Best Wood Lathe Reviews – Best Lathe to Buy Guide 2018 Comparison Chart

/Best Wood Lathe Reviews – Best Lathe to Buy Guide 2018 Comparison Chart
Best Wood Lathe Reviews – Best Lathe to Buy Guide 2018 Comparison Chart 2018-01-23T05:47:59+00:00

If you are interested in getting started in woodworking or are looking to purchase an upgrade tool, you have come to the right place. Wood turning is becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation and is an excellent hobby with potential to create something, earn a side income and create amazing gifts for your loved ones.

The goal of this article is to provide you with the information you need in order to purchase the absolute best wood lathe available today. Our guide will discuss the important things you should look our for, what kind of pros and cons each instrument presents and how to avoid the most common pitfalls. We will also go over the accessories you might want to invest in, what kind of gear is optional and which is highly recommended, what you need to purchase for maintenance and more.

What is a Wood Lathe?

The simplest definition of a wood lathe is a tool which allows shaping of material (metal, wood, etc.) around a horizontal axis on a fixed platform. The piece of material is rotated about the horizontal axis which allows the user to sculpt many intricate shapes through the use of auxiliary tools. This process is called wood turning or wood carving and is not possible to achieve through any other means than a traditional wood lathe milling machine.

Although hand sculpting is also an art form of its own, it does not quite provide the same result or level of accuracy a wood lathe does. It thus makes it an indispensable tool for any wood workshop or hobbyist interested in wood turning.

A wood lathe can be used for multiple projects. These include the popular bowl turning, pen turning and spindle turning, but also the less common ones such as fishing lure turning, bottle stopper, round boxes, plates, etc.

Best Wood Lathe Reviews

Different Types of Lathes

There are quite a few choices when it comes to lathes. The main distinction is the size. You should be familiar with what is out there in order to make an educated choice about what you need. Therefore, we will discuss the three most common types of lathes you will hear about: Mini Lathe, Midi Lathe and Full Size Lathe. That being said, we will also briefly cover the traditional types, such as Engine Lathes, Toolroom lathes and others. Those terms typically relate to the functionality of a lathe and are more commonly used for large industrial workshops.

Best Lathe to Buy Guide 2018 Comparison Summary

We will go into detailed reviews of each lathe, but for those of you who simply can’t wait, we have the full summary table which outlines each lathe.

Although we encourage you to scroll below and read the detailed guide, we understand if you want to look up the manufacturers and proceed with your purchases right away.

Product Image Type Our Rating
Jet JWL-1015 Jet JWL-1015 Wood Lathe Review Guide Mini Lathe
NOVA 46300 Comet II NOVA 46300 Comet II Wood Lathe Review Midi Lathe
Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B Wood Lathe Review Full Size Lathe
Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe Review Full Size Lathe
Delta Industrial 46-460 Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe Midi Lathe

Jet JWL-1015 Mini Wood Lathe Review

Overview

The new JWL-1015 Lathe by Jet is an excellent choice for a beginner and an experienced woodworker alike. It is a mini lathe packed with features. It is affordable, user friendly and will provide hours of joy to a woodworking enthusiast. It is a full cast iron bed lathe featuring a 15-1/2″ bed frame, six spindle speeds, integrated position indexing as well as an easy access tensioning system. Furthermore, this lathe can be upgrades with a separately sold kit in order to extend the bed length and add full legs. This essentially converts this lathe into a full standalone tool.

Data Sheet
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Main Features

  • 15-1/2” between centers

  • Six spindle speeds: 500, 840, 1240, 1800, 2630 and 3975

  • Integrated 24 position indexing

  • Improved tensioning system with easier access to belts

  • Wider bed ways provide increased rigidity

Full Review

The Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe is a mini lathe that packs quite a bit of features. It is a the perfect tool for some one who is either interested in getting started in woodworking, wants to work on smaller projects or simply does not have the space for a full sized lathe. It features a solid cast iron build and has most of the important features you would expect.

The lathe is driven by a 1/2 HP (0.37kW) induction motor (The JWL-1015VS features a brushed DC motor) capable of variable speeds through a belt system. The speed selections are 500, 840, 1240, 1800, 2630 and 3975 RPM. The lathe features a 10 inch (254mm) clearance for the swing over the bed, a distance of 15.5 inches (393.7mm) between the spindle centers of the headstock and tailstock.

The spindle bore on the headstock is of a standard size: 3/8 inches (9.5mm). The headstock also allows for 24 indexing positions.

As mentioned before, the guys at Jet did not compromise on materials for this beast. All of the components, including the bed, headstock, tailstock, tool support as well as the tool support base, are made out of cast iron.

Lastly, the entire lathe comes in at 77lb (35kg)

Although this is a mini lathe, not everyone is looking to work on large projects or has the space for the full sized tool. The 1/2 HP motor of the JWL-1015 is plenty powerful for most projects you can think of. The advantages which come with owning a smaller lathe is ease of transportation, storage and maintenance.

The belt system is superior to most of the other belted lathes. It features an easy access point which saves you time on speed changes and allows you to do so in a safer way. This is actually a patented technology by Jet.

All things considered, this lathe has not received a rating below 4.5 stars on any major retailer. It is an absolute slam dunk when it comes to woodworking.

Optional Accessories

As we had mentioned before, the lathe manufacturer has foreseen that some of you may need to upgrade your lathe. They thus decided to release three accessories which you should consider at the time of purchase or laster on.

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46300 Comet II Midi Wood Lathe Review

Overview

The NOVA Come 12″ Midi Wood Lathe is equipped with a powerful 3/4HP Permanent Magnet DC Motor. This engine offers a variable speed setting from 250 to 4000 RPM. The 12″ refers to the swing capacity which is plenty for most of the projects you can think of. The bed length or spindle distance is of 16.5 inches and is expandable (using a manufacturer upgrade kit) up to 41.5 inches. Such a capacity will give you the ability to turn absolutely anything.

The unique approach from NOVA is a patented technology which allows the user to upgrade and customize their equipment. This lathe is no different. The additional kits and accessories can turn your lathe into a complete workshop.

Lastly, this tool is backed by a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer and covers the motor and all electronics. Furthermore, a 2 year warranty is also provided on all other parts excluding the motor.

Data Sheet
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Main Features

  • Speed range from 250 to 4000rpm

  • 12″ swing over bed and 16.5″ between centers

  • Quick Action Cam Controls

  • 3 Step Pulley System to dial in low, medium and high speed ranges.

  • 3/4HP Electronic Variable Speed Motor.

  • Precision Machining

Full Review

Starting with the specifications of this lathe, we have a 77.2lbs (35Kg) beast on our hands. The overall dimensions are 29.3 inches (744mm) in length and 14.5 inches (370mm) in width. As mentioned in the features section, the lathe has a swing over bed of 12 inches (305mm) and a distance between centers of 16.5 inches (420mm).

The headstock of the lathe comes in with a spindle thread of 1″. The bore is N2 (2MT). The through bore is of a standard size of 3/8″ (10mm). The tailstock is self-ejecting and equipped with a bore of 2MT. The quill travel is of 1.6″ (40.64mm) and the hole through of the tailstock is of 3/8″ (10mm). The tool rest of the Comet II is 6 inches long (150mm) with a shaft diameter of 5/8″ (15mm).

On the electrical side, the Comet II wood lathe comes with a 3/4HP motor capable of outputting 550W. The motor itself is a DC (Permanent Magnet) Variable Speed Drive. A pulley system allows the lathe to be driven at 3 different speed ranges. The available selections are Low Speed – 250 to 680 RPM, Middle Speed – 530 to 1420 RPM and High Speed – 1380 to 4000 RPM.

The lathe itself is a tabletop lathe. It is something that you would use for a lot of your projects, but the bed swing comes in at 12 inches. Therefore, you may be limited in the bowl size you would be capable of turning.

Out of the box, the lathe requires very little assembly. You will need to mount a few handles and wheels after unboxing. You will receive a few extra pieces or accessories with your lathe: Spindle Hand Wheel, Live Tailstock Center of 2MT, Drive Spur of 2MT, a 3″ Faceplate with Reverse Lock, Wrench and a Knockout Bar. You will have everything you need to get started, minus the tools.

The belt has an easy access door. Simply loosen the motor pulley and adjust the belt to the desired position. The variable speed control is also self explanatory and easy to use. There is a toggle switch with a Forward and Reverse selection, a speed dial which is marked for the three ranges and a start/stop pushbutton set.

Some complaints have been expressed over a lack of a cam lock on the tailstock, but the provided clamp left no issue to many others.

As mentioned in the overview, NOVA is proud of their patented upgrade system which allows you to purchase additional accessories for your lathe. Although it may seem like a gimmick, they are quite nice and appreciated by many users. After all, you can transform your lathe into some of the other tools you’d find in a professional shop. These accessories include the following, just to give you and idea: Whet Stone Grinder, Belt Sander, Flexible Shaft Rotating Tool, Grinding Wheel, Sanding Disk, Wire Brush, Wolverine Jig and more.

Optional Accessories

As we had mentioned before, the lathe manufacturer has foreseen that some of you may need to upgrade your lathe. They thus decided to release multiple accessories which you should consider at the time of purchase or laster on.

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Powermatic 3520B Wood Lathe Review

Overview

The Powermatic 3520B is the third version of the time tested reliable wood lathe with new and improved features. It is a full size lathe packed with incredible features that you would expect at this price range. Powermatic made sure to keep all of the ones from the previous versions while adding new ones. The 3520B features a sliding headstock, electronic variable speed control and spindle lock. Enhanced features of this version include an RPM readout, built in spindle indexing on the headstock and a re-designed tailstock with internal storage.

This lathe is the powerhouse of what is available on the current market. If you have the money to spend on a lathe which will last you a lifetime, we definitely recommend the Powermatic 3520B.

Data Sheet
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Main Features

  • Digital RPM readout.

  • 20-inch swing, and 34-1/2-inches between centers.

  • 2-horsepower, 220-volt, variable speed motor.

  • Heavy-duty cast iron assembly.

  • Accessories-include guard, tool rest, face plate, wrench, knockout rod and spindle lock.

  • Backed by 1-year warranty.

Full Review

The 3520B by Powermatic is a full sized lathe. It comes with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a wood lathe at this price point. The working capacity of the tool comes in a 20″ of swing over the bed and a distance of 48″ between the centers. Needless to say, there are very few projects that you wouldn’t be able to complete on this monster.

The lathe comes equipped with a 2HP (1.5kW) induction motor which is internally cooled by a fan. The required voltage for the lathe is 220V and requires either a 1Ph or 3Ph outlet. The drive system driven by this motor is equipped with a V belt and an inverter drive. The recommended circuit breaker for this lathe is of 20 amps.

The headstock can be driven at two distinct speed ranges: High – 125 to 3200 and Low – 50 to 1200 RPM. The spindle thread size is 1-1/4″ and can be driven clockwise or counter clockwise. The tailstock hole through spindle diameter is of 3/8″ and the quill travel is of 4-1/2″ (114mm).

Powermatic did not go cheap on the material; the entire assembly is made out of cast iron. Therefore, it comes in at an astonishing 630lb (286kg). The stand, or the overall floor space required, is of 50″ long and 24″ wide. In other words, you will need to make sure that you have adequate space in your shop for this massive tool.

The control system is quite impressive. The lathe has the obvious start & stop buttons, but also features a fully digital speed control system. At the top of the control panel, you have a digital readout of the current speed. Uncovering the belt compartment, you will see a highly durable belt system which is resistant, long lasting and has absolutely no slip. In addition to the main control panel, the lathe also features a stop button on a long lead wire. This allows you to position it right next to where you are working.

The safety cage can easily be removed, but provides a great safety mechanism for woodworkers. The tool rest as well as the tailstock can easily be relocated and lock in quite nicely into the bed.

Optional Accessories

The Powermatic 3520B Wood Lathe comes with several accessories from the manufacturer. The main one you should consider is the bed extension.

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Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe Review

Overview

The W1758 Wood Lathe by Shop Fox is a great full size lathe. It is equipped with a 2HP single phase motor which provides the user with 10 different speeds.

The heavy duty frame is ideal for an entry level full size lathe. It is sturdy and built to last you for a long time. With a bed swing of 16 inches and a distance between centers of 46 inches, the lathe definitely delivers.

Although it does not have all of the features of the Powermatic we covered above, it does come at a much lower price point. It makes it a great starting point for a newcomer into the hobby or someone who does not require all the bells and whistles.

Data Sheet
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Main Features

  • Motor: 2 HP, 110V, single-phase.

  • Heavy-duty, precision ground cast iron bed and cast iron legs.

  • Lever speed adjustment, 10 speeds: 600 – 2400 RPM.

  • Quick lock/release levers for tailstock and headstock.

  • 6-Inch faceplate, MT#2 spur center, MT#2 live center.

  • Tool rest w/ swivel arm base.

Full Review

The W1758 Wood Lathe by Shop Fox is an excellent addition to any woodworking shop. The build is strong and durable, weighing in at just below 300 pounds.

It comes equipped with an impressive 2HP single phase motor feeding from 110VAC. Although the full load rating is of 14A, the recommended breaker size for this machine comes in at 20 amps. The power transmission, or drive, of the lathe is done through a V-belt drive and shielded, self lubricating bearings.

The swing over bed comes in at 16 inches, while the distance between the centers is limited to 46 inches. Although this lathe does not have a full VFD system, it does allow 10 different speeds within the range of 600 to 2400 RPM.

The spindle Bore, just like the other standard lathes is at 3/8″. The spindle thread size comes in at 1″ and the spindle taper is MT2.

The construction material for this lathe, you guessed it, is cast iron. The paint finish is enamel.

The manufacturer provides a 2 year limited warranty on the tool.

This machine will provide you with hours of pleasure. The sturdy base and well-designed motor / power train system, you can keep on working without worrying about the tool. The features on this lathe are impressive, but you will not see some of the higher end ones. It is definitely a great lathe for the price point. We recommend checking it out and see if it is the right fit for you.

Optional Accessories

The manufacturer of this lathe does not list any lathe specific accessories. However, they do specify several chucks and some tools which can make a good addition for your woodworking set.

Here’s a brief list of these accessories:

  • D1090 Steelex 3-Jaw Chuck for Wood Lathes
  • D1089 Steelex 4-Jaw Chuck for Wood Lathes
  • D2304 Steelex Plus 6-Piece Deluxe Lathe Chisel Set
  • D2250 Steelex 5-Piece Turning Chisel Set
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Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe Review

Overview

The Delta Midi-Lathe is a large lathe for its class with the capacity of 12-1/2″ swing over bed and a 16″ distance between centers. It has a built in pulley system allowing a variable drive of the project without changing the belt position. In fact, the belt tensioning system which allows the user to do that, is patented.

Just like many other lathes, it is made out of cast iron and you can expect a reliable assembly from Delta. The lathe also comes with all the standard features such as ON/OFF switch, Forward/Reverse functionality, 6″ and 10″ tool rests, steel knockout bar and others.

At the lower end of the price points we have covered here, it definitely delivers. If you are looking for a lathe which is small, but packs a punch, you will not go wrong with the Delta Variable Speed Midi Lathe. Make sure to read our full review below.

Data Sheet
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Main Features

  • 1 HP, 120-volt, 60 Hz, 1 phase motor.

  • Electronic variable speed with three speed ranges; 250-750, 600-1350 & 1350-4000 RPM.

  • 12-1/2″ swing over bed.

  • 9-9/16″ swing over base.

  • 16″ distance between centers.

  • Includes 6″ and 10″ tool rests, steel knock out bar, live and spur centers and wrenches.

Full Review

The Delta 46-460 is an excellent midi sized lathe. It comes with all the accessories you might need to get started and a large array of those you can purchase at a later time. The swing over bed is of 12-1/2″ with a distance between centers of 16″ which makes it a great lathe for small to mid size wood turning projects. That being said, if you are looking for a compact tool with a powerful engine, this is exactly what you need.

The variable speed of the lathe is achieved through a patented technology on the belt drive system. This system allows the lathe to be driven at three different speed ranges: 250 to 750, 600 to 1350 and 1350 to 4000. The speed ranges can be varied through a knob on the lathe which makes it quite convenient over the low end lathes which require you to stop and move the belts around.

For the price range of this lathe, you are getting quite a bargain. It comes with standard tooling as well as accessories needed to get you started.

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Tools You Might Want to Consider

We hope that you enjoyed going over our wood lathe reviews and are seriously considering one of those options. Our goal was not to go into detail about some of the other tools you might need as we have a separate guide on that. Make sure to check out our guide on the top wood lathe tools.

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