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Buyer’s Guide

If you are committed to woodworking, then you know that buying a lathe is not something to take lightly. It is important to get yourself an efficient tool that is within your budget.

It would be wrong to walk into a shop and pick the first lathe that you see on display, because it may end up being unsuitable for your needs.

Intensive market research is necessary, but we have narrowed down the task for you by listing some of the most important things to look out for. Here are some of the key features to consider when buying the best wood lathe for the money.

  • The power switch: One of the major features to look out for in a top wood lathe is the positioning of the power switch. Its size should also be considered.This is because when you are working on your piece, your hands are usually supporting it because the turner on a lathe only holds the cutting tool. Therefore, it is important to get yourself a lathe whose power switch is easily accessible to allow more seamless operations.
  • The tailstock: This rotating pin is instrumental in keeping the spindle centered as well as rotating evenly. Ensure that the tailstock is in a secure place along the bed. This helps you to make the type of turning you desire.
  • The headstock and motor: The headstock is located on the opposite end of the tailstock. If you intend to turn big bowls, the headstock has to rotate away from the base to provide the needed clearance.You want to get a piece of equipment that suits your style of woodworking. The motor of your lathe is another key feature.Most lathes have motors with a horsepower ranging from 1 – 3 HP and variable speed controls from 500 to 4000 RPM. Keep in mind that a bigger motor will allow you to turn a larger workpiece.
  • The tool rest: The tool rest is one of the safety features on a lathe, and it is imperative to review it before you buy one. When you are turning, ensure that your tool will rest against the tool rest.This means that the tool rest should be in a secure position, and it should be adjustable to suit a preferred position. The tool rest can be alternated with a bed mount to allow you to work with different sizes of wood.
  • The base: Regardless of the lathe you purchase, ensure that it has a solid table or bed. Ideally, it should be made of cast iron to minimize vibration as your workpiece turns on the motor.The base of your lathe should be solid and heavy for safety purposes as well. Moreover, keep in mind the length of the base. There are lathes whose beds can be extended, allowing for more versatility. After all, isn’t the purpose of a lathe to make your woodworking easier?
  • The cost: When you are looking for a wood lathe, consider your budget limits. Keep in mind that whether a product is cheap or expensive, the value is what matters. Get yourself high-quality equipment that doesn’t exceed your spending limits.


When it comes to getting yourself a lathe, it is important to have as much information as possible regarding the equipment. This ensures that you have the right product for your needs. Fortunately, we understand this, and that is why we have compiled the best wood lathe reviews.

There are numerous brands out there, and you don’t want to get a lathe that neither increases your level of productivity nor the value for your money. We hope you get the best out of these wood lathe reviews.


Jet JWL-1440VSK

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The first item on our list is the Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe. This product is ideal for those who love working with wood and are willing to dig deep into their pockets for high-quality equipment.

This wood lathe is a good height off the ground to enable you to carry out your woodworking comfortably. It also has an ergonomic design and weighs a good 400 pounds. This weight is effective in reducing the vibration during spinning. It also goes a long way to guarantee your workplace safety.

“This lathe operates at speeds of between 400 and 3000 RPM, enabling you to turn woods with distinct measurements. It also comes with an improved tailstock quill locking and an anti-rotation key to help keep the spindle securely in place.”

Interestingly, the Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe is designed with a sliding headstock that pivots 360 degrees and has seven positive locking positions at 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 270 degrees.

These angles allow you to adjust your tool accordingly for maximum comfort. Even if it is your first time using this lathe, you should not experience much difficulty because it has an easy-to-read RPM display. Moreover, its tool rest has a positive locking with redesigned clamping.

The lathe is also an ideal choice for those looking to use a piece of equipment with an expandable base because it comes with optional extension bed mounts in three different positions. Its durability is also unquestionable as it comes with a 5-year warranty.


  • It has a clear display to allow you to see its speed.
  • Its weight helps to minimize vibration, which increases stability.
  • This lathe runs at speeds from 400 to 3000 RPM.
  • It comes with adequate horsepower and voltage to provide the power needed.
  • It has an optional extension bed mount in three different positions to increase versatility.


  • Its motor is located on the right side, which may limit some users.
  • Its speed control knob tends to be resistant when operating at greater speeds.

RIKON Power Tools 70-105 Mini Lathe

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The next item on our list is the RIKON Power Mini Lathe. This is one of the most affordable lathes on the market that functions quite efficiently. This lathe is not only inexpensive but also very light. It weighs 75 pounds and it measures 35.5 x 10.5 x 14.8 inches.

Do not let the small size fool you, however, because this lathe has an outage of 120 volts, and it is very sturdy.

This is the best inexpensive wood lathe because it is designed with a heavy cast iron bed, tailstock, and headstock to minimize vibration and enhance stability.

Whether you are a novice or expert wood turner, the RIKON Power Tools 70-105 Mini Lathe should be easy to operate. Its 1/2 motor delivers adequate power to deal with a number of applications.

This is an efficient tool for a woodworker who moves from one location to another because of its suitable and portable design. The RIKON Mini Lathe is also designed with a machined bed and matching components that deliver accurate alignment.

This lathe is easily comparable to the others on this list, and it has a stylish design. The fact that it can be used for a wide range of applications makes it an ideal tool for your woodshop.


  • It is inexpensive.
  • It is versatile.
  • It has a lightweight design.
  • It is very easy to use, and it has all the features to carry out different tasks.


  • Its tailstock is weak.
  • It is not suitable for heavier woodworking tasks.


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Moving forward, we have the JET Variable Speed Wood Lathe. This is a mini lathe that is suitable for individuals who do not want a full-sized lathe.

Despite being a mini lathe, don’t mistake it for being light. This device weighs a good 129.8 pounds, and you may be required to dig deeper into your pockets if you choose this lathe.

The JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe is also made of cast iron to help reduce vibration and provide a more comfortable experience. 

Working with wood requires precision, and this lathe is designed with a 1 HP motor with a sped control rate of up to 3600 RPM. This is more than enough power to carry out a wide range of woodworking.

In addition to its sufficient power, controlling this lathe is also quite easy because all the controls are situated in a central location for easy accessibility, even when you are handling a workpiece.

That’s not all: This lathe is designed with a digital display that lets you see the speeds your equipment is operating at. Interestingly, it also features optimally designed speed ranges.

One of the most interesting details of this mini lathe is that forward to reverse is a smooth transition, which does not require you to turn off your lathe.

It also has a sturdy tailstock that contains both metric and imperial measurements for easier operation. Moreover, it has an innovative ratchet-style belt tension system, albeit patent pending.


  • The device has a digital RPM readout.
  • The benchtop is compact, making it ideal for light or medium woodwork.
  • There is no need to switch it off when moving from forward to reverse.
  • It is heavy, which reduces vibration.
  • It includes a 5-year warranty.
  • The ratchet-style belt tension system allows for fast belt changes.


  • It does not include accessories.
  • It is expensive.
  • You may require extensions for wood pieces longer than 21 inches.

PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS

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If you own a wood shop, you may often wonder what kind of lathe to get yourself to get the most efficient results. If you are in such a situation, you might consider starting with the PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS.

This lathe will not only save you some money but also get the job done. The KWL-1218VS replaces the TCLC12VS, which is listed and certified by Intertek.

With this lathe, one thing you will not have to worry about is its performance. This outstanding tool is powered by a 1 H variable speed high-performance induction motor plus an SBC microprocessor.

This device also operates at 120 volts. Its power is further enhanced by the fact that it has two belt positions. One operates at a speed range from 500 – 1800 RPM, while the second operates at a speed range from 1950 to 3800 RPM.

This lathe also comes with a 3-year warranty. It is considered to be one of the most powerful and advanced lathes in its class. It is also easy to use, and it is designed to provide precision control.

This precision is further enhanced by the digital readout to easily see the operating speeds.

Enjoy turning wood in your shop using the PSI Woodworking Turn Crafter Commander and some of the accessories that come with it. This lathe includes a tool storage rack that keeps your tools in check.

It also comes with a 6 and 12-inch tool rest, an 18-inch flex cable, safety goggles, tailstock handle and bolts, a knockout rod, four rubber feet, a Philips screwdriver, a set of 4 hex wrenches and many other accessories.

Keep in mind that this lathe’s motor may operate slower or faster. It also features built-in handles.


  • It is economically priced.
  • It has a great digital readout on the variable speed.
  • Its controls are well-positioned to allow smooth operation.
  • It includes numerous accessories.
  • It has a great handwheel.
  • It has a sturdy cast iron base.


  • It does not come with instructions.
  • The lathe does not include a reversing switch.
  • It can be slow when dealing with a big piece of wood.

NOVA 1624 II

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What would any woodturner do without the right set of equipment? This wood lathe is one of the best on the market, and anyone would be privileged to own and use it. However, you may be required to spend more with this tool.

With a 5-year warranty on parts and components and a 2-year warranty on the motor, the quality of this lathe is undisputed. It is also fully made of cast iron to provide sturdy and reliable usage.

The NOVA 124 II is designed with a powerful 1.5 HP motor that delivers 50 percent more power than other lathes within its category.

It also operates at a great speed range from 215 to 3600 RPM for USA and Canada, and 178 to 3000 RPM for the rest of the world. Its capability to run at low speeds makes it suitable for bowl turning.

Interestingly, the 1624 is designed with a 360 degree swivel head. This allows you to position your workpiece in your preferred spot, allowing workmanship that is more comfortable.

Besides its effective swivel head, it also has a 2MT hollow tailstock, which enables it to be more versatile.

Another cool feature is the adjustable vibration dampening stand that helps to keep the tool stable as you spin the wood. What’s more, you can adjust the feet to match up to the floor level. It also comes with lots of accessories.


  • It has a powerful 1.5HP motor.
  • The stand is adjustable to reduce vibration.
  • It is made of high-quality and sturdy materials.
  • It comes with a 5-year warranty on parts and components and a 2-year warranty on the motor.
  • Its 360 degree swivel head allows for comfortable positioning.
  • It has a reversible motor.
  • It is highly versatile.


  • Assembly requires at least two people.
  • The tailstock tends to fidget.

Delta Industrial 46-460

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Most woodturners need to find themselves a good lathe, but the main challenge is finding what to start with. That is why we could not omit the Delta Industrial Variable-Speed Midi Lathe in our review.

This lathe is easily portable because of its lightweight design. It is designed with a powerful 1 HP motor with speed control of 1725 RPM.

This lathe has a large 12 ½- inch swing capacity, which is actually the largest compared to other lathes in its class. Interestingly, this lathe has continuous speed control.

You can change the speed between three ranges: 250 to 750 RPM, 600 to 1800 RPM, and 1350 to 4000 RPM. Keep in mind that the high range at higher RPMs makes it suitable for turning large pieces of wood.

It also has a forward and reversing function that lets you achieve an outstanding finish. Moreover, it is designed with a patented belt tensioning system that allows you to change and set the belt in the perfect position easily and quickly.

This delivers the needed power and increases the durability of the lathe.


  • It comes with a five-year warranty.
  • It provides excellent performance at a great price.
  • It is made of sturdy materials, increasing durability.
  • It has a dual speed control – manual and automatic.
  • It has a forward and reversing action to deliver the ultimate finish.


  • The center-to-center distance in this lathe is relatively short.
  • It has no digital speed readout.

Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B

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The last item in our review is the Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35-Inch Wood Lathe with RPM Digital Readout.

The lathe is not only the most expensive option on this list but also the heaviest. This lathe is most suitable for commercial and professional purposes given that its price is relatively high. It is not ideal for home use.

This lathe also has a powerful 2 HP motor, and it operates at 220 volts. The lathe also has two ranges: 125 – 3500 RPM and 50 – 1500 RPM. It is designed with a digital readout, and woodturners can switch the speed through the variable-speed controls.

It is made of heavy-duty cast iron, enhancing its durability and functionality. Moreover, it comes with all the necessary accessories.


  • It has a powerful motor for the best performance.
  • It has an inbuilt spindle for routine flutes.
  • It comes with a digital readout.
  • Its heavy design eliminates vibration.
  • It is very versatile.
  • It has a great design.


  • This wood lathe has to be assembled.
  • It is not portable.
  • It is pricey.

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