Are you looking for the best Benchtop wood lathe? My guess is that you’ve been looking for a while now, don’t worry I’ve been there. Maybe you also have a limited budget or you just want the best of the best. I have reviewed lathes in three different price ranges so that you have some great options that also meet your budget.
Based on a range of factors and specifications, I have picked the best benchtop wood lathes in each price category but of course I also have my overall choice pick:
- Overall pick: Delta Industrial 46-460
- Best on a high budget (over $600): Delta Industrial 46-460
- Best on a mid budget (under $550): PSI KWL-1218VS
- Best on a low budget (under $300): Excelsior Mini Lathe
Read on for full reviews of these and other models.
Overall Pick of Benchtop Wood Lathe
Now you are probably wondering why I have picked this product as the best one in the whole review. Let me tell you why:
The Delta Industrial 46-460 has a 1 horsepower motor that works with variable speeds, with 400 RPM being the lowest and 3000 RPM the highest!
This model has 12.5 inches swing over the bed and 16.5 inches distance between centers!
It has a forward and reverse feature that allows you to perform superior finishes! I know that’s pretty cool!
It has a patented belt- tensioning system that makes speed changing a lot more faster, it sets the belt at the correct position so you get the maximum power!
It’s backed up by 5 years of warranty too!
If you are still not convinced, check out the full review of the product below!
If you find these products too small for your projects then check out the Best Full Size Wood Lathe review.
Best Benchtop Wood Lathe – Comparison Table
|Swing over bed
|Length between centers
|400 – 3000 RPM
|Delta Industrial 46-460
|250 – 4000 RPM
|500 – 3800 RPM
|480 – 4023 RPM
|1100 – 3400 RPM
|Excelsior Mini Lathe
|760 – 3200 RPM
Best Benchtop Wood Lathes Reviews
Best Benchtop Wood Lathes over $600 – [Top of the range]
Have you not heard of JET before? Let me tell you a little bit about their story, they have been around since 1958 and their goal since day one is to design products that you can depend on.
Now let’s start talking about what you want to hear. The Jet JWL-1440VS has a 1 HP motor that has variable speeds, which can be adjusted from 400 RPM to 3000 RPM.
It has a sliding headstock that pivots 360° and can be locked at 7 positive positions: 0°, 30°, 60°, 90°, 120°, 180° and 270°.
It has 14.5 inches swing over the bed and 40 inches distance between centers.
Did you notice that the Jet JWL-1440VS has 40 inches distance between centers and that the Delta Industrial 46-460 has 16.5 inches? Now you may be asking yourself why this model wasn’t picked as the best.
And here’s the answer: It’s a lot more expensive than the Delta Industrial 46-460 but that’s not all. The minimum speed is 400 revolutions per minute which in my opinion is very fast as a starting speed and if it’s not used precisely it can be dangerous; on the other hand the Delta Industrial 46-460 starts at 250 RPM. The maximum speed is 3000 RPM, while the maximum speed of the Delta Industrial 46-460 is 4000 revolutions per minute.
The Jet JWL-1440VS is also a lot more heavier than the Delta Industrial 46-460, so you may need some help when you are unpacking or moving this model.
Now back to the features, it has an improved tailstock quill locking with an anti-rotation key. It also has a redesigned positive locking tool rest!
I give this model 4 stars, although it is quite pricey, it has some great features. It comes from a great brand that’s well-known and won’t let you down. This model has 5 years of warranty!
- 270 pounds
- Outboard turning
- MT2 spindle and quill taper
- 1 HP motor
- 400 – 3000 RPM
- Warranty: 5 years
Delta Industrial 46-460
As I’ve said above, this model is my overall pick.
Here’s a bit about Delta: they have had nearly 90 years of experience in the market, they design machines that are easy to use in order to create masterpieces.
The Delta Industrial 46-460 works with a 1 horsepower motor that has electronic variable speeds, with a three-pulley speed system that starts at 250 RPM and can be adjusted up to 4000 RPM.
Can I just add that 250 revolutions per minute is a great starting speed, with this you will be able to work with small details.
It has 12.5 inches swing over the bed and 16.5 inches distance between centers.
Let me share something with you, I do think that 16.5 inches of distance between centers is a bit too little, but this all depends on what you are looking for. If you need a bigger distance then I suggest the Jet JWL-1440VS.
It has a forward and reversing function that allows you to achieve better finishes, with this you will have smooth pieces.
As I’ve mentioned above, it has a patented belt- tensioning system that makes speed changing a lot more quicker since it sets the belt at the correct position so you get the maximum power, and it actually prolongs the model’s life! Isn’t that great?
Speaking of belts, it has 6 groove belt that provides enough power to turn large objects!
This item is made from cast- iron, which provides stability and makes this product very durable.
It has an indexing pin to lock to the headstock in 24 different locations for decorative applications.
All in all I give this model 5 stars, it has good features and even better customer ratings. It comes with 5 years of warranty too!
- 1 HP motor
- 250 RPM – 4000 RPM
- MT2 head and tailstock taper
- 97 pounds
- Warranty: 5 years
|Easy to use
Related: best wood lather for the money
Best Benchtop Wood Lathes under $550 [mid price models]
Do you want to know the story about the company? Here it is: it was founded in 1936 and they build machines for professionals and diyers.
This mode has a 1 horsepower motor with variable speeds, it has two belt positions: 500 RPM – 1800 RPM and 1950 RPM – 3800 RPM.
I don’t recommend this model if you are a beginner in wood turning, 500 revolutions per minute is quite high as a starting speed!
It has 12 inches swing over the bed and 18 inches distance between centers.
So why is this model better than the Steelex ST1008?
In comparison to the other mid priced model, the Steelex ST1008, which has 10 inches swing over the bed and 15 inches distance between centers, the PSI KWL-1218VS allows you to work with bigger pieces of wood. And another thing the Steelex ST1008 works with a 0.5 HP motor while the PSI KWL-1218VS works with a 1 HP motor.
This model has a digital RPM readout which allows you to have a precise speed. It also has 24 indexing positions!
It comes with a work light that has 18 inches of flex cable, with this feature you will be able to have a clearer view of your working area. I know, that’s amazing!
I give this model 4 stars, it has some good features and it comes with 3 years of warranty!
You can check the current price of the PSI KWL-1218VS here on Amazon.
- 106 pounds
- Warranty: 3 years
- 500 RPM – 3800 RPM
- 1 HP motor
- MT2 headstock and tailstock taper
|Little years of warranty
The Steelex ST1008 has a 0.5 horsepower motor that can be set at 6 different speeds: 480 RPM, 1270 RPM, 1960 RPM, 2730 RPM, 3327 RPM and 4023 RPM.
Although it does have a lower starting speed than the PSI KWL-1218VS, it’s still quite high but it does reach 4023 revolutions per minute; which is actually the highest from the whole review.
This model has 10 inches swing over the bed and 15 inches distance between centers.
It has a cast- iron tailstock that can be easily adjusted for larger pieces.
It features a paddle switch that provides a greater degree of safety over other types of switches due to its large high-visibility paddle and removable lock-out key.
And another thing, it has an adjustable tool rest that can be set with the locking handles at any height and distance from the workpiece!
It comes with 2 years of warranty which I personally think is too little for this type of machine.
I rate this item with 3 stars, it has a good price but remember that it might not be the best quality. I don’t recommend this model for heavy duty use!
- 0.5 HP
- 6 speeds (480, 1270, 1960, 2730, 3327 and 4023)
- Warranty: 2 years
- 1″ x 8 TPI
- MT2 spindle and tailstock taper
- 90 pounds
|Only 2 years of warranty
Best Benchtop Wood Lathes under $300 [low budget priced models]
The Goplus 1/2HP has a 0.5 horsepower motor, with 4 spindle speeds: 1100 RPM, 1600 RPM, 2300 RPM and 3400 RPM.
Now if you have payed attention to what I have said in the previous reviews about the starting speeds being too high then you probably noticed that this one is extremely high. At a speed of 1100 revolutions per minute, very few things with details can get done. I personally don’t like this specification and I suggest you look at other models if you are just starting out.
This model has 14 inches swing over the bed and 40 inches distance between centers, yes you heard that right!
You may have noticed that only 2 products in this review have a distance of 40 inches between centers, so if you think that the Jet JWL-1440VS is too expensive and you are working with big pieces then the Goplus 1/2HP is a great option for you.
So why is this product better than the Excelsior Mini Lathe? Taking in count that the Excelsior Mini Lathe has 10 inches swing over the bed and 18 inches distance between centers, this model has 5 spindle speeds which starts at 760 RPM.
I give this item 3 stars, I think this is a good choice as a starter wood lathe and it’s also the lightest of all of the models reviewed here.
- 55 pounds
- 4 spindle speeds (1100, 1600, 2300 and 3400)
- 0.5 HP motor
|Not very powerful
|Good for beginners
Excelsior Mini Lathe
The Excelsior Mini Lathe works with a 0.5 horsepower motor, it comes with 5 spindle speeds: 760 RPM, 1100 RPM, 1600 RPM, 2200 RPM and 3200 RPM.
Considering that this model is a lot less expensive than the Jet JWL-1440VS, the Excelsior Mini Lathe can reach 3200 RPM, while the Jet JWL-1440VS can only reach 3000 revolutions per minute!
I’m personally not very fond of the starting speed for this model but in comparison to the Goplus 1/2HP, I prefer this model.
This item is made from cast- iron with reduces vibration and maximum durability. It has 10 inches swing over the bed and 18 inches distance between centers.
I give this model 4 stars, it has some good customer reviews and a great price!
- 60 pounds
- 5 spindle speeds (760, 1100, 1600, 2200 and 3200)
- 0.5 HP motor
|Heats up quickly
|Good for beginners
Best Benchtop Wood Lathe Buyer Guide
I know that reading the whole review is a challenge but if you are serious about making this purchase then it’s worth it. With this guide I hope to help you look at the things that are truly important in the moment of making the final decision. Now let’s jump right in:
- Swing over bed: this is the maximum diameter the model can handle, it all depends on your plans for the product. If you plan to work with large pieces then you should obviously look for a larger swing over the bed.
- Length between centers: this shows the maximum length a workpiece can be turned in the lathe. And like the previous point, this depends on your needs and projects.
- Power: this is crucial if you are going to be working with strong pieces of wood. The more powerful the motor, the deeper cuts you can make without slowing the motor and the faster you can turn wood.
- Speed: for this section I prefer a model with variable speeds, it increases your accuracy and it doesn’t tie you down to a specific speed. But if you think that you only need 3,4 or 5 speeds then that’s totally up to you.
- Speed range: you may have noticed that I talked about this quite a lot, this is pretty important because a lot of people don’t realize that a starting speed is quite fast until they try it. So look for lathes that start at a low speed in order to avoid accidents.
- Price: this is pretty personal, if you are a professional then you’re probably looking for advanced lathes so you should be ready to expect high prices. On the other hand if you are a beginner there are some great models for your case with a good price.
Related: Best budget wood lathe
I hope this guide has helped you make your decision and has cleared some things. Think about this carefully and don’t rush your decision.
Are you ready?
Let’s recap, my overall best pick is the Delta Industrial 46-460, this model has great features that will meet your expectations. In the mid budget category, I picked the PSI KWL-1218VS. And finally in the low budget category, I recommend the Excelsior Mini Lathe.
Now it’s your turn to take a pick, I hope I have guided you throughout this review and remember to look at all the details!
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