Best Woodworking Lathe - Review Listing

Woodwork Lathe

1.  JET 708358K JWL-1442VSK 14-by-42-Inch VS PRO Wood Lathe with Legs

Wood lathe with legs; variable speed (450-3,000 rpm). Provides 14-Inch swing and 42-Inch turning capacity; 4-Inch ram travel on tail-stock. Bed and legs constructed of solid cast iron. Includes lathe, tool rest, spur center, knockout bar, live center, spindle and indexing locks, wrench, legs. Includes 14-in x 42-in 1 HP Woodworking Lathe w/ Leg Stand - 708358K, Leg Stand, 12-in Tool Rest, 6-in Face Plate, Spur Center, Live Center, Tooling Knockout, Spindle &, Indexing Locks, Wrench.

Customer Review - I have been looking for a heavy duty lathe for quite a while. I was looking for a lathe that was powerful enough to swing large diameter spindle and bowl blanks. I wanted a machine that was heavy enough so blanks that were severely out of round or blanks of uneven density would not cause the lathe to vibrate excessively. I didn't want a lathe that required 2 or 3 hundred pounds of sand bag ballast added to the lower shelf just to make it stable. It doesn't make sense to me to purchase an expensive machine and then have to add unsightly ballast just to make it useable.  -Richard N


2.   JET 708359 JWL-1642EVS 16-Inch Swing 42-Inch between Centers 1-1/2 Horsepower Electronic Variable Speed Woodworking Lathe, 115-Volt 1 Phase

Includes 16-in x 42-in 1-1/2 HP Woodworking Lathe - 708359, 14-in Tool Rest, 6-in Face Plate, Spur Center, Dual-Bearing Live Center, Live Center, Tooling Knockout, Spindle &, Indexing Locks, Safety Shield &, Brake Resistor, Wrench. One lathe, two cast legs, one tail-stock, one headstock, one tool-rest body, one tool basket, one guard assembly, one accessory package, one owner's manual, and warranty card.

Customer Review - Buying a lathe it one of the hardest decisions you will make in putting a shop together. The possibilities are endless, and, as you move up the price curve the cost of a misjudgment can get terrifying. Unless you are willing to settle for a mini-lathe (Jet makes several good lathes in that category as well) the bigger a lathe you can buy (up to a limit) the happier you will be in the long run.The 1642, right in the middle of the price range can turn up to a 16" inch diameter bowl and up to 40+ inches in length - in other words, a small log - is one possibility you should seriously consider. At 400+ pounds it is solid enough to dampen vibration without taking a crew to assemble or move it. With a 1-1/2 horsepower motor it has enough power to do just about everything you might want to do. -M Ruby


3.  JET 708352 JWL-1236 Woodworking Lathe, 12-Inch Swing 3/4 HP 115-Volt 1-Phase

Includes 12-in x 34-1/2-in 3/4 HP Woodworking Lathe - 708352, 12-in Tool Rest, 6-in Face Plate, Spur Center, Live Center, Face Shield, Tooling Knockout

Customer Review - I have turned on every lathe from an big Oliver pattern lathes slick European models and this lathe has the best set of features for the money. In lathe work quick adjustments are needed to allow you to keep your focus on the form that you are trying to produce. A tool rest moved to the right spot at the right time keeps the tool running clean and eliminates tear-outs. This is also a great safety feature. That is just what this lathe has, features that only the most expensive lathes have in one machine. This rotating head found on only a handful of other brands was a nice touch. Just as important was the 'live center' with the proper point for wood turning. Again the ability to keep the tail support in the proper tension as the turning progress keeps everything running smooth, And that is what wood lathe work is all about.  -Mitch Mitton


4.  JET 708360 JWL-1642EVS-2 Electronic Variable Speed Woodworking Lathe, 16-Inch Swing 42-Inch between Centers 2-Horsepower 230-Volt 1-Phase

Includes 16-in x 42-in 2 HP Woodworking Lathe - 708360, 14-in Tool Rest, 6-in Face Plate, Spur Center, Dual-Bearing Live Center, Live Center, Tooling Knockout, Spindle &, Indexing Locks, Safety Shield &, Brake Resistor, Wrench

Customer Review - After much research and hands on evaluation I decided on and purchased the jet jet 1642-2EVS (708360) 2 hp lathe. It is the first machine that I have ever purchased that was not assembled and at first was somewhat annoyed that is was still in the crate but assembly was relatively simple. I removed the parts piece by piece from the truck. the legs are very heavy and luckily i had help. The bed was very heavy and somewhat of a challenge to get it up on the legs, but assembly was very simple. Every hole was perfectly aligned. It was in a crate, very well protected and neatly packed.  -J Tria


Benchtop Lathe

1.  Jet 708376 JWL-1220 12-Inch X 20-Inch Wood Lathe

Shaping, smoothing, finishing, fluting and veining all done on one machine - the JET JWL-1220 is a dream tool for any lathe enthusiast. Featuring a ¾ horsepower motor that handles increased capacities easily, this lathe can maintain consistent rpm through a much wider range of turning situations. Best of all, you can adjust the headstock, tail-stock and tool rest base without having to use tools. Nifty extras, such as the convenient cordless work-light, 6-inch and 10-inch tool-rest, and convenient cord wrap make this a dream machine. A pair of large-diameter retractable carry handles allows for easier storage. Lathe, one six-inch tool-rest, one10-inch tool-rest, one faceplate, one drift rod, one live center, one spur center, one pair of safety goggles, one tool caddy, one work lamp, one owner's manual, warranty card, one three-millimeter hex wrench, and one five-millimeter hex wrench.

Customer Review - The Jet 1220 is an excellent choice for people without a lot of shop space. It's similar to their venerable 1014 models which have been on the market for a while, but is considerably beefier and has somewhat larger capacity. Weighing in at almost 100 pounds, it's not really that portable, but the extra mass seems to help it run remarkably smoothly for a benchtop lathe. Jet also manufactures a bed extension which allows you to turn longer spindle work (the motor is powerful enough for most furniture work).  Jet's customer service is outstanding, by the way. I had a problem early on with the bolts on the tail-stock and they shipped replacement parts the next day. I've now had the lathe over six months and it's been reliable. -DB


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

Ideal for pen turning and small project turning, this bench-top wood lathe with cast iron construction and infinitely variable speed control offers the precision pen turners demand.  Variable speed motor. 8-Inch swing over bed. Weighs 45-Pounds. Cast iron construction and infinitely variable speed control. Safety paddle switch.

Customer Review - What a shock; free shipping arrived almost overnight! I unpacked this lathe, wiped off the shipping grease, waxed everything down, and evaluated how to make this lathe work well. The tool posts have a cast and painted surface; that would work, but a flattened and polished surface would work smoother, so I filed down and waxed the tool rests. Tested sliding a tool across it and it was smooth as butter. Now it was time to try turning a few pens. Lots of chatter and my mandrel kept behaving very strange. Looking again, I realized that I'd dialed the faceplate (less than 0.06 run-out) but that I hadn't checked headstock to tail-stock alignment. Height was good (the headstock and tail-stock center heights matched) but the headstock was about a degree off. Removed the motor and controller, loosened the Allens holding the headstock in place, and banged the headstock with a soft faced hammer until it lined up. Luckily there was enough play in the castings to bring it back to true. Tightened down the headstock, reassembled everything, and tried a few more pens. Perfect. Quiet, nice cuts, and the variable speed control works very well. -R. Shields


3.  PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Midi Lathe

The best 10-Inch lathe for your money. The variable speed motor provides instantaneous speed control as you turn. The relentless 3/4 horsepower motor delivers the power, control and versatility that's essential for the most demanding turning projects. Top notch cast iron construction and design ensures you years of trouble-free turning and excellent performance. This sturdy lathe will prove the workhorse you need for all of your turning needs from pen turning through 10-Inch bowls.

Customer Review - Nice midi lathe. Replaced the PSI Turncrafter Pro I had (I wanted the variable speed). The variable speed is great and worth the extra cost. The Turncrafter Pro was marketed as an 8" swing and this one is marketed as a 10" swing which was another reason I go the new lathe BUT they are both exactly the same size. If I had known this, I might have spent the extra $$ and gone for the 12" model (way too expensive to ship back and exchange). One negative note is that it came in damaged - the head stock bearing had been shoved out of the housing possibly during shipping. The outer packaging wasn't damaged so it may also have been damaged before packing at the factory. The good news is that PSI responded very quickly and replaced the damaged head (and paid for return shipping of the damaged parts) - so great customer service.  -M. Kalicki


Mini Lathes

1. JET JML 1014VSI 10-Inch-by-14-Inch Variable Speed Indexing Mini Lathe

JML-1014IVS: 10"x 14" Mini Lathe with Indexing Head Model 708375VS replaces the popular JML-1014. Without changing the basic reliable lathe, Jet has added arbor locks and 24 position indexing. Your wood turning can be enhanced by adding fluting, which is running decorative grooves lengthwise down a spindle by utilizing the indexing options. This powerful cast iron machine provides stable, virtually vibration free turning.Variable Speed. 10" swing over the bed. 14" Spindle capacity - which can be increased by adding a 20" bed extension. 1" x 8 TPI Spindle. #2 Morse Taper on head and tail-stock. Motor: 1/2 HP, 1 Ph, 115 V. Overall dimensions 24-5/8" D x 7-1/4" W x 14" H. Includes 6" tool rest, live center, 3" faceplate, spur center, tooling knockout, and safety goggles

Customer Review - This is an excellent lathe. Mine did arrive with a damaged hinge plate on the motor control box but Jet gets an A+ for customer service by FedEx ing a new one right away without any fuss.  This is my third lathe and a second one to have on hand for doing smaller items. That way I don't have to fire up my 2HP Powermatic just for small stuff. I am very impressed with the general operation.  The new indexing feature is a nice addition to this lathe. It has 24 indexing positions which is plenty for a mini lathe. Indexing is done via a spring loaded threaded pin just in front of the hand-wheel. Pushing it in engages the lock, release and it springs back out. Push it in and turn it to engage the threads and you have hands free use of the locked spindle. Just remember to unlock it before starting the lathe up. -Tom T


2. JET 1220VS Mini Lathe

The Jet JWL-1220VS Mini Lathe is an efficient tool for stabilizing and rotating wood pieces. Built for heavy-duty use, this mini lathe is ideal for sanding, shaping, and drilling operations using stock up to 12 inches in diameter and 20 inches in length. Featuring variable continuous speed operation, a self-ejecting tail-stock, and a compact frame, this is a high-quality machine well-suited for small work spaces.

Customer Review - I have been using my 1220VS for nearly a year and have noticed several disappointing shortcomings. First the electronic speed control is marginal. I'm on my third on-off switch (when they fail you can't turn the lathe off which is dangerous), the latch will not hold the control box in place and the lathe speeds up uncontrollably at times under heavy load. Note that you still have to change belt positions for a wide range of speed. The belt change is fast and easy.  Secondly the lever tightening screw used to hold the tool rest in place has a short lever and will not hold the rest securely. The internal splines strip if you use something to increase your leverage.  -Jack Langdon


3. JET JML 1014I 10 Inch X 14 Inch Indexing Mini Lathe

JML-1014I: 10"x 14" Mini Lathe with Indexing Head Model 708375 replaces the popular JML-1014. Without changing the basic reliable lathe, Jet has added arbor locks and 24 position indexing. Your wood turning can be enhanced by adding fluting, which is running decorative grooves lengthwise down a spindle by utilizing the indexing options. This powerful cast iron machine provides stable, virtually vibration free turning. Six speeds: 500, 1200, 1450, 2130, 2400 and 3950 RPM 10" swing over the bed. 14" spindle capacity - which can be increased by adding a 20" bed extension.1" x 8 TPI Spindle. #2 Morse Taper on head and tail-stock. Motor: 1/2 HP, 1 Ph, 115 Volt. Overall dimensions 24-5/8" D x 7-1/4" W x 14" H. Includes 6" tool rest, live center, 3" faceplate, spur center, tooling knockout, and safety goggles

Customer Review - For years I had been using a large, old, Delta lathe at work but since my retirement (ya, right) I no longer have that access. I have had to add power tools to my crib to accomplish the inventions and ideas that come into my head. I thought the Jet Mini lathe might be a bit too small but I was wrong. This lathe may not be large in size but it can do some pretty big work if and when you want it to. I do bowl turnings mostly and some spindle stuff and in both cases it has performed equal to if not better than the big Delta I used in the past. With the addition of the bed extension, a new PSI chuck, and slight modification to the setup I have turned up to 60 inch spindles and turned bowls out of soap stone with ease.  -W. Davie



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

Model 70-100 Rikon has taken the standard mini lathe to the next level with increased capacity - this mini lathe does more in less space. Featuring a 12" swing and 16" between centers with the ability to add one or more bed extensions. Shipping weight 89 lbs. Features: 12 position indexing head, self-ejecting tail-stock with 2-1/2" ram travel, 8" tool rest, convenient lifting handle, tool holder, easy access to the top and bottom pulleys for quick speed changes, six speed (430, 810, 1,230, 1,810, 2,670, 3,900), #2 MT head stock, powered by a 1/2 HP TEFC motor. Overall dimensions: 32" long x 10-1/2" wide x 19" high. Includes: 8 tool rest, live center, 3 faceplate, spur center, tooling knockout.

Customer Review - I first used this machine during a woodturning course and loved it. It is similar to the jet 12X20, with an easier belt adjustment design. The cover easily moves to the side. The jet lathe has 2 doors, one for the top belt and one for the bottom. Switching speeds is pretty quick with the rikon lathe. Performance is very good. I have been turning various spindle pieces with no problems to report. I purchased this model with the adjustable stand, which is solid and sturdy. I would highly recommend this lathe for beginner woodworkers.  -N Kester



5. Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe

With solid cast-iron construction, a robust 1/2 hp motor and a precision-machined live center, this little workhorse rivals features found in much larger lathes. It can turn bowls of almost 10" in diameter, and spindles up to 17-3/4" in length, making it perfect for chair legs, small table legs and an endless array of decorative turnings. A convenient door provides easy access to the belt, along with 5 different speeds: 760, 1100, 1600, 2200 and 3200 RPM. Cast-iron body provides mass for minimal vibration, stable turning and maximum durability. Other features include: Spur center on headstock, heavy-duty knockout bar for spur center, 6" tool rest, 3" face plate, convenient belt access door, chrome-plated hardware, removable safety switch, non-slip feet. To increase your spindle capacity to 38-1/2", just use the optional Mini Lathe Bed Extension (Rockler# 32307).

Customer Review - Never worked a wood lathe before and I have to say the setup was easy and I started making templates for chess pieces my first day. The instruction manual was weak so I bought a wood lathe book with technique tips and instructions.  Heavy, durable, and powerful, easy to use...  I'll use this tool for years to come for the many projects I plan for the grandchildren. A nice set of accessories are also available. -Steven F. Schartel

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