Buying Guide For Best Wood Lathe

The winches wood can take your woodworking projects to another level. Mastering woodturning techniques is not possible without the best wood Lathe.

If you are thinking of buying a wood lathe, in this buying guide I explain everything you need to know to choose yours.

What can you do with a lathe? For example, cylindrical legs for your wooden furniture, ingenuity with axes and trees, making your own bowls and vessels, carving round handles, threads. And this is only the beginning, with your own wood lathe you can also repair thousands of junk, for example, turning handles for your screwdrivers and masonry trowels.

In this little guide I tell you everything you need to know about turning and wood lathes for carpentry and joinery. You will also find a little story about them. You can even see how a strange sixteenth-century crossbow winch works.

List of Best Wood Lathe


Nova 71118 Comet II DR

Nova 71118 Comet II DR

  • Digital Readout
  • Fexibility
  • Optional Extension



  • 60 to 3600 RPM
  • Speed Control
  • Smooth Transition

WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in

WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in

  • 2-amp motor
  • 750 to 3200 RPM
  • Perfect for pens

Delta Industrial 46-460

Delta Industrial 46-460

  • Drive spindle
  • three-pulley speed
  • Superior finish

VonHaus 10 pc Premium

VonHaus 10 pc Premium

  • Heat Treated
  • Ergonomic Grip
  • Professional use

RIKON Power Tools 70-105

RIKON Power Tools 70-105

  • Rikon mini lathe
  • 5 speed ranger
  • Pen turners

What is a wood lathe?

First, what is and what is not a wood lathe? An electric wood lathe is not only an electric tool, but it is not considered a machine either. In fact, the most suitable term is a machine tools.

And what is a machine tool? A machine tool is a stationary piece of machinery used for working, cutting, molding …, metal, or wood parts. Some consider that only those machines with a certain degree of automation deserve to be called that.

In the case of the wood lathe, the part that is automated is the turn of the part to be turned. Although in some industrial wood lathes, that is to say, the numerical control lathes ─ CNC turns ─ the movement of the operator is also automated, that is, your task.

Do you want to buy a lathe? Here you have the best wood lathes.

When buying a wood lathe, one of the most important aspects is the distance between the centers. In fact, it is the most important, since it is the one that tells you how much the piece you want to turn can measure.

Due to the above, many manufacturers directly indicate the center distance in the Lathe model number (in mm). Example: The Nova 71118 Lathe has 450 mm between points.

Do you want to buy a domestic electric lathe for your carpentry projects? Read on, I’m going to recommend two Nova 71118 and JET JWL-1221VS mid-size winches, one with a copier.

Top 06 Best Wood Lathe

  1. Nova 71118 Comet II DR – Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System

Nova is a manufacturer of woodworking machinery offering affordable machine tools for carpentry and joineryNova 71118 Comet II DR - Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System hobbyists. The price of a professional wood lathe can exceed two or three thousand euros, while some Nova electric winches cost less than that.

Of course, the Nova 71118 electric lathe not only has the quality of a professional workshop or carpentry lathe, but it is more than suitable for getting started with woodturning.

The Nova 71118 includes a gray cast iron bench, a torsion-resistant material that provides stability. The point, tailstock, and tool holders are also made of cast iron. The tailstock crank has a stroke of 50 mm, whose spindle is operated from the crank.

As for speed regulation, this lathe includes four-speed levels, allowing you to turn parts of different diameters. The revolutions are adjusted by means of a V-belt that changes position in the head of stepped pulleys (like the sprockets and chainrings of a bike, but changing the belt by hand).

In short: a good lathe for turning handles, handles or legs of tables and chairs, provided they are not more than 45 cm long . However, in the future you can buy an additional part that allows you to extend turning length up to 1 meter.

  • Torsion resistant gray cast iron lathe with smooth and highly precise operation
  • Both tailstock and winch head are also made of stable cast iron
  • Includes adjustable iron bracket
  • Tailstock (50mm travel) as standard with rotary spindle
  1. JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch

The JET JWL-1221VS wood lathe very similar to the previous one, as you can see from the model. As for theJET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch distance from the point to the support, it is 82 mm, which means that you can turn parts up to approximately 21 Inches.

The tool holder includes an MT2 morse cone that allows you to equip different accessories on the lathe. The tool holder is 300 mm wide and includes a lever to immobilize it on the bedplate (cast iron, like the point, tailstock, and tool holder).

This Holzmann winch weighs 136 pounds, includes a 550 W electric motor and a speed adjustable transmission using a stepped pulley and V-belt systems. Its rubber feet reduce noise and dampen vibrations. This model stands out for its design: with greater height between the point and the bed, allowing turning large diameter pieces. As for the electronic controls, its liquid crystal display allows you to observe the RPM number.

  1. WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in. Variable Speed Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe

The WEN 3420T copier wood lathe includes its own bed (sturdy steel frame, non-cast), a four-tooth drag bit,  WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in. Variable Speed Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe the front plate, an accessory tray, the tool holder, point, tailstock and the copier element.

In my opinion, WEN 3420T is one of the best brands of wood lathes in the DIY category, in terms of value for money. The WEN 3420T ECO household lathe includes everything you need for beginners and woodworking enthusiasts. This lathe with copier is already capable of turning legs up to a meter long.

Being single-phase (230 V), you can connect this winch directly to a socket in your garage without having to make any modifications to the motor, replace it or be forced to buy a frequency inverter with single-phase input and three-phase output (400 V).

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

This is a wood lathe is the best one. The Delta Industrial 46-460 is the lathe of choice for model professionals, modelDelta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe makers, and miniaturists for carving tiny cylindrical pieces of wood.

Delta Industrial is a brand that specializes in miniature power tools and machinery elements. It also manufactures band saws, metal lathes, precision vises, drills, grinders, and more. The common denominator of all of them that are mini-machines.

Of course, being a lathe for miniaturists, it is very limited in its turning capacity, as well as in the engine speed, which is adjustable between 1000 and 5000 RPM.

With this small tool, you can turn pieces of 80 mm in diameter and up to 250 mm in length (for something it’s called DB 250).

As for the tailstock peninsula it has a 20 mm travel and the main spindle 10 mm in diameter. In this you can fix any of the 6 included clamps: for tools of 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, or 10 mm in diameter.

What does this mini-tour offer you? What can you do with it with this mini-lathe for wood, plastic, and soft metals you ensure hours of pure entertainment? With it you can turn pillars, columns and balusters for dollhouses. Also small handles or mini-ranges for tools, glasses, cups, and bowls … Even arms and legs for wooden puppets! And if you like models of trains or boats you can turn lampposts, masts, catenary towers, metal tanks, drums, lifebelts…

  • The bearing spindle is drilled at 10mm.
  • For serial production of small parts.
  • Square bracket with rear center and 10mm axle
  • Powerful drive motor with speed control between 1,000 and 5,000 RPM
  1. VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking with Honing Guide

You will also need a good set of tools, gauges, chisels, etc. This kit is made of good quality high-speed steel (HSS). VonHaus 10 pc Premium Chisel Set for Woodworking with Honing Guide This material is easy to sharpen and is harder, making the tool life longer.

This lot includes spindle gouges, roughing, lance gouge, convex gouge, square and oblique chisels, domed roughing, etc. There are eight tools in total and they come in a wooden box that measures 44.5 x 30.5 x 4.5 cm.

  • The blades are made of wear-resistant HSS steel.
  • Beautiful, ergonomic wooden handles with each 235mm in length.
  • Total weight with box approx. 4 kg.

I explain what each of these tools are for in the next section.

Types of tools for wood lathes

What is a wood lathe without turning tools? Well, nothing, just something that turns the piece. Different types of turning tools are used to carve the grooves and the contours themselves in the piece of wood.

Older turning tools were made from carbon steel. Today it is more common for alloys such as high-speed steel to be used, a harder and wear-resistant metal, also used in bits to drill hard metals such as stainless steel.

HSS high-speed steel turning tools are not that cheap, but they last longer sharpened and leave a better finish on the wood.

The time has come to talk about the gouge. What is a gouge? A gouge is a wooden shank shaped steel tool with a half shank. It is a tool used by cabinetmakers, carvers and carpenters to carve wood. And as you well suppose, the gouge is also used in wood lathes.

To turn the wood, the turner, that is, you, just press the gouge against the piece of wood. The motor turns the part and the pressure of the gouge, at the correct angle, eliminates the excess wood. Essentially, this is what you should do to turn the wood on a lathe.

What types of turning tools are there? These tools are not cheap, so your collection of gouges will grow over time. To get started with woodturning I point out which are the most common.

Square and oblique chisels

Square chisels are used to work surfaces with straight contours. For example, they are very useful for making pieces of revolution with conical and cylindrical shapes. The oblique chisels have a diagonal point, like a cutter, and are used to carve shapes.

Gouges for roughing

With grinders or roughing gouges you can remove a large volume of wood quickly. They are usually half-round shaped and have a 45-degree external bevel, making it useful for rounding wood as well.

Spindle gouge and vault shaped scraper

The tip of the domed scraper is very similar to wood scraping blades. It is a tool with a rounded tip that protrudes more in its middle part. In other words, it is concave. It is very useful to finish off the bottom of the pieces with curves inside.

The gouge in use is similar to the vault scraper but it is beveled at the tip with a convex shape. It is used to carve cylinders in relief on pieces of wood, for example, cords.


The tip of a turning spacer is shaped like a pointed roof (isosceles triangle). The separator is so named because it serves to separate the part once you have finished turning operations. In addition, the spacer is very useful for making notches and grooves in the turned part. The turning spreader is also known as a lance or diamond tip gouge.

And at the point the next question is: how to turn? What turning techniques are there?

Turning techniques with the woodworking lathe

There are two ways to turn wood:

  • With point and tailstock: the piece rotates held by both ends
  • With chaining: the piece rotates held only by the end closest to the motor

Woodturning with metal plate

This turning technique is the one used to turn pieces such as bowls, glasses, plates, platters, salad bowls, pots … In general, any piece that must be emptied from one end must be turned using the drag plate.

The metal drive plate is screwed onto the head. For example, the Nova 71118 wood lathe has an M33 metric thread on the spindle head and therefore needs a chuck with a nut of this size on the back.

Turning techniques with the woodworking lathe

There are two ways to turn wood:

  • With point and tailstock: the piece rotates held by both ends
  • With chainring: the piece rotates held only by the end closest to the motor

Woodturning with metal plate

This turning technique is the one used to turn pieces such as bowls, glasses, plates, platters, salad bowls, pots … In general, any piece that must be emptied from one end must be turned using the drag plate.

The metal drive plate is screwed onto the head. For example, the Nova 71118 wood lathe has an M33 metric thread on the spindle head and therefore needs a chuck with a nut of this size on the back.

Safety measures when burning wood on an electric lathe

First, you need to find a location for your wood lathe. The point and tailstock of the lathe should be at the elbow. This is the first security measure. You must be able to work comfortably, avoiding awkward postures and forced movements. This will reduce the risk of suffering muscle overloads or pain in the spine.

What are the risks of turning wood? Are turning works dangerous? The lathe is less dangerous than other woodworking machines, since no sharp tools or cutting teeth blades such as circular saw, miter saw, or stationary bench saw blades are used.

However, as in any revolution machine, there is a rotary movement in the wood lathe, therefore, there is always a risk of serious injuries, in case the tool is locked with the turned part.

When turning on your lathe, be sure to follow these 10 safety measures:

  • Always use the holder or support to support the tool, that is, never turn with the tool in the air
  • Carefully move the gouges and chisels closer to the wood
  • In case your lathe has it, do not remove the protectors or shields from the machine
  • Make sure the part can rotate freely before starting the lathe
  • Allow the part to come to a complete stop before touching it
  • Always turn off the lathe before making any adjustments
  • Wear protective glasses and a mask when wood dust can be raised during the operation.
  • Always work paying the maximum attention, never taking your eyes off the part or turning point
  • Keep your workplace computer clear of cables or other obstacles that could cause you to fall on the running lathe
  • Never wear loose clothing, ornaments, watches, chains, long hair, or other items that could wind up in the piece in revolution (risk of entrapment)

If you want more information about safety measures in the wood industry, you can read chapter 86 “Manufacturing Industries” (PDF, 800 KB) of the Encyclopedia of Health and Safety at Work, a guide published in the INSST ( National Institute for Safety and Health at Work) and written by the International Labor Organization .

At this moment, and if you have read the entire article, you already know which lathe to buy, the gouges and chisels you need, how to turn safely, and where to start gaining experience. Therefore, you already have everything you need. Just a moment! Are you not missing the most important thing?

Wood for turning

Formerly, due to the difficulty of transportation, carpenters and turners used local wood species, close to the workshop. Currently there is no such problem, but there are others. For example, woods obtained from illegal logging that destroy the environment, reduce biodiversity, and make it impossible for wood to remain the renewable resource that it naturally is.

Therefore, you must use certified woods in your carpentry projects with environmental management certificates such as FSC, PEFC, or others.

What are the best woods for turning?

Traditionally, some of the woods most used for turning have been birch, chestnut, willow, ash, walnut, lime, beech, sycamore, maple, cherry, boxwood, and oak. In general, almost all wood species are suitable for turning, but some are better than others.

The compact wood with homogeneous grain and not excessively hard is the best for the lathe. Hardwoods can also be used, but it requires some experience, since in these cases all the parameters during the turning operation must be correct:

  • Sharpening tools
  • Spindle speed
  • Gouge feed speed during turning

On the other hand, soft coniferous woods such as pine or spruce can also be turned, provided they have a fine and narrow grain and are free of falling knots.

Greenwood can also be used for turning. The advantage is that it is much softer and easier to turn. However, once turned, the part can become deformed and break.

Before you screw the wooden dowels to the plate, you can mark a circumference with a carpenter’s compass and approach the corners with an ax.

A bit of history: the old mechanical woodworking lathes, forerunners of today’s wood lathe

How was woodturning before the invention of the lathe? He was witty, of course. Basically looking for some way to hold the piece of wood that would allow it to be rotated and, at the same time, it is carved. For this you can help one of the feet or the knees, since two hands are not enough to turn the piece and carve the wood with the cutting tool.

The wood lathe is not a new machine tool at all. In fact, centuries ago, man’s fascination with woodturning led him to invent this ancient and versatile tool.

Of course, the first wood lathes appeared long before electricity was discovered.

The movement of the piece in these primitive lathes was achieved by means of various mechanical devices. One of the oldest wooden lathes in existence is the Arab lathe.

Arab lathe

First of all, an Arab lathe consists of two supports on which the wood is held: a primitive point and counterpoint, so to speak. Second, the lathe requires a separate piece: the bow. The bow, very similar to the weapon used to launch arrows, has a rope that is wound on the piece of wood to be turned.

The rotary movement of the wood is achieved by moving the bow quickly back and forth.

The Arabic woodworking lathe is one of the most difficult to use, since it requires the use of feet and hands working in perfect harmony.

Two other primitive woodturning gadgets, already much more advanced, are the crossbow winch and the pedal pitch.

Not all lathes are of revolution (continuous movement), but there are also reciprocating lathes. In this case, the part does not always turn in the same direction, but alternates its movement in both directions, as occurs with a car’s windshield wiper. In fact, the Arab lathe we just saw is a reciprocating wood lathe.

Of course, these woodworking lathes also require the use of the feet and hands but, unlike the Arab lathe, it is the foot that is used to achieve the rotational movement, leaving both hands free to turn the part.

Crossbow lathe

This primitive lathe transmits movement to the piece by means of the flexing of a crossbow (set of steel plates stacked on top of each other of different lengths, placed in decreasing order, the longest at the top, commonly used as an element of truck suspension).

The principle of operation of the crossbow wood lathe is based on a rope of resistant material that is tied to the crossbow at one end.

The rope coming down from the crossbow (located on top of the winch) is wound around the piece of wood, which is held by the point of the winch on the headstock. The rope surrounds the piece and the remaining whip (loose end of the rope) goes down to the winch pedal, which is also tied. But how does it work?

When you step on the pedal, the rope is wound a little more on the wood, consequently, the other end of the rope is shortened, pulling the crossbow, which is tightened. At the same time as this occurs, the piece of wood rotates in one direction.

When you release the pedal, the crossbow recovers its shape and pulls the rope, causing the piece to rotate again, this time in the other direction. At the same time, as is evident, the pedal also regains its position and rises again, leaving the lathe ready to repeat the process again.

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