Picking the best cheap wood lathe

If you’re in the market for an inexpensive wood lathe we’re taking a look at the best lathes at different price points.

Under 100$

Risky territory here. If you have less than 100$ to spend but you need to do some woodturning there’s not a lot of great options. Still if you have a drill press or even a hand power drill there’s a few things to look at.


#1 Shop Fox D4088 Lathe Attachment for drill press

This kit from Shop Fox will let you adapt your drill press into a vertical wood lathe. It comes with a 12″ toolrest and required centers. How much you can get out of this set depends on what kind of drill press you have. This is a decent option if you have a pressing need to do some woodturning, but don’t want to invest much money, but for anything else I would suggest stepping up to a benchtop lathe. Can be had for less than 50 bucks on amazon.

#2 Grizzly H2669 Hobby Lathe

This tool from Grizzly will get you up and turning with a power drill. Comes with a toolrest and centers. Should be functional for small projects, but compatibility with different drills can be hit or miss. People have had good results with Grizzly and DeWalt drills. Click here for the product details

Under 200$

Well not really, but close enough. There’s only one lathe that fits into this category, but overall I think this is the best cheap wood lathe on the market in terms of striking a balance between features, quality and most importantly price.

#1 SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe

List price is 245$ but often available for just over 200$, this is just outside of the price range, but is a real step up from anything below it. For you money you get a proper wood lathe, with a 1/3 HP motor, 12″ between centers and 8″ swing over the bed. This is going to be much more reliable for turning small to mid size pieces than the drill adapters listed above and should provide a much better experience.

Under 500$

Options for a really good cheap wood lathe really start to open up in this price range, there’s a bunch of high quality lathes at this price. Pick and choose based on the size and feature set you’re looking for.

#1 Jet JML 1015

jetlatheOne of the highest quality mini lathes on the market. Has a 1/2 HP 6 speed motor which is quite powerful for the size, 10″ swing over the bed and ~15″ between centers. This lathe is very well built and runs great typical of Jet. Great choice for pen turning, lures or any other small projects. Listing on amazon.

#2 Shop Fox W1836

If you’re looking for a slightly larger lathe in this price range, the W1836 Benchtop lathe might be a good fit. This lathe features a 12″ swing over the bed and a 3/4 HP motor which will expand the possibilities of what you can turn compared to a smaller lathe. Typical of Shop Fox you get a great feature set for the money. Expandable up to 38 inches with an extension this is a very good value.


#3 RIKON 70-100

rikonlatheAnother strong entry in the sub 500$ category. This lathe has very high quality workmanship, similar to the JET 1015 but is a little heavier which will help reduce vibration, and a little larger at 12″ swing and 16″ between centers. This is a very popular and well reviewed lathe for good reason. Check out the amazon listing or our reviews of the best mini lathes to read more about the Rikon.

That sums up our look at low cost wood lathes, I hope you found something helpful. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.