The Best Wood Lathes for 2019

Best Wood Lathes of 2019 - Top Picks, Reviews & Complete Buying Guide

The most important thing that can be found in every woodworking shop is a wood lathe.

It is a tool necessary for woodwork and every carpenter is aware of its significance.

So, the people who are interested in buying a wood lathe, but cannot decide which one is ideal for them should take a close look at the wood lathe reviews and specifications.

And if you find it difficult to understand the technical terms, by looking at the buying guide after the reviews, everything will be clearer.

As there are so many products on offer, you can save a lot of time and effort by going through the top five wood lathes on the market presented on our website.

Spoiler Alert - Check out my top choice here >>

Top Rated Wood Lathes for 2019

ModelRatingBuy Now
JET JWL-1221VS Benchtop Wood Lathe JET JWL-1221VS Benchtop Wood Lathe
4.0
Check Price
Grizzly H8259 Wood LatheGrizzly H8259 Wood Lathe
4.2
Check Price
RIKON 70-100RIKON 70-100
4.0
Check Price
Delta Industrial 46-460 Wood LatheDelta Industrial 46-460 Wood Lathe
4.2
Check Price
Powermatic 1352001 Wood-LathePowermatic 1352001 Wood-Lathe
4.1
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* Ratings are based on Editor's own opinion.

5 Best Wood Lathes Reviewed

#1. JET JWL-1221VS Benchtop Wood Lathe

Top Pick
JET JWL-1221VS Benchtop Wood Lathe
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The first, and at the same time, the best wood lathe to be mentioned is the Jet JWL-1221VS.

You cannot find better than this one on the market.

It is designed for intermediate to expert woodturners and those are its most frequent buyers.

However, the beginners, in the majority of cases, cannot afford buying it, due to its high price.

What makes this model more attractive than the others is the speed control, which can be either continuous control or discrete control.

The discrete control allows you to determine the spindle speed but only at fixed RPMs, while the continuous control allows you to set the spindle speed at any RPM.

The 1221VS model cones with a digital readout so that you can see the speed at any moment.

Besides its advantages, there are two disadvantages of this model and one of them is the center-to-center distance which requires a bed extension for pieces longer than 21 inches.

Another weakness is its weight, as it is 120 pounds.

Still, it is considered one of the best wood lathes on the market.

Check current price on Amazon >>

Pros

  • Long warranty period
  • Speed control
  • Easy transition

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bed extension should be there for pieces longer than 21 inches
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#2. Grizzly H8259 Wood Lathe

Grizzly H8259 Wood Lathe
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The 1221VS is definitely an extraordinary wood lathe, but its price is quite high and unaffordable to many woodturners.

So, they decide to choose a low-cost solution, and one of the great ones is surely the Grizzly H8259.

This is the best buy when the quality and price are in question.

Grizzly has 60% lower price than the 1221VS.

As it is this much cheaper, you cannot expect to have the same features in the H8259’s as they are in the 1221VS.

There is no continuous speed control, but what the Grizzly model offers are 5 discrete speed settings: 826, 1205, 1713, 2422, and 3337 RPM.

If we compare these two models, we can say that the H8259’s swing over bed is 20 percent less than the 1221’s and that the H8259’s center-to-center distance is 12 percent less than the 1221’s.

If you buy the Grizzly H8259, you will get a one-year warranty.

Check current price on Amazon >>

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Weight
  • Capacity

Cons

  • Warranty period
  • Speed control
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#3. RIKON 70-100

RIKON 70-100
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The third model on our list is the RIKON 70-100.

Even though it is considered a mid-range wood lathe, it is our top pick when it comes to swing over bed.

This model is quite affordable, so you can expect to have some weaknesses.

The RIKON 70-100’s RPM can be set to 810, 1230, 1810, 2670, and 3900 RPM, but the center-to-center distance is only 16 inches.

Still, there is a possibility of adding an extension bed and that way this problem can be solved, as this will increase the machine’s swing.

The warranty period is 5 years and the products offered at such a low price usually do not have such a long warranty.

But, RIKON is sure of its products quality and if you are looking for the best budget friendly machine, this is the one you should buy.

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Pros

  • Number of speeds
  • Affordable
  • Warranty period

Cons

  • Speed control
  • No bed extension
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#4. Delta Industrial 46-460 Wood Lathe

Delta Industrial 46-460 Wood Lathe
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If we compare the 1221VS and the 46-460, which is the fourth on our list, we can say that the 46-460 also comes with continuous speed control, meaning that you can set the speed at 250 to 750 RPM, 600 to 1800 RPM, and 1350 to 4000 RPM.

The main difference is that the 1221VS provides low RPM while the 46-460 provides more high RPMs.

This means that the 46-460 is a great tool for large pieces of wood.

The drawback is that the 46-460 comes without a digital readout so you cannot know the speed.

Furthermore, this machine does not have sufficient center-to-center length, as it would be necessary to add a bed extension for pieces longer than 16 inches.

The 46-460’s offers 12.5 swing over bed and if you are not working on longer pieces, you would not mind this weakness at all.

Finally, it can be said that this machines quality is in line with its price and for those who do not have the budget for the 1221VS, the 46-460 is the best substitute.

The fact that it comes with a 5-year warranty makes it even more attractive.

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Pros

  • Ideal price in line with the quality
  • Swing over bed
  • Great speed control
  • Long warranty period

Cons

  • No possibility of speed readout
  • Extension is necessary for pieces longer than 16 inches
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#5. Powermatic 1352001 Wood-Lathe

Powermatic 1352001 Wood-Lathe
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For the woodturners whose income depends on this work, a commercial wood lathe is necessary.

So, the one that is best among a commercial wood lathes is definitely the Powermatic 1352001.

Professional wood turners’ choice comes with a 2 hp motor which allows you to choose between two ranges: 125 to 3500 RPM and 50 to 1500 RPM.

What makes it different from all the above mentioned models is the fact that the 1352001 is a full-sized wood lathe and not a bench top lathe as all the others.

The variable-speed controls and the digital readout are also some of the great features that this model possesses.

The swing over bed is 20 inches and when it comes to the center-to-center distance it is 36 inches.

This proves the fact that this machine is designed for massive projects and it meets the professional requirements.

The only disadvantage is its portability in line with its weigh.

Being that it is large and heavy, it requires a large room in your workshop and it cannot be taken anywhere.

A 5-year warranty is definitely another advantage, but a high price tag makes it affordable only to professional woodturners.

Check current price on Amazon >>

Pros

  • Readout possibility
  • Great warranty period

Cons

  • High price
  • Portability
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Wood Lathes: The Ultimate Buying Guide

Have in mind that buying a wood lathe can be troublesome and the more specifications you know before buying a wood lathe would help you chose the one that suits your needs best.

So as to know how to understand and differentiate among the long list of woodturning lathes, you should go through product’s technical specifications sheet and look for answers.

 Wood Lathes

What to pay attention to when buying one?

  • Budget – The prices of lathes range, and you will have to devote between $200 to $400 for the low-cost ones, between $400 and $800 for mid-range ones, while the high-end lathes come at the price of thousands of dollars. For the beginners before who are doing the basics of turning the low-cost ones would be sufficient. However, if you are a professional woodturner, then high-end lathes are the only solution for you.
  • Type – The offered wood lathes can be either a bench top or a full-sized one.  A benchtop lathe is portable as it does not weight too much, but full-sized lathes are better due to the fact that they offer more swing and center-to-center distance. So, what you need to do before buying one is to determine whether you need the one that will stand on a countertop or on the floor. Careful measuring of the space where it will be set is of crucial importance before buying.
  • Work – Which lathe will suit your need, significantly depends on the type of work as the thickness of the wood you plan to turn would determine the power and features of the wood lathe you should choose. The swing over bed and the distance between centers of the machine should match the maximum length and thickness of the wood you are planning to turn.
  • Speed – Speed of the machine is very important when it comes to turning wood. The finer the cuts, the machine would be set to work faster which means that the size of the wood stock you turn requires certain RPM range.

Where to look for a technical specifications?

If you need to know the specifications of each model, you should visit the manufacturer’s official website where you can find a search function.

By entering the product name in the search box, you will get all the necessary information related to the product and you will get a link to the technical data sheet or user manual.

They are usually in a .pdf document where you can find the page related to the specifications for the product.

What is the easiest way of understanding technical specifications?

To understand well the technical specifications, you should group the information you need.

  • Electrical Data – The Motor Power, expressed in horsepower should range between 1/2 hp and 1 hp and this is enough for non-commercial and semi-commercial use.
  • Supply Characteristics – A power socket has to match the supply voltage, phase, and full-load current.
  • Lathe Capacity – It refers to:
  • Swing Over Bed – It is related to the maximum thickness of the wood which you will be able to turn without hitting the bed.
  • Swing Over Tool Rest – This feature is related to the maximum thickness of the wood which you would turn avoiding hitting the tool rest.
  • Center-to-Center Distance – is about the maximum length of the wood the wood turner would be able to turn during spindle turning.
  • Headstock – The data about the headstock that you should know is the following:
  • Speed – The speed can be ranges or discrete values as those lathes that indicate speed range have better speed control.
  • Spindle Characteristics – are determined according to the Morse Taper scale and it is important when it comes to fixing the workpiece on the headstock.
  • Tailstock – this refers to the following:
  • Tailstock Characteristics – also determined according to the Morse Taper scale and it is related to the quill travel and tailstock hole’s diameter.
  • Material –  What material are the major parts made of and the cast iron and stainless steel are the best materials used for the production of wood lathes.
  • Dimension and Weight – This data can help you determine whether you have enough space for the lathe and how heavy the machine is. If you are not planning to move it, the heavier machine is definitely the better.

I think I got it. What are my options?

When deciding which one to buy, going to the product reviews is always advisable.

There you will find the quality entry-level lathes, mid-range lathes, and high-end lathes with all the advantages and disadvantages emphasized.

This will help you find what you are looking for and one of the five products mentioned above should definitely be your choice.

Conclusion

Without a quality wood lathe, carpenters would not be able to achieve beautiful woodwork and it would be difficult for them to finish their job.

The fact that it has been existing since the period of Ancient Egypt, 3,300 years ago, proves the importance of this tool.

The style, features and power of wood lathe has changed significantly, so models are of high quality nowadays.

In conclusion, it can be mentioned once again that the Jet 1221VS is definitely the top pick.

But, if you cannot afford it, the Delta 46-460 can be the second choice for lower price. Another budget model is the Grizzly H8259.

However, if you want a quality wood lathe and you would definitely need to devote more money and get at least a mid-range wood lathe.

The decision is difficult to make, but the tips we offered would make it easier for you to make the right decision.


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