Best Wood Lathe Reviews 2016

Are you looking for best wood lathe reviews? Then you are at the right place. We have reviews which allow you to compare some of the most important settings on a wood lathe including speed, power, build, ease-of-use and the types of wood that can be shaped.

A quality wood lathe will allow the turner to work quickly and efficiently while also taking most of the physical effort out of the process.

To get the best machine for your woodworking needs, you must take the time to research different models. This buyer’s guide compares the features of different lathes and matches them to your personal needs.

Detailed wood lathe reviews come in handy when looking for the best lathe as they will guide you through the decision-making process up to purchasing.

Our Top 5 Recommended Wood Lathe Comparison Table

ModelSpeed MotorSpeed rangeWeight
Jet JWL-1642-EVS-2

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2 HP;
50rpm to 3200rpm456 lbs
Powermatic 3520B

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2 HP;
50rpm to 3200rpm680 lbs
Shop Fox W1758

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2 HP;
600rpm to 2400rpm347 lbs

1.75 HP;
100rpm to 3500rpm189 lbs
Nova 1624-44

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1.5 HP;
215rpm to 3600rpm285 lbs

Top 5 Wood Lathe Reviews

Powermatic 3520B
Powermatic 3520B Review

The Powermatic 3520B is one of the most efficient wood lathes on the market.

It features a 2-horsepower motor that many lower-quality models can not match. It is powerful with 220 volts and a variable speed motor that has an inverter for three-phase or single-phase input.

It features built-in spindle indexing for drilling hole patterns along with a sliding headstock, and a tailstock provides internal storage.

The Powermatic 3520B is a rugged wood lathe made of heavy-duty cast iron for added durability and longevity. It features a digital RPM readout along with 20-inch swing and 34.5 inches between the centers.

The 3520B is tough with a stout tailstock and thick tool rest base. It is built to handle some of the most intense and fast-paced work providing a great advantage over many other machines.

The model is over 680 pounds with a stability that helps resist vibration. The solid lathe prevents the need for sandbags or weights to keep it steady. Accessories include a faceplate, wrench, knockout rod, spindle lock and the tool rest. The Powermatic 3520B an excellent choice for a quality wood lathe with few flaws.

Check out our complete review!

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Nova 1624-44
Nova 1624-44 Review

The Nova 1624-44 features a powerful 1.5-horsepower traditional AC motor. It has a voltage of 115 and speeds ranging from 215 rpm to 3,600 rpm. The speeds have eight interval stops, and they are set by moving the drive belt between pairs of pulleys.

It is a durable wood lathe made of solid cast iron, but it is light enough that it will require weight at its base to keep it steady. It does not provide a ballast shelf unfortunately.

The Nova 1624-44 also has a swivel head that moves a full 360 degrees. It has a 16-inch swing with 24 inches between centers, and this is extendable with accessories.

The tool rest on this model is reliable and will not move even with the most rigorous tasks. It features a convenient locking lever for the tool rest that is comfortable and easy on the hands.

All parts of the machine are easy to slide and adjust, and the ability to rotate in reverse is a highly-praised benefit. The Nova 1624-44 is one of the most affordable models, and it makes an excellent basic lathe. Its simple step-pulley design will provide a long powerful life of operation.

Check out our complete review!

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Jet JWL-1642-EVS-2
Jet JWL-1642-EVS-2 Review

The Jet JWL-1642-EVS-2 is a reliable lathe that is quite similar to the powerful and rugged Powermatic 3520B. It is a powerful tool in its own right, and it features a 2-horsepower motor that is not found on some lathes of lower quality.

Its headstock slides to allow for outboard turning, and it features a quality live center for its tailstock. Its spindle lock is spring-loaded, so it won’t accidentally remain in locked position.

The lathe features a 16-inch swing and 42-inch capacity and is made with a heavy-duty cast-iron bed. This provides a versatility for large and small tasks as well as longevity, accuracy and efficient operation.

The cast-iron construction also adds stability and results in less vibration. The legs are also made of iron, and they have widely-spaced feet with adjustable padding to create a stance that is even more secure on complicated surfaces.

The powerful Jet JWL-1642-EVS-2 has a voltage of 230V with 6.1 amps and an electronic inverter that allows it to operate at speeds between 50 to 1,200 and 125 to 3,200 rpm. It features a digital readout to dial the preferred speed easily and an indexing mechanism that allows for fast fluting and veining operations.

Check out our complete review!

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Nova DVR-XP Review

The Nova DVR-XP is an excellent lathe that features a 1.75-horsepower direct drive DVR motor with a variety of speeds ranging from 100 to 3,500 rpm.

Five of the speeds are presets that can be programmed. The intelligent motor offers favorite speed settings, chisel dig safety sensing and out-of-balance adjustment.

It has a voltage of 115 and it provides a very low starting speed that allows the versatility to cover everything from thin and small tasks to large and round projects.

The DVR-XP operates in forward and reverse, and it has full head functionality with cast-iron components. It has a very rigid spindle, and it operates incredibly smoothly and quietly with impressive torque.

This is due to the fact that there are no drive pulleys, and it features an integrated motor and headstock. Like the Powermatic 3520B, the Nova DVR-XP suffers no speed loss even with a maximum 40 pounds on its brake lever. This allows greater control without accidental stops.

One of the main drawbacks with this unit is its lack of a stand and other expensive accessories. Many users have no problem using a substitute for the stand, but this will not always be the most stable option.

Check out our complete review!

Shop Fox W1758
Shop Fox W1758 Review

The Shop Fox W1758 is one of the best wood lathes available. It features a powerful 2-horsepower motor that outperforms many other models.

It has a 110V single-phase design with a 16-inch swing and 46 inches between centers. It allows for ten speeds from 600 to 2,400 rpm, and the lever adjustment makes changing the speed and affecting the task time much more simple.

The unit also has a swivel head for outboard turning that is made easy with the tool rest extension. The extension is adjustable three ways to provide the most support.

It features a digital tachometer to get the exact spindle speed along with headstock and tailstock quick locking with release levers. The headstock rotates every 30 degrees from 0 to 180.

The cast-iron base makes it a heavy-duty machine that produces little vibration even when the lathe is moving at its highest speeds. One of the best aspects of the Shop Fox W1758 is its cost. For the quality this wood lathe offers, this price can be considered a steal.

Check out our complete review!

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Best Mini Wood Lathe

Many woodturners prefer the largest wood lathes so that they can tackle the biggest projects. Other craftsmen prefer to do the opposite and desire to create smaller goods.

For these workers, mini wood lathes come in handy as they are specifically made to be used with smaller items.

These models can be operated on a bench, and they are made to create more intricate pieces compared to standard lathes. They also provide the added advantage of taking up less space in crowded work areas.

Check out our Complete Guide about Best Mini Wood Lathes

Delta Industrial 46-460
Delta Industrial 46-460 Review

Most mini wood lathes are similar across manufacturers, but a few stand out among the others. The Delta Industrial 46-460 is one of the most powerful mini wood lathes on the market. It has a 1-horsepower motor along with three pulley speeds and electronic variable speed control. There is a reverse function and a belt tension system that expedites speed changes to extend the machine’s life.

Check out our complete review!

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SHOP FOX W1752 Review

Those looking for a longer stroke should consider the SHOP FOX W1752 with 3.5-inch ram stroke. It has a motor with six variable speed settings, and it can operate at over 4,000 rpm. The FOX W1752 also has a 10-inch swing and 15.5 inches between centers. This can increase to up to 38 inches with the bed extension.

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Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe
Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe Review

The Rockler Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe is an economical but powerful choice. It uses a five-speed pulley system that provides 760, 1,100, 1,600, 2,200 or 3,200 rpm. It is not the most advanced mini lathe, but it is simple and affordable enough for those needing to tackle most tasks.

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Jet JWL-1015VS
Jet JWL-1015VS Review

In contrast to the Excelsior, the Jet JWL-1015VS is more on the average to expensive side of the price range. This model has 10 inches of swing with 15.5 inches between centers. It is a very stable model that offers variable speed.

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About Wood Turning Lathe

Woodworking remains one of the oldest and most noble of human crafts. Whether you’re a wood turner, carpenter, a hobbyist or an aspiring artist working with wood, we will guide you to the best woodworking tools and products available on the market.

From wood turning lathes, lathe tools and extensions, to other types of wood turning tools, we will provide you with in-depth reviews and comparisons, as well as a thorough overview of the factors you need to consider before buying the tools for your craft.

Our reviews cover a variety of woodworking tools, such as standard lathes, mini wood lathes and wood lathes for making wide items such as bowls and plates. Furthermore, each review considers such important factors as the lathe’s power, motor and its speed (also known as RPM). Additionally, we will guide you through the physical properties of each tool, looking into the size and build, as well as its weight and sturdiness – important factors that determine the amount of vibration the tool exhibits while working with it. Noise levels will also be considered – a quality wood lathe should be quiet and pleasant to work with, thereby increasing your creative output. And in order for you to optimize your workflow and creative output, we will also tell you about the tool’s capacity so you can make the optimal choice for your needs.

Additionally, we will round up the relevant factors and provide you with an Ease-of-Use opinion, along with the types of wood the machine can work with. And last but not least: we will consider the price factor. If you’re looking to buy – this is the place where you’ll find the best guides on wood turning lathe deals and woodworking tools for sale.

We also decided to provide you with an overview of the most important wood lathe parts and attachments to save your time – from chucks, drill chucks and boring bars, to center finders and tenons, you’ll always find helpful, pertinent advice on our pages. Add to this our coverage of the different types of accessories such as the different types of chisels and gouges, parting and beading tools, scrapers and measuring sets – and you’ll never go wrong with our help by your side!

Finally, our website aims to serve both professionals and beginners. Wood turning enthusiasts can learn more about the basics of working with a wood turning lathe, as well as take a look around our pages and delve into the craft as they see fit – whenever they like, and however they like. For those seeking to learn, we will teach you how to find the best wood lathes for you, the various uses of wood lathes and lathe tools, as well as where to buy wood lathes (the best ones, and for the best price!). From useful tips and tricks of the trade, all the way to the best deals in the wood turning lathe universe – we got you covered.

What is a Wood Lathe?

what-is-wood-latheA wood lathe is a wood turning machine that involves spinning or rotating a wood piece and typically using a hand held cutting tool or sandpaper to sculpt and shape it into a finished product.

Wood lathes are usually spindle types or faceplate turners depending upon the type of wood piece used and the preferred final product.

The wood lathe machine allows for greater user control and versatility from the movement of one’s own hands instead of relying on a blade that the wood piece is pushed against.

These machines are designed to operate at various speeds to produce certain effects or to shape wood quicker.

There are various types of wood lathes, and they are used to create specific types of wood items. Wood turners use these machines to create their own arts and crafts as well as furniture and other functional items.

Manufacturers strive to meet the needs of dedicated modern wood turners, so many of the most popular models are extremely powerful and efficient. The best wood lathe is one that provides stability to match its power and can easily shape the types of wood items the user primarily creates.

How To Use A Lathe

Best Wood Lathe Reviews 2016

What Types are Available?

types-of-wood-latheMost wood lathes are quite similar, but there can sometimes be significant differences between models. There are also different types of machines that serve different purposes.

Some are made for standard turning, and others are meant for smaller items or bowl products.

  • Standard lathes are meant for turning functional items such as table legs as well as artistic wood sculptures. They are usually made out of heavy rugged cast iron, and they feature an adjustable rail the operator uses to help shape the wood. These wood lathes are the most commonly used.
  • Mini wood lathes are much smaller than standard lathes, and they are meant to allow more precision for smaller intricate items. They may have less power by comparison, but they also allow more floor space compared to normal wood lathes. Mini wood lathes are bench-top units that are also portable.
  • Wood lathes for making wide items such as bowls and plates are also available. These lathes lack the horizontal rail found on standard units, so there is little limitation to the possible width of the piece of wood being sculpted. Lathes of this nature use faceplate turning that rotates the grain of the wood relative to the axis of the machine.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Wood Lathe

factors-to-considerThere are numerous factors to take into consideration before purchasing a quality wood lathe. Each aspect of the machine will determine how well the wood turner will be able to use it or how satisfied they are in the long run. Some factors will have greater priority than others for each person, but they are all worth considering when distinguishing between models.

powerPower: A lathe’s power can be analyzed with several features in mind. The abilities of the motor along with the speeds at which it can efficiently operate contribute to its overall power. A more powerful machine will be better able to handle more complex projects.

motorMotor: The size of the machine’s motor determines how quickly the wood can be cut. If the motor is too small to cut heavy items, the shaping tool may chatter or the piece may bog down leading to damage of the product.

speedSpeed: Some items need to be rotated at different speeds to get the desired results. Table legs need faster rotations while bowl lathes rotate slowly. Most lathes have adjustable speeds, so this offers versatility for beginners. The highest speed novices would need is no more than 2,000 rpm.

sizeSize/Build: The types of projects the wood turner plans to make will help determine the right size of machine to purchase. Smaller projects need a bench-top or “mini” lathe. Floor lathes are much more powerful and capable of tackling larger projects, but they also take up much more space in the work area.

sturdinessSturdiness: The speed at which the lathe turns will affect how sturdy and stable it will be. A good lathe should be rugged and heavy to withstand blows and stay securely in place to avoid mistakes caused by sudden shifting. It will also be capable of handling uneven blanks and interrupted cutting.

weightWeight: A heavier lathe will usually be more stable and will not need additional sandbags or weights to keep it in place. If a machine is too lightweight, it will be more susceptible to shifting out of place at higher speeds or with more intense tasks.

vibrationVibration: Lathes that are lightweight or not properly stabilized will be more prone to vibration. Excessive vibration makes for a machine that is difficult to control, and the final product may be compromised because of it.

noiseNoise: A quality wood lathe should be quiet. Not only will this prevent annoying noise in the work area, but it allows the turner to hear how the lathe and cutting tool interact to ensure they are working properly.

capacityCapacity: The distance between centers and the maximum swing account for the capacity of the lathe. A greater distance between centers allows for longer pieces of wood to be turned in the lathe. A greater swing allows for wood blanks with larger diameters that will not contact any other part of the machine.

ease-of-useEase-of-Use: A wood turner should purchase a lathe that is effective enough to handle necessary tasks while still being simple enough to use. It may be best to test out various machines to ensure potential choices are comfortable to use and adjust.

pricePrice: Wood lathes can be expensive, so those that are new to wood turning may not be prepared to invest in the most advanced models. Some lathes may compromise quality while costing much less than better models. Users that plan to purchase high-quality models should be sure they are thoroughly enthusiastic about wood turning before spending more money.

types-of-woodTypes of Wood: The types of wood one frequently uses may be better suited for some machines, so this should determine which lathe would be best to purchase.

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Wood Lathe Parts and Attachments

Adding the right attachments to your lathe is a great way to give all kinds of different functionalities and make it a better tool all around. With so many options to consider though, it is important to pay careful attention to the parts and attachments you are considering. By following this guide you can find the best wood lathe attachments available today.


Important Wood Lathe Parts and Attachments to Save Your Time

Parts and attachments are great ways to help get the most out of your tools. The following will show a few wood lathe parts and attachments and a brief description of each. These tools will help save your time when it comes to woodworking.

  • Chucks and Drill ChucksChucks and Drill Chucks

A drill chuck is the part of a drill that holds the rotating bit. Drill chucks are designed to hold the bit tightly and not loosen, even when there is a high amount of torque. Many lathe drill chucks come with removable jaws. Lathe chucks are tightened by a special tool called a “chuck” key. This key must tighten each jaw separately.

  • Boring BarsBoring Bars

Boring is a technique used in woodworking for drilling. The boring tool is static in size and used to form circular plunge cuts. This just one of many great wood lathe attachments. Note, you will also need a boring bar holder. When shopping, check to see if a store has wood lathe parts for sale, and buy a boring bar with a bar holder.

  • Center Finder

Find the center of any round or square stock for lathe turning with a center finder tool. On many versions of this tool, one side of the tool locates a diagonal line on a square stock and the other side locates a diagonal line on a round stock. You find the center by marking two opposite diagonal lines. This is just one of many wood turning lathe parts that are a must have.

  • Tenon Tool

Tenon ToolTenon tools can be useful to get a nice, clean, sharp and accurate 90 degree inside angle corner for delicate turnings. This tool is a must have for any pen maker for cutting perfect tenons on pen center bands.

A simple example would be the PSI LCTEN HSS wood lathe tenon tool. This tool is affordable for any woodworker, and the blade on this model is 1-1/4 inch wide, 5 inches long, and has a 4 inch handle.

  • Chisel Sets

Best Chisel SetsChisel sets are a great buy for a starting woodworker. There are many wood lathe chisels, and chisel sets let you get a variety of some mandatory or greatly needed chisels. A great example of one chisel set is the Savannah HSS wood lathe chisel 8 piece set.

These chisels are made out of m2 high speed steel blades, and are known to outlast carbon steel 6 to 1. The set comes with a 3/16 inch parting tool, a 5/8 inch spear scraper, a 1 inch and 5/8 inch skew chisel, a 5/8 inch round nose scraper, a 1/2 inch bowl gouge, a 3/4 inch spindle gouge, and a 7/8 inch rouging gouge. All chisels comes with beautifully turned hardwood handles all in a wood case. This set will help satisfy the majority of your turning needs.

Wood Lathe Tools and Accessories

Due to the ability of the lathe, it is a great tool for many woodworkers, but all great tools need accessories. In order to get your wood lathe working as best as it can, consider equipping it with these essential accessories:

Must Have Wood Lathe Tools and Accessories

Accessories are key to any tool, and the wood lathe is no different. The following will show wood lathe accessories and a brief description of each:

Types of Wood Lathe Turning Tools

  • Roughing Gouges

Roughing GougeRoughing gouges fall under the miniature woodworking tools category. These gouges are used to “rough” the wood from square to round. These tools are usually formed from high-speed steel and are roughly U-shaped in cross-section.

The cutting edge is sharpened around 40-45 degrees, and they are used to remove stock quickly. You can move in either direction, but will usually leave an inferior finish. This tool is a must have unless you only work on bowls or platters.

  • Skew Chisels

Skew ChiselsYou probably want to “plane” the wood after getting a nice cylindrical piece of wood by using the roughing gouge. This is the job for a skew chisel. These wood lathe tools come in different sizes, and they come in differently shaped cross-sections (oval or rectangular).

The skew chisel is used by laying it on the workpiece with its edge forming a 45 degree with the axis of the workpiece. The bevel is positioned to rub on the rotating work and the point of cutting should be in the center to lower half of the cutting edge. Chisel edges normally are grounded to get an angle between 60 and 80 degrees as well.

This tool may be best left alone until someone can demonstrate how to use it. Overall this tool is very versatile, and should definitely be added to your list of wood lathe supplies.

  • Spindle Gouges

Spindle GougesSpindle gouges are primarily used to turn coves. Coves are simply rounded grooves or scallops in the surface of the wood. These mini woodworking tools come in various sizes, and also have a semicircular cross-section.

The difference between rough and spindle gouges is that the groove running the length of the blade is shallower in spindle gouges than roughing gouges. The cutting edge of a spindle gouge can be ground to any angle between 30 and 45 degrees, depending on personal preference and turning style. Once experienced, woodworkers may grind their own spindle gouges

  • Parting and Beading Tools

Eventually you will need to cut your turning off at the ends, or you may want to turn a square-bottomed groove. To accomplish these task, and others, you will need the parting and beading tools. Three parting tools would include the original parting tool, the diamond-section parting tool, and the fluted parting tool.

All three tools are ground to give an included angle of 60 to 90 degrees. The fluted version has only one bevel to grind though. The beading and parting tool is like a square-section parting tool. This tool is normally used for shallower cuts than regular parting tools, and is useful when forming beads.

Beads are convex humps on the surface of the workpiece. The tool can also be used as a small straight chisel for finishing short tenons and parallel details. A veteran woodworker would not be caught without these tools.

  • Bowl Gouges

These gouges are ground square-across, and not ground back towards the upper edges of the flute. Bowl gouges also have more variants than any other tool, and one should ask experienced workers what makes one better than another for specific jobs.

An essential feature of bowl gouges is that they should be very rigid, and they need to be robust to perform well. These gouges are ground around 40 to 55 degrees, but can change be found at varying angles. It depends on the internal form of the bowl whether you want a different angle. Try out multiple bowl gouges to decide on one that works best for you.

  • Scrapers

Scrapers are used to achieve a fine internal finish on woodwork such as bowls. Unlike the other tools discussed, these tools are used with the tip of the cutting edge and no bevel rubbing. Scrapers come in many shapes and sizes. They are often reground by turners to suit individual jobs.

A great starter item for a beginner would be the PSI woodworking LCHSS8-HSS wood lather chisel 8 piece set. This kit is ideal for people wanting to turn small pens, spindles, bowls, and larger projects.

  • Measuring Sets

Measuring SetsMeasuring sets enhance the accuracy of your wood turning dramatically. The Grizzly H5600 6 piece measuring set is a great buy for anyone looking for a set.

This set includes: 6 inch inside caliper, 6 inch outside caliper, 6 inch straight dividers, 6 inch scale, 5 inch Vernier caliper, and a 5 inch depth gauge.

  • Center Finders

Find the center of any round or square stock for lathe turning with a center finder tool. A great model would be the Woodstock D3098 Center Finder.

One side locates a diagonal line on a square stock up to 8 x 8 and the other side locates a diagonal line on a round stock up to 4 ½ inches in diameter. You find the center by marking two opposite diagonal lines. This tool falls under the cheap lathe tools category and is a must have in your woodworking kit.

Tips on Choosing the Top Wood Lathe

wood-lathe-tipsThe best wood lathe for each individual depends on their specific needs. The products the user intends to make will also affect which wood lathe is best for their circumstances. There are many items that can be created with certain machines, and the user may intend to make table legs, bats or pens. The machine a user chooses should be one that is best for the items that are most often created.

Individual users may also have certain budget restrictions, and these will be a top priority for such users. Safety is also a top concern, so a great wood lathe will be able to sit on available surfaces within the workspace. The lathe’s size should suit the area, and the weight of the machine may determine how it can be placed or how the user can move it around the work area.

Aside from the price and the products created, one should choose a wood lathe that is of top quality. An ideal machine should be ergonomic and provide functional convenience during use. It should be comfortable enough for the woodturner without causing unnecessary pain or strain when operating.

The brand of lathe may also determine how well it works for a user. Jet makes quality lathes that also offer great value. Powermatic is a brand known for very powerful machines that can handle larger projects, and Delta and Fisch make great mini lathes for smaller tasks.

Where Should You Buy Wood Lathes?

The cost of a wood lathe is one of the most important aspects of a machine aside from functionality. The best machines are those that meet a user’s needs while also remaining within their budget. Quality should not be compromised to save money, but one should aim to find a balance between the two.

At, users can find the best wood lathe for the money compared to other options. Various models can be found all in one place, and they usually have lower prices than other retailers. Models that may be available elsewhere have the additional benefit of free shipping through Amazon as well.

Making the Decision

Making The Right DecisionA buyer should become familiar with various models of wood lathes before purchasing one for long-term use. Various factors should be analyzed to compare the features of each machine to those needed by the user.

Failing to research beforehand may result in a wasted purchase or a discrepancy between the type of lathe and the user’s skill level. The reviews and comparison chart provided above will hopefully guide future lathe buyers in the right direction ahead of time.

Woodturning is a rewarding craft, so it is in the user’s best interests to invest in a machine that will be appreciated long after purchase.