For craftsmen, hobbyists and DIYers that will do projects that do not entail large workpieces such as making small flower vases, bowls, and baby toys, a large and expensive standalone lathe is not necessary.
In such instances, you need to have the best benchtop lathe as it will get the job done efficiently and will not take up a lot of your space.
Benchtop lathes are more portable, which allows you to carry and use from different locations. You will also not need to spend a lot of money on one as they also cost much less.
Benchtop lathe have a smaller motor that is usually under 3-horsepower and a smaller distance between centers.
But there are still plenty of models to pick from, and here we review 10 top-rated ones and also show you how to choose.
What To Check Before Buying Benchtop Lathe?
1. Power of Benchtop Lathe
Whether you are buying a benchtop or a larger standalone lathe, you need to make sure that it is powerful enough for your projects. And so as you shop for the best benchtop lathe, power is one of the first factors you will need to consider.
Most of these units will not have a very powerful motor, and so it will be unrealistic to expect to get something with 5 horsepowers or more.
Typically, they will have between 0.5 and 3 horsepower motor. The more powerful the unit is the more expensive it will be, which means you need to strike a balance between power and price. A 1-horsepower unit like the JET JWL-1221VS should be powerful enough for most projects.
2. Purpose: For Wood or Metal
The material that you intend to turn or the purpose of the lathe should also guide your choice when deciding which model to buy.
Here you will need to decide whether you want something for turning wood or metal. And if you will turn both wood and metal often, then you need to go for something that can accommodate both.
3. Size of Benchtop Lathe
Benchtop lathes will come in different sizes, and what you choose will not only determine the amount of space it will take up but the maximum material size you can handle.
For the overall size of the machine, the more compact it is the better as it will be easy to handle, and you can also carry it around easily.
When it comes to the work capacity, you will need to look at the distance between centers and the swing over bed. To make sure what you choose will be a good enough size for your projects, you should not settle for anything less than 10 by 18 inches.
4. Benchtop Lathe Speed
You will need to turn the workpiece at different speeds when working on a lathe depending on the material you want to remove and also the desired shape and finish or pattern.
Hence, the best model for you is one that will give you a wider speed range or many speed options. Also, the more the speed options, the more versatile the machine will be as it can handle different projects.
That said, a good model should give you low and high enough speed options. The 250 to 4,000 RPM that you get on the Delta 46-460 is a perfect example of this.
5. Body Construction of Benchtop Lathe
A benchtop lathe should also be well-built to ensure that it will give you many years of great service, and it can take any abuse that comes with woodturning.
Here the construction material is one of the key determinants of the machine’s durability. The most common materials are cast, iron steel, and aluminum and each will have its merits and shortcomings.
Cast iron lathes are almost indestructible and will also be very effective at dampening vibration, but they are more prone to rusting. Aluminum, on the other hand, is susceptible to vibrations, but it is a more lightweight material that will make the lathe easy to carry around.
You will also need to think about the weight when choosing your benchtop lathe, and this is more so if you plan to use it in different locations.
But while a lightweight one like the 43-pound Wen 3420T will be easier to carry around, something heavier like the 682-pound Powermatic 1352001 offers the advantage of being more stable and balanced.
10 Best Benchtop Lathes Reviewed
1. Delta 46-460 (Best Overall)
2. Wen 3420T (Best for the Money)
3. Jet JWL-1221VS (Best Brand)
4. Mophorn B07KP6SD8V (Best Wood Lathe)
5. Rikon Power Tools 70-105 (Best for Pen Turning)
6. Rikon Power Tools 70-100 (Smooth-Running & Versatile)
7. PSI Woodworking KWL-1018 (Highly Durable)
8. Jet JWL-1015 (Full-Featured Mini Lathe)
9. Powermatic 1352001 (Industrial-Grade Wood Turning Lathe)
10. Grizzly Industrial T25926 (Easy to Setup)
1. Delta 46-460 – Best Overall Benchtop Lathe
- Power: 1HP, 120V
- Size: 12.5 x 16.5 inches
- Speed Range: 250 – 4,000 RPM
- Weight: 97 pounds
Delta 46-460 provides a swing capacity of 12.5 inches, which is larger than most others in its class, and hence making it our best overall model as it can accommodate larger materials.
This lathe uses an electronic variable speed with 3-pully speed ranges to ensure that you always get the required speed for your project without having to change the belt position. With the forward and reverse functions, you can be assured of always getting a superior finish.
With this lathe, you can be confident of minimal vibration and chatter thanks to the sturdy cast iron construction, which also makes it a highly durable tool.
The Delta 46-460 does not have a digital speed readout like other top tier benchtop lathes. However, it includes a speed chart that will match the speed knob to ensure choosing a specific speed is easy and precise.
- Larger swing capacity
- Easy and quick speed changes
- Minimal vibrations and chatter
- Superior sanding finish
- Durable and stable cast iron construction
- No digital speed readout
2. Wen 3420T – Best for the Money
- Power: 2 Amp
- Size: 8 x 12 inches
- Speed Range: 750 – 3,200 RPM
- Weight: 43 pounds
Anyone into woodturning that is looking for a more budget-friendly benchtop lathe, the Wen 3420T is a great choice as it is the cheapest option on our list. But, besides affordability, this lathe will also provide a soft start motor to ensure you can easily fire it up.
At 43 pounds, this is also the lightest option on our benchtop lathe review, which means it will be highly portable for use in different locations. With the lever clamping system, this tool ensures that tool rest and tailstock adjustments are simple and precise.
This lathe will grip the workpieces tightly enough thanks to the MT1 spindle and tailstock taper. When you buy this lathe, you will also get accessories like a flat wrench and knockout wrench.
There are no mounting holes on this tool, which makes it hard to mount in on a bench, but this is only because it is meant to be a portable unit. While it might be a little underpowered, for its price and a model meant for small projects, it is still okay.
- Relatively more affordable
- Lightweight for increased portability
- Easy to use clamping system
- Grips workpieces tightly
- Soft starting motor
- No bench mounting holes
- A little underpowered
3. Jet JWL-1221VS – Best Benchtop Lathe Brand
- Power: 1HP,115V
- Size: 12 x 21 inches
- Speed Range: 60 – 3,600 RPM
- Weight: 136.4 pounds
Jet is one of those power tool brands that you will never go wrong with as they have been in the business long enough to understand what every woodworker and DIYer wants. Hence, if you prefer a benchtop wood lathe from a top brand, their JWL-1221VS is an excellent buy.
This top brand wood lathe offers one of the widest speed ranges on our list that ranges from 60 to 3,600 RPM to ensure you get high and low enough speeds for different projects. And with the ratchet style belt tensioning system, changing the speed will be effortless.
When turning, you can be sure of getting some amazing finishes as this tool allows for a smooth transition between forward and reverse. Also, the controls are conveniently located to ensure the operation will be easy.
Quality control seems to be lacking for this lathe as there are user complaints about issues like improperly threaded holes, but overall it is still a fantastic tool.
- Well-built lathe from a top brand
- Optimal and wide enough speed range
- Transitions smoothly between reverse and forward
- Easy speed changes
- Convenient controls location
- Poor quality control
4. Mophorn B07KP6SD8V – Best Benchtop Wood Lathe
- Power: 120V, 550W
- Size: 10 x 18 inches
- Speed Range: 500 – 3,800 RPM
- Weight: 80.8 pounds
The more powerful 550-watts motor on the Mophorn B07KP6SD8V makes it one of the best benchtop wood lathes as it means it can tackle a wide variety of projects. From use in the workshop to engineering projects that involve woodturning, this will be a highly useful tool.
Speed controls are guaranteed to be easy and precise as this unit will include a good speed knob. And you can easily tell your selected speed, as this lathe will also include a digital speed readout.
The heavy-duty cast-iron construction makes this a durable lathe and also helps minimize vibrations when turning wood. Another thing that makes this a highly useful tool is that it will come with some interchangeable professional-quality tool rests.
The 500 RPM slowest speed is still quite high, but it is still good enough for most fine sanding jobs, and should hence not be a very big concern.
- More powerful motor
- Precise and easy speed control
- Heavy-duty construction
- Interchangeable professional-quality tool rests
- Ideal for wide applications
- Slowest speed is still quite high
5. Rikon Power Tools 70-105 – Best for Pen Turning
Photo: Rikon Power Tools
- Power: 0.5HP, 120V, 375W
- Size: 10 x 18 inches
- Speed Range: 500 – 3,200 RPM
- Weight: 74 pounds
Rikon Power Tools 70-105 is a dedicated benchtop lathe that will be perfect for turning pens. This mini lath makes turning pens easy and precise as it has a powerful enough 0.5 horsepower motor that does not overheat when running.
This lathe is built to be sturdy enough as it will feature a cast iron frame, which helps to minimize vibrations for excellent outcomes. Also, the self-ejecting stock will ensure users have an even easier time when turning pens and other small projects.
Despite being a cast-iron lathe, it is still quite lightweight as it weighs in at just 74 pounds, and overall this is also an easy-to-use tool with some simple controls.
Speed changes can be tedious and dangerous for newbies as you have to move the belt manually, but once you get used to it, you will hardly have any challenges
- Very ideal for pen turning
- Easy stock ejection
- Sturdy and vibration-free build
- Does not overheat
- Speed changes can be hectic
6. Rikon Power Tools 70-100 – Smooth-Running and Versatile
Photo: Rikon Power Tools
- Power: 0.75HP, 115V
- Size: 12 x 16 inches
- Speed Range: 430 – 3,900 RPM
- Weight: 88.5 pounds
The smooth-running Rikon Power Tools 70-100 is one of the best benchtop lathes for beginners as it is a super easy tool to use that will also include a powerful enough 0.75 horsepower motor to allow you to tacks a wide variety of projects.
With the 12-position indexing head, you can lock the workpiece in multiple positions for more accuracy when doing some detailed work. And because it has a self-ejecting stock, it will save you time as you will never have to use the knock out bar to remove the center.
Rikon makes this lathe to accommodate a wide variety of accessories, which makes it highly versatile. This lathe also features other user-friendly features that will include flop-up handle and nylon faceplate that will prevent the accessories from sticking to the spindle.
The absence of a variable speed knob or dial is a concern for many users, but given the ease of changing the speed, many woodturners will not miss it.
- Smooth-running and powerful enough motor
- Multiple position indexing head ensures accurate pattern work
- Accommodates more accessories
- Time-saving self-ejecting stock
- Quick and easy speed change
- No variable speed knob
7. PSI Woodworking KWL-1018 – Highly Durable Benchtop Lathe
Photo: PSI Woodworking
- Power: 0.6HP, 110V
- Size: 10 x 18 inches
- Speed Range: 650 – 3,000 RPM
- Weight: 84 pounds
The highly durable cast iron construction is one of the key things that make the PSI Woodworking KWL-1018 one of the best benchtop lathes out there as it guarantees you get many years of great service.
Besides being durable, the cast iron base can also accommodate extension beds, which will be very useful at increasing the capacity of the lathe.
The 24 indexing positions are more than what you get from other models in its class. They include a spindle locking to make this a useful tool for a wide variety of patterns. As a bonus, you get a storage rack and there is also a nice work light.
One of the few complaints many users will have is that the flex shaft on the light is not very useful at holding it up. But this should not be the deal-breaker as it does not affect the overall performance of the machine. And despite not having very good instructions, you should still be able to figure things out.
- Highly durable build
- Can be extended for larger projects
- Includes more indexing positions
- Spacious storage rack
- Handy work light
- Light flex shaft is not very good
- Wanting instructions
8. Jet JWL-1015 – Full-Featured Mini Lathe
- Power: 0.5HP, 115V
- Size: 10 x 15.5 inches
- Speed Range: 500 – 3,975 RPM
- Weight: 77 pounds
With the Jet JWL-1015, you get a full-featured mini-lathe, which has everything you need to tackle a wide variety of projects despite the relatively smaller size. This lathe also offers a more user-friendly design that makes it easy to use for both beginners and professionals.
The 24-position indexing helps make this a more versatile unit that will allow you to make a wide variety of patterns. And because this lathe has wider bed ways, it will provide increased rigidity to make woodturning easier for you.
This wood lathe has a heavy-duty construction with a cast-iron base, and it also features some highly durable parts and accessories for longer service life.
The only annoying thing is that you have to shut down this lathe to change the speed, but with the easy access belts, the speed changes are fairly easy.
- Small but with everything you need
- More user-friendly design
- Easy access to belts
- Increased rigidity
- More indexing positions
- You have to shut it off to change the speed
9. Powermatic 1352001 – Industrial-Grade Wood Turning Lathe
- Power: 2HP, 220V
- Size: 20 x 35 inches
- Weight: 682 pounds
For those that do a lot of heavy wood tuning jobs, and hence prefer something more heavy-duty, powerful, and with a larger capacity, the Powermatic 1352001 is hard to beat.
This industrial-grade lathe will feature a large 20 by 35 inches capacity and also have a more powerful 2 horsepower motor and heavy-duty cast-iron construction for long service life.
With the digital speed readout, you can easily adjust the speed and do it more precisely. When you buy this tool, it will come with several accessories that include tool rest and faceplate, and there is also a handy built-storage on the tailstock.
Being the priciest item on our list, this lathe can be out of reach for some potential buyers, but the price tag is only a reflection of its superior industrial quality. Also, at 682 pounds, it is the heaviest on our list, but it is meant for use from a dedicated space in the workshop.
- Highly durable construction
- Precise speed adjustment
- More powerful motor
- Built-in storage
- Comes with several accessories
- Relatively more expensive
- Quite heavy
10. Grizzly Industrial T25926 – Easy to Setup Benchtop Lathe
Photo: Grizzly Industrial
- Power: 0.5HP, 110V
- Size: 10 x 18 inches
- Speed Range: 650 – 3,800 RPM
- Weight: 74 pounds
Various things make the Grizzly Industrial T25926 a special benchtop lathe, but may users seem to appreciate just how easy it is to set up. Whether you are an experienced user or beginner, you will hardly break a sweat setting up this tool.
It has a quick-release mechanism on the tailstock and rest, which will make adjustments more effortless. And with the digital speed readout, changing the speed will not only be easier but also highly precise.
The cast iron construction makes this a durable and stable unit that will not be very prone to vibrations. Also, the 10 x 18 size is good enough to ensure that this tool can handle both small and large projects from turning pens to making bowls.
650 RPM is quite high for the lowest speed setting, and so if you are looking for something that will deliver spotless finish, this lathe might not be it. But for any other woodturning job, it is amazing.
- Quick and easy to setup
- More effortless adjustment
- Precise and simple speed control
- Solid cast iron build
- Lowest speed is still quite high
Finding the best benchtop lathe for your workshop should now be a breeze as here we provide some amazing recommendations that will work for different users.
And to make the choice even more effortless, the Delta 46-460 takes our top overall spot as it has a larger swing capacity and a myriad of other fantastic features.
For those looking for something that offers them great value for their bucks, the more affordable Wen 3420T will be a great pick.
In this post:
- What To Check Before Buying Benchtop Lathe?
- 10 Best Benchtop Lathes Reviewed
- 1. Delta 46-460 – Best Overall Benchtop Lathe
- 2. Wen 3420T – Best for the Money
- 3. Jet JWL-1221VS – Best Benchtop Lathe Brand
- 4. Mophorn B07KP6SD8V – Best Benchtop Wood Lathe
- 5. Rikon Power Tools 70-105 – Best for Pen Turning
- 6. Rikon Power Tools 70-100 – Smooth-Running and Versatile
- 7. PSI Woodworking KWL-1018 – Highly Durable Benchtop Lathe
- 8. Jet JWL-1015 – Full-Featured Mini Lathe
- 9. Powermatic 1352001 – Industrial-Grade Wood Turning Lathe
- 10. Grizzly Industrial T25926 – Easy to Setup Benchtop Lathe