The Best Wood Lathes Reviews 

The Best Wood Lathes Reviews 

Creating something beautiful from a piece of wood is really satisfying and having the proper tools to make your vision come alive is amazing. Any carpenter will tell you that a lathe is one of the most important tools for woodworking. A lathe helps to create beautiful wood pieces by giving you tons of options for shaping and creating beautiful work. Without a lathe, the things that you are able to do become quite limited.

There are many different wood lathes on the market and choosing one can be a bit daunting, if not confusing. There are so many brands available and each one has different features. So, you should know what you want to do before you buy a lathe to help make your decision a bit easier.

Our best wood lathes review is meant to help you choose a wood lathe that will meet your requirements and makes the whole woodworking process easier.

1. The JET JWL- 1221VS 

The JET JWL- 1221VS model is great whether you are an experienced carpenter or you are just starting out. While this lathe is quite expensive, it’s a very good purchase for those serious about woodworking.

What sets this lathe apart from the others on this list is that you are able to choose between multiple different speed options: a continuous speed control and a discrete speed control. The continuous speed control allows you to set the spindle speed at any RPM within the machine’s range. You are then able to monitor it on the digital readout showing you the exact speed the machine is running at. On the other hand, the discrete control allows you to set the spindle at fixed RPMs, for example at 430, 810, 1230 and even 3900 RPM’s.

The only other thing you need to keep in mind is that the center-to-center distance is only 21 inches. If you are going to turn a piece of wood that’s longer than 21 inches you will need to add a bed extension.

Specifications

  • Weight – 136.4 pounds
  • Motor – 1 HP
  • Variable Speed – Yes
  • Spindle Speed Range – 60 RPM to 3600 RPM
  • Warranty – 5 Year warranty
  • Head Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Head Spindle Thread – 1” – 8TPI
  • Tail Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Swing Capacity – 12-½’’

Pros

  • Total control of speed
  • Digital RPM reading
  • Transition is smooth from forward to reverse

Cons

  • Center-to-center space is only 21 inches; longer objects will need a bed extension
  • Very heavy, may require two people to move

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2. The Grizzly Industrial G0462

Designed with its own complete stand, the lathe from Grizzly is very sturdy and heavy duty. The cast iron legs are designed so that you can add a shelf or two to the structure. You can also use the shelves to add extra weight for extra stability if you choose. Plus, added stability helps to keep the vibration of the machine to a minimum.

The speed controls are easy to adjust and manage, and the digital readout makes it easy to monitor the speed. You are able to choose between 10 speed settings between 600 and 2400 RPMs, giving you complete control over the work process.

The center-to-center distance is 46 inches, so you are able to work on large projects on this lathe. The 12 inch tool rest extension makes handling and guiding your woodwork tools easy.

Specifications

  • Weight – 354 pounds
  • Motor – 2 HP
  • Variable Speed – Yes
  • Spindle Speed Range – 600 RPM to 2400 RPM
  • Head Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Head Spindle Thread – 1” – 8TPI
  • Tail Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Swing Capacity – 16”

Pros

  • Heavy cast iron build
  • Center-to-center space is 46 inches
  • 10 Speeds settings to choose from

Cons

  • Vibration can be a problem
  • Warranty information is unclear

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3. The Delta Industrial 46-460

The Delta Industrial lathe is powered by a 1HP motor and has a 12.5 inch swing capacity, making it one of the largest lathes in its class. So, you are able to work on large bowls or other projects with ease, while giving that bowl a smooth soft finish thanks to the flip switch. This switch allows for easy switching between forward and reverse, so you can be assured that any rough spots on the wood fibres are smoothed out.

You will also be able to adjust the speed of the motor thanks to the three-pulley system without even needing to change the belt position. It’s quick and easy to do, so you will also get the correct tension everytime, resulting in maximum power transfer and a longer tool life.

Even larger objects won’t be a problem as the six-groove belt will provide enough power to effortlessly turn the motor.

Specifications

  • Weight – 97 pounds
  • Motor – 1 HP
  • Variable Speed – Yes
  • Spindle Speed Range – 250 RPM to 4000 RPM
  • Warranty – 5 Year warranty
  • Head Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Head Spindle Thread – 1” – 8TPI
  • Tail Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Swing Capacity – 12.5”

Pros

  • Belt tension system makes speed selection easy
  • Continuous speed control settings
  • Forward and reverse switch
  • Great RPM range

Cons

  • Center-to-center space is only 16.5 inches will need a bed extension for longer pieces
  • No digital speed readout so you will need to guess the speed

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4. The RIKON Power Tools 70-105

Designed with a cast-iron bed, tailstock and a headstock, the RIKON lathe was built to reduce vibrations during the turning process. For context, some lathes are made from lighter aluminum which can cause excessive vibrations that may make it difficult to create the desired design.

With the RIKON lathe, you will also be able to choose between five speed settings. However, the exact RPM settings are unclear. The RIKON achieves this by simply shifting the belt between the multi-rib pulleys.

Even though the motor is only ½HP, it was designed with durability in mind and it is still strong enough to do the work. That said, the center-to-center space only comes in at 16 inches but you are able to add an extension that gives you more space to work with.

Specifications

  • Weight – 74 pounds
  • Motor – ½ HP
  • Variable Speed – Yes
  • Warranty – 5 Year warranty
  • Head Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Head Spindle Thread – 1” – 8TPI
  • Tail Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Swing Capacity – 10”

Pros

  • 5 Speed settings
  • Perfect for turning short stocks & bowls
  • Lighter than most lathes, so it’s easier to move
  • Minimal vibrations

Cons

  • Center-to-center space is only 16 inches
  • No digital speed readout
  • Does not list RPM range

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5. The Shop Fox W1836

The Shop Fox lathe was designed with many features that carpenters absolutely love. It has a strong ¾HP motor that has an electronic speed spindle that makes speed control very easy for the user. The digital screen makes monitoring and making speed adjustments to the RPMs much easier too. Plus you can choose between two speed settings that overlap, ensuring that you get the maximum torque at each range.

Also included when you purchase this lathe is a tool holder, work lamp, live center, spur centre, a 3 inch faceplate, as well as retractable carrying handles. The tool holder is quite handy for storing your extra tools, keeping them close but out of the way.

The center-to-center space is only 15 inches but you are able to purchase an extension that then allows the lathe to handle pieces up to 38 inches, which is enough space to make your very own baseball bat.

Specifications

  • Weight – 85 pounds
  • Motor – ¾HP
  • Variable Speed – Yes
  • Spindle Speed Range – 500 RPM to 3800 RPM
  • Warranty – 2 year warranty
  • Head Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Head Spindle Thread – 1” – 8TPI
  • Tail Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Swing Capacity – 12”

Pros

  • Digital RPM readout
  • Heavy cast iron construction & rubber feet to dampen vibration
  • Electronic speed spindle control
  • Plenty of extra features

Cons

  • Center-to-center space starts at 15 inches
  • Need to purchase extension for longer pieces

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6. The Grizzly Industrial G0842

The Grizzly Industrial lathe is a great buy if you live for making furniture, as it is very easy to produce stair spindles, as well as table and chair legs up to 32 inches long. A copy attachment easily allows you to replicate pieces from a master copy but also easily moves out of the way when you are turning new spindles. The copy attachment allows you to copy pieces with a large diameter up to 9 inches.

The spindle speed ranges from 600 to 2400 RPMs, allowing you the option for precision or more general work. The distance between the centers is 37 inches, meaning you don’t need an extension piece for most projects. Also included in the purchase is a tool tray that allows you to keep all your tools close by without crowding your workspace. The shelf between the legs is also great for adding extra weight to minimize vibrations and add stability.

Specifications

  • Weight – 170 pounds
  • Motor – ¾HP
  • Variable Speed – Yes
  • Spindle Speed Range – 600 RPM to 2400 RPM
  • Warranty – 1 Year warranty
  • Head Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Head Spindle Thread – 1” – 8TPI
  • Tail Spindle Taper – MT2
  • Swing Capacity – 14”

Pros

  • Center-to-center space set to 37 inches
  • 12 inch tool rest
  • Able to create exact replicas

Cons

  • 1 year warranty
  • Weight makes it difficult to move without assistance

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Buyer’s Guide

Now that we have looked at some great lathes, you have an idea of what’s available. However, before you make your purchase there are still a few things that you need to consider, especially if you are a beginner.

The Type of Woodwork

The type of woodwork that you do is a major factor in your decision. You need to consider how much length you require for your projects, so your center distance is very important. If you decide on a lathe with a small center-to-center space, you will need an extension for larger projects. Of course, certain types of wood are harder to cut and shape than others, and the power of your lathe with determine how well you can work with harder types of wood.

The Type of Lathe and Space

Space is also an important factor. Will you be able to fit a full-size lanthe in your available space or is a benchtop lathe a better choice. With a full-size lathe you will be able to have more length on the centre points and more swing. However, the benchtop lathe is great for smaller projects or if you don’t have enough available space. Most of the time, benchtop lathes are also easier to move as they are much lighter than full-size lathes.

Your Speed Requirements

Speed options greatly impact the quality of work that you deliver at the end of the day. If you are doing fine cuts then you may like the motor to run at a higher RPM, but if you only need rough cuts, lower RPMs work well.

Your Budget

Lathes are expensive. If it’s your first time trying your hand at some wood turning then an entry level lathe will be a great first purchase. They are ideal if you are working at home (and not in a warehouse) or if you are still learning the ropes. If you are experienced and willing to spend a bit more, then a high-end lathe may be the better choice. These are also great for home use and even commercial use.

Well, we hope that with this wood lathes review you now have a better idea of what you require in a lathe and which option will work the best for your needs.

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