Welcome to our site! We’re here to review the best wood lathes on the market in 2017 in an attempt to best help you with the projects you’re working on. This site is dedicated to helping you navigate the market in order to pick out your perfect wood lathe. Like with any niche, there are key components to the item in order to get the best product, and we’re going to tell you what to look for. Join us as we offer reviews, ratings, comparisons, key functions and much more. We’re at your service and we’re ready to show you the best quality for a great price.
Our writers and researchers have scoured the marketplace for the best wooden lathes. We know what to look for and we’re ready to share our experience and knowledge with you. Other websites bring you different components to the buying experience, but we look to bring it all together in one handy, helpful package. Here’s a little more of what you will find:
The best part of the experience. This is where we will test out the practicality and functionality of each wooden lathe, be they cheap and cheerful or second hand and for sale. We’re impartial and knowledgeable, and we’re able to pick out to good from the bad. We pick the best rated equipment, review this and give you our honest feedback, taking into account other customer feedback to improve and enhance your reading.
We know that reviewing isn’t the only thing that can help your decision. With each project and each person comes a different use, and this niche is no different. We will compare different styles and explain our decisions whilst comparing. We want you to come away with genuine knowledge. We’ll give reasons why you may want to buy each product and why one is better than the other. Our comparisons chart where you could go right and go wrong within the niche.
Our unique and insightful buyers guide will give you the core information you need about all types of wooden lathes, from woodworking lathes to drill powered lathes. You will be able to identify key words and phrases along with what to look for within specifications of each wood shaper. Our 8-point guide will help you become the master of your own buying decision.
What makes our review guide so unusual is that we’re looking to give you a well-rounded vision of the market. This means showing you the great positives, any major less-favourable points but also answer questions that other customers have had, so you can learn from their experiences. We find this approach is the best way to pick out a new product, whether you’re an experienced woodworker or a novice.
Above are just some of the thing you’ll find on our website. We’re really excited to show you the path to your new wooden lathe, and we’re looking forward to showing you how to choose and what to consider. Enjoy.
Top Wooden Lathe Reviews – Top 3
This section is the part of the website when we show you the top products on the market. These reviews are chosen by our experts and reviewed to meet our high standards.
Proxxon Micromot DB 250 MICRO Woodturning Lathe
This benchtop wooden lathe is manufactured and produced by British tool firm Proxxon. Other than lathes, they product a range of handheld and machine tools and have a great reputation for quality and fair price. A fine product, which is neither heavy nor hard to use, you will find lathe woodworking an easy process with this product.
A quiet tool in use, this Proxxon product comes highly recommended by professionals and amateurs alike. The most overwhelming feeling with this lathe is that it becomes easier the more you use it, with almost no complaints from a functionality point of view.
- First of all in this column has to be how easy it is to use in the home. Although a small product compared to others in the market, is it a tough piece of kit and easily portable.
- Proxxon are a reputable brand with some fantastic feedback within the tool industry. There’s very little that you can say bad about their products that isn’t to do with personal taste.
- This product is hugely versatile, with the ability to hold a number of materials, not just wood.
- Speed control within the tool allows you to work quicker, smoother and with more accuracy. The faster you go, the more you can sculpt, whilst the slower you allow the motor to go, the finer, more precise you can make the design.
What’s Not Great?
- This really is only a small piece of equipment compared to many of the other offerings in the market. The larger lathes, of which we will soon come across, offer larger jobs at more RPM.
- The advice given by this seller in particular is that this is ideal for model making and smaller projects, which would reflect the size of the lathe. For any bigger projects, this would not be suitable, and you would need a tougher, larger wood turning machine.
- There is no ability to hand-turn the lathe as on other models. Some other wood turning lathes allow you to turn the material by hand with an arm towards the top of the machine. For something like this, you would need a different lathe.
What is really neat about this product is that – as long as you’re using it for smaller jobs – it is a really good, high quality machine. The price is good for the quality too, and works wonders as something to use during a hobby. The size of the Proxxon lathe is quite small, and one pointer would be that it is smaller than it looks on pictures online. Having said this, if you follow our instructions in regards to what to use it for, you will be absolutely fine. There’s nothing here to surprise you. You will be buying a really steady lathe. Be sure to check around online, though. At time of writing there were a few of these for sale on Craigslist, whilst you may also be able to use a coupon or you may be able to find it cheap for sale elsewhere.
Nova Comet II VS Midi Lathe & G3 Reversible Chuck Package Deal
Nova (or Teknatool International, their parent company) are a DIY/tool manufacturer that are heading for bigger things. Expanding into the metal and motor industries, they are mainly known – for the moment anyway – for their expertise in woodwork technology.
The Nova Comet 2 is a large, heavyweight product, suitable for large projects. With solid a solid leg stand for sturdy turning, this cast-iron product is a totally different beast to the above Proxxon lathe. The best types of projects this would be for are industrial standard, furniture creation and upcycling furniture whilst adding other pieces and parts.
What Is Great?
- The sheer size of the tool machine makes this one of the best buys online. Heavyweight and made on a bed of cast iron, not only is this completely different from the mini-lathe produced by Proxxon, but it is in a different league in terms of material.
- Auto-stop safety feature. One of the most important parts of this item is the fact that is has this feature. Because it’s such a powerful machine, there will be times when you need to stop the rotation immediately. Regardless of the variable speed you get on the tool, safety is one of the most important things to remember – fast or slow.
- The reverse and forward function of the lathe mean you can get greater accuracy when making incisions. For even more improved accuracy, the handheld wheel function allows you to go back and forth across certain parts of the wood making this great for fine-tuning jobs and making sure you’ve got the right design for your project.
- The machine has little to no vibration, which is a heaven-sent for a rigid lathe of this size. Many of the consumer reports consider this to be a key feature of this benchtop tool, and this could an important part of your thought process whilst deciding the best lathe for you.
What’s Not Great?
- Although the price is probably right for this type of product, it is fairly high if you’re either an inexperienced user or if you’re not looking for something as large or financially draining. Coming in at around the £700 mark, you need to be serious about your woodworking to take on a price like that.
- Although this is a more high quality product, the RPM actually comes in at a lower than other products – such as the Proxxon. The max RPM for this product is 4000, whilst many of the most popular motors provide up to, and past, 5000.
The Nova machine is really great if you’re looking for something heavy duty and offers a good level of power. The positives clearly outweigh the negative aspects of this product, and many of the customers who own this are tradespeople regularly making and piecing together furniture etc. The price is one of the main sticking points for me, as everything else to do with this tool is great. If you can find someone willing to supply this product for at a discount or smaller price, this could be the tool for you.
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
The Shop Fox benchtop lathe is a highly reviewed, cast iron made product that has over dozens of great Amazon and Ebay reviews, a feature that is to look out for as one of our top tips for buying. Across the next few paragraphs we will give you a basic guide and chart of how good we think this product is with our own eyes. Although we try adn take costs away from analysing the purchase, it’s hard to ignore if a product is either the cheapest and most cost effective, vs other brands. See below for our buyers guide to the Shop Fox W1704.
What is Great?
- The best thing about this benchtop lathe is, without a doubt, the low cost of the machine coupled with the fantastic customer feedback. As reviewers, we can tell you what is best value, whether to buy second hand or whether we think it’s a great buy, but it is the customers who have had this item long-term who are the best at identifying whether it’s worth the money at approx. $180. This is a great buy for a fantastically reviewed piece, and with free shipping, this is a bargain deal.
- This benchtop lathe can be moved around the workspace with relative ease. Use this at home or in the workshop, for a hobby or something more serious.
- Without the need to clamp this machine down, there is great weight and a serious lack of vibration whilst in use. Through the variety of products on sale in this niche, the need to get a piece of kit that is comfortable to use is paramount. This product does just that.
- A simple search across the internet provides plenty of coupons allowing you to get 10/20% discount and other promo offers. Make you you don’t merely stick to Amazon when you’re buying, as even though this product is inexpensive, Amazon isn’t always best at savings for these products.
What’s Not So Great?
- If you’re an absolute pro, this might not be the kit for you. It’s relative lightweight appeal does not do much for hardcore users. If you’re used to avoiding the lowest price products when purchasing your lathe, you may want to look towards one of the more heavy-duty machines on sale.
- Although this price is good, you may be able to shop for a more high-quality product if you place your order with an additional discount at a budget store. You can make your money go further if you check what is for sale at Home Depot or second hand via Craigslist. For the beginning this products is reasonable priced, but if you have more experienced you may look for more bang for your buck.
- There are great reviews on this product. However, some of the continuous complains via other customers are that the tailstock does not function properly. This is why it is often tough to buy online. How much research you do will aid you in getting the best product for you.
In conclusion, I think the Shop Fox product is a good product for people starting out within this niche. Shop Fox offer a good deal at an affordable price. But as for experienced users, it’s best taking a look at what else is in stock across the niche. Even within the same brand, as Shop Fox is a reputable, solid brand for wooden lathes.
The mobility of this product mixed with the usability and the fact that there’s a real lack of vibration from the Shop Fox makes this a sure-fire entry-level hit. Whether it is large enough for your needs and has enough power will be another call, but it is a best seller online.
Buyer’s Guide to Wooden Lathes
One of the most important parts of our buying and guiding experience is our buying guide. The great thing about this section is that we break down each important point you will need to know throughout the whole process. This section is great if you’re a beginner within the niche and you need help buying and understanding the market. Sometimes it is not enough to to simply know if a product if any good, you need to be involved and understand the buying experience. Please see below for our key factors when deciding which is the best lathe for you.
- Identify your own uses for it: Although we’re focusing on wood lathing here, you need to identify exactly what you plan to use the equipment for, what material you will be using on it and why. This is the first point we always tell you guys during our buying guide, but there’s absolutely no point in beginning the process if you’re unsure what you’ll do with the product when you buy it. Explore your initial need for the broaching machine and then think about what you will use it for in the future.
- Size matters: How you’re going to use it will then determine exactly what type, and size machine you should get and how suitable that will be. There are so many different sizes when you’re buying a lathe for wood. If you plan on using it for home then does the size of the room matter too? If it’s going to be for industrial use, then what setting will it be used? How durable does it need to be? These questions should form the base of your purchase. There are some great moveable lathes and some fantastic machines that you wouldn’t really move around, and this is all down to size.
- Old or new? If you take a look at some of the lathes we’ve reviewed on our website, the price is a huge difference between models. Opting for a new or used model may help you get more bang for your buck. It’s all about doing online research and making sure what you’re getting is right for you. A second-hand machine would suit someone new to lathing or a consumer more price conscious. This is an ideal way to get good specifications without needing to break the bank, and the difference between new and used machines is often nothing great.
- Familiarise with the brands and manufacturers. As the saying goes, you pay for what you get, and this is usually true. It’s also true that the most reputable brands are well-known for a reason, with this reason being that their products are much better than elsewhere on the market. The highest rated machines are usually from the big players in the niche – Powermatic, Nova – and here you are most likely to get the most solid warranty, returns policy and quality material. Depending on where you’re located, there may also be more nationally reputable companies too.
- There are different types of lathes. A standard lathe is the most common type, which is a spinning adjustable rail that operates best for table legs and straight sculpting. Mini lathes are much smaller and offer great accuracy for jobs across a smaller scale. Another type of lathe is for designing and carving out different shaped items, such a bowls and misshapen sculptures. Depending on your use for these you will most likely find one more useful than the other.
- Safety is important. Keeping an eye on safety is massively important to remember because there are lots of heavy, powerful and fast-moving parts on whichever machine you choose. Having a safety latch or automatic safety disabler would be a great start. You can find this on a lot of the more powerful machines. I would personally advise in making sure your investment includes safety features, especially if you’re working in a family home. It only takes one wrong move before you could have an emergency situation on your hands.
- How much power do you want? Lathes range in power and this in turn means they have a large range of turning speed, too. The speed in the turner on a lathe is measured in RPM. The larger the RPM, the quicker the machine and the more skilled you would need to be to manage and accurately use the lathe. Someone new to the machine would only need a smaller RPM measure – approx. 3000rpm – so going for this speed as a beginner would be ideal.
- Find a budget that’s right for you. Make sure you’ve done your research and sums and decided what you can, and want to, afford. There’s much to be said for spending within your own budget, and you may well want to take to the market before deciding what you want to spend. Can you buy what you want, at reasonable price, from new? Or will you need to fall short or quality to hit budget? Keep all these factors in mind. It’s sometimes best to look around, as products within this niche are often for sale lower than sales price.
These are the main pointers for our buyers guide, and as you’ll see throughout our research and reviews that we take all of this into consideration to keep the important points fresh in your memory. There’s no better way to approach the market than being fully informed and that’s what we’re trying to do here. You will no doubt walk through our guide and discover other things that you find important personally. You should keep note of these types of things whilst doing your own homework on the products.
Difference Between: a Wooden Lathe and a Metal Lathe
As you’ve seen that there are a number of different lathes, but when choosing which type you want, you need to identify between a few different styles. Each of these have pros and cons, and it’s not only about what you can get best for your money. We’ve picked two common types of lathes and we’re going to break them down into how they differ from each other. Please see below our handy guide for choosing which lathe is best for you.
The Wooden Lathe vs the Metal Lathe
The wooden lathe and the metal lathe are, in some parts at least, not too different. You can well use a metal lathe with wood and get good results, but the one main difference between the type types are that with a wooden lathe you hold the cutting tool by hand, yet with a metal lathe the machine has an already set-up tool that means you merely adjust the setting on the machine. There are a number of benefits to both types. Whilst a wooden lathe is great for more experimental, artistic style designs, you need a steady hand to get the correct results. When selecting a type of lathe, your experience is one thing you will want to know before buying.
The reason it is tougher to use a wooden lathe is because you’re making the judgement calls yourself. As there is no tested level template for you to work with, designing a number of woodwork pieces exactly that same is a tough challenge. With a metal lathe – for both metal and woodwork – you have a predefined space to work on.
Power and Material
The next major difference is that of the power between the two machines. Wood lathes are typically a lower level of speed because the material they’re spinning is less solid, therefore takes less movement to easily cut through. Metal lathes need to be able to provide a much tougher, stronger cut because of the different solid consistencies of what they are cutting.
Exactly what the lathes are made from, too, proves a defining difference. The metal lathe is usually made from many more electrical components, and are more likely to break down and need technical assistance. A wooden lathe is much more simple in what it is made from, as the basis of the cutting is done by person, not machine, meaning it needs less components.
We’ve left out pricing as a difference because we feel it is much more important to define your needs based on functionality than cost. The buying advice we offer is based on how helpful the machine will be to you, the user. The safe use of the lathe is important, too, and knowing your skill level as well as your limits will help you choose the correct type of lathe too. View our complete buying guide to educate yourself further within the niche.
This section covers some of the key questions you would need to ask within this niche. This is coming from the perspective of you, and all information here will be relevant and important to making your decision:
What are the functions of a lathe?
The function of a lathe (pronunciation: layth) is to grind out and cut away areas of a material – in this case, wood – while keeping everything you do even. You put wood in between two sides that hold and spin a material at an even speed. You then use a sharp chisel to cut away the design you want. They are great for making furniture legs but also for sanding down material really quickly.
What is the difference between the types of lathes?
The main differences are the power, size and suitability in regards to the user. There are a few different styles of lathe. The standard one is good for all users, but it is fairly simple in what it does. It mainly works for straight items – we’re talking table legs and the likes. The speed is fairly steady. This is probably the type you will go for if you’re looking at this site. The size you buy will tie in with the power and stability of the machine, and this is all information you should look at once deciding your purchase.
Where is best to buy a lathe?
There’s not really as good answer to this as such, but it depends on how you usually shop and how you like to consume. For example, if you’re perfectly happy to buy online, then this would be easiest. This allows you to check out ratings first. Online purchasing could be good for someone who has bought a lathe before. If you like to try out the tool before you buy, or if you’re distrusting of purchasing online then you can go to the local DIY store, who may also offer discounts of promotion. It’s worth remembering that online will probably have better deals and you will be able to extend your reach further. Larger supermarkets – megamarts and the like – will also have hardware sections to choose from.
Will less power mean a worse purchase?
Less power doesn’t mean a ‘worse’ purchase, at all. It merely means – literally – less power. Inexperience will tell that it’s better to go with less RPM, and in theory less power, and this is right. But it doesn’t do any less of a job that the quicker spinning tool. It just means you’re slower getting the job done, which isn’t a bad thing as such, especially if you’re still getting used to the kit.
What else do you need in addition to the lathe machine?
This is a good question. For the actual lathe itself, you can get additional chucks for the tool that act as different sizes of clamp. As well as these you of course need a chisel kit, of which they come in different variants. A basic kit will come with standard sharp chisels of a few different shapes. As you become better with the tool, you will take on more ambitious operations. But just remember, cheap tools equals poorer quality mental, and the worse job they will do cutting away at your latest project. Invest as well in tools as you do in the lathe itself.
Key Brand Information
Below we’ve picked out some of the key brands who are players within the lathe market. These are the guys who are most prominent:
Starting out as a small family business out of Tennessee, Powermatic is today one of the leaders in woodwork and industrial machinery manufacture, and they’ve been around a little while too. Founded in 1921, Powermatic are well known for their quality machinery, and since their humble beginnings, have branched out from milling during their inception during the early part of past century, to powerful, purpose-built machines for both the home and on industrial scale.
Powermatic not only operate in the US, but also internationally too. Their products are available online through Amazon internationally, whilst you can purchase their products on their website through a third party company.
Nova are a company we have covered during our review section and are one of the main powers in the woodworking industry in the US. Under the network of Teknatool US, NOVA create and specialise across many different types of woodwork tools, not merely lathes.
Tekanatool was originally a New Zealand company, but quickly expanded into international waters after their creation in 1980. With facilities in NZ, China and the US, their expansion has seen them grow into the world’s largest marketplaces. Meanwhile, the NOVA brand continues to be one of the best value in the opinions of the industry, as it has been awarded the ‘top 5 most innovative woodwork products’ in 2009 by an independent study. An effective market leader in price and value, NOVA is a huge brand with a big reputation.
Like NOVA, Shop Fox is a brand under ownership by another company – Woodstock International. Mostly operating in the US, Shop Fox has a grand reputation for high quality products. There’s a huge range of types of products under the Shop Fox roster, and with 25 years experience they’re not exactly the new kid on the block. Woodstock International operate a number of additional brands to Shop Fox, across a number of manufacturing markets.