Are you a woodwork enthusiast and desire to produce those fabulous items that make you compete fairly with the rest? Or are you tired of producing patterns and designs that don’t look attractive? If your answer is yes, then look no further than using the best wood lathes. The tools help you to craft pieces of wood into the desired shapes, be it a vase, spindle, bowl or any other decorative items. You could also be a DIY specialist and love to produce magnificent items for your use. A wood lathe will help you meet your desire hassle-free and make your work enjoyable and easy.
You will, therefore, need to choose the best device from among the many in the market. You need also to compete well and produce the state of the art tools that will be irresistible. How do I pick the most suitable wood lathe for my job? You ask. It may not be easy to do this unless you have the proper knowledge of what to look for, or have an idea of the best tool. You also need to use a lot of time and resources trying several of them. It may not be possible for you to do a trial and error due to the high cost of these tools. Do you feel like giving up? Relax! We have already researched for you, tried and tested the tools and compiled a list of the best. READ this guide and understand the factors to consider, choose the most suitable tools for you and get answers to the FAQs that will help you.
Factor to Consider When Choosing the Best Wood Lathes
Before embarking on a journey of searching for a wood lathe, you must know what makes a good tool. Since this device is different from others in the wood workshop, you should be cautious to get the best. The following factors are worth considering:
- Ability to absorb vibration
Unlike other tools in a wood workshop that produce little vibration, a wood lathe holds the wood and turns it at high speeds. The timber is normally rough and unbalanced hence causing a lot of vibrations. It is, therefore, crucial to look for a material that can withstand the discomfort of swaying and rattling during operation. Although most tools are made of aluminum or steel, cast iron may be the ideal material for a lathe. Since cast iron is highly-priced, you can look for a machine that has a single way with a steel tube and cast-iron head and tailstocks.
- Adequate finish
This device should have an adequate finish on the head and tailstock as well as excellent on the ways. A tool with properly finished ways has tailstock and tool rest that will move smoothly and freely hence makes turning enjoyable. A poorly finished device, on the other hand, makes turning difficult and frustrating and it may end up injuring the user or causing pain.
- The head and tailstocks should be aligned
The right wood lathe should have the tailstock and the head, lined up both horizontally and vertically. You can line themmanually by putting a center in each one and bringing them together. You can look for a device that has measures to help line up the centers although they may be more costly.
- The height
The height of the tool should be set in a way that the centerline of the turning should be at the elbow height. Although the height may be different due to the varying ratios of the leg to arm length, it is a good working estimate. The height should not be too little or too great to prevent back pain on the user due to stretching or hunching.
- A strong base
A wood lathe needs to have a solid foundation and a sturdy bed to produce superior quality turned objects. The bed should be made of cast iron to make it heavy and to minimize the vibration when spinning the wood on the motor. A heavy base will make it easier and safer turning the wood.
- The lathe measures
You should choose the capacity measure of the wood lathe depending on your project. If you are turning small objects, or if you want to move the tool from one place to another, then a mini lathe is ideal. If however, you want to turn large jobs such as table legs, then you should choose a larger lathe. Turning several sizes of spindles may require you to buy medium size machines that come with the extendable bed.
- The motor specifications
The lathe motor-range lies between 1/8 HP to 3 HP. You should choose the range depending on the size of the piece that you are turning. If you are turning large pieces of wood, then a larger motor will be ideal. You need to also consider the right speed that ranges from 400 to 3000 RPM.
Top six best wood lathes in 2020 (Best picks)
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Summary of the six best wood lathes
Picking the right tool from among many in the market may be an uphill task even with the knowledge of what to consider. It is for this reason that we have listed the best six that have passed the test of time and which will suit your needs. Read on and select what suits you by clicking the links provided:
PSI Woodworking LCENTSS22 Super Wood
Lathe Drive Center
It’s compatible with headstocks having 2MT spindles
Has more teeth that offers a strong grip with equal pressure and a positive drive The spring-loaded point that makes spindle centering simply
Retracts to prevent your work from spitting when you apply tailstock pressure
|Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable Speed Midi Lathe|
A powerful 1-horsepower, 1,725 RPM motor Huge 12-1/2 inch swing capacity The electronic variable speed
Forward and reversing property Patented belt tensioning system
Jet JWL – 1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe
Unmatched speed control Adjustable speed range of between 60 – 3600 RPM Finest designed speed ranges Smooth forward to reverse transition Creative ratchet style belt tension system
Shop Fox W1704 Bench-top Wood Lathe
Cast iron construction for durability Variable speed control Eight-inch swing over bed
1/2 –inch distance between centers 1/3 HP motor Fits perfectly on a work-bench
WEN 3420t 2-Amp Variable Speed Bench-top Mini Wood Lathe
Ideal for chess pieces, pens, and other little workpieces
Soft-start adjustable speed motor ranging from 750 – 3200 RPM Includes a 5-inch face-plate for turning non-spindle work-pieces suits workpieces up to 12-inch by 8-inch (L x W)
Has a 2-amp motor, an MT1 spindle, and tailstock taper
Two interchangeable tool rests
Goplus 1/2 HP Speed 40-Inch Power Wood Turning Lathe
Solid and stable frame since it is made of steel Minimized vibrations when operating the device Adjustable 4 speeds to allow you to handle a variety of projects
Has ½ horsepower setting Suitable for use at home A distance of 40-inches hence a great working space
1). PSI Woodworking LCENTSS22 Super Wood Lathe Drive Center
PSI super wood lathe center gives you a better bite on your spindle since it has more teeth. The tool is compatible with headstocks that have 2MT spindles. The device also provides a positive drive and equal pressure. The spring-loaded point of this tool makes spindle centering simple and also retracts to protect your work from spitting when you apply tailstock pressure.
- A powerful center spin spring
- Does not grip the wood or the conventional spur center
- Sturdy and durable design
- Provides enough pressure and positive drive
- Simple spindle centering
- Compatible with various headstocks
- Item weight: 8.8 ounces
- Product dimensions: 4.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches
- Size 1-inch crown
- Warranty: 2-year limited
Perfect for most jobs!
2. Delta Industrial 46-460 Inch Variable Speed Midi Lathe
Delta 460-460 midi lathe is an effective tool with a ball-bearing live center, on-board storage and a heavy-duty steel knockout bar that allows quick access to adjustment tools. The device can handle tough jobs and is therefore perfect for professional woodworkers. You will be able to get quick and smooth outcomes as well as consistency and easy control.
The powerful 1-horsepower max, 1,725 RPM motor combined variable speed gives precision and consistency. The tool has three pulley-speed ranges that make it easy to choose the desired rate for turning a job without changing the position of the belt. By use of the forward and reverse functions, the machine gives you accuracy and precision, hence a superior finish. The device simplifies the process of sanding a turned piece of wood by the use of a quick flip switch, thus saving on time.
- Patented belt tensioning system for easy change of speed and durability
- Made of cast-iron for strength and durability
- Adjustable speed with three pulley-speed ranges
- Tough performance due to a powerful motor
- Large 12-1/2 swing capacity
- Item weight: 97 pounds
- Product dimensions: 36 x 11 x 17.8 inches
- Color: gray
- Power source: corded electric
- Warranty Description: 5-year
Ideal tool for professionals!
3. Jet JWL – 1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe
Jet JWL-1221VS wood lathe is a powerful tool that is easy to control thus produce excellent results. It has unrivaled speed control that gives you the comfort of using without damaging your pieces or getting fatigued. You can choose from 60 – 3600 RPM speed depending on the project you are doing since these rates are optimally designed to handle hand work-piece.
The device also allows for a smooth transition from forward to reverse and thus you will be able to complete various jobs within a short period. The innovative ratchet design belt tension system allows for accurate and precision finish. The integrated spring-loaded spindle lock and the conveniently positioned controls and DRO enables you to operate on the tool smoothly and easily, thus giving the designed outcome on any job.
- Excellent speed control ranging from 60rpm to 3600rpm
- Conveniently positioned controls and DRO
- Finest designed speed ranges
- Simple forward to reverse transition
- 24-integrated indexing positions
- Creative ratchet style belt tension system
- Item weight: 129.8 pounds
- Product dimensions: 32.8 x 14.6 x 21.2 inches
- Style: variable speed wood lathe
- Power source: corded electric
- Horsepower: 1
- Cord length: 4 feet
- Speed: 3600 RPM
- Warranty Description: 5-year
Ideal wood lathe!
4). Shop Fox W1704 Bench-top Wood Lathe
The Shop Fox W1704 wood lathe is a perfect tool for wood-work enthusiasts dealing with small cutting projects, tackle pen turning or shaping of projects. The device is made from cast iron for durability and it is designed to fit perfectly on a work-bench. The tool has a powerful 1/3-horsepower, adjustable speed motor that can deliver spindle speed between 700 and 3,200 RPM (revolutions per minute) and it has a safety peddle switch. You will, therefore, be able to operate the tool without any risks of injuries.
You will be able to use the machine for various applications since it has two tool rests i.e. 4 – 1/2 and 7-inches. It has a variety of turning points since the distance between centers is 13-inches and it also has an 8-inch swing over the bed. The unlimited variable speed range from 700 – 3200 RPM makes it perfect for turning both hard and of pieces of wood.
- 13-inch distance between centers
- 8-inch swing over bed
- Spindle speed range of 700 – 3200 RPM
- Two rest tools
- Includes 5 – 3/4 inch faceplate for non-spindle turning
- Cast-iron construction for durability
- Item weight: 48.5 pounds
- Product dimensions: 7.1 x 27.9 x 13.7 inches
- Power source: corded electric
- Horsepower: 0.33 HP
The perfect tool for tackle pen turning!
5). WEN 3420T 2-amp Variable Speed Bench-top Mini Wood Lathe
This wood lathe is ideal for chess, pens, and other small projects. The device has a soft-start adjustable speed motor ranging from 750 to 3200 RPM. It also includes a 5-inch faceplate for turning work-pieces that are non-spindle. It fits into tasks up to 12-inches by 8-inches length by width thus enabling you to work comfortably on your tasks.
The lever clamping system of the device is easy-to-use making the adjustments to both the tool rest and tailstock smooth and precise. The tool also includes a flat jerk, a headstock spur center, a 5-inch faceplate and a knockout rod for turning non-spindle tasks.
- Adjustable speed operation
- Tailstock and MT1 spindle
- 12-amp slow start motor
- Includes several accessories
- On/off switch with safety lock
- Item weight: 43 pounds
- Product dimensions: 26 x 10 x 12 inches
- Size 8 x 12 inches
- Material: metal
- Measurement system: metric
6. Goplus ½ HP 4-Speed 40-inch Power Wood Turning Lathe
Goplus 1/2HP power woos turning lathe is a bench-top device whose frame is made from solid steel making it steady and strong. The stable frame allows you to secure the tool while holding the woodworking jobs. The frame also reduces vibrations when using the tool hence making it comfortable and easy to operate. The adjustable 4-speed design allows you to choose the right rate of 1100, 1600, 2300, or 3400, hence tackling various jobs. You can save on power and get better results from the different speeds.
If you love working from home, this tool is ideal for home use. It is compact and comes with complete accessories thus possible to fit it in a little space. You can perfectly set the machine at your house hence work on various pattern jobs and handiwork including grooving, drilling, fluting, layer-out among other projects. The machine also has a distance of 40-inches between the centers thus allowing you to work comfortably. The area enables you to maintain a low profile on your work-bench as well as work on huge pieces for superior handiwork.
- Versatile due to various accessories
- Great workspace for maintenance of low profile on the workbench
- You can work with large pieces for better handiwork
- Ideal for home use and production of a variety of patterns since it can fit in a tight space
- Item weight: 52 LBS
- Material: steel
- Horsepower: 1/2HP
- Color: red
- Product dimensions: 57.5 x 9 x 15 inches
- Chuck diameter: 14-inches
- Rated voltage: 120V/60Hz, 2.9A
Ideal for home uses!
Frequently asked questions about the best wood lathes
Many questions arise when choosing the right tools to turn wood into decorative patterns. Below is a sample of the FAQs and their answers that we feel are of great help to you:
Q. What is a wood lathe?
A wood lathe is a device used in woodworking applications to drill, sand, cut, turn, face, and to deform wooden workpieces. Like all other lathes, they expose a rotating workpiece to a working tool that is stationary. The machine turns a piece of wood into a shape that you desire, which could be a spindle, bowl, vase or several other decorative or patterns.
Q. Is there a difference between a wood and a metal lathe?
A CNC turning lathe is a device that turns and cuts either metal or lathe. A metal lathe is designed to cut and polish metals while a wood lathe, on the other hand, has several applications. The machine polishes, cuts, sands, and shapes various wooden materials.
Q. What is the meaning of facing and turning?
Facing is the operation in which the length of a workpiece is reduced and the finishing of a surface done by cutting to a depth in line with the length of the workpiece. The tool is moved perpendicularly to the axis of the object, it is therefore not restricted only to items with cylindrical profiles alone.
Turning, on the other hand, is defined for cylindrical items. It is used in the reduction of the diameter by cutting into the workpiece for some depth and moving the device parallel to the axis of the item. Both operations remove the irregular surface from a cast product.
Q. What is the difference between a milling machine and a lathe?
A lathe is a flexible tool that is used to turn a piece of metal or wood to the required size and shape. The item is held in between the centers on the device and turned against a single point cutting machine that removes it in the form of fragments. In a milling machine, the item is fed against a rotating multipoint cutter. The milling reaper spins at a high speed thus removing the piece quickly with the help of multiple cutting edges. You can mount more than one cutter simultaneously on the arbor of the device.
Q. What are the advantages of using a lathe machine?
A lathe is less costly than other devices such as grinding, drilling, and milling machines. The tool can also perform various functions such as parting, threading, straight turning, facing and boring. It is thus convenient to use and operate.
Q. What are the disadvantages of a lathe machine?
The lathe device may require high investment costs. The machine may also need periodical maintenance due to its various functions and it also involves time expenses. Every new part of a CNC tool requires new programming which also increases the cost. You will also need to have experience and expertise before operating the machine.
How to Turn Wood on a Lathe?
If you are in the woodwork industry, then you must be unique in your art and skills to compete well with other enthusiasts. You will not be able to produce wonderful items unless you invest in high-tech tools. One of the devices you cannot afford to miss in your workshop is a wood lathe.
With this device, you will be able to perform various operations such as sanding, cutting, drilling, deformation, knurling, turning and facing. You will also be able to create symmetrical objects about the axis thus making your work easier. The tool will also enable you to produce several decorative items that will make your clients come back to you every other time thus elevating your business. It is advisable therefore to choose wisely the device that suits your desires from the above list and take your skills a notch higher.
Do not be left behind!