You can turn a wood block into almost anything using a wood lathe. From pots, bangles, goblets, rings to furniture legs. So if you are serious about your woodworking, a wood lathe will be a must-have.
However, if you are a hobbyist or a DIYer, then a large professional wood lathe will be overkill. A benchtop lathe will be more your style. This type of lathe is inexpensive and can fit into your garage or small workshop.
There are plenty of options to choose from, and selecting the right fit for you can be challenging. To make your search for the best benchtop wood lathe easier, we reviewed our top recommendations and also have included a buying guide.
A quick view of ourbest benchtop wood lathe
Reviews Of best benchtop wood lathe
WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8″ by 12″ Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
A mini machine with plenty to offer, the Wen 3421 is ideal for crafting small workpieces such as pens, bowls, chess pieces, and cups. This 8-inch unit also offers plenty of power for such a small machine.
The 3.2 amp motor offers more power than the motors found on most 8 inch machines. More importantly, this unit has an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper. These two grip the workpieces tightly as you work to ensure the best results.
Given its small size, this unit will only accommodate workpieces that are up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. For home use, it is unlikely you will be using bigger blocks of wood. And as such, the size this machine can accommodate should suffice for most hobbyists.
It features two interchangeable tool rests. The latter offers support for tools such as chisels and other tools during operation. For non-spindle workpieces, you get a 2.3-inch faceplate. Overall, if you are looking for the best wood lathe for home shop, this will be an excellent choice.
What I liked
- Has a clamping system for adjusting the tailstock and tool rest that is easy to use
- Can comfortably handle workpieces that are 12 inches long, making it ideal for most small projects
- Comes with several accessories that offer value
- Is backed by a two-year warranty
- Has a 2.3-inch faceplate for non-spindle turning
- Does not have any mounting holes for attaching it permanently onto a surface
- Is only suited for small projects
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
Measuring 8 inches by 13 inches, the Shop Fox W1704 is also quite small and perfect for hobbyists and small woodwork shops. Its small size does not translate to inferior performance, though.
It has a ⅓ HP motor that is designed to work with a standard 110v power outlet. This single-phase motor offers variable spindle speed. You can adjust the speed electronically from 700 to 3200 RPM.
As mentioned, this is a small machine with a distance between centers of 12 inches. Thus do not expect to accommodate workpieces longer than 12 inches. Nonetheless, this is still quite sufficient for most people’s woodturning needs.
Constructed from cast iron, this unit feels sturdy. Also, all the controls and knobs are easy to reach. The paddle safety switch is within reach and makes it easy to quickly turn off the machine in case of an emergency.
The spindle speed dial is located next to the headstock and near the on/off switch, while the motor is placed underneath.
What I liked
- Has a 5.75-inch faceplate built-in for non-spindle woodturning
- Is built from cast iron, making it durable and sturdy
- Features a spindle capacity of 12 inches and swing capacity of 8 inches, making it ideal for small projects
- Comes with a 2-year limited warranty
- Features a decently powerful ⅓ HP motor
- The bolts holding the locking plate to the bend have a tendency of coming loose easily, requiring frequent tightening
- Is only suited for small woodturning projects
Mophorn Wood Lathe 10 x 18 Inch, Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe
The Mophorn Wood lathe is bigger than the other two entrants. Measuring 10 by 18 inches, it is quite large. However, when compared to other types, it is still in the mini-lathe category.
Powering this unit is a 550w motor capable of speeds of up to 3200 RPM. You can adjust the spindle speed from 760 to 3200 RPM. Additionally, the motor has a soft start, which helps minimize noise and prolongs its life.
While this unit is still a compact machine, it is bigger than most mini units. The distance between centers is an impressive 18 inches. This means it can handle considerably longer logs of wood than your average mini-lathe and is the best wood lathe for turning large bowls on the list.
Similar to the Shop Fox, this unit is made of cast iron. The latter is a sturdy and durable metal. As such, you can expect this to be a sturdy unit that will serve you for a long time.
The tool rest is adjustable and allows you to change its direction and position to accommodate different tools to suit your turning needs.
What I liked
- It has rubber feet at the bottom that offer stability
- Built from cast iron and is thus sturdy and durable
- Offers a quiet operation thanks to the precisely grounded shafts and gears of the headstock
- Has a powerful 550 w motor
- Can handle longer workpieces than most other benchtop models
- Has a minimum speed of 760 RPM, which is a bit too high for most small projects
- Adjusting speed can be difficult
Best benchtop wood lathe buying guide
What features or factors should influence your decision to purchase a specific benchtop lathe? There are a number of factors to consider, which are going to look at in this section.
Almost all wood lathes are powered by an electric motor. The motor power is measured in HP and ranges anywhere from 1Hp to 2HP and beyond.
Ideally, a more powerful motor will be ideal. Most benchtop options offer a power output of between 1 and 1.5HP. This will be sufficient power for most domestic woodturning applications.
The speed at which a lathe rotates the workpiece also matters. So what is the ideal speed range for the best benchtop wood lathe? This will depend on the thickness of the wood you will be handling.
The general rule of thumb is that if you multiply the RPM of the lathe with the width of the wood you will be handling, you should get between 6000 and 9000. Furthermore, a lathe with a variable speed range will be an ideal option.
A variable speed range will allow you to adjust the speed to fit the task at hand.
Distance between centers
The distance between centers will influence the length of wood a lathe can accommodate. A lathe with a distance of 12 inches will be able to handle wood pieces that are up to 12 inches long.
Most benchtop lathes, including the ones we have reviewed, will offer a distance of below 14 inches. However, some such as Mophorn Wood Lathe 10 x 18 Inch, Bench Top Heavy Duty Wood Lathe offer a longer distance.
Thus if you plan on handling longer pieces of wood, the Mophorn wood lathe will be an ideal option.
Benchtop lathes are powerful and handy tools to have in your woodworking shop. And unlike their professional-grade counterparts, they are quite affordable. Buying the best benchtop wood lathe will take your woodworking to the next level.