What You Will Get Here
- Why Use A Wood Lathe?
- How Did We Pick Our Top Ten Wood Lathes?
- Things to Consider When Buying A Wood Lathe
- Our Top 10 Product list
- Editor’s Choice: WEN 3424T Benchtop Wood Lathe
- Runner Up: JET JWL-1221VS variable Speed Wood Lathe
- Heavy Duty Choice: Mophorn 10 x 18 Inch Wood Lathe
- Budget Choice: WEN 3420T Mini Wood Lathe
- Compact Choice: SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
- Professional’s Choice: Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe
- Advanced Choice: Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836 Revo Lathe
- A List of 3 Other Products We Reviewed
- Care & Maintenance Tips
Why Use A Wood Lathe?
As I have mentioned, my grandfather used his wood lathe to create furniture pieces. He would create chair and table legs as well as delicate bowls and even candle sticks. But, if you are unsure whether you need one, let us first have a look and what a wood lathe is and then how you can use one yourself.
A wood lathe is used to change a piece of wood into something else. It is a machine with a spinning arm to which the wood is attached. When the machine spins the wood, the craftsman uses various tools to shape it into whatever he or she desires, be it a spindle, a bowl, a vase or any other decorative items.
Lathes have existed in a simple form from as far back as the ancient Egyptians. They have changed considerably since then, from a form of rope spinner with bow lathe to the much more complex machines of today. Lathes have actually been important in the development of civilizations, and not just in wood working but in making pottery, glass blowing and spinning.
So, why should you use a lathe in your work today? Lathes have existed so long and have become more refined and developed because they drastically cut down the time it takes to carve things out of wood. When you use a lathe to make something, it is carved much more evenly and is finished better than it would be if it were done by hand.
How Did We Pick Our Top Ten Wood Lathes?
As I mentioned, when I was in your position and choosing which wood lathe to buy, I became stuck. I could not rely on my grandfather’s expertise anymore and I ended up making some purchasing mistakes. It is only now, with years of wood lathe experience behind me, that I can say that I know my stuff.
With our top ten best wood lathes we wanted to start from the beginning: to really look at what was available on the market today. First of all, my team and I began some web-based research. We spent over 20 hours on the internet researching all of the wood lathes out there that we could test. We looked at their features, price, rating and reviews before we selected 20 wood lathes to test out for ourselves. We enrolled a team of volunteers to help us out as well as consulting with some wood lathing experts. Once all of the products had been tested and used in a variety of ways, we gathered all of the information and user experiences together and selected our best ten wood lathes, which we are presenting to you in our wood lathe reviews.
Things to Consider When Buying A Wood Lathe
Before I launch into our selected products, I first need to outline what you should be looking for when you consider buying a wood lathe.
The type of lathe that you need will depend on what you want to use it for as well as how much space you have. If you have less space and want to move your lathe around, then a benchtop lathe would make a great choice rather than a full-sized one as it is more portable and lighter. However, a full-sized lathe gives more swing and more center-to-center distance. Make sure that you will have enough clearance all around your lathe or safe operation and easy access.
2. Nature of Work
The nature of the work you are wanting to carry out on your wood lathe will have an affect on the type you choose. You need to think about the upper limit of wood thickness that you want to use. This will influence how big the swing needs to be. It will also help you make your mind up about getting an extension.
The speed of your chosen lathe will depend on if it as an electronic or a manual lathe. A manual lathe will mean that you will need to adjust the lathe with your hands to control its speeds. This means that it will take much longer to turn your piece of wood. An electronic will spin the wood faster. Having said that, a manual lathe is a better choice for a beginner.
Not everyone realizes that you need to check the lathe’s overall height. You need the middle of the lathe to be near or right at your elbows. If it is too short or too tall, it will mean you can’t move as well and might make using it harder.
With other tools, you are always looking for something lightweight. But, with a lathe, it is different. You want one that is heavier and weighs more. The more it weighs, the more it will offer you more balance while you are working. The weight will also cut down the amount of vibrations that could cause you to slip.
Before choosing a lathe, you need to think about what projects you are wanting to undertake. If you want to do small projects, a benchtop lathe will suffice. This type of lathe attaches to your work surface so that you can move it wherever you need. However, if you want to carry out big projects such as making wooden furniture, you will need an electronic lathe or power lathe. These ones use electrical power to turn the wood.
You can get relatively inexpensive wood lathes for a couple of hundred dollars upwards. A mid-range lathe would cost somewhere between $400-800 and a high-end lathe would set you back thousands. If you have not turned wood before looking for your ideal lathe, you will need one at entry-level to help you grasp the basics. You can use this type at home. However, if you have quite a bit of lathe experience, one in the mid-range will let you to polish your skills further. Many woodturners will use this price range lathe both at home and commercially. The high-end lathes, however, are usually only for those who turn wood commercially.
A top-quality lathe should do its job quietly. This will allow you to hear the lathe as you are working to make sure it is working as it should. It will also mean that you don’t need to put up with annoying noise whilst you are working.
Lathes that are not stabilized properly or are lightweight will vibrate more. Excessive vibrations make the machine the lathe difficult to control meaning the finished product’s quality will be compromised.
How much distance is between the centers as well as the swing size are what is meant by the lathe’s capacity. The bigger the distance between the centers means that you can turn longer wood pieces. The bigger swing will let you use larger diameter wood blanks that won’t come into contact with other parts of the machine.
11. Technical Specification
The size of the motor of the lathe determines the speed of wood cutting. If it is too small, it will not cut the heavier items and shaping tools could chatter and the wood could end up damaged.
Our Top 10 Product list
After all of our research, we came up with our comprehensive top ten list of the best wood lathes out there. First up is our editor’s choice.