If you are going to do any serious woodworking you will need a good wood-turning lathe in your shop.

The ability to turn wood is every bit as important as sawing or planing planks and drilling holes. If you don’t have access to a decent wood lathe the types of products you can produce are significantly reduced.

But, if you’ve started the search for a lathe you probably found that the number of lathes on the market is daunting. There are so many brands of lathe available and so many different features on each model that finding the best wood lathe for your money is tough to sort out.

We understand your frustration, which is why we put together a handy Wood Lathe Comparison Chart to help you cut through all the noise.

Wood Lathe Comparison Chart

Below is a handy table letting you compare and contrast what we feel are the best 5 benchtop wood lathes on the market.

Best Overall
JET JWL-1221VS 12"x21" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe (719200)
WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
Best Value
NOVA 1624 II 16 x 24" 8 Speed Wood Lathe, Black (SKU 24221)
Grizzly Industrial G0462-16" x 46" Wood Lathe with DRO
Least Expensive
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
Motor
1 HP
1/3 HP
1.5 HP
4.5 Amp
1/3 HP
Variable Speed
Spindle Speed Range
60 to 3600 RPM
750 to 3200 RPM
215 to 3600 RPM
500 to 2500 RPM
700 to 3200 RPM
Head Spindle Taper
MT2
MT1
MT2
MT2
MT1
Head Spindle Thread
1”- 8TPI
0.30”- 20TPI
1-1/4″8TPI
1”- 8TPI
3/4"- 16TPI
Tail Spindle Taper
MT2
MT1
MT2
MT2
MT1
Swing Capacity
12-1/2"
-
16"
12"
8"
Reviews
Price
$849.99
$249.45
Price not available
$1,223.00
$249.99
Best Overall
JET JWL-1221VS 12"x21" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe (719200)
Motor
1 HP
Variable Speed
Spindle Speed Range
60 to 3600 RPM
Head Spindle Taper
MT2
Head Spindle Thread
1”- 8TPI
Tail Spindle Taper
MT2
Swing Capacity
12-1/2"
Reviews
Price
$849.99
WEN 3421 3.2-Amp 8" by 12" Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
Lathe
Motor
1/3 HP
Variable Speed
Spindle Speed Range
750 to 3200 RPM
Head Spindle Taper
MT1
Head Spindle Thread
0.30”- 20TPI
Tail Spindle Taper
MT1
Swing Capacity
-
Reviews
Price
$249.45
Best Value
NOVA 1624 II 16 x 24" 8 Speed Wood Lathe, Black (SKU 24221)
Lathe
Motor
1.5 HP
Variable Speed
Spindle Speed Range
215 to 3600 RPM
Head Spindle Taper
MT2
Head Spindle Thread
1-1/4″8TPI
Tail Spindle Taper
MT2
Swing Capacity
16"
Reviews
Price
Price not available
Grizzly Industrial G0462-16" x 46" Wood Lathe with DRO
Motor
4.5 Amp
Variable Speed
Spindle Speed Range
500 to 2500 RPM
Head Spindle Taper
MT2
Head Spindle Thread
1”- 8TPI
Tail Spindle Taper
MT2
Swing Capacity
12"
Reviews
Price
$1,223.00
Least Expensive
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
Motor
1/3 HP
Variable Speed
Spindle Speed Range
700 to 3200 RPM
Head Spindle Taper
MT1
Head Spindle Thread
3/4"- 16TPI
Tail Spindle Taper
MT1
Swing Capacity
8"
Reviews
Price
$249.99

1. JET JWL-1221VS

JET JWL-1221VS review

The JET JWL-1221VS

Let’s start as we mean to go on with this strong offering from Jet. Let’s be honest; this model comes with a pretty hefty price point. But, it’s easy to see why the second you delve into what this wood lathe has to offer.

Jet claim that this is different from anything on the market, and they aren’t wrong. Even better, this entire lathe has been created with control in mind. And, given that better control leads to better woodwork; you could say that’s a fact that might work in your favor.

The most notable thing about this lathe by far is it’s unrivaled speed control. That’s right; this model comes complete with 60-3600 RPM variable speed, and controls that are located conveniently for your use.

This adaptability ensures that experienced and newbie woodworkers alike can produce some fantastic pieces on a lathe like this. As if that weren’t enough, this lathe also comes complete with features that offer further ease, such as a smooth forward to reverse transition and 24 integrated indexing positions for improved performance. Not to mention that, unlike many woodworking options, this model is incredibly quiet once it’s up and running.

It’s this and much more which ensures the Jet JWL-1221VS gets an impressive 68% of five-star reviews on Amazon. If you want a quiet offering which adapts to any project or skill-set, then, this wood lathe won’t let you down.

JET JWL-1221VS 12'x21' Variable-Speed Wood Lathe (719200)
405 Reviews
JET JWL-1221VS 12"x21" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe (719200)
  • VERSATILITY: 24 integrated indexing positions.
  • CONVENIENCE: Easy-to-reach controls and DRO.
  • OPTIMAL SPEED: Choose from 60 to 3,600 RPM.
  • INNOVATION: Ratchet-style belt tension system (patent pending).
  • ON-BOARD STORAGE: Two handy tool caddies.

2. WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe

Fill your house with your own woodwork with the WEN 3421 8-inch by 12-inch variable speed mini wood lathe. You will now easily be able to fit work pieces up to 12-inches long and 8-inches. The minimal design is ideal for pens, bowls, cups, chess pieces, and other small work pieces. You will be able to take on larger projects around your home with this tool.

With a stunning build quality, the WEN 3421 it provides a sturdy frame for various work pieces. Made from cast iron, features a 2.3 inches face plate, an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper and two interchangeable tool rests. Adjust the variable speed anywhere from 750 to 3200 rotations per minute. The WEN 8-inch by 12-inch variable speed benchtop wood lathe features an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper to tightly grip workpieces, two tool rests (4-1/2-inch and 7-inch) to provide the needed support for chisels and tools during operation, and a 3.2-Amp motor to keep things turning. The easy-to-use lever clamping system makes adjustments to both the tool rest and the tailstock, simple and precise.