Best Wood Lathes of 2024 (Personalized Quiz!)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Larry Edwards

So you’re looking for a new wood lathe. But every day there seems to be a new one added to the market. So how can you possibly keep track of which lathe is the best?

Nobody has the time to test out every lathe. Including me! So I surveyed over 400 active wood turners to discover the best lathe for you and your unique situation. You could read the whole article… but if you’re short on time I created a personalized quiz to give you the answer right away. Here it is!

Now, if you like to read, continue on to find out which wood lathe is best for you.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases. This means no extra cost to you.

While you’re here, I spotted these great gift ideas for wood turners on Amazon. I’ve already bought a couple for them (as a gift to myself!)

Grizzly Industrial G0766
Grizzly G0766 22" x 42" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe
Rockler Mini Lathe 1018
Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe - Cast Iron Mini Wood Lathe Turn Bowls 10” & Spindles 17-3/4" in – Mini Lathe Machine for Wood for Chair Legs, Small Table Legs, & Decorative Woodturning - Turning Machine
JET JWL-1221vs Most Popular & Highly Recommended
JET 12" x 21" Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe, 1 HP, 115V 1Ph (Model JWL-1221VS)
Grizzly Industrial T25920
Grizzly Industrial T25920-12" x 18" Variable-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop
WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
3 HP
½ HP
1 HP
3/4 HP
3.2 Amp
22" x 42"
10″ x 18″
12″ x 20.5″
12″ x 18″
8” x 12”
variable Speed
Best Pulley
584 lbs
83 lbs
84 lbs
1 year
Contact seller
5 years
1 year
2 Years
Customer's Rating
Grizzly Industrial G0766
Grizzly G0766 22" x 42" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe
3 HP
22" x 42"
variable Speed
584 lbs
1 year
Customer's Rating
Rockler Mini Lathe 1018
Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe - Cast Iron Mini Wood Lathe Turn Bowls 10” & Spindles 17-3/4" in – Mini Lathe Machine for Wood for Chair Legs, Small Table Legs, & Decorative Woodturning - Turning Machine
½ HP
10″ x 18″
variable Speed
Best Pulley
83 lbs
Contact seller
Customer's Rating
JET JWL-1221vs Most Popular & Highly Recommended
JET 12" x 21" Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe, 1 HP, 115V 1Ph (Model JWL-1221VS)
1 HP
12″ x 20.5″
variable Speed
5 years
Customer's Rating
Grizzly Industrial T25920
Grizzly Industrial T25920-12" x 18" Variable-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
3/4 HP
12″ x 18″
variable Speed
84 lbs
1 year
Customer's Rating
WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop
WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
3.2 Amp
8” x 12”
variable Speed
2 Years
Customer's Rating

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

List of top 14 wood lathes of 2024 in five categories

"two men practicing on white lathe machine with chisels in hand"

Let’s have a quick tour of all the lathes at a glance. If you don’t have much time, you can click the links below, and it will take you to Amazon to see the most recent price.

Every lathe here fits perfectly for the category and also comes at a good resale value. So, here is my list of the 14 best options for wood lathes that I have divided into 5 categories.

About the survey on active woodturners

So, right before getting featured on Feedspot top 5, I was looking to upgrade my Jet 1221VS lathe to a much heavier one with more swing over the bed.

I wanted to get the idea of what’s going on in the community to get real reviews from the active owners.

Not from the websites that are listing random lathes.

As a result, I started my own survey (from October 2020) on woodturners with diverse skillsets from all around the country.

This was to take a sneak peek at different woodturners, including local club mentors and woodturner communities, on various social media.

I aimed to know their favourite wood lathes, preferable size plus features, and their considerations before purchasing.

Note: It was not convenient for me to go outside and contact each one of them in person due to the ongoing pandemic. Besides, most of the clubs near Danville were closed.

So, it went over the phone and messages and creating polls most of the time, as you can see a glimpse on these screenshots—kind of verbal communication.

I hope you can get the idea. So the whole survey is based on two primary fields:

1. What are the features woodturners consider before buying their wood lathe?

GroupsFeatures they look for
People want full-sized lathesBig powerful motor that runs quietly
Swivelling headstock
Steel Bed
Adjustable variable Speed Control
Customer Service
People want small lathesAccessories availability
Cast Iron
Direct drive

SizeUser PercentageUnits by popularity
Full-sized Lathe46.67 % 1. Powermatic 3520
2. Laguna 2436
3. Grizzly G0766
4. Oneway 2436
5. Robust American Beauty
6. Vicmark
Midi Lathe40 %1. Jet 1221VS
2. Delta 46-460
3. Nova Comet II
4. Rikon 70-100, Rikon 70-220vsr
5. Grizzly G0462
Mini Lathe13.33 %1. PSI Turncrafter
2. Rockler Excelsior Mini
3. Rikon 70-105
4. Jet JWL 1015
5. Wen 3421

Essential buying guide for first-time wood lathe buyers

  • Okay, first thing first, you have to decide what size of wood lathe do you need, and it depends on what you want to turn.
  • Consider your floor capacity.
  • Now plan your budget according to the size you think would be suitable for you. I think I have given every possible option for each category. Suppose you want a midi lathe for both home and semi-commercial uses. Now, if you don’t have the budget for a 1221vs, then go for the Delta or Nova. They are all quite similar in features.
  • Consider the speed range, and try to go for the variable speed while looking at small lathes.
  • Don’t go below 1 hp if you have plans to turn bowls. Your motor needs to produce enough torque at the lower end rpm.
  • Make sure to read the manuals online before purchasing. Take a look at the supply voltage and phase. See if you have the power socket to match the supply specifications.

For more detail, please go through my separate post about choosing a quality wood lathe. You can also check this quick video from Mr Sam Angelo, that might help.

Best full-size wood lathes for turning large bowls

I always suggest to everyone that you select something you can gradually grow up with, not by changing the lathe from time to time. It’s because I know you will outgrow your skill after a while, and you will want to upgrade to a bigger one.

So if you plan it to be your lifetime investment, then you can’t afford to ruin it, not being very careful about what you are investing in.

Now let’s go and see the short reviews of three of the high-quality full-sized wood lathes, and then I will discuss what I bought and the reason behind it.

1. Powermatic 3520C review: The overall best

"Glossy Yellow colored Powermatic 3520 lathe in a white background"
  • 20″ swing and 35-1/2″ between centers
  • Motor: 2 HP, 220V, single phase
  • Tool rest swing- 15-3/4″
  • Spindle speeds: low range 15-1200 RPM; high range 40-3200 RPM
  • Outboard capacity: 38″
  • Spindle taper: #2MT
  • Spindle thread: 1-1/4″ x 8 TPI
  • Weight: 726 lbs
  • Warranty: 5 years

3520C is the upgraded version of former 3520A and 3520B from the classic and all-time best wood lathe brand- Powermatic. I mean, if you ask any professional woodturner what they would go for if they needed to upgrade to a bigger one, and the answer would be Powermatic most of the time (except for the expensive Robust American).

The best part of this lathe is the resale value. Even after 10 years, you can still sell it for almost 90% or more of the actual price. I have talked with many 3520 and 4424B owners who sold their lathes after 7 to 8 years (on average) but got almost what they paid.

I know that luxurious American Beauty has the best swing-away tailstock and other features, but we are not comparing between a Ferrari and BMW. If you can afford it, certainly go for one. That is to say; luxury has always been a whole different thing.

Now for the Powermatic 3520C, it is going to be a significant step up for anyone who can afford it. Above all, a heavyweight lathe like the Powermatic lets you set for at least ten years and even more once you have one. In other words, this wood lathe is always there as a secure investment.

However, there is not much of a difference between 3520C among the 3520 series, but all that little upgradations add up.

All that’s added:

  • The Acme threaded quill feed, redesigned cast iron legs
  • Reversible banjo and tool post lock lever come
  • 9/16 of an inch thick bed-ways
  • Redesigned swing away optional tailstock
  • New cast iron sliding headstock
  • Extended cone redesigned for re-chucking the bowls
  • Anti-rotation tailstock key
  • Extra weight increased along with center to center working capacity
  • New switches to disconnect the power, and few other upgradations

I also like the fact of the movable control box being magnetic. It allows turners to control it without reaching around any big workpiece during work, which we all know is quite essential for safety.

However, there isn’t anything conspicuous to say about this mighty powerhouse.

2. Laguna Revo 2436 review: The runner-up

"Full black Laguna 2436 big size lathe in a white background"
  • 24″ swing and 36″ between the centers
  • Motor: Induction, 1725 RPM, 3HP, 220V, 60Hz
  • Phase: 1-Phase Input, 3-Phase Output
  • RPM: High: 135-3500 Low: 50-1300
  • Spindle taper: #2MT
  • Spindle thread: 1¼” X 8 TPI RH
  • Max. Outboard Swing: 38″
  • Swing over Banjo: 19¾”
  • Tool Rest: 12″
  • Weight 610 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years

Another powerhouse in the business. Laguna wood lathes are becoming a great heavyweight contender day by day among the turners besides Powermatic, Oneway, Vicmark, or American Beauty.

It’s a three horsepower powerful wood lathe that can turn 24″ bowls like a lemon. Imagine putting a 60 lbs big blanks of wood on a lathe, that’s certainly a huge load, and Laguna 2436 does it very comfortably without wobbling at all.

So, it is compatible not for the design and the features but the capacity mainly. And to be honest, I am not a big fan of the designing order as it seems a bit confusing to me, unlike the Powermatic, but that’s an unsolicited opinion.

If you talk about the price of the Laguna 2436, it’s way cheaper than most of them in this size range with that much power in the motor. So, it would be a total win-win as a long-time investment for any professional woodturner.

But the question arises that, how often do you think you are going to turn a bowl that is over 18” in diameter?

In that case, I recommend going for the Laguna 1836 (Amazon link) and sliding the headstock for the outboard turning. You can save over a thousand dollars.

But again, if you are considering buying anything serious for your business, then Laguna 2436 is something extraordinary at a comparatively low price.

Few changes/upgradations:

  • Remote switch
  • Banjo has been improved
  • Overall finishing retouched

I think Mr David Ellsworth has one in his workshop too besides his Robust as Laguna tools often featured him. But anyway, this is a beast by all means.

However, there are some cons you may find online about the headstock problem in Laguna. But the good part is their customer service is very active and will send you any replacement parts right away if anything happens.

3. Grizzly G0766 review: Great option for the money

"Green leg and White bed Grizzly G0766 lathe in a white background"
  • 22″ swing and 42″ between the centers
  • Motor: 3 HP, 220V, 3-phase, 8A
  • Required power supply: 220V, single-phase, 20A
  • RPM: High: 100-3200 Low: 100-1200 Variable speed
  • Reverse and Forward
  • Spindle taper: #2MT
  • Spindle thread: 1¼” X 8 TPI RH
  • Swing over banjo: 18″
  • Swing over tool rest: 16”
  • Tool Rest: 14″
  • Weight 584 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

This one is interesting. No doubt at all that Grizzly is and will always be on the top bench every time you talk about lathe machines, whether it’s metal or wood.

If you are on a tight budget but still want a solid full-size wood lathe, Grizzly G0766 will serve you like no other wood lathes.

The 220V three horsepower motor with a 22” bed swing and a weight of 584 lbs, the Grizzly G0766 even cost less than the 18” Laguna or any other brands in this tier.

I might not be wrong if I say that you probably won’t find a better value for a large size on the market than the Grizzly G0766 wood lathe. Besides, Mr Shiraz Balolia has always maintained top-notch backend supports for his customers.

Why not G0800?

There is another 24” swing you might know, and that is the Grizzly G0800 with true 3 horsepower and 24” swing over bed. But I don’t feel like spending so much on something that can be done with G0766 affordably and accurately.

I would rather buy a Laguna 2436 instead and save my thousand dollars for some handy tools instead of purchasing the G0800.

Above all, the owners I talked with seemed very happy with their units, and hardly had any complaint about the rigidity, sturdiness, and capacity of G0766.

So overall, with the top quality, power, the capacity you will get at this range, I must say, this is a hell of a heavyweight wood lathe deal for the money.

By the way, I don’t think this is a true 3 HP, as stated. It’s becoming widespread these days for brands to overstate power while advertising. Another issue is the banjo being 0.984″, which is a non-US standard, but Grizzly came out with their new production improvising it to 1.002″.

So, in my opinion, Grizzly wins in every aspect if we are thinking of money here, a lot of bang for the buck. You can also check what owners are talking about. Let me give you some screenshots again- (I have covered their names and profiles for privacy)

Best wood lathes under $1000 for semi-professional projects

Have you ever noticed that medium-size bowls go on-sell a lot than the bigger bowls? It’s because they are more handy and convenient to use.

And that is why so many professionals use midi lathes as their primary lathe machine.

Besides, you have the option to use riser blocks to turn bowls larger than 12 inches. But whatever you do, the lathe must have the weight and power to handle the load. That means don’t push it too far.

So, I would be reviewing three such powerful units from three different brands in short. But if you want to see more midi lathes in detail, please go through my complete Midi Lathe guide and why they are called midi lathes.

However, if the heavyweight lathes aforementioned are something you are not ready for yet, check out these powerful midi lathes.

1. Jet JWL 1221VS: The overall best

"White colored Jet-1221VS midi wood lathe in a white background"
  • 12″ swing and 20-1/2″ between centers
  • 1 HP, 115V, Recommended Circuit Size (Amps.)10
  • Spindle Taper: MT2
  • Spindle Bore: 3/8″
  • Indexing position: 24
  • Spindle Thread: 1″/8 TPI
  • 60-3600 RPM variable speed
  • Forward to reverse
  • Weight: 136.4lbs
  • Warranty: 5 years

This dedicated one horsepower middleweight wood lathe is what I was currently using and by far the best one. I think it should be rated as Top for the Medium tier of all time.

Jet is the most common wood lathe used to teach in clubs or classrooms across the country.

If you are passionate about turning bowls but can’t afford a standard size, close your eyes and go with Jet JWL 1221vs.

Trust me, I’m a very sceptical person, and I always spend a brief time before picking my machines and tools.

What makes it great?

Imagine the torque at the lowest RPM like 60! This true one HP motor produces enough torque to keep it alive during the rotation of an unbalanced chunk.

So, the best part for me is the slowest RPM torque, Variable speed, right side control panel for more user-friendliness, and of course, the extra weight it has than any other midi lathes in this price range.

However, as there is already so much talk going on in this unit, I don’t think I would like to start the same here conversation here. Please go through the linked guide above.

But one thing I want to say in a nutshell, that if you are to plan to settle down with Midi, then Jet JWL 1221vs could be the happiest investment for you.

2. Delta 46-460: The runner-up

"Black and light ash colored Delta-46-460 Midi Wood Lathe, facing front in a white background"
  • 12.5″ swing and 16.5″ between centers
  • 1-HP, 1-Phase, 120V, 60-Hz, 1725 rpm motor
  • Speed: 250-700, 600-1,800 and 1,350-4,000-RPM
  • Electronic variable
  • Head and Tailstock Taper: #2 MT
  • Drive spindle: 1 inch -8 RH TPI thread
  • Forward and Reverse
  • Weight: 97 lbs
  • Warranty: 5 years

So here it is- the mighty Delta 46-460 Midi wood lathe by Delta Machinery. The most common name in the Midi lathe industry you might have heard.

Delta has a good history with the MIDI industry, and this is the most popular unit of the wood lathe so far by any brand out there.

Not only hype but a pure class in the business. This one is also horsepower with variable speed, and a sturdy iron cast made midi wood lathe—one of the classic and best in the industry.

The previous one was of ¾ HP, but they upgraded their lathe to a good one horsepower to stay compatible in the race.

For a low-key investment, the Delta 46-460 Midi wood lathe is a gem to so many turners as the price is less than the Jet 1221vs with almost the same capacity.

Except for the parts supply issues that a lot of you may have heard, the Delta 46-460 however serves as a masterpiece for every professional woodturner out there.

3. Nova Comet II DR

"Silver colored midi wood lathe Nova-Comet-II-DR in a white background"
  • 12″ swing and 16.5″ between centers
  • HP: 3/4HP, 230v single phase, 60Hz,
  • Speed range: 250 – 4,000 RPM Variable Speed
  • Tailstock: 2MT hollow
  • Quill travel 1.6″/40.60mm.
  • Spindle Thread: 1″ x 8TPI RH.
  • Forward and Reversing
  • Weight: 82.4lbs
  • Warranty: 1 Year Motor and Controller, 2 Year Mechanical and parts

To have a more powerful motor within the budget, you will have a hard time finding one as there are not so many options. But this one can be a gem for any budget turner.

Even so, the barrier between what a full-size and a mini lathe can do closes with this lathe. With a 71% rating of 5-star, here comes another mighty midi wood lathe.

Important features and usability:

For starters, it uses a highly capable electronic motor. This 3/4 HP lathe is capable of working at a low 250 RPM and a more powerful but steady 4000 RPM.

These operating speeds are adjustable by a 3 pulley system and are easy to control. As it is only about 80 pounds, the lathe is easy to pick up and move, but it stays put while working on it.

It also features a swing capacity of 12 inches over the bed. So turning medium-size bowls is an easy task to do in general. The spur in the headstock and the live centre in the tailstock come together perfectly.

Overall it meets all the requirements that any standard midi lathe should deliver. It is a portable tool that saves a considerable amount of space. The machine’s mini design made this a great option to buy and use in the house.

If you want to use it for hobbies or even as a pro pen turner, this is a clear contestant among the strongest midi wood lathe spot that will deliver what you need effectively. I talked about its high performance and a few reasons that make this lathe a powerful machine.

Best Mini wood lathes for tiny woodturning projects

At last, comes the mini wood lathes that are specifically designed to handle the miniatures. You can turn everything out of a large wood lathe, but not everyone has the same plan and budget.

So, as long as you are determined to turn only pens, bottle stoppers, and miniatures like this, you probably want to go for a mini wood lathe instead. They have the strength that is enough to turn anything under the ranged diameter.

I’ll keep the review short for every lathe. But, you can check the full article written on Mini Wood lathes here with all the details you need to know before buying one.

1. Rockler Excelsior mini lathe 10×18: The runner-up

"Full black colored Excelsior Mini Wood Lathe by Rockler brand in a white background"
  • 10″ swing/ 18″ between centers
  • Horsepower: ½
  • MT2 Spindle Taper
  • Speed Ranges: 760, 1100, 1600, 2200, and 3200
  • Weight: 83 lbs
  • 1” x 8 TPI spindle
  • Only forward

I bought my Excelsior after reading a bunch of positive reviews online. I even saw Mr Carl Jacobson turning on this in his garage with this one if I’m not wrong. However, it was a yard sale, but it was very fresh in condition. I have never faced any issues with it until now.

It’s a half HP motor with standard morse two tapers and 1”x8 TPI thread. You can also extend the bed to up to 22” extra from 18”.

But I wish it were a variable speed by default. You can change the factory motor with variable speed if you don’t like to change belts, but that’s up to you. And, that is where the PSI turned the table.

Other than that, I’ve been hanging on this lathe for three years now, and it has not let me down yet. It is because I always respect its limitations, and it is delivering as my expectations, simple as that.

I don’t do any bowls on it, and nor should you. They are all underpowered motors with limited capacity. So, it’s recommended that you do mostly spindle on them.

Or go through that article I linked above to see which mini wood lathe has the lowest RPM with good torque that is somewhat ideal for turning small bowls.

Apart from all these minor drawbacks, Excelsior is a worthy choice for DIY turners.

2. Wen 3421 variable speed wood lathe: Cheapest in the category

"Black body with orange tool rest, Wen-3421 mini wood lathe in a white background"
  • 8” swing and 12” between centers
  • Motor: 3.2 Amp (1/3 HP), 120V
  • MT1 Spindle and Tailstock Taper
  • 1″ x 8 TPI
  • Spindle Speed: Variable speed from 750 – 3200 RPM
  • Weight: 45lbs
  • Only forward
  • Warranty: 2 Years

So, here comes the Wen mini again for the budget turner. I mean, you can’t get any better deal for a new lathe like this one. It’s an 8” swing variable speed mini lathe with a 3.2 Amp motor that can turn bottle stoppers and pens pretty good.

Most of the turners that I talked with either bought this to test or got this as a present. It is also a total beginner mini wood lathe with some potential.

So, don’t think it’s a total waste of money, in fact, it is better than the 3420 version. You can learn many things as you slowly grow up as sure as eggs is eggs. Let me remind you again that the primary purpose is to get at least something to keep going with a little budget.

Above all, getting variable speed at this low budget is something we need to appreciate. This is not a powerful machine by any means, and Wen does not convince anyone either to say so.

The motor does get significantly hot soon right after a few turns, and you may need to keep it cool by giving it rest from time to time. So, that’s the one awkward drawback of these mini lathes.

All I can say is, it is an underpowered wood lathe, but if you respect its limitations and are ready to accept the fact, you can make fair use out of it. You have all the options, so now you be the judge.

My Top Pick Grizzly G0766

Charles wilson taking selfie with his new grizzly G0766 wood lathe

Reasons I bought G0766: A huge bang for the buck

You can turn a small thing on a large wood lathe, but you cannot turn a big chunk on a smaller one. That’s the reason I would always prefer a full size. And among all the other full-size lathes in the market, G0766 comes with the most lucrative price.

Grizzly products have rated #1 on all reviews you can find, such as better business bureau, consumer reports, and the like. I was also a member of the AAW as well as a local turning club, and they all rant and rave about how good the grizzly products are. A lot of them own American products, and some of them wish they had actually bought the grizzly instead, and I am talking about people with 20+ years of experience.

I mean I can turn up to 22” bowls with a low range of 100 to 1200 RPM with Grizzly G0766 and that’s enough low for a rough cut.

Besides, I am getting the electronic variable speed control with a digital readout. The tool rest is 14” in length, which is pretty big to cover a table leg without having to move the tool rest repeatedly.

Now, if we talk about the weight, 584 pounds is also firm enough to absorb the vibration while turning any large and unbalanced wood blanks. Besides, I can put some sandbags to make it more stable if I need to.

The only concern I have:

The only thing that I would have loved to get is a warranty above one year, but I think that’s all you need to face any factory defects for them to come and replace the parts.

However, I know so many turners are working with this heavyweight wood lathe, and they didn’t even expect more.

After considering the overall construction, capacity, and power of the motor, I decided to go with G0766 as it’s half the price of Powermatic.

So, I can spend the rest on chisels, dust collectors, safety shields, or any other accessories that I might need.

So yeah, I went with the Grizzly G0766.

Wood lathes that are best under $500

There are so many brands and units in the market that are selling wood lathes. You can find one from $150 to up to $8000 with a brand like Robust American. However, after the end of 2020, the price of these machines seems to be getting a bit higher.

Lathes like Delta 46-460 and Nova Comet II recently priced up. So, if you want to buy something that doesn’t exceed the $500 dollars benchmark then you should be able to get a quality 10″ swing if not 12″ Midi.

1. PSI Turncrafter Commander KWL- 1018VS

"Full red colored PSI-Turncrafter-1018 mini wood lathe in a white background"
  • 10” swing X 18” between centers
  • Motor: ¾ HP, 110V
  • MT2 Headstock and Tailstock Taper
  • 1” x8 TPI
  • Speeds: 2 position belt Variable speed A (500-2000), B (1500-3600) RPM
  • Weight: 84 lbs
  • Only Forward
  • Warranty: 3 years

Now, of course, the mini-lathes are not powerful enough for large bowls, but you can still manage it with a 10″ swing and 3/4 HP. So, let me start the list with a mighty lightweight monster- the Turncrafter mini lathe from Pen state Industry.

This lathe is so robust for small projects that some refer to it as the midi lathe.

But, the highest workpiece you can mount here would be like 9 inches. So, it is a solid mini wood lathe according to the size and capacity.

If we see the price, it may seem pretty high for a mini lathe but let’s not forget about the ¾ HP variable speed motor. You can talk about Wen, Rockler, and others, but no one seems to have a variable speed facility in this 10” swing category.

Wen has a variable speed unit, but with #1 MT tapers. You can also see the Rikon 70-105 with 5 speed and #2 MT but not as powerful as the Turncrafter.

I know many pen turners working with Turncrafter 1018VS, and they are very pleased with the overall capacity and durability.

To sum up, It’s one hell of a mini pen turning wood lathe by every means. Mine was Excelsior that I’ll be talking about next, but if I have to be honest here, Turncrafter Commander is a serious deal for a mini lathe.

2. Wen 3424T five-speed wood lathe

"3424T Midi wood lathe in a Black Colored body with orange tool rest in a white background"
  • 12″ swing and 18″ between centers
  • 4.5 Amp, 110V
  • Five-speed: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 RPM
  • Non-variable
  • Head and Tailstock Taper: #2 MT
  • 1 inch -8 RH TPI thread
  • Only forward
  • Weight: 70lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years

Okay, this is not a recommended bowl-turning lathe, but for the low budget, of course, it can please you. It’s rather for the people who want a new wood lathe within a 400 dollars budget, and Wen would always do it for them.

Firstly, the main drawback is that you won’t get variable speed at this low budget, which is quite apparent. But, if you are okay with turning within a limited RPM, then go for it, but variable speed has become one of the “have to have” features nowadays.

The motor is about 4.5 amp, which is slightly more than ½ HP. So, you have to go slow and easy on this lathe if you are to get the most out of it.

That being said, if you are thinking of turning bowls, it’s not the ideal wood lathe then. However, you may try the greenwoods (wet) first and make sure it is well-shaped and round, don’t put any irregular blanks on it.

I would certainly not push this lathe to its limit. Moreover, a 70lbs weight seems okay to handle any small project.

So, in a nutshell, if you go for the spindle works, this lathe can guarantee your satisfaction, that’s for sure.

Few worth mentioning classic wood lathes

Now that you have the main courses, it’s time for the alternative wood lathes that are worth mentioning. In other words, closing the article without talking about them would be fairly unfair.

1. Jet JWL-1440VSK

"Mat white colored Jet-1440VSK Midi Wood lathe in a white background"
  • 14-1/2″ swing and 40″ between the centers
  • Motor: 1 HP, 115/230V, 1 phase
  • RPM: 400-3000 Variable
  • Sliding Headstock
  • Acme threaded tailstock
  • Indexing Position: 36
  • Outboard Turning: Yes
  • Spindle taper: #2MT
  • Spindle thread: 1” X 8 TPI RH
  • Swing over tool rest: 11”
  • Tool Rest: 14″
  • Weight 400 lbs
  • Warranty: 5 year

Okay, so what makes this slightly heavyweight lathe machine a bit expensive?

I’d say, versatility. It’s because versatility is a great highlight of any lathe machine. The capacity to work on diverse materials is what makes a great tool, especially when it is a wood lathe.

Furthermore, this lathe has been tested by David Heim to the limit to check the resistance and the torque it can produce at low-speed, and it took a lot to stall the motor.

The energy that is to say is distributed effectively around the lathe, providing a quality working experience and a reliable performance.

Features I like most:

Jet 1440VSK also features an option for outboard turning. The 1HP variable speed motor can deal with any imbalanced wood. You are also getting a 36 indexing position plus the sliding headstock.

Another best part for me is the 14″ tool rest. That is big enough to cover an extended area without shifting it repeatedly while turning a long and thick spindle.

It’s larger than a Midi but smaller than the standard commercial wood lathes. It is a powerful tool, easy to operate, and can work on different woodturning projects, both big and small. Besides, all the woodturners who used it gave it a full 5-star rating.

So all I am trying to say is it is undoubtedly a worthy wood-turning lathe by all means, but the price point is pretty high. That being said, if it’s okay with you, then surely go for this one.

My only concern:

However, even though it can deal with any unbalanced heavyweight load, I still don’t think I would be comfortable paying more than double for an extra 2 inches bed swing that my 1221VS is giving me now.

2. Grizzly Industrial G0462 Review

"Green colored Grizzly-Industrial-G0462 lathe in a white background"
  • 16″ swing and 46″ between the centers
  • Motor: Motor: 2 HP, 110V, single-phase, 14A
  • RPM: 600-2400 (10 speed)
  • Variable speed
  • Headstock rotation: 0°, 60°, 90°, 120°, and 180°
  • Outboard Turning: Yes
  • Spindle and tailstock taper: #2MT
  • Spindle thread: 1” X 8 TPI RH
  • Swing over tool rest: 13-1/2″
  • Tool rest: 12″
  • Weight: 354 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

Another Grizzly made its place through the category, and it’s a wonder lathe. You can easily consider this against any of the lathe aforementioned.

If I have to be honest, Grizzly G0462 is a whole lotta lathe for the money like the G0766. And I really don’t know how they offer such a powerful lathe at a price that anyone would fall for.

Featuring a two HP motor with variable speed, this sturdy woodturning lathe will give you a maximum 16″ inboard bowl turning facility. Moreover, you can turn outboard also if the bowl is larger than the given diameter. The speed range goes from 600 to up to 2400 RPM.

In case you need to mount any heavier logs, you can adjust the leg’s shelf support. Besides, as it is a Morse #2 taper, all the accessories and parts are available in the aftermarket also.

But the motor is suitable for multiple operations and materials of different sizes. It also comes with a spindle tachometer and a digital readout, some handy things to have.

So, I must say, it’s a lot from a heavy, cast, and easy to assemble lathe under 1000 dollars.

Overall, this is a reliable product that delivers what it promises.

By the way, there is another powerhouse called Shop Fox W1758 you can find for under 1000 dollars also.

Few drawbacks:

The only thing you will need to maintain frequently is the replacement process of the belt as it is a Reeves speed controlled. Besides, the original strap that comes with the lathe wears out quickly and sometimes the speed can’t reach the 600 in low-end.

So it is best to change the belt to get the maximum output.

Another thing skilled turners tend to find is some issues with the tool rest. For instance, try to turn a bowl over 14,″ you could see the tailstock might get in its way.

3. Grizzly T25920 variable speed lathe

"Green colored Grizzly T25920 VS midi lathe in a white background"
  • 12″ swing and 18″ between centers
  • Motor: 3/4 HP, 110V, single-phase, 5.3A
  • Speed: 650- 3800 RPM
  • Variable speed
  • Swing over tool rest base: 9-1/2″
  • 5-7/8″ Tool Rest with 5/8″ Post
  • Spindle tapers: #2MT
  • Tailstock taper: #2MT
  • Spindle thread: 1″ X 8 TPI RH
  • Weight: 84 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year

The Grizzly T25920 is a worthy product suitable for beginners who want to initiate their way of woodworking. It features an effective and powerful motor, working at 110 Volts during a single-phase and 5.3 Amps.

Furthermore, this motor is capable of producing enough energy allowing this small lathe to work at 650 RPM and able to reach up to 3800 RPM.

With this motor, every user has the comfort of knowing the machine will keep up with their ideas. It is a great power source to complete a variety of projects regardless of their type.

The machine also features a speed indicator, both a live center and a spur center. It includes a 3-1/4 inches faceplate. All of these highlights make up for a solid performance, and it gives the users the control they need.

We all know that one of the best qualities of a wood lathe is the capacity to shape materials on our own accord. So by far, all the control this machine gave is quite impressive.

So, go for this one if you think it can fit your projects.

Important questions people also ask

"Old male turner working on lathe machine in workshop"

Where to find the user manual sheet?

Please visit the official web page of the manufacturer. Type your lathe’s name, and you can see the specification datasheet or link to that. These links are mostly pdf to download.

Download it and then find the user manual or the specification you are trying to find.
Or try as an alternative.

What lathe is ideal for beginners?

At first, it is ideal to select a medium-sized lathe. Mini lathes like excelsior could be a good choice also, but you can’t deny their differences. It’s significant.

So, if I need to answer this directly, then I would say go for the Jet 1221vs. It’s worth every penny.
You can also check my guide on wood lathes for beginner woodturners.

Should you wear safety gloves when using a wood lathe?

It would be best if you never used gloves while using power tools like lathes, table saws, drill presses, band saws, etc. Wearing gloves around something that’s rotating at a higher speed can cause severe damage.

To me, it’s like working with an untied long hair which is extremely dangerous. Please don’t ask me how I know.

What are the minimum ideal features of a quality wood lathe?

1. 12″ swing
2. One HP
3. Electronic variable speed
4. Morse taper 2 headstocks and tailstock
5. Common headstock thread (1″x8 in the US)

This gets you a lathe that can do most types of turning and turn decent-sized pieces. You will also be able to buy accessories easily.

How to set up my wood lathe after buying it

I reckon you must have other tools in your home shop, so this is also important that you plan your workshop space before bringing your wood lathe. If it’s a small benchtop, you probably are fine as they won’t need much of a space.

But, if this is something like the Powermatic or big Laguna, then you’ve got work to do. You can check my guide to have some ideas for setting up your wood lathe. I hope this will help you in some way.

What chuck should I use for my lathe?

You need to check your thread size. Some lathes have 3/4-16 spindles and some are 1″-8 but, nowadays it’s usually by the size of the lathe. A 10″ lathe or smaller usually has a 3/4-16 spindle and lathes 12″ to about 16″ usually have 1″-8 spindles and anything bigger usually has 1-1/4″-8 spindle. You can also check my complete review about wood lathe chuck here.

How big of a wood lathe do I need?

It depends on your projects and plans for turning. Is it for home use, semi-commercial, or commercial use? You need to decide that first.

For home or miniatures, you can opt a half HP mini wood lathe. Midi lathes would allow you to go semi-commercial from home.

But if you have any plan to go commercial, a full-sized lathe is what you need. Watch this video from Woodworkers journal.

Last few words

So that’s pretty much it. I hope you can now decide which wood lathe would be the best match for your plans and projects.

But whatever you buy make sure you check the alignment of the headstock and tailstock first. I see this pretty often that people getting frustrated with aligning issues.

See if any major part is broken or missing, like pulleys belts. Sometimes, parts come faulty from the manufacturer, and here is why you need good backend customer support.

All those 14 wood lathes I recommended are well-known branded and used by so many woodturners on a daily basis and they are getting good support from the manufacturer.

So, you can always call them to sort out any shipping issues within the warranty period.

Always remember that the lathe is not the only thing you are going to need. There are additional parts, consumables, and woodturning tools that are also important just as the wood lathe. And of course you’ll want to use the best woods for turning – article here.

So it’s okay to be skeptical about things before spending on them. Plan according to your budget.

Have a great day and let me know if I missed any wood lathe, I will update it.

Turn Big, Turn Safe. Welcome to the turning world!