Best Full Size Wood Lathe in 2021 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

Making an intricate object that has decorative designs and carvings is no simple task. While some woodworkers do this type of work by hand, there are tools out there that can help with the tasks as well and work much more quickly.

It takes an experienced woodworker to be able to carve wood in any way. While you most likely know about tools like the scroll saw that helps make intricate cutouts, there are specialty tools for carving designs into wood pieces as well or even just smoothing pieces to perfection.

A full size wood lathe is the tool that you need to turn that big hunk of wood into something beautiful, be it an ink pen or letter opener or something much larger like furniture legs or wooden goblets. In order to really create many of these pieces, you need a top rated full size wood lathe for the task.

In this guide, we will share with you some of the best wood lathe reviews to help you find the perfect options for wood lathes woodturners to add to your workshop. We’ve sorted through the options and with a myriad of research and testing, we’ve managed to narrow it down to the very best for this wood full size wood lathe review, just for you!

Stick with us to learn about the top rated wood lathes on the market and perhaps pick one out for you!

Related: Best Scroll Saw – Reviews & Buyers Guide

The Best Full Size Wood Lathe Reviews

If you’re looking for one of the best full size wood lathe options, we’ve got you covered! In this section, you will find all of our top picks with a variety of choices for the best full size wood lathes. You will find variable speed, cast iron construction, a smattering of speed ranges, and even different hp motor capabilities.

The thing to keep in mind is what you need or want specifically as you sort through the best wood lathes and pick one out for yourself!

Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Best Overall: Jet JWL 1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe

Jet JWL 1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe

This first option is the best full size wood lathe overall in our books. It’s a high quality wood lathe from Jet and a vast improvement from the Jet JWL 1440VSK model that didn’t let you reverse. The Jet JWL 1221VS has a lot of great qualities that people loved about the Jet JWL 1440VSK plus some other upgrades that make this full sized wood lathe machine really stand out.

This is a great midi lathe that is a variable speed wood turning machine. You can range the speeds from 60 to 3600 RPM on this Jet JWL lathe machine. The speed controls for midi lathes can sometimes be inefficient but that is not the case with this one.

You can go from forward to reverse easily and the transition is smooth in any speed range. The RPM variable speed motor gives you more control over the speeds, which leads to more control of the products you are creating as well. The tension system is a ratchet style system that is unique to this particular top rated wood lathe.

This is a tabletop wood lathe but you can purchase a separate stand so that it fits in perfectly with other full size lathes. This remains the best wood lathe on our list overall but you can be the judge of that if you decide to give it a try. It’s simple and yet incredibly effective as far as a wood lathe is concerned.

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Why We Like It

We love this option because is simple but completely effective. The key to turning out good work is to be able to adequately control your machine and you actually get that with these lathes. The variable speed is very nice and you can smoothly go into reverse when you need to. It’s the overall best in our opinion.

2. Budget Pick: Shop Fox W1704 1/3 Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

Shop Fox W1704 1/3 Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

This next option is a budget choice for us. It’s a high quality option that doesn’t cost quite as much as some of the other major wood lathe choices you might find. While it is budget friendly, it still delivers quality in a lot of valuable ways that really matter and we think you will find this to be another quality pick.

This will work great for all projects. It is a bench top design so it doesn’t come with the legs. It is made using quality cast iron materials so it offers the durability that you most likely are looking for. Cast iron headstock can sometimes be hard to find but this affordable wood working lathe offers it.

This lathe is easy to use and is well known for turning bowls because of the size. You get a 1/3 horsepower motor and a sliding headstock for versatility. The measurements are 12 inch distance between centers on this single phase lathe machine. It’s plain and simple but it does what you need.

This lathe allows you variable speed control and a locking system when needed. The swing over bed is 8 inches for plenty of swing capacity. You even get 2 tool rest locations for your projects. It really doesn’t get much better than that for this price!

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Why We Like It

This is a 110V Single Phase motor with a sliding headstock that works well for outboard turning as well as making plenty of different types of projects. It is simple but efficient and the price is right if you have a more limited budget for purchasing a wood working lathe.

3. Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe w/Cast Iron Legs

Shop Fox W1758 Wood Lathe w/Cast Iron Legs

If you’re looking for a premium model that has all of the bells and whistles, check out the Shop Fox W1758! This premium option has cast iron legs, a digital readout and electronic variable speed, and a tool rest for you as well. This machine offers 1 x 8 TPI RH, which is certainly an optimal level that not every wood lathe offers.

The Shop Fox W1758 is a full sized lathe that is made for durability and quality. It will help you with all sorts of products thanks to the extension bed and the speed variety. This lathe has a 2 HP motor that is 110V and operates on a single phase. It’s a heavy-duty tool that is stable and produces very little by way of vibration.

The lever speed adjustment allows you to speed between 600 and 2400 RPM. You can use the anti rotation key for turning bowls and more from 0 to 180 degrees, with several stops in between. It has a faceplate, a swivel arm, a spur center, tool rest, and a live center as well.

From the ability to spindle thread with a slow speed to the ability to handle even large projects, this wood lathe is pretty much one of a kind. It has convenient features like the digital readout and the durability is there with the cast iron base.

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Why We Like It

We love this option because it has everything you need from simple operation to some extra features that make using it very nice. It’s quiet and doesn’t vibrate excessively and the HP is strong enough for just about any task.

4. Grizzly Industrial G0462 16 x 46 Wood Lathe with DRO

Grizzly Industrial G0462 16 x 46 Wood Lathe with DRO

If you are at all familiar with the popular Grizzly G0766 4 or the Grizzly H8259 5, you might want to check out our alternative industrial option. The Grizzly Industrial G0462 is another well made full size lathe that offers good speed and reliable quality for all projects. This has an industrial build so it can stand up to heavy use and work.

This Industrial model has two motors, which means more efficient power. The speed range is nice with the ability to switch between 600 to 2400 RPM and everywhere in between. This thing is made for big and small projects alike. It has a long swing of 16 inches. We compared this particular wood lathe to the Nova 1624 ii and ultimately decided that Grizzly had the better option in the end.

The cast iron build of this giant lathe makes it durable and reliable for you. You can also count on it to deliver quality while you work without being overly noisy or extending a ridiculous amount of vibrations. These are all important elements where a wood lathe is concerned.

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Why We Like It

We love this industrial option because it is powerful with two motors and plenty of speed variability and RPM control. It’s made to be durable and simple at the same time and this lathe is reliable and well made for versatility.

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Buyer’s Guide

Carpenter begining working on woodworking machines in carpentry shop.

If you’re looking to buy yourself the best full size wood lathe, there are some specific features and characteristics that you may also want to keep in mind. We’ve put together a quick buyer’s guide to simply provide you with some information to remember as you look at the best wood lathes and try to make a decision.

We think you may be interested in: Best Band Saw – Reviews & Buyers Guide

Budget

Probably the first thing that you should keep in mind as you pick out a lathe is your budget. There are a broad variety of prices out there, depending on the type you are looking for, the functionality, and the power.

You can find quality options that are budget friendly and will provide you with a good means to take care of your projects. You may need to consider a bench top model to save some money but some bench tops can actually be converted to full size on a stand so you can later upgrade.

For a full size quality lathe, you will probably end up spending $500 or more. It is possible to sometimes find options under this dollar range but you should expect to spend more overall for the larger options.

Speed Capabilities

Look at the speed and particularly the RPM. It’s really nice to be able to pick out a model that offers varying speed and RPM functionality so that you can do the job you need to do. You want to be sure that you will have enough speed and power to take care of your tasks.

Try calculating by taking the maximum RPM multiplied by the maximum amount of wood stock you need. The goal is to end up with a number between 6,000 and 9,000 to ensure that the power behind the tool will be sufficient for the materials you are working with. If you don’t have sufficient RPM, you will find yourself discouraged and frustrated with your machine when you are working.

Operation

Next, there are some specific operational qualities to consider. First, what about the motor? Is it powerful enough to really operate for what you are doing? This could depend on the work that you will be doing. There are double motors and there are single and they both can be great but you may need more power for some things than others.

Next, is the lathe you are looking at going to be easy to operate? You don’t want to have to spend hours fussing with the settings or trying to figure out how to adjust things to your liking. You need something simple but functional overall. Be sure to look for the accessories you require, like a swivel headstock but also know that things work smoothly and efficiently.

Next, you should know that not all lathes go in reverse. There are a good number of models out there that actually do not reverse. While there are some projects you may not need reverse for, we recommend looking for reverse if there is any chance that you may need it.

Finally, as far as operation goes, you want something that won’t be super loud and something that will not have a ton of vibration. You should expect some vibration and noise but you don’t want it to be excessive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Locate My User’s Manual?

The best place to find the real user’s manual is to look on the website of the manufacturer. You should be able to find the official manual there through a link. Most of the time, you can download the manual into a pdf document and have it readily available should you need it.

What is the Best Wood Lathe to Buy?

The Jet model we shared as the best overall in our review section is our highest recommendation. However, there are several really great options throughout our guide depending upon what your needs may be.

What Size Wood Lathe Should I Get?

This ultimately depends on the projects you will need the lathe for. If you plan to do heavy projects, you should definitely plan on going full size. This is the same for commercial use and so on. If you don’t have a lot of space, a midi or a benchtop will be great. If you’re able to go with a full size on a stand, go ahead and spring for it so you can be prepared for anything!

How Much is a Wood Lathe Worth?

The value can again depend on many factors. While you certainly may get better overall quality and power by spending more money, be sure that you purchase within your budget range. You can find quality options that are budget friendly.

Some of the more affordable options may only cost between $200 and $400 while high end and premium models could cost several thousand dollars. The larger the machine, the more power and functionality it has, the more you are going to need to spend.

Start small if you need to and you can always upgrade at a later time!

Conclusion

We hope that you find our guide to be a valuable resource for finding the products you need. We made every effort to provide a variety of choices as well as educational information so you know everything you need to know before you make a decision.

Tell us, which one do you have your eye on?

Expert Tip

Choose an option that gives you versatility. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, you never know when you may try to do something new and it’s best to be prepared for whatever situation may arise!

Did You Know?

The lathe was originally known as the “Mother of Machine Tools” because they brought ingenuity and ideas for making an assortment of other useful tools. There are some lathe models that you can even use for working with glass! That’s pretty amazing.

Amazon Recommends:

SaleBestseller No. 1
WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • Perfect for pens, bowls, cups, chess pieces, and other small workpieces
  • Fits workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide
  • 3.2-Amp motor provides over 50% more power than most 8-inch wood lathes
  • Adjust the soft start variable speed motor anywhere from 750 to 3200 RPM
  • Features a 2.3-Inch face plate, an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper, and two interchangeable tool rests
Bestseller No. 2
Mophorn Wood Lathe 14" x 40", Power Wood Turning Lathe 1/2HP 4 Speed 1100/1600/2300/3400RPM, Benchtop Wood Lathe with 3 Chisels Perfect for High Speed Sanding and Polishing of Finished Work
  • 【1/2 HORSE POWER MOTOR】- 1/2 Horse Power motor, Voltage: 120V. The powerful  motor starts softly offering motor's maximize safety and low noise.
  • 【4 GRADE SPEEDS】- The adjustable belts can be adjust with ease and accuracy within 3400 RPM, 1100, 1600, 2300, 3400prm available.
  • 【LARGE WORK CAPACITY】- 40" (1000mm) distance between centers, Cutting Diameter 14" (350mm). High concentricity. Moving tailstock to adjust proper distances for workpieces.
  • 【SOLID STEEL CONSTRUCTION】- Solid steel constructed wood lathes for durability and strength, providing increased stability and smooth operation, reducing vibration.
  • 【FREE WRENCHES & CHISELS】- 3 wrenches are for easy using and maintainance. 3 chisels for free also, 1 x Skew Chisel, 1 x Shear Scraper and 1 x Spindle Gouge.
Bestseller No. 3
WEN 3424T 4.5-Amp 12-Inch by 18-Inch 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • Attack work pieces up to 18 inches long and 12 inches wide
  • Switch between five different speeds: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 RPM
  • Includes 3-1/8 inch Faceplate for turning bowls, cups and other non-spindle work pieces
  • MT2 tailstock and headstock tapers allow for compatibility with a wide variety of Lathe Accessories
  • Features a 4. 5A motor, an MT2 headstock spur center, an MT2 tailstock live center, an 8-inch tool rest, and an on-board accessory holder