Best Midi Lathes for Woodturners

Hey there, woodturning enthusiasts! Ready to turn your woodworking dreams into reality? The secret ingredient is none other than picking the Best Midi Lathes for Woodturners. It’s like choosing the right dance partner; the better the fit, the smoother the tango… with wood!

Midi lathes are the sweet spot for many crafters – not too big, not too small, just perfect for your garage or workshop. Imagine having nearly the same horsepower and torque as those full-size mammoths but in a nifty package that fits comfortably in your workspace. That’s midi lathes for you!

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Key perks of opting for a midi lathe include:

  • Space Efficiency: Fits neatly into a single cabinet bench—no need to build an annex for your equipment.
  • Power-packed Performance: Boasts similar power and efficiency levels to their larger counterparts, ensuring your projects never feel underpowered.
  • Cost-effective: With midi lathes, you get professional capabilities without breaking the bank. Your wallet will thank you.

Whether it’s pens or pepper mills, bowls or balusters, having the right midi lathe by your side can elevate your woodturning projects from ‘meh’ to ‘masterpiece’! So let’s dive into the world of midi lathes and find that perfect match for you.

Understanding Midi Lathes

Diving into the world of woodturning without the right sidekick can be like trying to carve a masterpiece with a butter knife. That’s where midi lathes come in, straddling the line between their mini cousins and the Herculean full-size lathes. With the right midi lathe by your side, you’ll be spinning wood into gold—or at least, into beautiful bowls and baubles—in no time!

Key Features to Consider When Buying a Midi Lathe

When scouting for your perfect midi lathe partner, you’ll bump into a few key features that can make or break your woodturning escapades. Let’s chip away at these features one by one:

1. Motor Power and Performance Capability

  • Horsepower (HP): Think of this as the stallion power behind your lathe. More horsepower means more oomph for tougher projects.
  • Variable Speed: A must-have for any respectable midi lathe. It lets you adjust on the fly, so whether you’re slow dancing or doing the twist with your wood, you’ve got the rhythm.
  • Torque: The secret sauce that keeps your wood spinning smoothly even when carving gets tough.

2. Swing Size and Spindle Capacity

  • Swing Over Bed: This is no bedtime story; it’s the maximum diameter of wood that can take a spin on your lathe.
  • Distance Between Centers: Get ready for some long-winded fun! This measures how lengthy your workpiece can be.

3. Construction and Stability

  • Material Matters: Cast iron brings its A-game to reduce vibration, giving you silky smooth operation.
  • Weighty Wisdom: Heavier can be better to keep things steady, but remember, if you plan on moving workshops more often than furniture, consider portability.

4. Speed Control Mechanism

  • Electronic Variable Speed: Imagine having a magic wand to dial in the exact rotation speed—well, this is it!
  • Pulley System: For those who like to get hands-on, changing belts might be your jam for adjusting speeds.

5. Additional Accessories and Attachments

  • Faceplates and Chucks: These are like the many hats of lathes; they let you handle all sorts of projects with flair.
  • Tool Rests: Because even your chisels need a break sometimes—and precision positioning.

Examining Top Midi Lathe Features Through Examples

Let’s put these features into real-world context:

Motor Power: You wouldn’t bring a toy car to a drag race, right? Similarly, opting for a midi lathe with at least 3/4 HP guarantees you won’t stall mid-turn when tackling denser woods.

Swing Over Bed: Got big dreams of grand bowls? Ensure your midi lathe has a swing over the bed wide enough to cradle those ambitions—typically, around 12 inches should have you covered.

Stability is Key: A wobbly table makes for messy meals just as much as it does for messy cuts. Choosing a midi lathe built like an ox ensures that every slice is as clean as a whistle.

Speed Control: Just like cruising in your car, control over speed lets you adapt—smooth sailing through softwoods or slowing down when hardwood gets tough.

Accessorize Wisely: With attachments like riser blocks for extra height or bed extensions for added length, customizing your midi lathe means never turning down a project because it’s ‘too big’ or ‘too complicated.’

Picking Your Midi Lathe Partner

Remember, picking out a midi lathe isn’t about finding the biggest or shiniest model—it’s about matching its features to what dances through your woodturning dreams. Whether it’s crafting delicate pens or robust table legs, these key features guide you to the best choice.

Top Brands in the Midi Lathe Market

When it comes to midi lathes, not all brands are created equal. Some have stood the test of time, consistently delivering top-notch performance and durability. Let’s dive into the details of these champions in the midi lathe market:

JetJet is a well-respected name in the world of woodturning with a broad range of machines that are both user-friendly and high-performing. Renowned for their smooth operation and solid construction, Jet midi lathes are a favorite among professionals and hobbyists alike. The JET JWL-1221VS, for instance, has earned accolades for its ability to turn bowls with precision.
DeltaDelta has been a force to reckon with in woodworking tools since 1919. Known for combining power, innovation, and affordability, Delta midi lathes provide excellent value for money. The Delta 46-460 is a particularly popular model due to its robust 1-HP motor and electronic variable speed control – all at a price that won’t break the bank.
RikonRikon is synonymous with reliability and quality when it comes to midi lathes. Their lathes feature sturdy construction and offer great power at an affordable cost. The RIKON 70-150VSR is highly rated for its enhanced torque and power, making it a cost-effective alternative to more expensive models like the Jet 1221vs.
GrizzlyGrizzly, another industry heavyweight, offers midi lathes that strike a balance between functionality and affordability. Their T25920 model is favored by spindle workers for its ample motor power (3/4 HP) and impressive swing capacity (12” x 18”). Despite being somewhat limited for bowl turning due to its high minimum speed (650 RPM), the Grizzly T25920 is a strong contender in the midi lathe market.
WenWen has made a name for itself by providing budget-friendly midi lathes without compromising on quality. Their 3424 model offers a decent swing size and bed length, making it an ideal choice for beginners or those on a tight budget.
Table showing top brands making Midi Lathes

When choosing between these top brands, remember that each has its strengths and weaknesses. The key is to find the one that best matches your woodturning needs and budget constraints. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a budding woodturner, these brands have something to offer.

Top 5 Best Midi Lathes for Woodturners in 2023

1. Grizzly T25920 12″ x 18″ Variable-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe

Best Overall: Grizzly T25920 12″ x 18″

Grizzly T25920 Best Midi Lathe
  • 12″ swing and 18″ between centers
  • Horsepower: 3/4HP
  • 9-1/2″ swing over tool rest base
  • Speed range: 300-3700 RPM (Variable Spindle Speeds)
  • Tool rest width: 5-7/8″
  • Spindle size: 1″ x 8 TPI RH
  • Digital spindle speed indicator
  • Spindle and tailstock taper: MT #2


The Grizzly T25920 Midi Lathe stands out as a robust companion for woodturners aiming to spin up some creativity. This model is a whiz when it comes to spindle work, and though it may not be the belle of the ball for non-round bowl blanks due to its lowest speed, it’s still a formidable contender in the midi lathe arena.

Key Features

  • Variable Speed Control: Flexibility at your fingertips! Dial in the perfect speed for your project from 300 to 3700 RPM.
  • Digital Readout: Keep an eye on those revolutions per minute with an easy-to-read digital display.
  • Sturdy Construction: Built like a tank with cast iron construction, ensuring minimal vibration and maximum steadiness.

Motor Power and Specifications

  • Motor: A mighty 3/4 HP motor that powers through woodturning tasks without breaking a sweat.
  • Speed Range: An adaptable speed range spanning from 650 RPM all the way up to a brisk 3800 RPM.

Swing Size and Bed Length

  • Swing Over Bed: A generous 12 inches, giving you ample space for medium-sized projects.
  • Distance Between Centers: Roomy at 18 inches, ideal for a range of woodworking endeavors.

Pros and Cons


  • Sturdy build quality minimizes wobble and dance moves on your workbench.
  • Variable speed allows you to adapt on the fly, great for finding the sweet spot for each project.
  • Digital speed readout – no more guessing games with how fast you’re going!


  • The lowest speed setting might still be too fast for some delicate operations or awkwardly shaped pieces
  • At only 3/4 HP, while sufficient for many tasks, it may lack the grunt needed for more demanding applications.

For those just starting their woodturning journey or looking to upgrade their current setup without breaking the bank, discovering the best wood lathe for beginners in 2023 could offer some insights into user-friendly features and compact designs that are perfect for small workshops.

Woodturning is both an art and a science; it’s about finding harmony between the tool and the craftsman. For more insights from someone who has been around the block (or lathe) a few times, my experiences might resonate with you. You can learn from my stories of camaraderie with my trusty lathe on my author page.

The Grizzly T25920 is just the beginning of our exploration of midi lathes that are turning heads this year.

2. Delta 46-460 Variable-Speed MIDI Lathe

Best Performance: Delta 46-460 MIDI Lathe

Delta 46-460 Variable-Speed MIDI Lathe
  • 12.5″ swing and 16.5″ between centers
  • Horsepower: 1 HP, 1,725 rpm motor
  • Forward and Reversing function
  • Electronic variable Speed with three-pulley speed ranges 
  • Patented belt tensioning system
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Weight: 97 lbs

When it comes to midi lathes that pack a punch, the Delta 46-460 stands out in the crowd. Known for its robust build and reliable performance, this midi lathe is a favorite among woodturners who demand quality without breaking the bank.

Key Features

  • Electronic Variable Speed: With three pulley-speed ranges, you can dial in the exact speed needed for your project.
  • Patented Belt Tensioning System: This allows quick changes of speed and ensures consistent belt tension and maximum power transfer.
  • Forward and Reverse Functions: Improves the finish by allowing turners to achieve a superior finish.
  • 12.5-inch Swing Capacity: Offers one of the largest swing capacities in its class, making it possible to turn larger projects with ease.

Motor Power and Specifications

The Delta 46-460 is engineered with a 1 HP max, 1,725 RPM motor, delivering ample power for various woodturning tasks. The electronic variable speed control offers ranges from 250 to 4,000 RPM, providing the versatility needed for intricate work or roughing out billets.

Swing Size and Bed Length

With a swing over bed size of 12.5 inches and between centers measuring 16.5 inches, this midi lathe provides enough space for most turning projects while still maintaining a compact footprint.

Pros and Cons


  • Strong 1 HP motor suitable for a wide range of projects
  • Large swing capacity which allows for bigger workpieces
  • Electronic variable speed with three different ranges
  • The ability to run in forward or reverse increases versatility in finishing


  • At around 97 lbs, it’s not as portable as some other models
  • The price point might be slightly high for hobbyists on a tight budget

Woodturners looking for more insights into harmoniously working with their lathes might find Burt Miller’s musings quite enlightening. Burt, an experienced woodturner, shares his wisdom on keeping your lathe and yourself in perfect harmony. His advice is invaluable for those looking to deepen their understanding of this craft.

And that’s the scoop on the Delta 46-460! It’s sturdy, has great features, and is trusted by woodworkers who like their tools as reliable as their morning coffee—strong and ready to kickstart some serious creativity.

3. JET JWL-1221 VS Midi Lathe

Best for Turning Bowls: JET JWL-1221 VS

JET JWL-1221 VS Midi Lathe
  • 12.5″ Swing, 20.5″ Between Centers
  • Horsepower: 1 HP
  • MT2 Spindle Taper
  • 3 Variable speed ranges (RPM): (60-900, 110-1800, 220-3600)
  • 1″ x 8 TPI
  • Weight: 121 lbs
  • Warranty: 5 years

Woodturners, prepare to rev up your creative engines because the JET JWL-1221VS is a true masterpiece in the realm of midi lathes. Known for its exceptional control and versatility, this lathe takes your woodturning to new heights—and let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a good power-up story?


The JET JWL-1221VS isn’t just any midi lathe; it’s like the Swiss Army knife in your toolshed. Designed with thoughtful engineering and robust construction, this midi lathe has quickly become a favorite among woodturners striving for precision and reliability.

Key Features

  • Innovative Speed Control: With a patent-pending ratchet-style belt tension system, adjusting speeds becomes as easy as turning a knob.
  • Optimal Design: The controls are conveniently located, ergonomically designed, and offer unrivaled speed control—making it less of a machine and more of a woodturning partner.
  • Integrated 24 Position Indexing: Improved detailing on projects is at your fingertips, allowing for fluting and veining that’s nothing short of impressive.

Motor Power and Specifications

The heart of the JET JWL-1221VS is its mighty 1 HP motor that delivers smooth and consistent torque at all speeds. This beast of a motor ensures that even the most challenging woods turn as if they were butter.

  • Motor: 1 HP
  • Voltage: 115V
  • Phase: Single
  • Speed Range (RPM): 60 – 3600

Swing Size and Bed Length

Let’s talk size—the swing over bed is an ample 12 inches, while the distance between centers runs to a comfortable 20.5 inches. That means larger bowls or spindles can be accommodated without breaking a sweat.

  • Swing Over Bed: 12″
  • Between Centers: 20.5″

Why It’s Ideal for Turning Bowls

Bowls can be quite the divas of the woodturning world, demanding finesse and control. The JET JWL-1221VS understands this well with its slow start-up speed. It allows you to handle even the most unbalanced bowl blanks with confidence—ensuring that your bowls have a turn for the better!

“The JET JWL-1221VS understands the needs of woodturners when it comes to turning bowls. Its slow start-up speed gives you the control required to handle unbalanced bowl blanks effectively.”

4. Wen 3424 Midi Lathe

Best for Beginners: Wen 3424 Midi Lathe

WEN LA3424 wood lathe
  • 12″ swing and 18″ between centers
  • Motor: 4.5 amps
  • Speed Range: 520 to 3,400 RPM
  • 8-inch tool rest
  • Spindle size: MT2
  • Weight: 78.9 lbs

When you’re just starting out on your woodturning journey, the Wen 3424 Midi Lathe is like a friendly guide that holds your hand and shows you the way. Designed with the budget-conscious beginner in mind, this machine offers a mix of basic features and solid performance.

Key Features

  • Motor: 4.5 Amp
  • Swing Size: 12 inches
  • Bed Length: 18 inches
  • Forward operation only
  • Non-variable speed with five-speed options (520,900,1400,2150 or 3400 RPM)

The Wen 3424 Midi Lathe is designed to fit into any small workshop space without sacrificing functionality. Its motor power may not match up to the likes of Grizzly T25920 or JET JWL-1221VS, but it holds its own given its petite stature and friendly price tag.

Motor Power and Specifications

Don’t let its size fool you; this little workhorse packs a punch with its powerful 4.5 Amp motor. Though it doesn’t offer variable speed like some of its pricier counterparts, it does provide five speed settings ranging from as low as 520 RPM to an impressive high of 3400 RPM.

Swing Size and Bed Length

The Wen 3424 Midi Lathe isn’t about to win any awards for size. But it’s not about size; it’s how you use it! With a swing size of 12 inches and a bed length of 18 inches, it provides adequate capacity for most beginners’ projects.

Low Budget Option for Beginners

If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of woodturning or working on a tight budget, the Wen 3424 offers an affordable entry point. It’s a low-risk investment that still delivers enough power and features to help you learn the ropes and create some beautiful pieces.

The Wen 3424 Midi Lathe is a charming little machine, but it’s not without its quirks. It’s best suited to smaller, less demanding projects due to motor power limitations and a tendency for more frequent overheating. Also, it’s not recommended for turning bowls.

But don’t let that deter you! This little lathe is still a fantastic tool for those looking to learn basic woodturning techniques. It’s also great for crafting smaller items like pens, rings or tiny vessels.

So there you have it – a thorough look at the Wen 3424 Midi Lathe. It may not be the most powerful or feature-rich option on our list of best midi lathes, but it’s a solid choice for beginners and those working on a budget.

5. RIKON 70-150VSR Midi Lathe

Best Value for Money: RIKON 70-150VSR

RIKON Power Tools VSR MIDI Lathe
  • 12.5″ swing and 20″ between centers
  • Horsepower: 1 HP
  • Electronic variable speed controls
  • Digital RPM readout
  • Weight: 95 lbs
  • Forward and reverse rotation
  • Ball-bearing construction

RIKON 70-150VSR, the name rolls off the tongue like a sleek sports car, doesn’t it? And trust me, it is every bit as impressive in the world of midi lathes! So, buckle up as we explore this beast of a machine.


The RIKON 70-150VSR Midi Lathe is an upgraded version of RIKON’s previous model (70-100). Known for its enhanced torque and power, it’s like the little sibling who outshines the older ones at family gatherings. Not only is it cheaper than the Jet 1221vs, but it also has a reputation for punching above its weight class.

Key Features

  • LED display
  • Forward/Reverse function with a 24-position index head
  • 1″ diameter tool rest

It is jam-packed with features that make woodturning a joy rather than a chore. The LED display allows you to keep track of your speed settings easily. Its forward/reverse function coupled with the 24-position index head offers you a level of versatility that few other midi lathes can match.

Motor Power and Specifications

  • Swing over: 12.5″
  • Centers: 20″
  • Motor: 1 HP, 1 Phase, 120V, 60 Hz
  • Speed: Electronic variable (250 – 750, 550 – 1,650, 1,300 – 3,850 RPM)
  • Weight: 95 lbs

With its powerful motor and variable speed capability, this lathe can handle any project you throw at it with ease. Its compact size and reasonable weight make it easy to fit into your workshop without requiring any major renovations.

Upgraded Version with Enhanced Torque and Power

Remember when I said this was an upgraded model? Well, here’s where it shines. The enhanced torque and power mean that this lathe can handle larger projects with ease. So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, you’ll find that the RIKON 70-150VSR is up to the task.


  • Compact size
  • Enhanced torque and power
  • Excellent customer service


  • Controller circuit board and indexing mechanism issues in 2014/15 (since resolved by Rikon)

So there we have it, folks. The RIKON 70-150VSR is a powerhouse in a small package. It has had some issues in the past but Rikon has taken prompt action to resolve them and there have been no negative reviews since.

It’s like the superhero who learnt from their previous battles and came back stronger! It’s one of the best midi lathes out there for both beginners and experienced woodturners alike.

Upgrading Your Midi Lathe: Accessories to Enhance Performance

There’s something oddly satisfying about turning a raw piece of wood into a beautiful work of art using your midi lathe, isn’t there? But did you know that you could go from ‘satisfying’ to ‘absolutely exhilarating’ just by upgrading your midi lathe with a few accessories?

Yep, you read it right. With a few enhancements, your midi lathe can make a quantum leap in performance and versatility. Let’s dive into the world of midi lathe upgrades and see how these can lead to better results.

Wooden Riser Block for Increased Turning Capacity

Ever tried to turn a large bowl only to realize your midi lathe doesn’t have the swing capacity for it? It’s like trying to fit an elephant into a mini-cooper! A wooden riser block can come in handy here by increasing the swing size of your lathe. It’s like giving your mini-cooper an upgrade to an SUV!

The riser block fits between the headstock and bed of your lathe, raising the spindle center relative to the bed. This increases the swing size, allowing you to turn larger diameter pieces without any fuss. Just remember, while this gives you more room to play with larger pieces, make sure not to overload your motor.

Extra Tool Rest for Versatility in Woodturning Techniques

Picture this: You’re working on a complex piece that requires multiple tool changes and every time you change tools, you also need to adjust the tool rest. It’s enough to drive anyone nuts! An extra tool rest (or two) can save you from this frustrating dance.

By having multiple tool rests set up at different angles and heights, you can switch between different techniques more smoothly. No more constant adjustments or wasted time – just seamless creativity flowing from your mind through your hands onto the wood.

Bed Extension for Turning Longer Spindles and Table Legs

Sometimes, length does matter. Especially when you’re trying to turn that perfect table leg or a long spindle and your midi lathe bed simply isn’t long enough. It’s like trying to paint the Mona Lisa on a postage stamp!

A bed extension can be your saving grace here. It attaches to the end of your existing lathe bed, giving you that precious extra length you need for your masterpiece. Just ensure that your motor has enough power to handle the additional load.

In essence, upgrading your midi lathe with these accessories can unlock a whole new world of possibilities. Not only do they enhance the performance of your lathe but also add versatility to your woodturning repertoire.

So go ahead, give these upgrades a spin and watch as your midi lathe transforms into a full-size powerhouse! Just remember – with great power comes great responsibility (and yes, that was indeed a Spiderman reference!).

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

The journey to find the perfect midi lathe for your woodturning projects can feel overwhelming with so many options available. But fear not! With the information provided in this guide, you now have the tools to make a confident decision.

Understanding Your Needs

When it comes to choosing a midi lathe, it’s important to consider your specific requirements and how different features can meet them. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  1. Motor power: Determine the amount of power you need based on the size and type of projects you’ll be working on.
  2. Swing size: Consider the maximum diameter of workpieces that the lathe can accommodate.
  3. Bed length: Think about the length of stock you’ll be turning and choose a lathe with a bed that can support it.
  4. Price point: Set a budget and prioritize models that fall within your range.

Top Midi Lathes for Woodturners

While there are many great options out there, here are some standout midi lathes worth considering:

  • Grizzly T25920: A versatile choice with solid performance across different applications.
  • Delta 46-460: A reliable workhorse favored by professionals in the woodworking industry.
  • JET JWL-1221VS: The go-to lathe for bowl turning, thanks to its impressive features and precision.
  • Wen 3424: An affordable option that doesn’t compromise on quality.
  • RIKON 70-150VSR: Known for its exceptional torque and power, making it suitable for demanding projects.

Upgrading Your Midi Lathe

It’s important to note that midi lathes aren’t limited to their default capabilities. You can enhance their performance by adding accessories such as:

  • Wooden riser blocks: Increase the distance between the lathe’s bed and headstock/tailstock, allowing for larger turnings.
  • Extra tool rests: Attach additional tool rests at different positions for added convenience.
  • Bed extensions: Extend the length of the lathe’s bed to handle longer workpieces.

So whether you’re a seasoned woodturner or just starting out, there’s a midi lathe out there that’s perfect for you. Armed with this guide, you’re now ready to unleash your creativity and bring your woodworking projects to life. Happy turning!

FAQs(Frequently Asked Questions)

What are the key perks of opting for a midi lathe?

Key perks of opting for a midi lathe include space efficiency, as it fits neatly into a single cabinet bench, and understanding midi lathes, which are essential when diving into the world of woodturning.

What are the key features to consider when buying a midi lathe?

When buying a midi lathe, important features to consider include motor power and performance capability, swing size and spindle capacity, construction and stability, speed control mechanism, and additional accessories and attachments.

What is the horsepower (HP) and its significance in a midi lathe?

Horsepower (HP) in a midi lathe represents the stallion power behind its motor. It is an important factor to consider when evaluating the motor power and performance capability of the lathe.

What is swing over bed in relation to a midi lathe?

Swing over bed refers to the maximum diameter of a workpiece that can be turned on the lathe. It is an essential factor to consider when evaluating the swing size and spindle capacity of a midi lathe.

What is the significance of electronic variable speed in a midi lathe?

Electronic variable speed in a midi lathe provides the ability to adjust and control the speed of the lathe’s spindle, offering versatility and precision in woodturning projects.

What are some top brands in the midi lathe market?

Some top brands in the midi lathe market include Jet, Delta, Rikon, Grizzly, and Wen. Each brand offers unique features and quality construction tailored to woodturning enthusiasts.

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