Starting your wood workshop and handling small projects involves selecting woodworking tools like wood lathes to aid your construction process. With so many options to choose from, investing in the best beginner wood lathe could be a daunting task. Lucky for you, our DIY enthusiasts listed and tested these reliable tools to see if they’ll fit your budget and needs.

Premium Option
Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe
Editor’s Choice
JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS
Budget Option
WEN 3421 Wood Lathe
Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe
JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS
WEN 3421 Wood Lathe
• Spring-loaded spindle lock
• Customizable control box
• Two 100-watt work lamps
• Sturdy cast-iron construction
• Maximum speed: 1720 RPM
• Reliable variable speed control
• Secured clamping system
• Tailstock spindle thread
• Cast-iron bed construction
• Convenient RPM digital readout
• Two interchangeable tool rests
• Flexi speed ranges: 3200 RPM max
• Variable speed benchtop lathe
• Affordable and high-quality
• Sturdy & long shelf life
Premium Option
Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe
Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe
• Spring-loaded spindle lock
• Customizable control box
• Two 100-watt work lamps
• Sturdy cast-iron construction
• Maximum speed: 1720 RPM
Editor’s Choice
JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS
JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS
• Reliable variable speed control
• Secured clamping system
• Tailstock spindle thread
• Cast-iron bed construction
• Convenient RPM digital readout
Budget Option
WEN 3421 Wood Lathe
WEN 3421 Wood Lathe
• Two interchangeable tool rests
• Flexi speed ranges: 3200 RPM max
• Variable speed benchtop lathe
• Affordable and high-quality
• Sturdy & long shelf life

Reviews of the Top Beginner Wood Lathes

1. JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS

The best beginner wood lathes should be both affordable and high-quality — and that’s what JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS gave us during our series of tests. With its minimum speed of 400 RPM to 3000 RPM, rest assured that this benchtop wood lathe will get the job done accurately and efficiently. 

Besides its impressive variable speed ranges, this particular lathe has a durable construction and a convenient RPM display. It also features a unique clamping system along with a securely locked tool rest for better support.

As if that didn’t impress us enough, this wood lathe for beginners has an ACME thread that aids the tailstock spindle speed. 

Pros

Cons

2. Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe

If you’re in search of a starter wood lathe that will stand the test of time, then the Powermatic 4224B Woodturning Lathe machine is the best recommendation our tool experts can give to you. 

Besides its cast-iron legs, this professional wood lathe machine has a powerful motor that runs at a speed of 1720 RPM. With a maximum outboard swing of 88 inches and 98 indexing positions, this full-size wood lathe for beginners can handle multiple projects in a smooth transition. 

During our wood project tests, we’re genuinely impressed with its brass-tipped knockout bar and easy-to-access powered accessories, including two 100-watt work lights.

Pros

Cons

3. WEN 3421 Wood Lathe

While searching for the best wood lathe for beginners, our woodworking experts bumped into WEN 3421 Wood Lathe. With its powerful motors, affordable price range, and sturdy construction, this lathe machine proved that high price doesn’t always equate to higher quality [1]

If you’re looking for a new wood lathe to work on wood materials ranging up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide, then let this wood lathe run your project to its fullest extent. This variable speed wood lathe machine also secures the grip of any material during the operation thanks to its tailstock taper and MT1 spindle. 

Pros

Cons

4. JET JWL-1015VS Variable-Speed Wood Lathe

Some of the best wood lathes in the market often come from the same brand, so it didn’t catch us off guard when we tested JET JWL-1015VS Wood Lathe. This variable speed mini lathe machine has three-pulley speed ranges from 200-1,050, 300-1,750, and 600-3,600 RPM. 

Engineered with an advanced tensioning system that makes it easier to access belts, there’s no doubt that these are suitable wood lathes for beginners. The optional mini lathe accessories like the 21-inch bed extension also ensure that the users will have enough turning capacities to handle different projects.

Pros

Cons

5. Laguna Tools MLAREVO 1836-110 Wood Lathe

It’s no secret that the Laguna Tools Revo Lathe series dominated the woodworking machine market for its dual variable speed ranging between 135 to 3500 RPM and 50 to 1300 RPM. 

Despite its slightly expensive price, our DIY specialists recommend these wood lathes for beginners because of their cast-iron headstock design that extends tool life and enables smooth operations. The MLAREVO 1836-110 heavy-duty machine also has an impressive outboard swing grip that secures handling of workpieces. 

If that didn’t impress you enough, this lathe also features ergonomic handles for added portability and a steel-constructed bed for stability. 

Pros

Cons

6. RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe

Not all workshop locations are the same. That’s why the best wood lathe we can recommend for limited space is the RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe. Although mini wood lathes may appear smaller, this machine features 12 indexing positions that enable flexible operations and added safety features. 

This mini-lathe is listed as one of the best wood lathes for new woodworkers because of its self-ejecting tailstock and tool accessories like nylon faceplate washer, tool rest, and flip handle. The operation of these mini-lathes can also be adjusted with different speed capacities from 430 RPM up to 3900 RPM. 

Pros

Cons

7. Excelsior Mini Lathe

Another affordable option we came across during our search is Excelsior Mini Lathe. This machine offers utmost precision while being run by a ½HP motor. If you’re looking into turning bowls, Excelsior Mini Lathe can accommodate materials up to 10 inches in diameter and 17 ¾ inches in length. 

On top of that, this mini lathe equipment can be operated at different operational speeds ranging from 760 up to 3200 RPM. There’s also no need to worry about this machine wearing down because it’s designed with cast-iron construction meant for handling extended operations.

Pros

Cons

8. RIKON 70-150VSR Midi Lathe

When handling a bigger project, you’ll need a more powerful tool like RIKON 70-150VSR Midi Lathe to aid your construction process. This variable-speed midi lathe is integrated with a 1 HP DC Motor and is capable of wide-range speed controls resulting in better output and performance.

Our DIY experts have no doubt beginners will find it easy to use this wood lathe with its digital RPM readout, magnetic-back control box, and stable cast-iron bed. It also features adjustable handles for a secure material position even during the operation. Besides that, it has a ball-bearing design for a more precise operation. 

Pros

Cons

Beginner Wood Lathe Buyer’s Guide

Size and Design

When looking for the best wood lathe, you must consider the size and design of the product you want to purchase. Selecting the size of a woodworking machine depends on the available space in your woodshop, and it generally varies in three designs available in the market. 

The first one that our experts highly recommend for beginners is the benchtop lathes. These types of tools are relatively smaller than the other two and are meant to work on small projects like turning bowls, chair legs, and decorative furnishings. 

On the other hand, the likes of midi and full-sized wood lathes are solely dedicated to more complex workpieces. Getting these machines costs more and requires a big chunk of space in your woodworking shop.   

Material Durability

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a well-versed woodworker; we all know that a machine’s life varies depending on the materials used in its construction. In this product roundup, you may have already noticed how most of the options are designed with cast iron and stainless steel. These types of materials offer durability that makes the tool last longer. 

Speed

Woodworking is a process that involves handling various materials with different compositions. Because of this fact, our experts advise you to get a wood lathe capable of operating at different speeds to accommodate as many types of materials as possible. 

Some wood lathes feature adjustable speed ranges depending on how powerful their integrated motors are, so it’ll be wise to check the RPM capability of the machine before proceeding to purchase. The speed capacity of your lathe also indicates whether you can work on certain kinds of materials like soft and hardwood. 

Ease of Use

More than anything else, a wood lathe suited for beginners should be easy to use. The user-friendliness of your wood lathe usually aligns with the number of indexing positions it can offer, especially if you’ll be working on pieces with pattern designs. 

Upon reading this post, you’ll see that some products in this list are integrated with convenient headstock functions that pivot in different angles to cater to shaping your workpiece appropriately. On top of that, it’s also helpful to see if the wood lathe has reliable tool rests to support the operation in executing accurate cuts or drills.

Stability

To ensure that the material is in position during the woodturning operations, you should get a wood lathe with reliable spring-loaded locks. This feature will ensure that your workpiece is stable even when the motor is currently running. It also prevents unintended damages to the material you’re working on.  

And because wood lathe operates by turning materials in rotating motion, vibrations are often hindrances to getting the output you need. In that case, you should get a lathe with cast-iron construction to minimize these vibrations even further. It’ll also help if your machine has rubberized feet to avoid overall wobbling that can interrupt the operation. 

Safety Features

Operating a wood lathe can be dangerous at times because it runs at varying speeds that may cause flying wood chips and harmful wood dust. Vibrations will not only ruin your wood project but can also cause severe accidents when not handled appropriately. 

Because of this predicament, we suggest wood lathes with advanced clamping systems to avoid slipping of workpieces during the operation. Working in a well-lit area can also lessen the chances of accidents, which is why some manufacturers include task lights when you purchase a wood lathe machine from them. 

The speed adjustment features are also intended to help users select the right pace for the job. When you buy lathe machines, you’ll see recommended speed settings indicated in the user manual. Going for slower or moderate speed will prevent the occurrence of flying chips. This tip is especially useful if you’re not entirely familiar with operating such woodworking machines. 

You should also make sure that the tool rests are adjustable to set it closer or farther from the rotating mass. Putting the tools too close may lead to unintended friction between the material and result in objects flying in your direction.

Last but not least, always wear protective gear when working with these types of tools. Although the best beginner wood lathes feature safety functions to make your woodworking operations hassle-free, keep in mind that dealing with electronic equipment entails certain risks. Hence, it’s best to be ready at all times.

Accessories

Aside from aiding woodturning projects, the reason why wood lathes are sought after in the woodworking industry is that it includes extremely helpful accessories. 

Wood lathe manufacturers understand the needs of budding DIY enthusiasts. That’s why they made sure to include add-ons like work lights, accessible tool storage, and a convenient RPM readout for beginners to monitor the operational speed and settings easily and without any hassle. 

Besides those mentioned above, there are also wood lathes accompanied by a knockout bar. It’s a metal installed in the headstock to tap the tip of any taper accessories alongside it. Faceplates, on the other hand, help with attaching your wood into the lathe. It has screw holes that enable secure placement of the material. 

Availability of Parts

Starting from the headstock where all the action starts, the tailstock taper with two popular sizes: MT-1 and MT-2, and an indexing wheel — all these components aid your wood lathe to operate correctly and execute a better performance.

As a beginner, you should get acquainted with the crucial parts of your chosen wood lathe. Always remember that this tool operates with different components, so there will be a time or two that you’ll need to replace some of it. 

Price and Warranty

Like any other electrical type of equipment in the market, wood lathes widely differ in pricing. As previously discussed in this post, wood lathe tools vary in size and design. Depending on the manufacturer, one wood lathe may have a different set of components than the other. Such differences affect the range of pricing of these tools. 

However, if we’re talking about the products on this list, the cheapest of the bunch can go as low as $150, and the premium options from known brands can go as high as $7000 or higher. While it’s true that prices sometimes align with the quality of the product, it’s important to consider the projects you’ll take on to determine if they’ll suit the features of your wood lathe. 

In terms of product warranty, the best advice we can give you is to purchase your wood lathe from the actual manufacturer or authorized sellers. Unable to present required documents for your equipment won’t grant you warranty perks when in need of component replacement or machine maintenance. 

FAQ

What should a beginner lathe make?

A beginner lathe should make bowls, flower pots, wooden kitchen utensils, and other decorative workpieces not requiring complex wood patterns. Although it’s enticing to take on complicated woodworking projects, beginner lathe machines are typically smaller with less capacity that can only cater to limited types of materials.

Our Top Pick For a Beginner Wood Lathe:
JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS

Upon testing and evaluating the best beginner wood lathes in the market, our woodworking specialists decided to hail JET Wood Lathe Benchtop JWL-1440VS as our top pick in this product roundup. 

Operating with a 400 to 3000 RPM speed range and a unique clamping system that secures woodturning operations, we have no doubt that this wood lathe will ease the experience of any woodworking beginner. 

Robert