In this article, we dicuss where you can buy a woodturning lathe, and offer advice for buyers for novice and intermediate woodworking enthusiasts.
Here’s where you can Buy a Woodturning Lathe
You can purchase a lathe at your local hardware store, directly from the source, or online. Where you purchase depends upon your needs and preference in your tools. The best way is in person if you have the access to a local shop selling them, and in this way, you can negotiate for better deals.
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How much does a Woodturning Lathe Cost?
The price of a woodturning lathe ranges wildly based on which lathe you are looking to purchase. Whether you consider yourself a well-seasoned woodworker or a newbie, you do want to look for a machine that possesses both quality and precision.
On average a good machine will cost you a couple of hundred dollars for a basic yet quality machine. They range from around $500-$850 each. For a machine with some more capabilities and functions, you could be looking at paying close to $1,500-$3,000.
Of course, you could potentially spend much more on a lathe if you want something larger with more capabilities and such, but these prices will get you both quality and function.
What Should I look for when Buying a Wood Lathe?
Consider first your skills and what you are seeking to accomplish with your woodturning. For more industrial work you will need a very different type of lathe then if you are seeking one as a hobbyist.
A couple of things to keep in mind when purchasing your lathe are:
- Space available: How much space do you have for your woodtunring projects? If you have a shop, you could get a larger lathe equipped with more power and capabilities.
- Projects to complete: The small lathes are sufficient if you are seeking to accomplish woodturning as a hobby over industrial turning.
- Types of wood: Some woods are very difficult to turn and require a high powered lathe to turn properly. If you have a smaller lathe the engine may not be capable of meeting the proper speeds or maintaining it long term.
- Noise: This relates to your available work environment and ensure the noise of the machine isn’t disruptive.
As for the machine itself you want to look for one which has a balance of weight, speed, and capability. Weight is important especially when you need to turn different varieties of wood on your lathe. The weight helps to maintain balance during the spinning. Your lathe should be able to maintain high speeds and have a long endurance time in order for you to be able to complete your tasks well and efficiently.
What is the Best Beginner Wood Lathe?
JET lathes are one of the best brands for beginners. They are not terribly expensive or complex but they are sturdy and durable. They are pretty versatile as well, based upon the model you purchase. It has good speed so you can turn a larger variety of objects from spindles to bowls and utilize various types of wood with greater ease.
For benchtop varieties, the JET JWL-1221VS is a good variety for beginners who want stability while also getting some versatility and variety in their machine. It’s one of the best for creating high-quality spindles.
For a full-sized floor model, the JET JWL-1440VSK is an excellent model for any beginner. It has 3 different extension bed mounts that enable you to maneuver easily as well as an adjustable headstock.
The one complaint about this machine is it does not go in reverse, but it maintains a reputation as an adaptable machine for all the modifications which are available.
Nova Comet II is another very popular beginner lathe with a cast iron base and a good variety of speed ranges it is perfect for creating a beautiful finish. It also has the added bonus of having a reverse option, which sets it apart from the JET models. This makes it great for sanding.
Where can you buy a Beginner Woodturning Lathe?
Of course, there is an evident source of tools from Home Depot, Lowes, or your own local hardware store. Availability depends a lot on location and it is best to check beforehand if you want to avoid wasting any time.
Powermatic tools (which owns JET) do not have their own retail stores and rather sell through third parties around the country. This does save money, however, it can lead to some instability in the supply chain. Powermatic has some helpful links and resources for finding the best location on their website here.
Nova Comet tools are available directly from the supplier on their website. This is pretty convenient and you can purchase the accessories directly from here as well.
The only downside is the tools are a bit more pricey than JET, but the quality and versatility are excellent and if you’re looking for a lathe suitable for beginners and pros alike, this is it. You can use the retail locator on the website to find a seller near you by clicking the link here.
What is the Best Full Size Wood Lathe?
The Powermatic 3520C is a rock-solid option for a full-size lathe. It has a powerful motor and options for extensions. It has a digital readout option and a magnetic adjustment in the back which is easy to use and convenient.
The biggest downside of this machine is the price, so if you’re just starting off you may want to save this purchase until after you’re sure of your aspirations.
Grizzly makes some very sturdy machines that are also powerful. The speed of the Grizzly is one of the things which makes them so prized; however, it can make maneuvering rather difficult. You want to be more skilled when using this machine, and the model most recommended for intermediate turners is the Grizzly Industrial G0462-16.
The one downside of this machine is it does not have a reverse option. This means sanding is pretty much out of the question, and the motor is so powerful it can shake a bit much while operating.
Where can you buy a Full Size Wood Lathe?
Grizzly tools are available online at their website here. Grizzly is notorious for having excellent customer service and tech support for those who are struggling to figure them out. That’s one of the best parts of getting them directly from the seller.
Amazon also carries most Grizzly tools and lathes, as well as local sellers such as Lowes and Home Depot.
Again, Powermatic doesn’t have a website where you can buy directly from them, but they do have a lot of distributors around the country. Home Depot and Lowes both have Grizzly tools listed online as a product they carry. Although, it depends upon the location, and if you can’t find it at the physical location you can try to see if you can order it online from either distributor.
What is the Best Small Wood Lathe?
The WEN 3421 is great for both beginners and pros because it has good speed and fits up to 12” pieces. This machine is particularly good for turning pens and bowls, and it is sturdy without being too heavy.
Grizzly also has some great small models of woodturning lathes. The Grizzly Industrial T25920 is an excellent model, which has the infamous speed and strength the Grizzly brand is loved for. Be careful though, because the noise can be a bit overpowering if your space is limited.
Where can you buy a good quality small wood lathe?
Wen tools are located in Illinois and have been providing service since the 1950s. You can purchase directly from their site here. They also have products available through retail distributors and a variety of online sellers. They are known for their family-owned company environment and helpful customer service.
For small lathes Grizzly has a decent selection, so you may want to shop primarily from their website. Harbor Freight carries Grizzly tools as well, but the lathe tools are only at select locations and may depend upon the popularity in the area.
Is a Used Woodturning Lathe Worth it?
If you are considering a used lathe because you are new to woodworking and don’t wish to spend a ton on a lathe, then getting a used lathe may seem like the best option. Although, this isn’t a good idea.
Before you buy a lathe, especially a used one you aren’t familiar with and don’t know for sure what to get, you should try either renting a lathe or attending a class that provides a lathe you can practice with.
A used lathe is not a bad option though so long as you know what to look for and what you expect from your machine. If you want to upgrade your first machine to a more powerful option that would normally cost thousands, then getting a well-cared-for used machine may be the best option.
What Should I look for in a Used Lathe?
One of the best ways to check the quality and care of a used machine is to examine models and compare how they look to what a new one would look like. This can help you get an idea of how much use the machine has gone through.
The first thing you want to check is the bed or the horizontal portion where the wood will lay. If this looks very worn, you don’t want to get it. If the bed is too worn out it will no longer hold the wood steadily and will cause a lot of unevenness in your final product.
Check the tailstock to be sure it hasn’t been worn too much so that the spindle isn’t held firmly and will shake a lot when you try to use it for drilling holes. Additionally, be sure to check the carriage and saddle for wear similar to the bed, or else your wood can slide and slip.
Where can you buy a Used Woodturning Lathe?
If you are buying online, eBay and Craigslist are an option and tend to have a lot of varieties. It can be difficult to tell for sure if the machine quality is good or not, but you might try requesting the seller to send you a video of the machine in use to see if you can get a feel for its condition.
Or, try to be sure there is a good return and refund policy to protect your purchase.
If you prefer to shop in person, Facebook Marketplace may be worth checking out. If you find something nearby you can always check the machine in person after contacting the seller. Otherwise, yard sales and fairs are a great place to check out if you are looking for used tools and prefer to see them yourself in action.
What is the Best Wood Lathe for the Money?
The machine which has the best quality and remains somewhat affordable to the average intermediate woodturner is the JET JWL-1221VS. It was a difficult choice between this model and the Powermatic model discussed previously.
The reason this model was chosen is it is an excellent blend of sturdy and versatility, without being thousands of dollars. It is an ideal model for turning a lot of novel items such as pens, spindles, and bowls without being overpowering in its speed and strength.
It has the ability to be expanded through various extensions and is therefore good for larger tasks as well. The one thing to keep in mind is it is a smaller lathe and may not be the best for furniture and such, but it definitely holds the best balance for anyone seeking to perfect their turning capabilities.