Are you a woodworking enthusiast? Carving and turning wood are rewarding experiences, letting you unleash your creativity on the stock to uncover the idea beneath. If you’re an aspiring woodworker, then you need access to “the Mother of All Tools,” the wood lathe.
A wood lathe is a handy machine to have around the workshop. Professionally turn any wood stock to create furniture, statues, and various other items, without the hassle of using manual carving tools.
The wood lathe is the most sought-after machine in a woodworking workshop. However, many aspiring woodworkers avoid purchasing one due to the high cost. Fortunately, there is a wide range of wood lathes available in different bed sizes to suit small or large projects.
Today, there are plenty of wood lathes available for under $1,000. There’s no need to go and spend thousands of dollars on a professional wood lathe. In this review, we’ll unpack the best wood lathe models for your workshop. We scoured dozens of listings online to settle on these top ten lathes.
We have a model for everyone’s needs, from small benchtop models to professional freestanding lathes. Choose the model that suits your budget, workshop size, and turning tasks.
Our Top Picks
- 1 Our Top Picks
- 2 Wood Lathe Reviews
- 3 Other Best Selling Options
- 4 Wood Lathe Buyer’s Guide
- 5 How Do I Choose a Wood Lathe?
- 6 What are the Parts of a Wood Lathe?
- 7 Wood Lathe FAQs
- 8 Wood Lathes – The Verdict
Choosing the best wood lathes for this review is a daunting task. There are plenty of top-quality brands and machines; it’s challenging to settle on the best of the best.
However, after diligent research, we found these three models to represent our top picks in this review. We have a wood lathe to match any workshop requirements or budget.
Best Pick: Delta Industrial Midi Lathe
- Powerful 1 hp max, 1,725 rpm motor
- Large 12-1/2-inch swing capacity provides the largest capacity in its class. Drive spindle: 1 inch -8 RH TPI thread
- Electronic variable Speed with three-pulley speed ranges provide the required speeds needed to turn a project without changing belt position
- Forward and Reversing function allows the turner to achieve a superior finish. Sanding a turned piece with the grain causes the wood fibers to lay down and remain rough.
- Patented belt tensioning system for easy and quick speed changes and sets the belt at the correct tension every time for maximum power transfer and longer tool life
The Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe wins our top award for the best overall wood lathe in this review. You get a variable speed drive for a multitude of finishes and different types of stock. This model comes with a large 12.5″ swing capacity and a 1″ -8 RH TPI thread on the drive spindle. The electronic variable speed features a three-pulley system that lets you change between speeds without shifting the belt. You get forward and reverse function with a patented belt-tensioning system for maximum power transfer and long tool life.
Premium Pick: Laguna Tools Revo Lathe
- Electrical: 2HP, 220 volt, 60 Hz, motor: induction, 1725 RPM, TEFC, VFD: Delta S1 variable frequency drive, phase: 1 Phase input
- Spring loaded spindle lock, Max; outboard swing: 32"
- 3 Phase output poly-groove drive belt w EZ Access, recommended breaker: 15 amp
- Rpm high: 135-3500 RPM low: 50-1300 tailstock quill: 4 1/2", engraved, Self-ejecting floor to spindle center: 41 1/2" W pads
- Front bearing: TPI Taiwan 6207Llu rear bearing: TPI Taiwan 6205Llu spindle index #: 14/36/48 W lock distance between centers: 36"
This model is our top choice for woodworkers. This Laguna Tools Revo Lathe features an expensive price tag, but it’s an amazing machine capable of professional use. You get an S1 variable speed drive, along with a spring-loaded spindle lock and a 32″ outboard swing. This model includes a 3-phase output with a poly-groove drive-belt for outstanding durability and frequent use. You get full control with stop./start and forward/reverse controls. The cast iron base makes for a stable and secure frame that won’t move during use.
Budget Pick: WEN Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
- Perfect for pens, chess pieces, and other small workpieces
- Soft start variable speed motor adjusts anywhere from 750 to 3200 RPM
- Includes a 5-inch face plate for turning non-spindle workpieces
- Fits workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide (max recommended working diameter: 5 inches)
- Features a 2-amp motor, an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper, and two interchangeable tool rests
Woodworkers looking for the best budget buy in this review will get the most from this WEN benchtop model. This mini lathe features a 12″ x 8″ work bed, with 50% more power than standard 8″ models. The powerful 3.2-Amp motor delivers excellent performance, with variable speed between 750 to 3,200-rpm. This model is affordable, featuring top-quality design and construction and a bench-mounted design. This model comes with a 2.3″ faceplate, and MT1 turning spindle, and a tailstock taper. The WEN is a great choice for woodworkers on a budget that wants a reliable, affordable machine.
Wood Lathe Reviews
After reading through our top models, you might need a little more information to settle on your purchase decision. This section will unpack our top models’ details and look at a few other wood lathes that are top choices.
Delta Industrial Midi Lathe
The Delta Industrial mini-lathe wins our award for the best overall model in this review. This lathe features design and construction with cast-iron for a sturdy base. You get benchtop mounting with this model, and a 1″ drive spindle included.
This lathe features a 1-HP motor, offering electronic variable speed control up to 1,750-rpm. This model comes with a patented belt-drive system that doesn’t require you to change the belts when shifting speeds.
You get a forward and reverse control with this model, including a 12.5″ swing capacity for DIY to semi-industrial use around the workshop. The solid build quality and rugged design of this lathe, along with the powerful motor and variable speed control, make it our top choice.
- Best-in-class 12.5″ swing capacity
- Benchtop mounting
- 1-HP motor operating at 1,725-rpm
- 1″ drive spindle
- Forward and reverse function
- Electronic speed control
- Patented belt tensioning system
Laguna Tools Revo Lathe
Woodworkers looking for the best premium model in this review can go with this Laguna model. You get a freestanding design, with a base made from cast-iron. This model might be expensive, but it features superior design quality and components.
You get a 2-HP motor for powerful operation and electronic variable speed control between 135-rpm to 3,500-rpm. This Laguna Tools Revo Lathe features a massive 32″ outboard swing for the largest jobs and a 50-1300 tailstock quill.
This model suits the professional and advanced DIY woodworker. It’s bulkier than a benchtop model and requires a dedicated space in the workshop. However, it’s the best choice for a professional-quality machine.
- Powerful 2-HP motor
- Variable speed adjustment 135-rpm to 3,500-rpm
- Spring-loaded spindle lock
- 32″ outboard swing
- 50-1300 tailstock quill
WEN Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
Hobbyist woodworkers will get the best value from this WEN mini benchtop lathe. This model comes with a sturdy cast-iron base and a powerful 3.2-Amp motor. You get variable speed control between 750-rpm to 3,200-rpm, and an MT2 spindle included with your lathe.
This model is the ideal choice for a woodworker working with a budget. You get everything you need in a small lathe for minor jobs around the workshop. It’s a great starting point for DIY use, offering fast and efficient cutting of a range of hard and softwoods.
This model features an 8″ swing, with the best power in its class. Reviews show this model has 50% more power than other 8″ lathes. You get two interchangeable tool rests included with your purchase and a 12-inch distance between center points.
- Premium brand
- Powerful 3.2-Amp motor
- Benchtop design
- 50% more power than other 8″ lathes
Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe
The Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe is another premium model with a freestanding design for the woodworking workshop. This model includes a sliding headstock that pivots 360-degrees, offering you seven locking positions at 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 180 and 270 degrees for ultimate versatility during use.
You get a 1-HP motor with electronic variable speed control between 400-rpm to 3,000-rpm. This model features a sturdy cast iron base and legs and requires a dedicated space in the workshop for set up. This Jet model comes with a positive locking tool rest and an improved tailstock quill, featuring locking functionality with an anti-rotation key included.
You get an optional extension belt for this model, extending the distance between your center points up to 60″. The tailstock comes with ACME threading, and this machine has CSA certification. It’s a great choice for the professional or the advanced DIY woodworker looking for a commercial-grade machine at a compact price.
- Freestanding design
- 360-degree pivoting headstock
- Seven positive locking positions
- Variable speed control from 400-rpm to 3,000-rpm
- Three positions for outboard turning
- An anti-rotation key for the tailstock
JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe
JET gets another mention in this review for the JWL-1221VS model. This lathe features a benchtop design with a reasonable price tag. You get unrivaled electronic speed control between 60-rpm to 3,600-rpm and a built-in tool caddy in the frame.
The sturdy cast-iron design provides less vibration during use, and you get conveniently located controls on the front of the machine. This lathe comes with a forward/reverse gear, as well as a ratchet-style belt tensioning system.
The JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe features a design with ACME threading in the tailstock, and you get an optional stand dedicated to the lathe. You get 24 indexing positions and an Integrated, spring-loaded spindle lock.
This model is a great choice for the semi-professional woodworker looking to upgrade their equipment. If you have the budget and space in your workshop, we highly recommend ordering the dedicated stand for the lathe.
- Variable speed control from 60-rpm to 3,600-rpm
- Specific speed ranges
- Forward and reverse options
- Rachet-style belt tensioning system
- Convenient controls
- Acme threaded tailstock
RIKON VSR MIDI Lathe
This benchtop model gives you plenty of power, thanks to its 1-HP motor. You get variable speed control included, with a range between 250-rpm to 3,850-rpm for cutting any wood. The 12.5″ swing and 20″ between centers gives you enough space to handle most DIY jobs.
The RIKON VSR MIDI Lathe features 24 position indexes for versatile use, and you get an LED display with forward and reverse functions. This model is a good choice for the DIY woodworking enthusiast looking to upgrade their existing smaller-capacity machine.
You get all the motor power you need to turn soft and hardwoods, as well as plenty of space between centers. This model also comes with an optional stand sold separately. If you don’t have the bench space for this machine, consider investing in the stand.
- 1-HP motor
- Benchtop design
- Electronic speed control from 250-rpm to 3,850-rpm
- Forward and reverse functions
- 24-position index head
- 12.5-inch outboard swing
PSI Commander Midi Lathe
The PSI Commander is another great option for your DIY woodworking workshop. This model comes with a 1-HP motor, providing variable speed control between 500-rpm to 1,800-rpm. This machine features design and construction with a sturdy cast-iron base to reduce vibration and movement during use.
This benchtop model features an 18″ distance between centers and a 12″ swing bed for medium-sized projects around the workshop. You get a 1″ x 8tpi headstock thread with an MT2 tailstock taper and 3/8″ spindle bore and tailstock.
The rubber feet on the lathe help to dampen vibration and reduce movement during use. This model comes with 1.5/8″ quill travel and 24 indexing positions. It’s a great choice for your first machine or upgrading.
- Affordable quality
- 1-HP motor
- Variable speed control between 500-rpm to 1,800-rpm
- Cast-iron base
- 3/8″ Tailstock and spindle bore
- Built-in handles
Grizzly Industrial Benchtop Wood Lathe
The Grizzly is a fantastic option for the DIY woodworking workshop. You get a 12″ swing with support for spindles up to 16.5″. This model includes a 0.75-HP motor, with electronic variable speed control between 650-rpm to 3,800-rpm.
The Grizzly includes a 5.7/8″ tool rest width, with an MT2 tailstock taper and 1″ x 8 TPI RH spindle size. This model features an 18″ distance between centers, with quick-release on the tailstock and tool rest for fast and easy adjustments.
This model includes a digital RPM readout, with solid cast-iron construction and rubber feet on the base to reduce vibration. You get live and spur centers included, along with a 3.25″ faceplate for medium-sized DIY jobs. This machine is another ideal choice for your first woodworking lathe or an upgrade.
- 12″ turning radius
- Fits spindles up to 16.5.”
- Three speeds from 650-rpm to 3,800-rpm
- Easy controls with forward/reverse
- Benchtop design
Mophorn Wood Lathe
This wood lathe is an affordable choice for the DIY workshop. You get a 550-watt motor, with variable speed control between 500-rpm to 3,800-rpm. This model includes a turning speed dial to help you customize your speed settings, and you get forward/reverse movement included in the design.
This model features design and construction from cast-iron, providing a sturdy base. The rubber feet prevent the machine from moving around during use while dampening vibration. This model comes with an MT2 spindle included with your purchase and a 10″ swing for smaller woodworking jobs.
You get professional-quality tool rests, with an 18″ distance between centers. This model comes with a large, easy-to-read digital display for quick referencing while working.
- Benchtop design with a stable base
- 550-watt motor
- Variable speed control between 500-rpm to 3,800-rpm
- MT2 spindle included
- 10″ onboard swing
Shop Fox W1704
DIY woodworkers looking for an affordable wood lathe can also consider the Shop Fox. This model features a 1/3-HP motor for lighter work and a 12-inch distance between centers with a 10″ swing. This model isn’t as powerful as the WEN, but it is an affordable machine worthy of consideration.
With the Shop Fox, you get a cast-iron construction for study operation and reduced vibration. The motor comes with variable speed control between 700-rpm and 3,200-rpm. You get a safety paddle switch with an option for forward or reverse, as well as 4-1/4-inch, and 7-inch tool rests.
This Shop Fox model includes an MT No. 1 spur-center and an MT No. 1 live center. You get a 3/4-by-16-inch TPI RH spindle and 5-3/4-inch faceplate included. This wood lathe is a great choice for DIY woodworking projects.
- A good choice for DIY projects
- 8″ swing
- Cast-iron construction
- 12″ distance between centers
- Comes with two tool rests
Other Best Selling Options
- Perfect for pens, bowls, cups, chess pieces, and other small workpieces
- Fits workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide
- 3.2-Amp motor provides over 50% more power than most 8-inch wood lathes
- Adjust the soft start variable speed motor anywhere from 750 to 3200 RPM
- Features a 2.3-Inch face plate, an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper, and two interchangeable tool rests
- 【1/2 HORSE POWER MOTOR】- 1/2 Horse Power motor, Voltage: 120V. The powerful motor starts softly offering motor's maximize safety and low noise.
- 【4 GRADE SPEEDS】- The adjustable belts can be adjust with ease and accuracy within 3400 RPM, 1100, 1600, 2300, 3400prm available.
- 【LARGE WORK CAPACITY】- 40" (1000mm) distance between centers, Cutting Diameter 14" (350mm). High concentricity. Moving tailstock to adjust proper distances for workpieces.
- 【SOLID STEEL CONSTRUCTION】- Solid steel constructed wood lathes for durability and strength, providing increased stability and smooth operation, reducing vibration.
- 【FREE WRENCHES & CHISELS】- 3 wrenches are for easy using and maintainance. 3 chisels for free also, 1 x Skew Chisel, 1 x Shear Scraper and 1 x Spindle Gouge.
- Motor: 1/3 HP, 2 Amp, 110V, Single-phase, 60 Hz
- 12-inch distance between centers
- 8-inch swing over bed
- Cast iron construction and infinitely variable speed control
- Includes two tool rests
- Rikon mini lathe: This Rikon mini lathe features a ½ motor that provides ample power for all turning needs. With a 10” swing and 18” between centers, this mini lathe also has a self ejecting tail stock and has easy access to speed change.
- Sturdy and Dedicated: Designed specifically at the request of pen turners who wanted a sturdy, dedicated machine for their craft. This scaled-down, basic mini lathe is made from cast iron, so vibration is not a factor, unlike other lathes made of aluminum.
- 5 speed ranger: This mini lathe has a 5 speed range that covers the bases for boring barrel holes, roughing out pen billets, turning to shape and finishing.
- Includes: This lathe includes a live center, tool rest, knock-out bar, and wrenches.
- Ideal chisel kit for turning pens pepper mills spindles bowls and lots more woodturning projects of all sizes
- Each chisel measures 16-1/4" in length with a 6-1/4" M2 High Speed Steel blade and a 10" hardwood turned handles
- Set includes (8) chisels 3/16" Parting Tool 5/8" Spear Scraper 1" Skew Chisel 5/8" Skew Chisel 5/8" Round Nose Scraper 1/2" Bowl Gouge 3/4" Spindle Gouge 7/8" Roughing Gouge
- Includes wooden case for storage and carrying
- Great for woodworkers woodturners and penturners of all skill levels
Wood Lathe Buyer’s Guide
Are you looking for specific finishes or complicated designs in your work? Woodturning can provide pleasing results for your projects. Turning involves the process of carving woodturning on a lathe at high speed. The “Mother of all Machines” is the best way to achieve outstanding results quickly.
With a good lathe and the right tools, you have a machine that can sculpt anything from simple bowls to fancy table legs or bedposts. Lathes make woodworking fun, allowing you to take on a wider variety of projects, expanding your woodworking repertoire.
After reading through the best wood lathe models reviews, we’re sure you’re ready to finalize your purchase decision. In this section, we’ll give you more information on lathes. We’ll discuss the different types and what you need to look for in a prospective model.
How Do I Choose a Wood Lathe?
Choosing the right lathe for your woodworking project is a serious decision that requires some thought. These machines are expensive, and if you end up with a lemon, it will ruin your projects and cause nothing but a hassle in the workshop.
Fortunately, all the wood lathes in this review feature a top-quality design and versatile functionality. We have choices in various sizes, with options for beginner, advanced, and professional woodturners.
Before you order your lather, ask yourself a few qualifying questions regarding your prospective model.
What Kind of Projects Are You Working On?
Your choice of lathe depends on your level of woodworking skill and how often you’ll be using the machine in your projects. If you feel you want to start using your lathe every day, you will have different requirements for someone that only requires a lathe in their projects now and again.
If you’re working on the larger stock, you will need a model with a good distance between points and a swing over 12-inches. However, DIY woodworkers might find they can get away with a swing as small as 8-inches.
The demands of your work set the tone for the requirements of your wood lathe. Choosing an undersized machine might cause you frustration in your work.
How Much Space Do You Have in the Workshop?
The size of your workshop is another critical factor to consider when choosing your wood lathe. If you have a small DIY workshop, you can get away with a benchtop model to save on floor space. A compact eight to twelve-inch model is ideal in this scenario.
However, freestanding wood lathes will always offer you a better woodworking experience. A freestanding lathe provides enhanced stability and a larger swing and bed.
Freestanding models don’t move around and do a better job of dampening the vibrations from the machine. However, you’re going to pay about 20% to 30% more for a freestanding model, and you need dedicated space in the workshop.
What Is Your Budget?
Finally, you need to have a budget in mind when purchasing your lathe. As mentioned, a wood lathe is an expensive purchase for a decent model. If you want a freestanding design, it could run you into the thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, we found a few affordable benchtop wood lathes for our review. The WEN is a great example of an entry-level wood lathe with professional performance – and an affordable price tag.
What are the Parts of a Wood Lathe?
Now that you understand the key considerations of choosing a wood lathe let’s look at some other features in a prospective lathe.
The Stand and Frame
The stand and frame are critical components of any wood lathe. It would help if you had a model with a thick, durable stand made from high-density, heavy materials. The models in this review feature cast-iron bases, providing plenty of weight to the machine.
Most lathes have a bulky design – and that’s for a reason. Bulky frames absorb vibration, and they move around less than lightweight models. Choose a model with a decent frame and some weight to it.
The headstock is the end of the machine holding the wood in place. On wood lathes, the headstock also houses the controls for the machine. You’ll find the speed controls, power switch, and LCD readouts on the headstock side of the wood lathe.
Typically, the headstock is on the left of the tool rest, facing the operator.
- The switch and motor are the primary components of the headstock.
- The headstock houses the LCD screen with the RPM readout.
- The headstock also houses the belt and pulley system, along with the tensioner.
- The spindle on the headstock holds the workpiece as it turns.
- Most wood lathe manufacturers have “specific” attachment systems.
- Look for models accepting Morse tapers in the headstock and tailstock.
- The design should accept universal centers and aftermarket tools.
- The Headstock lock locks and unlocks sliding headstocks.
- Set the lock in the locked position before switching on the machine.
The Tool Rest
The tool rest on your wood lathe is a short, adjustable guide sliding along the lathe bed. The tool rest provides a part of the machine to store your shaping tools and hold them steady when working with your stock.
The tool rest slides along the bed, providing easy access to any part of the stock while working. You can also rotate the tool rest to let you work at vertical angles on your stock. Your tool rest should feature a quick release for easy locking and unlocking while working.
Always ensure the machine is at a standstill when unlocking and adjusting the tool rest. After locking to tool rest in place, check to see that you can’t move it before switching on the lathe.
The best wood lathe brands allow you to alternate between long and short tool rests to suit your project requirements.
The tailstock of your wood lathe is on the opposite end of the lathe, facing the headstock. The tailstock features a sliding action along the lathe bed, allowing you to adjust it to short and long workpieces. The tailstock essentially holds the wood firmly onto the headstock, pinning it to prevent movement during your work.
- The Poppet barrel on the tailstock secures the workpiece against the powered spindle on your lathe’s headstock.
- The barrel lock and handwheel on the tailstock tightens securely against the Poppet barrel, preventing any slip during operation.
- The tailstock also features storage for your woodworking tools.
- The tailstock acts to secure the wood against the bed.
- Always ensure you lock the tailstock securely in place before starting the machine, or there’s going to be a dangerous workshop accident.
The Tool Set
The wood lathe provides woodworkers with a platform for their projects. However, it’s essentially the tools and skill of the artisan that determines the machine’s utility. The best tools for your wood lathe feature design and construction with durable, long-lasting materials.
Choose tools with comfortable, ergonomic handles that are easy the grip. Most wood lathe tools set feature design and construction with durable High-Speed Steel (HSS). This steel features durable carbide tips that provide long working life between sharpening, even with daily use.
A standard wood lathe toolset includes the flowing tools.
- Bowl Gouge
- Spindle Gouge
- Roughing Gouge
- Round Nose Scraper
- Parting Tool
- Skew Chisel
Safety Tips for Working with Wood Lathes
- As with all power tools, safety is key around the workshop, and you need to ensure you follow all safety protocols before operating your lathe.
- Approach your lathe with intention and deliberate movements. Never take your concentration off the lathe top speak to someone.
- Never put your hands anywhere near the wood or the headstock while operating the machine.
- Remember to wear the necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).
- Safety glasses, gloves, and machinists jacket are essential PPE for any woodworker using a lathe.
- Remove jewelry and tuck in your hair and loose clothing before operating the lathe.
- Always read your owner’s manual and follow the advice for the maintenance of your machine.
Wood Lathe FAQs
What are the best woods to cut in a lathe?
Some of the most popular choices include the following.
- Figured Maple
- Pacific Madrone
How long must wood dry for before I can use it in the lathe?
If you’re looking for the best wood to turn in your lathe, you’ll have to ensure it’s dry and seasoned. To dry and season wood, stick to the rule of thumb of 1-year of drying and curing per inch of wood.
Why do people can the lathe “The Mother of all Machines?”
You might hear some senior machinists refer to the lathe as “The Mother of all Machines.” The lathe was one of the original machines to come out of the Industrial Revolution, leading to many technological innovations in the coming decades.
Where can I buy a wood lathe?
We recommend picking up the best wood lathe from Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer. With Amazon., you get buyer protection on your order and fast, free shipping to your doorstep. Amazon has the best product range and the lowest prices, with a hassle-free returns policy.
Wood Lathes – The Verdict
By now, you should have your eye on a few prospective models for the best wood lathe in this review. However, we understand that it’s challenging to settle on one model. A wood lathe is an expensive purchase, and it will be in your workshop for years. Therefore, it’s critical that you choose a machine with long service life and outstanding performance.
If you’re struggling with your purchase decision, relax – we did the hard work for you. Why not go with one of our top picks for the best wood lathe?
The Delta Industrial Midi Lathe is the best machine in its class and the winner of this review. You get a 12,5″ swing, with an 18″ distance between centers. This model comes with a 1-HP motor and variable speed control up to 1,750-rpm. The patented belt-drive system means you don’t have to stop the machine while changing belt speeds.
The Laguna Tools Revo Lathe is our top choice for the best premium model in this review. You get a freestanding design with a cast-iron frame to prevent movement and reduce vibration in use. This model comes with an extension kit sold separately, allowing you to extend the bed from 20″ to 60″ for the largest jobs.
The WEN Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe is our top pick for the best budget model in this review. You get a powerful 3.2-Amp motor offering variable speed control up to 3,200-rpm. This model has the best power rating for an 8″ lathe, and its compact, benchtop design makes it suitable for smaller DIY workshops.