Whether you’re wanting to design bowls, spindles, bottle stoppers, table legs, bats or a range of other items, having a quality lathe is a smart investment in how quickly and flawlessly you finish you finish your wood turning project.
What’s the difference between a high quality wood lathe or a budget alternative?
If you’ve ever been involved in wood turning then you’ll know what an important role your wood lathe plays in the speed, accuracy and efficiency with which you finish your project. Budget lathes don’t offer as many features as higher quality lathes, such as the ability to change speeds quickly, the flexibility in the range of motion, the power of the engine and whether or not it has a brake and tool rest.
When choosing a wood lathe what do you need to look for?
There are several things you need to assess before purchasing a lathe. These include what you’re wanting to use the lathe for, such as whether it’s going to be general purpose or for a specific application, how many items you are wanting to complete and the time allocated to the project.
Safety is imperative when choosing a lathe. Your lathe needs to be the right size for the area in which it will be located whether this will be freestanding or sitting on a bench, allowing you a comfortable range of movement.
Also ergonomic handling is essential, especially if you are going to be wood turning for several hours or even days if you are doing a large number of items. There should be no strain caused when you are operating the lathe.
Functionality is also an integral factor when selecting a wood lathe. You don’t want to buy a budget lathe and then find it is not suitable in the long-term as it’s not versatile enough to complete all the tasks you require.
When buying a wood lathe quality should never be compromised over dollar savings, instead it’s important to find a happy medium between the two.
What are some of the better brands of wood lathes on the market?
Depending on what you’re going to be using your wood lathe for, Jet offer some high quality wood lathes that are great value for money.
If you have a larger project, Powermatic is renowned for having powerful machines that are suitable for larger projects.
For the smaller projects that can be completed with a mini lathe, Fisch and Delta have several high quality models available.
With a sea of options out there, here are a few popular models of wood lathes and mini wood lathes to help you when you’re in the market for one.
Powermatic 3520B Wood Lathe
Strong and durable, the Powermatic 3520B is manufactured from heavy duty cast iron, which keeps it steady and vibration resistant and doesn’t need to be weighted down. It has a powerful 220-volt variable speed motor and is built for a broad range of applications, especially the larger scale wood turning projects, which need to be completed quickly.
Incredibly versatile, it has an inverter for single-phase and three-phase input. With a built-in spindle indexing feature it can be used for drilling hole patterns and there is also a sliding headstock and tail stock so that accessories can be stored internally. It also has a 20 inch swing, as well as 34.5 inches between the two centers. The Powermatic 3520B comes with a variety of accessories such as a faceplate, knockout rod, tool rest, wrench and spindle lock.
Record Power CL5 Professional 5 Speed Wood Lathe
Heavy duty with a 305 mm swing and 610 mm between the two centers the Record Power CL5 Professional 5 Speed Wood Lathe is ideal for a broad range of professional and hobbyist applications. With a VSLK variable speed system and a powerful motor it offers superior performance.
The optional bed bar extensions increases the functionality of this model, so it can be used for both small and large wood turning projects. As it has a headstock with life sealed bearings, the lathe has superior support across a full range of tasks.
Nova 1624-44 Wood Lathe
Manufactured from solid cast iron, this wood lathe can be used for a broad scope of applications and has a powerful 1.5 horsepower motor. With eight interval stops and speeds that range between 215 rpm through to 3,600rpm it can quickly change between tasks.
Because it’s lightweight Nova 1624-44 wood lathe will need to be weighted down at the base, depending on the project. The flexible swivel head has a 360 degree full range of motion, along with a 16 inch swing and a versatile 24 inches between the two centers. Some of the accessories with this model are a tool rest and locking lever.
Delta Industrial 46-460 Mini Wood Lathe
With an enviable reputation as one of the most powerful models of mini lathes on the market, the Delta Industrial 46-460 has a 1 horsepower motor.
With several great features including three pulley speeds, as well as variable speed control, it’s an incredibly functional mini lathe that’s suitable for a broad range of tasks. This model also has a reverse function along with belt tension which gives the mini lathe a longer lifespan.
Shop Fox W1752 Mini Wood Lathe
A great model if you’re after a longer stroke, the Shop Fox W1752 is very versatile with a range of settings offering six variable speeds. Still very powerful this model has the ability to operate over 4,000 rpm. With a 10 inch swing and centers sitting 15.5 inches apart, it can be used for numerous wood turning applications.
We can’t cover all brands and all the types in one article but we hope that this article helped you to choose the perfect lathe for your needs! If you found this article interesting, you should check out our Woodturning tools guide.
The Delta 46-460 is a Midi not a Mini.
I just purchased a used Delta midi lathe. I got tool and the machine for $200. From what I just read I am encouraged to keep it and make lots of thing for Christmas. Thanks for the sound advice