November 4, 2021

How Much Does A Wood Lathe Cost? | Guide + Money Saving Tips

Cost of lathe machine

I was recently asked, “How much does a wood lathe cost?” If you are interested in starting a woodworking business, you may be concerned about the cost of starting up. If you are thinking of getting your first lathe, you may wonder how much it costs. The good news is that the cost of owning a wood lathe varies depending on the model you choose, how much you want to spend, and what features you want on your lathe. You would likely have read our post about the best wood lathe so we won’t go into that.

What is a lathe?

A Lathe is a machine that shapes the material. Two types of lathes work on different materials. The Wood lathe only works on wood material. The chances are low that you can successfully use it on hard materials such as metal, and you may use it on plastic. The Metal lathe appears to be the universal machine that you can use on any material. 

The reason is: it has a hardened cutting tool that makes it easier and faster to cut through metal. It is a shaping machine with a heavy-duty motor. A Lathe has multiple parts, including a tailstock, headstock, carriage, bed, and many more. The shaping material involves rotating metal or wood against a cutting tool, and the cutting tool has a single blade. 

The workpiece must be fixed onto the machine, and the cutting tool does not move or rotate. The wood lathe is lightweight and smaller, which is why Metal lathes must be mounted as they are heavy. 

The turning process characterizes lathe machines, ideal for parts that take up the cylinder shape. Other processes occur when using the Lathe machine, including threading, drilling, boring, and many more.

A lathe machine is used in metalworking, turning, woodturning, and glass. It is for sanding, cutting, knurling, penetrating, and twisting of devices used in making objects which have symmetry. These include crankshafts, camshafts, table legs, bowls, and candle holders. 

There are multiple types of lathe machines available in the market. These include both stationary and portable lathe machines. The portable ones are operable and more affordable. However, you should have an overall look at both lathe machines to choose the best.

Wood lathe projects.


Making bangles is the starting point of your wood lathe projects and requires traditional woodwork knowledge. Bangles are ideal for the initial experiment since they are easy to make, and basic movements and turning techniques are needed. Even if the early attempts are not satisfactory, keep practicing. If you cannot wax, buff the bangle, which is ready for use.

Wooden rings

Wooden rings are more like bangles. The technique is the same, although wooden rings are a bit smaller. That requires the user to practice working on smaller and more intricate items. Wood rings are better on hardwoods, and they complement wooden bangles. Your results depend on your wood selection.

Bottle stoppers

Bottle stoppers are a bit more advanced than wooden rings, but they are still easy to make. Making stoppers sharpen your turning skills and teach new skills. Focus on applying correct techniques and following details. There are extra pieces you need besides the wood, which is the bottle stopper kit. 

Wooden Spoons

A wooden spoon is a kitchen utensil that sharpens your learning skills. The homemade wooden spoon comes in any shape of your choice, and start with the standard shape till you can do more complex shapes. 

Pick a photo and start making your spoon. There is a need for extra equipment other than the lathe, the wood lathe chuck, and the tool rest. If you intend to use varnish to finish, get the food-grade varnish. 


There are numerous variations of pots to make. The pot comes with a hole drilled inside. Make it wide enough to accommodate the stems of flowers. Although you cannot put water on them for long, they survive for days. Follow instructions to make the process bearable. It helps you practice on smooth surfaces. That is when you showcase your creative skills.


Making bowls requires simple designs in your early stages. Turning large bowls does not make them elegant. When not experienced, the results are likely to be unpleasant. Develop your skills first and try a bigger one from your previous project. Grab as many ideas as you can as you start making more attempts. 

Root vase

Turning a root vase is an advanced project once you have mastered the art of turning. It needs skill and experience in woodturning so that you create a beautiful and valuable piece of art. 

Invest in woodturning before making root vases since that may cost you new materials. Take the learning curve slow and build your skills before making complex items. Making intricate designs with success is proof enough that you are good at woodturning.

Hand-powered wood lathe

A hand-powered Wood lathe is a cutting machine that you operate with your hands without the need for power, and it is just as easy to control and use. 

Wood lathe brands include:

How much does a good lathe cost? How much is a lathe machine

You can get a decent lathe from about the $1000+ mark. Upwards of $5000 is where you start getting the consistently good ones. Above the $10,000, you get the excellent ones. $50,000+/- is the sweet spot if you want an absolute beast. The standard price for a lathe machine ranges from 50 to the low end. These are usually Noname or cheap brands, ideal for DIY users with low volume demands. The commercial ones may cost as much as 55,000 or even 100s of thousands depending on features, size, and quality. Wood lathes, designed for home use, start from 75 to more than 1,200. 

The Cheapest DIY lathe we found is the OPHIR Mini Wood Lathe at $59.

At the $1000+ mark are decent lathes such as the JET JWL-1221VS and the Grizzly Industrial G0462.

At the $5000+ mark are lathes such as the Powermatic 3520C.

At the $10,000+ mark are lathes such as the JET GHB-1340A-TAK Lathe, Baileigh PL-1340 & South Bend SB1060PF.

Above the $50,000 mark is the JET GH1860-ZX.

Metal Wood Lathe

A metal lathe or metalworking lathe is a large class of lathes meant for hard machining materials. It performs a variety of machining processes, including cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, and turning. Lathes are there to deform and reshape wooden workpieces.

Wood Lathe Accessories


The lathe machine gets powered by electricity from a socket. The electricity runs through the motor. The motor is the heart of the lathe. The lathe motor ranges from ¾ to 2hp. That depends on the model of the lathe. The area where the engine is is known as the headstock. It is in any area on the headstock.

Tool Rest

Use the tool rest as you cannot operate holding your tools. The coolest ensures your safety and convenience. You place your tool bits on the rest, giving you room to use your lathe effectively. Tool Rests are adjustable.


For a small bench lathe, you need a sturdy bench for mounting. Already you would have set aside the material you want to work on.

How can I save money?

Knowing the cost of a lathe is not the only way to save money. You can save money by buying a second-hand lathe. However, it has to be from trusted suppliers before you buy another one. Make sure you check all the parts. They work well. 

If you do not want a second-hand lathe, look for a good quality lathe machine within your budget. Compare its features with your needs. If they match, go for it. Buying a lathe machine is a process that you start planning and saving for it. However, saving does not mean spending your last cent on the lathe machine. 

David D. Hughes

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