Best Lathe for Pen Turning (Tried & Tested)

Best Lathe for Pen Turning (Tried & Tested)

Are you searching for the best lathe to turn pen? This is the place for you. We will be reviewing the top models and providing a buying guide to help choose the right one.

No matter if you’re a novice or an expert woodworker, this article will help you.

These lathes are perfect for pen turning:

  1. JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe
  2. Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe
  3. RIKON 70-105 Mini Lathe
  4. JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe
  5. Mophorn Wood Lathe
  6. SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe
  7. PSI Woodworking PEN PAL Portable Mini Penmaking Lathe

Best Lathe for Pen Turning

A lathe is a machine that rotates the workpiece around an axis of rotation. It can perform various operations, such as cutting, drilling, knurling or deformation using tools that are applied.

The lathe machine, which dates back to around 1300 BCE, is an ancient tool. This tool has been used for hundreds of years to make everything, from art objects to machine components.

The lathe, especially in aerospace and automotive, is an important tool for manufacturing today.

There are typically four steps to operating a lathe:

1. Mounting the workpiece: This is the first step. You can do this with a chuck, or a faceplate.

2. The workpiece must be centred after it is mounted. This will allow it to rotate evenly.

3. You can cut or shape the workpiece with a variety of tools, such as drills, chisels and files.

4. Finishing the workpiece

The versatility of lathes is what makes them so versatile. It can be used for many types of operations, depending on the material and desired result.

Common applications include cutting and drilling holes in metal stock to make precise shapes, sanding wood surfaces to achieve a smooth finish, knurling and embossing metal surfaces in order create texture and patterns, and shaping complex curves in soft materials such as wax and plastics.

There are a few key points to remember when operating a lathe. These are

1. The right tools and speed to cut the material and achieve the desired result are key.

2. Provide adequate support and clamping in order to avoid vibrations that could lead to incorrect cuts or deformations.

3. During operation, monitor the workpiece to ensure it is turning smoothly and that heat buildup does not occur.

4. Safety gear like ear protection and goggles should always be available, especially when working with power tools such as drills or sanders.

5. To avoid mishaps, keep your eyes on the task at hand and follow proper procedures to set tool speeds, depths, and feed rates.

If not used correctly, lathes can prove dangerous. Always exercise caution and refer to the manufacturer’s instructions before using this tool.

1. JET JWL Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe

Professionals who need to work at different speeds will find the JET JWL-1221VS an excellent choice. It has three different speed ranges (60-900/110-1,800/220-3,600) that can be selected according to the project’s needs.

A digital display on the machine shows the speed. This is great for woodworkers who work with various materials.

It has a ratchet-style tension system, which provides constant belt tension and eliminates the need to adjust belts while turning.

Smooth transitions can be made when moving from forward to backward. The machine also has a yellow safety key that allows for easy turning off when it is not in use.

It is easy to change the belts for the reverse function. You can also adjust the variable speed feature. It is quiet and smooth. The motor takes some time to get up to speed but it works great once it does.

However, there are quality issues with the machine. The company must fix them. Other than that, I was happy. It is well-written, and very seldom anyone reads it. However, it provides great information about the machine.

You will need to purchase additional accessories if you plan to use this lathe machine for other tasks.

The LED screen is also quite small. I wish it was bigger, but I will get used to it quickly.

PROs and CONs


  • Sturdy cast iron construction
  • You can easily change the rotational speed ranges by moving your drive belt.
  • The tailstock and the tool rest base are easy to move and lock in place. They also stay in place without any slippage.

2. Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

This machine has everything you need to turn your masterpiece. The 1 horsepower powerhouse spins at 1,750 RPM and produces enough torque to tackle even the most intricately carved woods. It can also be slowed to 250 RPM for larger projects.

The Delta Industrial 46460 is a versatile and powerful machine. The machine can swing 12-1/2 inches and can be used with many materials, including wood, metal, and drywall.

Electronic is the variable. The turner has 3 speeds and can adjust the belt position to achieve the desired speed.

The turner can also use the Forward and Reversing features to achieve a better finish. After sanding a carved piece with a surface, the wood fibers remain rough.

The vibrations of this lathe machine mean that you must mount it to a fixed bench on the floor. Otherwise, it will not work properly. This machine is easy to move around, it weighs in at around 100 lbs.

The reverse switch can also be used many times and can help you finish your work quickly.

It is so high quality, I was blown away when I tried it. The variable speed also works well and is easy to change. It is easy to set up, so anyone can do it.



  • It is easy to control the speed
  • Affordable
  • You get a five-year warranty
  • It can be adapted to any situation
  • It’s suitable for all levels


  • Digital speed displays are not available

3. RIKON 70-105 Mini Lathe

The Rikon mini-lathe is powered by a 12-volt engine and can handle all your turning needs. This small lathe has a 10″ swing and an 18″ among centers. It also features a self-ejecting tailsstock and a quick speed switch.

This small lathe features a 5-speed range that allows for drilling barrel openings, walking through pen positions, shaping, polishing, and more. This lathe comes with a tool rest, tool rest, knockout rack, and other tools.

Pen turners needed a machine that could withstand the elements and be used for their craft. It was made exclusively for them. This micro lathe, which is lighter than other machines made of aluminum, is built from ductile iron so vibration is not an issue.

This lathe machine is smaller than the big ones that we tested. It is ideal for beginners who wish to learn how to turn. Although the pulley speed change is slow for beginners, it will become second nature.

The lathe machine has a limitation of 9 inches in diameter. However, it can make pens and is great for turning pens. It also has five positions on the pulley system, which allows you to work at different speeds.

This lathe machine was very balanced. You will not feel vibrations and the motor has cooling fins.

Although it is heavy, it is very sturdy and can be used without bolting to the benchtop. I have tried it with both small and large woods, but it works well with all of them.

This machine is ideal if you only need it for small projects. It is small but powerful enough to complete any task.

PROs and CONs


  • The large handles and wheels make it easy to adjust.
  • It is stable and can be used without being bolted to the bench
  • Smooth motor and comes with cooling fins
  • It is durable and made of high-quality materials.


  • There is no way back

4. JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe

The JET JWL wood lathe is a compact machine that can be used by both beginners and professionals. The 6 speeds of the spindle can handle any project, from roughing in to finishing.

The lathe can handle projects up to 10’x15” and has a 15-1/2″ between the centers.

The wide bed allows for greater power in the toolhead and rigidity which makes it easier to access belts.

This improves the tool head’s efficiency by increasing production speed and reducing run times. It also increases accuracy. The JET 10’x15” Wood Lathe is a great place to begin woodturning.

The motor can handle many tasks and the speed setting is easy. The motor runs smoothly and all parts are in good condition.

The rubber feet that attach to the benchtop are not included. Some users have reported quality problems, but customer service is prompt in responding to their concerns.

If you plan to use the lathe machine for various jobs, you will need additional accessories.

PROs and CONs


  • Great for new users
  • It is well-made and easy to use
  • It is easy to change speeds.
  • The motor runs smoothly and quietly.

5. Mophorn Wood Turning Lathe

Mophorn’s 14″ x 40″ Wood Lathe is a great tool for anyone learning to turn wood. It is powered by a 1/2 horsepower motor and has a voltage of 110 V. The strong motor’s quiet start ensures maximum security and low noise.

This high-quality wood lathe can be used to turn and shape wood. The machine has 4 speeds that make it easy to shape small projects or large furniture pieces.

The wood lathe includes three wrenches, making it easy to use and maintain. It features a sturdy and durable construction as well as an easy-to read dial.

You can use it on hardwoods, softwoods and plywood, as well as plastics.

For those who will be using a lathe machine first time, the instruction manual may not be clear enough. Many users also report issues with quality and motor performance. It is listed on Amazon as the “Best Seller”.

Mine works perfectly, although there are quality issues. However, the issues I discovered on customer reviews are quite extreme.



  • A great heavy-duty tool
  • Strong compatibility and made a lot of small cups


  • It is not very durable
  • Motor with insufficient power

6. SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe

A benchtop lathe, the SHOP FOX W1704 1/3 Horsepower Benchtop Lathe, can be used to do small metalworking jobs.

It also includes a motor that operates at 60 Hz and has a 110-volt output. It has a 12-inch centre distance and an eight-inch swing across the bed.

Cast iron makes this benchtop lathe durable and strong. The lathe swings over the table by 8 inches and is sturdy and precise.

The machine also features an infinitely adjustable speed control, which allows users to work at the right speed for their particular workpiece.

The Benchtop Lathe provides two tool rests for the user. The left-side tool rest has an adjustable height and can be used by both right-handed and left-handed users.

The right side of this tool rest is fixed in height so it can only be used right-handed.

The motor has a speed-changing knob so you can change it while you work on your projects. It is quieter than other lathe machines that we have tested, so it is ideal for small turning projects.

Although the headstock can only be used for 10 to 12 inches in diameter, its weight is sufficient to support all types of unbalanced wood projects.

There are no vibrations and the speed control is very precise. This machine is ideal for intermediate to advanced lathe woodworkers.

PROs and CONs


  • A mini lathe that looks good and has enough power
  • Variable spindle speed
  • Stability and durability in one structure
  • Features that are adaptable


  • It can malfunction from time to time

7. PSI Woodworking PEN PAL Portable Mini Penmaking Lathe

The PSI Penmaking Machine is small and portable. The 110V variable speed motor can be adjusted between 0 and 4300 RPM.

This mini lathe measures 20x6x6inches and is lightweight, making it easy to transport and store.

The Mini Penmaking Lathe PSI Woodworking has a 5-1/2″ swing over bed that allows for comfortable work from any position.

The lathe also includes an aluminum base anodized with mounting brackets and flanges, which allow it to be mounted on any surface.

It features an adjustable shaft mandrel that can be used as either a pen mandrel, or a lathe shaft.

The collet-closing nut can be used to attach the mandrel shaft and headstock to each other. It also has a 2” port that can be used for attachment to any dust collecting system.

The digital speed control is very precise and works well. This lathe machine weighs in at 15lbs. 15lbs.

This lathe machine has one limitation: it cannot be used with large wooden pieces. The space available is very limited.

It is connected directly to the shaft, making it extremely smooth. You will need to purchase chisels separately.



  • It is a beautiful design
  • The extruded metal can be shaped with incredible precision.
  • The digital speed control works admirably and is amazing


  • The engine doesn’t make a lot of noise.

Different types of lathe machines

Lathes use rotational force to rotate cylindrical objects around a fixed axis. There are many types of lathes on the market. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

We will be discussing the pros and cons for each type of lathe.

  • Engine Lathe: This is the most popular type of lathe. Engine lathes can be used for heavy-duty work, and can handle large, complicated projects.

An engine lathe offers the greatest advantage in precision and accuracy. Engine lathes can be very costly and require lots of space.

  • Turret Lathe – Another type of lathe that is very popular is the turret. Turret lathes can be smaller than engine lathes, but they are also more versatile. These lathes can be used to make small, delicate pieces, as well as a wide range of other projects.

A turret-lathe’s main advantage is its lower cost than an engine lathe. Turret lathes can be less precise and accurate than engine lathes.

  • CNC Lathe machine: These types of lathes are not the only ones available. There are also special-purpose lathes like CNC (computer numerical control), lathes and capstan machines.

Each type of lathe is unique, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. However, engineers can use them to create complicated products that require precise machining.

There are many types of lathes on the market today. Each type of lathe has its pros and cons. However, all provide engineers with the opportunity to quickly and efficiently create high-quality products.

Lathe Machine Buying Guide

You can find a lathe machine buying guide that will help you choose the right one for you.

There are many factors to consider and it can be difficult to choose the right machine for you. This guide will walk you through the selection process and what you should look for.

  • The first thing to think about when shopping for a lathe is the type of project it will be used for. There are lathes that can do specific tasks like turning bowls or spinning spindles.

Some are more versatile and can also be used for many different projects. It will be easier for you to narrow down your options once you have a clear idea of what the lathe is used for.

  • Next, consider the size of your projects. There are many sizes of lathes, from small benchtop models to large, floor-standing models.

A benchtop model is sufficient if you are only planning to work on small projects. If you plan to work on larger projects, however, a benchtop model will suffice.

  • The speed at which the lathe turns is another important factor. This is measured in revolutions per hour (RPM). You can complete your project faster if the lathe spins quickly.

If you are new to the lathe, you might start with a slower model to get used to it. You can always increase your speed later.

  • Take a look at all the accessories that are included with your lathe. Some models include basic accessories such as tool rests and chucks.

Some come with advanced accessories such as indexing plates and live centers. You should ensure that accessories are compatible with your specific needs if you intend to use your lathe for a particular type of project.

Safety precautions when using the Lathe Machine

Lathes are used to shape and turn materials such as metal or wood. If they are not used correctly, they can prove dangerous so be sure to take safety precautions. These are some safety tips that will help you use a lathe safely.

  • Before you start working with the lathe, ensure it is switched off and unplugged. Accidents are often caused by people not turning off their machines before they start any work.
  • When using a lathe machine, you should always wear protective clothing. You should wear long pants, boots with nonskid soles and heavy gloves. Finally, you need to protect your eyes and face by wearing a shield or eye protection.

Wear gloves and other loose clothing that could come in contact the lathe machine. It can become stuck to it and cause serious injury.

Also, avoid letting your hair down and don’t wear loose clothes that might get caught in the machine.

  • Third, be careful when turning the lathe at high speeds to ensure you have control over your materials as they spin on the platform.

When shaping materials, hold them as still as you can.

  • Fourth, pay attention to your surroundings while working.

If you notice something is not right or strange sounds coming from the machine’s output, you should stop and examine the situation. It is better to be safe than sorry.

These safety tips can help you avoid accidents when using a lathe. Use common sense and caution when operating a lathe machine. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Lathe machine advantages and disadvantages

The lathe machine can be used in many ways in the workshop. This machine has many advantages that make it more popular than other machines.

We will discuss the main benefits and drawbacks of using a lathe.

A lathe machine has many advantages, including:

1. Multitasking – The lathe machine is versatile and can be used to do a wide range of tasks such as turning, drilling, reaming, or threading. It is a versatile tool that can be used on many projects.

2. Accuracy – Lathes have a higher accuracy than other machines. Because they work with one point, rather than multiple points, lathes are much more accurate. This allows for a more smooth and precise finish.

3. Lathes have a higher efficiency – They are more efficient than other machines. Because they are able to work on small and large projects with no problems, this is a major advantage. Lathes can also work at high speeds which increases their efficiency.

4. A lathe machine produces less noise than other machines. They only work on one point of cutting, rather than several.

5. Easy to use – Even for people who have never used a lathe before, they are easy to use. Because they have clear, concise instructions that are easy-to-follow, this is possible. Many lathes also have safety features that make it easier to use.

Lathe machines are a great choice for any workshop because they offer many advantages. A lathe machine is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an accurate and versatile machine.

Lathes can be used in many industries. Like all machines, however, they have their drawbacks.

  • Lathe machines have a major disadvantage: they are not accurate. They can be very accurate when cutting or shaping metal but they can also be inaccurate when measuring.

Because of the rotational nature of the workpiece, it is difficult to measure accurately. Machinists must be careful when setting up lathe machines and ensure that all measurements are accurate before they start the operation.

  • Lathe machines are also limited in their versatility. Lathes can only do certain operations, unlike other machines like routers or milling machines.

This means that you’ll need to buy a new machine if the lathe is unable to do it.

  • Last but not least, lathes are dangerous. Lathes can cause injury because of the sharp tools they use and the rotating parts. Always follow safety instructions and don’t operate your lathe without training.

Lathe Machine vs. Milling Machine

Both lathe and milling machines can be used to shape materials into particular shapes. While lathes are primarily used to create cylindrical objects, milling machines can be used to create many shapes.

These two machines have so many similarities that many buyers are confused as to which one they should get. You can read the rest of this article to learn the differences between the two machines.

There are many key differences between these two types of machines.

Milling machines can often work with a wider variety of materials. The ability of a lathe machine to form non-cylindrical shapes is usually limited.

It is more versatile than a lathe because it allows for more flexibility in working with different materials.

A milling machine can achieve much more precision and detail than a lathe machine.

To achieve precision, lathes require manual control by the operator. Milling machines can adjust automatically for accuracy. They are ideal for complex projects or those that require fine details.

Depending on the model, size and weight can differ between these types of machines. Lathes can be heavy and large while milling machines are usually smaller and lighter.

They are also more portable which is a big advantage for those who need to move their machine frequently.

These key differences are important to remember when choosing between a lathe or milling machine for your next project. Based on what type of material and precision you require, choose the one that meets your needs best.

Both machines can be used in most cases. A milling machine may be the best choice if you require more precision and flexibility than a lathe can offer.


A lathe is an essential tool in any woodworker’s workshop. Pen turning is a popular hobby that anyone can enjoy. We’ve reviewed some of the most popular pen turning lathes on the market.

A buyer’s guide has been included to help you select the best lathe for you. It can be hard to choose the right model for you when there are so many options.

The buyer’s guide provides helpful information and highlights important points to remember when purchasing a lathe. We hope that our buyer’s guide and reviews will help you choose the right lathe for you, no matter if you are a novice or seasoned woodworker.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

  • What type of lathe do I need to turn pens on?A lathe designed for pen turning is essential. This usually means the lathe is smaller in diameter and has a shorter bed than a woodturning lathe.
  • Can you turn pens on an enormous lathe?There are many types of lathes and some can even be used to turn pen. It is important to consider the size of your lathe. A small lathe for turning pens won’t have the ability to handle larger pieces.Most people start with a small lathe, and work their way up as they gain more experience.
  • Without a lathe, how can you turn a pen?You can’t. You can’t turn a pen with a lathe.
  • Can you turn pens on an iron lathe?Yes, it is possible to turn pens on a lathe made of metal. It’s actually a popular project for those who learn to use a lathe. Select the correct size and shape pen blank for your project, then mount it in the lathe chuck.You can use a sharp knife to remove excess material. Be careful not to damage the metal barrel or wood of the pen. Finally, polish the pen until it is smooth.
  • How can you make pens on your wood lathe?

A piece of wood must be at least 6 inches in length and 1 inch in width to make a pen on the wood lathe.

A lathe tool is also necessary. It’s a chisel-like tool with a curved cutting edge.

  1. First, cut the wood to your desired length and width.
  2. Mark the center of the wood, then use the lathe to create a V-shaped groove about the circumference.
  3. Finish by sanding the surface to smoothen it.