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Best Wood Lathes For Turning Bowls 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews

Last Updated on August 30, 2020

a powerful machineIn woodworking, the lathe is one of the most valuable tools. Sure, you can finish a lot of projects without ever having to use one, but getting the same level of even, smooth results would take a lot of time and effort.

And, when it comes to projects like bowls, if you want a professional finish a lathe is essential. So, we know that the next step is to buy one, but figuring out what the best lathe for bowl turning is, is a lot harder than you might think.

Do you know where to start looking? What to look for? Well, we do, and that is why we decided to make this quick guide of the best options on the market at the moment.

Our Favorite Models Compared:

Image Product Details
Top Pick
Delta Industrial 46-460 Delta Industrial 46-460
  • Ingenious design
  • Well-constructed
  • 5-year warranty
  • Second place
    Jet JWL-1015 Jet JWL-1015
  • Not badly priced
  • Good for beginners
  • 5-year warranty
  • Best for the Money
    Third place
    RIKON Power Tools 70-105 RIKON Power Tools 70-105
  • Good quality
  • Solid construction
  • 5-year warranty
  • Shop Fox W1758 Shop Fox W1758
  • Solid construction
  • Powerful
  • Grizzly G0462 Grizzly G0462
  • Great design
  • Heavy duty
  • The 5 Best Wood Lathes For Turning Bowls – Reviews 2020:

    1. Delta Industrial 46-460 – Top Pick

    Delta Industrial 46-460

    Whether you want to try your hand at a bigger project, such as a sculpture, or a smaller one, like a bowl, our top pick should be yours as well. This is a midi lathe and extremely versatile. With an adjustable speed setting that tops out at 1725 RPM, this gives you all the power you want.

    But what really makes this special is the swing capacity of 12.5 inches – there isn’t another machine in the same class that can even come close.

    Another fantastic feature is that you can throw it into reverse by just flipping the switch. That means never having to adjust the project so that you can a smooth finish.

    Also unique to this model is the belt tensioning system that makes it possible for you to change speed without having to reset the belt first.

    It has a cast iron base, making it extremely durable and is backed by a 5-year warranty.

    • Ingenious design
    • Well-constructed
    • Full reverse mode is possible
    • Changing speeds is easy
    • 5-year warranty
    • In the higher price range
    • You must pay shipping costs if it must go in for repairs

    2. Jet JWL-1015 – The Runner-up

    Jet JWL-1015

    The runner-up, the Jet 1015 is a good starting lathe. It comes in at a very reasonable price and performs well. Unfortunately, because this is a mini-lathe, it is best suited to small or medium sized projects.

    It offers six different speeds with the maximum being 3975 RPM so it can spin faster than our top model. Unfortunately, they use a standard tension belt meaning that you will need to readjust it when you change speeds.

    They also don’t have the reverse feature that our top pick does. For these reasons, it would be better to save and get the more expensive version if you will be doing a lot of work with it.

    However, if you are just starting out and getting used to how a lathe works, this is a really good model, to begin with.

    The company does offer a five-year guarantee, and the construction is solid.

    • Not badly priced
    • Great quality
    • Good for beginners
    • Powerful
    • 5-year warranty
    • Limited range of projects
    • Adjusting speed means adjusting tension belt
    • No reverse option

    3. RIKON Power Tools 70-105 – Best for the Money

    RIKON Power Tools 70-105

    If you want a great lathe, and a good price, this is quite a steal of a deal. It is a no-frills option that does not quite measure up to our first two models, but it comes in at a great price.

    It is a mini-lathe that will handle smaller projects, and that is perfect for creating bowls. The highest speed obtainable is 3200 RPM so, in that respect at least, it does one-up our first choice. However, it does not have a tension belt that automatically adjusts or the reverse option.

    It comes in at a much better price than number 2 and is similar in terms of features but is just not as fast.

    So, we could not award it first place. However, for someone who is just starting out, or using it for smaller projects it is perfect. The bed, tailstock, and headstock are all cast iron in order to minimize vibrations, so this is no lightweight alternative.

    • Excellent machine for the money
    • Good quality
    • Good starter option
    • Powerful
    • Solid construction
    • 5-year warranty
    • No frills or special features

    Also check out: Best wood lathes – Our recommendations

    4. Shop Fox W1758

    Shop Fox W1758

    This comes in fourth on our list. It is not a bad alternative, and it is a midi lathe so should be able to handle larger projects, but you are paying as much as you would for the Delta and ending up with far fewer features.

    We also did not like the fact that the warranty on this was only two years. It does seem to be well-made and solid but it has no reverse feature, and the belt must be adjusted when the speed is.

    It does have a powerful motor and is capable of a maximum speed of 2400 RPM, which is faster than the Delta. However, when using a lathe, speed is not the only important specification.

    It is not quite as versatile when it comes to smaller projects because of the larger plate size. Replacing the plate is possible but difficult because of the non-standard post size.

    • Solid construction
    • Powerful
    • No reverse
    • You have to adjust the belt when you adjust the speed
    • Non-standard fittings are awkward to replace
    • Only a two-year warranty
    • Pricey for what you get

    5. Grizzly G0462

    Grizzly G0462

    There is only one suitable place for this option – out in the trash. While it kind of works, it is not built to last.

    For starters, this has one of the weirdest speed changing devices that we have ever seen. Instead of setting it to a preset speed, you exert pressure on the lever. First off, we don’t like this because you can never really be sure that the speed is consistent.

    Second, the design is terrible for the belt, meaning that the belt will need to be changed more often than normal. And, with this machine, that is about as easy as winning a fight with a grizzly bear.

    The headstock rotates in order to increase the swing feature, which is awesome until you realize that that the tool rest gets in the way at extreme settings. It also becomes as jittery as a June bug in June because of the spacing of the legs.

    • Someone thought hard about design features
    • None of their ideas panned out in practice
    • Machine is unstable
    • Won’t last long
    • Expensive
    • Tailstock does not line up properly

    Buyer’s Guide

    How do you choose which features are most important to you? Here is our quick guide about what to think about in this regard.

    What are the Projects to be Done?

    Are you going to be making small items like pens, or perhaps glasses? Then you don’t need a full-sized option; a bench model will do. If you want to do larger projects, you need a full-size or midi-lathe.

    How Much Space Do You Have?

    Floor models take up a fair amount of space. They are heavy and not easy to move. You need to think about this ahead of time. Make sure it will fit in your workshop.

    How Often Will You Use it?

    The bigger the lathe, the more versatile it is. If you want to do a lot of projects with it, consider giving up space for a bigger one.

    Variable Speed

    An option that offers variable speed adjustments is the most useful because you do not have to ensure that the piece if completely round to start off with. You can simply start to project off at a slower speed so that you can chip away the excess wood, and then increase the speed for finer results.

    Quality and Warranty

    You are spending a fair amount of money, so it makes sense to get the best quality you can afford. A cast iron bed will provide stability when in use and will last a long time.

    Check the warranty and warranty conditions when you buy. What happens if you need to return it? Do you have to take care of shipping? What is covered and what is not?

    A good company will offer a five-year warranty. Be wary of those that will not.


    For our money, the Delta Industrial 46-460 is the best all-rounder. It can be used to turn bowls but also applied to bigger projects as well. It costs a little more than the others but includes a reverse feature and allows you to change speeds without resetting the belt.

    If you plan to be using the machine a lot, these are very useful features.

    If you need something that is more budget-friendly, the RIKON Power Tools 70-105 is the best bet. It is a simpler machine but a solidly built one that gets the job done.

    Well, that’s all of it then. We hope that you had as much fun reading these reviews of bowl turning lathes as we did during the research phase and that you will find the information useful.

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    About the Author Adam Harris

    Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!