What To Look For in a Wood Lathe
There are two main types of wood turning lathe – floor standing and benchtop.
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 30kgs.
The main components – the bed, headstock, and tailstock – should be constructed from heavy duty cast iron.
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.
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.
A motor generating spindle speeds of between 500 and 4,000rpm is ideal for a large range of wood types and turning actions.
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.
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.
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.
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 sold cam levers to lock it into place.
Handy accessories to look for include a chisel set and build-in LED work light.
Woodturning is an art that can create beautiful and useful objects. With the best wood lathe on your bench, you can start creating bowls, pen blanks or just about anything else that’s round. I’ve found the best tools for precision woodturning as well as kits that include everything you need to get started. Come and see what I discovered…