11 Best Wood Lathe for Beginners- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Image of Delta In Use, it's the best wood lathe for beginnersFor unique turning operations, including pattern formation and other admirable designs on wooden materials, employ the best wood lathe for beginners. These machines have a well-engineered system to handle most of the demanding woodturning operations.

They have a nested sturdy motor that produces all the power required for specific projects. However, the motor ratings vary depending on the design. You can also conveniently regulate the operating speed confiding on the job requirements.

The wood lathe also allows you to work on large workpieces using the optional extendable center distance that varies from different models. Most of these tools have well-positioned control systems and easy to access belts for efficient adjustment of the tension.

However, the workability of these units depends on the manufacturers’ specifications. Therefore, I have researched and highlighted for you the best among the diverse designs available.

Feel free to read on.

List of The Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

1. JET JWL-1221VS, Variable Speed Wood Lathe

The JET JWL-1221VS wood lathe will give you a whole new experience in cutting, sanding, facing, turning, drilling, and deforming wooden workpieces. This tool has a matchless speed control. It thereby allows you to take charge of all your operations by merely varying the speed from the 60 – 3600 RPM.

This machine also has a well-designed spring-loaded spindle lock. You can use it to conveniently lock the chucks to prevent unintentional accidents that may be caused by the high-speed rotating chuck.  The digital read-out (DRO) enables you to automatically do all the machine settings for a more comfortable operation, especially if you are a newbie.

The other controls in this machine are also well positioned to enhance quick and high output on all your projects. The JWL-1221VS design further makes your work more sophisticated with an easy and smooth transition from forward to reverse. Besides, it also incorporates a ratchet-style belt tension scheme- This ensures the continuous rotation of the machine shaft for adequate power transmission.

Summary of the key features

  • This tool features the Acme thread in tailstock that functions better than standard V-shaped threads for adequate power transmission and carrying loads.
  • The machine also incorporates 24 indexing positions that enhance accuracy when mounting of the workpiece.
  • Its igneous ratchet style belt tension ensures that the machine offers a good transition between forward and reverse operations.
  • You can effortlessly operate with the speed of your choice using the optimally designated diverse speed ranges.

Pros

  • Variable speeds.
  • It has a smooth forward and reverse transition.
  • Well-positioned control system.
  • Digital display DRO.
  • 24 nested indexing positions.
  • High-performance Acme thread.
  • Ratchet-mode belt tension system.

Cons

  • It only has a maximum speed of 3600 RPM.
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2. Delta Industrial 46-460, Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

Delta Industrial 46-460, midi Lathe provides you with the best in class swing capacity with a length of up to 12½”. Therefore, you can swiftly perform several woodworking operations, even on large wood materials.

The machine also has a vigorous motor that produces a maximum of up to 1HP of power- This facilitates its high motor rating that reaches a whooping 1725 RPM considering that its a midi lathe. Additionally, you won’t need to change the belt position as experienced in the ordinary lathe. 

This tool has a well-configured belt tension system that automatically sets the belt’s tension each time to facilitate easy power transmission.

The Delta industrial provides you with an electronic speed regulator incorporated with three-pulley speed ranges- This enables you to efficiently work on any type of wood, be it soft or hardwood. 

Summary of the key features

  • The tools forward and reversing ability ensures that you get a superior finish. 
  • Patented tension in the belt facilitates quick speed changes.
  • The highly-efficient 1HP max motor ensures a continuous supply of power.
  • It also has a large swing capacity for diverse wood materials.
  • You can easily regulate the required speed using the electronic variable speed. 
  • The machine has a durable cast-iron construction that enhances its durability.

Wood lathe Pros 

  • Easy to use.
  • A reliable forward and reverse function.
  • Sufficient swing capacity.
  • Regulatable speed.
  • High-performance motor.
  • Durable.
  • Five-year customer guarantee.
  • Ultimate flexibility.

Cons

  • It only has a maximum swing capacity of 12½”.
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3. Jet JWL-1440VS 1 hp Benchtop Lathe

Meet the Jet JWL-1440VS 1 hp Benchtop Lathe that offers you 100% versatility just as you’re turning. This high-performance tool features a sliding headstock, which can pivot all way round at 360 degrees to ensure flexibility while turning. It also integrates seven positive locking positions that increase your comfort and variability under different operations. 

Additionally, the locking tool rest has a well-redesigned clamping system that ensures no guesswork for demanding jobs. The JWL-1440 model also bestows you with a variable speed regulator that you can use to set the correct speed depending on the project. This speed ranges from a minimum of 400 to 3000RPM. 

You can also perform woodturning operations on large pieces of wood, thanks to the optional extension bed- That has a vast carrying capacity of about 60” between its centers. The machine also includes an Acme thread present in the tailstock that facilitates faster cutting and also prolongs the tools’ life.

Summary of the key features

  • You can efficiently perform both fast and slow operations using the variable speed knob.
  • The sizable optional bed capacity allows you to perform operations on enormous pieces of wood.
  • The tools sliding and pivoting headstock ensures a maximum all way rotation of 360-degrees.
  • It also has a redesigned clamping system on the positive tool rest with up to seven locking positions for a high-performance experience.
  • This unit also has the Acme thread positioned in the tailstock to increase the tools’ cutting capacity and ensure durability.

Image of JET wood lathe for beginnersPros

  • Variable speed.
  • It has a well-positioned sliding and pivoting headstock.
  • The tool also has a redesigned clamping system on the positive locking tool rest.
  • Seven positive locking positions.
  • Acme thread design.
  • 360-degrees pivoting positions.
  • Maximum variability and comfort.

Cons 

  • It only has seven positive locking positions.
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4. Nova 71118 Comet II DR – Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System

You can’t question why this machine is among the best wood lathe for beginners. It has a robust electronic ¾HP motor that ensures sufficient production of power for high-performance operation. Besides, you can also regulate this power to your desired output, depending on your project.

The 71118 Comet II DR is among the best in class with an RPM ranging from 250 to 4000- This means you can even perform turning on the hardwood materials. This tool’s digital display system allows you to key in the corresponding values quickly and displays the operation speed for a more sophisticated output.

This tool also incorporates a step pulley system with at least three ranges for different applications with maximum flexibility. The middle step is ideal for most of the typical woodturning applications. In contrast, the last two steps act as a boost by providing more torque to handle the most demanding projects.

Additionally, if you wish to work on large wood pieces, you can use the optional expandable bed extension- That has a standard length of 16.5”/419mm and an extendable length of 42”/1066mm between centers. This tool also guarantees you superior finishes from its in-built bowl turning capacity of 12”/300mm.

Summary of the key features  

  • The tool has a powerful ¾HP electronic variable speed motor that ensures maximum performance at any load capacity.
  • You can conveniently vary the speed from 250 to 4000 RPM depending on the workpiece’s requirements.
  • This unit allows you to operate on large bodies with its expandable bed extension accessory.
  • The digital display has got you covered when it comes to speed monitoring and easy pre-setting required values.
  • This machine also has a well-positioned forward and reverse button to offer you flexibility for superior finishes.

Image of Nova, one of the best wood lathes for beginnersPros

  • It comes with a guide manual.
  • Expandable optional bed extension. 
  • Variable speed dial.
  • Digital read-out unit.
  • It has a reverse and forward button.
  • Sufficient bowl turning capacity.
  • A potent electronic motor.
  • The tool also has a high-performance tailstock and spindle thread of description 1″ x 8TPI RH.

Cons

  • This tool has a maximum expandable bed length of 42″/1066mm.
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5. WEN 3421, Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe

This incredible tool has a high-performance nature that makes it perfect for many operations, including turning bowls, cups, pens, chess pieces, and other small workpieces. For this reason, it has an embedded 3.2-Amp motor that provides enough power ranging up to 50% more than the other 8” wood lathes.

You can also vary the operating speed from 750 to 3200 RPM for more comfort and efficiency under diverse operations. The WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe can fit workpieces as long as 12” with a wideness of up to 8”. Besides, it has a cast-iron construction that increases its sturdiness and also ensures the tool’s long shelf life.

This unit offers you effortless, rugged, and easy operations. Thanks to the inclusion of various parts such as the 2.3” faceplate, tailstock taper, an MT1 spindle, and two exchangeable tool rests. All this ensures an increased versatility on the machine generally.

Summary of the key features

  • You have a guaranteed grip on any size of your workpiece with the MT1 spindle and the tailstock taper.
  •  The tool features two tool rests that support the chisels and other devices while operating.
  • This unit also allows you to work on materials that don’t require the spindle using the 2.3” faceplate.
  • You can also vary your operation speed from 750 to the maximum of 3200 RPM for high-performance output.
  • The 3.2-Amp motor stipulates a 50% more power than ordinary 8” wood lathes.

Wen wood lathe for beginnersPros

  • Ideal for diverse woodturning operations.
  • It can handle workpieces with lengths of up to 12” and 8” width.
  • Adjustable speed.
  • Powerful 3.2-Amp motor.
  • Features two interchangeable tool rests.
  • It has a 2.3” faceplate.
  • Perfect for most small workpieces.
  • It also has an MT1 spindle and a tailstock taper for maximum grip.

Cons

  • It has a maximum RPM of only 3200.
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6. Jet JWL-1015VS Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe

Are you a beginner in woodturning operations? Then it would be wise if you had a more friendly and affordable wood turning machine. Meet the Jet JWL-1015VS Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe, which is equally ideal for advanced enthusiasts and professionals.

This robust 15″ mini-lathe has a highly-efficient motor that provides the immense power needed for various operations. You can also vary the operating speeds with three different ranges: 200 – 1050, 300 -1750, 600 – 3600 RPM. That has rendered the JWL-1015 VS more efficient. 

This tool’s design and construction enable easy access to the belts and has an improved tension system to handle even the most demanding jobs. The machine also has 24 indexing positions that aids in the machine’s flexibility and versatility while in operation.

Additionally, the Jet wood lathe has a considerable distance of 15.5” between its centers and a broad bed to supplement its rigidity. It also features a live center embedded in the tailstock to enhance a productive output even on the delicate workpieces.  

Summary of the key features

  • You can vary the speed under three different ranges for increased productivity.
  • The improved tension system offers rigidity even for the more demanding jobs.
  • This tool also features 24 position indexing for more significant flexibility.
  • The center distance and the bed ways are extendable to fit large workpieces and for increased rigidity.
  • It also features a powerful ½HP motor that provides the necessary power for the entire operation.

Image of Jet wood lathePros

  • Three variable speed ranges.
  • A vast center distance.
  • The tool has 24 integrated indexing positions.
  • It also features a broader bed way.
  • This tool has a strapping ½HP motor.
  • The unit offers smooth-running with precision and versatility.

Cons

  • The motor produces up to a maximum of only ½HP.
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7. Laguna Tools Revo Lathe – Model MLAREVO 1836

The Laguna Tools Revo Lathe – Model MLAREVO 1836 takes all your troubles away, especially if you are a beginner. It has its bed made from stainless steel that provides a tendering rail for the cast iron headstock to travel smoothly- This reduces the possible wear and tear that may mitigate the tools’ life.

This tool further features an electronic variable speed dial that can convert the 1 phase input to 3 possible output, increasing the tool’s efficiency. The MLAREVO 1836 model has a two-speed range with a high RPM ranging from 135 to 3500 and low from 50 to 1300. Therefore, you can perform the woodturning operations on both soft and hard to turn materials.

The tool also has an incredibly considerable distance of 36” between its lock centers to increase its reliability on different materials’ lengths. It further incorporates the spring-loaded spindle lock with a maximum outboard swing of about 32” for enhanced flexibility and rigidity.

Summary of the key features

  • This unit has two variable speed ranges that allow you to operate with either high or low speeds.
  • You can also convert the power that enters as a 1 phase input to a 3 phase output.
  • It has a vast lock distance between the centers for operations, even on the massive workpieces.
  • The spring-loaded spindle lock has an excellent outboard swing to grip the workpiece firmly.
  • It also features an in-built self-ejecting floor to spindle center that measures 41½” W pads.
  • This tool also has a steel bed for increased durability.

image of Laguna wood lathe for beginnersPros

  • Two-speed ranges.
  • Self-expelling floor to spindle center.
  • It features a rugged 2HP induction motor.
  • The tool has a one phase input and three-phase output.
  • Ergonomically engineered handles.
  • Steel bed.
  • Distinguishable knurled control knob.

Cons

  • It only has two-speed ranges.
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8. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander, Midi Lathe

The PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander, Midi Lathe, has come to replace the TCLC12VS with more functionalities. It’s also listed and certified by Intertek, a British multinational assurance inspection company. This outstanding tool has a high-performance 1HP variable speed induction motor that has the ratings of (120V-60HZ)

Additionally, the unit has an SBC microprocessor that ensures you have all the functionalities and controls on one system for more accessible and comfortable operations. The tool also includes two belt positions that provide two-speed ranges of 500 t0 1800 RPM and 1950 to 3800 RPM.

The KWL-1218VS facilitates operations on large workpieces with a center distance of 18”. Besides that, it also has a headstock thread measuring 1” x 8tpi and a tailstock taper that is #2MT to grip the piece to be machined firmly.

This tool further features 24-indexing positions with a nested spindle locking and quill travel of about 1⅝” to increase the machine’s versatility. Unlike other best wood lathe for beginners, this unit includes a work light that has a flexible 18” cable for all the night or dark room illumination. 

Summary of the key features

  • The machine includes two variable speed ranges for enhanced workability on different materials.
  • This tool also has an implanted headstock and tailstock to ensure unmistaken gripping of the workpiece.
  • The sufficient center distance allows for operations on large wood pieces.
  • Its vigorous 1HP motor provides enough power for a wide range of woodturning applications.
  • You can also use the 24 indexing positions and the spindle lock to mount different wood types and sizes.
  • This tool also has an embedded flexible work light for night light illumination.

Image of wood lathe for beginnersPros

  • Two variable speed ranges.
  • Four rubber feet to prevent wobbling and walking.
  • Ideal for automobile applications.
  • It ensures precision control and long-lasting reliability.
  • The tool also has a high-speed variable 1HP motor.
  • Digital read-out system.
  • 24 indexing positions.
  • The package includes a safety goggle.
  • Flexible work light.

Cons 

  • The motor has a rating of only 1HP.
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9. RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe

This unit will serve you best with its increased capacity to do more within just a small space. 

RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe allows you to add multiple extensions so that you can conveniently handle the large workpieces. Gratitude to its extendable center distance with a maximum of 12″ over the bed and 16″ between the centers.

The tool also incorporates 12 indexing positions that assure precision and accuracy, especially when handling the pattern works. You can also easily access the control system for effortless speed changes.

The 70-100 model stands out among the best wood lathe for beginners with its astonishing quick and easy speed changes with a wide variety- This includes 430 – 810, 1,230, 1,810, 2,670, and 3,900.  The tool also has easily accessed drive belts for effortless adjustments and a handy chart that you can use to ascertain the spindle speed.

Summary of the key features

  • The 12 indexing positions allow you to safely lock the workpiece in diverse places and lock the spindle for effortless removal of the chucks, faceplates, and other minor accessories.
  • This unit has a self-ejecting tailstock that prevents hassles when it comes to removing the center bar.
  • The tool also features several accessories that make it easy for users, especially by beginners- This includes a flip-up handle, a tool holder, and a nylon faceplate washer.
  • You can also vary the speed with multiple ranges for efficient output.

Image of RIKON, wood lathe for beginnersPros

  • Easy to use.
  • Wide range of variable speed.
  • Two-year limited warranty.
  • Self-ejecting tailstock.
  • Flip-up handle for adequate mobility.
  • 12-indexing positions.

Cons

  • The tool has less indexing positions contrary to other mini lathes.
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10. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

Like other SHOP FOX machines, the 1704 model has a well-configured construction that guarantees long-lasting and trouble-free service requirements. The tool has a sturdy ⅓HP motor that ensures the effective operation of the machine.

You can conveniently work on various wooden materials by varying the speed between 700 and 3200 revolutions per minute. The unit further incorporates two tool rests, the 4½” and 7″, for different woodturning applications. Besides, this machine also has a considerable distance of 13″ between its centers and an 8″ swing over the bed- this is ideal for projects with elongated workpieces.

You no longer have to worry when turning objects that can’t fit on the spindle; this machine features a 5¾” faceplate that virtually threads on to the headstock for use on materials that don’t require clamping like bowls.

Summary of the key features

  • This tool has cast iron construction that increases its durability.
  • The influential ⅓HP motor ensures constant power supply even on demanding applications.
  • Vary the speed anywhere from 700 to 3200 RPM for practical workability on diverse operations.
  • The 12” distance between the tool’s center and the 8” swing over bed facilitates turning on large materials.
  • This machine also has a footprint measuring 23⅜” by 5½” for increased stability.

Image of shop fox, the best wood lathe for beginnersPros

  • Variable speed regulator.
  • A vast center distance and swing over bed.
  • It has a durable cast iron construction.
  • The tool features a 5¾” faceplate for non-spindle turning operations.
  • Suitable for pen turning and other small projects.
  • It also has two tool rests.

Cons

  • The machine doesn’t have a work light.
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11. Excelsior Mini Lathe

The Excelsior Mini Lathe expedites its efficient workability from the nested ½HP motor and the precision-machined live center. With this unit, you can perform turns on bowls measuring up to 10” in diameter. Besides, you can also work on materials with spindles of up to 17¾” in length.

These capabilities have rendered this tool suitable for making small table legs, chair legs, and other decorative turnings. You can also easily access the belts using a well-located door for easy adjustments.

This tool allows you to work on different materials with its variable-speed capability- That has five-speed ranges, including 760, 1100, 1600, 2200, and 3200 RPM. The cast-iron construction ensures that the machine has a well-balanced position to reduce the vibration levels, increase durability, and stable turning.

Summary of the key features

  • This tool features a heavy knockout bar to ensure the accurate positioning of the spur center.
  • The cam-locking ratcheting adjustments levers allow you to make subtle alterations for maximum productivity.
  • You can conveniently access the belt to make adjustments through the well-positioned door.
  • This tool also has a removable safety switch to prevent minor accidents.
  • The units’ rubberized feet prevent slipping and wobbling during operation.
  • Additionally, the machine features a ball-bearing live center on the tailstock to reduce the wear and tear.

Excelsior wood lathe for beginnersPros

  • Five diverse variable speeds.
  • Easy access to belts.
  • Rubberized feet.
  • Robust ½HP motor.
  • It also includes a 6” tool rest.
  • 18” center distance.

Cons

  • This machine has a slightly lower center distance.
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Best Wood Lathe for Beginners Buyers’ Guide

You no longer need to be a professional to do several woodturning operations. Employ the best wood lathe for beginners. They are well-designed for easy functionality, even if you are an amateur.

However, you still should know how to determine the best among the various wood lathes available in the market today. For this reason, below is the guide and reasons why you need one.

Reasons Why You Should Buy Wood Lathe for Beginners 

  • Easy to use. Considering that beginners also use these tools, they have well-designed features, including the controls, which are easily accessible for elementary use.
  • Variable speed. You can efficiently work on various wood types, ranging from soft to hardwood, by merely varying the pace.
  • Durable construction. Most of these machines have a durable cast iron construction. In contrast, others have stainless steel construction- This ensures prolonged tool life while also increasing stability for minimal vibrations effect and stable turning.
  • Faster cutting. All the turning and cutting operations are quick and effective, thanks to the Acme thread in the tailstock that also prolongs the tools’ life.
  • Wider center distance.  The expandable center distance varies from one tool to the other, facilitating operations even on large bodies.
  • Non-slip feet. The vibrations from the powerful motors can cause the machine to wobble. For this reason, these tools’ features rubberized feet that prevent the entire device from walking.

Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Wood Lathe for Beginners

  • Electronic variable speed

Not all wooden materials have the same composition. Therefore, you will consider performing turning operations under different speeds. All these come to reality using the electronic variable speed dial.

Different machines have got diverse RPMs depending on the type of motor they use. Thus, when ordering or purchasing a wood lathe, ensure you check on the variable speed capability because some machines only have two-speed variations. In contrast, others like RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch and Excelsior Mini Lathe have up to five varying speed ranges.

  • Motor 

The motor acts as the heart of the machine. It’s the one responsible for all the power output that determines the overall tool performance. Therefore, you should contemplate a powerful motor device to regulate the speed under different projects conveniently. The standard motor ratings range from 1HP to 5HP depending on the applications.

  • Indexing positions

The more indexing positions, the higher the accuracy, mainly when working on pattern works. As usual, these positions also vary depending on the make of your tool. Some have twenty-four, while others have twelve, or even seven positive-indexing-positions.

  • Sliding and pivoting headstock

The material used in making the sliding and pivoting headstock has to be durable and rigid. I recommend stainless steel since it has guaranteed longevity and strength. 

  • Add-ons

Some additional aspects of these tools can make your woodturning experience more convenient. For instance, a tool like PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander, Midi Lathe, has a flexible work light that you can adequately use for illumination on dark spaces. 

The onboard storage also ensures easy tool storage. You can also use the digital display system to easily input the required machine settings and monitor the operation speed.

  • Spring-loaded lock

For maximum assurance of the workpiece position, the spring-loaded lock must grip the tool to be machined firmly. Therefore, you should keenly consider its condition to prevent minor accidents that may occur by workpiece slipping.

Conclusion

What else are you looking for as an armature in woodturning operations? The best wood lathe for beginners has it all. You can conveniently use these machines by varying the speed depending on the material to be machined.

Besides, you can also work comfortably on large pieces of wood using the optional extendable bed way. These tools generally perform almost the same job with my overall best being the JET JWL-1221VS, Variable Speed Wood Lathe.

With this tool, you can vary the speed from a minimum of 60 to 3600RPM. Additionally, it also has a digital read-out (DRO) that you can use to pre-set and monitor the operating speeds. The ratchet-mode belt tension system allows for the maximum efficiency of the tool.

After ingesting all the above knowledge, I hope this article is the beginning of your professionalism in woodturning, considering that these wood lathes are ideal for beginners.