How To Choose the Right Wood Lathe

Woodworking Tools

What to Know Before Buying a Wood Lathe


If you’re ready to add a wood lathe to your lineup, there are a few things to consider before you buy. Ask yourself the following before buying a wood lathe, and you should be able to find the perfect one for you. First, what is your budget? Wood lathes range from hundreds of dollars to thousands, so be sure to think about how much you are willing to spend. This will narrow down your selection significantly. Second, do you have space constraints? If space is limited, you’ll most likely want a wood lathe that is portable. Third, what do you want to do with your wood lathe? The bigger the project, the bigger the lathe you will need. In this wood lathe buying guide, we’ll discuss each of these questions to better help you find the right lathe for your workshop.

How Much Is a Wood Lathe?

Depending on size and quality, a wood lathe can range from $200 all the way up to $10,000! While you may be tempted to opt for the cheapest option within each size group, proceed with caution, as cheaper models can fall short in a lot of areas and can break down easier. The good news is that the woodworking community is very vocal and happy to give our input on machines. Check what people are saying about specific models you are interested in to find out if the price is worth it.

What Size Wood Lathe Do I Need or Can I Accommodate?

While this question dips into the next, it is important to be realistic about the size of your workshop and what size wood lathe you want. As you go up in size, the price will increase as well. Also, features such as variable speed and horsepower will increase with size. Wood lathes come in three sizes: mini, midi and full. Aside from the obvious change in scale, the capacity increases with size, which means the space between centers and swing will increase the bigger the wood lathe.

Mini wood lathes are the smallest models and are portable and compact. This size is ideal for a woodshop that is very limited in space and for the woodworker focusing on small projects. Next up, the midi size is much bigger and stationary, although you may be able to find models with wheels. You can do a great deal on a midi-size wood lathe, making it a great option for the serious woodworker. A full-size wood lathe is going to be much bigger and completely stationary. The full size was typically used by professionals in the past but is now widely used by woodworkers of all levels. This size is the biggest investment, however, so it is only recommended for experts focused on major projects.

What Do I Want To Turn in My Wood Lathe?

This question is going to considerably narrow down your options. While you can do smaller projects on bigger wood lathes, the opposite does not work. If you are just starting out, a mini benchtop wood lathe is a great option. Starting small allows you to refine your techniques and gain confidence in your wood turning. There are countless projects you can do on a mini wood lathe, including creating pens (very popular!), bowls, bottle stoppers, boxes and more! Mini wood lathes are also great for detail work on smaller pieces of big projects. Next up, midi lathes allow you to work on just about everything, from spindles and table legs to large bowls and more. Woodworkers from all experience levels can use a midi wood lathe for just about everything. Full-size wood lathes are great for large projects such as big furniture pieces and architectural elements. Knowing what projects you want to do is key when buying a wood lathe that is right for you.

Where Can I Buy a Wood Lathe?

Most major brands will carry a line of wood lathes that range in size and price. There are plenty of great options online, so be sure to do your research and check the reviews to ensure you’re getting a quality wood lathe. At Wahuda Tools, we specialize in benchtop woodworking tools that are high quality and perfect for everyone, from beginners to experts. Our 14″ wood lathe is the perfect option for someone looking for a compact size that can still handle a wide range of projects.