Best Wood Lathe

Top Best Wood Lathe 2020 – Review & Buying Guide

Whether you run a woodworking business, a class/workshop, or just engages in this ancient craft as a simple little past time or a hobby; there is no doubt that the best wood lathe is one of those important tools you can’t do without! 

From that beautiful wooden bowl, that artistic pen holder’s or that intricate table legs, a good best wood lathe – with its ability to turn wood at higher speeds, making carving up easy, can offer you the option to create high-quality woodwork, that wouldn’t be possible in any other way.  

That said, picking the right best wood lathe CAN be a serious challenge, as there’re tons of models to buy now, all with different perks. Don’t worry; we’ll help. 

From a small benchtop lathe to ultra-powerful, industrial type ones, find below a list of the top 5 best wood lathe models to buy in 2020 + a handy best wood lathe buying guide.

So what are we waiting for? Let’ get carving:

Best Wood Lathe – The Wood Carver’s Top Companion!

Contrary to popular perception, the best wood lathe is not alone an expert’s tool. With practice, it can serve even the needs of utter beginners. But What is the best wood lathe? Essentially, it’s just a machine that can help spin a wood piece super fast. Pairing that with a sharp carving blade and you can make anything! 

Designed to help you consistently cut, sand, drill, face, turn & deform wood pieces with blazing speeds, a wood lathe can literally come in handy for you far more than any other tool in your woodworking arsenal.

As a wood hobbyist myself, I know how great and handy these machines are – and hey, in a bit, you will know too:

Best Wood Lathe Review – Top5 Models To Upgrade Your “Wood” Game! (2020)

Prepared along with woodworking experts & my own experiences, here’re 5 of the best wood lathe tools to buy in 2020;

#1 WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. X 12 in.


Variable Speed Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe

WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. X 12 in.

Built for small shops and casual hobbyists, the WEN 3420T offers the perfect balance between power & portability – and how! The built-in soft-start motor is very powerful & can be adjusted easily between 750 to 3200 RPMs. 

Pairing that with the decent 12-inch capacity and it’s the perfect tool for giving life to your small wooden projects. The easy-to-use lever clamping system makes adjustments to both the tool rest and the tailstock simple and precise. And thanks to the variable speeds, the lathe is plenty versatile too.

Ergonomically, WEN has nailed it. At just 43 pounds, it’s perfect for on the go jobs, and with the top-rated matte design, it’s a breeze to the eyes in any setting. And hey, because it’s a WEN, a 2-year warranty is included too.

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Pros

  • Reliable 2-amp soft start motor with variable speeds (750 to 3500 RPM) for consistent action across all type of woods 
  • The included MT1 spindle and tailstock offers a ton of accessory support
  • 5-inch faceplate for turning non-spindle works
  • Easy to use, adaptable lever clamping for maximum accuracy
  • Lightweight & very portable
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Cons

  • The tightening on the headstock area could’ve been done better
  • Not ideal for large projects

#2 SHOP FOX W1704 1/3


Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

Well-built and available with an 8-inch swing, the W1704 best wood lathe comes with a variable speed 1.3HP motor that gives it an insane precision & power in light design, the cast iron construction is plenty sturdy, and with the two-stool base, it doesn’t vibrate even under the heaviest loads. 

SHOP FOX W1704 1/3

Spec-wise, 4-1/2, and 7-inch tool rest for various turning applications and with a 13-inch distance between centers + an 8-inch swing over the bed, this lathe is ideal for a variety of turning projects of every size.

 

In our tests, it performed admirably. The finishing looks great & there is little to no wait between the variable speeds, giving it a precise, hassle-free operation. For added peace of mind, a two-year warranty is included.

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Pros

  • Tough and well-built with cast iron construction
  • Infinitely Variable (750 to 3200) high-speed 2 amp motor for immaculately precise & reliable lathing action
  • Included faceplate for non-spindle turning
  • Safety paddle switch
  • Handy two-year warranty
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Cons

  • Not suitable for large scale projects
  • Slightly heavy

#3 Nova 71118 Comet II DR


Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System

With a ¾ hp precision motor that offers electronically variable speeds between 250 to 4000 RPM’s, the Nova 71118 best wood lathe is built like a true workhorse. 

Nova 71118 Comet II DR

The super sleek, portable construction feels premium, and the 12’ swing over bed and 16’ between centers (which is further expandable up to 42’ with an optional accessory), means that it’s perfect for all sorts of woodworking, both small & large. The reverse/forward option gives further flexibility to the users & offer sleeker, more professional finishing.

Controlling it is super easy, thanks to the digital readout that allows for pinpoint accuracy. And the 3’ faceplate means you can do non-spindle turns with ease. Lastly, the self-eject tail stock makes handling it easier for newbies.

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Pros

  • Extremely powerful ¾ high torque motor with infinite variable (250 /4000 RPM) speeds for that extra oomph
  • Expandable (up to 42 inches) 12’ swing bed for max versatility
  • Digital readout & controls
  • Vast collection of included accessories
  • 2-year warranty
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Cons

  • For its slight frame, portable the lathe is surprisingly very heavy
  • Faceplate could’ve been larger

#4 Delta Industrial 46-460 12


1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

A lean mean best wood lathe that’s armed with variable speed, high torque 1HP motor, the Delta 46-460 features 12-1/2 inch swing capacity, which makes it one of the biggest in its class. Additionally, the electronic speed control ensures fast RPM changes sans any belt changes, which provides better power transfer and longer tool life.

 

Delta Industrial 46-460 12

The built-in forward/reverse function guarantees superior finishing. For convenience, the Includes 6- and 10-inch tool rests and 3-inch faceplate, which allows for spindle-less turning, if need be.

Ergonomically, it’s made for benchtop setups & the tough cast iron frame means that it can last you for decades to come. For fluting and other decorative applications, the indexing pin can lock the headstock spindle in 24 different locations. 

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Pros

  • Sturdy, long-lasting cast-iron build
  • Powerful 1HP motor & large 12-1/2 inch swing for best in class performance across all wood sizes and thicknesses
  • Patented bel tensioning system for easy, fast speed switching
  • 3-inch faceplate
  • Backed by a 5-year warranty
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Cons

  • The forward and reverse switches are weirdly wired backwards
  • No digital speed readout

#5 JET JWL-1221VS


12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe

The last entry on our best wood lathe review, we’ve the JET 1221VS – a very premium, high-powered lathe that’s built for pro users. With variable speeds ranging from 60 to 3600, the device, the electronic speed control offers pinpoint precision, and the forward/reverse feature guarantees great results every single time.

 

JET JWL-1221VS

The spindle is 12 inches & the max capacity is rated at 21 inches (expandable with extensions), and the tool rest is easily adjustable. The unique belt tension system offers max power & precision.

For all the power, it runs pretty quietly, and thanks to the weight, we didn’t face any vibrations when using it. The tailstock of the lathe also includes an Acme thread, yet another unique trait. The investment is kept safe by a 5-year warranty.

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Pros

  • Powerful motor for superior precision and variable electronic speed settings – great for all types of woods
  • Solid, durable cast-iron construction
  • Easy to use design
  • Innovative ratchet style belt tension system for max accuracy
  • Superior 5-year warranty
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Cons

  • Relatively heavy and harder to move around
  • Expensive 

Preview
WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in. Variable Speed...
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed...
Manufacturer
WEN
Shop Fox
Delta
Item Weight
43 pounds
48.4 Pounds
97 pounds
Product Dimension
26 x 10 x 12 inches
7.1 x 27.9 x 13.7 inches
36 x 11 x 17.75 inches
Item Model Number
3420T
48.4 pounds
46-460
Batteries Included?
No
No
No
Batteries Required?
No
No
No
Power Source
------
Corded-electric
Corded-electric
Preview
WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in. Variable Speed...
Manufacturer
WEN
Item Weight
43 pounds
Product Dimension
26 x 10 x 12 inches
Item Model Number
3420T
Batteries Included?
No
Batteries Required?
No
Power Source
------
Preview
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
Manufacturer
Shop Fox
Item Weight
48.4 Pounds
Product Dimension
7.1 x 27.9 x 13.7 inches
Item Model Number
48.4 pounds
Batteries Included?
No
Batteries Required?
No
Power Source
Corded-electric
Preview
Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed...
Manufacturer
Delta
Item Weight
97 pounds
Product Dimension
36 x 11 x 17.75 inches
Item Model Number
46-460
Batteries Included?
No
Batteries Required?
No
Power Source
Corded-electric

Best Wood Lathe Buying Guide – Consider These Before Buying Them!

Yup, these are the best wood lathe tools to buy in 2020. As promised, here’s the best wood lathe guide to help you find the RIGHT one for you;

1) Motor Power

The more powerful the motor is, the better the best wood lathe will perform. On average, the power range from as low as 1/8 to a 2’ HP maximum. That said, most casual users probably wouldn’t require more than 1 HP.

More power also equals a bigger price tag. Therefore, always try & go for a unit that best SUITS your needs – no more, no less.

2) The Capacity (The Size of The Device)

Obviously, this depends on your needs. The bigger the capacity, the longer (wider!) the wood piece you can turn on it. Typically, most models can handle work between 36 to 48 inches. However, some models go even further.

Obviously, there is no one size fits all with best wood lathe units. So consider your needs exactly and pick a size that best suits YOUR wants.

3) Swing Over Bed

For those who don’t know, the “swing bed” of the best wood lathe is what that determines the largest bowl diameter the lathe can turn. On average, 14’ inches is the most common swing bed size. However, there are bigger ones too. 

Thankfully, most of the top shown units have swiveling drive heads or outward spindles that allows turning in any diameter!

4) The Speed Range (RPM)

As far as the best wood lathe go, you should go for a model with at least 4 – different speeding options, with RPM’s ranging between 500 to 4000. The more the RPM, the better the results will be, especially with larger pieces.

Always go for the model with a widest speed range, as this can help you better tackle different wood types & thicknesses with ease.

5) The Weight

Generally, the heavier, the better, as the device will be more stable and can offer a finer, very precise spinning action. The heavy ones also do tend to be more robust and are far better at handling vibrations.

If portability is a must, make sure to get a model that has a stable base, and offers some sort of table clamping system to minimize jerkiness. 

The Best Wood Lathe 2020 – The Conclusion

If you’re a crafty person or a carpenter who loves working with wood, the best wood lathe can literally be a no-brainer for you. It cuts, it sands, it polishes, it shapes – the hype is real with these power wood tools, indeed!

As you can see, we have showcased all the best wood lathe models 2020 has to offer – all individually tested and reviewed for top quality. So yeah, the ball is now in your court. Consider your needs, wants, budgets, the best wood lathe guide, etc., and pick one that best suits YOU. Do undertake good care of these handy tools. Regularly check the parts for wear & tear, and vacuum it as often as possible to keep them in peak condition.

With that, we bid adieu. If you have any queries or doubts about these tools, throw us a comment below and let’s talk.

Till then, happy woodworking!

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