rikon 70-100

What’s the best mini wood lathe?

Are you looking for a small wood lathe? We’ll look at four lathes from different manufacturers and compare them in terms of size and weight, motor, features and price.

First off what is a mini lathe? Different people will tell you different things, but for our purposes we’re going to stick with lathes that have less than 12″ of clearance over the bed,  less than 18″ center to center and motors smaller than 1 HP. Anything bigger than that we’ll call a midi lathe instead.

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The History of the Wood Lathe

Today’s wood lathes almost exclusively rely on electric motors to generate turning power and for the most part all follow the same basic design. But prior to the industrial revolution wood was being turned for thousands of years on increasingly sophisticated man powered lathes.

People have been turning and carving wood since at least the sixth century BC and possibly earlier. Wood pieces that have characteristics that suggest that they might wave been produced by turning have been dated to 1400 BC which would make the art of wood turning over 3000 years old. Continue reading

jet jwl 1220 wood lathe review

Jet JWL 1220 Wood Lathe Review

The Jet JWL 1220 is a wood lathe that is very well liked by a lot of people, and the reasons why are pretty obvious. This is a well designed tool with a lot of features that people are looking for and it’s size and expansion capabilities make it very flexible. It really hits a sweet spot in terms of being powerful and heavy enough for fairly large projects while still being small enough to be (semi) portable and offer a good price for the feature set.

jet jwl 1220 wood lathe review

Jet JWL 1220 wood lathe

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Caring For Wood Lathe Tools

In order to get the most out of your lathe you will need sharp, well maintained tools. Wood lathe tools take a lot of abuse, much more so that most of the other equipment in your toolbox. This is simply as a result of the amount of wood they can go through in a short amount of time. Carving a large piece of wood that is turning at high velocity is enough to dull even the best chisel.

So what can you do to keep your tools sharp? The first and one of the most important things you should be doing is cleaning your chisels after each use. This small step will go a along way towards prolonging the lifetime of your tools and keeping them sharp. Taking good care of your chisel set with regular cleaning will result having to sharpen them less often and better results from your carving. Continue reading