6 Best Wood Lathes in 2022 (Top Pick, Review & Guide)

If you want to become a woodworker, you must have access to a wood lathe. Using our tools, you can professionally turn any wood stock into furniture, statues, and various other items. It is useful to have a wood lathe around the workshop. You will find out which wood lathe is the best for your workshop in this review.


WEN 3421

Product Description

Use the WEN 8-Inch by 12-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe to turn as many table legs as possible. Rotation speed can be adjusted between 750 and 3200 revolutions per minute. With MT1 spindle and tailstock taper features, the WEN 8-Inch by 12-Inch Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe grips workpieces tightly and provides two tool rests (4-1/2 inches and 7 inches) for holding tools during an operation, and features a 2A motor. Both the tailstock and tool rest can be easily adjusted using the lever clamping system. For turning bowls, cups, and other non-spindle workpieces, the WEN Wood Lathe comes with a six-inch faceplate, a headstock spur center, a tailstock cup center, a knockout rod, and a flat wrench. In addition to the two-year warranty, you’ll have access to our nationwide network of service technicians and friendly customer service.

WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8″ by 12″ Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • 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

Things we love about it

  • It is very portable.
  • Suitable for smaller workpieces.
  • There are two tool rests.
  • It is more affordable.

Things we should consider

  • A little bit less powerful than most.
  • Use for personal purposes only.

JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe

Product Description

The motor can deliver speeds between 60 and 3600 revolutions per minute (RPMs), which can be adjusted via a knob. A switch allows the lathe to switch smoothly from forward to reverse. By using the unique ratchet-style belt tensioning system, you can easily adjust the belt tension while changing wood projects.

We liked the smooth operation, particularly the high RPMs provided by the JET JWL-1221VS, and our only criticism is that it’s a touch hefty at 136 pounds, and the motor rests under the headstock, which collects a lot of shavings and dust. It has a swing of 12 inches and a distance between centers of 21 inches.

JET 12″ x 21″ Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe, 1 HP, 115V 1Ph (Model JWL-1221VS)
  • Choose from three optimally-designed speed ranges (60-900/110-1,800/220-3,600)
  • Innovative ratchet-style belt tension system (patent pending)
  • Redesigned controls feature a larger DRO and recessed power switch
  • Forward to reverse is a smooth transition
  • Integrated, spring-loaded spindle lock

Things we love about it

  • A speed range of 60 – 3600 RPM. 
  • Both forwards and backward. 
  • An adjustable tensioning system using a ratchet. 
  • The spindle lock is spring-loaded.

Things we should consider

  • The weight is 136 pounds. 
  • As shavings and dust accumulate under the headstock, the motor collects them.

SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe

Product Description

With its 12-inch workspace, the SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe is suitable for working on small projects. There are two different tool rests for different turning tasks. There are variable speeds and a 1/3 HP engine that produces up to 3,20Even though it is made of durable cast iron, the entire machine weighs only 52 pounds. 

Even when working on small projects, the SHOP FOX W1704 would bog down, and the knobs would get loose from vibration when used. It has a 12-inch swing between centers.

SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
  • 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

Things we love about it

  • Has greater power. 
  • It has a faceplate of 5 ¾” in diameter. 
  • There are two tool rests. 
  • The cost is lower. 
  • The construction is cast iron. 
  • The speed is adjustable.

Things we should consider

  • Loose knobs. 
  • Lack of power. 
  • Difficult to use

Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable

Product Description

There is a variable speed controller on the Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe that will allow you to adjust the motor speed from 1,725 RPM to 700 RPM. The 1212-inch swing is perfect for smaller projects, and different pulleys change the RPM range. The belt tensioning system allows quick adjustments and weighs about 100 pounds.

A big complaint we had with the Delta Industrial 46-460 was the uneven bed, which made using the tools difficult in certain areas. The forward and reverse switches were installed backward, so it vibrates quite a bit at higher RPMs. Apparently, everyone has a backward switch. We checked the internet to make sure we were the only ones.

Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-inch Variable-Speed MIDI Lathe, Gray
  • 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

Things we love about it

  • The motor is 1 HP. 
  • The speed is 1725 revolutions per minute. 
  • It has a variable speed. 
  • There are three speeds on the pully. 
  • The tensioning system is patent-pending.

Things we should consider

  • There was no smoothness to the bed. 
  • The vibrations occur. 
  • Backward wired forward/reverse switch

Nova 71118 Comet II DR Midi Lathe

Product Description

A 344 horsepower motor drives the Nova 71118 Comet II DR Midi Lathe at speeds between 250 and 4,000 RPM. With the convenient digital readout, you can monitor the speed of the wood. With a 16-inch center spacing and a 12-inch swing, the machine can handle most small jobs, and it comes with a forward/reverse switch to accommodate different types of jobs. At 82 pounds, the machine weighs fairly light and has a six-inch tool rest that can be adjusted and is an adequate size.

The Nova 71118 had a problem with bogging down even under slight pressure, and our digital readout burned out after a few months.

Nova 71118 Comet II DR – Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System, 12”, Powerful Electronic 3/4 HP Variable Speed with Digital Readout
  • Speed Range – This Nova Lathe has a speed range of 250-4000 RPM with its powerful electronic variable speed motor.
  • Forward and reverse switch – Forward and Reverse Switch offers additional flexibility with the Nova Lathe and allows you to achieve a superior finish.
  • Capacities of 12” swing over bed and 16.5” between centers, expandable to 42“with an available bed extension accessory.
  • 3” Faceplate, 6” Tool rest, Spur-Drive Center, Live Tailstock Center, Knockout Bar, Manual with parts breakdown and fasteners. Lathe Handwheel Unit.
  • Warranty – 1 Year full replacement on motor, 5 Year full replacement on all other parts.

Things we love about it

  • The display is digital. 
  • It spins between 250 and 4000 RPMs. 
  • Upgradeable. 
  • Reversible forward switch.

Things we should consider

  • The price is higher. 
  • There is a lack of quality control. 
  • Burnout of the digital readout. 
  • Slows down.

RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe

Product Description

An easy-access speed change system allows the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe to deliver speeds between 430 and 3900 RPMs. It allows you to cut bowls with a 12-inch swing, and it has 16-inch centers between centers. You can save time and frustration by using the self-ejecting tailstock when removing a center. The bed can be expanded for larger projects, and it weighs only about 90 pounds.

There wasn’t much power in the RIKON’s 12-HP motor, and it bogged down no matter how gentle you were. Although the speed-changing system isn’t hard, it can get tedious if you have to change speeds frequently during a project. The protective cover is also loose despite the tightness of the bolts.

RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
  • Easy Access Speed Change: Provides ample room to change speeds quickly
  • Self Ejecting Tail Stock: No need to use the knock-out bar to remove the center
  • Laser engraved ram with 2-1/2-Inch travel
  • Ability to Add Multiple Extensions
  • 1/2HP Motor

Things we love about it

  • Changing the speed is easy. 
  • Tailstock that self-ejects. 
  • Speeds up to 500 RPMs at a minimum. 
  • The device is somewhat portable. 
  • Has a lower price.

Things we should consider

  • It is not the most powerful. 
  • The faceplate is not present. 
  • A ½-HP motor. 
  • Changing speeds is tedious. 
  • There is a problem with the protective cover closing properly.

Buying Guide

It’s possible to look at a wood lathe as an intimidating machine, but there are only a few key components you need. When shopping for a wood lathe, there are a few things you should keep in mind.


When you press your tools against your project, you will continue to bog down since you will not have enough torque. You can change speed by pulling pulleys and using other methods, but horsepower is responsible for torque. A machine capable of handling all your tools is highly recommended unless you are going to limit yourself to creating pens and pencils.

Distance between Centers

Your wood is held in place by the centers, and the space between them determines how long your wood can be. The majority of the instruments on this list have a 16-inch gap between centers. However, it can vary a lot, and you can make it longer by adding more components to the lathe.


The width of your wood when it’s installed on the centers before it bumps the table is referred to as a swing. You can handle a larger project with a larger swing value, so get the biggest you can afford until you know you’ll need it.


High RPMs will, in most situations, result in a speedier process and a nicer finish. The tools will not cut well if the lady does not move quickly enough, and they may grasp the wood, generating chips.

Variable Speed

The ability to change the speed of a wood lathe is crucial. Dials and pulleys are just a couple of options for altering the speed. We discovered that dialing in speed is the greatest option because it can often be done in real-time.


When buying a wood lathe, it’s important to think about how much it weighs. The majority of the models on this list weigh less than 100 pounds, although they can weigh much more. Before purchasing and lathe, make sure you can handle the weight, especially during assembling.

Final Word

We recommend choosing a wood lathe with a high RPM and plenty of space between centers. With 21-inches between centers and a powerful motor that can reach 3600 RPMs, the JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe is our pick for the best wood lathe. Our engine didn’t bog down during our projects, and it remained cool. If you are looking for a less expensive model to get you started with smaller projects, the WEN 3421 Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe is another great option. It’s still a powerful engine, and at 55 pounds, it’s almost portable. Please let us know how our reviews helped you choose the right wood lathe for your needs.

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