockout rod are its other accessories you will love to have ones.

Pros

  • Comes with a lot of useful accessories
  • The motor is reliable and can last for a long time
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Can handle large projects and weighted woods

Cons​​​​​​

  • Assembly might need 2 or more people
  • Because of its iron castings, it's quite heavy

Verdict

An ideal handy tool should have some key qualities- durability, speed control system, reliability, and power. The model Powermatic 1352001 owns almost all the necessary features with it. Though it's not yet perfect, you'll find no other most innovative tools but it. 


4. RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe

The powerful lathe has a large swing capacity, and perhaps Rikon is the largest tools in the market. Its precision, adjustable speed, and sturdy built-in structure are its most useful features. 

 RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe

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Power and Speed

RIKON 70-100 has ½ HP motor, which is powerful enough for a mini lathe. It has varying speed, which goes as low as 430 rpm and as high as 3900 rpm. Its spindle pulleys and 6-step motor allow adjusting the speed. You can easily adjust it when you work with large pieces.

Swing Capacity

Its swing capacity ranges from 12 inches to 16 inches, which is one of the largest swing capacities in the market.

Design

The lathe is easy to set up and performs smooth. It does not have any vibrations. It has a spacious cover that gives you a lot of room in adjusting the drive belt. There are also the tension-release lever and locking arm.

You can customize RIKON to suit your lathe machine. It has an adjustable working height, multiple extensions, and different sizes tool rests and face-plates. The most impressive thing it includes is the self-ejecting tail-stock. It saves your time by removing the center. You can now remove the center without using the knockout bar.

Other Features

This machine also comes with an indexing lock, which you can find on the top of the headstock. Beside it, you will find the indexing feature and the locking pin assembly.

There are twelve position indexing features. These help to get precise pattern work like the layout, drilling, straight fluting, grooving, and more.

You can turn the locking pin to choose your preferred position. To release, you need to lift the lock knob. It will also allow you to lock the spindle in its place, so you can easily remove chucks, face-plates, and other accessories. 

For its compact size, the Rikon mini lathe is perfect for beginners. Moreover, it is user-friendly and powerful. 

Pros

  • Auto-eject tailstock
  • Allows rapid speed alterations
  • User-friendly design
  • Great for patterning and precision work
  • Sturdy and durable

Cons

  • Segments may not fit the machine perfectly
  • The tailstock seems a bit weak

Verdict

This is nice and user-friendly. It is not only safe and easy to operate but also customizable. You might rarely find wood lathes with the features it offers. It is one of our recommended products.


5. JET 708359 JWL-1642EVS

The JET 708359 JWL-1642EVS is bigger and heavier than other products on this list. It has a design that’s intended to perform fast and perfect for bowl turning. Including its size, few more features make this tool remarkable. Let’s see what makes it an exceptional product.

JET 708359 JWL-1642EVS

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Power and Speed

JET 708359 lathe has 1.5 HP motor with three-phase input. You can adjust the frequency and speed of the motor easily. The stepped pulley system allows you to change the speed up to 3200 rpm. The pulley has a serpentine-style belt that can reduce heat generation. You can reach this pulley via a door on the headstock.

The live center has multiple holes that can accommodate any large blank. There are set screws to keep the faceplate intact. You can run the lathe in reverse without any troubles.

Design

The first thing that you’ll notice with JET 708359 JWL-1642EVS is its size. The wood lathe is made of heavy cast iron, so it weighs about 400 pounds. Its construction makes it stable, sturdy, and durable.

The spindle is good for smooth operation. You can also slide the tailstock up and down. The headstock, which is heavier, might need a bit more effort to lift. You can fit the levers and lifts on the hands.

Features

Other features of this wood lathe are an automatic speed dial and electronic readout. There’s also a positive locking indexing for increments of 10 degrees. A removable pin in the live center can bore through the stock. There is a cam lock mechanism which allows easy change of headstock, tailstock, and tool rest base. It comes with a hollow tailstock which allows you to bore long holes in lamps and vessels.

Pros

  • Automatic assembling system
  • Heavy enough to drop vibration
  • It has the required stability
  • The electronic readout and speed control system

Cons

  • After a certain time, it may be a bit noisy

Verdict

If it’s your first-time use, you'll find that JET 708359 JWL-1642EVS is easy to adjust compared to other lathes. The machine is perfect for beginners and professionals alike. It's big, sturdy and stable- perfect for bowl turning. 


6. Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 18/36 Lathe

Laguna Tools Revo Lathe Model MLAREVO 1836

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This time, we have a newly introduced product in line from Laguna Tools, the Model 1836. It comes with 2-hp motor, ergonomic control panel design, and many more. It is super-efficient and perfect for bowl turning and other spindle works.

Power and Control System

The specialty of this lathe is its power system and controls. Its VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) system converts 220v power before running the 2-hp motor. It allows variable speed for smooth operation and ultimately results in chatter-free work done.

The Laguna lathe provides two ranges of variable speed lowering at 50-1300 RPM, and at the higher level 135-3500 RPM. The dial-up control system works great with variable speed, which saves your time not needing you changing belts during operation.

The ergonomic aluminum control panel is at the right height, so it's easy to access. The buttons, dial-up controls, and the digital display that shows real-time spindle speed, all these enriched features make it an ideal workshop tool.

It also allows you the reverse mode of operations. To make it active, what you need is to redirect the speed pressing the switch right away.

The tool rest is impressive, and a standard of 18/36 inch stands, most people like it for solid performance. It is an excellent balance point for the users to control chisels the way they like.

It comes with sufficient spaces of bed width, and the standard live center allows a large size of workpiece hold tight. There is no doubt about the tailstock that provides smooth adjustability.

Pros

  • Powerful 2-hp motor
  • Variable Frequency Drive system
  • Variable speed control
  • Digital display
  • Maximum 48 indexing locations 

Cons​​​​​​

  • A limitation with automatic safety brake
  • Tall people may find it's a bit lower 

7. Grizzly Industrial Benchtop Lathe

Grizzly Industrial H8259 Industrial Lathe

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Without Grizzly Industrial lathe, it might be wrong to categorize lathe machines because Grizzly is the pioneer in the lathe industry.

Also, there's a plus point for those searching for the cheapest one. Grizzly H8259 is a low-cost machine and will be a perfect option for you guys. And of course, you need not worry about compromising its quality as well.

This sturdy lathe is perfect for small woodworking projects and allows benchtop usage. The lathe is quite enough, and it comes with the speed control system that ranges from 5 different speed levels, though it's not unparalleled like JET 1221VS.

Since it comes with a low-velocity motor, 1/2 hp only, it performs better with a variety of small jobs like pen turning, bowl turning, etc. And its speed level ranges from 826-3337 RPMs.

Besides, you'll get all the other standard features a wood lathe includes.

The users will be benefited by buying this machine that we found some appropriate reasons for that. If you compare it with the topnotch Jet, you'll find some specific differences, which will give you a clear insight.

It comes with swing over bed of 10-inch, the distance between centers 18-inch, and swing over the tool rest and the width of the tool rest is respectively 6-1/4 inch and 5-3/4 inch, which is less than jet 1221vs.

But if you compare both of them in terms of pricing, Grizzly H8259 is highly cheap and reasonable. Ultimately, the benefit goes to your part.

In a nutshell, it may be a great tool to own. But keep in mind that it is budget-friendly benchtop machinery. If you choose it for a tough job, it may not be the perfect fit.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly and best value for the money
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Benchtop lathe machine
  • User-friendly, and compatible at small space
  • 5 different speed controls

Cons​​​​​​

  • Low velocity 1/2 hp motor
  • Limited to benchtop use only 

8. NOVA 46300 Comet II Mini Lathe

NOVA Mini Lathe

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Among the versatile lathe collections, you can choose NOVA Comet II if your job requires simple mini lathes. As the product suggests, it is a mini size wood lathe comes up with promising the best solution for your pen turning or bowl turning at workshop or home.

In most cases, beginners do wrong without having proper knowledge about what he is going to buy. It happens that someone buys large size Delta wood lathe instead of choosing his right option, the mini-lathe that suits his jobs.

We are here to give you a clear concept about this Nova mini lathe and its prudence on the specific jobs. As a beginner, we'd suggest you buy this one. Nova mini size wood lathe is designed to give the beginners a steadfast solution.

Let's check out its outstanding features in the description below.

Nova comes with a powerful electronic motor that can provide you 4000 RPM max, and the speed originates from super lower at 250 RPM only. The variable speed controls its speed level from ups to down for precise and smooth operations.

It also features forward and reversing mode of operation to enable you to make perfect finish; what you need is to turn the switch on to the right turn.

Its swing capacity over the bed is 12-inch, and the distance between centers is 16.5-inch, which is standard compared to similar lathe machines. The 3 step pulley helps to control the variable speed control in high, medium, and low. Moreover, the 3/4 hp motor generates maximum RPMs.

Also, it features with consisting the mini lathe chuck to hold wood pieces in right angle. 

Anyone will like it because of its portability and space-saving compact size to work at any tight space. This NOVA DR midi lathe is great for a wide range of operations, including bowl turning and pen turning.

You'll find a massive upgrade of the Nova mini-lathe; the digital display is its useful addition that gives you maximum control and user-experience.

Pros

  • Portable, compact and steadfast
  • Solid cast-iron construction
  • Variable speed control
  • Forward and reversing mode of operation
  • The 3-step pulley

Cons​​​​​​

  • Not perfect for heavy projects
  • The tool rest seems to be narrow to fit different chisels on it

9. SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe

SHOP FOX W1704 Lathe Review

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SHOP FOX is another name pioneer to the wood lathe industry. It is reliable, efficient, and scalable for small projects. Its sturdy construction, compact size, and the variable spindle speed make sure it's a great choice for anyone working with wood.

This one is a benchtop wood lathe design to provide things to satisfy those woodturners working on small scale jobs like pen or bowl turning. As a beginner for the DIY jobs, you are highly encouraged to opt for this benchtop lathe.

It delivers what you expect from a compact lathe machine for small projects. The lathe motor generates the right power to comply with the beginner stage projects the novices start. It is a compact, portable lathe machine for small to medium jobs, but here's not its end. Its versatile features with 1/3 HP motor is not less efforting to comply with similar jobs its competitors do.

This portable lathe comes with cast iron construction to fit on any workbench. It's sturdy and durable, and you can run it trouble-free for a long time. It has the variable spindle speed that ranges from 700 lower to 3200 RPM higher.

It also includes two different sizes of tool rest to support users' needs. It has the standard 8-inch swing over bed and maintains the 12-inch distance between centers. To comply with turning bowls, it comes with a faceplate on the headstock.

Its flexible features and sturdy construction is considered as the beginners' luck. The variable speed control, the standard distance between centers, and other useful features it comes with prove it's not less efforting than any other similar tools to work on the bench.

Overall, the lathe is a great choice you can rely on it.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction so durable
  • Compact, portable and small design
  • Variable spindle speed
  • Perfect to work on small projects
  • A nice safety switch
  • Includes common standard features

Cons​​​​​​

  • A bit awkward tailstock
  • No hand wheel included

10. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Midi Lathe

PSI Midi Lathe Review

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Finally, we are going to review a moderately designed variable-speed midi lathe KWL-1218VS from PSI Woodworking. You will find here more extreme lathes, but if you want to spend money on learning woodworking, then this lathe is the best option for you. Entry-level novices can do a try on it since it'll cost you less than that highly professional machinery.

This PSI KWL-1218VS lathe includes the most common and a few extra features, may be missing from other models. Powerful 1-hp induction motor with the SBC microprocessor provides smooth operation and precision making woodturning process. It also ensures durability, productivity at its small span of the working area.

The lathe features with a 1-hp motor with variable speed control. It has two belt positions that range from 500 to 1800 RPM at the lower level and 1950-3800 RPM to the highest. Moreover, the lathe has a 1-inch x 8tpi headstock thread and tailstock taper, allowing your precise work.

Furthermore, it has a huge space between centers 18-inch; when the 12-inch distance is normal. Over the headstock, a good lighting facility is available for smooth operation even in dark circumstances.

The straight forward controlling system with on/off switch and speed dial will be handy to any users in the workshop. You'd like it for its chrome extension handles, the crazy things included on both sides. It has 24 indexing positions as usual to ensure precision and accuracy.

Finally, it does feature with a spur center, faceplate, live center, and the tool rest. A set of 4 hex wrench, screwdriver, and the tool storage rack is also included with the pack. The four rubber feet will keep the toolset on the workbench perfectly. The only issue I found with the work light; it may be a disliking for you while working on it. Otherwise, it will be a perfect choice for you guys.

Pros

  • Applicable for precision and smooth operation
  • Variable speed control
  • Large space between the centers
  • Sufficient accessories included

Cons​​​​​​

  • You might not like the work light
  • No reversing option for sanding
  • Applicable for small projects only

Buying Guide

As it is a complex factor to choose the right thing from the multiple options, so is the head-spinning question around the ambiguity. Learning can help you skip to the street retrieving from the complex web of thoughts. For that, you have to know about the product you intend to buy. The product specification of your target product may be a great source of learning. Look into this buyer's guide, which may help you to a large extend.

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying A Wood Lathe?

Every product has some key points that influence buying decisions. In case you are eager to obtain wood lathes, the following parameters must come into consideration.

The Type That Best Fits

From a list of multifarious lathe machines, expert professionals choose a high-end full-size lathe, when novices need to buy low cost, lightweight, compact lathes. However, before you buy, select your space and find if it is perfect in width, length, and height. Some lathes have extensions to increase the distance between centers. In that case, you have to measure keeping extra space. Also, consider whether you need a benchtop lathe or want to set up in a stand on the floor. Moreover, look into the standard features like tailstock, headstock, the distance between centers, and swing capacity, etc.

Is It Budget-friendly?

How much you should spend on a lathe depends on the nature of your jobs. In general, a low-cost lathe may cost you less than $400, but more than $1000 may be applicable for high-end wood lathes. I do not recommend spending $200 on a lathe, but you can spend any figure between $400 - $800 for your workhorse. You'll get the benefit in the long run from the one-time investment.

Materials

It may be a big difference when it comes to considering materials. Wood lathes carry a heavy load when turns a bowl from the big stuff. Besides, sturdy cast-iron materials make a strong and durable base that reduces vibration.

However, the benchtop wood lathe won't bring benefit from the larger and heavy base.

Speed/Revolutions

Speed revolution matters when turning lathes over wood stock. But it depends mostly on the thickness of the wood trunk. In general, the lathe machine consisting of 1700 to 2200 RPM is considered as a medium stage lathe. If you work on heavy and think wood pieces, go for higher than that. Less revolution means slower to work on rough cuts. So, you know better what RPM levels best fits you.

Efficiency/Performance

Overall performance is a prerequisite for any power tools and lathes as well. You can ask users nearby, read reviews on the products below, and even you can test yourself at home before the expiry of the warranty if available. In fact, quality features and the powerful motor will depict how it'll work.

Safety Measurement

Safety should always be a major concern while working on the workshop. Carelessness may be the reason for occurrence in the Jobsite. Moreover, power tools are, by nature, risky for users, and the wood lathe is not an exception. So, be conscious of the newly arrived lathe in your woodshop. Look into the lathe carefully if any unwanted and unpolished angle is present that may harm you. Also, be sure if all the adjustable parts are adjusted properly. 

A short-sleeve shirt is suitable to wear when you start working. The lathes rotate with an uneven wood trunk, which may catch long sleeves resulting in great danger. Moreover, when you use chisels over the wood pieces, it splits the fine particles. Use glass to protect your eyes from such particles.

Look into the page here for more about safety measures of operating wood lathes. 

Final Thoughts

In our list, we tried to focus on some best wood lathe brands. To do that, we had to go through a complex testing system of quality features and performance.

To our eyes, Jet 1221VS gets first place. But Delta 46-460 is a super-hero and budget-friendly as well. Grizzly H8259 may be a budgetary option for newbie though RIKON 70-100 never be back for its quality.

We like the quality features and useful options included with them. We hope these tools will add value to your jobs.


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Richard K. Christensen
 

As a hobbyist, I love DIY and want woodworking life better. I took writing as a profession and never looked back.

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