The Best Woodturning Lathe UK Buying Guide & Reviews
Woodturning lathe machines are important for any serious woodworkers who want to branch out with their designs and have more accuracy when being creative.
Wood lathes allow you to create projects such as pens, door handles, or even bowls, they additionally let you create detailed decorative pieces and different shapes.
There are many wood lathes on the market, ranging in features from different motor power to headstock and tailstock designs, this can make it challenging to figure out which woodturning lathe is the best.
So with that being said, we have reviewed some of the top woodturning lathe machines on the market and compared them to find the right wood lathe for you.
Our Top Woodturning Lathe -
The VEVOR Wood Lathe 550W Digital Readout Woodturning (Editor's Choice)
Vevor is very well-known in the DIY woodwork industry for creating some great work tools for wood.
Main features of this wood lathe are its 550W motor which comes with a digital RPM and variable speeds ranging from 500- 3800 RPM. Its headstock and gears are also hardened for durability during heavy-duty use.
The device includes an MT2 headstock and tailstock, along with an 18-inch centre distance and 254mm swing over bed. A 75mm faceplate is also enclosed as well as a top drive and live centre. It's design also has rubber feet for extra stability and it has a gross weight of around 40kg.
To conclude, this wood lathe by VEVOR is one of the best wood lathe models in terms of its durability thanks to its cast-iron bed and parts.
The model additionally has a great woodturning distance for longer spindle options, as well as a quiet motor to avoid disruption.
Drawbacks of the VEVOR model are its lack of extension bed which has to be brought separately.
- Affordable low price.
- High power motor with variable speed.
- Hardened headstock and gears.
- 18-inch centre distance.
- Steel design.
- 75mm faceplate.
- Rubber feet for extra stability.
- Lack of extension bed included for larger and heavy wood length.
Our Second Alternative! - Axminster Craft AC305WL Woodturning Lathe
This Axminster Craft wood lathe comes with a 230V 550W DC motor and electronic variable speed for the spindle ranging from 500 RPM - 4080 RPM.
Feature-wise the woodturning model has a cast iron bed along with a cast iron headstock and tailstock, it also has a quick-release tailstock and two different belt ratios to choose from on the machine. This wood lathes spindle further has 2MT internal taper which is compatible with a range of accessories.
In terms of designing the woodturning lathe by Axminster has a bed extension for larger work and a 150mm tool rest and 75mm faceplate. The distance in the centre of this wood lathe can be adjusted up to 670mm with its extension.
The Axminster Craft wood lathes model is a fantastic choice for beginner woodworkers who are looking to make more detailed work on a professional level.
Its motor is also said to be very quiet and can turn all sorts of wood such as bowls with ease.
Negatives of the device have to be its lack of chuck and extra tools for woodwork, the model is a little expensive too, even when compared to other high-quality wood lathes on our list.
- High-quality durable design with variable speed.
- Cast iron bed and accessories.
- Two belt ratios.
- Bed extension for larger projects.
- Quick-release tailstock.
- Lack of extra tools such as a chuck.
Axminster Craft AC370WL VAR Speed Woodturning Lathe
The Axminster Craft woodturning model features a 230V motor and has ten different electronic variable speed steps ranging from 500 RPM - 2000 RPM depending on the power you want.
Main specifications of this woodturning model are it's 370mm turning diameter and 185mm centre height. The headstock of this woodturning lathe is also adjustable and can slide across the length of the lathe's bed.
Additional features of this lathes model are its; 4-prong drive centre, revolving tailstock centre, 150mm faceplate, tool rest extension, 300mm tool rest and a floor stand. The distance of this wood lathes centre is also suitable for turning longer spindles.
Overall, this Axminster wood lathes model is a great quality machine if you want to turn all kinds of wood due to its large range of variable RPM and high-powered motor.
It also has excellent bonus features such as its swivel headstock and floor stand for heavy-duty work.
Downfalls of the woodturning machine have to be its price which is a little expensive.
- Electronic variable speed.
- 370mm turning diameter.
- Adjustable headstock spindle.
- Good for turning larger a spindle due to generous distance.
- Expensive price in comparison to other wood lathes.
Lumberjack SWL350 375W 230V Wood Lathe
This Lumberjack wood lathe features a 1/2 horsepower induction motor of 375W and has four different spindle variable speed options to choose from; 850 RPM - 2510 RPM.
Important specifications of this wood lathe are its turning capacity of 14-inches and 1000mm centre distance. The machine further has twin bed bars for better stability and a common 3/4-inch spindle thread.
Extra features of this wood lathe are its tailstock and drive centre, it also has an extension beam for long length projects. Its design includes a faceplate too, as well as 3 turning tools and tool rest.
The Lumberjack wood lathe is a great find if you're on a budget and would want to get better at your woodwork finishes.
For its price, the wood lathe also comes with some great features such as its twin bed bars and is great for learning on if you are a beginner.
Negatives of the best wood lathe are its instructions which are said to very basic, the model's variable speed is also reported to be hard to change and some have even stated the model to break after short-term use.
- Very affordable low price.
- Great for beginners.
- Twin bed bars for better stability.
- 1000m distance.
- Tools and tool rest included.
- Extension beam.
- Variable spindle speed.
- Poor instructions.
- Reported to break after short-term use.
- Basic instructions.
VEVOR 14Inch x 40Inch Wood Lathe
This VEVOR best wood lathes model comes with a 120V 400W motor with 4 spindle speed options to choose from ranging in between 1100 RPM - 3400 RPM.
Best features of this lathes model are its 1000mm centre distance and 350mm cutting diameter. The model additionally has a MT 1 spindle and an adjustable tailstock. Construction of this lathes design is made from solid steel.
Further accessories included with this best wood lathes model are three chisels and three tools.
In conclusion, this best wood lathe by VEVOR is a remarkable bowl turning model which is powerful enough to manage any kind of work thanks to its good motor and solid steel features.
Its design is made to be easy to use too and is good for making complicated wood pieces.
Drawbacks of this woodturning lathe have to be its instruction manual and assembly which is said to be missing tools to set-up the model.
- Easy to use.
- Range of variable speed.
- 1000m centre distance.
- Six tool accessories included.
- Adjustable tailstock.
- Solid steel high-quality construction.
- Poor instruction manual.
- Some assembly tools are reported to be missing.
Our Final Judgement - Which Woodturning Lathe Is The Best?
To conclude, the best woodturning lathe on our list has to be the VEVOR Wood Lathe 550W Digital Readout Woodturning model thanks to its high power motor which makes work easy and has a large capacity which allows you to use wood pieces which are larger and longer.
This lathes model is also good due to its hardened parts such as its headstock which makes this model one of the most durable lathes on our list.
As a second option, we would further suggest having a look at the Axminster Craft AC305WL Woodturning Lathe because of its high-quality variable speed options and cast iron features which make the model very reliable.
The only reason we didn't place this model in first place is due to its very high price and lack of extra tools.
What To Look For In a Best Wood Turning Lathe (Our Best Buying Guide)
Now we have compared and reviewed some of the many best lathe machine models on the market its a good idea to get to know some more about these machines and how they work.
It's also worth familiarizing yourself with the best features you may need in your lathe and the safety tips for using one, as well as how to maintain it and safely use it.
We have put together an extensive buying guide below to answer all of your questions.
What Is a Wood Turning Lathe?
Woodturning is a type of woodwork that uses a lathe, the machine often features a spindle which turns around your pieces of wood in a rotation. The act of woodturning itself means to use other tools to sand and shape the wood while it's rotating.
You can often make items such as bowls and other symmetrical objects from your lathe via woodturning.
How Do I Use a Wood Turning Lathe?
Wood lathe machine models can be a little intimidating if it's your first time using one, so it's a good idea to always start slow on some practice pieces of wood first.
We have listed out many useful tips below to get you started.
- Decide the operation you will be doing on your lathe - First of all its a good idea to figure out what operation you're going to do on your wood, this could be anything from boring to taper turning depending on the result you want to have with your wood.
- Use the right cutting tools - Lathe chisels are fantastic for shaping your wood and are much longer than normal wood chisels. These chisels tend to comes as; gouges, scrapers, parting instruments and spoon cutters.
- Learn the parts of your lathe - Before you start crafting on your lathe its a good idea to ensure you are familiar with all of its parts, The main parts of a lathe are; the headstock, tailstock and tool rest.
- Select your wood and cut the stock to the right length - Its best to start with a softwood that has a good grain as this will be easiest to turn if it's your first time. You wood pieces should be an easy length to turn and also be squared for your projects.
- Make it tight and position your tool rest - Your tailstock should be locked and tightened, keeping the stock under good control, the tool rest on your lathe should be parallel to your project's position too but not too close otherwise it will get hit during turning.
- Turn it by hand and choose your chisel - Before you turn your chisel on you need to test your range first and make sure the stock is turning with clearance, you need to also pick the right size and type of chisel for making your work.
- Keep your lathe on the low-speed setting - Turn on your lathe at the slowest speed setting and start to chisel your wood.
Best Features To Watch Out For In a Cast Iron Lathe
There are some important features you need to find in your lathe, from your swing capacity to material and headstock spindle, you need to be making sure your model is easy to use and comes with high-quality parts.
We have listed out the most essential features to watch out for in your lathe below -
- Motor power - If you are looking to cut important big projects it might be better buying a lathe with a higher turning power, for small designs like bowls or table legs, a small 1/2 horsepower might be much more suitable.
- Height - You should ensure your lathe is easy to use, this means its important for the machine to meet elbow level while working, meaning you will avoid back strain and fatigue. Some of the best lathe machines features adjustable height so as you can get your lathe as comfortable as possible.
- Material & base - Your lathe should be made out of a heavy-duty material like cast iron and the base should be thick enough for high power work, along with steel made instruments. The bed of your lathe could also have an extension if you find your work could be longer.
- Spindle capacity - A larger spindle capacity will mean the larger the stock you can use with your headstock spindle, mini lathe models tend to have a large capacity, however, you can always buy your lathe with an extension on the machine if you might be tackling bigger stock now and then.
- Swing capacity - You should ensure the swing capacity of your lathe is generous so as the tool can handle stock with a large diameter.
- Adjustable headstock - It's best to look for an adjustable headstock on your mini lathe machine or woodturning model. An adjustable headstock means you can even turn the part away when you are doing awkward projects like bowls.
- Extra accessories - Some extra features to look for on your lathe are faceplates and extra devices such as chisels. You should additionally make sure your machine has features such as variable speed included. If you can get these features included in the price then it is a superb deal.
- Safety features - Safety functions to look for on your machine are guards and no-load volt protection. You should always ensure your stock can turn without snags before starting the machine too as this allows you to avoid any potential accidents when the machine is turned on.
Safety Tips For Using Wood Lathes With Variable Speed
It is easy to use a lathe once you get the hang of it, however, you should always make sure you have enough control over your machine and that you are using it in the safest way possible.
We have made a small list of the best safety tips out there for using your lathe which allows for more control and safer use.
- Keep your devices sharp - Sharp tools will mean a smoother turning process with less snag if your instruments are blunt then they could become a safety hazard during long work.
- Wear secure clothing - Its essential you wear non-loose clothing while using a lathe, long hair should be tied up and you should avoid wearing gloves in case they become caught up in the cast iron machine.
- Watch your hands - One of the biggest traps in a lathe is the space in between the workpiece and the tool rest, this space is easy to find your hands caught in at higher speeds. The tool rest of your machine should always be parallel and locked down to your workpiece.
- Keep your stock secure - The diameter of your stock should be secure and should always be cut according to your recommended speed/ RPM. Chucks and tailstock parts should also be tight and secure. You can find the average speeds for your specific stock by research.
- Have dust protection - Its best to wear a mask and eye protection when using a lathe. A mask will protect you from inhaling any sawdust that comes out of your lathe during use, eye protection is also essential to avoid flying stock hitting your face.
- Remove keys and wrenches - You should make sure wrenches and keys for adjusting are removed before you switch on your lathe.
Why should a wood lathe have a variable speed?
Different speeds to choose from on your lathe give you better control and allows you to tackle harsher woods with more ease. Low speeds are also perfect to start with if you are a beginner woodworker who is using one of these machines for the first time.
The best variable speeds to look for are anything from 500 RPM - 3000 RPM speed.
What kind of wood should I use for turning and does its size matter?
All woods are easy to turn, with softwoods being the easiest and the best made for beginners. Some woods may give allergies however and pressure-treated woods tend to be made harder to turn than others. The size of your wood doesn't matter as long as it is cut down to your length preference and square.
Why is my lathe vibrating a lot during use?
This could be due to a low or off centre workpiece which could be causing your lathe to have less control when rotating it, you could try making your stock smaller or adjusting the position and making it more centre.
What is the typical price for a wood lathe?
The price of your cast iron lathe will come down to what features it comes with, its size, and how many speeds it has to choose from. Higher power big models will often be higher in price, the average range tends to be around £200-£350 and above.
Our #1 Wood Turning Lathe For Improving Your Woodwork
The number one wood lathe on our list is the VEVOR Wood Lathe 550W Digital Readout Woodturning model thanks to its high power motor and long bed. The machine additionally has a great range of speeds to choose from and has an easy to use durable design which is perfect for beginners.
We also suggested one lathe with the name of Axminster Craft AC305WL Woodturning Lathe. This lathe is made from high-quality cast iron and has plenty of features and speeds to choose from while working with the model.