If you are into woodworking, you know that the best part of it is wood turning where you turn the things at your disposal. It is fun and very satisfying at the same time. Today in this article, we’ll cover everything that you should know about woodturning & lathe machines. It allows you to convert the rough timber into decorative and functional items. You can make a lot of small objects on your own that includes bowls, pens, boxes, goblets, clocks, wine holder, and more.
Woodturning might seem simple, but it takes years to master. You should also keep in mind that you have all the right tools and equipment required to do the job. Choosing the right wood is also very important, if it’s not the right one, you might see the wear and tear while turning. When it comes to the lathe machines, the price might vary drastically; it can go from a hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. They are also available in various different sizes, some are very small while others are big and built for high-end woodwork.
So, it’s essential to go through all the requirements that you need, and you should keep in mind that it is matching with the lathe that you are buying. Powermatic, Dewalt, Delta, Grizzly & Jet are some of the leading brands in woodworking lathe industry.
Before buying a woodturning lathe, you should look at the several factors to decide its quality. It should have an excellent sturdy build; all of its parts should be of high-end material. So that you don’t have to worry about wear and tear, and also Ease of Use & Stability is a significant factor. It allows you to make the precise and accurate cut. You should also look into its power as well, what it Motor Amp, does it have variable speed option or not?
There are a few machines which are specially built for a specific purpose like bowl turning. So, if you are going to use the lathe for one purpose, you can go for the most suitable machine. There are also other factors that we’ll dive in details in the below section.
I would suggest you read the whole article and watch the video till End so that you have proper clarity about the woodturning lathe machines. In case you have any doubt, you can let us know in the comments below, we’ll try to respond as soon as possible.
Types of woodturning Lathe
As I have already mentioned that the price of the Woodturning lathe varies drastically from $100 to $5000 so as the quality and size. If you have a small place, then you can go for mini lathes as you can easily carry them from one job site to another. There would also be some pros and cons of different type of lathe machines. As with the mini ones, you would only be able to create the smaller objects (capable of turning a spindle up to 12inches in dia and 18inches in length).
There are some lathes which come with fix speed while in some you can change it at your disposal. This is also a critical factor that you have to keep in mind. In some machines, you have a speed control system while in some you have to change the pulley size, that is a bit hectic and not recommended.
So, I would highly recommend going for the machine which has electronic speed control. This will make your work more smooth, and instead of focusing on machine handling, you can focus more on the woodturning process. Also, Lathe should turn in both the directions so that you can sand and cut in one-one direction.
Also, while doing the Woodturning, a lot of scrapes and dust will come out. For more convenience, you can go for one with a vacuum system. It would be a little bit costly, but worth the investment.
You should also need the right toolset and accessories to get things done correctly. Every turn in woodturning is very imp, so make sure that you have all the measuring tools like micrometers and calipers. It will help you measuring diameters and depth precisely.
As in woodturning, the tools get dull very quickly, so make sure you have proper sharpening jigs so that you can do the work effectively.
I have mentioned around hundred times that power tools used in woodwork are unforgiving. So, Safety should always be your first priority. You should always wear safety equipment while working on it. Make sure that you wear the safety glasses for eye protection. For better safety, you can go for full frame face shield that will cover your face all the time. For hands safety, you can wear utility gloves which are available online at a cheaper price.
Also keep in mind that place that you are working is clutter free. Clutter-free atmosphere makes the atmosphere conducive to effective woodwork. Wear the right apparel while using the machine. Remove all the jewelry from hands and wrists and also roll the sleeves above the elbows. If you are making the adjustments or doing some measurements, don’t forget the stop the lathe. Be used to of using the Emergency Stop, so in case of emergency, you know what to do.
No matter how good lathe machine you have. But, without good tools, it would always be incomplete. There are different kinds of tools needed for different kinds of woodturning. You should know how to use the tools.
In woodturning, the tools get dull very quickly, so make sure the proper sharpening is done for the effective output. The quality of the tools should be decided by its hardness and the quality of steel that is used in its build.
If you are a beginner, you can go with the basic starter tool kit and later on, you can upgrade the toolset. There are a lot of cheap tools available at a very affordable price, but i will not recommend you to go for them. Better, go for the high-quality tools so that you can use them for years without any glitch. Below is a set of some basic tools that you should consider buying if you are a beginner.
- 3/8″ Spindle Gouge
- 3/4″ Roughing Gouge
- 1/8″ Parting Tool
- 3/8″ Beading tool
- 3/8″ Bowl Gouge
- 1″ Round end scraper
- 1″ Square end scraper
Also keep in mind that sharpening of the tools is very important that most of the time, people take for granted. A lot of tools do this mistake at the starting and end up in frustration only. Make sure that your tools are not blunt or poorly sharpened. You can use the bench grinders for sharpening the tools, make sure that it is not overheating the tool which might cause damage.
The most common problem with grinders that it causes the overheating, which affects the performance and structure. So, you can use the water-cooled grinders which will prevent it from overheating.
How to Use the Lathe
If you just bought the lathe machine and wondering how to use it? I would recommend you to go through the user manual first. Then know the setting up process. Once you have got your lathe unboxed, make sure that that spur center and live center are meeting at the middle which is very crucial in doing the spindle turning. Also, use some lubricant so that it slides smoother.
Stability is very important, so keep in mind that it has all the bolts tighten properly so that you don’t have to worry about its shaking while working on it.
If you are a beginner, then at the starting, try to use the machine at low speed. If you see the wobbling problem, you can reduce the speed and then try. Then, make the piece centered and then gradually, you can increase the speed.
There were people asking the question that can we turn any kind of wood? The answer is, of course, not. Each wood has different property, and there are only a few suitable for woodturning. So, make sure when you are choosing the lumber, you choose the right one.
You should also keep in mind when to choose the dry wood and when to choose the wet wood. If you don’t want any movement once it’s turned, you can go for dry wood. Dry wood is suitable for making boxes while the wet wood is used for bowl turning.
Top 5 Wood Lathes
1- Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Wood Lathe
This is one of the best lathes that you can buy ib 2019. It has the solid build quality, have onboard storage from where you can easily access the tools. It also has a ball-bearing live center, which makes it more easy to use. It is suitable for industrial use and lasts for years with low maintenance cost. It comes with 12-1/2-inch variable-speed that gives you better control over the lathe so that you can use it at your disposal. It has a 1hp motor with a 1725RPM speed, which is decent enough.
It has three pulley speed ranges which allow you to control the speed without changing it manually. It also features the forward and reverses function, which allows you to have better finishing. You can also use the large objects on this lathe and work on any kind of DIY project. It also has good warranty service and customer service by the Delta Company is great. It has six groove belt so that you don’t have to worry about the loss of power. Even though you are a beginner, it could be the right fit for you, and you can bring your wood turning imagination into reality.
2- Powermatic Model 3520B Wood Lathe
Powermatic is the company known for making some awesome products, and this Model is no different.
The Powermatic 3520B Model comes with all the features that you need in a woodworking lathe. It has sliding headstock and also features the variable speed control. It also has the spindle lock, which makes it easy to use. The speed control system is electronic in this case, which takes away the pain of manual pulleys shifting. It has a 2hp motor with 220Voltage input which is a fully enclosed fan cooled. It is a pretty heavy duty machine and weighs around 682 pounds.
It has 20inch swing & 34.5inches between the centers which allows you to accomodate most of the projects. You get 24 indexing position where you can do drilling hole patters, routing flutes and more. This variety gives you various different options to go for, and you can have a decorative finish of your choice. It has a digital RPM system so that you know at what speed things are turning.
3- Jet JWL-1440VSK Wood Lathe
This is the third wood turning lathe machine in our top 5 list. You can work in a wide range of products on it. The 1440 lathe has sliding and pivoting headstock with variable speed options.
There are a lot of other features as well, which is really helpful for beginners so that you can use the lathe machie.
You can pivot the sliding headstock to complete 360, and there are seven locking positions as well from 90degree to 270degree which allows you the more variability. You can change the speed of the motor from 400RPM to 3000RPM. It also has all the safety features that you need in a wood turning lathe machine. In tailstock, it has acme thread which is essential for most of the woodwork projects. The user manual that you get is very informative, and you get to know everything that you need to know about the machine.
4- Grizzly H8259 Wood Lathe
If you are a looking for an affordable wood lathe machine, this could be the right choice to go for. Grizzly H8259 is the best woodturning lathe for beginners. Though it is quite cheaper in comparison to other models, still, you will get all the features that you need. It comes with 1/2 hp motor, and there are five different speed setting option that you can choose. Below are the speed variable options.
Variable Speed One: 826
Variable Speed Two: 1205
Variable Speed Three: 1713
Variable Speed Four: 2422
Variable Speed Five: 3337
It is suitable for smaller size projects. It has one year of warranty as well, which is pretty good. If you want a slightly better version than this, you can go for 1221 Model which is also pricier at the same time. This is also portable as well, and you can easily carry it around at diferent jobsite locations.
5- RIKON 70-100
If portability is your top most priority, then this is the model that you should go for. It is a mid range lathe with some great features. It has variable speed option you can choose the speed at below given options.
Variable Speed One: 430
Variable Speed Two: 810
Variable Speed Three: 1230
Variable Speed Four: 1810
Variable Speed Five: 3900
You might need an extension bed on this machine as the center to center distance is only 16inches. What i really love about this woodworking lathe that it comes with five years of warranty. This is portable, and ease to use, which makes it a perfect choice for wood turning enthusiasts.
Safety Video | Watch till End
We have covered the best five woodworking lathes in the market. If you want to go for mini lathes under $100, you can check the above section. If you are starting it as a hobby, you can go for some affordable woodturning lathe and later on once you become good at the work, you can upgrade the machine.
Also, if you are going to use it indoor, it should not be very noisy. You want the woodturning process nice and fun instead of an irritating job. History of the lathe is very old; people started using lathe around 3000years back.
For better understanding, don’t forge to watch the above video. In case you have any confusion, you can ask us in the comments below.