The Best Wood Lathe – Buying Guide & Reviews


Are you planning to create some high quality, smaller tools out of wood? Things like pens, bowls, fishing lures and even bottle stoppers can easily be created with a wood lathe and they can be a whole lot of fun as well. You’ll be able to create some great tools and gadgets for yourself or even as a business if you’re so inclined.

We’ve gathered a list of some of the top options when it comes to wood lathes so that you can get started on the right foot. You definitely don’t want to spend a lot of your time and money trying to get started just to find out that you’ve chosen the wrong lathe for the type of work that you want to do. Keep in mind that your personal preference and projects are the most important thing to consider.

You’ll need to think about things like the type of projects, the size of projects, the space available and even how much money you have available. We’ve looked at each of these different features to help you get a better understanding of them and then we’ve created a list of some of the best options that you’re going to find so you can get started right.

Best Wood Lathes

RIKON Power Tools 70-105 10' x 18' 1/2 hp Mini LatheTOP RATEDRikon Power Tools Mini Lathe
  • $399.99
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop LatheShop Fox W1704
  • $219.95
WEN 3420 8' by 12' Variable Speed Benchtop Wood LatheBEST BUDGET PICKWEN 3420 Wood Lathe
  • from $153.97
JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood LatheJet JWL 1221VS
  • from $848.99
Superbuy 1/2HP 4 Speed 40' Power Wood Turning Lathe 14' x 40'GoPlus Wood Turning Lathe
  • $182.99

Last update on 2019-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

RIKON Power Tools 70-105 10" x 18" 1/2 hp Mini Lathe
  • 1/2 Motor provides ample power for all turning needs
  • Heavy cast iron bed, headstock and tailstock reduce vibration
  • Machined bed and matching components give precise alignment

Last update on 2019-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re looking for a small option you’re definitely going to like this ½ HP motor and the small size of this particular lathe. At 10” x 18” it’s capable of turning out projects that are small but still high quality. It has a heavy cast iron bead as well as the headstock and tailstock, all of which help to reduce the overall vibrations in the system.

It also has a machined bed and components that make sure you have the right level of alignment every time that you use it. The sleek color and style are an added bonus, but it’s everything else you’re going to remember. You get 5 different speed ranges here that can get you just about anything from boring barrel holes to shaping and finishing.

It even comes with a live center, tool rest, knock-out bar and wrenches. The moderate weight makes it easy enough to move if you need to but secure enough that you don’t need to worry about it moving while you’re using it. If you’re looking for smaller projects you’re definitely going to like this lathe.

Facts and Features

  • 10” x 18”
  • ½ HP motor
  • Small project preferable
  • 5-speed settings available
  • 74 lbs. total weight
  • Cast iron form for less vibration
  • Sale
    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

    Last update on 2019-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    With this lathe, you're getting a bench top option that provides you with 1/3 HP. That means it can definitely get you enough power for most projects and it’s going to offer 2 amp, 110V, single phase, 60 Hz as well. It offers 12” between the centers and an 8” swing over bed, which means you can accomplish a range of different projects quickly and easily and even a little bit larger ones.

    You’ll also get two tool rests so you can set things down without having to worry about spacing or finding a table nearby. Made entirely of cast iron you have infinite options for the variable speed control. That means you’re going to have a whole lot more control over everything that you’re doing personally without having to worry about adjusting your work to fit the machine.

    Weighing in at approximately 50 lbs. this is a moderately weighted unit that’s going to hold steady when you need it to but also move wherever you need if you’re looking for something portable. It provides between 700 and 3200 RPM for the spindle speed and takes up 23 3/8” x 5 ½” so you’re going to have plenty of room in your workshop as well.

    Facts and Features

  • 23 3/8” x 5 ½”
  • 50 lbs. total weight
  • 12” between centers
  • 8” swing over bed
  • 1/3 HP motor
  • Up to 3200 RPM spindle speed
  • Sale
    WEN 3420 8" by 12" Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
    • Adjust the variable speed anywhere from 750 to 3200 rotations per minute
    • Includes 5-inch faceplate for turning bowls, cups and other non-spindle workpieces
    • Attack workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide

    Last update on 2019-05-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    This variable speed option is small, at only 8” by 12”, and it can still give you plenty of power and flexibility to the work that you want to do. It can rotate between 750 and 3200 rotations per minute, which provides you with a whole lot more control over any of the projects that you want to complete. It even comes with a 5” faceplate for turning bowls or anything that you want that doesn’t use a spindle.

    Able to work with pieces that are up to 8” wide and 12” long, this system has a 2A motor and an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper. It even has 2 interchangeable work rests. You get a 2-year warranty along with the system, which means you can rest assured it's going to be high quality and last.

    It has a soft start motor that helps to increase the capabilities and the safety of the system itself and it's relatively lightweight at only 44 lbs. With this system, you get everything you're going to need, including an easy to use lever clamping system, a flat wrench, headstock spur center, tailstock cup center, knockout rod and the 5" faceplate that can help you accomplish just about anything that you want.

    Facts and Features

  • 5” faceplate for non-spindle projects
  • 8” x 12” total size
  • 750 – 3200 RPM
  • 2 interchangeable work rests
  • 2-year warranty
  • Soft start motor
  • 44 lbs. total weight
  • Sale
    JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe
    • Unrivaled speed control
    • 60-3600 RPM variable speed
    • Optimally designed speed ranges

    Last update on 2019-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Here you’re getting a slightly larger option at 12” x 21” but you’re still getting something that will easily fit into your workspace. It has excellent speed control, which is going to provide you with plenty of capabilities for projects. In fact, it can range between 60 and 3600 RPM, which means you can take care of just about anything that you could possibly want.

    The forward to reverse process is extremely smooth and there’s an innovative ratchet style belt tension system that keeps it going just the way you want it to every single time. This device weighs more than some of the other options we’ve mentioned, but it provides an excellent turning experience that’s entirely within your control.

    It even comes with a 5-year warranty that you can definitely rely on to provide you with excellence when it comes to the quality and features of the lathe itself. There's no reason to sacrifice when it comes to this one.

    Facts and Features

  • 12” x 21” total size
  • 60 – 3600 RPM variance
  • 5-year warranty
  • Smooth forward to reverse the process
  • 130 lbs. total weight
  • Ratchet style belt tension system
  • Superbuy 1/2HP 4 Speed 40" Power Wood Turning Lathe 14" x 40"
    • 【Solid and Steady Frame】Made of solid steel, the frame is steady and strong enough to make your machine stable, which can hold your wood...
    • 【4 Speeds Adjustable】Designed with adjustable 4 speeds: 1100/1600/2300/3400RPM, you can tackle various projects with different needs,...
    • 【Perfect for Home Use】Overall Dimensions of 57.2" X 9" X 14.9" and complete accessories, the lathe is compact, allowing fit in tight...

    Last update on 2019-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    This is the largest option when it comes to wood lathes that we have here. It comes in at 14" x 40", which means you're going to have the freedom and flexibility to work on even larger projects. It has a ½ HP motor that offers 4 different speeds and a swing over bed of 14".

    The seeds themselves are 1100, 1600, 2300 and 3400, so you can definitely get something fast enough to finish whatever you may need. Weighing in at only 55 lbs. it’s also a great option for most purposes and can even be transported easily. With this device, you're going to have no problem turning just about anything and you'll love the fact that it can take on small and fine work or larger projects with ease.

    For those who are just getting started or those who have been working with these types of tools for a long time, this is a great option. It's moderately priced and it can use a variety of different attachments when you're looking to improve your options.

    Facts and Features

  • 14” x 40”
  • ½ HP motor
  • 4-speed settings
  • 1100 – 3400 RPM
  • 55 lbs. total weight
  • Great for beginners or advanced users
  • Moderately priced
  • 14” swing over bed
  • Features That Matter

    Lathe Size

    There are three general sizes when it comes to lathes (though the specifics are going to vary greatly). You'll be able to choose between mini-lathes, medium size, and full-size options. A mini-lathe is one that's great for smaller projects and lesser use.

    It's great for those who aren't doing a whole lot of high power or large projects. They're also great if you need something that's portable. But if you're going to be completing large projects or if your lathe isn't going to be moving around you may want to opt for a larger one.

    Space Available

    Make sure you pay attention to how much space you actually have available for your work. You don’t want to choose the perfect lathe and then find out that it’s not going to fit where you want it. Instead, make sure that you look at your spacing first and then automatically rule out anything that won’t fit.

    You’ll want to only look at something you can work with. Keep in mind that there are plenty of great options at absolutely any size, so even if you have a small amount of space you can still get something that’s going to work great.


    Though you don't want to base your decision entirely on the price of the lathe that you're getting it's definitely something to consider. Luckily, there are budget options that are going to give you plenty of flexibility and freedom when it comes to the type of projects that you want to create.

    If you really want the top of the line you're going to need to pay for it, but if you're not quite as strict about the features or the capabilities of the lathe you may be able to save a little bit of money along the way.

    Variable Speed Control

    Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe

    If you have control over the specific speeds of your lathe at different times and you can adjust it faster or slower you’re definitely going to have more flexibility. If you don’t have variable speed control you’ll have to change out belts in order to get the different speeds, but you’ll have a cheaper option on your hands. Variable speed is going to cost you more but it’s going to work faster and more accurately.


    Make sure you look at what comes along with the lathe (if anything). You're going to need a variety of other tools in order to make it work for you so make sure you start from here and move up with even more options.

    You'll need turning tools and a sharpening system at the very least and these may come with the lathe. You'll also need things like a face shield, dust masks, and a dust collector. These likely won't come with the lathe (though they might) but they're things you're going to want to look for at least.

    Final Thoughts

    No matter what you’re planning to do with your new wood lathe you’re going to need something that’s high quality. We’ve taken a look at several different options so you can make sure that you’re ready for anything and definitely ready to take on that next project. Whether you want to just get started in the field or you're looking to take your business to the next level there's something out there for you.

    Take a look at each of the ones that we've selected, and see what's going to be best for your needs. If you decide that you don’t like any of these you now have the ability to find one on your own because you know what it’s going to take to get something good.

    Take a look at each of the features that we’ve mentioned and then find a wood lathe that fits the features that you’re looking for. Whether you want to just do a little more research on your own or you think you’ve found something else great just taking a look at what it can do and what you want it to do is a great place to start out.

    Note: this article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may be paid a referral fee at no expense to you.