How to Choose the Right Lathe for Your Needs

Your Guide to buying the best Lathes


A lathe is an essential tool for shaping and cutting materials like wood, metal, and plastic. It is a versatile machine that can be used for a variety of tasks such as drilling, turning, and sanding. Purchasing the right lathe for your job can be a daunting task, as there are many different types available on the market. This guide aims to provide you with the necessary information to help you make an informed decision when buying a lathe. By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge and confidence to choose the right lathe for you.

Key features

  1. Type: Different types of lathes are available, including bench, CNC, and floor-mounted. Consider what you will be using the lathe for and choose the appropriate type.
  2. Size: Lathes come in a range of sizes, from small bench top lathes to large floor-mounted lathes. Consider the size of the parts you will be working with and make sure you are getting a lathe big enough for the job.
  3. Motor Power: Lathes require a certain amount of power to operate efficiently. Consider the horsepower (HP) of the motor and make sure you are getting enough power for the intended applications.
  4. Swing: The swing is the maximum diameter that a lathe can turn. Consider the size of the material you will be working with and make sure the lathe you choose has enough swing to accommodate it.
  5. Spindle Speed: Most lathes have adjustable spindle speeds, allowing you to work with different materials. Consider the type of material you will be working with and make sure the lathe has the correct spindle speed range.
  6. Accessories: Many lathes come with additional accessories, such as digital readouts, chuck guards, and tailstock supports. Consider the accessories you may need and make sure the lathe you choose has them included.

See the most popular Lathes on Amazon

Important considerations


  • Precision - Lathes offer very precise dimensions and angles, making them ideal for detailed, intricate work.
  • Versatility - Lathes can be used to create a wide variety of objects from furniture to firearms.
  • Long-Lasting - Lathes are built to last and will often have superior durability compared to other woodworking tools.
  • Safety - Lathes come with safety features such as emergency stop and blade guard for enhanced peace of mind.
  • Ease of Use - Lathes are relatively easy to operate compared to other woodworking machinery.


  • Cost - Lathes can be quite expensive depending on the size, features, and brand.
  • Noise - Lathes can be very loud and are not ideal for use in quiet environments.
  • Maintenance - Lathes require regular maintenance and upkeep to ensure they run properly and safely.
  • Space Requirements - Lathes require quite a bit of space, so they may not be suitable for smaller workshops.
  • Safety - Working with lathes can be dangerous if not done properly, and all applicable safety precautions and practices must be observed.

Best alternatives

  1. Milling Machines - Machines used for machining solid materials.
  2. Grinding Machines - Machines used to grind materials to precise shapes and sizes.
  3. Turning Centers - Machining centers with lathe-like capabilities.
  4. CNC Plasma Cutters - Automated machines used for cutting materials with a plasma torch.
  5. Bandsaws - Machines used to cut curved or irregular shapes in metal or wood.
  6. Shapers - Machines used to form and shape materials.

Related tools, supplies, and accessories

  • Lathe - A machine used for shaping and turning materials into parts and components.
  • Chisels - Specialized tools used to carve, shape, and cut materials on a lathe.
  • Carbide Cutters - Cutting tools made of carbide that are used to sharpen lathe tools.
  • Lathe Bed - A heavy metal frame used to support and guide the parts of the lathe.
  • Lathe Headstock - The part of the lathe which contains the motor and gearing that drives the spindle.
  • Lathe Tailstock - The part of the lathe that holds cutting tools or supports the end of the material being machined.
  • Lathe Centers - Specialized tools used to support the material being machined in the middle of the lathe.
  • Lathe Chucks - A tool used to hold materials securely in place for machining.
  • Tool bits - Small pieces of metal that are used to cut or shape materials on a lathe.
  • Lathe Stand - A frame or table used to support the lathe and its components.
  • Lathe Accessory Kit - A set of accessories and tools used to maintain and work with the lathe.

Common questions

  1. What are Lathes used for?
    Lathes are used to shape or cut materials into a desired form and are used in a variety of industries, including woodworking, metalworking, and engineering. They are used to cut, drill, shape, and form various materials, and can also be used to create intricate designs, smooth surfaces, and produce curved shapes.
  2. What types of Lathes are there?
    There are five main types of Lathes: Engine Lathes, Turret Lathes, Special-Purpose Lathes, CNC Lathes, and Manual Lathes. Engine Lathes are the most common type of Lathe, and are used for general-purpose machining. Turret Lathes are used for precision cutting and are usually used in combination with tooling systems. Special-Purpose Lathes are designed for particular tasks, such as threading, and are highly specialized. CNC Lathes are computer-controlled and are used for high-precision work. Manual Lathes are operated manually and require an operator to move the workpiece and tooling.
  3. What should I consider when buying a Lathe?
    When buying a Lathe, you should consider the type of work you will be doing with it, the size of the workpiece, the speed and accuracy requirements, the available space, and your budget. It is also important to consider the type of tooling and accessories you will need, as well as additional safety features.
  4. What type of motor should I get for my Lathe?
    The type of motor you should get for your Lathe depends on the type and size of the workpiece, the speed and accuracy requirements, and the available space. Generally, three-phase motors are the most common, but single-phase and variable-frequency drive motor systems are also available.
  5. What safety features should I look for in a Lathe?
    When buying a Lathe, you should look for safety features such as emergency stop buttons, safety guards, spindle guards, chip shields, and other protective devices. You should also make sure that the Lathe has been inspected for any potential


It is said that the first lathe was invented by the Ancient Egyptians around 1300 BC for use in the woodworking industry. The lathe was used to turn wood into circular shapes such as wheel parts, chair legs, and table legs. This was an important advancement in the furniture industry and is still used today. Interestingly, the same principle of the lathe is still used to create wooden bowls and other woodworking pieces. It is remarkable that this same tool has been used for thousands of years and has not changed much! Source:

Disclaimer: This buying guide was not created by humans, and it is possible that some of it's content is inaccurate or incomplete. We do not guarantee or take any liability for the accuracy of this buying guide. Additionally, the images on this page were generated by AI and may not accurately represent the product that is being discussed. We have tried to convey useful information, but it is our subjective opinion and should not be taken as complete or factual.