The 10 Best Wood Lathes For Your Workshop

The 10 Best Wood Lathes For Your Workshop

The 10 Best Wood Lathes For Your Workshop

The 10 Best Wood Lathes For Your Workshop

A lathe is an incredibly versatile tool because it can cut, sand, deform, face, drill, and turn your stock pieces.

They are called lathes due to the way they hold the workpieces and expose the rotating workpiece to your motionless cutting tool.

In this article, I’ll recommend and review my personal favorite wood lathes.

Jet JWL Variable Speed Wood Lathe

Jet JWL Variable Speed Wood Lathe

  • Enhanced speed regulation
  • Variable speed of 60 to 360 rotations per minute
  • Optimized speed variety
  • Smooth transition from forward to backward
  • Patent pending modern ratchet style belt pressure system

The Jet Wood Lathe is like nothing you’ve ever had before. It is extremely unique, and its design features one goal in mind – better control.

The unit features a built-in spindle lock, modernized belt tension mechanism (ratchet style), DRO,  easy to access controls, and a variable speed of 60 to 3600 RPM.

Other standout features include the thread in its tailstock and 24 built-in indexing locations.

What customers are saying

This lathe received excellent reviews. Most customers were most impressed with the variable speed feature, quiet operation, and overall value for money.

Still, some customers complained about receiving defective or damaged units.

Delta Industrial Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

Delta Industrial Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

  • One horsepower motor
  • Delivers 1725 rotations per minute
  • 1” -8 RH drive spindle (TPI thread)
  • Digital variable speed feature with a pulley system
  • Forward and reverse functionality
  • Fast and easy speed changes with patented belt tensioning mechanism

The Delta Midi Lathe is just what you need to turn out one wooden masterpiece after another. The unit features a powerful one horsepower motor that delivers 1750 RPM.

Plus, since the rotations per minute can be adjusted, it has adequate speed and torque to handle larger pieces. Its digital variable speed mechanism with pulley also helps lower vibration and noise.

The unit also has a patented belt tensioning device for fast and easy speed fluctuations, which helps set a suitable tension for the belt.

This prolongs tool life and provides the optimum power transfer. Additionally, the unit comes with 24 indexing positions.

What customers are saying

Most customers were incredibly satisfied with their purchase and commended the quality, variable speed feature, and easy setup of this lathe.

Some customers had issues with the speed knob being defective and said the forward/reverse switch is wired backward. But, many did come back and say the switch issue is an easy fix.

Rikon Power Tools 1/2 Hp Mini Lathe

Rikon Power Tools 1/2 Hp Mini Lathe

  • ½ motor with 10” swing and 18” between centers
  • Self ejecting tailstock with comfortable speed adjustment access
  • Robust and dedicated design
  • Made with cast iron to eliminate vibration
  • 5 speed adjustment range
  • Includes live center, wrenches, tool rest, and knock out bar

The Rikon Mini Lathe is an excellent fit for pen turners on the hunt for a dedicated and tough machine. Unlike aluminum units, this one’s made with heavy duty cast iron to eliminate vibration,

You have the freedom to choose between 5 speed selections, which is ideal for the boring of barrel openings, turning to shape, roughing out pen billets, or finishing jobs.

This unit comes with a tool rest, wrenches, a live center, and knock out bar.

What customers are saying

This lathe received plenty of five star reviews, with customers saying the unit is well balanced with no vibration and it packs a powerful punch.

However, some customers mentioned issues with shipping and subsequently receiving units with broken parts.

Wen Benchtop 16-Inch Wood Lathe

Wen Benchtop 16-Inch Wood Lathe

  • Adjustable variable speed of 500-2500 RPM in both directions
  • Supports stock pieces of up to 16” long and 12” wide
  • Outside backplate can turn the bowl to a maximum of 15.75”
  • Lever clamping mechanism for easy adjustment of the tailstock and tool rest
  • Electronic speed display
  • Features a live center, faceplate, and center spur
  • Warranty of 2 years
  • Extendable with a table extension (sold separately)

With this WEN variable speed and multi directional lathe, you can create various wooden art pieces to adorn your home or make beautiful gifts for your friends and family.

The unit boasts a 4.5A motor and supports wood pieces of up to 16” in length and 12” in width. You can use the tool rest and stock on the faceplate in order to turn bowls with a diameter of 16”.

The speed can be adjusted from 500-2500 RPM with its electronic speed display, and it can rotate in both directions by the flip of a switch.

Your workpieces will also always stay in place with the tight grip of the tailstock taper and spindle. That’s why this product is our top choice for beginners.

What customers are saying

This unit received decent reviews from customers. They all agree that it works great, and the variable speed feature is highly convenient.

Shop Fox W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

Shop Fox W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

  • 1/3 horsepower, 2A motor
  • 12” between centers
  • 8” swing over bed
  • Made with durable cast iron
  • Variable speed regulation of 700 to 3200 RPM
  • Comes with 2 tool rests

With the Shop Fox Benchtop Lathe, you can take on any pen turning, shaping, or small cutting job with ease.

It’s constructed with durable cast iron, has minimal vibration, and fits neatly onto a workbench. The lathe also has a 1/3 horsepower motor with variable speed adjustment of 700 to 3200 RPM.

Included in the purchase is an MT no.1 live center, TPI RH spindle, safety paddle switch, spur center, 2 tool rests of 7” and 5-¾”, and a faceplate.

What customers are saying

This lathe received fantastic reviews with most customers saying it is well centered, easy to operate, and has decent power output.

However, some customers had issues with the tailstock design, saying certain components malfunctioned or didn’t work as it should.

Delta Industrial Midi-Lathe Modular Stand Extension

Delta Industrial Midi-Lathe Modular Stand Extension

  • Modular stand extension offers a portable and sturdy support system
  • The unit is designed for various extensions to be attached to one another
  • A single stand extension is needed for every bed extension that is added
  • The Delta 46-460 wood lathe does not come with the stand

The Delta Modular Extension is ideal for people who require additional space to work on longer stock pieces.

The unit features a design that enables multiple extensions to be attached to one another. Just bear in mind that one stand extension is needed for every bed extension you add.

The stand extension is quite easy to install and the instructions are clear to follow.

What customers are saying

This unit received plenty of good reviews with the majority of customers saying it works great, fits well, and is extremely stable.

However, some customers complained that the center post adjustment foot wasn’t tapped sufficiently, causing the thread not to accept the foot’s bolt.

The parts were not machined precisely which means they did not easily fit together, but re-drilling and tapping the hole for a 3/8” TPI bolt sorted the problem.

Laguna Tools Revo Lathe

The Laguna Tools Lathe features an innovative and fresh design that will delight every bowl turner. It features an ergonomic sloped control panel manufactured from iodized aluminum.

The bed of the lathe is constructed from durable steel so that the cast iron headstock glides smoothly. The digital variable speed ensures you obtain excellent torque all round.

The drop displays accurate rotations per minute readings, and only fine tuning adjustments can be made electronically.

The fast release handle allows straightforward changing from higher to lower settings, and the tailstock and headstock lock handles promote uninterrupted workflow and optimal performance.

Mophorn Heavy Duty Wood Lathe

The Mophorn Wood Lathe features a 550W soft start motor that ensures a low noise output and better performance. Its variable speed dial allows you to change speed from 760 to 3200 RPM.

You have access to a large capacity of work with 18” between centers, and a 10” swing over bed.

The tailstock is handy for obtaining the right distances between stock pieces, and the cast iron design ensures less vibration and a unit that will last for years to come.

This lathe is versatile and suitable for various turning projects in engineering education facilities, laboratories, workshops, and more.

Grizzly Industrial Variable-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe

The Grizzly Benchtop Wood Lathe offers 10” of turning range, and can spindle to a maximum of 16-¾”.

The unit features a digital variable speed indicator of 650 to 3800 RPM, which is ideal for fine tuning the speed to match the application. Other features include a live center and tool rest.

This unit offers unrivaled quality and is a great option to consider.

PSI Woodworking Turncrafter Commander Midi Lathe

The PSI Woodworking Midi Lathe is powered with a ¾ horsepower motor and an SBC microprocessor, specially designed for automotive functions with advanced control in mind.

The unit features 2 belt positions of 500 to 2000 RPM and 1500 to 3600 RPM, and the electronic display enables you to work at accurate speeds.

The distance between the centers is 18” and the swing over bed is 10”.

Other standout features include a cast iron base to accommodate an optional extension bed for larger materials, tailstock bolt and handle, safety goggles, tailstock live center, spur center, tool rest, and more.

Wood lathes are specifically made for woodworking projects. They have many functions which include cutting, drilling, deforming, sanding, and turning wooden stock pieces.

They work by exposing the rotating workpiece to a still standing cutting device. So they won’t be a suitable choice for pieces that are made with harder materials like metal.

Wood lathes are smaller and more basic than metal lathes and their speed regulation is accomplished through a pulley system.

Wooden lathes may not have as much power as their metal counterparts, but they are incredibly effective at handling wooden stock pieces.

Power & speed

To utilize a wooden lathe efficiently and make sure you get optimal performance from the tool, you must use different speeds.

Most wood lathes come with variable speeds that are run by an electric device, belt pulley, or mechanical system.

Mechanical and electric devices are equipped with variable speed, which enables you to control the speed according to the application.

Variable speed options can range from 500 to 3000 rotations per minute. Generally, smaller pieces need a higher RPM to cut more precisely.


Lathes are powered with electricity from an outlet which runs the motor. The motor dictates the power and is a critical component for the unit.

Wood lathes are available in various sizes, depending on what they are utilized for. Usually, wood lathes feature horsepower ratings from ¾ up to 2 horsepower.

The motor is usually found on the left and is referred to as the headstock. The motor can be located inside or under the headstock, depending on your chosen model.

Headstock & tailstock

As mentioned before, the headstock sits on the left of a wood lathe and its purpose is to house the transformation of power that travels to the preferred spindle from the motor.

The spindle rotates the workpiece, but another vital component on the lathe is the tailstock which is found on the right.

The tailstock is adjustable and can be set to a preferred position, it keeps the spindle centered while allowing it to rotate consistently.

Tool rest

Tool rests are a crucial feature of wood lathes. They are important for convenience and safety.

To ensure your safety, the tool rest provides an option to place tool bits on the rest to manufacture cuts in the wood efficiently.

Some lathes have tool rests with 4 positions, making the swapping out of tools easy while keeping your fingers protected.