3 Best Lathe for Bowl Turning To Create Beautiful Bowls

Picking the best lathe for bowl turning is tricky because they aren't commonly used machines that you can ask most of your friends for a recommendation for, they are specialist and niche!

Plus they can be dangerous if used incorrectly or if the wrong machine is used so you need to pick the best machine from day 1 to avoid any safety issues and so you can get the job done quickly and effective.

With the end result being a beautiful bowl you can be proud of.

That's why I share the top lathes for bowl turning here...

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Top Lathes For Bowl Turning

OUR TOP PICK

PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander 12' Variable Speed Midi Lathe

If you’re looking for a powerful lathe that’s ideal for bowl turning, look no further than the PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Variable Speed Lathe.

This lathe features a 1 horsepower variable speed motor, so you can expect the optimal performance in this small but mighty machine. 

With your purchase you will get a lathe with two different belt positions.

Meaning that you can change your speed from 500 to 1800 RPM to 1950 to 3800 RPM.

This means that you will get a lot of usability out of it.

It’s got a pretty decent swing too of 12 inches over the bed.

It has a base consisting of a durable cast iron material, and this means that you can expect the lathe to last for a long time. 

With this machine you can get plenty of control, and there’s even a digital display so you can ensure you are working with a completely specific speed for your projects.

With your purchase you will also get additional things such as 4 hex wrenches, tool rests, a Phillips screwdriver and PPE safety goggles.

You can be sure that you are most certainly getting value for your money.

Unfortunately there is one minor issue - the machine doesn’t come with very good instructions, which means that putting it together can be a bit of a challenge.

Pros

  • Digital display so it's easy to see at a glance what's happening including speed. 

  • Powerful so you can switch to different speeds.

  • Comes with additional accessories for ease of use

Cons

  • It can be challenging to put together.

  • Poor instructions make it difficult to get started with no prior experience. 

EDITORS CHOICE

Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

The Delta Industrial Midi Lathe won’t let you down if you’re looking for a high quality lathe.

This is a 1 hosepower lathe with a 1725 RPM motor, perfect for a wide range of different things. 

The lathe has an exceptionally good capacity thanks to the 12.5 inch swing too, so bowl turning has never been easier. 

The lathe features a variable speed motor so you can alter the speed depending on your individual requirements.

There’s also a reversing function for you to create a brilliant finish, and there’s a belt tensioning system so you can chance thinks much faster and easier.

The lathe also features onboard storage, and you can expect smooth and fast operation without any problems.

It comes with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty to give you additional peace of mind.

The only problem is that the switch is positioned in a strange loction on the lathe so it can be rather troublesome to use.

Pros

  • 5 year warranty so it's built to last.

  • Variable speed so if you like to work fast and hard you can.

  • Easy to adjust as needed

Cons

  • The switch is positioned in an awkward location for some users, try it and see what you think.

BEST VALUE

JET JWL-1015 10'x 15' Wood Lathe (719100)

Our next choice is the Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe.

There are a lot of things to love about this lathe from the width to the efficiency, so you can be sure that it will be a great choice for bowl turning. 

For starters, the lathe features a width of 15/5 inches, and this makes it perfect for a large variety of different projects.

It’s ideal if you’re running a little home business where you’re making woodwork knick knacks!

It comes with 6 spindle speeds in total, ranging from 500 RPM to 3975 RPM, so you can select the best speed without trouble.

The tensioning system has been designed in such a way that you can access the belts much more easily.

What’s also pretty handy is that the lathe isn’t too big, so you can carry it around without as much trouble as you would get from a massive model.

There’s even a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty for peace of mind

Unfortunately you will need to tighten the belt though as otherwise the tail stock can move around a lot. 

Pros

  • 5 year warranty meaning it's built to last. 

  • Decent width between the centers

  • Precise so if you like to be super specific and have an eye for detail it's a good choice.

Cons

  • The tail stock can be prone to moving a lot so you will need to ensure that the belt is adequately tightened before use

RUNNER UP

Nova 71118 Comet II DR - Midi Lathe Flexible Woodworking System, 12”, Powerful Electronic 3/4 HP variable speed

The Nova 46300 Comet II Midi Lathe is a pretty impressive machine.

It has a speed range that goes from 250 RPM to 4000 RPM, so it’s more than powerful enough for a wide range of different projects. 

Not only that, but the 12 inch swing and 16.5 inch distance between the centers means that bowl turning projects will be even more enjoyable.

The machine features a three step pulley system which means that you can change the speed to your liking. It also has a ¾ HP variable speed motor.

It doesn’t take up a great deal of space, perfect for if you have a smaller workshop or if you like to work on the move.

Once you’re finished with your project, simply activate the reversing switch to get a gorgeous finish.

If that wasn’t enough, the lathe also has a reinforced composite guard, and it’s easy to access.

If you are at all concerned there’s also a one year warranty on the electronics and the motor. 

The other parts of the machine are covered by another 2 year limited warranty. The locking levers can be somewhat challenging to operate though.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Versatile
  • Takes up very little space

Cons

  • Locking levers are awkward to use

RUNNER UP

RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2' x 24' VSR MIDI Lathe,

Rikon are pretty well known for their power tools, and with the Rikon 70-220VSR Midi Lathe you can be sure that you will get flawless results every time.

The machine comes with a 1 HP motor, more than powerful enough for most of your bowl turning projects.

Its 12.5 inch diameter swing is especially impressive, as is its 20 inch space between the centers.

As far as speed is concerned, you can choose a range of speeds ranging from 250 up to 3850 RPM.

This allows you to choose the perfect speed for each and every project. The LED display is also handy.

In addition to this, the lathe has a forward and a reverse function and this gives you even more flexibility. You will also love its quiet operation.

Naturally it is a little expensive though, especially in comparison to many other comparable models.

Pros

  • Reverse and forward functions
  • Great turning capacity
  • Powerful

Cons

  • This is a higher end machine and therefore has a matching price tag so unlikely to appealing to beginners. 

Best Lathe for Bowl Turning Buying Guide

If you’re a woodworker it isn’t always necessary to buy your own bowl - you can actually make one yourself.

Of course, buying the best lathe for bowl turning isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve never done it before.

If this is the case, then here are a few of the things that you need to keep in mind when buying the best lathe for bowl turning for you. 

Size

First of all you should take some time to consider the size of your lathe. Of course, you will get the most versatility out of a large lathe, but you don’t necessarily need one unless you’re doing large work in addition to bowl turning.

You cannot make large things on a small lathe, so you will get the most versatility out of a large machine.

These machines can be somewhat tricky to use if you’re a beginner and so they are much better suited to people that have plenty of experience with turning.

They are usually much higherquality machines and as such can cost more sometimes. They are very heavy and can be hard to move around on occasion. 

If you don’t have a big budget or enough space, however, then there is nothing wrong with getting a smaller lathe for bowl turning.

It will be ideal if you’re doing small work and they are quite efficient at what they do. Try to avoid any micro lathes if possible as you won’t be able to do a lot with one.

Material

It’s important to consider the materials that the lathe is made out of as this can influence the efficiency and durability of the device. There are two main materials when it comes to lathes for bowl turning - cast iron and steel. Which is better?

Many people will say that cast iron is the best choice. This is largely because of the fact that it can minimize vibration.

Pressed steel isn’t a great choice unless you are doing light work, but if the bed of the lathe is made out of steel tubes or solid steel bars this is slightly better. 

Ultimately what matters is that the materials you choose are high quality so that the machine doesn’t break, which could cause a safety hazard.

Variable Speed

It’s best to opt for a lathe for bowl turning that has a variable speed. This will mean that you can simply choose the speed at which you work, giving you versatility for all of your projects.

The last thing that you want is a machine that only gives you one working speed which can’t meet your needs. 

Tool Rest and Holder

Another thing that you should think about when you’re buying your lathe is the tool rest and holder that it comes with. To simplify, this sometimes goes by another name - a banjo.

It’s especially important to consider this if your lathe has a swivel headstock. In essence, the more of an overhang that the lathe has, the stronger the key parts need to be in order to support the load.

You should try to avoid any rest holders that come with things such as lightweight jointed swing arms as they won’t be sufficient for your lathe. You should also have easy access to alter the tension as needed. Your toolrest needs to be very strong.

Slow Start Motor

The slow start part of a motor can affect how secure it is to work the tool. You are going to need a slow start motor for a range of different things, like working with big blocks of wood.

The motor is going to need to be attached well in order to make sure that no wood comes spinning out and hurting you. 

Weight

In addition to the size you also need to think about the weight of the lathe. You may think it’s better to buy a more lightweight lathe as it will be more portable for when you need to move it around, but this is certainly not the case.

It’s often best to opt for a heavier lathe as they tend to be steadier and safe from any vibration. This means you can work with detailed projects more easily.

These machines can be somewhat expensive, but it’s best to make the extra investment if you can for the sake of longevity and high quality work. 

Capacity

How much can your machine handle? It’s very important to think about this. Some machines may not be able to work with materials of certain sizes.

A particularly small machine may not be capable of working with anything longer than around 18 inches for instance and they may not have a swing of more than 10 inches.

If you are working with a bigger project then look for a larger machine to accommodate for that.

Budget

It’s important to remember that a woodworker usually needs more than just a lathe.

If you’re just getting started and want to experiment, then you are going to have to allocate some budget for the extra tools that you need, such as basic PPE, the wood, the dust extraction and so much more. 

So this means if you still need to buy tools that you need to be careful with your budget. How much are you willing to spend on a lathe?

As this is a high powered product, it’s best not to spend too little money otherwise you may get something that won’t last.

If you plan on making woodworking a long term thing then it’s good to invest in a slightly more expensive lathe that you can grow with as your skill level increases.

Ease of Use

Woodworking can take a while to adapt to if it’s something that you’re new to doing. For that reason it’s best not to get a lathe that’s difficult to use as that can complicate things further.

Keep a look out for things that will make your machine easier to use, for instance a device with spanner free adjustments and an easy to use control.

Frequently Asked Questions

What other projects can I undertake with a lathe?

Lathes can be used for more than just bowl turning! In fact, these devices are fantastic for a range of different projects.

Some of the things that you can make with lathes include:

  • Bangles
  • Bowls
  • Kitchenware - plates, spoons, forks, bowls, cutting boards and more! 
  • Vases
  • Bozes
  • And more!

Hey, you could even make a stand for your cell phone! Pretty cool, huh? 

What are the main components of a lathe?

The lathe consists of a number of different components, including:

  • The Bed - this is where the main parts of the lathe are. It’s usually a rectangular shaped frame and this is where the carriage of the lathe operates. It’s important to get a lathe with a good bed as it can influence the swing of the lathe. 
  • Tailstock - this is the part on the end of the bed that keeps your piece of work still. You can usually adjust it so it can work with different types of projects.
  • Tool rest - this part moves across the bed, and it can hold the tools that you need to sufficiently do your work.
  • Chuck - the chuck is set up on the spindle where your projects rotate. The main aim of the chuck is to keep your workpiece into place. You can usually find three or four jaw chucks, but what you choose depends on what you are doing with the lathe. 
  • Speed gauge - the speed gauge is what allows you to alter the speed of the lathe. 

Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API