Best Wood Turning Lathes

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Best Wood Turning Lathes

Anyone who completes any type of woodwork, whether it be as a hobby or for DIY around the home, will be able to benefit from a wood turning lathe. So simple in how it works, this tool will save you massive amounts of time when working, but also allow you to complete a professional finish every time. Anyone who has used a wood turning lathe before will be able to appreciate the almost therapeutic way in which the wood is sliced from the block, causing wood shavings to spiral down to the ground! Even if you aren’t completing woodwork jobs – they’re a tool worth having just for some relaxation!

But, on a more serious note, a wood turning lathe will massively increase the amount of woodwork jobs that you can complete and also the quality that you are able to achieve when you are working! But, despite the simplicity that the tool creates, there are actually a number of factors that you need to consider before buying one of these machines! Our buyer’s guide will not only help you to find the best wood turning lathe, but we have also provided guidance on some of the tools that you might need when working with your lathe.

Best Pick – Axminster Craft AC305WL Woodturning Lathe

Last update on 2021-09-20 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Only Got 5 Minutes?

If you have big plans for the furniture that you are wanting to create, then this is the part of the article that you need to read. We have included all the most crucial things that you need to know here.

Wood Turning Lathe Features

Here are some of the main features of wood turning lathes that you need to consider before you buy one!

Size

It’s pretty obvious really…when it comes to buying a wood turning lathe…size matters! The size of the machine overall is going to impact on where you will be able to use your machine, and store it when it is not in use. But, this will also have a massive impact on the size of wood that you will be able to work with! Unless you know that you are going to be working with very large pieces of wood then we would recommend opting for a benchtop model – this will be far more practical for most workshops and will make it much easier to store your wood turning lathe, plus move it from one location to another!

If you are going for a bigger model that comes with a stand then make sure that it is going to be heavy enough to reduce vibrations but also tall enough to make it easy to work with. It really comes down to personal preference but we would recommend having the spindle around the height of your stomach so that you can work with ease for as long as you need without giving yourself a bad back!

Power

When you look for a wood turning lathe you have a couple of options when  it comes to how your tool is powered – manual and electric. Traditionally you would always have a manual lathe, these are controlled using a handwheel, so you have complete control of the spin that you have on the material that you are working with, and how much you remove at a time – plus you are guaranteed a fair workout every time!

However, arguably more popular now are the electric powered wood turning lathes, as these massively reduce the amount of work and effort that you have to put in! Not just this, but because they can rotate at much faster speeds, once you have had some practice you will be able to complete the job much faster than you ever could with a manual model. The motor will save you the hard work, by rotating the headstock at varying speeds. We would recommend looking for a machine that can offer at least 400W. Bear in mind that the power you go for is potentially going to impact on the materials that you can also work with!

 It is worth checking not just for the RPM (rotations per minute) of your tool but also the varying speeds that the tool is able to offer. A wood turning lathe that is able to quickly adjust speeds with minimum fuss will be a big help in completing the job, allowing you to work quickly on a new block of wood and then slow down for those more intricate details. The RPMs that you will find tend to range from around 250RPM all the way up to 4000RPM. This range in a tool means that you will be able to work with various different materials and styles of job. We would also recommend looking out for models that come with continuous speed control, for a really efficient machine!

TOP TIP: Look out for models that have at least 7 speeds, including a reversing option. This will allow you much greater flexibility when you are working and save you having to constantly adjust the belt and the piece of wood.

Headstock and Tailstock

These are the parts of the wood turning lathe that actually hold the wood in place. The headstock in the bigger end that also holds the spindle (which turns the block), whereas the tailstock in the smaller, “tail-end” of the machine. Your tailstock is going to be able to move back and forth along the lathe bed to incorporate different sizes of wood that you might be working with. Look for one that is on a smooth and well built runner, as you will need this to move easily and frequently. The best way to check for this is to look for widely spaced bearings such as roller or ball bearings.

TOP TIP: Look out for a pivoting headstock, but that is also easy to fix back into place once the wood is “loaded” and ready to go. This will make it much easier to clamp the material into place!

Lathe Bed

The lathe bed is essentially the base of the machine, which the piece of wood “sits” in. This is going to impact on both the length and the diameter of the piece of wood that you are able to work with. A deeper lathe bed will allow for a wider piece of wood to be rotated. Lathe beds can vary massively from as small as 300mm up to 1270mm, so think carefully about the sizes of materials that you are going to be working with.

TOP TIP: Many wood turning lathes come with the option of adding an extension onto the table so that you can work with bigger pieces of material from time to time. We have found that this does often affect the finish of the material that you are working with, so wouldn’t recommend it as a constant go to, but for occasional, larger jobs it is a good option!

Weight

If you have read many of our other articles then you will know we are big advocates for “the lighter the better”. As a general rule, the lighter the tool or machine that you are working with, the easier it will be for you to use and transport around. However, when it comes to a wood turning lathe it really is the opposite! It is crucial to purchase a higher quality, heavier built machine, otherwise the vibrations that will come from the rotating spindle will affect the finish of the job that you are able to complete! Not just this, but reduced vibrations will also reduce fatigue when you are working. Look out for models that come with a cast iron base, as these will be long lasting and heavy enough to stay firm through the vibrations!

Best Budget – BACHIN Mini Lathe

BACHIN Mini Lathe Beads Polisher Machine DIY CNC Machining for Table Woodworking Wood DIY Tool Lathe Standard Set
371 Reviews
BACHIN Mini Lathe Beads Polisher Machine DIY CNC Machining for Table Woodworking Wood DIY Tool Lathe Standard Set
  • Designed for the home DIY enthusiasts, small and portable, strong power, not suitable for mass production or commercial use.
  • Power: 100W Voltage: 24V DC Material: aluminum alloy and Acrylic Speed: 5000-8000 r / min, 7 grade speed Size: 310* 60 * 70mm 3x Hex shanks(0.059inch,0.079inch,0.098inch)
  • Maximum turning diameter: 70mm. Maximum clamping length: 180mm. Chuck clamping range: 0.6-6mm
  • High-precision, stability, low noise, aluminum alloy materials, CNC machining.
  • Thick aluminum base, acrylic dust cover motor. Transparent plexiglass shield, super convection cooling holes.

Last update on 2021-09-20 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Additional Wood Turning Lathe Features

Here are some of those extra features that you should consider before purchasing a wood turning lathe – particularly if you know that you are going to be using your tool regularly.

  • Spindle with M33 x 3.5mm threads (and is bored with a Morse taper with a CM2 gauge) – We understand this sounds rather specific but this will mean that your tool conforms to European standards and allows your spindle to be compatible with most of the accessories that you are going to find in the UK. This massively increases the amount of tasks that your wood turning lathe is going to be able to undertake.
  • Safety button and lighting – Digital displays and lights to signal when something isn’t quite right with the machine can not only help to prevent any accidents, but they will also avoid damage to the moving parts of the lathe and to the wood that you are working with. This is the same for an emergency stop button, that can be used as soon as something isn’t quite going to plan!
  • Dust collection – Anyone that is used to completing woodwork will be aware of the amount of dust and debris that is created! This is part and parcel of the job that you are doing – if you are slicing or sanding away from a block of wood then the waste has to go somewhere! Look out for models that can be connected to dust extractors or chip vacuums. Otherwise look out for one that is easy to take apart to clean.

Extra Bits To Purchase

As amazing as wood turning lathes are, they cannot work alone! There are going to be various other tools that you will need to actually complete the job that you have in mind. We have listed some of these below so that you are ready to get started as soon as you have purchased your wood turning lathe!

  • Claws, Clips, Claps and Grips – You are going to need various piece holding tools to hold the different aspects in place which you are working. These are things that you probably already have in your workshop or shed but it is worth checking that they are going to be up to the task!
  • Tool holder – If a wood turning lathe isn’t reducing the amount of effort that you need to put in enough then a tool holder will help with that! Simply rest the tool on the tool holder and switch on the machine. Another benefit of this, is that when they are adjustable it allows you to ensure precision and accurate work.
  • Spindle turning tools – These are tools that you will use to create spindles including; roughing gouge, spindle gouge, chisels and a beading tool.
  • Bowl turning tools – It is harder to create bowl gouges so you will need some practice and more specialist tools like a straight edge scraper, a bowl gouge and a rounded scraper.
  • Specialist tools – ring tools for hollowing out bowls, ring scrapers, side cutting scrapers and parting tools.

Remember that all of these tools will come in different sizes as well so you will always be able to find one that is going to be right for the job that you are completing.

NOTE: It is worth mentioning that there are kits available on the market that come with a variety of wood turning tools all together, and usually in different sizes. These can form great starter kits for beginners to this style of woodwork, which can then be added to when you think of more specific tools that you need.

Best of the Rest

Sale
Proxxon Micromot DB 250 MICRO Woodturning Lathe
292 Reviews
Proxxon Micromot DB 250 MICRO Woodturning Lathe
  • Motor 220 - 240V. 100W. 50/60Hz
  • Centre distance of 250mm, 40mm swing
  • ariable speed control covering between 1,000 and 5,000rpm
  • Headstock spindle bore of 10mm. Tailstock travel 20mm. Includes 6 collets (2 - 3 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10mm)
  • drive centre, live centre and face plate

Last update on 2021-09-20 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Last update on 2021-09-20 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Draper 60988 Wood Lathe 300MM Mini WOODLATHE, 230 V, Black
38 Reviews
Draper 60988 Wood Lathe 300MM Mini WOODLATHE, 230 V, Black
  • Ideal for use on a workbench, this lathe has variable speeds allowing the user to carry out various woodturning operations.
  • Fitted with a 200mm swing over bed, the lathe has a no-volt overload safety switch for safety.
  • Heavy duty cast iron bed provides a vibration free operation.

Last update on 2021-09-20 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Frequently Asked Questions

What warranty comes with a wood turning lathe?
Warranties for wood turning lathes range between 1 year and 5 years. You will often find that this is a “home use” warranty or a “limited” warranty so it is important to check exactly what is covered before you make your purchase and consider the work that you are going to be doing!

What is the difference between the headstock and the tailstock?
The headstock is the larger fixed end of the wood turning lathe that houses the motor and the spindle. In comparison, the tailstock is much smaller and is used to adjust the distance from the headstock depending on what you are working on. This will rotate in place once the wood is fixed to it and the headstock starts to spin.

  • Performance
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