Best Midi Lathe in 2022 (Reviews and Comparison)

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Getting essential tools into your shop will help you achieve success in your woodworking projects. Trying to get tools that can serve multiple purposes will be hugely beneficial, then if they are expensive you don’t mind making the investment. 

Adding a lathe to your shop will be invaluable. A lathe is the jack of all trades when it comes to woodworking and can manage a range of functions like drilling, turning, sanding, cutting, and shaping to name a few. If you get a quality lathe you will be able to handle most of your projects with ease. 

When getting a lathe you need to consider the size and weight of the lathe and the space available in your shop. You need to decide the number of axes of motion needed as well as the geometric complexity and accuracy you will need for your projects. Another important consideration is the material the lathe is suited to the machine as it can be used for metal work as well. 

We have found the best midi lathes for wood out there that are lighter, and smaller with a lower swing capacity. You can find your ideal choice with these top options. 

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe
  • Ample swing for a range of projects
  • Reverse switch is useful
  • Variable speed control with good balance
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PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander 12" Variable Speed Midi Lathe PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Midi Lathe
  • Smooth and quiet running
  • Headstock turns freely
  • Readout on variable speed is great
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JET JWL-1221VS, 12" x 21" Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe, 1Ph 115V (719200) JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood Lathe
  • Reverse capability is great
  • Easy belt and speed change
  • Runs smooth and quiet
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WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • Quiet operation
  • Compact size
  • Great for beginners
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RIKON Power Tools VSR MIDI Lathe (RIK-70-150VSR) RIKON 70-220VSR Midi Lathe
  • Solid and powerful motor
  • Moveable control box
  • Adequate length for most projects
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1. Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

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

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

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

Features

  • Powerful 1 hp max, 1,725 rpm motor
  • Large 12-1/2-inch swing capacity provides the largest capacity in its class. Drive spindle: 1 inch -8 RH TPI thread
  • Electronic variable Speed with three-pulley speed ranges provide the required speeds needed to turn a project without changing belt position
  • Forward and Reversing function allows the turner to achieve a superior finish. Sanding a turned piece with the grain causes the wood fibers to lay down and remain rough.

The Delta 46-460 provides exactly what you need to achieve your turning masterpiece. This powerful 1 horsepower workhorse produces 1,750 rpm for enough torque and speed to handle even highly figured woods and you can slow it down to 250 rpm for your large creations. 

The reversible electronic variable speed with a pulley system minimizes vibration and chatter. The patented belt tensioning system allows easy and quick speed changes and sets the belt at the correct tension for maximum power transfer and longer tool life For fluting and other decorative applications, the indexing pin locks the headstock spindle in 24 different locations.

WHAT WE LIKE

The 12.5” swing is more than you will ever need, the reverse switch is a fantastic addition to any lathe. Great for sanding and even turning if the piece calls for a different angle of attack, with no problems whatsoever. Comes with a 3” faceplate, spur drive, and live center in the tailstock. Variable speed controls and good balance come from strong mechanics. It is solid, easy to maintain, and incredibly powerful for the price. It handles a lot of different kinds of projects.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

The tool rest banjo is 5/8in instead of the standard 1in. This means most aftermarket tool rests will not fit. No digital speed readout, however, there is a speed chart that matches the numbers on the speed knob, so it is easy to hit a specific speed if you need it. The forward/reverse switch is wired backward, when in forward it actually spins the lathe in the reverse.

PROS

  • Ample swing for a range of projects
  • Reverse switch is useful
  • Variable speed control with good balance
  • Solid and powerful
  • Easy to maintain

CONS

  • Tool rest banjo is not a standard size
  • No digital speed readout
  • Forward / reverse switch wired backwards

2. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Variable Speed Midi LatheBest Budget

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

Features

  • Powered by 1hp Variable Speed high performance induction motor(120V-60HZ) & an SBC microprocessor. 
  • Two belt positions: 500-1800 RPM & 1950-3800 RPM.
  • Headstock Thread 1″ x 8tpi. Headstock/Tailstock Taper #2MT. Distance between Centers 18″. Swing over Bed 12″. Cast iron base.
  • Tailstock & Spindle Bore 3/8″. Quill Travel 1-5/8″. (24) indexing positions with spindle locking. Convenient built-in handles.

The most advanced, powerful, and easy-to-use lathe in its class. ETL Listed and certified by Intertek. Powered by a 1 hp high-performance induction motor and an SBC microprocessor, developed for automotive applications, delivering precision control and lasting reliability. 1hp Variable Speed Motor (120V-60HZ). 

Two belt positions: Position A 500-1800 RPM & Position B 1950-3800 RPM. Digital readout allows you to work at precise speeds. Headstock Thread is 1″ x 8tpi. Headstock and Tailstock Taper is #2MT. Distance between Centers is 18″. Swing over Bed is 12″. Tailstock and Spindle Bore is 3/8″. Quill Travel is 1-5/8″. (24) indexing positions with spindle locking.

WHAT WE LIKE

This lathe runs very smoothly. Seems well made for the price range. The lathe runs whisper quiet. There is zero runouts in the headstock, and it turns freely. 

The readout on the variable speed is great, right color, and only about two inches from your work, so great placement. It comes with a lot of goodies, like two tool rests, tool holder, live tailstock, spur center and chrome steel faceplate for the headstock, and knockout bar. It has an indexing system, and there is a bit of play when it is locked into any of the 24 positions.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

The flex shaft for the work light is useless. It won’t keep the weight of the light up. Tailstock doesn’t really lock solid sometimes. Packaging of this lathe is not ideal and often arrives damaged with dings and dents. 

PROS

  • Smooth and quiet running
  • Headstock turns freely
  • Readout on variable speed is great
  • Added accessories are a bonus
  • Helpful indexing system

CONS

  • Light does not work well
  • Tailstock does not lock effectively
  • Poor packaging

3. JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Wood LathePremium Choice

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JET JWL-1221VS, 12" x 21" Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe, 1Ph 115V (719200)

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JET JWL-1221VS, 12" x 21" Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe, 1Ph 115V (719200)

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JET JWL-1221VS, 12" x 21" Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe, 1Ph 115V (719200)

Features

  • Convenient controls: Easy-to-reach controls and digital readout. Recommended Circuit Size (Amps)- 10
  • Optimal speed: Choose from three-speed ranges (60-900/110-1,800/220-3,600)
  • Innovative design: Ratchet-style belt tension system (patent pending)
  • Handy storage: Includes a tool storage caddy on each end of the machine

Great value. A very well-built product that comes with the basic accessories needed to get started. It’s well engineered and easy to operate and maintain. The variable speed and the reversible direction are great features and the controls are easy to access and use. 

The digital display is nice to have, smooth, and comes with everything I need. It comes with added safety in the form of a removable yellow on/off safety key. Directional control is a breeze with smooth transitions when changing from forward to reverse.

WHAT WE LIKE

The reverse capability as well as the variable speed arrangement is great on this lathe. Changing the belt for the different speed ranges is fairly easy, and the locking mechanism works great. It takes a few seconds to get up to speed, but once there it runs smooth and quiet. The banjo and tail stock slide smoothly and lock easily. It comes well packed with little to assemble. It is solid and the vibration is minimal.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

It would be nice to have a bit bigger LCD display and speed knob for ease of working. Lack of quality control with this lathe means you could find parts of your lathe that are not working or manufactured correctly. It does seem to be lacking torque at low speeds and the electronic speed control seems to be a little quirky

PROS

  • Reverse capability is great
  • Easy belt and speed change 
  • Runs smooth and quiet
  • Banjo and tailstock slide smoothly
  • Solid with minimal assembly

CONS

  • Bigger LCD and speed knob would be ideal
  • Poor quality control
  • Lacks torque at low speeds

4.  WEN 3421 Mini Benchtop Wood LatheBest Midi Lathe for Home Use

Features

  • Adjust the variable speed anywhere from 750 to 3200 rotations per minute
  • Includes 5-inch faceplate for turning bowls, cups and other non-spindle workpieces
  • Attack workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide
  • Soft start motor maximizes safety and helps protect the machine from damage

WEN 8-Inch by 12-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe. Adjust the variable speed anywhere from 750 to 3200 rotations per minute. The WEN 8-Inch by 12-Inch Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe features an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper to tightly grip workpieces, and two tool rests (4-1/2 inch and 7 inch) to provide needed support for chisels and tools during an operation, and a 2A motor to keep things turning. 

The easy-to-use lever clamping system makes adjustments to both the tool rest and the tailstock simple and precise. The WEN Wood Lathe also includes a flat wrench, a headstock spur center, a tailstock cup center, a knockout rod, and a 5-inch faceplate for turning bowls, cups, and other non-spindle workpieces.

WHAT WE LIKE

The lathe is quiet when operating. It’s about two feet wide and a little less than a foot tall so it is compact and can fit into a smaller area in your shop. It’s a great lathe for beginners and is easy to operate. Comes with chucks which helps when using the lathe. Easy assembly is a big positive with this lathe. 

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

Chucks for tailstock and tool rest are badly designed and basically unusable. The motor end is super heavy, tail stock requires anchoring The tool rests are sticky at first and require a bit of wear.

PROS

  • Quiet operation 
  • Compact size
  • Great for beginners
  • Comes with chucks
  • Easy assembly and use

CONS

  • Chucks are badly designed
  • Motor end is heavy
  • Tool rests are sticky

5. RIKON 70-220VSR Midi LatheBest Alternative Midi Lathe

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RIKON Power Tools VSR MIDI Lathe (RIK-70-150VSR)

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RIKON Power Tools VSR MIDI Lathe (RIK-70-150VSR)

Features

  • Powerful 1HP DC Motor provides ample power for all turning needs
  • Electronic variable speed controls, wider range of operating speeds, digital RPM readout for forward and reverse rotation speeds.
  • Pivoting belt cover for easy access when changing belt speeds
  • Ball-bearing construction for smooth, precise spindle operation

12” x 16.5” Variable Speed Midi Lathe 70-220VSR is has been designed to offer features seen on larger industrial lathes. An ideal lathe for novice to professional turners. Designed with a powerful 1HP DC motor, electronic variable speed controls, a wide range of operating speeds, digital RPM readout, ample diameter and spindle length turning capacities in forward and reverse drives. 

The corded control box has a magnetic back that allows it to be moved along the front of the cast iron lathe bed, and positioned where you want it for easiest access when turning. Left, the outboard end of the lathe bed is milled to take a special 13-1/2″ bed extension (sold separately) to allow outboard turning of diameters up to 15″. Lathe includes a spur center, live center, 3” faceplate, 6″ tool rest with 1″ diameter post, knock-out bar, wrenches, and tool holder.

WHAT WE LIKE

A solid 1 hp lathe with enough power for turning mid-size bowls. The control box can be moved across the face of the lathe for ease of use. It has adequate length for many types of turnings and projects. It shipped well and is packaged securely. It is easy to assemble right out of the box.  The lathe is very smooth and quiet when running at all speeds.

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE

The belt cover panel is plastic and feels cheap on this lathe. The off button is wiggly and flimsy and does not look like it will last. Some machining on the lathe was not well done upon receipt, especially razor-like burrs on the spindle.  The supplied accessory holder is plastic and does not seem well thought out and is not really worth installing. 

PROS

  • Solid and powerful motor
  • Moveable control box
  • Adequate length for most projects 
  • Easy to assemble
  • Smooth and quiet at all speeds

CONS

  • Belt cover panel is cheap
  • Flimsy off button
  • Useless accessory holder

Conclusion

Having a midi lathe will elevate your woodworking projects and with our top options, you will find a lathe with all the features you need and more. The option that you can’t go wrong with is the Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe and this is our best choice as a midi lathe. With ample swing and the added reverse function, you will make light work on most projects. 

It is great for sanding and turning at a range of angles as some of its many possible functions. With strong mechanics, you can find good balance at variable speeds. A solid lathe that is easy to maintain and is plenty powerful for its price. Adding this midi lathe to your shop will allow you to tackle a range of woodworking projects effectively and efficiently.

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