Best Lathe for Pen Turning (Tried & Tested)

Are you looking for the best lathe for pen turning? You’ve come to the right place. In this post, we will be reviewing some of the best models on the market and giving you a buying guide to help you choose the perfect one for your needs. 

So whether you are a beginner or an experienced woodworker, read on to find out more.

These are the best lathe machines 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 tool that rotates the workpiece about an axis of rotation to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece.

A lathe machine is an ancient tool, dating back to at least 1300 BCE. It has been used for centuries to create everything from art objects to machine parts. 

Today, the lathe is still an important tool in manufacturing, especially in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Best Lathe for Pen Turning

The operation of a lathe is typically divided into four main steps:

1. Mounting the workpiece: The first step is to mount the workpiece on the lathe. This can be done using a chuck or a faceplate.

2. Centering the workpiece: Once the workpiece is mounted, it needs to be centered so that it can rotate evenly.

3. Cutting or shaping the workpiece: The next step is to cut or shape the workpiece using a variety of tools such as chisels, drills, and files.

4. Finishing the workpiece: Once the desired shape or cut is achieved, you can finish the workpiece by polishing it, applying a coating to protect it from corrosion and wear, or applying decorative details.

Lathes are versatile tools that can be used for many different types of operations depending on the materials being worked and the desired outcome. 

Some common applications include cutting metal stock into precise shapes, drilling holes in metal or plastic parts, sanding wood surfaces for a smooth finish, knurling or embossing metal surfaces to create texture and patterns, or shaping complex curves in soft materials like wax and plastics.

Whether you are using a manual or computerized lathe, there are several key factors to keep in mind when operating this tool. These include

1. Choosing the right cutting tools and speeds for the material being worked and the desired outcome.

2. Providing adequate support and clamping to prevent vibrations that can lead to inaccurate cuts or deformations.

3. Monitoring the workpiece during operation to make sure it is rotating smoothly and not getting too hot from friction or heat buildup.

4. Keeping safety gear such as goggles and ear protection on hand at all times, especially when using power tools like drills or sanders.

5. Staying focused on your tasks and following proper procedures for setting tool depths, speeds, and feed rates to avoid accidents.

Lathes can be dangerous if not used properly, so always exercise caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when operating this tool. 

Image Product Feature Price
TOP PICK
JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe
* Weight: 121 pounds * Motor: 1HP * RPM: 3600 * Warranty: 5 years Check Latest Price
affordable
Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe
* Weight: 97 pounds * Motor: 1HP * RPM: 1725 * Warranty: 5 years Check Latest Price
RIKON 70-105 Mini Lathe
* Weight: 74 pounds * Motor: 0.5HP * RPM: 1700 * Warranty: 5 years Check Latest Price
JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe
* Weight: 77 pounds * Motor: 0.5HP * RPM: 3975 * Warranty: 5 years Check Latest Price
Mophorn Wood Turning Lathe
* Weight: 54 Pounds * Motor: 0.5HP * RPM:1100- 3400 * Warranty: 3 years Check Latest Price
SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe
* Weight: 52 lbs * Motor: 0.75HP * RPM: 700-3200 * Warranty: 2 year Check Latest Price
PSI Woodworking PEN PAL Portable Mini Penmaking Lathe
* Weight: ‎16.7 pounds * Motor: 0.2HP * RPM: 4300 * Warranty: 3 years Check Latest Price

1. JET JWL Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe

The JET JWL-1221VS is an excellent option for professionals who want to work at different speeds. It has three different speed ranges (60-900/110-1,800/220-3,600) that can be selected according to the project’s needs.

 The machine also has a digital readout that shows the speed, which is very helpful for woodworkers who need to work with different materials on their projects, owing to its digital screen and simple controls. 

JET JWL-1221VS Woodworking Lathe

It features a ratchet-style belt tension system that provides a constant belt tension, eliminating the need to adjust the belts while turning.

The lathe can produce smooth transitions when changing from forward to reverse, and it has a removable yellow safety key that makes it easy to turn off the machine when not in use.

The process of changing the belts to use the reverse function is quite easy, and you can also easily adjust the variable speed feature. The motor is quiet and smooth, it takes some time to catch up with the speed, but once it reached it works like a charm.

JET JWL-1221VS Variable-Speed Woodworking Lathe

But there are some quality issues with the machine, the company needs to fix them, otherwise, I had no major issues. The user manual is also well detailed, very rarely any user reads it, but it contains great information regarding the machine.

If you are planning to use this lathe machine for different tasks, then you must have to buy additional accessories that can help you to use the machine to its full potential.

JET JWL-1221VS Lathe Machine

It also has an LED screen which is quite small, I hope it was a little big, but I’ll get used to it soon.

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • Sturdy cast iron construction
  • Rotational speed ranges are easily changed by moving the drive belt.
  • The tailstock and tool rest base is easy to move, lock in position, and stay in place with no slippage.

Cons

  • It’s hefty
  • Expensive

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

It has everything you’ll need to complete your turning masterwork. This robust 1 horsepower workhorse spins at 1,750 RPM, producing adequate torque output to tackle even highly carved woods, and it can be slowed down to 250 rpm for larger projects.

Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

The Delta Industrial 46-460 is a powerful and versatile machine. It has a 12-1/2-inch swing capacity and can be used on many different materials such as wood, metal, or drywall.

It has a variable called Electronic. With 3 speed ranges, the turner can get the desired speeds without altering the belt position. 

Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Lathe

It also has a Forward and Reversing feature, which helps the turner produce a higher finish. The wood fibers lie and stay rough after sanding a carved item with a surface.

This lathe machine has vibrations, so you need to mount it to a bench which is fixed to the floor, otherwise, you cannot use it properly. I like the weight distribution of this machine, you can easily move it around it weighs around 100lbs with its tail stock and banjo. 

It also comes with a reverse switch which can be useful many times, and it can help you to finish your work quickly without removing and attaching it again and again.

Delta Industrial 46-460 Lathe Machine

Quality is so great, I loved it when I first used it, and the process of changing the belts is also easy, the variable speed works like a charm. The process of setting it up is also easy, anyone can do it.

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • It’s easy to regulate the speed
  • Affordable
  • A five-year warranty is included
  • It is adaptable
  • It is appropriate for all levels of users

Cons

  • There is no digital speed display

3. RIKON 70-105 Mini Lathe

This Rikon mini-lathe has a 12-volt engine that can handle your turning needs. This tiny lathe offers a 10″ swing and 18″ among centers, a self-ejecting tails stock, and a quick speed change.

This tiny lathe has a five-speed range for drilling barrel openings, walking out pen positions available, shaping, and polishing. A live center, tool rest, knock-out rack, and tools are included with this lathe.

RIKON  70-105 Mini Lathe

Pen turners requested a durable, specialized machine for the craft. Thus it was created exclusively for them. Unlike some other lathe machines made from aluminum, this weighted, basic micro lathe is constructed of ductile iron, so vibration isn’t an issue.

This is a small lathe machine unlike the other big ones we have tested, it is best for beginners who want to learn the turning process. The pulley speed change is a little slow, but for beginners, you will get used to it easily.

RIKON  70-105 Mini Lathe

The only problem with the lathe machine is that you are limited to only 9 inches of diameter to work with, it is a great machine for making pens, and it has five different positions on the pulley system that provides a variety of speeds to work with.

I loved how balanced this lathe machine is, you will not feel any kind of vibrations at all, the motor comes with cooling fins so that you can use it for long hours without getting the motor heated up. 

RIKON 70-105 Mini Lathe

It is heavy but this makes it very stable to use, you can use it without bolting it to the benchtop, I have used it with small woods and with large ones as well, but it works great with each of it.

If you are planning to buy this machine for small projects only then this can be a perfect option for you, it is small, yet powerful enough to handle every task.

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • Adjustment is simple, thanks to the large handles and wheels
  • Stable, can use it without bolting it to the bench
  • Smooth motor & comes with cooling fins
  • It’s long-lasting and built of high-quality materials

Cons

  • There is no way to go backward

4. JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe

The JET JWL Wood Lathe is a compact turning machine that offers a variety of features for the beginner and advanced turner. Its 6 spindle speeds can handle any project from roughing out to finish. 

JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe

The lathe has a 15-1/2″ between centers and can accommodate projects up to 10″ x 15″.

It features a wide bed that allows for more power in the tool head and increases rigidity, allowing easier belt access. 

This increases the efficiency of the tool head by increasing production speed, reducing run times, and improving accuracy. If you’re just getting started with woodturning, the JET 10″ x 15″ Wood Lathe is an excellent place to start. 

JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe

The motor is powerful enough to handle all kinds of tasks, and changing speed is quick and easy. All the parts work smoothly, the tail stock and adjustments handle adjust smoothly, and the motor is quiet yet smooth while at full speed. 

It doesn’t come with rubber feet to attach it to the benchtop, some users report quality issues, but the customer care is quick in response to solve the problem.

JET JWL-1015 Wood Lathe

You will need to buy additional accessories if you are planning to use this lathe machine for all kinds of jobs. 

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • Great for new users
  • It’s well-made and simple to operate
  • Changing speeds is quick and easy
  • The motor runs smooth and quiet

Cons

  • Cost may be a concern

5. Mophorn Wood Turning Lathe

The Mophorn 14″ x 40″ Wood Lathe is an excellent instrument for anybody learning to turn wood. It has a 1/2 horsepower motor with a voltage of 110 volts. The quiet start of the strong motor ensures optimal security and little noise.

Mophorn Wood Turning Lathe

It is a high-quality wood lathe that can be used for turning and shaping wood. This machine features 4 different speeds, making it easy for anyone who wants to turn or shape anything from small projects to large furniture pieces.

This wood lathe comes with three wrenches that make it simple to operate and maintain. It includes a robust and durable construction and an easy-to-read dial. 

It may be used on hardwoods, softwoods, plywood, and plastics, among other things.

The instruction manual is not detailed and can cause problems for people who are going to use a lathe machine for the first time, many users report quality and motor issues. But on Amazon, it is showing the Best Seller tag.

Mine works fine, yeah, there are some quality issues with my product but the issues that I found on the customer’s reviews are a bit extreme. 

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • Excellent heavy-duty tool
  • Have strong compatibility and manufactured a lot of little cups

Cons

  • Not very long-lasting
  • Motor with insufficient power

6. SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe

The SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe is a benchtop lathe that can be used for small metalworking projects. 

It includes a motor with such a solitary, 60 Hz, with 110-volt output. It also features a 12-inch center distance and an 8-inch swing over the bed.

SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Lathe

This benchtop lathe is cast iron, making it durable and sturdy. The lathe has an 8-inch swinging over the table and is robust and accurate. 

It also has infinitely variable speed control that allows users to work at the perfect speed for their workpiece.

This Benchtop Lathe is a bench lathe that provides the user with two tool rests. The tool rests on the left side, has an adjustable height, and can be used for right-handed and left-handed users. 

The right side of the tool rest has a fixed height and can only be used by right-handed users.

SHOP FOX W1704 Lathe Machine

It comes with a speed-changing knob that you can use it while working on your projects, the motor is really so much quiet compared to other lathe machines we have tested so far, it is best for small turning projects. 

The headstock is only large enough to use 10 or 12 inches of diameter, the weight is just enough to handle all kinds of small unbalanced wood projects. 

The speed control is precise and there are no vibrations at all. This machine is perfect for beginners to intermediate lathe woodworkers.

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • Mini lathe with a good appearance and enough power
  • Spindle speed that can be changed
  • The structure that is both durable and stable
  • Adaptable features

Cons

  • It malfunctions from time to time

7. PSI Woodworking PEN PAL Portable Mini Penmaking Lathe

The PSI Penmaking Lathe is a small, portable, lightweight penmaking lathe. It has a 110V variable speed motor that can be adjusted from 0 to 4300 RPM. 

With a small footprint of 20x6x6 inches, this mini lathe is easy to transport and store.

PSI Woodworking PEN PAL Portable Mini Penmaking Lathe

The PSI Woodworking Mini Penmaking Lathe has a swing over bed 5-1/2″, which allows the user to work comfortably from any position. 

It also comes with an anodized aluminum base with a mounting bracket and flanges that allow the lathe to be mounted on most surfaces.

It has an adjustable mandrel shaft that may be used as a pen mandrel or a lathe shaft. 

PSI Woodworking PEN PAL Portable Mini Penmaking Lathe

The collet closing nut may be used to secure the mandrel shaft to the headstock, and it includes an incorporated 2″ port for attaching to any dust collecting system.

It comes with digital speed control which is precise and works great. The weight of this lathe machine is also extremely light i.e. 15lbs. 

The only limitation with this lathe machine is that you cannot use it with big wooden pieces, the space is limited and 

The motor is directly connected to the shaft which makes it very smooth and it doesn’t come with chisels, you need to buy that separately. 

PROs & CONs

Pros

  • The design is excellent
  • Extruded metal allows for incredible accuracy.
  • The digital speed control is fantastic and performs admirably

Cons

  • The engine isn’t very grunty

Types of Lathe Machine

Lathes are machines that use rotational force to turn cylindrical objects around a fixed axis. There are different types of lathes available on the market, and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. 

We are going to take a look at the different types of lathes available and discuss the pros and cons of each.

  • Engine Lathe: The most common type of lathe is the engine lathe. Engine lathes are designed for heavy-duty work and can handle large, complex projects. 

The biggest advantage of using an engine lathe is that it offers a high degree of accuracy and precision. However, engine lathes are also very expensive, and they require a lot of space to operate.

  • Turret Lathe: Another popular type of lathe is the turret lathe. Turret lathes are smaller than engine lathes and are more versatile. They can be used for a variety of projects, including small, delicate pieces. 

The main advantage of using a turret lathe is that it is less expensive than an engine lathe. However, turret lathes are not as accurate or precise as engine lathes.

  • CNC Lathe machine: In addition to these types of lathes, there are also special-purpose lathes, such as CNC (computer numerical control) lathes and capstan lathes. 

While each type of lathe has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, they all have one thing in common: They provide a great way for engineers to create complex products that require precision machining.​

As you can see, there are many different types of lathes available on the market today. While each type has its own pros and cons, they all offer a great opportunity for engineers to create high-quality products quickly and efficiently. 

Lathe Machine Buying Guide

If you don’t like the products that we have tested here, then you can use our lathe machine buying guide to buy another one that will suit your needs and requirements.

 There are a lot of different factors to consider, and it can be tricky to figure out which machine is best for your needs. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing a lathe machine and show you what to look for. 

  • When you’re shopping for a lathe machine, the first thing you need to consider is what type of project you’ll be using it for. There are lathes designed for specific tasks, such as turning bowls or spindles. 

Others are more versatile and can be used for a variety of different projects. Once you know what you’ll be using the lathe for, it will be easier to narrow down your choices.

  • The next thing to think about is the size of the projects you’ll be working on. Lathes come in a range of sizes, from small benchtop models to large floor-standing models. 

If you only plan on working on small projects, a benchtop model should suffice. However, if you think you’ll be working on larger projects, you’ll need a larger lathe.

  • Another important consideration is the speed at which the lathe spins. This is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). The faster the lathe spins, the more quickly you can finish your project. 

However, if you’re new to using a lathe, it’s best to start with a slower model so that you can get a feel for how it works. You can always increase the speed later on.

  • Finally, take a look at the accessories that come with the lathe. Some models come with basic accessories, such as chucks and tool rests. 

Others come with more advanced accessories, such as live centers and indexing plates. If you plan on using your lathe for a specific type of project, make sure that the accessories that come with it are compatible with your needs.

Safety Precautions using Lathe Machine

Lathe machines are used to turn or shape materials like metal and wood. They can be dangerous if not used properly, so it is important to take safety precautions when using them. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while using a lathe machine.

  • First, make sure the lathe is turned off and unplugged when you’re working with it. Many accidents occur because people forget to turn off their machines, so be sure to check before starting any work.
  • Second, always wear protective clothing when using a lathe machine. This should include long pants, boots with nonskid soles, heavy gloves, and a face shield or eye protection. 

Don’t wear loose gloves or anything lose clothes that can come in contact with the lathe machine, it can get stuck into it and can cause serious harm.

In addition, keep long hair tied back and avoid wearing loose clothing that could get caught in the machine while you are working.

  • Third, use caution when operating the lathe at high speeds so that you don’t lose control of your materials while they’re spinning on the machine’s platform. 

Try to hold materials as still as possible while you’re working with them, and always use a steady, even pressure when shaping them.

  • Fourth, be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on around you while you’re working. 

If something doesn’t look right, or if you hear strange noises coming from the machine, stop what you’re doing and investigate the situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

By following these safety tips, you can help prevent accidents while using a lathe machine. Always use caution and common sense, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating the machine properly.

Lathe machine Advantages and Disadvantages

A lathe machine is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of purposes in the workshop. It has many advantages over other machines, which is why it is so popular among woodworkers and metalworkers.

We are going to discuss some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using a lathe machine.

Some of the main advantages of using a lathe machine include:

1. Increased versatility – A lathe machine can be used for a variety of different tasks, such as turning, drilling, reaming, and threading. This makes it a very versatile tool that can be used for many different projects.

2. Increased accuracy – When compared to other machines, lathes are much more accurate. This is because they operate on the principle of cutting with a single point rather than multiple points. This results in a smoother and more precise finish.

3. Increased efficiency – Lathes are also much more efficient than other machines. This is because they can work on both small and large projects without any issues. Additionally, lathes are able to work at high speeds, which further increases their efficiency.

4. Decreased noise – Another advantage of using a lathe machine is that they tend to be much quieter than other machines. This is due to the fact that they only operate on one cutting point rather than multiple points.

5. Easy to operate – Lathe machines are very easy to operate, even for those who have never used one before. This is because they come with clear and concise instructions that are easy to follow. Additionally, most lathes come with safety features that make them even easier to use.

Overall, lathe machines offer a variety of advantages that make them the perfect choice for any workshop. If you are looking for a versatile and accurate machine, then a lathe machine is the perfect choice for you.

Lathes are used in a wide variety of industries and can be very versatile machines. But like all machines, they also have their disadvantages.

  • One of the biggest disadvantages of lathe machines is their inaccuracy. While they are very precise when it comes to cutting or shaping metal, they can be quite inaccurate when it comes to measuring. 

This is because the rotating nature of the workpiece makes it difficult to get an accurate measurement. As a result, machinists have to be very careful when setting up a lathe machine and make sure that all the measurements are correct before starting the operation.

  • Another disadvantage of lathe machines is that they are not very versatile. Unlike other machines such as milling machines or routers, lathes are designed to only perform certain operations.

This means that if you want to do something that the lathe cannot do, you will need to purchase a different machine.

  • Finally, lathes can be quite dangerous. Because they use sharp tools and rotating parts, there is a risk of injury if you are not careful. Make sure to always follow the safety instructions that come with your lathe machine and never operate it without proper training.

Lathe Machine vs Milling Machine

Milling machines and lathe machines are both used for shaping materials into specific shapes. Lathes are mostly used for cylindrical objects, while milling machines can create a variety of shapes. 

There are so many similarities between these two machines that sometimes many new buyers get confused about which one to get. So read along to the end to understand the key differences between these two machines.

There are several key differences between the two types of machines.

First, milling machines are often able to work with a wider range of materials. A lathe machine is typically limited in its ability to shape non-cylindrical shapes. 

This makes it more versatile than a lathe machine because it offers more flexibility when working with different materials.

Second, the precision and level of detail that can be achieved by a milling machine is much greater than what can be done by a lathe machine. 

Lathes rely on manual control from the operator to achieve precision, whereas milling machines are able to automatically adjust for accuracy. This makes them ideal for projects that require intricate details or complex designs.

Finally, the size and weight of these two types of machines can also differ significantly depending on the model. Milling machines can be large and heavy, while lathes are typically smaller and lighter in weight. 

This makes them more portable, which can be a major advantage if you need to move your machine around frequently.

Keep these key differences in mind when deciding whether to use a milling machine or lathe machine for your next project. Choose the one that best meets your needs based on the type of material you’ll be working with and the level of precision required. 

In most cases, either machine can get the job done. But if you need more precision or flexibility than a lathe machine can provide, then a milling machine might be your best option.

Conclusion

Lathes are one of the most important tools in a woodworker’s shop, and pen turning is a popular hobby that can be enjoyed by anyone. In this article, we’ve provided reviews of some of the best lathes for pen turning on the market today. 

We’ve also included a buyer’s guide to help you choose the right lathe for your needs. With so many different models to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. 

Our buyer’s guide will help make the process easier by outlining some important factors to consider when making your purchase. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, we hope our reviews and buyer’s guide will help you find the perfect lathe for your next project.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

  • What kind of lathe Do I need to turn pens?

    You need a lathe that is suited for pen turning. This typically means that the lathe has a smaller diameter and shorter bed than a typical woodturning lathe.

  • Can you turn pens on a big lathe?

    There are many different types of lathes, and yes, some of them can be used to turn pens. However, the size of the lathe is important – a small pen turning lathe won’t be able to handle larger pieces of wood.

    For most people, it’s best to start with a small lathe and then work your way up in size as you get more experience.

  • How can you turn a pen without a lathe?

    You can’t. It’s not possible to turn a pen without a lathe.

  • Can you turn pens on a metal lathe?

    Yes, you can turn pens on a metal lathe. In fact, it’s a popular project for people who are learning to use a lathe. You’ll need to select a pen blank that is the right size and shape for the pen you want to make, and then mount it in the chuck of the lathe. 

    Use a sharp tool to cut away the excess material, being careful not to damage the wood or metal barrel of the pen. Finally, sand and polish it until it’s smooth.

  • How do you make pens on a wood lathe?

To make a pen on a wood lathe, you need a piece of wood at least 6 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. 

You’ll also need a lathe tool, which is like a chisel with a curved cutting edge. 

  1. First, cut the wood to the desired length and diameter. 
  2. Then, mark the center of the wood and use the lathe tool to carve out a V-shaped groove around the circumference. 
  3. Finally, sand down the surface until it’s smooth and apply sealant or finish as desired.

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