15 Best Wood Lathes: A New Survey on 400 Active Turners

Turning wood is an addictive profession for every woodturner. Once you’re in, you are likely to get drowned in the deep blue ocean of passion and latent happiness of creativity.

This is not just another hobby, but one of the most historical-artistic professions that have been giving so many people the bread and butter they need.

So, choosing your wood lathe wisely for the best value is critical as you need a healthy vessel to sail through that ocean with excellent navigation.

Whether it’s the Lathe or the woodturning tools, you can save some money on the table if you do some research before buying.

Here I will show you how I surveyed 400 active woodturners to find the best one for myself out of many, and I couldn’t help sharing the results with you.

Whether you are a veteran or just a beginner wanting to take your first ride to understand, I think this guide has it all that would be enough to help you with your decision.

Now without wasting any more time, let’s see what this is all about.

Disclaimer: As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases. This means no extra cost to you. I will only promote products that give the best values.

Contents show

Here is the list of 15 best wood lathes of 2021 and beyond

"two men practicing on white lathe machine with chisels in hand"
  1. Best For Big Projects
  2. Best For Medium Size Projects
  3. Best For Small Woodturning Projects
  4. Best Wood Lathe Under $1000
  5. Best Wood Lathe Under $500
  6. Alternative Options

About the survey on active woodturners

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 favorite 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 turners consider before buying?

GroupsFeatures they look for
People want full-sized latheBig powerful motor that runs quietly
Swiveling headstock
Steel Bed
Weight
Height
Adjustable variable Speed Control
Reverse
Customer Service
People want small lathesAccessories availability
Cast Iron
Direct drive
Smoother
Budget

2. What are the most popular wood lathes by size?

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. Grizzly H8259
5. Jet JWL 1015
6. Wen 3421

Essential tips for first-time 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

One thing I always suggest to everyone that, 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: 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 the former 3520A and B from the classic and all-time best wood lathe brand- Powermatic. I mean, if you ask any 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.

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

I know that there is luxurious American Beauty with 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 or even more once you have one. In other words, this wood lathe is always there as the most 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 powerhouse.

2. Laguna Revo 2436: 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 great heavyweight contender day by day among the turners besides Powermatic, Oneway, Vicmark, or the 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 beside 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: 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 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 the 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 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 for medium size 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 the best wood lathe for the Medium tier of all time.

Jet is the most common wood lathe used to teach in the 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 skeptical person, and I always spend a brief time before picking my machines and tools.

What makes it great?

Look the torque at the lowest RPM it can sustain, just 60! This true one HP motor produces enough torque to keep it alive during 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 went 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 brands out there.

Not only hype but a pure class in the business. This one is also horsepower with variable speed, and 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. Wen 3424T five speed wood lathe: Great option for the money

"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 300 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 projects.

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

Best 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. PSI Turncrafter Commander KWL- 1018VS: The overall best

"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 the 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. 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 motor 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 the DIY turners.

3. Wen 3421 variable speed wood lathe: Great option for the money

"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 a fair use out of it. You have all the options, so now you be the judge.

My Top Pick: Grizzly G0766

"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

Reason I bought G0766

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 prefer the 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. (I will upload some photos here pretty soon).

Best wood lathe under $1000: Grizzly Industrial G0462

"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 best wood lathe 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. 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.

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.

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 under 1000 dollars also.

Best wood lathe under $500: 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 and the best you can find under 500 dollars.

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 center 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 for the best wood lathe spot that will deliver what you need effectively. I talked about its high performance and a few reasons make this lathe a powerful machine.

Key Update (11/12/2020): Teknatool has recently upgraded this unit into a new model that is not yet on Amazon. So, if you don’t find it, then I would recommend going for the Delta 46-460 Midi as it is the closest match for the price.

Key Update (12/3/2020): The new unit is available now but with 50 bucks more on the price tag. It’s still less than the Delta so, the call is up to you. Both of these lathes are great for handling a maximum of 12″ bowls.

4 Alternative wood lathes you can buy also

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. With a 1HP variable speed motor, it can deal with any task than a robust midi lathe, like the 1221vs. You are also getting a 36 indexing position plus the sliding headstock.

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

I haven’t had a hand on it, but I’ve seen people turning on this, and the best part for me was the 14″ tool rest. That is big enough to cover an extended area without shifting it repeatedly while turning a long and thick spindle.

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.

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.

2. Nova 1624 II Eight-Speed wood lathe

"Full black with little red colored lathe Nova-1624-II-8-speed-wood-lathe in a white background"
  • 16″ swing and 24″ between the centers
  • Motor: 1.5 HP AC motor, 115V, 60Hz
  • RPM: 214 – 3,600 RPM (USA/Canada), 178 – 3,000 RPM (rest of world)
  • Variable speed
  • Both forward and reverse
  • Swivel Head 360°
  • Outboard Turning: 29″
  • Spindle and tailstock taper: #2MT
  • Spindle thread: 1-1/4″ X 8 TPI RH
  • Swing over tool rest: 13-1/2″
  • Tool rest: 12″
  • Weight: 276lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years full replacement on motor and 5 years on all other parts

When you are looking for a machine, one of the first elements you consider is durability. After all, durability will prove its worth in the long run, giving you the possibility to have extended periods of work.

They have to endure many working hours to take plenty of abuse as well. So, if you require the most optimum and resistant machine, this is where the NOVA 1624 comes into play.

Things that I like most:

The 215 RPM allows you to have a consistent performance, which is decisive while working on projects like bowl turning. You can work on small pieces with more accuracy and precision, but you could use the machine to create more significant projects as well.

Like all other durable wood lathes, It also uses strong steel and excellent quality cast iron materials. They reduce the vibration and the noise, significantly creating a comfortable experience.

Moreover, Nova 1624 II uses a 1.5 horsepower AC motor capable of delivering energy to make accurate and smooth results. It also has a 360° Swivel head that will give you the freedom of work from any position that will save significant space in your workplace.

You can also change the speed by opening the large access panel and changing the belt position on the step pulleys.

however, the only common complaint you might hear sometimes from the user is about the sloppy customer service they provide.

3. Grizzly H8259 wood lathe

"Paste colored midi lathe Grizzly-H8259 in a white background"
  • Motor: 1/2 HP, 110V, single-phase, 7A
  • Swing over bed: 10″
  • Distance between centers: 18″
  • Swing over tool rest: 6-1/4″
  • Tailstock travel: 3-1/4″
  • Speeds: 826, 1205, 1713, 2422, 3337 RPM
  • Tool rest width: 5-3/4″
  • Overall dimensions: 36″ L x 11-1/2″ W x 15″ H
  • Approximate shipping weight: 78 lbs.

This 10” mini wood lathe could be a perfect alternative to the best mini wood lathes I mentioned earlier. The only thing that kept this lathe behind the PSI is evidently the variable speed control.

Honestly, if it were not for the variable speed control, then the Grizzly H8259 could easily knock out the PSI. It is a real ½ HP 5 speed lathe that starts from 826 RPM to 3337 RPM with excellent customer feedback. And, that is what it takes to do most of the spindle work, quite precisely.

Moreover, you will get a one-year parts warranty from Grizzly, and that goes for every lathe they sell, even with the full-sized.

Besides, you can fit any jaw chuck as it is a standard 1” x 8 TPI thread. So, again all in all it’s a great piece of mini wood lathe.

I could have easily placed it for the runner-up mini, but with almost the same features and capacity, this one costs a few hundred bucks more than the Rockler production.

In short, this is a perfect model for a novice to start turning.It’s also a good standby option for many commercial woodturners I came to know.

4. 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 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 the manualslib.com as an alternative.

How big of a lathe do I need?

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

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.

What lathe is ideal for beginners?

Please go through my beginner’s wood lathe guide that I referred at the beginning. I have listed some of the best options you can find as a beginner. I hope that would help you.

But if I needed to answer directly, then I would say go for the Jet 1221vs, it’s worth it.

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 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.

Last few words:

So that’s pretty much it. I hope you can now decide which wood lathe would perfectly match 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 customer support.

All those 15 wood lathes I recommended are branded and used by so many woodturners on a daily basis and they are getting good support from the backend. 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 and woodturning tools that are also important just as the lathe.

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!

2 thoughts on “15 Best Wood Lathes: A New Survey on 400 Active Turners”

  1. In your research, did you get any feedback on the Nova Galaxi DVR? It seems to have an unreal range of 100-5000 rpm and a sensor that will increase or decrease your speed depending on the load so you maintain a constant RPM. I have read one review that didnt like their customer service, but beyond that there is not much out there for reviews.

    1. Hi Steve how are you doing?

      Galaxy is one hell of a lathe, and I know several Teknatool owners.
      Yes, the control electronics try to maintain the RPM and yes it’s fairly accurate. Probably not “clock” accurate, but certainly close enough for the purposes.

      The answer is also relative to what you’re turning. A light spindle for example doesn’t have much mass and can therefore be slowed down easier whereas a large and heavy bowl blank has more inertia to help maintain RPMs. Take the NOVA DVR XP for example. It doesn’t have the newer electronics panel so the machine only goes up to 3500RPMs but I believe it works the same as the Galaxy.

      Hope this helps

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