What’s the best full size wood lathe?

If you’re in the market for a large wood lathe we’re going to compare several different popular models from top manufacturers and provide an in depth look at the feature sets and specs of each one.

We’ll be looking at lathes that have swings of at least 16″ and more than 32″ center to center. Tools of this size tend to include motors at least 1.5 HP and in most cases there are extensions available if you need something with a bit more length. If you’re looking for something smaller you might be interested in this summary of mini wood lathes.

The full size wood lathes we’ll be looking at today are the W1758 by Shop Fox, the JWL 1642EVS from Jet Tools, the Powermatic 3520B and the Nova 1624-44 . These four lathes offer a lot of different features and cover a wide range of prices, so there should be a good fit for anyone.

Most of the major specs for each lathe are listed in the table below, with the top performer in the category highlghited. Swing listed here is the swing over the bed, the effective swing over the tools rest will be a bit smaller in each case. The review scores listed here are taken from Amazon.com and should be a pretty good indication of the overall quality and value of the lathe.

no Shop Fox W1758 JET JWL 1642EVS Powermatic 3520B Nova 1624-44
Swing 16" 16" 20" 16"
Length 46" 42" 34 1/2" 24"
Power 2 HP 2 HP 2 HP 1 1/2 HP
Speeds 10 VS VS 8
Range 600-2400 RPM 50-3200 RPM 50-3200 RPM 215-3600 RPM
Weight 307 lbs. 410 lbs. 681 lbs. 270 lbs
MSRP  915$ 2778$ 4830$ 1500$
Reviews 3.8/5 4.7/5 4.2/5 4.2/5
Warranty 2 years 5 years 5 years 5 years*

After looking at all the specs and reviews here’s our ranking of each of the lathes.

#1 - JET JWL 1642EVS

The Jet JWL 1642EVS

The Jet JWL 1642EVS

Very hard to pick a winner here as there are a lot of good contenders. The Jet gets points for it’s powerful 2 HP motor and sturdy construction. It’s also available in a 115V 1.5 HP three phase motor if you don’t have the connection for 230V. Full 5 year warranty tells you that this is a durable lathe that you can expect to perform well for many years. The deciding factor here was the great review scores and the lower price compared to the Powermatic.  Jet is a very well respected brand and they’ve produced a very well balanced performer that will suit a lot of people. Click here for the full listing.

#2 - Powermatic 3520B

A close second, this lathe from Powermatic is a beast of a tool weighing in at almost 700 lbs. Biggest strength of this heavy duty lathe vs. competition is the 20″ swing, which can also be expanded. A little shorter center to center than the Jet, but again this is expandable. The heavy frame of this lathe helps to keep vibration down and the 2 HP motor powers through big pieces. Only reason this dropped to 2nd place is the high price, if money is not a factor this could be the best lathe for you.  Details are available on Amazon.

#3 - Shop Fox W1758

The W1758 from shop fox really outshines the competition in one important area: cost. Available for less than 1000$ this lathe offers a great value for you money. The feature set is comparable to tools that cost 5x more. The hit comes in finish and workmanship, as well as weight. If you don’t mind compromising on those attributes you’ll be getting a solid cast iron body and a 2 HP motor that will get the job done. These lathes can be found in the 800$ price range on sale, check the Amazon listing for a deal.

#4 - Nova 1624-44

Rounding out our list is the 1624-44 form Nova. This lathe isn’t leading in any categories, but it’s by no means a bad choice. A little more expensive than the Shop Fox, but still a good value. This lathe features a 360 degree swivel head and a 1 1/2 HP motor with 8 speeds from 215-3600 RPM. Comes with a full warranty for 2 years and a further 3 year limited warranty. Read some more reviews here.