Best Wood Lathe For The Money: In 2020 – [5 Top Picks]

Digging deep into the web, we discovered some best wood lathe tools right here. When it comes to wood-turning, the primary tool that you need is wood lathe. 

The best 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, JET 708359 and JWL-1642EVS are 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 best wood lathe for turning bowls, making a pencil, and any other wooden things you like. 

The Best Wood Lathe - Comparison Table


Product Name

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Editor's Ratings

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Best Wood Lathe

Weight: 129.8 p

Dimensions: 32.8” x 14.6” x 21.2”

Voltage: 115 v

Speed: 3600rpm

Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

Weight: 97 p

Dimensions: 36” x 11” x 17.8”

Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B

Weight: 682 p

Dimensions: 55” x 27” x 31”

12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe

Weight: 91.4 p

Dimensions: 33.8” x 18” x 11.5”

Dimensions: 64” x 20” x 50”

Size: 42”

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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.


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. 


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. 


  • 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


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


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. 


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 is why, people categorize it as the best midi wood lathe on the market. 

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. 


  • 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


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


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.


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.


  • 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


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


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.


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. 


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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



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. 

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. We have summed them up from a list of thirty similar things. We like the quality features and useful options included with them. I hope these tools will add value to your jobs. 

Richard K. Christensen

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