Best Wood Lathes For Small Projects In 2024 (Full Buying Guide)

The Best Wood Lathe for Small Projects

Woodworking is a hobby that many people find to be satisfying and relaxing, but it can also be expensive! When you are looking for wood lathes for small projects, the best option is not always clear. With so many choices on the market today, how do you know which one will best suit your needs and your budget?

In this article, we have compiled a list of the five best wood lathes for small projects, with reviews of each. Read our article to learn about each product and decide which one best fits your needs.

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Best Wood Lathes For Small Projects

Image Product Turning Capacity Price
backpac SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe 12-inches distance between centers and 8 -inch swing over the bed Check Price
backpac WEN 3421 8″ by 12″ Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe 8″ by 12″ Check Price
cordlessblower RIKON 70-150VSR Midi Lathe 12″ x 16-1/2″ Check Price
cordlessblower Mophorn Wood Lathe 12″ x 18″ Check Price
cordlessblower JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe 10” x 15” Check Price

Here is our list of best wood lathes for small projects available on the market right now.

SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

The Shop Fox W1704 gives you a lot of craftsmanship in one little machine. With its cast-iron design and infinitely variable speed control, this benchtop lathe makes it easy for beginners to learn the basics of turning on a small scale.

SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

With the 12-inches distance between centers and 8 -inch swing over the bed, this machine is great for many smaller projects waiting to be made.

The SHOP FOX W1704 1/3 Horsepower Benchtop Lathe makes for a great beginner lathe, with both high-end features and ease of use.

The motor is powerful yet quiet, and the variable speed control lets you effortlessly experiment to find the perfect speed for your project.

It also has two tool rests that provide precision cutting abilities as well as horizontal turning capabilities. You can’t go wrong with this quality equipment!

WEN 3421 8″ by 12″ Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe

Energy and precision are not a problem with the WEN 3421 wood lathe. Its 3.2-Amp motor provides more power than most of its competitors, providing up to 50% more speed and torque at variable speeds of 750 to 3200 RPM.

WEN 3421 Wood Lathe

This 8″ by 12″ lathe has an MT1 spindle and tailstock tapers for your convenience as well as two interchangeable tool rests so that you can tailor it perfectly to your needs!

For those just getting into woodturning, this is a great start on the way to refining your talents in woodturning that spans from basic pen Turning-to furniture making or crafting bowls, chess pieces, or other similar items!

The Wen 3421 Mini Lathe is perfect for those who want to give woodworking a try without breaking the bank.

It will work with any piece that’s no larger than 12 inches long and 8 inches wide, so you can start your projects as big or as small as you like – from pens to bowls to chess pieces!

RIKON 70-150VSR Midi Lathe

The RIKON 70-150VSR 12″ x 16-1/2″ Midi VSR Lathe, equipped with a powerful 1HP DC motor and electronic variable speed controls, is perfect for the individual who wants to turn all sorts of items.

rikon 70-150vsr review

With a wider range of operating speeds to suit any project big or small, you won’t have to find yourself constantly slowing down your work.

The corded control box has a magnetic back and is movable along the front of the bed making it easy for you to position where needed in order to access when turning.

The Rikon 70-150VSR 12″ x 16-1/2″ Midi VSR Lathe is designed for the turner who needs a versatile machine that can handle a wide range of projects from slender bowls, teapots, jewelry boxes, and more.

If you have been looking for lathes that increase capacity by adding extensions on the bed then this could be your answer because it can be extended.

Mophorn Wood Lathe

The Mophorn Wood Lathe is a high-quality machine that will last through years of creating small wooden objects.

Mophorn wood lathe review

This versatile lathe includes features like variable speed with digital readings to give the most precise control while working.

The cast iron construction makes for extremely stable operation, so long hours can be spent whittling away profitably at your project without tiring or risking any damage.

With its extra capabilities, this lathe is suitable for use in various situations from labs to workshops to engineering and education! There’s no better way to get your creativity flowing than with the power of the Mophorn Wood Lathe!

JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe

The JWL-1015 Wood Lathe is a great way to get into woodturning with a minimum of expense and space.

Its compact size means that you can save on your storage footprint, while the generous turning capacity still allows you to turn bowls and larger spindles from small boards.

JET JWL-1015VS 10"x15" Variable-Speed Wood Lathe

With six spindle speeds from 500 RPM to 3,975 RPM, you’ll always have enough power for turning a perfect piece.

The design precision of this lathe is what sets it apart from others in its class – those high-quality bearings mean reduced downtime due to vibration, as well as smoother cuts and longer tool life.

The Jet Lathe has been used by novice woodturners because it offers affordability without compromising features found in higher-priced models.

How To Choose The Right Wood Lathe For Your Needs

In order to choose the best wood lathe for small projects, there are a few things to consider:

  • What is your budget?
  • How much space do you have?
  • What objects will you turn?

If you are looking for the budget option then the WEN 3421 is the perfect choice for you.

If you have a lot of space and are looking for something to turn larger items such as bowls, then the Rikon 70-150VSR 12″ x 16-½” Midi VSR Lathe could be best for your needs because it can hold large pieces.

JET JWL-1015 is a little bit more expensive but it has many advanced features that are not available on cheaper models.

The best wood lathe for small projects is up to your needs and the amount of money that you are willing to spend.

Make sure that the objects you want to turn are not bigger than the available space between the centers.

Common Mistakes When Choosing A Wood Lathe

When choosing the best wood lathe for small projects, there are some common mistakes that people make:

Choosing a machine with too much power

This is especially true if you want to turn thin pieces of wood. If your project requires less than 1 hp motor then you will be able to get away with using a smaller motor.

Buying the cheapest option available

Cheap machines are often not very stable and will end up costing you more money in repairs than if you had chosen a higher-quality machine to start with. The best wood lathes for small projects can sometimes be expensive but it is worth saving up your money for a quality product.

Buying the best lathe you can afford

If you are just starting out with woodturning, it is best to purchase something that has all of the features that you need at an affordable price rather than buying a high-quality machine and then getting frustrated when you realize there are more functions and tools that you need to learn.

Buying a lathe that isn’t best for your needs

Some woodturners want to work with both small and large projects, so having two machines is best. However, if this isn’t the case then it might be best to purchase something more general.

Choosing an unreliable company

If you purchase a lathe from an unreliable company, you might end up paying more for repairs. This is because repairs on these machines are often very difficult when they break down and it costs the owner much more money to fix them than if they had purchased something reliable in the first place!

Tips On How To Use A Wood Lathe Safely

 In order to use a wood lathe safely, there are some things to do:

Make sure that your hands and feet are out of the way

  • Always follow the instructions for best safety practices
  • Use common sense when turning. If it doesn’t seem safe then don’t turn!

In general, if you want a safe wood lathe, then you should always be mindful of your surroundings and never take anything for granted. This will help to prevent accidents from happening in the best way possible.

You can read more about how dangerous are wood lathes here.


The best wood lathe for small projects is not always the most expensive option on the market, but it does need to fit your needs and budget. 

We hope that this article has helped you in your search for the best wood lathe for small projects.