Just because you have a small shop does not mean that you can’t do woodturning and create some awesome turned objects. You can get a quality compact wood lathe for your small workshop.
A quite common question I get is what model should I buy for my small workshop. I have reviewed and compared the top compact wood lathes that are suitable for a small shop and home use and I am sharing my results with you.
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With this article, I will show you some good wood lathes for small workshops and to help you choose the best one with the best features.
If you are looking for a wood lathe and have a specific budget then I recommend you check out the Best wood lathes under $300, $500, $1000, $1500 & $2000 review. Now let’s get things underway!
When considering features, bang for your buck, and suitability for a small shop, one mod came out on top. My top pick for the best wood lathe for a small home shop is:
- Top pick: WEN 3420 8″ by 12″
- Runner-up: SHOP FOX W1704
Top Pick of Wood Lathe
If you’re looking for something small and lightweight, the WEN 3420 8″ by 12″ is definitely the right way to go and here’s why:
This model has an adjustable variable speed that can go from 750 to 3200 revolutions per minute.
It has a 2 amp powerful motor that starts off slow in order to prevent damage and designed to make it last longer.
A great feature is the MT1 spindle and tailstock, with this, you can easily remove or replace accessories, as long as they are MT1!
I give this item 5 stars, it has some great features and specifications that come in handy if you’re looking for something small and simple for your home workshop. It comes backed up with 2 years of warranty too!
Go check out the current price of the 3420 by Wen here on Amazon and I also recommend you check out the product on Wen for further details!
If you’re wondering why this model is better than the other ones, make sure you read the full review below!
Related: Best wood lathe for the money
Best Wood Lathe for Home Use [Small Workshop] – Comparison Table
|WEN 3420 8″ by 12″||5 stars||26 x 10 x 12 inches||44.1 pounds||750 – 3200 RPM||2 amps motor||$|
|SHOP FOX W1704||4.5 stars||7.1 x 27.9x 13.7 inches||50.8 pounds||700 – 3200 RPM||⅓ HP motor||$$|
|NOVA 46300 Comet II||4 stars||33 x 9 x 18 inches||82.4 pounds||250 – 4000 RPM||¾ HP motor||$$$$|
|RIKON 70-100 12-by-16||4 stars||33.8 x 18 x 11.5 inches||91.4 pounds||430 – 3900 RPM||½ HP motor||$$$$|
Related: Best benchtop wood lathe
Wood Lathe for Small Shop Home Use Reviews
WEN 3420 wood lathe
As I’ve mentioned above, the WEN 3420 is my overall top pick in this review.
First of all, let me tell you a little bit about the company: WEN has been around since 1951 and they have expanded over the years all over the world, their goal is to help woodworkers achieve their wildest dreams. Now back to the product.
This model is the most appropriate pick for a small workshop. By just looking at the dimensions and weight, you can see how easy it would be to work with this product. If you compare the size to the other models, you can notice it has a long length but it doesn’t have a wide width, unlike the others.
I personally think having a wide width is a disadvantage, this is due to the fact that it’s easier to have a longer table in smaller spaces. And that’s not all!
This model only weighs 44.1 pounds and it’s the lightest of them all! Yes, you heard that right! This could come in very useful when unpacking it or just simply moving it.
The 3420 by WEN has a variable speed that can be adjusted from 750 to 3200 revolutions per minute. Let me guess you went back to check the comparison table and realized that the NOVA 46300 Comet II can go up to 4000 RPM. Yes that’s a fact but keep in mind that the prices can vary, and in this case the NOVA 46300 Comet II has a much higher price.
In other words, this model does not only have great features but it has a good price too!
With this model you can work with pieces that measure up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide.
As in for the power, it has a 2 amp motor that has a low start in order to avoid damage in the future which ensures a longer life.
If it’s not clear yet, I give this model 5 stars, it has great features and specifications that are ideal for small workshops. Lastly it comes backed up with 2 years of warranty!
Check out the lastest price of the 3420 by WEN here on Amazon!
- MT1 spindle and tailstock taper
- 44.1 pounds
- Warranty: 2 years
- 2 amps motor
|Great for beginners||Not for heavy duty|
SHOP FOX W1704
For starters, Shop Fox is committed to making their brand the number one choice for woodworkers professionals. The W1704 has a ⅓ horsepower motor that comes with an adjustable speed, that can deliver between 700 to 3200 revolutions per minute.
This model features two tool rests, one of the is 4 – ½ inches and the other 7 inches, they both have a 13 inch distance between centers and 8 inches swing over the bed, and offer various turning applications that are very fitting for turning projects.
In addition to that, it features a 5 – ¾ faceplate, which is usually used for bowls, it threads onto the headstock spindle for non spindle turning. Isn’t that great?
Now as in for the dimensions, this model is very different to the previous one. It has a short length but a wide width, and as I’ve said before I don’t think this type of product is very suitable for small workshops. It’s also a bit heavier than the WEN 3420.
If I’m being honest, this model doesn’t have outstanding features but it sure does have great customer reviews. I think this would be a good purchase if you’re just starting out but keep in mind it’s actually quite large.
This model comes with a safety paddle switch that ensures your protection. And it even has a MT1 spur center and live center.
I give this product 4.5 stars, it has a good and accessible price and it comes with 2 years of warranty.
Check out the current price and customer reviews of the SHOP FOX W1704 here on Amazon.
- ⅓ horsepower
- Warranty: 2 years
- 700-3200 RPM
- 50.8 pounds
|Powerful||Not recommended for hard or big pieces|
|Easy to use|
NOVA 46300 Comet II
Here are some details about the company: NOVA, also known as Teknatool, is a New Zealand owned company, that has been around since 1980. The 46300 Comet II has a ¾ horsepower motor. I know that sounds unbelievable!
This item is made from solid cast iron which delivers strength and reduces vibration, which decreases your time when making finishing touches!
Here’s the interesting thing, this model has an electronic variable speed that starts from 250 and can go up to 4000 RPM. Can this be true?
If you’ve looked at the comparison table you have probably realized that this product starts with the lowest speed and also reaches the highest. And you’re probably wondering why it’s not the best pick.
Here’s the deal, this item is a lot more expensive than the previous models, it comes with additional features the others don’t have and it’s also made for more advanced woodworkers.
It’s also true that it has the smallest width from all the products but it’s also a lot longer and taller than the others. Besides, it’s also very heavy compared to the previous models, and let me tell you something, that’s not very convenient if you’re planning on moving it a lot.
This model has a 12 inch capacity over the bed and 16.5 inches distance between centers. It also has a 3 step pulley system that provides maximum flexibility, the medium speed usually works with most woodturning projects but the high-speed option deals with harder types of wood.
And another thing, like the previous model, this item does too come with a faceplate that’s 3 inches. It has a 6 inch tool rest, and it comes with a MT2 drive and live center.
I give this product 4 stars, it has great features that can be enjoyed by intermediate woodworkers. This model has a great advantage because it has some accessories that are adaptable and can be used for bigger projects.
Check out the latest price of the NOVA 46300 Comet II here on Amazon and check it out on NOVA for more details!
- 250 to 4000 RPM
- ¾ horsepower
- 3 Step Pulley System
- 82.4 pounds
|Easy to use|
Related: Best full size wood lathe reviews
RIKON 70-100 wood lathe
RIKON’s goal is to design machinery of the highest quality that enhances the woodworking experience. The 70-100 is one of those, this model works with a ½ horsepower motor that can start with 430 and it can go up to 3900 revolutions per minute. Isn’t that astonishing?
But that’s not all, when adjusting the speed, you can use the locking arm and tension release lever that make this process a lot easier and faster.
With this model, you can work 12 inches over the bed and 16 inches distance between centers, with options for multiple extensions to make your area of work a bit larger.
This model has a feature that none of the other items have, it comes with a 12 position indexing head that allows the work piece to be locked in various positions for better results and finishes. With this advantage you can easily achieve pattern work on any of your projects!
This model is fairly simple to use, it comes with great features like the flip up handle for mobility, a nylon plate that prevents accessories from sticking to the spindle and lastly a tool holder that gives you access to the center and knockout bars.
In addition, it has a MT2 headstock pulley guard that tilts open for easy belt changes. It also comes with a self-ejecting MT2 tailstock, that will save you a lot of time!
This model has the longest length, therefore it’s also the heaviest. If I may say so, I think this model is way too heavy to have at home in a small work space. But don’t get me wrong it does have great features that make it stand out.
I give this model 4 stars, it has good customer ratings and it comes from a very reliable brand. It also comes with 5 years of warranty, which is always a plus!
Check out the RIKON 70-100 here on Amazon and check out the product on RIKON for a few more details about the company!
- 12 position index head
- 430 – 3900 revolutions per minute
- Warranty: 5 years
- Mini Lathe
Wood Lathe Buyer Guide
If you’re still having a hard time deciding what model to buy, here are some factors to look at in order to make the best choice! Remember that the prices can vary but it’s up to you and your needs, that will determine how much you spend.
- Size: this is probably the most important factor in you’re reading this specific article. If you have a small workshop at home then you must certainly need a small wood lathe. I highly recommend you know the measurements of where you want to set up your machine, this will help you make a better pick and I assure you won’t have any issues when it arrives.
- Weight: this is also pretty important if you already know you’re going to be moving this machine quite a lot then make your life easier and find a light one. If you have a small workshop and use quite a lot of different tools then you’re probably going to be moving around or just simply be needing the space, so remember it’s a lot harder to move if it’s heavier.
- Speed: this is quite significant when purchasing a wood lathe, but you should remember that these models are all small so they won’t all necessarily have a variety of speed adjustments. It all depends on what you’re planning to do with this machine, I don’t recommend any of them for heavy-duty projects but there are some that do save you some time because of their speed.
- Power: this factor varies the speed of the machine, if you’re going to be working with hard pieces of wood or make deep cuts then I suggest you go for a model with a powerful motor. But keep in mind that power doesn’t always mean quality, in other words, models with less power can also deliver the same results.
After reading these important aspects, you should be ready to make your final decision. But remember not to rush and look at every model to make sure it fits your needs!
Related: Wood lathe fine woodworking
Are you ready?
To sum up this review, I hope you’ve looked at every model closely and carefully. It’s very important you consider all the factors I talked about in the buyer guide. At the end it all comes down to you and what you’re looking for, within specific needs. Now if you’ve forgotten my overall pick, here it is again. The WEN 3420 is the best choice for a small workshop, without a doubt! This item is great for beginners and it’s very easy to use. I hope that by now you’ve already placed your order!
Read about the best wood lathes under $200, $300, $400, $500, $600, $700, $800, $900, & $1000.
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WEN looks like a good deal for me. I’m just wondering, do you think its a good fit for a beginner?
Hi Justin, Yes, the WEN is a great choice for a beginner.