Best Wood Lathe for the Beginners 2020 – Reviews & Buying Guide

Everyone who is passionate about woodturning will understand that choosing a wood lathe is quite difficult. But I am trying to sharing my experience on that matter.

A wood lathe is a vital tool for creating all sorts of useful wooden products. People always think it is difficult to choose the right one. But it’s not like that. I made this compact list of the best wood lathe for beginners, so both the hobbyist and the professional can find the ideal lathe tools for them. 

Starter Wood Lathe Comparison Chart

BrandSpeed Range
WEN 3420
Best Seller
750 to 3200 RPM
NOVA 46300
250 to 4000 RPM
RIKON 70-100
For the Money
below 1000 RPM
Delta 46-460
1,725 RPM
Shop Fox W1758
600 - 2400 RPM
Jet JWL-1015
500 - 3975 RPM

Best Beginner Wood lathe 2020

NOVA 46300 Comet II

Nova 46300

If you are a beginner in the field of wood-working, Nova 46300 is one of the best lathes under 500 on the market. It is a little more affordable yet has the many features of the other more expensive top-rated lathe.

The speed rating goes from 250 to 4000 rpm; which gives you far more control and allows you to work on far more projects. Since you have control over how quickly or slowly to work, you do not have to worry about making an error when making your project.

Its 3-step pulley system dial has a low, medium, and high-speed range. This gives you full control and makes for a simple adjustment if you must increase or decrease the speed rating while working on a specific project with this lathe.

The 3/4 HP motor has variable speed setting options as well, which allows you to change the speed during a project so you can increase or decrease work speeds while working with  different materials.

It is more versatile, as it is smaller than most lathes, and gives you the option to add an extension, so you can work on big or small projects with this tool. 


RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Wood Lathe

Rikon 70-100

The Rikon 70 -100 lathe has an easy access speed change design which is ideal if you are working in a quick-paced environment. There is no need to worry that you won’t be able to adjust the speed, or that you will have to slow down while working on a specific project.

Its self-ejecting tailstock is easy to remove, and there is no need to use the knockout from the center of the tool, thus making work easier, and requiring fewer steps to reach the desired position when working with this tool.

The laser engraved ram, 1/2 HP motor, and the extension are just a few of the features you are going to appreciate. If you are working on a larger job or if you would like to transport this to different job sites, the extension allows you to do that. And, the fact that it is a mini lathe makes it a bit lighter in weight, so it is not as hard to transport when you are working on multiple projects at a time.


Delta 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe


The Delta 46-460 midi lathe is another choice for midi lovers. Delta has an old history and comes to the early 90s.

Delta 46-460 is designed to efficiently work at a maximum speed of 4000 rpm and a minimum speed as low as 250 rpm.

It offers a reverse feature through which the different stages like polishing and sanding can be done efficiently.

Every time the belts are changed, the lever helps you get back to the perfect settings in no time.

It’s efficient, not too heavy in weight, and hence you can carry the same easily from one place to the other.

Delta 460460 comes with a 1 HP motor, which allows you to complete the woodworking on large pieces of wood more efficiently and effortlessly.

You get to expand the functions, as this midi lathe is versatile and offers great value for the money.


You get the reverse feature with this, hence it makes the operation more dependable. It comes with 3 pulley speed ranges.

You get a solid product that’s crafted using a cast iron material, and hence it is highly durable.

The 1 horsepower delta 46-460 has a powerful motor which makes it capable of running on the projects of different dimensions. If you want to pay extra 100 bucks then you can go with delta 46-460. 


You’ll need to use extensions if you want to perform the turning task on really large projects.

Excelsior Mini Lathe

The Excelsior Mini Lathe is another choice for beginners. Here’s a look at its specifications, pros and cons:

Excelsior Mini Lathe
Excelsior Mini Lathe


  • This mini lathe is built using a 1 HP motor, which provides excellent performance in minimum time.
  • This machine is designed using cast iron materials, and the live center on the tailstock and spur center on the headstock are placed properly.

You get to use the special ball bearing feature with the knockout bar for the spur center .

5-speed options include; 760, 1100, 1600, 2200, and 3200 RPM Belt, which comes with a 6-inch tool rest and a 3-inch faceplate, which provides a long lasting tool performance.

The ratcheting adjustment levers are made available to add more convenience to the overall procedure.

The exclusive chrome-plated hardware safety switch, plus the cam-locking safety feature is enabled to make the lathe work more efficiently.


  • Rockler Excelsior is a great option for woodturning, and that is how it is explained by satisfied users.
  • It is made of the sturdy material which provides you long-lasting service.
  • You get value for your money, as the price is worth the convenience you derive while using it.
  • You get it in combination with the accessories that will make the use of the lathe more comfortable and efficient.


This mini lathe machine is heavy, and hence you will have to tolerate the resulting effects when you use it.

The instruction manual that comes with the product does not contain enough information to let you use the product effortlessly.

Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe

The Jet JWL 1005 wood working lathe is another choice for beginners. Here’s a look at its specifications, pros and cons:

Jet JWL 1005


  • This lathe is made using a cast iron lathe bed, which provides the utmost stability and is extremely durable. It works while creating minimum vibrations during the process and hence more precise cutting is made possible.
  • The high build quality provides years of long service, without demanding any kind of maintenance.
  • Hollow boring through the headstock and hollow tailstock makes turning more convenient.
  • The cam lock lies on the tailstock and tool rest.
  • The 6 spindles in it which allow the operator to switch the speed between 400-3300 RPMs.
  • For the purpose of fluting and veining, the spindle is indexed at every 15 degrees.


  • It is designed to be operated on a variety of objects that might include drawers, cupboard knobs, bottle stopped, pens, boxes, platters, etc.
  • The 375 W induction motor with a 6 belt speed, provides enhanced power to the machinery to perform précision turning.
  • The access to convenient doors makes it easy for the operator to switch between different speed options.
  • The 24 incorporated indexing options make veining and fluting easy to cut.


  • It doesn’t come with a chuck, and hence you will have to buy it separately.
  • You won’t be able to use a reverse speed feature with this product.


SAVANNAH 8-Piece HSS Chisel Set

SAVANNAH 8-Piece HSS Chisel Set is another good choice for beginners. Here’s a look at its specifications, pros and cons:

Savannah HSS Chisel

Product specifications

  • These MP steel blades are designed at 5 ¼ inches in size and can perform high-speed operations with utmost perfection.
  • This set of chisels includes 8 essential chisels, which are enough to provide a variety of functions.
  • The variety includes; 5/8 inches spear scraper, 3/16 inches parting tool, 1-inch skew chisel, 5/8 inches round nose scraper, 1/2 inches bowl gauge, ¾ inches spindle gouge, 7/8 inches roughing gouge and 5/8 inches skew chisel.
  • These lathe chisels are designed including a stylishly handy 10 ¾ inches hardwood handles, that allow you to establish a firmer grip.
  • The set comes in a beautiful wooden case which looks really trendy.


  • It is meant to be used by the tuners of all levels. It is useful and very easy to operate.
  • You can perform precise wood turning tasks using this tool, as it has the capability to perform wonders with wood.
  • The attractive wooden display looks trendy even when stored.


  • No such disadvantages of complaints have been observed by the users.


Benchtop Lathe 8in x 12in

The Bench Top Lathe is another choice for beginners. Here’s a look at its specifications, pros, and cons:

Benchtop 8INX12IN


  • This benchtop lathe machine is equipped with a 1 /3 HP motor, which successfully performs woodturning operations on small projects.
  • It could be operated on different speed options, which vary amid the range of 750-3200 RPM. This allows the operator to have dedicated control over operations.
  • It comes with #1 tailstock and Morse taper head.
  • It is equipped with 2 inches and 6 inches faceplates.
  • 4-inch and 7-inch tool rest are also accompanied with this lathe.


  • It is tagged as a favorable tool for precise wood turning tasks.
  • Cast iron material used in constructed adds more durability and reliability to the product.
  • 1/3 HP motor, makes the machine apt for precise woodturning tasks.


  • Large products cannot be handled with perfection, as the motor isn’t that powerful.

Overall,  we think that The quality is tremendous and available on the market right now.


PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 HSS Lathe Chisel Set,

The PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 is another choice for beginners. Here’s a look at its specifications, pros and cons:



  • This is the most preferable wood turning kit used for precise operations including small pens, bowls, and spindles. Additionally, it handles the large projects with utmost perfection.
  • The M2 super high-speed steel used to design the 5-1/4 inches of blades are made with a  carbon steel material, as a result, you get too many years of undisturbed use.
  • This woodturning package includes 8 essential chisels, as follows:
    3/16 inch parting tool,
    1-inch skew chisel,
    5/8 inch spear scraper,
    5/8 inch round scraper,
    5/8 inch skew chisel
    ¾ inch spindle gauge
    ½ inch bowl gauge
    7/8 inch roughing gauge
  • It is delivered to you in a stylishly designed box, where for each tool, 10 ¾ inches hardwood handles are made that allow the operator the use the tool with a firm grip and better convenience.


  • This chisel includes a variety that allows you to cover all your diversified turning needs. You will no longer have to take the help of any other turning tools; it suits both precise and large turning projects.
  • This chisel set is very easy to handle, you can conveniently hold the tools and carry on the operations without stressing your hands.
  • You get complete value for your money.


  • All the tools kept together may sometimes confuse you, especially if you aren’t an expert at woodturning.


Shop Fox W1758 Lathe With Cast Iron Legs And Digital Readout

Shop Fox W1758

This is one of the outstanding lathes under 1,000, featuring a 2 HP motor, which is more powerful than other models.

It also has a 110 volt, single phase design, and the heavy duty, cast iron material base makes it a rugged piece of equipment. It also ensures minimal vibration when you set the lathe to a higher speed setting.

There are ten adjustment speed settings, with a simple lever design, making it easy to regulate the speed and the rate at which you are going to complete the project. 

It also has a range of 600 up to 2400 rpm, meaning you can work at the desired pace, so you can get the perfect angles, or attain the smoothest surfaces, even if you are working with a rugged material at the start.

A quick tool release lever for the head and tailstock, features a 0, a 60, and a 90-degree setting.

The swivel head for outboard turning also makes it quite simple to adjust the angles you are working from, and the angles of rotation needed when you are creating a specific design with the wood projects you are working on.


Grizzly Lathe – G0694

Grizzly G0694

The heavy-duty cast iron finish makes it very easy to turn plates, and turning bowls; this along with the 10 in the spindle allows you to work at a faster rate when working on different pieces or designs.

An optional bed extension allows you to create a full-sized lathe, if you are working on a specific job site, and need to work with large pieces of wood, and materials when designing or resurfacing any surface. 

The 1/2 HP motor is fast enough to work through even the roughest surfaces, and there are six-speed settings to choose from.

This makes it quite simple to work on any project, with any wood piece, and with any sized material, and get through it in no time.

A 3 in the faceplate is also large enough to work on most major or small projects. And, at just under 100 pounds, this mini lathe is quite easy to transport.

That gives you more versatility if you would like to take it to different sites. And, with the ability to make it a full sized lathe with the extension, you don’t have to compromise on the types of projects or jobs you can do when using this mini lathe.


JET Lathe with Legs – 708358K

Jet 708358K

This lathe with legs provides users the variable speed settings from 450 up to 3000 rpm, making it quite simple to work on any project and with any wood surface, you are creating or surfacing. A 14 in swing and 42 in turning capacity also gives you optimal control when working on a job site.

The bed and the legs are made out of solid cast iron, which also makes this a solid and sturdy lathe, and the piece also includes the tool rest, spur center, knockout bar, live center, indexing locks and a spindle.

A 1 HP motor is also more powerful than others, and the variable speed settings give you more options to choose from to create the perfect structure or surface when working on any project.

The headstock also swivels a full 360 degrees, which allows you to have full control when doing work.  Plus you can maneuver in any direction, so that you are comfortable when working with the lathe. A cutting capacity height of 6 it is also a little larger than other tools, which gives you more precision when working with something that is a bit smaller in size, or working with more than one piece of wood at a time.

The Jet is the most desirable lathe in this series. Not only does it allow the extension feature, so you can work on bigger or smaller projects, it also has the most range in rpms, so you can work on nearly any project with this lathe.

It also is lighter in weight and has the ability to change variable speed settings with a simple adjustment or turn of the knob.

There are many knobs on this device, which also makes changing different features quite easy to do, and reduces the number of starts and stops you have to make when you are on a strict time constraint while working on any project.

Because there are many different products you can choose from, it is important to use the best lathe to help you find the best product for personal and business uses. And, since the price ranges are going to offer different features, every consumer will find there is more than one product that is available for them to choose, for the types of projects they work on.

Although the perfect lathe may vary for each consumer, based on the work they do and projects they are working on, these are a few of the top-rated models to consider, when you are trying to decide on the right one for use on a job, or at home.

Powermatic 1352001 – Lathe under 5000

This is another choice to add to the range of giant lathes on the market. Here’s a look at its specifications, pros and cons:

Powermatic 1352001


  • It comes with a digital readout option that allows the operator to be more active during operations.
  • It is designed with 20-inch swing and includes 34 ½ inches space between the center.
  • This metal lathe machine is constructed using cast iron material that provides utmost durability and stability.
    The accessories included with the product are tool rest, knockout rod, spindle lock, wrench, and guard, for adding more value and convenience to the product.
  • It measures 50 x 24 x 44 inches in size.
  • The 2 HP motor gives high power to the machinery, which enhances its capability to handle different operations of a variety of sizes.


  • The machine can be operated at variable speed options, allowing you to exercise control as per your convenience.
  • Reliable and powerful motor allows long working hours that make it a perfect option for handling large size projects.
  • One time buy, and you will get to use it for multiple projects and for years to come.


  • It is heavy in weight, and hence too difficult to be carried from one place to another.
  • Turning off the machine might be a little tricky, so better turn it to speed 0, and be patient.


Overview of Wood Lathe

When selecting a lathe, it will help you if you consider its abilities in your decision-making process. This will allow you to compare power and speed settings, ease of use, the design, the types of wood you can work with, and more.

Reading through an article like, how to choose the right lathe, will allow you to work at a faster pace or create textured projects, for the wood design pieces you are working on.

Different lathes will also allow you to shape a piece of wood how you want, or create a specific design when working on a project. So, taking the time to find the right product, and comparing a few different lathes, is the easiest way to ensure you buy the right product, and eventually find the one that will allow you to finish any project in no time at all.

What is a Wood Lathe?

It is an electronic tool that is meant to produce different shapes and  help users to create a completely new makeover to a piece of wood by performing different functions that include cutting, knurling, deformation, drilling, turning, facing, sanding, etc.

Designer wooden furniture and other masterpieces created from wood have already captured the market widely. A plain jagged wooden log is processed and sculpted into different shapes and designs which are meant to fulfill different furniture purposes, and also make home interior look classy with the decorative items designed.

The lathes are basically meant for industrial purposes, because the machine is really complicated and dangerous to work on, and thus the operator needs to be a professional to carry on the operations accurately.

Different lathe machines are available in different sizes, and depending on the features and functions the size of the machine may vary.

Some are meant to suit expert operations, while others are meant to be operated by beginners. Depending on the purpose for which you are buying the machine, you should choose the level of the device accordingly.

A lathe works to generate classic designs in the least possible time while asking for minimal efforts to be put in by the operator. The woodworking lathe has the capacity to work wonders for your industry, and thus below we will discuss the numerous features that demand your attention, so you can choose the most suitable lathe for your needs

Buyer’s Safety Guide – TOP WOOD LATHE

Safety needs to come first with any project, and this is especially true when working with a lathe. Whenever working with a lathe, you must remember to observe good shop safety habits. Please make sure to read and understand all instructions before using any of these lathes.

Firstly, secure the lathe to a sturdy surface before putting it into use, or make sure it is installed securely to a base before conducting any turning operation.

When operating a lathe, avoid wearing jewelry (including rings and watches) and long-sleeved shirts, as these items could become caught in the rotating mechanism. Wear eye protection at all times when working around any lathe or other woodworking tools. Though safety glasses and safety goggles are good for providing eye protection, safety shields are best to provide full face protection and to protect the user from flying wood chips and particles.

Some of the exotic types of wood that undergo turning operations can stir up the particulate matter and produce dust that is harmful to inhale and can cause respiratory problems. While working around environments that produce a lot of dust and other particulate matter that can be harmful to breathe, be sure to wear NIOSH approved respiratory protection.

Observing these simple safety precautions will help keep the work area safe and permit the opportunity to turn out other various items on the lathe.

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