Best Lathes for Wood Turning

Best Lathes for Wood Turning

If you're a beginner woodworker or in the market for a reliable and efficient woodturning lathe, then you're in the right place!

Woodturning is an incredibly vast discipline where one can choose from numerous options and showcase their creativity. If you are considering doing it, then you're making the right choice. This is one of the many woodworking disciplines you won't regret learning. 

Like everything woodworking, woodturning calls for some essentials, whether you're an amateur or professional. Among those things is a wood lathe, and we all know when you have the best power tool, your work will be much easier and look presentable. 

The best lathe for wood turning is hard to find, considering the intimidating number of products on the market. For this reason, I will help you choose the best one!

Here is my review of the best lathes for wood turning:

My Top Pick: Shop Fox W1704

Wood turning requires patience, creativity, and, most of all, a good lathe for woodturning. With the market being flooded with lathes of different weights, speeds, and power, it might be hard to choose the right one. That's why I am presenting you with the Shop Fox W1704 Benchtop Lathe. 

Here is why it's the best:

Specifications 

Dimensions: 7.1 by 27.9 by 13.7 In

Weight: 49.5 lbs.

Power Source: Corded 

Voltage: 110 Volts 

Horsepower: 1/3

Amperage: 2-amp

Footprint: 23 3/8 x 5 ½ In.

Swing-Over Bed: 8 In.

Gap Between Centers: 12 in.

What I Like 

  • It comes with a changeable spindle speed

  • Its construction is durable and steady

  • It's perfect for turning pens along with other small-sized items 

  • It has a safety paddle switch 

  • Affordable

What I Didn't Like 

  • It doesn’t come with a hand wheel

  • Not ideal for huge projects 

Key Features 

Speed

It is essential for the woodturning lathe you choose to have sufficient speed. This is normally variable or fixed. Most lathes, including the Shop Fox W1704, have speeds ranging from 500 to 3,000 RPM. This is sufficient for small projects. 

Usually, there are three systems for controlling the variable speed; electrical, mechanical, and belt pulley. The Shop Fox W1704 features an electrical system that is easy to operate and offers impressive versatility. 

Design

This lathe is constructed using cast iron, and it features a paddle safety switch, making switching the power tool off in case of an emergency effortless. The iron build offers supreme durability and longevity. This construction is perfect for all the shaping, cutting, and turning involved in woodturning projects. 

The spindle speed button is positioned beside the headstock, close to the on/off button. You'll find the motor just beneath the bed, while the tool rest is near it. 

When I need to lock the quill in position, I use the quill lock grip atop the tailstock, while the lever for the tailstock comes in handy in locking it in place. Lastly is the adjustment knob for the tailstock. 

Easy to Use 

As pointed out, this power tool is excellent for small turning and cutting projects, thus ideal for those who've only begun exploring the wondrous discipline of woodturning. It is more compact than most lathes, but make no mistake; it is reliable, powerful, and efficient enough to get the job done. 

Accessories

You can purchase this lathe alone or go for the more expensive kits, including a chisel set, divider set, chuck, or chuck set. 

Cost & Comparison 

The Shop Fox W1704 benchtop lathe goes for $250 to $300. Additionally, if you want to purchase it as a kit, it'll cost approximately $310 to $400. It has a 4.3 out of 5 stars rating on amazon. 

As for its competition, the WEN Mini Benchtop lathe and the NOVA Comet II go for $240 to $300 and $450 to $520. 

Worthy Competitors

WEN Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe 

The WEN 3421 wood lathe is an excellent option for your workshop. It is user-friendly, ideal for beginners, and affordable, making it suitable for those on a budget. 

This mini benchtop lathe is built using cast iron for maximum durability, while the base includes aluminum. It has a potent changeable-speed motor, an adjustable belt mechanism featuring a swift-release lever, and a tool rest wing for unmatched productivity. 

The on/off switch is strategically positioned so that you won't be inconvenienced anytime you need to switch it on or off. 

It is versatile enough to produce chess pieces, pens, cups, and bowls. This wood lathe is for you who's looking for an affordable, user-friendly, and versatile lathe. Besides, it's ideal for home use as it is easy to maintain and set up. 

NOVA 46300 Comet II Mini Lathe

This is the perfect wood lathe for the craftsman looking to create small and medium-sized wooden items. 

It features a 12 In. swing, making it ideal for creating cups, bowls, and pens without needing to use sandpaper. Its design and build are impressively good, with a reinforced cast iron base. Something else to love about the NOVA Comet II is its speed. 

Unlike the WEN and Shop Fox lathes, this one comes with a speed range of 250 to 4000 RPM, which is the highest in this review.

This speed range allows you to utilize any necessary tools without having to stress about ruining your workpiece. Also, this impressive machine comes with a digital readout, making it easier to utilize. 

I have to mention the optional tailstock. It's supremely handy when you require additional stability when working with heavier materials. 

That said, this lathe for wood turning has a few downsides, including being very expensive. It might not be the go-to option for you on a budget, but if you're a professional and willing to spend $500 or more, it's an excellent investment. 

Why Choose the Shop Fox W1704?

The Shop Fox W1704 is a compact power tool, so you don't need to worry about storage space. Again, it is affordable, hence no spending all your savings on this one purchase. Its efficiency is incredible, seeing as it is on the cheaper side. 

Considering its size and the work it can do for you, it is all you'll require for small woodturning projects. The heavy-duty iron construction makes it durable, so that you won't be returning to your local hardware anytime soon. Lastly, it is ideal for small projects like figurines, caricatures, pens, and so much more!

So, are you looking for a power tool that delivers seamless carvings, unmatched precision, and beautiful cylindrical carvings? If yes, then the Shop Fox Benchtop lathe is the way to go!

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