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10 Best Wood Lathes of 2023

I’ve researched and compared the best wood lathes on the UK market. My top recommendation is the Lumberjack Tools WL305 Mini Wood Lathe.

best-wood-turning-lathe

My Top Recommended Wood Lathes

1. Best for power and speed settings - Lumberjack Tools WL305 Mini Wood Lathe

2. Best for distance between centres - Monster Shop T-Mech Four-Speed Wood Lathe

3. Best lathe for fine work - Proxxon Fine Precision Lathe FD 150/E

4. Best small lathe option - Charnwood W815 Mini Lathe

6. Best wood lathe for professional use - Axminster Craft AC305WL Woodturning Lathe

7. Best for speed settings - Axminster Craft AC240WL Woodturning Lathe

9. Best hobby lathe for power - VEVOR MC1218 Benchtop Wood Lathe

10. Best budget mini lathe - SENRISE DIY Woodworking Micro Lathe

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My Product Reviews & Opinions

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B086XBSSLQ
5060504001953
Best for power and speed settings

Wolverhampton-based Lumberjack Tools make some excellent woodworking tools that are reasonably priced and well-suited to the home user. The WL305 mini wood lathe is a basic and reliable piece of kit that’s well-built and ideal for beginners. Thanks to its rugged construction and powerful motor, you can turn reasonable-sized pieces of wood easily.

First off, this heavy piece of wood-turning equipment is built like a tank. The cast iron bed keeps the whole thing rigid, and weighing 32 kg, it should try and walk off across the bench. Add to this the rubber feet, and you’ve got a solid lathe to work with.

The single-speed 550 Watt motor is powerful enough for most jobs, and you can change the speed by altering the drive belts onto the different pulleys as you see fit. You can achieve speeds between 430 – 2,800 rpm this way, even though it means turning the machine off each time.

Supplied with a 2 Morse Taper tailstock and headstock and heavy-duty spindle, it can handle plenty of accessories and is strong enough to work on medium size projects. It’s a versatile woodworking lathe that is small enough to fit in your workshop but also has enough capacity to turn decent size blanks.

Best for power and speed settings
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

Wolverhampton-based Lumberjack Tools make some excellent woodworking tools that are reasonably priced and well-suited to the home user. The WL305 mini wood lathe is a basic and reliable piece of kit that’s well-built and ideal for beginners. Thanks to its rugged construction and powerful motor, you can turn reasonable-sized pieces of wood easily.

First off, this heavy piece of wood-turning equipment is built like a tank. The cast iron bed keeps the whole thing rigid, and weighing 32 kg, it should try and walk off across the bench. Add to this the rubber feet, and you’ve got a solid lathe to work with.

The single-speed 550 Watt motor is powerful enough for most jobs, and you can change the speed by altering the drive belts onto the different pulleys as you see fit. You can achieve speeds between 430 – 2,800 rpm this way, even though it means turning the machine off each time.

Supplied with a 2 Morse Taper tailstock and headstock and heavy-duty spindle, it can handle plenty of accessories and is strong enough to work on medium size projects. It’s a versatile woodworking lathe that is small enough to fit in your workshop but also has enough capacity to turn decent size blanks.

Features:
Power Input
550W
Turning Speed
430-2,800rpm
Spindle Speeds
5
Headstock Taper
2MT
Spindle Taper
2MT
Centre to Centre
455mm
Distance Over Bed
305mm
Weight
32kg

Pros

  • The included 80 mm faceplate is an extremely handy thing to have for beginners. You can use it to attach to bowl blanks or other round flat stock before turning.
  • Although I don’t like having to change belts each time I want a different turning speed, Lumberjack have tried to make the process as simple as possible.
  • The little handles on the tool rest are made from metal, so they should last for a long time. Often, companies opt for cheaper plastic ones that break before long.

Cons

  • Compared with the variable speed motor found on the Axminster Workshop AW205WL, changing speeds on this lathe is a bit of a pain. Fiddling around with belts isn’t much fun.
  • The speed range of between 430 – 2,800 rpm isn’t class leading. Compared with the Proxxon Fine lathe with a top speed of 5,000 rpm, the Lumberjack is almost half the speed.
  • Not having a soft start motor on this lathe is a shame. Combined with the single speed of the motor, if you have the belt on the high rpm pulley it can lead to a pretty brutal start-up.
B07SFJV3QV
5055986119951
Best for distance between centres

Monster Shop are one of those brands that seem to make something for everyone. Need a DJ booth? Candy floss machine? They’ve got you covered. And their T-Mech brand of DIY and industrial tools includes this excellent four-speed wood lathe that boasts an enormous capacity for turning wood. Compared with some of the small benchtop lathes on my list, this one is a real beast.

Firstly, this is an enormous wood-turning lathe for a beginner. With more than 1 metre to play with between the head and tail stock, it’s not really the sort of thing you learn on. It’s so capacious that you could practise turning bannister spindles or chair legs, or just about anything you like.

Power comes from a 400 Watt motor that runs the lathe from 810 – 2,480 rpm with the help of different pulleys. You need to change them yourself, but it’s a price that most hobbyists are willing to pay.

What’s impressive about this lathe for the home turner is that even though it’s huge, it’s still a benchtop machine. So long as you’ve got space for 1,470 x 210 x 360 mm on a workbench, it’s a surprisingly compact piece of kit. Although this isn’t right for a beginner, it’s one of the best lathes in terms of capacity.

Best for distance between centres
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

Monster Shop are one of those brands that seem to make something for everyone. Need a DJ booth? Candy floss machine? They’ve got you covered. And their T-Mech brand of DIY and industrial tools includes this excellent four-speed wood lathe that boasts an enormous capacity for turning wood. Compared with some of the small benchtop lathes on my list, this one is a real beast.

Firstly, this is an enormous wood-turning lathe for a beginner. With more than 1 metre to play with between the head and tail stock, it’s not really the sort of thing you learn on. It’s so capacious that you could practise turning bannister spindles or chair legs, or just about anything you like.

Power comes from a 400 Watt motor that runs the lathe from 810 – 2,480 rpm with the help of different pulleys. You need to change them yourself, but it’s a price that most hobbyists are willing to pay.

What’s impressive about this lathe for the home turner is that even though it’s huge, it’s still a benchtop machine. So long as you’ve got space for 1,470 x 210 x 360 mm on a workbench, it’s a surprisingly compact piece of kit. Although this isn’t right for a beginner, it’s one of the best lathes in terms of capacity.

Features:
Power Input
400W
Turning Speed
810-2,480rpm
Spindle Speeds
4
Headstock Taper
unknown
Spindle Taper
unknown
Centre to Centre
1,000mm
Distance Over Bed
350mm
Weight
24kg

Pros

  • Monster Shop have thought to include a set of six chisels to help get you started. They’re not going to replace a fine set of Robert Sorby’s, but for a beginner they’re ideal.
  • This lathe is a monster. If you know you like woodturning, and want to work on bigger projects, this is an ideal tool. Compared with the tiny Axminster, you can get a lot done.
  • You can’t really go wrong with a lathe for this price. It’s an affordable way to turn much longer pieces than you’d normally be able to, without using a free-standing machine.

Cons

  • As several users have reported, this is not a beginner’s lathe. If you’re new to the craft and just want to try it out, go for something much more compact. This one’s a bit unwieldy.
  • I’m not sure if the 400 Watt motor is up to the job. If you try to turn something that’s close to the lathe’s 350 mm capacity, or use it as a sander, the motor will become overloaded.
  • Weight is usually a good indicator of whether a woodworking tool will vibrate or try to walk across a workbench. This is a big machine, but only weighs 24 kg. It’ll need clamping down.
B008M69MGM
4006274241503,0772040202453
Best lathe for fine work

Luxembourg based Proxxon are well known for their precision woodworking tools. The FD 150/E precision lathe is a lightweight but incredibly accurate little lathe that can be used for the finest woodturning any DIYer would want to get in to.

This is a much smaller benchtop machine compared to some of the wood lathes on my list. Measuring 360 x 150 x 150 mm, it’s not designed for turning chair legs, but small pieces with amazing precision. Constructed mainly from die cast aluminium, the weight is kept down without allowing excess vibration. All the machining and finishing on the moving parts is exemplary, and it moves very smoothly indeed.

What I like the most about this wood lathe is the carriage that holds woodturning tools. You can crank it in multiple directions with two handwheels. The operation is smooth, and you can move the blade in tiny increments to delicately turn objects on your workbench. You get 40 mm cross slide and 60 mm of upper carriage.

With the right tools, you’re not limited to working with just wood either. Aluminium, brass, and other soft metals can be turned if you want. The 150 Watt motor isn’t the biggest, but it can put out an impressive 800 – 5,000 rpm, which is plenty for small wood turning projects.

Best lathe for fine work
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

Luxembourg based Proxxon are well known for their precision woodworking tools. The FD 150/E precision lathe is a lightweight but incredibly accurate little lathe that can be used for the finest woodturning any DIYer would want to get in to.

This is a much smaller benchtop machine compared to some of the wood lathes on my list. Measuring 360 x 150 x 150 mm, it’s not designed for turning chair legs, but small pieces with amazing precision. Constructed mainly from die cast aluminium, the weight is kept down without allowing excess vibration. All the machining and finishing on the moving parts is exemplary, and it moves very smoothly indeed.

What I like the most about this wood lathe is the carriage that holds woodturning tools. You can crank it in multiple directions with two handwheels. The operation is smooth, and you can move the blade in tiny increments to delicately turn objects on your workbench. You get 40 mm cross slide and 60 mm of upper carriage.

With the right tools, you’re not limited to working with just wood either. Aluminium, brass, and other soft metals can be turned if you want. The 150 Watt motor isn’t the biggest, but it can put out an impressive 800 – 5,000 rpm, which is plenty for small wood turning projects.

Features:
Power Input
150W
Turning Speed
800-5,000rpm
Spindle Speeds
2
Headstock Taper
8.5mm
Spindle Taper
8.5mm
Centre to Centre
150mm
Distance Over Bed
55mm
Weight
4.5kg

Pros

  • You can use this mini lathe to turn soft metals as well as wood. It’s a brilliantly versatile benchtop lathe compared with the Axminster Craft AC305WL that only works on wood.
  • There’s easy access to the belt drive next to the motor. Small adjustments or changing the belt is an easy job to do. You can open the hatch without using tools too.
  • I love the fact that this wood lathe comes with a three-jawed chuck. Compared to the Axminster Craft AC240WL, you can start precision milling work straight away if you have tools.
  • The chuck can hold an impressive range of sizes in the jaws. Having 1.5 mm all the way up to 60 mm is incredibly useful capacity.

Cons

  • With just 150 mm between centres, this isn’t a big lathe. It’s fine for small, precision work, but if you’re a DIYer it might be a bit too fiddly. It depends how often you turn small stuff.
  • Although you can control the speed with a dial, getting full control over the rpm requires manual belt adjustment. It’s not too difficult but can be a bit fiddly to get right.
  • Unlike other wood lathes on my list, this lathe doesn’t come with a tool rest. Compared with the VEVOR MC1218, it’s not designed for traditional woodturning with chisels held in the hand.
B005CMQKVO
5060281690203,5053848160950,5060281690197
Best small lathe option

Charnwood Machinery Ltd have been in the tool business since 1977. Specialists in all things woodworking, they know all about making wood lathes. The W815 mini lathe is a compact and very useful little tool for turning small dimension pieces.

Sitting nicely on a benchtop, the dimensions of 690 x 220 x 310 mm make this wood lathe small enough to not take up too much space. The 250 Watt motor might be a bit underpowered compared to some of the wood lathes on my list, but it can still turn the spindle from 750 – 3,200 rpm. Not bad for a hobbyist tool.

The bed, headstock and tailstock are all made from durable cast iron. It’s the sort of material necessary to ensure low vibration when in use. It’s otherwise a lightweight bit of kit that isn’t too difficult to move around.

The tool rest and tailstock are both easy to adjust thanks to solid cam levers that lock them into place. I’m a fan of this fastening, it’s incredibly strong but also easy to move around when you need it.

Best small lathe option
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

Charnwood Machinery Ltd have been in the tool business since 1977. Specialists in all things woodworking, they know all about making wood lathes. The W815 mini lathe is a compact and very useful little tool for turning small dimension pieces.

Sitting nicely on a benchtop, the dimensions of 690 x 220 x 310 mm make this wood lathe small enough to not take up too much space. The 250 Watt motor might be a bit underpowered compared to some of the wood lathes on my list, but it can still turn the spindle from 750 – 3,200 rpm. Not bad for a hobbyist tool.

The bed, headstock and tailstock are all made from durable cast iron. It’s the sort of material necessary to ensure low vibration when in use. It’s otherwise a lightweight bit of kit that isn’t too difficult to move around.

The tool rest and tailstock are both easy to adjust thanks to solid cam levers that lock them into place. I’m a fan of this fastening, it’s incredibly strong but also easy to move around when you need it.

Features:
Power Input
250W
Turning Speed
750-3,200rpm
Spindle Speeds
1
Headstock Taper
1MT
Spindle Taper
1MT
Centre to Centre
330mm
Distance Over Bed
203mm
Weight
20kg

Pros

  • Even though this is a smaller size wood lathe, there’s plenty of cast iron parts. You can’t beat it for reducing vibration at high speeds.
  • The cam lock for the tool rest is a welcome feature. Repositioning it is a necessary part of any woodturning job, so making it easy to do like this is ideal.
  • Electronic speed control is an impressive feature to get on a wood lathe in this price bracket. Say goodbye to fiddling around with belts round the back of the machine.

Cons

  • Compared with the 550 Watt motor on the VEVOR MC1218, the Charnwood lacks a bit of grunt. It’s not going to stop you from turning pen blanks, but a bit more power is better.
  • The distance between centres is too small for a lot of woodturning jobs. The maximum cutting length is just 330 mm, compared with the 1000 mm on the Lumberjack!
  • The swing over length is similarly too small. You get just 203 mm to play with. Compared with the 350 mm you get on the Lumberjack, you’re limited to what you can turn.
B000PJ6W4O
0798256215971,4006274270206
Best micro lathe

Luxembourg’s Proxxon make fine woodworking tools. If you’re into making pens or other long, narrow objects then their DB 250 micro lathe is the ideal benchtop solution for turning small objects.

Compared with some of the mighty beasts on my list, this wood lathe is tiny. With dimensions of just 550 x 100 x 155 mm, it doesn’t take up too much space and isn’t too heavy either. In fact, it weighs less than 3 kg!

The 100 Watt motor puts out plenty of power for a wood lathe of this size and can spin the workpiece from 1,000 – 5,000 rpm easily. And seeing as it uses electronic speed control, there’s no belts to fiddle around with.

Although you can’t fit large pieces of wood or acrylic into this wood lathe, it still offers excellent build quality in a small package. The stable base is machined from aluminium and all the moving parts feel well machined.

Best micro lathe
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

Luxembourg’s Proxxon make fine woodworking tools. If you’re into making pens or other long, narrow objects then their DB 250 micro lathe is the ideal benchtop solution for turning small objects.

Compared with some of the mighty beasts on my list, this wood lathe is tiny. With dimensions of just 550 x 100 x 155 mm, it doesn’t take up too much space and isn’t too heavy either. In fact, it weighs less than 3 kg!

The 100 Watt motor puts out plenty of power for a wood lathe of this size and can spin the workpiece from 1,000 – 5,000 rpm easily. And seeing as it uses electronic speed control, there’s no belts to fiddle around with.

Although you can’t fit large pieces of wood or acrylic into this wood lathe, it still offers excellent build quality in a small package. The stable base is machined from aluminium and all the moving parts feel well machined.

Features:
Power Input
100W
Turning Speed
1,000-5,000rpm
Spindle Speeds
1
Headstock Taper
10mm
Spindle Taper
10mm
Centre to Centre
250mm
Distance Over Bed
40mm
Weight
2.6kg

Pros

  • Compared with the Proxxon FD 150/E, you get the same excellent level of build quality in a much smaller wood lathe. It’s the best wood lathe for turning pen blanks that I’ve seen.
  • Weighing just 2.62 kg, you might think it’s flimsy or would vibrate during use. Thanks to Proxxon’s motor mounts, the vibrations are kept down to a minimum.
  • The spindle has a bore diameter of 10 mm. That means you can feed in dowels of any length and work on the last 250 mm of them.
  • Electronic speed control is one of my favourite features on a wood lathe. Changing belts can be a pain, so it’s just another job you don’t have to do!

Cons

  • Due to the small dimensions of this wood lathe, it’s quite a specialised device. It’s not suitable for turning anything wider than 40 mm.
  • The faceplate is fine for working with wood, but you’d need to purchase a separate chuck for anything else. Compared with the Lumberjack kit, you don’t get chisels either.
  • The tool rest is tiny. Even though this is a micro lathe, it would be helpful to have a wider tool rest. It’s not big enough to work on long, thin workpieces in my opinion.
B07K36RWY1
5052511106400
Best wood lathe for professional use

One of the most trusted names in woodworking tools, Axminster have been plying their trade for more than half a century now and make some of the best wood lathes on the UK market. The Axminster Craft AC305WL wood lathe is a wonderful piece of kit that runs smoothly and has a mercifully quiet motor.

Starting with the dimensions, this is a medium sized benchtop wood lathe that measures 970 x 280 x 440 mm. Made of a durable cast iron construction, it’s a heavy and solid tool that puts out minimal amounts of vibration. Nothing about this wood lathe is flimsy and this wood lathe feels like a quality piece of machinery.

With a powerful 550 Watt DC motor, the dual spindle speeds are electrically controlled. It has superior variable speed settings from 500 rpm all the way up to a massive 4,080 rpm. This makes it a brilliantly versatile wood lathe for all sorts of woodturning applications.

The tool rest can be positioned using quick release cam levers that are ideal for small adjustments on the fly. The nose of the spindle makes use of a common 1″ fitting and a 2MT internal taper, so finding chucks and other accessories is no problem at all.

You get 457 mm between the two centres, and a maximum diameter over the bed of 305 mm. That’s a lot of space to work with, so you should be able to fit most woodturning projects in this size lathe. This is no doubt one of the best wood lathes available right now. It’s comfortable to use and incredibly solid.

Best wood lathe for professional use
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

One of the most trusted names in woodworking tools, Axminster have been plying their trade for more than half a century now and make some of the best wood lathes on the UK market. The Axminster Craft AC305WL wood lathe is a wonderful piece of kit that runs smoothly and has a mercifully quiet motor.

Starting with the dimensions, this is a medium sized benchtop wood lathe that measures 970 x 280 x 440 mm. Made of a durable cast iron construction, it’s a heavy and solid tool that puts out minimal amounts of vibration. Nothing about this wood lathe is flimsy and this wood lathe feels like a quality piece of machinery.

With a powerful 550 Watt DC motor, the dual spindle speeds are electrically controlled. It has superior variable speed settings from 500 rpm all the way up to a massive 4,080 rpm. This makes it a brilliantly versatile wood lathe for all sorts of woodturning applications.

The tool rest can be positioned using quick release cam levers that are ideal for small adjustments on the fly. The nose of the spindle makes use of a common 1″ fitting and a 2MT internal taper, so finding chucks and other accessories is no problem at all.

You get 457 mm between the two centres, and a maximum diameter over the bed of 305 mm. That’s a lot of space to work with, so you should be able to fit most woodturning projects in this size lathe. This is no doubt one of the best wood lathes available right now. It’s comfortable to use and incredibly solid.

Features:
Power Input
550W
Turning Speed
500-4,080rpm
Spindle Speeds
2
Headstock Taper
2MT
Spindle Taper
2MT
Centre to Centre
Variable
Distance Over Bed
Variable
Weight
40kg

Pros

  • With a base made of solid cast iron, and cast iron headstock and tailstock, this is a seriously stable wood lathe. It has a smooth action and will help to keep vibrations down to a minimum.
  • To help keep vibration down even more, the AC305WL comes with large rubber feet. They also stop it from sliding around without the need for a more permanent fixing.
  • There’s a handy tool holder that attaches to the wood lathe. It’s ideal for keeping your wood turning chisels organised and ready to use at a moment’s notice.
  • The electronic variable speed control dial is an excellent time saver. Compared with the Lumberjack SWL350, you don’t need to mess around with belts to change the speed.

Cons

  • Even though this is a bench top wood lathe, don’t think you can move it around easily. It weighs 40 kg! You’ll need help picking it up unless you’re incredibly strong.
  • Some users have complained about the tool rest. Compared to the rest of this premium lathe, the finish isn’t great. It might need a bit of fettling to get a smooth action.
  • You’re not going to be able to do everything straight from the box. It doesn’t come with a chuck; you’ll need to purchase one separately.
B07MGK4VBY
5052511106264
Best for speed settings

East Devon’s Axminster Tools have been producing industry-standard woodworking kit for more than 50 years. The Axminster Craft AC240WL is one of the best wood lathes for beginners out there. It’s the smaller cousin to the Axminster Craft AC305WL, but it’s just as capable.

With slightly smaller overall dimensions than the other Axminster wood lathe on my list, the AC240WL measures 900 x 205 x 365 mm. The 375 Watt motor powers up the spindle to a healthy 700 – 2,800 rpm, and it’s adjusted with an electronic speed control for ease of use.

You get a heavy duty cast iron bed, headstock, and tailstock, which keeps even this “lightweight” wood lathe stable. It won’t walk around on the benchtop thanks to chunky rubberised feet and a low vibration induction motor.

Just like the AC305WL, the tool rest can be positioned with quick-release cam levers. They’re perfect for making small adjustments quickly. The nose of the spindle makes use of a common 1″ fitting and a 2MT internal taper, so finding chucks and other accessories is no problem at all.

Best for speed settings
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

East Devon’s Axminster Tools have been producing industry-standard woodworking kit for more than 50 years. The Axminster Craft AC240WL is one of the best wood lathes for beginners out there. It’s the smaller cousin to the Axminster Craft AC305WL, but it’s just as capable.

With slightly smaller overall dimensions than the other Axminster wood lathe on my list, the AC240WL measures 900 x 205 x 365 mm. The 375 Watt motor powers up the spindle to a healthy 700 – 2,800 rpm, and it’s adjusted with an electronic speed control for ease of use.

You get a heavy duty cast iron bed, headstock, and tailstock, which keeps even this “lightweight” wood lathe stable. It won’t walk around on the benchtop thanks to chunky rubberised feet and a low vibration induction motor.

Just like the AC305WL, the tool rest can be positioned with quick-release cam levers. They’re perfect for making small adjustments quickly. The nose of the spindle makes use of a common 1″ fitting and a 2MT internal taper, so finding chucks and other accessories is no problem at all.

Features:
Power Input
375W
Turning Speed
700-2,800rpm
Spindle Speeds
5
Headstock Taper
2MT
Spindle Taper
2MT
Centre to Centre
440mm
Distance Over Bed
240mm
Weight
36.5kg

Pros

  • The five different turning speeds are good for a wood lathe at this price. A slow speed of 700 rpm and high of 2,800 rpm is fine for most DIY level projects.
  • An additional bed extension is available. You can add 670 mm to the distance between the centres. This makes the AC240WL ideal for things like chair legs or bannisters.
  • Axminster Tools are famous for their excellent customer service. If you’re a complete beginner, there’s plenty of material available to help with set up and using a wood lathe.
  • The slide-in handles on each end of the bed make this wood lathe much easier to transport. Even though it’s heavy, having the handles mean you can manoeuvre it without hurting yourself.

Cons

  • Don’t be fooled that this is a smaller lathe than the AC305WL. It still weighs a hefty 38 kg! Unless you’re feeling very strong, don’t try and move this about on your own.
  • Compared with the more expensive AC305WL, you don’t get the all important electronic speed control. You need to monkey about with the belts to change speeds.
  • The tool rest is probably not wide enough. If you’re planning on turning long, thin objects, you’ll need to upgrade. It’s easier to move along a wide tool rest than reposition it each time.
B0B6PGL92D
5052511125227
Best small lathe

The Axminster Workshop range of woodworking tools is designed with savvy DIYers in mind. People that spend time in workshops or sheds making things, who demand a bit more from their tools. The AW205WL woodturning lathe is an excellent example of this range. It’s an affordable and compact piece of kit that can “turn out” whatever you need, so long as it’s not too big.

This is a surprisingly small piece of kit. The diminutive dimensions of 150 x 730 x 310 mm almost put it in the “micro lathe” category, so it’s ideal if you’re strapped for space and benchtop real estate is at a premium. The onboard 250 Watt motor is rather small too, but it can still spin up to between 750 – 3,200 rpm.

The base is made from cast iron, which is an ideal material to use when you want a solid structure to work on. Vibrations are kept down thanks to the 20 kg machine weight, and the simple controls for speed and power are easy to work out.

Although you can’t fit huge pieces of wood into the jaws, you can still work on smaller items. The max cutting length of 330 mm and a max turning diameter of 205 mm isn’t much. The headstock taper is just 1MT as well. But, if you’re working on small items like goblets, cups, or pens, it’s one of the best small woodworking lathes on the market right now.

Best small lathe
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

The Axminster Workshop range of woodworking tools is designed with savvy DIYers in mind. People that spend time in workshops or sheds making things, who demand a bit more from their tools. The AW205WL woodturning lathe is an excellent example of this range. It’s an affordable and compact piece of kit that can “turn out” whatever you need, so long as it’s not too big.

This is a surprisingly small piece of kit. The diminutive dimensions of 150 x 730 x 310 mm almost put it in the “micro lathe” category, so it’s ideal if you’re strapped for space and benchtop real estate is at a premium. The onboard 250 Watt motor is rather small too, but it can still spin up to between 750 – 3,200 rpm.

The base is made from cast iron, which is an ideal material to use when you want a solid structure to work on. Vibrations are kept down thanks to the 20 kg machine weight, and the simple controls for speed and power are easy to work out.

Although you can’t fit huge pieces of wood into the jaws, you can still work on smaller items. The max cutting length of 330 mm and a max turning diameter of 205 mm isn’t much. The headstock taper is just 1MT as well. But, if you’re working on small items like goblets, cups, or pens, it’s one of the best small woodworking lathes on the market right now.

Features:
Power Input
250W
Turning Speed
750-3,200rpm
Spindle Speeds
Variable
Headstock Taper
1MT
Spindle Taper
1MT
Centre to Centre
330mm
Distance Over Bed
205mm
Weight
20kg

Pros

  • There’s a good reason why people love the Axminster brand so much. Their tools are reliable and well-constructed, and their customer service is legendary. You can’t go wrong.
  • The variable speed motor, controlled by a dial, gives you an infinite way to adjust speed between 750 and 3,200 rpm. You can pick the precise speed you want and go for it.
  • Weighing 20 kg, this small lathe hits the sweet spot of being easy enough to move around or store, while having enough heft to not want to vibrate too much, once fixed of course.

Cons

  • The size. Although a small lathe like this is ideal if you don’t have a lot of bench space, it rather limits you to what you can turn. The cutting length and capacity are low.
  • You can only turn items in this lathe that are up to 205 mm in diameter. I would personally like to have a bit more capacity, even for a benchtop lathe. It’s limited.
  • You could fit a chuck to this lathe for hollowing out or reaming items, but it’s not included. Axminster do sell all the accessories, but they’re not the cheapest on the market.
B081RXR9S3
0609832095620
Best hobby lathe for power

With products for sale in over 200 countries, VEVOR produce a massive range of products from tools to materials handling products and industrial kitchenware. They also know how to produce one of the best wood lathes for the money. The MC1218 benchtop lathe is a compact but powerful machine that’s ideal for beginners to get started on.

Designed for larger woodturning projects, the overall dimensions of 889 x 330 x 470 mm give this wood lathe a good capacity. With 457 mm between centres, and 310 mm of swing over bed, there’s plenty of space to work with.

There’s plenty of cast iron in the construction of the bed, headstock, and tailstock, which helps to keep down vibrations and makes the whole wood lathe stable. The powerful 550 Watt motor isn’t underpowered and can spin up the MT2 spindle from 650 – 3,800 rpm using a combination of pulleys and a speed control dial.

A fine addition to this hobbyist wood lathe is the 7 Watt LED work light. It has a magnetic base, so you can stick it on to wherever you need it. It’s very bright and should help to create smooth surfaces when turning wood.

Best hobby lathe for power
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

With products for sale in over 200 countries, VEVOR produce a massive range of products from tools to materials handling products and industrial kitchenware. They also know how to produce one of the best wood lathes for the money. The MC1218 benchtop lathe is a compact but powerful machine that’s ideal for beginners to get started on.

Designed for larger woodturning projects, the overall dimensions of 889 x 330 x 470 mm give this wood lathe a good capacity. With 457 mm between centres, and 310 mm of swing over bed, there’s plenty of space to work with.

There’s plenty of cast iron in the construction of the bed, headstock, and tailstock, which helps to keep down vibrations and makes the whole wood lathe stable. The powerful 550 Watt motor isn’t underpowered and can spin up the MT2 spindle from 650 – 3,800 rpm using a combination of pulleys and a speed control dial.

A fine addition to this hobbyist wood lathe is the 7 Watt LED work light. It has a magnetic base, so you can stick it on to wherever you need it. It’s very bright and should help to create smooth surfaces when turning wood.

Features:
Power Input
550W
Turning Speed
650-3,800rpm
Spindle Speeds
3
Headstock Taper
2MT
Spindle Taper
2MT
Centre to Centre
457mm
Distance Over Bed
310mm
Weight
33.6kg

Pros

  • The ¾ horsepower motor is plenty strong enough for most DIY jobs. You’re not going to easily slow down the speed of the workpiece just by touching it with a chisel.
  • There’s an impressive range of speeds for any woodturning project. A low speed of 650 rpm and high speed of 3,800 rpm is ideal for a range of wood types and turning actions.
  • The large rubber feet on each corner help to keep the vibrations down well. It also means you don’t need to screw this wood lathe down to the benchtop. It doesn’t slide around during use.
  • The 7 Watt work light is useful. The flexible gooseneck and magnetic base mean you can position it almost anywhere. Lighting up the workpiece is simple from any angle.

Cons

  • The tool rest is a bit rough and needs fettling before chisels can slide easily over it. It’s also quite short in width, so you need to move the carriage a lot if you’re turning long items.
  • Unlike other wood lathes, this one only comes with a faceplate, there’s no chuck included. Compared with the Proxxon FD 150/E, you’re going to need a chuck before you can get to work.
  • Although this lathe is capable of an impressive range of speeds, you need to change belts manually. It’s not difficult but compared with the Axminster Craft AC305WL it’s annoying.
  • Weighing 33.6 kg, the wood lathe isn’t easy to move around. You’ll need help getting it up onto a workbench. Compared with the Proxxon FD 150/E, it’s a true heavyweight.
B0836KNK18
8414806274732
Best budget mini lathe

Desktop wood lathes don’t get much smaller or more affordable than this one. The SENRISE micro lathe is an ideal wood lathe for anyone that wants to try out woodturning projects without splashing the cash. It comes with everything you’d need to try out turning and can produce decent results with a bit of practise.

With the dimensions totalling just 305 x 60 x 65 mm, wood lathes like this won’t take up much real estate on your workbench. The tiny 96 Watt motor isn’t big, but it should be enough for the small things you can turn on this minute machine.

Using a standard drill chuck in place of a specialist turning one, the lathe can open to a modest 66 mm. This is fine considering the small maximum capacity this wood lathe has. It’s not the heaviest duty piece of kit and has a basic overall construction.

Don’t expect any cast iron parts, but there’s not too much vibration anyway. You get a set of small chisels included with the kit and a small tool rest to position them on. It’s good fun if you want to try out small woodturning projects before investing more money into a larger wood lathe.

Best budget mini lathe
Scores:
Build Quality
Performance
Ease of Use
Value for Money
Overall

Desktop wood lathes don’t get much smaller or more affordable than this one. The SENRISE micro lathe is an ideal wood lathe for anyone that wants to try out woodturning projects without splashing the cash. It comes with everything you’d need to try out turning and can produce decent results with a bit of practise.

With the dimensions totalling just 305 x 60 x 65 mm, wood lathes like this won’t take up much real estate on your workbench. The tiny 96 Watt motor isn’t big, but it should be enough for the small things you can turn on this minute machine.

Using a standard drill chuck in place of a specialist turning one, the lathe can open to a modest 66 mm. This is fine considering the small maximum capacity this wood lathe has. It’s not the heaviest duty piece of kit and has a basic overall construction.

Don’t expect any cast iron parts, but there’s not too much vibration anyway. You get a set of small chisels included with the kit and a small tool rest to position them on. It’s good fun if you want to try out small woodturning projects before investing more money into a larger wood lathe.

Features:
Power Input
96W
Turning Speed
4,000-8,000rpm
Spindle Speeds
1
Headstock Taper
6mm
Spindle Taper
6mm
Centre to Centre
180mm
Distance Over Bed
70mm
Weight
2kg

Pros

  • This wood lathe is hard to beat on price. For the money, you get everything you could want for trying out woodturning, except safety equipment.
  • The little pack of chisels is a nice touch. They’re going to be useful for carving and shaping, even without the lathe. I like them.
  • Weighing just 2 kg, this is a micro lathe you can take with you. Compared with the Proxxon DB 250, it’s even more portable!
  • There is electronic speed control via the power supply. No belts to fiddle with here as you can control the Voltage directly.

Cons

  • This is not a premium quality woodworking lathe. It’s fine for trying out the craft, but if you want to do anything more professionally, I’d recommend an upgrade.
  • There are no cam lock levers to quickly change the centre distance here. You need to use a screwdriver to uncover wingnuts that hold everything in place. It’s not a fast process.
  • Some users have found that the spindle with the chuck on it isn’t straight. You should check all the fixings are tight around it before first use.

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Tips For Buying a Wood Lathe

  1. There are two main types of woodturning lathe – floor standing and benchtop.
  2. Traditional floor-standing lathes should be heavy and solidly built, for maximum stability and minimum vibration, with rubber feet to stop any sliding. These wood lathes can weigh well over 30 kg.
  3. The main components – the bed, headstock, and tailstock – should be constructed from heavy-duty cast iron.
  4. Smaller benchtop versions are popular with hobbyists and specialists. These tend to be made from die-cast aluminium and should be bolted to the frame to a solid workbench for extra stability.
  5. The wood lathe motor should run quietly and smoothly. Floor-standing lathes have larger motors rated over 500W while benchtop machines can run with 250W or less.
  6. A motor generating spindle speeds of between 500 and 4,000 rpm is ideal for a large range of wood types and turning actions.
  7. Four or five variable speed settings are available on most wood lathes but getting full control over the rpm requires manual belt or pulley adjustment. The best wood lathes feature electronic speed control.
  8. Room to work with is important. The distance between centres can vary a lot from 300mm on a mini lathe to over 1,000mm on a full-size one. The distance / swing-over-bed for larger machines should exceed 300mm.
  9. Finding chucks and other accessories is no problem if the spindle nose uses a common 1″ fitting and a 2MT internal taper. Some tailstocks use a screw fitting instead of a morse taper, however.
  10. A wide tool rest is handy if you’re planning on turning long, thin objects, so you don’t have to reset your working position. But if you are looking to reposition regularly ensure the tool rest comes with solid cam levers to lock it into place.
  11. Handy accessories to look for include a chisel set and built-in LED work light.

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How to Choose The Best Wood Lathe

Fancy making your own bowls, lampshades, pen blanks, or even chair legs? You’d have an extremely difficult time of it without the right tool for the job. If you want to turn square stock into something a bit more rounded, you need the best wood lathe you can afford. With the right tools and a bit of practice, you can turn your hand to a beautiful form of woodworking.

The Purpose of a Wood Lathe

If you want to create almost any rounded object, a wood lathe is the best tool to use. It’s a reasonably simple piece of equipment, but it needs to be built to exact properties to get the best results. It uses motor power to spin the workpiece while you hold a tool to make cuts or to smooth the surface. Depending on the type of wood lathe you have, you can also mill out the inside of a workpiece to make rings or tubes.

The Basic Parts of a Wood Lathe

The part called a headstock holds a motor. This motor turns a spindle that has a faceplate or chuck attached to it. The faceplate or chuck grips the piece of wood you’re working on. On the other end is what’s known as a tailstock, and another holder known as a quill or live centre. You clamp the workpiece between the two ends and when you start the motor, the spindle turns at the spindle speed you’ve set. You can then work the wood using specialist woodturning chisels that you hold on to a tool rest.

Different Types of Woodturning Tools

There is a wide variety of wood-turning tools available to the keen DIYer as well as seasoned professional. The most common tool is probably the roughing gouge. It has a shallow curved blade that’s ideal for removing stock from square bits of timber and turning them around. Parting and beading tools are used mainly for cutting the workpiece off. They’re thin and sharp to cut into the wood on the lathe. Another common woodturning tool is the skew chisel. Looking like a standard chisel with a diagonal tip, it can be used for squaring off wood, rounding over ends, tapering and almost any other job that results in a flat surface.

There are plenty of specialist woodturning tools out there for making different shapes and cutting precise diameter spindles. Once you get the hang of the basic tools, you can upgrade to things like Bedan parting tools and crown beading tools. Don’t forget you’ll need different callipers for inside and outside measurements.

Different Turning Speeds

Depending on what you’re trying to make on your wood lathe, you’ll need a wide spindle speed range. The best wood lathes, like the Axminster Craft AC305WL feature an electronic speed control. With a range of spindle speeds from 500 – 4,080 rpm, you can use different speeds to your advantage.

There are charts available that will help you to select the right spindle speed for the material you’re working on and, crucially, the face work thickness and length of your workpiece. Long and thin workpieces need the highest speeds, while short and wide-diameter workpieces need to be turned slowly. Try out different speeds until you feel comfortable, and the results improve!

Wood Lathe FAQs

What can I make with a wood lathe?

If it’s round, you can make it on a wood lathe. If you can fit an object between the faceplate and the tailstock and it spins freely, you’re good to go. The most common object you’ll see is probably a bowl, but if you’ve got a big enough wood lathe, you could make chair legs or even a snooker cue.

Can I use any old wood on my lathe?

Although you could get away with turning any old scrap of wood, some of the most prized woods for turning are beech, cherry, and walnut. Hardwoods that have an interesting grain pattern are prized for their looks and stability on the wood lathe.

Just make sure that your workpiece is well-balanced, not rotten and securely attached to your wood lathe before turning it on to full power!

Do I need a chuck or a faceplate?

Probably the most important part of a wood lathe to get right is the chuck. You might think of the chuck on your combi drill, but it’s a bit different to that. Lathe chucks come in tons of different configurations but perform a similar job. A good woodturning chuck can be adjusted to hold different pieces of material snugly, no matter what size or shape.

A faceplate, on the other hand, is more suitable for holding onto flat stock like bowls. There are no moving parts, just holes to secure the workpiece with screws. It creates a strong bond between the wood lathe and workpiece that is secure and ideal for turning wide objects.

Is woodturning safe?

Like any woodworking craft, there is an element of risk when dealing with power tools and moving parts. It’s essential that you wear the correct personal protective equipment and follow basic safety rules.

I wouldn’t use a wood lathe without a full face shield. Splinters of wood can ping up into your face at extreme speeds if you’re running a wood lathe on high revs. Safety glasses will protect your eyes, but full face protection is more suitable. If you’re sanding a workpiece then wear a quality dust mask. You should always wear ear defenders if the noise output is high.

The same safety rules apply here for any rotational power tool. Avoid loose-fitting clothing and make sure that all hair is tied back out of the way. Avoid wearing things that can get snagged, such as necklaces, bracelets, and even gloves.

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