Review And Comparison Of The Best Wood Lathe For Beginners [UPDATED 2020]

Wood lathe is an essential part of wood making. You can quickly smooth out your piece’s edges with wood lathe, cut, sand, or drill your piece of wood on the horizontal axis. Many common wood projects require the use of a wood lathe; for example, for smoothing out the edges of table or chairs. Spoons and other made-out-of-wood products also in need of a special wood lathe. Depending on the space and the amount of difficulty of your product, you will need to find the best wood lathe for each purpose. And this is more difficult for a beginner who just started in woodcraft. So, read on to find out which wood lathe is the best for you. We have made a list of our favorite wood lathe for you to choose, carefully picked out according to spaces, usage and purpose. 

Top Best Wood Lathe For Beginners comparison 2020

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Best For power motor wood lathe for your bucks

Best For versatilities wood lathe for beginners

Best For overall lathes for beginners

Best For wood lathe for speed settings  

Best For mini wood lathe for beginners

** below, you will find our detailed reviews of the Best Wood Lathe For Beginners, but you can also click these following links to see current prices or read customer reviews on amazon.

Top 15 Best Wood Lathe For Beginners Reviews 2020

Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20x35-Inch Wood Lathe with RPM Digital Readout
  • Wood turning lathe with digital RPM readout, 20-inch swing, and 34-1/2-inches between center
  • Powered by a 2-horsepower, 220-volt, variable speed motor

Although for wood lathe beginners, midi or above wood lathe may not be the best option since it is heavy and takes up a lot of space, that doesn’t deny the fact that this Powermatic 3520B wood lathe is an excellent choice for its capacity.

The machine is a powerful one, just like its name implied, with 2 HP motors that can handle most of your difficult projects. The center-to-center distance is 36 inches wide; therefore, it can support you with large wood pieces. The digital readout is also a bonus point, since it will provide you with the correct turn speed.

PROS

  • Powerful motor
  • More storage in tailstock
  • Digital readout

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

Laguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency Drive - Model MLAREVO 1836, Black
  • Electrical: 2HP, 220 volt, 60 Hz, motor: induction, 1725 RPM, TEFC, VFD: Delta S1 variable frequency drive, phase: 1 Phase input
  • Spring loaded spindle lock, Max; outboard swing: 32"

Powered by a strong and steady 2 HP motor, the Laguna Tools Revo Lathe is a robust and heavy-duty machine that is capable of handling big and small projects. Although being high in motor, it is surprisingly not that heavy, weighing at about only 450lbs for a full-size wood lathe. Yes, a full-size wood lathe.

The 18 inch swing inboard and 32 inches outboard brings a classy design to the machine. The RPMs of this machine is 50, which will allow you a more versatile turning.

Although for beginners, it is not advised to use a full-sized. But if you’re spare on the budget and are serious about doing wood, sooner or later you will find yourself needing a full-size for your projects since your skills will improve dramatically after a while; therefore; you won’t waste money by purchasing another wood lathe. 

PROS

  • Strong and sturdy machine
  • Capable of big projects
  • Durable
  • Classy design

CONS

  • Maybe expensive
  • Not necessary for some beginners
  • Hard to transport

Nova 71118 Comet II DR - Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System, 12”, Powerful Electronic 3/4 HP variable speed
  • Speed Range: 250 - 4,000 RPM with its powerful electronic variable speed motor.
  • Digital Readout: Quickly dial-in the correct speed for the job, material and conditions. you’re not limited to potentially dangerous fixed-speed steps.

Being a midi lathe, the Nova 71118 is a powerful wood lathe with a strong speed motor from 250 - 4,000 RPM and ¾ HP motor. Accompanied by the forward and reverse switch, your wood piece will come out less rough than a traditional wood lathe hand rotation. When you work with this wood lathe, you will find the absorption of vibration will increase, as well as the stability.

The digital readout of this wood lathe allows you to make adjustments to the speed for the job and the materials, avoiding the danger of fix-speed wood lathe to your work. 

PROS

  • Powerful
  • Durable
  • Suitable for a lot of projects

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Not lightweight

JET JWL-1440VS 14"x40" Benchtop Wood Lathe (719400)
  • VARIABLE SPEED: 400 to 3,000 RPM
  • HEADSTOCK PIVOTS 360° WITH 7 POSITIVE LOCKING POSITIONS

Although it is a bit expensive, the Jet JWL-1440VS is a bit expensive, but this benchtop wood lathe surely worth every bucks you spent. First, it contains a wide range of speed settings, starting from 400 RPMs to 3,000 RPMs. This is not an common speed range you will find in other wood lathe in the market. The full size wood lathe has one horsepower which operates 110 volts of power; this allows it to tackle large chunks of wood. 

The optional extension bed helps increase the distance between centers up to 60 inches which will support you on large projects. Another thing worth mentioning about this wood lathe is its ability to pivot 360 degrees and the 7 positive locking position makes this one a best wood lathe for beginners.

PROS

  • Powerful motor
  • Wide range of speed
  • Can accommodate all kinds of projectBed extension up to 60 inches - widest in the market
  • Can pivot 360 degree

CONS

  • Expensive

Grizzly Industrial G0462-16" x 46" Wood Lathe with DRO
  • 1" x 8 TPI RH headstock spindle
  • 10 speeds: 600 - 2400 RPM

The Grizzly Industrial G0462 is another great choice if you’re looking for a best wood lathe for beginners. The thing with this wood lathe is maybe it’s only suitable for beginners only. Which means it can accommodate you with small and common projects but not on big ones. So, if you’re new to woodturning and want to find an affordable but still reasonably good, this is the wood lathe for you.

The motor of this wood lathe is decent with 1/2 HP, enough to work with small projects. The five discrete speed settings help you to alter the speed that you want. And the swing capacity is good enough for its price range

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Decent power
  • Good for beginners and small project

CONS

  • The speed can sometimes faster than expected
  • Can be hot after using a long time

With a HP motor of ¾ and speed range between 250-4000 RPMs, the Teknatool Nova Comet II is another great choice for best wood lathe for beginners. A durable contrustrion plus a powerful machine makes this wood lathe an optimal choice for beginners. 

The speed of this wood lathe can be customized depending on what type of projects you’re working on. This wood lathe provides a 16.5 inches between centers, allowing more versatility. The additional chisel set with a variety of necessary accessories that can help you with woodturning so you don’t have to go out and buy what’s missing.

PROS

  • Sufficient motor
  • Comes with an additional chisel set
  • Wide range of speed

CONS

  • Can be more expensive than other similar lathes 

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JET JWL-1221VS 12"x21" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe (719200)
  • INTEGRATED, SPRING-LOADED SPINDLE LOCK
  • CONVENIENTLY-LOCATED CONTROLS AND DIGITAL READOUT

The most distinct feature of the JET JWL-1221VS midi wood lathe is its controlling ability. This allows a beginner at woodturning a better support in starting their first craft. With the unrivaled variable speed of 60 to 3600 RPM, this midi wood lathe works best with a large bowl chunk. 

Other features that are worth mentioning are: digital readouts, reverse for sanding, and wider bed rails which are suitable for making pieces from small to medium size as long as it’s under 12 inches wide in diameter.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Variable speed control

CONS

  • Speed can be delayed sometimes

JET JWL-1015VS 10"x15" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe (719110)
  • 15-1/2" BETWEEN CENTERS
  • THREE SPEED RANGES: 200-1,050 / 300-1,750 / 600-3,600

The JET JWL series also offers another great alternative for a best wood lathe for beginners, which is the JWL-1015VS model. The special feature that is worth mentioning is the three different speed ranges: 200-1,050, 300-1,750, 600-3,600. The speed ranges in this model although not much but it provides a sufficient diversity on the types of project you’re working on.

The space between centers of this wood lathe is 15,5 inches allows you to work on larger pieces of wood. Another great thing about this wood lathe is it integrates 24 different indexing positions so you can find the best position for turning your wood piece properly. The design is safer to use since it contains wider beds

PROS

  • Affordable
  • 24 indexing position
  • Durable and safe
  • Wide beds to improve rigidity

CONS

  • Don’t have a very powerful motor
  • Don’t have a variety speed range

RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
  • Easy Access Speed Change: Provides ample room to change speeds quickly
  • Self Ejecting Tail Stock: No need to use the knock-out bar to remove the center

Packed with the most convenient function, the RIKON 70-100 mini lathe is the best wood lathe for beginners in our opinion. In addition to a decent powerful motor of 1/2 HP, the RIKON 70-100 mini wood lathe also includes a handy self-ejecting tailstock, which will help you to remove the center easily without using the knock-out bar.

The swing capacity of this wood lathe is also bigger for its midi counterpart. Thanks to this, it can accompany your bigger project for less space. The changeable speed is also a point of this wood lathe. This wood lathe offers up to six different types of speed: 430, 810, 1,230, 1,810, 2,670, or 3,900 RPM. This allows you to pick what speed is the best for your work.

PROS

  • 12-position indexing head
  • Speed changing
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Small spindle capacity, may need to buy an extension for bigger project

Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe
  • Powerful 1 hp max, 1,725 rpm motor
  • Large 12-1/2-inch swing capacity provides the largest capacity in its class. Drive spindle: 1 inch -8 RH TPI thread

The Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe is a powerful tool for wood making if you’re a beginner. The variable speed offers an imparable consistency and precision for your wood making process. The midi wood lathe is powered by a 1 HP max and 1,725 RPM motor and includes 12 to 1/2 -inch in swing capacity. The three pulley-speed ranges can help you with choosing the appropriate speed to turn a project without changing the belt position.

The forward and reverse function brings an assurance of accuracy and precision. The process of sanding a turned piece against the grains prevents roughness of the wood fibers compared to sanding it with the grain fibers. Understanding this, the Delta maker makes the process of rotating the turned piece in both directions more easily with the 46-460.

PROS

  • Powerful
  • Avoid roughness with both direction rotation
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

CONS

  • None so far

Mophorn Wood Lathe 10 x 18 Inch,Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe Variable Speed 500-3800 RPM,Mini Wood Lathe Regulation Digital Display,Benchtop Lathe Strong Power 550W
  • 【550W POWERFUL MOTOR】- The powerful motor starts softly ensuring motor's maximize safety and low noise. 550W provide great power for the lathe operation.
  • 【UNRIVALED SPEED CONTROL】- Turning speed control knob clockwise or counterclockwise to adjust the speed freely within 500-3800 RPM. MT2 Spindle. It is easy to read via digital speed display.

This Mophorn Wood Lathe is a midi wood lathe and is a great choice for a beginner. With a 550W powerful motor, it can work with almost every beginner’s project. The speed ranges from 500-3800 RPM and you can control it by turning the speed control knob clockwise or counter. The digital speed display of this wood lathe can help you to read the speed easily.

Although it is a midi wood lathe, it has a large work capacity thanks to the 18 inches swing between centers and easily adjusted tailstock for you to work on just any kind of wood piece. 

The tool rest can be replaced or adjusted with ease by moving the lock lever, perfect for turning pieces in labs or small workshops or education environments.

PROS

  • Small
  • Convenient
  • Large capacity
  • Runs quietly
  • Cast iron construction

CONS

  • Not good for long turnings

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SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
  • Motor: 1/3 HP, 2 Amp, 110V, Single-phase, 60 Hz
  • 12-inch distance between centers

The Shop Fox W1704 model mini wood lathe is a great choice if you’re looking for a mini wood lathe for your humble workspace. This wood lathe has a sufficient ⅓ HP motor and two tool rests that measure 4 and ½ inches and 7 inches in length. You can choose between 700 RPM to 3,200 PRM when it comes to speed which allows you to work on multiple projects.

The vibrations you typically experience in lathing wood can be reduced and the stability can be enhanced thanks to the full cast-iron construction. A safety large paddle is included in this wood lathe so you can shut down the machine quickly. This may be the best wood lathe for a beginner in my opinion.

PROS

  • Good for making common projects
  • Sufficient motor
  • Reduction of vibration
  • Stable
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • Bar of steady tool reported of being loose sometimes

PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander 12" Variable Speed Midi Lathe
  • KWL-1218VS replaces TCLC12VS. ETL Listed and certified by Intertek.
  • Powered by 1hp Variable Speed high performance induction motor(120V-60HZ) & an SBC microprocessor. Two belt positions: 500-1800 RPM & 1950-3800 RPM.

The PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS model is a midi size wood lathe. If you’re a beginner at wood making, it is best to opt for a midi size as it will accompany any kind of wood project you’re doing. The built-in handle and 12-inch swing capacity will support any kind of project you’re making. 

It has a strong 1hp and variable speed (120V-60HZ).The digital readout allows you to find the exact speed that you need to use for each project. And its dual belt positions – 500 to 1800 RPM and 1950 to 3800 RPM is what set this wood lathe apart from other competition in the market.

PROS

  • Midi size
  • Can work with a wide range of project
  • Built-in handle
  • Iron based can be extended up to 42 inch

CONS

  • Need more durability

WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • Perfect for pens, bowls, cups, chess pieces, and other small workpieces
  • Fits workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide

This wood lathe is a benchtop wood lathe that has a DBS of 12 inches and SOB of 8 inches. You can use it to work on some of the common wood products like detailed craft pens, kitchen tools like bowls and cups. To make some hollow for your bowls or cups, you can use its 2.3-inch faceplate.

It is extremely lightweight, so it won’t be heavy to move around if you want to change your workspace. The solid cast iron base helps to absorb vibrations during working. For broader applications, you can use it to cut precisely by customizing the speed from 750RPM to 3,200 RPM. 

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Compacted design
  • Small
  • Great for small project
  • Great for beginners

CONS

  • Not applicable for big piece of wood

This Excelsior Mini Lathe is truly by definition a best wood lathe for beginners since it works well to create small crafts, pens and resin bowls. Its affordable price allows everyone to be a woodturner. Most of the mini wood lathe comes with a MT2 drive center, but this one comes with a MT1. The bed can be extended to 38-½” for spindle work. There are five different speeds you can choose from, ranging from 760 to 3200 RPM. 

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Small
  • Best mini wood lathe for beginners
  • Suitable for small projects

CONS

  • You may need to buy a bigger one if you want to work with bigger craft
  • Bed extension is hard to level

What’s Exactly A Wood Lathe and Do I Really Need It?

A wood lathe is a crucial and necessary part of your wood workshop. The wood lathe rotates the wood piece around a horizontal pole. Then you cut, drill, turn or place the wood however you like to mold it into your preferred shape.

The space you have in your workshop or garage and the power output will determine the kind of wood lathe you need. A big, professional wood lathe will require a large space. And if you only have a humble space for crafting and wood making, better to limit only to the mini sized wood lathe. And the difficulty of your product will determine the power output of the wood lathe as well. Your mini wood lathe won’t be sufficient for a hard, chunky piece of wood.  

Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

For example, a mini or benchtop wood lathes are your best choice for a small, confined workshop. Midi wood lathes are more suitable for slightly bigger workspaces. And for full size wood lathe, it will require a large enough space to place it, and other spare spaces for other equipment as well. You don’t want to work in a stuffy workspace where the wood lathe will take up most of your space.

If you’re new to woodturning and not sure how to properly use a wood lathe, you can watch this video to get started on your woodturning journey:

Which Size Of Wood Lathe Will Be Suitable For Me?

In general, there will be three types of wood lathe. 

Mini/benchtop wood lathe

Generally speaking, a mini or benchtop lathe is small in size and typically has a somewhat 20 inches distance between centers (DBC) which is the maximum length of your piece of wood and 12 inches of swing over bed (SOB), which is the maximum diameter of that piece that you use to rotate it. In addition to fit for a small workspace, it also can be used for intricate wood products that require a lot of attention to detail. Thanks to its small size, it is typically easy to use for beginners and will not cost much.

Midi

For midi wood lathe, its size falls somewhere between a mini and a full-size. Its power can be somewhere between these two sizes as well. For a typical midi wood lathe, you will the compact design of a benchtop or midi wood lathe; however, it’s also packed with a full wood lathe power; giving the best of both worlds. So, if you’re a beginner that’s not really sure of what you want to do and not short of space, I suggest to start working with a midi wood lathe first. The size of this kind of wood lathe is various, but you’ll typically find it above 12 inches for SOB and below 20 inches in DBC. Given the bigger spice, it will cost a bit more than the midi/benchtop ones.

Full Size

A full-size wood lathe offers, of course, more powerful motors than the other two. But one drawback is they demand more space, and if you’re a beginner or just want to make some wood for fun; buying a whole garage or renting a huge workshop is not in the question. You will require a workspace of around 4 feet in height to accommodate this type of wood lathe since the size of it can range over 45 inches in length and the SOB sometimes surpass 15 inches in diameter. But one plus for this is you can work with bigger projects that your midi or benchtop wood lathe can’t do. Detail legs of the table or baseball hat is a good example of some products you can make using a full-size wood lathe. Despite the higher cost than the other two, it can support you with high capacity projects. But a full size wood lathe is not recommended for a beginner since you need previous experience in wood making to make the best use out of these full-size wood lathe.

Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

What Should You Look For In Finding The Best Wood Lathe For Beginners?

Size of Your Project

If you’re working on only small crafts as a hobby like pens and bowls and you don’t have any intentions to work on large pieces, then you should not invest in full-size wood lathe as it can be expensive and will benefit large projects and for professional woodturners. An optimal choice is a midi or benchtop wood lathe as it will work well for beginners as well as skilled woodturners on small projects. And in return, if you’re working on furniture with big scale, you will need a full-sized wood lathe or a floor wood lathe.  

Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

Space Availability

Another thing you should consider is the space available for your wood lathe. Floor wood lathe or full-sized one is huge in size and weighs a lot; therefore, it will be hard to transport around and take up a lot of space to work. So if you have to start woodturning in a humble space, a midi or mini wood lathe will be the optimal choice here. Make sure to measure your workshop and the area that you will be putting the wood lathe and leave some room for moving and storing other wood supplies.

Height and Weight of the Wood Lathe

You should pay attention to the weight of the wood lathe if you’re moving around constantly. Typically, a floor or full-sized will have to be put in a fixed position since it is hard to move. You should also pay attention to the height of the wood lathe, since some lathes are incredibly tall. If you want to sit down to work on turning wood, you need to make sure that the middle of the lathe hits right somewhere near your elbows. An inappropriate wood lathe height can cause discomfort during working.  

Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

Spindle Speed:

For the speed, you should be looking for a wood lathe with a wide range of speed since it can accommodate you with all types of projects from small to large scale. Typically, you will find a manual speed operator on the wood lathe. With this one, you will have to use both of your hands to control the speed. However, the electronic speed operators may help you with this process and it will help you to work on your project faster.

Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

Distance Between Centers

The distance between centers of your wood lathe indicates the length of your wood piece that you’re working. Most of the wood lathes will have a distance of 16-inches; but this can be different from one wood lathe to another. Bigger wood lathe will have bigger distance between centers so they can work on large scale projects like furniture. Some wood lathes will offer a bed extension so you can increase the distance. 

RPMs

Generally, a high RPMs number on your wood lathe indicates that you will work faster and achieve a smoother finish. However, pay attention to the horsepower to accommodate the fast speed as well.

Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

Price

Wood lathe sometimes can be really expensive. Knowing what kinds of wood lathe you need will help to reduce the amount of money you spend on using it. For instance, a full-wood lathe will be more expensive than a midi/benchtop. And the low quality wood lathes can alter the quality of your craft.

Conclusion

Finding the best wood lathe can be a tricky task, but we have composed a list of what wood lathes we think it’s the best for you.

1

BEST FOR power motor wood lathe for your bucks

Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20x35-Inch Wood Lathe with RPM Digital Readout
  • Wood turning lathe with digital RPM readout, 20-inch swing, and 34-1/2-inches between center
  • Powered by a 2-horsepower, 220-volt, variable speed motor

2

BEST FOR versatilities wood lathe for beginners

Laguna Tools Revo Lathe 220v 2HP 18"/36" Induction 1725RPM Motor w/Variable Speed Frequency Drive - Model MLAREVO 1836, Black
  • Electrical: 2HP, 220 volt, 60 Hz, motor: induction, 1725 RPM, TEFC, VFD: Delta S1 variable frequency drive, phase: 1 Phase input
  • Spring loaded spindle lock, Max; outboard swing: 32"

3

BEST FOR overall lathes for beginners

Nova 71118 Comet II DR - Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System, 12”, Powerful Electronic 3/4 HP variable speed
  • Speed Range: 250 - 4,000 RPM with its powerful electronic variable speed motor.
  • Digital Readout: Quickly dial-in the correct speed for the job, material and conditions. you’re not limited to potentially dangerous fixed-speed steps.

4

BEST FOR wood lathe for speed settings 
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JET JWL-1440VS 14"x40" Benchtop Wood Lathe (719400)
  • VARIABLE SPEED: 400 to 3,000 RPM
  • HEADSTOCK PIVOTS 360° WITH 7 POSITIVE LOCKING POSITIONS

5

BEST FOR mini wood lathe for beginners

RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
  • Easy Access Speed Change: Provides ample room to change speeds quickly
  • Self Ejecting Tail Stock: No need to use the knock-out bar to remove the center

  • Best power motor wood lathe for your bucks: Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B
  • Although the full size wood lathe is not suitable for beginners, the high motor and the incredible distance between centers (up to 36 inches) takes the win for best power motor wood lathe. Whether you’re a professional woodturner or merely a beginner, this wood lathe will support you on big, full scale projects and perfect your crafts. 
  • Best versatilities wood lathe for beginners: Laguna Tools Revo Lathe
  • With the classy design, the Laguna Tools Revo Wood Lathe is a versatile one in terms of turning with its 50 RPMs, allowing you to work on numerous projects.
  • Best overall wood lathes for beginners: Nova 71118 Comet II DR - Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System.
  • The Nova 71118 Comet II has a decent powerful motor to help you with a wide range of projects, as well as a decent speed range. The wood lathe also comes with digital readouts and a wide range of positions to help your woodturning process a little bit easier. The reverse switch also helps your work to become less rough than your traditional hand rotation.
  • Best wood lathes for speed settings: Jet JWL-1440VS not only has a powerful wood lathe with the 2 HP motor, it also offers an incredible speed range of 400 to 3,600 RPMs, the widest range in the market. With this speed range, you can easily work on numerous projects and choose the suitable speed ranges that will increase the quality of your work.
  • Best mini wood lathe for beginners: RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe 
  • This is the most convenient mini wood lathe for beginners since it is equipped with self-ejected tailstock, six different speed ranges as well as 12 positions for your woodturning. The swing capacity of this wood lathe also helps to work with a wide range of projects, making the RIKON mini lathe the best wood lathe for beginners in my opinion.

I hope that after reading this review, you’ve found the suitable wood lathe for your upcoming projects! 

  • Don't forget to share your thoughts about BEST WOOD LATHE FOR BEGINNERS at the comment box below!

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