Best Wood Lathe Reviews & Buying Guide 2016

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Introduction: Lathes can be found in various version and among all of them woodworking lathes probably are the oldest. It can be said, all other versions of lathes are woodworking lathe descended.  For making bowls and different kind of plates woodworking lathes found commonly in use! Modern lathes have made in a way that can be handled by a user without putting his/her hands in risks. You can get wood lathes that can be operated in a speed of 200 to 1400 rpm though most of the works can be done within 100 rpm. While working with bigger work-pieces, lowering speed is important.

All across the world, the producers of lathes can be found. People usually want to get a product from its nearby stores. But during last few years’ people has started depending on online purchases too. You can easily a good wood lathe from an online buying platform. But in case you want the best wood lathe, I would encourage you to know the rudimentary things about this machine. This is because unless you don’t know the feature of a regular lathe machine, it would not be possible for you to determine which one to pick and which one could be less enduring.

Three Popular Wood Lathes in Brief

This article is basically a buying guide for the beginners who knows a little about woodworking lathe. Here you can find the steps to buy a lathe and the importance areas where a buyer should check on before the purchase is executed. Besides this guide will help you by providing an idea about different ranges of prices, as the prices typically vary brand to brand, product to product.

Here you can find a short description on at least three woodworking lathes. They are from different producers and offer different features. One of these three can be purchased easily as the price is minimal, where one other is an expensive one that is capable of taking tons of loads while working. Take a look at these products in a nutshell.

1.SHOP FOX-W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop-Lathe

SHOP FOX-W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop-Lathe

This is one of the best wood lathes for the beginner. Shop Fox is the producer of it. It is a benchtop lathe as its name suggests. Here are some of its features and specifications. Take a look.

  • This wood lathe has a product dimension of 27.9 * 13.7 * 7.1 inches and the motor of it is variable.
  • It has an eight inches swing over the bed.
  • Its weight is only 45 lbs. This is why you can handle and transfer it easily. In the case of necessity, single men can change it from one place to another inside of the working zone.
  • It has safety paddle switching options.
  • This machine is made of cast iron and its speed controlling feature is awesome.
  • It has a spindle speed of around 700-3200 rpm. There is a twelve inches difference amid of centers.
  • Its shipping weight is close to fifty-two pounds. Manufacturer of this wood lathe offers ninety days of free servicing warranty.
  • It has seven inches tool rests and five-inch faceplate. Its horsepower is 1/3 HP. 110 volts of electricity is required to run this machine.
  • You don’t need any batteries to run it. This woodworking lathe has two enduring handles.

Considering all the features of this wood lathe, you can easily buy this one. Again saying, it is a good machine for the beginners. You can even do experiment with this wood lathe as its price is minimal. To develop your woodworking skills, you can hardly get a better tool than this machine considering serviceability, asking price and portability. It can offer you fine cuts, doesn’t matter how small you want. So, note it as a fresher’s machine.

2.Jet JWL-1015 Wood-Working Lathe

Jet JWL-1015 Wood-Working Lathe

This is one of finest product under this niche. From many perspectives, I would like to introduce as the best wood lathe under 500$. Jet is the producer of this machine that can offer you a long five-year warranty to protect your pocket. Here are some prominent features and specifications. You can take a look.

  • It is a wood lathe that uses electric corded power sources to run and it has a product dimension of 25 * 18.1 * 14.6 inches.
  • Its weight is only 77 lbs. It means moving it is easy. You can easily relocate and redecorate your woodworking zone while having this machine inside.
  • It has six spindles. Their speeds are as follows- 500, 840, 1245, 1800, 1635 and 3975.
  • It has ‘24 position index’ systems which are fully integrated!
  • This wood lathe has advanced tensioning system. You can access to the belts easily.
  • This machine has wider bed-ways, and thus you can get better rigidity while working with it.
  • There is a fifteen inches distance amid of centers.
  • Its motor is 5 Amp and ½ HP. You need 115 volts of electricity to run it.

This particular lathe has a lot of positive public feedback and most of those are positive. They are happy with the finishing of this lathe. Besides, they are happy with its service too. This is wood lathe that someone can use years after years within limited maintenance cost. So if you want to get a good lathe for mid-level woodworking tasks, you are always encouraged to buy it.

3.JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by-21 Inch-Variable Speed-Wood Lathe

If you want the best wood lathe for the money, you can buy this wood lathe. This machine is made by Jet, a prominent manufacturer of woodworking lathes. Yes, from some perspective anyone can refer this lathe as expensive, but considering many other things you would like to consider the money spent as worthy. Here are some significant features and specifications in a bird’s eyes view. Take a look.

  • This is a wood lathe that has a weight of 137 pounds. I confess, it is a bit more, but as this machine has a lot of features and offers its customers many heavier tools, there was no way to reduce the weight.
  • It is one horse-powered machine with a product dimension of 32.8 * 14.6 * 21.2 inches.
  • Its power source is corded electric and the cord length of this machine is 48 inches.
  • You can get six handles in this machine. All those can gripe easily.
  • Five years long manufacturer warranty is offered with this machine. Note it, five long years and the warranty involves a lot of things. So if you want to buy this wood lathe today, your money is protected for next five years. What else you could expect!
  • This wood lathe can speed up to 3600 RPM. One other thing, you don’t need any batteries to run it.
  • This machine has peerless speed control feature. It has a wide range of variable speed ranging from 60-3600 RPM. This machine is designed in a way so the user of it can enjoy the optimal speed of it.
  • While forwarding and heading backward, the user of this wood lathe can feel a smoother transition.
  • This woodworking lathe machine has an innovative belt tensioning system, which is integrated and of ratchet style. Patent of this design is in process and Jet will get that patent soon.

Still many people might not want to spend close to a thousand dollars to buy a wood lathe and from that point of view, you might avoid seeing it. But apart from that issue, one should confess this wood lathe as a phenomenal product. If you just compare its features and specifications with a mediocre level machine, you can easily find out the difference amid of them. High-speed range, multiple handles and long term warranty by the manufacturer, are some of its significance. So it can be said, if you are ready to spend more to get a better product, don’t forget to pour your eyesight over it.

Tips & Tricks for Choosing a Wood Lathe and Using It

A wise buyer always ensures few things before making a buying order. While buying a wood lathe, you should do the same. If you don’t follow steps and forget to take care of your machine, there are chances to become a loser from at least two sides. One you might get a machine that is not at the level that you were expecting. Second, you failed to avail the desired longevity of the machine.

  • While buying a woodworking lathe, at first, you should get some good ideas about it. Reading wood lathe reviews can give you enough ideas though it is good if you can make an effective talk with any of your fellow woodworker who is well-versed in this kind of machine purchasing.
  • Now start your search. You can search at your nearby stores, or you can search at online based platforms too.
  • At this point it is good to fix your budget, otherwise you might spend more surpassing limit.
  • Try to find out top brands of the current market, especially whose are prominent in making woodworking lathes.
  • Now make a short list of products from the brands you can put your faith in.
  • Check the features and benefits offered to the customers by the producer of those products and think critically.
  • Make the short list even shorter and carefully reassess once more to decide.
  • Get determine and make the buy.

This is all about buying steps, but you should remain careful about maintenance of the wood lathe machines too. While working with the machine, don’t forget to remain careful. Carelessness while working can bring serious injuries. Don’t use a wrong electric cord with connecting and don’t forget to clean the working zone of the machine at the day end. You should not keep any wet wooden piece over the working area at the day end.

Try to take eye protection while turning. Never forget to keep your close watch closer to you. Besides, you should not run your lathe if you can feel an excessive vibration. If you have long hair, try to tie that at back before start working. In every month check all the fittings of the wood lathe. Beware of flammable objects while working. If you find any crack or malfunctioning, try to solve that first. Please don’t operate your machine even if a single tool is needed to be repaired. You should start working with smaller projects before becoming skillfully dynamic in using this machine.


Here are some frequently asked questions that you might start thinking during the buying process of a good woodworking lathe. Take a good look at these questions.

I want to get a cheap wood lathe. Which brand should I check?

  • Almost every brand produces low-priced lathes. You can make a try at Shop Fox.

How much small stock can I make with my wood lathe?      

  • If you have a good machine, you can even make a toothpick. So there is no such smallest margin. Your machine will support you even in the case of smallest stock making.

Can I get a chuck with my lathe? Or I have to pay extra for that?

  • You can find very few lathe is providing a chuck within a package. Most woodworkers purchase that separately.

What is a standard spindle thread size?

  • Popular spindle thread size is 1’’ * 8.


Unless you want the best Wood Lathe of the market, finding out a good lathe is not that tough. But in case you want the best product, it is suggested to follow the buying procedure and work with your machine after reading the manual. In case brand selection, you are not bound to anywhere, but customer usually finds peace to keep their faith in the renowned established brands, after seeing series of successful products in their product line. So, if you want to buy a woodworking lathe following the guideline portrayed in this guide wouldn’t be worthless.