A wood lathe is one of the most versatile tools in a woodworker’s shop. Lathes are used to shape pieces of round stock into bowls, spindles, table legs, and other decorative or useful objects. A wood lathe can be used to create almost any detailed shape that has a symmetrical axis; for this reason, many artisans choose it as their primary shaping tool.
Not every wood lathe you come across is a perfect fit for a beginner and it can be a costly mistake to make. We have decided to create a list of things you should consider before making a purchase. If you are a newbie at woodworking and on the lookout for the best wood lathe for beginners, this article should give you the information needed to help you decide.
Our Top 6 Picks for Wood Lathe for Beginners
Picking the best wood lathe for beginners might be difficult because there are many variations on them available to purchase. You’ll need to decide whether you want a stationary or portable model, manual or electrically powered, and so on.
All our products are handpicked by various experts in the field so that you would not have to sift through all the wood lathe of the market and make an informed decision.
- Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe – (Top Choice)
- Laguna Tools Revo Lathe Model MLAREVO 1836 – (Best Performance)
- JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe – (Best Quality)
- SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe – (Best for Homeowners)
- WEN 3424T Benchtop Wood Lathe – (Best Budget)
- WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe – (Best Overall)
Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable Speed Midi Lathe (Top Choice)
Compact and lightweight, the Delta 46-460 is a perfect choice for your first wood lathe. The 1 hp motor allows you to turn pieces up to 12-1/2 inches in diameter with an 8 RH thread tensioner.
Operated at speeds from 250 rpm all the way to 1750 rpm, you have total command over this woodturning machine! The headstock spindle locks into 24 indexing positions making it easy to switch from the face or edge milling.
With just a touch of a button, you can go forward or reverse function on this delta workhorse that also features belt tensioning that sets the belt at the correct tension for maximum power transfer and long wear life.
The Delta lathes are also known for their quality, precision, stability, and variety. The 12-1/2-inch model can be ideal for smaller projects or beginners looking for a solid machine.
With the 46-460, you will get all the features of a traditional wood lathe with modern updates including an adjustable 3″ face plate which is perfect if you want to do some freehand turning experiments on it.
The 6″ and 10″ tool rests make support available in varying applications while the rest base offers convenience by having handles built in to easily mount it over your benchtop.
- Variable Speed: Operates at speeds from 250 rpm all the way to 1750 rpm plus variable speed control, you have total command over this woodturning machine.
- Multiple Positions: The headstock spindle can be locked into 24 positions, making it easy to switch between milling faces and milling edges.
- Control: Just a touch of a button, you can go forward or reverse on this delta workhorse that also features belt tensioning that sets the belt at the correct tension for maximum power transfer and long wear life.
- Other Features: The Delta lathes are also known for their quality, precision, stability, and variety. This 12-1/2 inch model can be ideal for smaller projects or as the best beginner lathe for a first-timer.
Laguna Tools Revo Lathe Model MLAREVO 1836(Best Performance)
The Laguna Tools Revo Lathe is a high-quality lathe that offers great performance and ease of use for hobbyists and professional woodworkers alike. Adequate to most metals and materials, the Laguna tools Revo lathe is a great tool for both beginners and experienced users.
This Laguna lathe also features an induction motor, which provides consistent power throughout your workpiece. It has a powerful 2HP, 220 volt motor with speed control that allows you to choose the perfect speed for your project.
The motor runs at 1725 RPM with a variable frequency drive (VFD) that allows you to control the speed of the spindle. It comes with a spring-loaded spindle lock, which makes it easy to change between chucks and collets.
The wide swing of 32″ enables you to turn large bowls and other objects with ease. Its tool-free spindle lock makes changing tools quick and easy, while its self-ejecting floor-to-spindle center provides fast workpiece changes from both sides of the lathe machine.
You won’t have to worry about how these wood lathe machines look on the inside because every single component has been made from steel cast iron, which is considered more durable than cast aluminum.
It features electronic variable speed with no need for constant adjusting so you can always get an accurate RPM readout at all times while turning at low settings will give you enough torque to get the job done fast. Changing between high and low speeds is easy thanks to the revolutionary quick release handle system, too.
It also comes with a wide-swinging headstock and self-ejecting floor to spindle center, which is useful for turning large bowls. The spindle lock is also tool-free. This lathe can be used by both hobbyists and professional woodworkers.
- Motor: This lathe machine has a powerful 2 HP, 220-volt induction motor with variable speeds for the perfect speed. The motor runs at 1725 RPM with a variable frequency drive (VFD) that allows you to control the speed of the spindle.
- Swing: The wide swing of 32″ enables you to turn large bowls and other objects with ease. It comes with a spring-loaded spindle lock, which makes it easy to change between chucks and collets. With the self-ejecting floor-to-spindle center, you can change workpieces easily.
- Controller: The controller features an emergency stop button, start and stop button for the motor startup, and forward and reverse function for spindle rotation control of directions. The variable speed can be controlled by an adjustment knob.
- Versatile: Being able to work with almost all metals and materials, the Laguna Tools Revo Lathe is great as a beginner lathe as well as experienced users.
JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe (Best Quality)
The JET 1221VS wood lathe is a must-have tool for all amateur carpenters who want to turn their project pieces from raw form into beautiful, finished objects. JET’s commitment to detail makes this one of the best choices on the market today.
JET’s JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe is a great addition to any home workshop or school. It features a three-speed range with easy-to-reach controls and a digital spindle speed indicator for digital readout.
This lathe has a variable speed dial that ranges from 60 to 900 RPM, 110 to 1,800 RPM, and 220 to 3,600 RPM. You can choose the speed you need for each project without having to change belts or pulleys.
The ratchet-style belt tension system makes it easy for you to adjust the belt. The variable speed control on the JET JWL-1221VS wood lathe gives you the ability to turn your projects at whatever speed you need.
These variable speeds are controlled by an innovative thumbscrew that allows you to quickly and accurately change speeds without having to use a wrench. The lathe also has a tool rest caddy on each end of the lathe machine, making it easier than ever to store your turning tools close at hand. It features smooth transitions when changing from forwarding to reverse and operates at a lower speed for items that require more control.
This powerful lathe machine offers the control necessary for making intricate cuts and adjustments with its Acme thread in tailstock taper and 24 integrated indexing positions. The best thing about this machine is that it comes heavily pre-calibrated, so it will produce top quality projects right out of the box.
- Variable Speed: It features a 3-speed range and easy to reach controls and a digital readout. It has a variable speed dial that ranges from 60 to 900 RPM, 110 to 1,800 RPM, and 220 to 3,600 RPM.
- Belt Tension: As part of its design, this belt tension system is equipped with a ratchet-like mechanism that makes it really easy to adjust the belt’s tension.
- Tailstock: A unique feature of this lathe machine is its Acme threaded tailstock. The machine has 24 indexing positions integrated into the tailstock to allow the user to make intricate cuts and adjustments.
- Tool Caddy: The lathe machine is equipped with a tool storage caddy on either side, making it very convenient for you to store your turning tools.
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe(Best for Homeowners)
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe is ideal for the home hobbyist. This versatile, durable lathe offers long lasting reliability with a solid cast iron construction and easy-to-read digital readout.
The 8-inch swing over the bed of the lathe machine allows for long workpieces to be turned. Cast iron construction provides strength and rigidity while ensuring precision results in your projects.
With an infinitely variable speed from 700 to 3200 RPM, this powerful 1/3 HP motor of this lathe machine makes light work of tough woods or finishing projects quickly if needed. The MT No.1 spindle sizes are perfect for all your needs, too.
With a 3/4 by 16-inch TPI and 13 inch distance between centers of this lathe machine, you can use just about any wood turning accessory. The shop fox wood lathe is a great addition to any workshop and includes 4-1/2 inch and 7-inch interchangeable tool rests, 5-3/4 inch face plate, and a 3/4 by 16-inch TPI RH spindle.
This benchtop lathe includes a 5-3/4-inch faceplate which threads onto the headstock spindle for non-spindle turning; usually used for making bowls or other items that cannot be supported from the tailstock.
- Construction: The 8-inch swing over bed allows for long workpieces to be turned. Cast iron construction provides strength and rigidity while ensuring precision results in your projects.
- Variable Speed: With an infinitely variable speed from 700 to 3200 RPM, this powerful 1/3 HP motor makes light work of tough woods or finishing projects quickly if needed.
- Spindle: Because this spindle thread has a TPI of 3/4 by 16 inches and a distance between centers of 13 inches, you can use just about any wood turning accessory.
- Accessories: This lathe machine comes with 4-1/2 inch and 7-inch tool rests, a 5-3/4 inch face plate and a 3/4 by 16-inch TPI RH spindle wood lathe accessories.
WEN 3424T Benchtop Wood Lathe (Best Budget)
The new 3424T wood lathe from WEN helps beginners with their DIY hobbies around the house. Designed for both cross-cutting and turning wood, this 12″ x 18″ 5 Speed Wood Lathe comes with a 508W 4.5A motor that provides maximum torque.
It has built-in handles so you can pick up its 70+ pound weight without breaking your back during operation, features MT2 spindle threads to tightly grab onto work pieces from the 7-7/8 inch two interchangeable tool rest and has a 360˚ overhead headstock that makes it easy to start or stop the machine at any time of day .
The lever clamping system of these mini wood lathes is simple enough for anyone to use; all you have to do is reach over, pull the lever to tighten and release once you have a snug fit.
This benchtop wood lathe comes with a knock out bar that lets you remove the headstock quickly, an accessory holder for up to 3 accessories like chisels or gouges and a built in flat wrench makes it easy to change the belts.
Included with your purchase of these mini lathes is a 3-1/8 inch faceplate, 2 hex wrenches (3 mm and 5mm), a tailstock cup center, a tool rest (7-7/8 inch) with spur for designing spindles or any other non-spindle woodworking projects and a tailstock SPC300 with taper to use as a steady reference point.
The WEN 3424T cast iron mini lathe comes with a limited two-year warranty and is backed by the national network of skilled service technicians.
Variable Speed: The WEN 3424T has 5 speeds: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, and 3400 rotations per minute to let you turn work pieces at the right speed for all your projects.
Build: This mini lathe has a sturdy build to prevent it from walking or wobbling during operation and an MT2 spindle and tailstock taper to tightly grip on your workpiece while using the 7-7/8 inch tool rest.
Weight: The WEN 3424T weighs 70+ pounds of cast iron construction and is equipped with handles so you can pick it up or move it around without breaking your back.
Accessories: The mini-lathe comes with a headstock spur chuck, a tailstock cup center, high quality wrench, and 3-1/8 inch faceplate for turning bowls, cups and other non-spindle workpieces.
WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe (Best Overall)
The WEN 3421 8-inch wood lathe is a good choice for people just getting into carpentry and turning. It features a powerful 3.2 amp motor that will allow you to tackle even the toughest jobs with ease.
It can be used for pens, bowls, cups, chess pieces and other small workpieces measuring up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. This versatile machine along with its power also makes it easy as pie never before.
The variable speed ranges anywhere from 750 turns per minute to 3200 rotations per minute gives precise control of your projects’ progress; you will develop great skills in no time.
It’s also an easy-to-use machine from its soft start variable speed motor to the simple and precise Lever clamping system. The WEN wood lathe includes a flat wrench, a headstock spur center, A Tailstock cup center, A knockout rod and a 2.3-Inch faceplate for non-spindle work pieces.
WEN wood lathe for beginners comes with a nationwide network of skilled service technicians and a friendly customer help line.
- Motor: The WEN 3421 8-inch wood lathe features a powerful 3.2 amp motor that will allow you to tackle even the toughest jobs with ease.
- Dimensions: It can be used for pens, bowls, cups, chess pieces and other small workpieces measuring up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide.
- Speed: The variable speed ranges anywhere from 750 turns per minute to 3200 rotations per minute gives precise control of your projects’ progress; you will develop great skills in no time.
- Ease of use: The machine itself is also very easy to use, from its soft-start variable speed motor to its simple, yet precise lever clamping system.
- Accessories: The WEN wood lathe includes a flat wrench, a headstock spur center, A Tailstock cup center, A knockout rod and a 2.3-Inch faceplate for non-spindle work pieces.
Factors to Consider Before Buying Best Wood Lathe for Beginners:
There are many factors to consider while buying the best wood lathe for beginners available on the market. The factors are provided below:
Wooden materials are not all the same. You will need to consider turning at different speeds. These are all possible with the electronic variable speed dial.
Motor power is something that should be taken into consideration. They may range from 1 hp to 2.5 hp, depending on wood lathe run. Also, motor rpm is something that you should know. Operators should know the maximum speed ranges of these powerful motors. It is also important to know the motor’s rpm requirements for specific shapes.
Different motors have different RPMs. You should ensure that you verify the variable speed range when purchasing or ordering a wood lathe. Some machines only have two speeds.
The wood lathe’s construction quality is important as it will increase its lifespan. A cast iron construction gives the wood lathe durability. Make sure that the pulleys are securely fitted when you choose a lathe. A base lathe that is smoother constructed will be a better choice if you are not a fan of vibration. Make sure that the handles are sturdy and made from steel.
When working with pattern work, the accuracy of the indexing positions is higher. These positions can vary depending on what tool you use. Some have twenty-four, while others have twelve, or even seven positive-indexing-positions.
Length is a factor that people should consider when buying lathes for beginners. The length of the wood lathe will determine what types of projects can be done with the lathe. For example, if you are short in stature, you might not want to buy a full size wood lathe.
Two of the most important factors in the size of your machine are the headstock and tailstock. If you require a longer bed, you can choose a larger lathe. Make sure you choose the right machine. This will help reduce stress and anxiety during purchase.
Additionally, longer wood lathes are typically more expensive so it is important to purchase one that is the right length for your height and your needs.
A headstock is the upper part of a lathe. A carriage travels around the headstock, carrying the other end of the wood. The cutting tool at the end of the carriage is called a ‘chisel’. A head stock is used to rotate the chisel in relation to the work piece. A lathe can have one or two head stocks. This part must be strong and can be easily modified if you need to work on other pieces.
The tailstock is stationary or movable cast iron legs for the lathe bed at the back of the headstock spindle. The tailstock is used to position and clamp work, and sometimes includes a live center and tool bit.
Tailstocks come in different styles:
- A solid tailstock which has no loose parts that can be misplaced or lost.
- A box type tailstock which has a fixed, rectangular sliding section with six threaded holes for mounting purposes.
- A quick acting tailstock which has a hand wheel at one end and an eccentric sheave arrangement connecting to the quill feed roller.
- The sheave arrangement moves along shafts inside of the slide section of the tailstock to provide accurate spacing of holes drilled in a workpiece.
The most common type is a screw-type tailstock which is much easier to use.
Belt Drive System:
When you’re looking for a wood lathe for beginners, it’s important to consider the belt drive system. The belt drive system is the type of connection between the motor and the headstock. Belt drives are typically used in high-volume industries with machines that run continuously.
However, they can be used in a wood shop under certain conditions. One of these conditions may be a heavy duty belt to decrease vibration from wood fibers rattling against each other when feeding through the machine.
It’s also important to take into account whether or not you need a variable speed option with your belt system that will let you slow down or stop the machine to work at different speeds.
You need to remember that a full sized wood lathe requires space in order to function properly. You don’t want it to be in a cramped space.Wood lathes can take up a lot of space, not only for their housing, but for all the equipment you’ll need to transport them.
You might also need one of these lamps to see what you are doing if you plan on working late at night. You might also need more space to store your tool rests and other tools used in woodworking as well as the wood pieces you are going to be working on.
Maintenance is one of the factors to consider when buying a wood lathe. Wood lathes are sometimes messy and require a lot of maintenance so you will want to ensure that it is something that you have the time to do or have available. You will also want to ensure that the wood lathe comes with spare parts.
Safety should always be our first priority when we work. Safety should be our first priority. This machine can be dangerously fast and cause an accident. Be safe. To protect your ears from noise, an earplug can be used. Keep your distance from the spinning blade.
The lathe has a blade in the head for projects so be cautious. You can make sure that you use the machine safely. To avoid danger, you need to be aware of the safety precautions. Before you can use the machine, it is important to read the instructions.
The purpose of a wood lathe for beginners will depend on the person’s needs. If the beginner only wants to have small projects like simple furniture, then a small, low-priced model is sufficient. However, if they plan to make large or heavily carved pieces, a larger and more expensive shop model is in order.
The cost is one of the factors that you have to consider before choosing a wood lathe. It is important to note that some wood lathes for beginners can be quite cost-effective while others are on the higher end. It’s also important to note that the prices are likely to vary based on the product quality, features, and availability.
The prices of wood lathes are often determined by these factors. Some of the most expensive ones are marketed for home use while others are marketed for professional use.
FAQ ( Frequently asked question ):
Which Lathe is Best for Beginners?
Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe is the best lathe for beginners due to its features and the price. This lathe comes with a tool rest, faceplate, live center, spur center, and wrenches. It has a smooth transition motor along with precise speed control. It is almost ideal for small components, turning projects, or restoration projects.
Can You Use a Mini Lathe for Wood?
Yes, wood lathes are available in different sizes. For beginners, a mini wood lathe may be the best option because it provides an easier learning curve. A mini lathe is one of the smaller woodturners that can be used by anyone who wants to explore this art. The smaller size makes it easier to complete any project without sacrificing quality or detail.
What Can be Made With a Lathe for a Beginner?
A lathe is a machine that allows you to spin wood into different shapes. As a beginner, with wood lathes, you can make toys, bowls, and lots of other things. Fortunately, the process is not too difficult if you’re familiar with basic techniques in woodworking. Moreover, you can make parts to go into other projects.
How Do You Turn Wood for Beginners?
To turn wood for beginners, I recommend you take a scroll saw and cut the piece of wood to be turned into square bits. Take a square grip and place it where you want your wood’s plane to go. You can use a fixed cross-cut saw for this. Make sure your hand is very firm on the grip.
Use a brad-point bit to drill the hole which will determine your wood’s plane. Once your hole is drilled, you can take a turning tool with a flat head and place it on the best wood lathes. Allow it to slide and slowly move it. It will allow you to remove the shavings and create a very smooth edge for your wood.
Take a tool with a hook at its end and begin removing the shavings. It gives you an even smoother edge on your wood.
What is the best wood lathe for beginners? This is a question that many beginners struggle to answer. However, the best wood lathe for beginners should be easy to use and it should be the right wood lathe to produce quality pieces.
When it comes to wood lathes, there are many different types on the market and each has its own features. The more tools you have on your wood lathe, the more expensive it will be.
When buying a good starter wood lathe, ensure that it has a good reputation. It should be a durable machine built with heavy duty cast iron and easy to use. When it comes to durability, you should consider the material from which it is made. It should be made from a good quality metal.
I hope you have found the article helpful in choosing the best wood lathe for beginners and we wish you all the best in your woodworking business.
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