Best Wood Lathes For Beginners and Reviews Guide ( Updated 2018)

looking for the best wood lathe on the market?

It is so difficult to choose the best one while there are so many lathes are available.  Lathe work makes for a great hobby – producing things of beauty or even something highly functional, like a chair or table.

Choosing the right lathe is the tricky part. There are a lot of wood lathe tools for sale and they vary greatly in price that’s what inspired me to create this site. I wanted to help hobbyists and professionals find the right lathe for them.

In here, you can find our several wood lathes review which can help you to make the right decision. There are quite a number of woodturning lathe tools on the market and not all are the quality needed to turn out great projects.

Wood Lathe Comparison Chart

WEN 34202 AMP
Delta Industrial 46-4601 HP
NOVA 16241.5 HP
NOVA 46300 Comet1/2HP Motor
RIKON 70-100 121/2HP Motor
Shop Fox W1758110 Volts


Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

1. NOVA 46300 Comet 

  • best wood latheSpeed range from 250 to 4000rpm
  • 12″ swing over bed
  • 16.5″ between centers
  • 3 Step Pulley System to dial in low, medium and high-speed ranges
  • 3/4 HP electronic variable speed motor


  • perfect for small shop,
  • good lathe for a beginner at a great price,
  • very little required for setup,
  • the reversing function works great for sanding,
  • the variable speed is really handy and works flawlessly,
  • the belt is easy to change from one speed range to another,
  • there is plenty of power there to actually turn a big chunk of wood,
  • does not require a lot of room.

Cons: the short throw on the tailstock screw, came with the lathe is only a 6″ tool rest…

Highly Recommended!!!!

Recommended Accessories: 


 2. NOVA 46301 Comet II – Best Midi Lathe

nova comet ii midi lathe with free reversible g3 chuck

  • 1.75HP Direct Drive DVR Motor
  • Speed range from 250 to 4000rpm
  • Intelligent DVR motor
  • Stand sold separately
  • weight 82.4 pound


  • it is an outstanding lathe,
  • does not take up too much space,
  • describes a quiet,
  • no vibration,
  • direct drive-no belts,
  • variable speed control to make larger bowls,
  • wide range of speeds,
  • high torque,
  • the learning curve is fast ,
  • the headstock can be rotated for a larger capacity than the 16 inches,
  • top of the line construction, do not need to add a sandbag or bolt down this machine,
  • well worth an investment. 




3. Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe

Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe

  • Motor: 2 HP, 110V, single-phase
  • Heavy-duty, precision ground cast iron bed
  • Cast iron legs ensure stability and minimal vibration
  • Lever speed adjustment, 10 speeds: 600 – 2400 RPM
  • Quick lock/release levers for tailstock and headstock


  • great customer service,
  • it’s a great buy,
  • it’s hard to find a better bargain on a mid range lathe,
  • this mid-range lathe has the power and weight needed for most jobs, mostly solid construction,
  • can turn enough diameter for decent sized bowls, headstock was large and was not complicated to install to read other reviews.

Cons: it eats the belt up pretty fast, not a very good design for speed control, no way to lock the spindle in the headstock …

Recommended!! [ Mid Expensive] 

4. Jet 719600 JWL-1840EVS 2 hp 230V Lathe

Jet 719600

  • Variable-speed control
  • Weighs 331.2 pounds
  • Superior cam lock lever mechanisms
  • Legs with special webbings


  • great customer experience,
  • great delivery, it is rock solid, fit and finish is good,
  • set-up is pretty easy,
  • the tail and head are perfectly aligned,
  • the motor is extremely quiet,
  • no vibration at any rpm, high torque at slower rpm’s is amazing,
  • the ram lines up exactly with the headstock spindle,
  • the variable speed with digital readout is smooth and effortless,
  • standing at 3000 rpm’s was very nice, you will like the variable speed and constant speed under load.

Cons: I don’t have a single complaint about this lathe.

Highly Recommended

5. RIKON 70-100 12- Best Wood Lathe For The Money

best wood lathe for the money

  • Easy Access Speed Change
  • Self Ejecting Tail Stock
  • Laser engraved ram with 2-1/2-Inch travel
  • Ability to Add Multiple Extensions
  • 1/2HP Motor


  • customer service is very good,
  • replaced immediately,
  • great beginner’s lathe,
  • well-made machine for the money,
  • mini variable speed lathe, the lathe is safe,
  • ready to run right out of the box, machining is excellent and alignments right on,
  • it is smooth and no vibration, no lugging down while roughing a turning, easy to change belt speeds,
  • has convenient smooth turning controls.

Cons: speed changes using the belt are a tad difficult, someone noticed the handling or packaging issues

Highly Recommended !!

6. PSI Woodworking 10-Inch – Variable Speed Midi Lathe

Variable Speed Midi Lathe

  • Digital readout
  • Vary speeds from 150-4100 RPM
  • SBC microprocessor technology
  • Convenient carrying handles
  • 24 Indexing positions with spindle locking
  • Powerful 3/4 HP motor
  • Easy belt access and removal
  • 3 Year Warranty


  • shipped in a very timely manner,
  • centers lined up perfectly out of the box,
  • very good lathe for small projects,
  • great lathe for pen making, already made 10″ serving plates,
  • it is heavy enough to stay put on the table without having to be held down,
  • the belt is very easy to change, very quiet motor, very little vibration, runs smoothly,
  • the speed control works well, the light is really a nice touch, this is well worth the money.

Cons: torque is very low at slow speeds …

Highly Recommended!!

7. Powermatic 1352001

Powermatic 1352001

  • 20-inch swing, 34-1/2” between center
  • 2-HP, 220-volt, variable speed motor
  • Heavy-duty cast iron, assembly required
  • 1-year warranty


  • great support, extremely high quality,
  • super good lathe,
  • great design,
  • not difficult to assemble,
  • it is a heavy machine so it does not move around when turning large chunks of wood, it very versatile,
  • the 200v variable speed motor is smooth, reliable, strong, silent, sturdy, lots of torque for the big stuff,
  • the continuously variable speed is invaluable,
  • it works as advertised this machine is more than expected,
  • this is indeed your dream lathe, it is truly worth the price

Cons: It is very top heavy

Highly Recommended !!! [Expensive]


Factors To Consider When Buying a Wood Lathe


A wood lathe is not like carving tools, which you can use any of them on a number of projects. You need to first decide on what you need the cutter for. You must determine the types of projects you are going to use the equipment on. Other considerations are the available workspace, size, speed, and accessories.

  1. Project type

The type of project is the first thing you consider before purchasing a wood lathe. Basically, there are about two major types of wood lathe. The first one is the light duty for small objects such as candle holders. For larger projects such as baseball bats and table legs, you need a larger wood lathe. Consider also whether you will expand later as skills improve or you will specialize with just the small objects. The smaller lathe is limited in terms of expansion.

  1. Your workspace

The amount of available space will determine the type of wood lathe that you go for. Dimensions of lathes are always provided so that you can ascertain the amount of space you need. A typical lathe has 16″ inch X 42″ inch as its dimensions. This means the lathe can handle wood with 16 inches diameter and 42 inches height. Some of the typical floor model lathes stand 48″ in height and 75″ width. Consider these measurements before you can go for a lathe of your choice and you will not be disappointed.

  1. Size

Forget those that keep telling you that compact portable equipment is the best. At least for lathes, bigger is better. This is considering other factors such as floor size and budget. You can turn both small and big projects with a large lathe. However, you cannot turn big projects with a small lathe. It makes no sense going for smaller lathes if you are planning on using the tool as your primary woodworking equipment. Don’t restrict yourself.

  1. Method of speed

The speed is done either manually or electronically. The electronic speed lathes provide you with a variety of options as opposed to manual lathes. The speed of manual lathes is restricted to by the manufacturer to just a few speeds. Both work well, but electronic provides you a wide variety of options in terms of speed. Electronic is also more efficient as it provides finer speed adjustments ensuring you don’t ruin your wooden pieces.

  1. Accessories

For obvious reasons, it is always appropriate to go for machines with standard accessories. A lathe with standard tapers and spindle threads give an option of expanding later on. Your skills will definitely develop, and it is important not to limit yourself to options for a variety of chunks and faceplates. The above basics are an appropriate starting point when going for a lathe that will suit your needs. Whether you are buying a lathe for fun or trade, it is critical you get the necessary knowledge. There are various options available for you including forums and a local trade college. Attending a woodturning class provides you with the required knowledge to operate a wood lathe and know which feature you should be looking for.

What is wood lathe?

A machine that rotates wood with the primary objective of drilling, knurling, sanding, sanding, turning, facing and deformation is a wood lathe. This machine is quite versatile. You can make furniture, purposeful bits, and art. It comes with pieces that you apply to create an object with symmetry. Wood lathes are the initial varieties, and all other varieties such as the watchmaker lathes are descended from it. The lathe comes with a tool rest – a horizontal rail – that accommodates shaping tools for commonly held by hands. The tool rest is taken off when sanding as a safety measure. It is dangerous to have the hands of the operator between this horizontal rail and the rotating wood. The lathes can be used to make simple objects as the plates. During the turning, an object such as the bowl only needs to be held at the bottom. Typically, lathes can reach a speed of between 200 and 1400 rpm. Larger workpieces require lower speeds while smaller one like the bowl require higher. A bowl needs an optimal speed of 1000 rpm. Current designs of wooden lathes are coming out with the needs of the present turner in mind. These machines are thus proving to be highly efficient to fulfill their needs.


Types of Wood lathe turning tools

  • Roughing gouges

This tool is responsible for shifting most of the weight. The roughing gouge can leave a decent finish. In the majority of cases, it is used to create a shape that is ruff. When you need to turn a square blank to round, then this tool is the most appropriate. You can pick it out from others since it is relatively wide. The roughing gorges also have a straight grind. They are usually constructed from high-speed steel. You spot them quickly by the U-shape they carry. The sharpening of the roughing gouge is done at 40-45 degrees. You free to move in either direction but risk an inferior finish. The roughing gouge is a must have for every wwoodturner. That is unless you are planning on specializing only platters and bowls.


  • Skew chisels

Real pros use this tool on most jobs without much fuss. Typically used for planing wood, the tool provides an excellent finish on the work. Forget its usability; this instrument has a reputation for being scary and challenging. However, if you know how to use it well, then it becomes your best companion. The skew chisel demands concentration. Give it your full attention, and you will be free of injuries. Don’t let an injury tell you that you need to give the chisel an undivided attention. It is usually best to leave the tool alone if you have no idea how to use it. If necessary, seek help from someone that knows how to use it. Use the middle part of the blade when planning cuts. Avoid the corner at all costs and everything will be good. Hitting the moving wood with the corner can be pretty scary. You can also ruin your project, and you must start all over again. When used the manner it is supposed, the skew chisel can produce a smooth surface. You may only need minimal sanding if you know how to use it. The most recommended skew chisel is the one with a rounded edge. It is easy to manipulate. Skew chisels are pretty versatile tools that should never lack in the wood turner’s bag.


  • Spindle Gouges

The tool is also known by the term shallow fluted gouge. Woodturners use this tool when making details such as coves and beads. You can also use a spindle gouge on spindle works without much problem. The device takes the shape of a lady’s fingernails, and the tip of the tool is ground back making more versatile. They have a semi-circular shape. The edge of this tool is ground at any angle between 30-45 degrees. Pro woodworkers can easily grind their own spindle gouges.


  • Parting and beading tools

Parting tool’s primary function is as the name suggests. It parts wood. Avoid working all the way through the center to be safe. When almost at the center, use a saw to finish the job. Don’t use the saw with the lathe running, turn it off. This tool completely does away with the need for a level. Your job is just to introduce the device and watch it as it works its way into the wood. Unfortunately, the little fella does not leave much of a smooth finish. But it is not supposed to. The diamond parting tool is the most appropriate as its design minimizes drag when using. All parting and beading tools are ground at an angle of 60 and 90 degrees. The parting and beading tool looks like a square-parting tool. The tools are typically utilized for shallower cuts than the typical parting tools. Sometimes on the surface of the workpieces, there are convex humps. The parting tool can function as straight chisel to deal with the parallel details.


  • Bowl Gouges

It is specifically for shaping bowls as the name suggests. The other name for this tool is the deep fluted gouge. When compared to the spindle gouge, it has a much deep gouge running. Just because it is ideally for bowls does not mean that you cannot utilize it on spindle works. Bowl gouges are easy to grab and use to accomplish the spindle works. In bowl works, you can work the outer shape and the dish shape. The bowl gouge is a standard feature in a turner’s tool bag. Furthermore, it has the majority of variations regarding grind and shape. Bowl gouges basically have variants more than any other tool.


  • Scrapers

These tools fit a different profile from the tools covered in this article. Basically, they have the same use as cabinet scraper. However, the main application of the device is to polish the surface. This may involve making detailed cuts towards a particular dimension or shape. The scraper is also used to clean the marks on the surface left by other tools. Do not use the tool for extensive wood removal. One way of using the tool involves putting it flat on the tool rest and pushing it towards the wood. If you happen to sharpen it the manner that it is supposed, then it is possible to leave a very smooth surface.  Scrapers come in various shapes and sizes for different needs but all function the same way.


  • Measuring sets

Woodturners make use of measuring sets to enhance their accuracy considerably. You cannot use your free hand if you intend to make accurate cuts or turning.


  • Center Finders

The center finder helps the wood turner find the center of a square or round stock. In the majority of situations, a side of the tool locates the diagonal on the stock. You establish the center of the square stock and make different markings on the diagonal line. The center finder is just one among many woodturning lathe parts. One common center finder is the Grizzly H5600.


Where Should You Buy Wood Lathes?

When it comes to buying a lathe, the cost is quite an important factor for many people. The best lathe is the one that best fulfills your needs. It must also be within your budget bracket. Even so, the quality aspect should never be disregarded at any time. You can shop for a wood lathe online. is one place that you can find a cheap wood lathe. The online retailer also offers free shipping which makes the product even more affordable. Even so, take care when shopping and don’t be quick to run for the cheapest. Take note of the above factors when buying to ensure that you get the top wood lathe.


Wood Lathe Brands For You

The following are some wood lathe brands on the market.  You can check all the brands before buying.

  • Jet – a hugely popular brand for a reason, they make a great product at a good value.  I especially like the JET 708359 stationary model which features a 42″ length capacity.  Jet is a great choice you can’t go wrong.
  • Powermatic – also a top-notch brand.  The Powermatic 17912 model 4224 is like the Jet described above, but more power!  3 horsepower that can easily turn larger projects.  Powermatic lathes are something you can have confidence in.
  • CNC  – Talk about high-end.  These can come with CAD capabilities, bringing your creation from computer screen to reality.
  • Grizzly  – With their signature mint green machines, you can mistake these quality machines and accessories.
  • Rockwell  – Big burly timeless machines.  My high school back in the day had two Rockwell wood lathes.
  • Oliver  -I have seen some gorgeous vintage machines from this Manchester, England based company.
  • Rand – Solid brand known for a great wood lathe duplicator.
  • Stubby – This seems to be the IT brand for wood bowl turning.
  • Fisch  – This brand really excels with their mini lathes.
  • Klein – This is what I want for Christmas, a Klein micro lathe, I see more chopsticks in my future.

Other fantastic brands: Delta, Wilton, South Bend, Chuck, and Atlas.


Lathe Instructions – How to use a wood lathe machine

If you’re new to metal or woodworking and want to know How to Work a Lathe, this is the book to get you started. In this 260 page book you’ll find an explanation of lathe parts, accessories you may want to chase up as you get more experienced including cutting tools and tool holders, you get operating procedures and machine set-up. Here is what others thought about this book on how to run a lathe: 

D Logan owner R F & M -”Very well written an approach to train the novice machinist. I have seen other books on the subject and find this book starts where it should with very good detail, SAFETY… The book is well laid out and each chapter provides a good question and answer section at the end ..I highly recommend this book..”

Johan Stokman (Fort Worth, TX USA) “Great book for the “true beginner”, me. Very well written, lots of good advice on safety and operations. Just the info you need to get started, now for the next book..”

This book on Lathe Operation and Maintenance is the place to start whether you’re brand new to lathes or need more lathe instructions to build your experience levels.

Other Books for Beginners:


Can you use a Wood Lathe to turn Metal?

This is a question that has been put to me on a number of occasions and the answer (with my tongue in my cheek and fingers crossed behind my back ) is Yes, you can. 

But Beware. 

A Lathe was never designed to do this. The chuck is different and has a different holding strength, a wood lathe spins faster and you’ll probably have trouble getting down to metal turning speeds, the cutting tool on a Metal Lathe is held tightly in a vice. (And for good reason) 

There are details at E How-Using a wood lathe to turn metal which seem fairly comprehensive BUT don’t even think about trying it out until you’ve lots of experience on it and at least some experience on a Metal Lathe. 

The Metal Lathe turning time will at least give you some feeling for what turning should feel like on this type of lathe and maybe some inner warning if the metal starts to get loose. 

If you need to turn something metal, go and knock on some friends door and call in a favor. Because it can be dangerous.

Useful Tips For Wood Lathes

People have different forms of pastime. As individuals, we have different things or activities which we like doing. One of the interesting pastimes known today is woodturning.  

In fact, it is regarded as something a person must try in his lifetime since the happiness and pleasure it can provide is certainly unexplained.

Seeing some actors do it on your favorite movie like an actor acting as an expert Turner and how he easily and interestingly throw a pot on the wheel just pushes you to do the same. 

What’s more fascinating is when you see that the turner is able to beautifully shape an ordinary piece of wood into something magnificent and impressive. 

With wood lathes, you’ll definitely have fun and enjoy woodworks. Who knows, it can be added to your hobbies or it could eventually become a business of your own where you could possibly earn lots of money. 

In addition, before thinking about a lot of ideas, of course, you have to make this dream a reality first.

In woodturning, you have to look for it to help you work on your best. You have to select the most appropriate features of your lathe, pick the right set of tools and sharpening and safety equipment, you must also choose the polishes and abrasives that you’re going to use. 

Moreover, you have to learn how to pick and use the free wood. It is advisable to see some workshop which can provide you useful information in starting your woodturning new hobby and career.

For More safety information: safety operating procedure

Once you know and learn about top wood lathe, it’s also imperative to learn and understand how to make these tools last longer. It is always safe to keep your chisels tidy and sharp. You may use a soft cloth for cleaning and be wiping your chisels to remove any type of dirt or buildup. You may also put some oil on it to prevent it from rusting.  To do most of the woodworks we use this tools most of the time so it is important to keep them sharp and well-maintained too. 

After every use, it is recommended to clean the chisels and remove any buildup that was stocked otherwise it may have ill effects on your tools in the long run. This simple step can greatly help in prolonging the lifespan of your tool and you can always rely on its sharpness and usefulness every time you use. 

However, it is not advisable to sharpen your chisels all the time; this might grind them a bit and might affect its sharpness and performance. It is wise to seek expert’s advice regarding the proper care of your chisels. As a whole to prolong your wood lathe service, you need to have regular sharpening and cleaning to keep them at their best. This is also to make your wood works as excellent as you wish them to be. Only purchase the type of equipment and tools which you can afford and always prioritize quality.


About Woodturning Lathe

Woodturning has become one of the most fulfilling arts in recent times. The prospect of turning a piece of wood into something exciting, and which makes you feel like a revered creator is thrilling. Before you can do all that, you need to choose the wood lathe tools in the market to turn you into master.

Woodturning is an intriguing art of transforming wood into aesthetically pleasing objects. As a result, many people are looking for it to learn woodturning. This is in an attempt to become the creators of something beautiful and feel fulfilled. So how do you even begin shopping for a suitable wood lathe? What qualities do you look for? For most people, any wood lathe for them would do just fine.

However, that should never be the case. Take your time to learn woodturning and how to use the machine and then proceed. The following tips will hopefully help in your start towards a fulfilling woodturning career or hobby. It provides the basics of it.



Final Verdict

We covered a lot of material today.  We’ve discussed the basics, the history, parts, prices, brands, types, and safety. I hope this article inspires you to learn more about woodturning and incorporating it into your woodworking projects. All the best to you and your next wood lathe project!


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