Last Modified on Jan 6, 2023

6 Best Wood Lathe Reviews For Fine Woodworking In 2023 - Top Picks

wood lathe revies for fine woodworking

The most important question when buying a lathe is what do you want to turn. You can turn so many amazing projects on a wood lathe, such as lidded boxes, pens, tool handles, bowls, and much more similar thing. If you have some experience of a lathe, then that's great.

If you don't have any experience, then you'll need to pay attention to some of the important points that you have to consider while buying a lathe for you. So in this blog on 6 best wood lathe reviews for fine woodworking, we have picked the best wood lathes of all time which will help you in any of your woodturning projects, so stick around.

The next question is almost as important. What is my budget? With this decision, It is important to remember that the lathe is not the last thing you need to buy where would you be about without turning tools, a chuck, a sharpening system and all the other accessories you need to make your projects.

Another question that is not often considered is where this lathe gives me room to grow. Growth is an absolute necessity in life and woodturning. What would be the best wood lathe to buy? That's not an easy question to answer because every Turner's needs vary greatly with the type of work they do and their budget.

When you start to look at lathes, you're going to see a big list of specifications. We want to talk to you about what those mean for you as well as what features are nice to have.

1. WEN 3424T 4.5-Amp 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe


The Frist wood lathe for fine woodworking we are going to look comes from a famous brand, and I hope you also have heard the name, WEN. This is WEN 3424T 4.5-Amp 12 by 18-Inch 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe is available in a decent price segment on the market.

It comes with five variable speeds 3400, 2150, 1400, 900 and 520 RPM whose instructions appear on top of the lathe to better understand for the first time. You can easily adjust the speed by simply adjusting the belt according to your need which is not a big deal.

If you want smooth & comfortable woodturning, then 1400 RPM is recommended, and you can start moving it up if the wood gets harder. You can turn wood pieces into your desired items which have length up to 18 inches and width up to 12 inches.

It features a 4.5 Amp powerful motor that sometimes overheats after the tool's excessive usage, an MT2 tailstock live center, an 8-inch tool rest, an MT2 headstock spur center, and an on-board accessory holder.

It includes a 3-1/8 inches faceplate to help you turn cups, bowls and other non-spindle workpieces. It also has a mounting flange made of good quality steel which you can use to make bowls by simply mounting it on the face of your wood.

Weight - 70.3 pounds
Options of color - Orange & Black combination


  • Comes with 5 operating speeds
  • 4.5 Amp powerful motor
  • Safe and Easy to use
  • Gives the high-quality results


  • Low-quality spindle
  • Have heating issues

2. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe


The next wood lathe for fine woodworking comes from Shop Fox, a famous brand among DIYers. This is the cheapest lathe in this list, which comes with the most useful features because of which it gives tough competition to most high-rated lathes like WEN & Delta.

This is one of the lightest lathes you might have ever seen and weighs around 48.5 pounds which is very good. So, if you don't have enough space in your workshop to keep the large-sized lathes, this compact and lightweight lathe can help you mastering your woodturning skills.

It uses 1/3 horsepower 120V AC motor which performs very well even with pen turning or other small cutting or shaping projects, but it is not a midi or full-size lathe, so you can't work on large projects with this lathe so keep this in mind before placing the order for it.

It has electronic variable speed which ranges from 700 RPM to 3200 RPM which you can change according to your requirement. It also has 8 inches swing over the bed and 13 inches width between the center.

And it is backed up with the SHOP FOX 2 years of warranty so if you suspect anything wrong in this lathe you can ask the Shop Fox to solve your problem.

Total Weight - 48.5 pounds
Options of color - Off-White


  • Cast iron construction
  • Includes 2 tool rests
  • Has variable speed control in this price
  • Affordable
  • Ideal for small projects like pen turning
  • Lightweight & Compact
  • Easy to set up


  • Not for large projects

3. RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe


RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch another mini-lathe on the list. This mini lathe comes with 6 different speed options which you can change by adjusting the belt on the different wheels.

It has a 12-inch swing over the bed, which means you can turn wood up to 12 inches into your desired wood pieces like bowls, containers, and other kinds of stuff. It has 16 inches between center which means you can turn wood up to 16 inches in length without any problem.

Additionally, you can purchase a bed extension for this tool to increase the width of this tool up to 40 inches so that you can use it to turn much longer spindle and use it for most large projects.

When you unbox the lathe, you'll see it important parts which include tool rest with base, live center, spur center, spindle lock, which is easy to assemble even beginners can do it by simply taking the help of its well-explained user manual.

It comes with 1/2 HP motor gives you a variable speed of up to 3,900 RPM which is sufficient to turn even the heaviest and toughest woods. This is one of the most user-friendly lathes which gives you an excellent woodturning experience. It comes with the 2 years warranty, which I think is sufficient for a tool.

Weight - 88.5 pounds
Options of color - Blue


  • User-friendly features
  • Changes speed easily & quickly saving your time
  • Self-ejecting tailstock
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Width can be extend


  • Expensive
  • Very heavy for a mini-lathe

4. JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Wood Lathe


If you are looking for the best lathe for beginners as you have just stepped into the woodworking or woodturning, this JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Wood Lathe is the perfect solution to fulfil all your woodturning needs.

For beginners, it becomes very important for a lathe to have good safety features to be controlled safely, and this lathe all focuses on one concept, control.

This woodturning lathe has every single feature to make your entire turning experience even better and comfortable. This is a variable speed lathe so you can control it by using a knob and it's actually electronic, so you know exactly what you're running.

It comes with three basic gears low, medium and high. The low gear ranges from 60 to 900 RPM, the medium ranges from 110 to 1800 RPM and the high ranges from 220 to 3600 RPM.

The on-board storage is a great feature this lathe has, which allows keeping some hand tools with your lathe, so that don't have to find them in need which saves your time. On the tailstock whenever you start moving it out, it actually gives you measurements, so you know how deep you are drilling if you're using a drill bit.

Weight - 121 pounds
Options of color - White


  • Smooth forward to reverse transition
  • Solidly built
  • Has on-board storage
  • 5 years of huge warranty
  • Very Quiet
  • Easy to understand user manual


  • Very heavy
  • Expensive
  • Bad customer support

5. Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Wood Lathe


At number 5 we have one of the best midi lathes for you which comes from the brand, Delta. Delta is always known for its quality products which come in decent price segments.

Most other brands give the best features in their expensive models, and this brand offers that same features at an affordable price. It comes with a 1-HP motor with the max speed of 1,725 RPM for robust performance.

If we talk about its construction, this is a highly durable and stable lathe made of cast-iron which allows this tool to stay for a longer time with you of course with some maintenance.

This complete package includes a 6 and 10-inch tool rest, chrome 3-inch faceplate, live, center, wrenches for maintenance, and easy to understand user manual and a 12-1/2-inch variable-speed midi lathe.

It weighs around 97 pounds which is not bad for a midi lathe that can handle small to large size projects. So if you want to change the position of this lathe in your shop, you will be able to do that with ease.

Not only for quality products Delta is known for providing huge warranty on its products which overall build the customer trust. So you don't have to worry if something goes wrong with your lathe at least for 5 years.

Weight - 97 pounds
Options of color - Gray


  • Very stable
  • Cast-iron construction
  • Variable speed with three pulley-speed ranges
  • Don't make a noise like most other midi lathes
  • Comes with 5 years of warranty


  • Some people complain about the quality of live center
  • No digital speed readout

6. Nova 71118 Comet - Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System


Now, let's talk about the last product in this best wood lathe reviews for fine woodworking list. This is Nova 71118 Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System.

If we talk about its weight, it weighs only 82 pounds which is extremely light for any midi lathe and its dimensions are 8.8.9 x 17.8 x 32.9 inches so you can get an idea whether this lathe can fit in your workshop or not.

It comes with 3/4 HP motor having a max speed of 4000 RPM but as this is a variable speed lathe so you can decrease the speed up to 250 RPM when needed.

Its solid cast iron construction gives this tool optimum strength and rigidity that absorbs vibration, giving you an easy and exceptionally smooth turning experience with very minimal time spent in the finishing work.

It has 12 inches swing over the bed and 16.5 inches of width between center which is expandable up to 42 inches by an extension. So, if you want to work on some large project with this lathe, this feature can be handy.

It also has a digital readout system which shows the correct speed on which your wood piece is turning. Now coming to its warranty, Nova gives 1-year of warranty on its 3/4 HP motor and 2-years of warranty on its parts.

Weight - 82 pounds
Options of color - Silver & black combination


  • Powerful electronic variable speed motor
  • Has digital readout
  • 3-step pulley system
  • Lightweight
  • Compact & portable


  • Very expensive
  • Less warranty period

Different sizes of lathes

Basically, lathes come in three different sizes. These are mini, midi and full-size lathes. Each one has an advantage over the other which overall increases their prices. Let's take a look at all three sizes, one by one.

Mini Lathe:

The mini lathes are cheapest lathes and available in a price range of 200 dollars to 500-600 dollars. Most people buy these lathes as a pen lathe as most of them have entered in woodworking field just because of pen turning.

Normally, it is used to light-duty work like turning small bowls about 6-8 inches in diameter, little lidded containers, and hollow bowls. These are great for someone who has just stepped into woodworking and want to try woodturning to know whether he/she should get into it or not.

Midi Lathe:

Midi lathes are the best choice for most woodworkers as it can handle light-duty works and most heavy-duty works as well, from turning small platters to bowls about 12 inches in diameter or any furniture spindle.

If we talk about their cost, these come in a range of 600 to 1400-1500 dollars making this tool a little bit expensive. For a midi lathe, you might also need a stand that most manufacturers offer but charges for them separately.

Most midi lathes feature variable speed which is generally a DC controller that allows you to change the speed according to your need. Midi lathes are the great general workshop lathes.

Full-size Lathe:

Full-size lathes are the most expensive lathes that cost anywhere from 3k dollars to almost 10k dollars. These are recommended for those who already have good experience in the woodturning field as they are large, much heavier than other lathes and probably not the one with which you should start learning woodturning.

Variable speed is a must-have feature in full-size lathes. Because of their big sizes and capability to handle large projects, they use a very powerful motor to spin the material at high speed which sometimes a user might don't need. It is not easy for everyone to work with them.

Space & Weight Of The Lathes

The full-size lathes are the heaviest because of which you might need to use the mobile base to make it easier to move, and you don't have any other option. But in case of other lathes, they are lightweight and not as big as the full-size lathes are so you can keep it anywhere you want.

Not only weight but the space of that place also matters where you'll keep your lathe. In case of a full-size lathe, if you don't have enough space to keep it, that might be challenging for you on the other hand if you want to buy a midi or mini lathe, then you don't have to worry because they don't require much space.


Which is the best wood lathe for beginners?

One of the best wood lathes for beginners we suggest is JET JWL-1221VS which comes with variable speed and good safety features.

What is a wood lathe used for?

A wood lathe is a stationary tool which rotates the wood pieces on a high speed to make different wooden pieces. You can use wood lathes for different woodworking projects like cutting, drilling, sanding, turning and deforming.

If we talk about only woodturning, you can use lathes for making bowls, lidded containers and you can also turn ugly wood into a beautiful looking flower vase.

What is the best full-size wood lathe?

In short, Powermatic 1352001 20x35-Inch wood lathe is one of the most used and recommended by the professionals that can add a good value to your woodworking career. This lathe comes with every single feature which is required for large woodworking projects.

But as you know the full-size lathes the most expensive lathe and this one comes around 5k dollars so if you have that much budget, we will highly recommend this full-size lathe for you.

What is the best wood for bowl turning?

Beech, Ash, Ebony are some of the best and famous woods for bowl turning. These wood are most commonly used for making hammer handles, or most other hand-operated tools. Because they are very strong and don't break easily when you even hit them so hard, you can turn them in any shape you want.


This blog contains all the best wood lathes unbiased reviews for fine woodworking from best wood lathe for beginners to the best full-size wood lathe for professionals with their pros and cons. So just consider your budget as this is not the last thing you are buying.

If we talk about the best pick for the money, WEN 3424T which comes under 500$ can help you in most of your woodturning tasks. But for overall best wood lathe, you'll need to pay more, and we'll suggest you go with Delta 46-460 wood lathe that comes with excellent features with 5 years of huge warranty.