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If you’re a beginner or intermediate woodworker looking for a reliable and efficient midi lathe, you’ve come to the right place. Midi lathes are a popular choice for woodturners due to their adequate motor power, comfortable price range, and compact size.
In this guide, we will explore the top 6 midi lathes available, discussing their features, benefits, and drawbacks. Whether you need a lathe for pen turning, bowl-making, or small projects, we’ve got you covered. So let’s dive in and find the perfect midi lathe under $1000 for your woodworking needs.
Brief Overview of Midi Lathes
Midi lathes are a popular choice among woodturners due to their adequate motor power, compact size, and affordable price range. These lathes typically have a bed swing of 12″ to 14″, providing ample torque, speed, and horsepower similar to full-size lathes. Despite their smaller size, midi lathes can easily fit into a cabinet bench, saving valuable workshop space. Below are our top midi lathe recommendations.
Our Top 6 Midi Lathes For Woodturning (Reviews)
Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe
WEN LA3424 Benchtop Lathe
RIKON Midi Lathe (RIK-70-150VSR)
Grizzly Industrial T25920 Midi Lathe
Shop Fox W1836 Midi Wood Lathe
PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Lathe
This Delta Midi Lathe is a versatile and powerful lathe that exceeds the capabilities of typical mini lathes. It features a 1 HP single-phase induction motor with ample torque to drive the spindle at 1,750 RPM, making it suitable for handling highly figured woods. It also has a variable speed range, allowing you to slow it down to 250 RPM for larger projects.
What we like about this lathe is its unique belt-tensioning mechanism, which enables rapid speed changes while maintaining optimal power transmission and extending tool life. With a maximum turning swing capacity of 12 ½ inches, you can tackle ambitious projects such as large bowls. Additionally, the lathe comes with an extension bed that extends the overall bed length to 42 inches, allowing you to work with longer pieces of wood.
Unlike many lathes, this midi lathe also offers a forward-reverse function, providing greater accuracy and precision. The cast iron body adds strength and durability while reducing vibrations. Backed by a five-year warranty, the Delta Industrial 46-460 is suitable for woodworkers of all skill levels, delivering fast and smooth results. Whether you’re turning pens, ornaments, tool handles, or goblets, this lathe will meet your needs.
The WEN LA3424 Benchtop Lathe is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t compromise on performance. It features a powerful 4.5A motor that provides maximum torque, allowing you to tackle even the most challenging woodturning projects. With five different operating speeds ranging from 520 to 3400 RPM, you have the versatility to work with various materials and produce different finishes quickly.
This lathe offers a 12″ swing and an 18″ bed length, making it suitable for handling a variety of woodturning projects, from small bowls to large platters. The digital RPM readout is a useful feature that helps you monitor the speed and ensure you’re at the desired RPMs for optimal results. The pivoting belt cover provides easy access for belt speed changes while ensuring safety during operation.
Weighing only 79 pounds, the WEN LA3424 is portable and easy to store, making it ideal for woodworkers with limited space. It comes with a headstock spur center, tailstock cup center, a flat wrench, two hex wrenches, a knockout bar, a 3-1/8″ faceplate for non-spindle work, and an accessory holder.
We noticed that the WEN LA3424 does not come with additional attachments like a faceplate, however, we still feel it offers exceptional value for its price. Whether you’re a professional woodworker or a hobbyist, this budget-friendly lathe is definitely worth considering.
The RIKON MIDI Lathe (70-150VSR) is a powerful and versatile lathe that offers excellent value for its price. With a swing capacity of 12.5 inches and a maximum between-center distance of 20 inches, this lathe provides ample space for a variety of woodturning projects. It features a 1 HP motor with variable speed control, allowing you to adjust the speed from 250 to 3,850 RPM, giving you full control over your turning operations.
One of the notable features of this lathe is its electronic variable speed control, which offers precise speed adjustments for different turning applications. The headstock and tailstock both have #2 MT taper, ensuring a secure hold and excellent alignment. The lathe also has a forward and reverse function, enabling you to achieve accurate and smooth finishes.
We found the RIKON VSR MIDI Lathe to be durable, with a sturdy cast iron bed, headstock, and tailstock. This construction helped reduce vibrations and ensured stability during operation. It weighs approximately 95 pounds, providing sufficient stability for turning larger workpieces.
While the lathe offers plenty of power and functionality, there have been some concerns about the belt and motor overheating. It’s advisable to keep some spare belts on hand and be mindful of the motor’s temperature during extended use.
The Grizzly T25920 Midi Lathe offers a great combination of size, power, and affordability. With a swing capacity of 12 inches and a between-center distance of 18 inches, it provides enough space to tackle a variety of woodturning projects. It is equipped with a 3/4 HP motor that delivers ample power for smooth and efficient turning.
This lathe features variable speed control, allowing you to adjust the speed from 650 to 3,800 RPM, providing flexibility for different woodturning applications. It has a #2MT spindle and tailstock taper, ensuring a secure and precise hold. The lathe also comes with a 5/8″ tool rest for additional stability during turning.
We feel the lower minimum speed of 650 RPM may be a little too high for turning uneven bowl blanks, however, the motor’s torque compensates for this, making it still possible to work with them. It is recommended to keep your woodworking chisels sharp for better results. The lathe is also capable of handling larger spindle work like table legs, baseball bats, and more.
With its durable build and reliable performance, the Grizzly T25920 Lathe offers great value for its price. It comes with a one-year warranty for added peace of mind. If you’re looking for a compact and capable lathe at an affordable price point, this machine is definitely worth considering.
The Shop W1836 Wood Lathe is a versatile and feature-packed lathe that woodturners can appreciate. It is equipped with a powerful 3/4 HP motor that provides ample power for various turning projects. The lathe offers a 12″ swing and a 15″ between centers capacity, allowing you to work on a range of project sizes.
One of the standout features of this lathe is its variable speed control, which allows you to adjust the speed from 700 to 3,200 RPM. This flexibility enables you to work with different types of materials and achieve desired results. We love that the lathe comes with an automated RPM display screen, making speed adjustments effortless.
With 24 index points in 15-degree intervals, the W1836 allows for equally spaced labeling or cutting, opening up new possibilities for turning designs. Additionally, the lathe comes with a #2MT live center, enabling quick spindle turning. The tailstock also features a cam-action clamping mechanism for a secure hold.
The W1836 is designed with convenience in mind, as it comes with a tool holder for storing hand tools and other accessories. The lathe weighs 85 pounds and features two convenient handles, making it easy to lift and carry.
The PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Lathe is a reliable and versatile option for woodturners of all levels. With its powerful 1 HP motor and 12-inch swing capacity, this lathe is capable of handling a variety of woodturning projects, from small bowls to large platters. The variable speed control allows you to adjust the speed to suit your project and material, ranging from 500 to 3,200 RPM.
One of the notable features of this lathe is the digital RPM readout, which shows the speed of the cutting bit in real-time, allowing you to maintain precise control and achieve optimal results. The lathe also features a forward and reverse function, providing versatility and allowing for smoother finishes.
Weighing only 106 pounds, the PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS is relatively lightweight and portable, making it easy to transport and store. The lathe comes with a 16-inch distance between centers, we had to purchase a bed extension separately for turning longer pieces of wood.
While the KWL-1218VS offers excellent functionality, one drawback is the lack of additional attachments, such as a faceplate, which is available with other models. However, if you’re looking for a high-quality lathe from a reputable manufacturer, this is definitely one to consider.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between a mini lathe, midi lathe, and a full-size lathe?
The main difference lies in their size and capacity. Mini lathes are smaller and more compact, typically with a swing capacity of 8 to 10 inches. Midi lathes, like the ones mentioned in this guide, are intermediate-sized lathes with a swing capacity of around 12 to 14 inches. They offer more power and versatility compared to mini lathes. Full-size lathes are larger and have a swing capacity of 16 inches or more, making them suitable for bigger and more complex woodturning projects.
It’s worth mentioning that there are other notable options like the NOVA 46300 Comet II and JET JWL-1221VS, which are highly regarded in the woodturning community. While we didn’t include them in this specific article, they have been covered in our mini wood lathe reviews.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, any of these top midi lathes will provide reliable and efficient performance for your woodturning projects.
Also, see our review of the best bench grinders for sharpening wood lathe tools.
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