8 Best Wood Lathe For Beginners – (Starter Picks)

As a beginner to woodworking, you must be overwhelmed to utilize wood lathes to make different crafts out of your wood pieces. You can bring your amazing ideas into reality to present them as some worthy and wowing projects. 

JET JWL-1221VS is the best wood lathe for beginners. Pick this piece of equipment to make your bowl turning game reach the next level!

Choosing the best beginner wood lathe can bring a lot of hassle. Especially when there is a myriad of brands available in the market. But for this article, we have already covered some extra miles to sort the matter out for you. 

best beginner wood lathes

You can read through this comprehensive list of some lathes for beginners. These can serve you well for multiple woodworking and crafting jobs!

Our Recommendations

EDITOR’S CHOICE
ET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe
JET JWL-1221VS 
 
9.8
  • High controllability
  • 3 Optimal speed ranges 
  • 24 index positions
     
BUDGET PICK
NOVA 46300 Comet II Mini Lathe
NOVA 46300 
 
8.9
  • Expandable base 
  • Offers speed controllability
  • Compact and manageable
PREMIUM PICK
Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Midi Lathe
Delta 46-460
 
9.6
  • Highly durable
  • Easy to use 
  • 5 years warranty

Best Wood Lathe For Beginners

Let’s dive deep into the reviews and features of the wood lathes. Stick with us throughout and you’ll end up choosing your work horse!

1. JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe – Overall Best

best wood lathe for beginners

JET JWL-1221VS is highly controllable and versatile lathe which can be used by beginners. Any new person into the woodworking can use it with ease without worrying about accuracy.

This model of JET is better in features than they have manufactured in the past. It will provide you with the next level of turning, sanding, cutting, and the deformation of a number of woods. 

The tool delivers the optimal speed of three ranges. You can choose the speed as per your requirement ranging from 60 to 3,600 RPM. This gives you more control over the device and you can work on multiple projects demanding different speeds. 

In addition, there are conveniently located controls that indicate the speed ranges. The DRO it possesses tells the position and handwheels rotation to eliminate the chances of misreading. 

It has an integrated and spring-loaded spindle lock. It is of great help in holding your workpieces. You can use it while manually tapping the material. 

You will experience an excellent smooth and seamless transition of workpieces from forward to reverse. 

JET JWL-1221VS is innovatively designed. It has a ratchet-style belt tension system that will give more controlled rotation, and supply adequate power transmission for its impeccable working. 

Moreover, its use as both benchtop and floor lathe adds more versatility to its usage. The 24 integrated index positions allow you to achieve more accuracy for mounting your bowls. 

There are some reviews in which people have mentioned the poor quality controls of the device. But that too can vary from case to case and the capacity of work you’re getting from it.

With all the wowing features that it offers to ensure high performance and great manageability, it’s a perfect choice for beginners entering the game of bowl turning. 

Pros
  • High controllability
  • 3 Optimal speed ranges
  • 24 index positions for more accuracy
Cons
  • Issues with quality controls

Overall, it’s the best beginner’s wood lathe that will elevate your bowl turning game to high levels. You can never go wrong with picking this lathe as your tool!

2. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 

best wood lathe for beginners

NOVA 46300 is another best starter wood lathe that can accommodate you well with a lot of your woodturning projects. 

If you’re in search of a lathe that can deal with some larger wood pieces then this is your tool.

It provides a swing capacity of 12 inches over the bed and 16.5 inches capacity at the center. Additionally, the 41 inches expandible bed base can offer you a wide space for turning. 

It operates on a 3/4 HP motor that delivers a variable speed ranging from 250 to 4000 RPM. It can give you a super low as well as a super-high speed delivery.  There are two additional steps through which you can achieve more torque for your tasks. 

This innovatively engineered model of NOVA is compact and weighs less than the previously reviewed lathe by JET. 

There’s a three-pulley mechanism that provides the ease of pulling it in an upward and downward position easily. 

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You can ideally make it in use to deal with a variety of projects from pens to bowls and spindles. It has switches that add more to the flexibility of its usage and offer excellent finishing. 

There’s a digital readout on this machine that offers you the ease of selecting the speed quickly. Moreover, it displays the speed range on the screen, giving you an idea of which speed you’re turning. 

This updated version of the NOVA comet II midi lathe will give you a superior level of woodturning experience than the previous version. 

On your purchase, you’ll receive some additional accessories that can add more ease to your work. It offers a 2 years manufacturer warranty to keep your investment on the safer side. 

One downside of this lathe is the design of this device. It has some sturdy screws that are hard to unfasten and can give you a hard time moving the lathe on the base. 

Pros
  • Compact and easily manageable
  • Offers more speed controllability
  • 2Expandable base for larger pieces
Cons
  • Issues with quality controls

All-inclusive, you can count on this best wood lathe for beginners. It’s super easy to store it in your workshop and can serve you well with your woodturning for different wood materials. 

3. Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

best wood lathe for beginners

If you don’t prefer JET JWL-1221 for any reason and want to go with another good option then you can grab Delta Industrial 46-460 midi lathe. 

Delta is renowned as the pioneer of midi lathes because it’s the brand that introduced this tool to the woodworking industry. 

The sturdy 1 HP motor delivers a speed of 1725 RPM that works wonders for woodturning. You can get a maximum swing capacity of 12-½ inches that allows you the facility to treat the larger wood pieces as well. 

There’s an electronic variable speed system with three pulley speed ranges. With this speed, you can effortlessly work on your turning projects without having a need of changing belt positions.

It has indexing pin locks that can lock the head spindle at 24 different locations to add ease to offer to work for different decorative applications. 

The belt tensioning system of the lathe offers automatic belt adjustments to deliver high power transmission. 

You can get a modular bed extension to connect the different extension beds to a particular lathe. This can help to achieve an increased turning capacity of up to 25.5 inches. 

The accuracy and precision of your sanding projects can be increased with its forward and reverse functions, to get a seamless finishing. This will reduce the difficulty of dealing with grained surfaces when the piece moves in both directions. 

Its all-cast construction of the lathe makes it stable and durable. You can easily use it on rough job sites. Its three inches faceplate in combination with a 6 inches and 10 inches tool rests provide support in turning the wood pieces in a lot of applications. 

On your purchase, you’ll get additional accessories like 6 and 10 inches tool rests, 3-inches chrome faceplate, tool rest base, knockout bar, live center, wrenches, and a user instructions manual.

Pros
  • Highly durable
  • Easy to use
  • 5 years warranty
Cons
  • Swing capacity isn’t satisfactory

You’ll get a 5 years warranty on this tool, meaning in case of any malfunctioning, you’re backed by the manufacturer. 

4. WEN 3421 Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe

best wood lathe for beginners

Now coming to our next pick, If you prefer variable speed in your lathe that costs fewer bucks, then WEN 3421 is the tool that can serve you well for this. 

It’s the best-suited wood lathe for beginners that has the ability to fit in 12 inches long and 8 inches wide wood pieces.

You can effortlessly work with small to medium wood pieces with this. 

The 3.2-amp motor of this benchtop wood lathe runs to give a variable speed that makes it a lathe for money. You won’t experience any manipulations and get an instant speed change. 

Its MTI spindle lock along with taper offers a tight grip to hold the workpieces. In addition, to support the chisels and other tools, there are two tool rests of 4-½ inches and 7 inches. All of them ensure the easy and smooth operation of the machine. 

The convenient and handy lever clamping system can make tool rest and tailstock adjustments easy and precise. 

WEN 3421 weighs only 44.3 pounds and offers ease of portability. You won’t face any hassle of storing it in your workshop and in transporting it to different job locations. 

You can pick this tool considering it as the best starter wood lathe. It’s a great value to money if you’re a beginner in woodworking and take it as a hobby to perform DIYs and home tasks. 

One downside of this model is that the locks aren’t that effective, which might give you some hard time handling the larger wood pieces. But as a matter of fact, beginners don’t get to deal with heavy capacity jobs. So, if you’re a newbie, no drawback for you!

The additional components that come along the tool are a tailstock cup center, a 2.3 inches faceplate for non-spindle wood pieces, a headstock spur center, and a flat wrench for easy unfastening of the screws for repairing, etc., 

Pros
  • Instant speed changing
  • Great tool for beginners
  • Deal larger pieces
Cons
  • Stability Issues

All-inclusive, you can get your hands on this top-rated to make the beginnings of your woodworking journey smooth. You’ll enjoy its convenient and smooth performance. 

5. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

SHOP FOX W1704 is another best wood lathe for beginners. It works wonders for smaller cutting or sharpening jobs. 

It features a ⅓ Hp variable speed motor that runs to deliver spindle speeds ranging from 700 to 3200 RPM. The two tools of 4-½ inches and 7 inches tool rest are there to support a number of turning applications.

It has a distance of 13-inches between centers and an 8-inches swing over the bed that add more ease to the wood. turning

Unlike other wood lathes, it offers a safety paddle switch that gives you control of stopping the machine if the pieces get out of control. This can avoid any accidents at the workplace.

This cast-iron constructed wood lathe offers great durability and reliability. You can rank this among the best lathes for beginners that make the turning tasks effortless for them. 

Furthermore, it weighs only 48.4 pounds that makes it extremely portable. It won’t occupy much of your workshop’s space. You will be able to easily carry it to different job sites without getting the fatigue of storing it.

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But one drawback of the less weight is that you might experience some instability whilst performing the wood turning. The compactness of the lathe makes it producing jerks when performing through the pieces. 

It has a 5-¾ inches faceplate which offers the facility to be threaded with the headstock spindle to give non-spindle turning. This can deal with bowling and other items that cannot be held by the tailstock. 

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • High performance
  • Variable speed motor
Cons
  • Shows instability at times

It can serve you when if you’re in search of an inexpensive piece of equipment to putter around on. You can make the most out of your purchase. 

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

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

RIKON 70-100 is the perfectly suited lathe if you have to do some large capacity tasks. It offers you the option to attach multiple extensions to enable working on larger crafts. 

The 12 inches over the bed and the 16 inches between centers capacity of this mini lathe will give the ease of working on it without overloading the workbench. 

You can quickly and conveniently make changes to the speed of the tool with 6 different speed ranges. It also covers the facility of drive belt adjustment along with a speed chart to determine the spindle speed. 

It’s easy to use the locking arm and the release lever are the components that add more to the speed adjustment. You’ll feel more controlled with these attributes when setting the machine to different speed levels. 

 Another wowing thing is the 12-position indexing head that locks the piece in various positions to add more details and impeccable finishing to the tasks.  

It is highly efficient and effective in performing detail-oriented jobs like drilling, grooving, straight flaunting, and layout, etc.  

There’s no hassle of using the knock-out bar for the center removal anymore. It can save you time with its self-ejecting tailstock. 

You can also move the tailstock with the help of a ram that is moveable up to 2-½ inches. All you need to do is to loose the locking lever and set it as per the required position by locking the lever again. 

Pros
  • Detailed Work
  • High convenience and reliability
  • Multiple extensions attachment option
Cons
  • Assembly defects

It’s a versatile tool that offers high portability and convenience in its operation. This beginner wood lathe comes with a lot of features that can allow you to make it to use the way you want. 

7. JET JWL-1015, 10″ x 15″ Wood Lathe 

7. JET JWL-1015, 10" x 15" Wood Lathe

JET JWL-1015 is a user-friendly and affordable lathe that can serve you well for a number of woodturning jobs. It’s a starter lathe that can make your beginnings butter smooth. 

It offers six spindle speed ranges 500,840,1,240,1,800,2,630, and 3,975. It can equally accommodate beginners as well as professionals. 

The efficient tensioning system of the belts provides the user with easier access to belts for quick adjustments of lumbers. In addition, the 24-indexing positions of this machine that adds more flexibility and adaptability to its performance.  

Its construction is more sturdy and rigid than the previous models. The wider beds of the lathe can easily handle the materials along with offering extended durability. 

The bed extension also comes along with this machine to extend the bed to provide ease in woodturning of long spindle legs. 

Moreover, the distance of 15.5 inches from the center to the board bed adds to the rigidity of this tool. The integrated liver center in the tailstock increases the output and adds more ease to its dealing with intricate projects. 

JET JWL-1015 is a perfect combination of precision, power, and versatility. It will help you to give life to your woodworking projects.

Pros
  • High versatility
  • Precision in turning tasks
  • Six spindle speed variations
Cons
  • A bit costly

It’s a wise choice for novice woodworkers. You can make it to work on every possible task that a wood lathe can perform. A lot of people find it expensive but you get what you pay for. 

8. Nova 71118 Comet II Midi Lathe With Variable Speed 

8. Nova 71118 Comet II Midi Lathe With Variable Speed

Last but not the least, we have Nova 71118 Comet II Midi Lathe on the list. You can count on this as a good wood lathe for beginners as well. 

It features a ¾ HP aggressive motor that offers a variable speed that ranges from 250 to 4000 RPM. It’s a versatile tool that can work on a variety of tasks with its low to high-speed selections.

You can do projects like pens, bowls, and spindles. Its switches give you more control over it and you can get a seamless finishing with this midi lathe. With a bowl turning capacity of 12”/300mm, you can bring your dream ideas to life. 

The quick dial-in offers ease of choosing the right speed as per the type, material, and conditions of the task. In addition, the digital screen speed display indicates the range of speed you’re operating on. 

Along with multiple speed ranges, the three-step pulley system offers high flexibility. You can utilize the middle step to get the most wood-turning jobs done. And the rest of the two steps deliver high torque for some high demanding projects. 

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With Nova 71118, you can also attach additional bed extensions as well to treat your larger wood pieces. Its standard length is 16.5”/419mm and you can make it up to 42”/1066mm wide, extending from the center. 

The fact that it comes unassembled with some fasteners makes it a bit difficult for the users to understand the right assembly. 

On your purchase of this lathe, you’ll get additional accessories such as 3 inches faceplate, 6 inches tool rest, live tailstock center, lathe handwheel unit. 

Pros
  • Digital speed display
  • Quick variable speed dials
  • Expandable bed extensions for larger pieces
Cons
  • Complicated assembly

All-inclusive, it’s the best starter wood lathe that accommodates the most woodturning tasks with its impeccable performance. 

Things To Look For In The Starter Lathe

Initially, you might get confused by different features while choosing the right tool for yourself. Here, we have some important factors to let you know about to assist you with your buying decision of the best wood lathe for beginners. Look through them and make your investment in the most appropriate tool as per your job requirement. 

Motor power and performance:

The motor power of the wood lathe determines the speed and performance it offers for multiple operations. The rule of thumb is that the bigger the machine is, the powerful delivery it offers. They mostly have up to 2 HP motors that can serve for most woodworking jobs. 

Beginner Lathe

A piece of effective performing equipment not only gives quick and accurate output but can deal with tasks of every capacity, be it smaller or larger. Steer clear of investing the heaps of buck on the piece of device that is underpowered and affects the diligence of your turning jobs. 

Headstock and Tailstock

The headstock determines the capacity of piercing of your wood pieces. The tailstock works for the fixing of woods and makes sure it doesn’t move vertically or horizontally. These two in combination work on the accuracy and precision of the bowl turning. You better ensure you pick the tool having an efficient performing headstock and tailstock. 

Safety

A wood lathe is an aggressive kind of tool and you can encounter any accidents or mishaps while dealing with your wood pieces. So picking up the tool that comes with some considerable safety features would be a wise choice to make. Because it’s not just the performance that matters but your safety as well. 

FAQ’s

Who makes a good beginner lathe tool set?

JET makes the best beginners wood toolset. Its JWL-1221VS is the tool that offers a variable speed along with high controllability and versatility. You can achieve high accuracy in your jobs with its 24 index positioning system. 

What is the best wood turning lathe for beginners?

The best woodworking lathe is a tool that is easily manageable and convenient to make it to use and JWL-1221VS is a great pick for this.

Being a beginner you cannot use a tool that requires you to have high skills like professionals to use a tool. Moderate capacity equipment that can deal with both high and low capacity work would be a great selection to make. 

What size wood lathe should i get as a beginner?

As a beginner, if you have to keep the tool in your workshop to deal with DIY or low profile tasks, a machine having a size between 29 inches to 36 inches can work effectively for you. This size can accommodate you perfectly for both performance and convenience. 

Wrapping Up Best Beginner Wood Lathe

By now, you must be having a good idea about picking up the best beginner wood lathe. Investing in the right tool will make you enter the woodturning field with a smooth hand operation that eventually will lead towards leveling up your game. You can choose your first tool among our top-rated lathes. 

JET JWL-1221VS is rated for high controllability and versatility. It can be utilized as both a benchtop and floor lathe. Three ranges of optimal speed can offer you more options of speed selections as per the requirement of your task. 

NOVA 46300 Comet II mini lathe is our second top choice that offers high-speed selection. It is a compact tool that you can easily manage and store in your small workshop space. You can treat your larger pieces with it as well with the expandable base it offers. 

Delta Industrial 46-460 is the third top lathe that is a convenient tool for beginners. It offers high durability, ease of use. This machine can be used in multiple rough job sites. In addition, you’re all covered by the manufacturer for 5 years. 

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