Best Wood Lathe of 2016

A wood lathe is a vital machine for your wood processing shop, factory or your home projects. There are a lot of companies manufacturing high-quality lathes although finding the best ones for you might be a hard task. That is why I took a lot of time making this selection of the best wood lathe so that you won’t have to.

You will find a good variety of wood lathes from different manufacturers, most with a vast experience in this domain.

The most important criterion when I selected one lathe over the other is quality. I consider that quality should be above everything because quality machinery can last for decades and pay off the investment countless times. Cheap and bad quality items tend to require more frequent replacement.

Without further ado let’s proceed to the wood lathes themselves which are in my opinion the best.

– Best Wood Lathe for the Money –

JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe

While the JET company was born in 1958 as a small dealership of various industrial accessories, in the 80s it started growing into a global enterprise. Now in the woodworking department they import / design some of the best models, as it is the case with the one over here.

In order to summarize the specifications, the lathe features:

  • Variable speeds ranging from 60 to 3600 RPM
  • Easy to use digital speed control
  • Quill with markings in cm and inches
  • Quick change belt
  • Spring Loaded Spindle Lock
  • Great design

While there is one limitation like the 21-inch length of this lathe which is somewhat too small, thankfully there is now available a 42-inch bed which basically double the working length area. I would also note that it would have been better if the machine came with the 3mm Allen wrench required to loosen the screws since a lot of wood lathes in this category include the essential tools in the box.

Overall I would say that this JET wood lathe is a safe investment when compared to the competition.

– Best Wood Lathe (Overall) –

Powermatic 1352001 Model 3520B 20×35-Inch Wood Lathe with RPM Digital Readout

I must say that if you want quality above everything when it comes to your next investment in one of the best wood lathes then this Powermatic lathe should be on the top of your list and here is why.

First and foremost it is made of heavy duty iron and has a great design. I doubt that at the quality of the materials and the way everything fits together on this lathe you would ever have quality concerns. Then there are the technical specifications:

  • Totally enclosed fan cooled motor with 2 horsepower and 6.2 amperes
  • 34-1/2 inches distance between the centers
  • 20-inch swing
  • 8 spindle threads
  • 14-inch tool support
  • Variable speed settings

Remember that at over 700 lbs with all the accessories this is one of those heavy lathes that you need to assemble and you will most probably need some help from at least two other people in order to put all things together.

Woodtek 143009, Machinery, Lathes, Woodtek 10″ Midi Lathe

Considering that you pay much less on this Woodtek wood lathe than on other professional lathes, you still get a good return for your investment. It is true that you could put a little more money and get a better one but if it is all you have than this small lathe from Woodtek will do just fine.

Some technical specifications:

  • 6-inch tool rest
  • Distance between the centers of 17 inches
  • A somewhat big range of speeds starting from 500 RPM up to 3975 RPM
  • 10-inch swing
  • Tailstock quill with a travel of 2-3/8 inches
  • 1/2 Horse Power Motor
  • Self-ejecting tailstock

The materials constituting this wood lathe are relatively of good quality although the plastic case of the plastic motor is not.

JET 708359 JWL-1642EVS 16-Inch Swing 42-Inch between Centers

Yet another wood lathe from JET, which is even better than the previous one but also more expensive. The materials are high quality with pretty much no compromises like plastic.

Other than that the 42-inch distance between the centers is large enough for most professional wood projects.


  • 1-1/2 horsepower three phase motor
  • Spindle with 1.25 X 8 threads
  • Safe heavy gauge guard
  • Variable speed ranging 0 to 3200 RPM
  • Large tailstock
  • Ram with four-inch travel
  • 16 inch swing over bed
  • Stand alone mount

Is this the best wood lathe? Probably. Is it at least one of the best available in this price segment? I would say definitely yes.

That’s pretty much it, hope I helped you find the best wood lathe for your needs. 

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