April 29, 2022

Jet 1640 Lathe Review


The JET JWL-1640 is an electronic variable-speed woodworking lathe loaded with cutting-edge features that separate it from others in its class. It has a sliding headstock, electronic variable speed ranging from 40 – 3200 RPM, and a newly designed headstock locking handle.

The headstock slides for maximum versatility, and the extended spindle nose houses dual headstock bearings. It features an Improved tailstock quill locking mechanism that incorporates an anti-rotation key.

The tailstock features Acme threads for smooth and durable movement, and the locking wedge system securely holds the tool post. The tool’s post-locking mechanism brings consistent strength. The spindle lock latch allows both hands to rest as you operate the lathe machine.

The lathe machine operates with 36 integrated indexing positions. What makes it convenient is the leg-mounted tool holder. The inverter is enclosed for added protection. The digital readout is in a convenient spot.


  • Added protection
  • Smooth 
  • Convenient 
  • Speed variance 
  • Versatile 


  • Not affordable 


Pulley and belt alignment 

The motor and spindle pulleys are aligned with each other by the manufacturer. If any service 

affects their alignment, realign. Engage the spindle lock, loosen two set screws on the spindle pulley with a 3mm hex key, and slide the spindle pulley into position. Retighten the set screws and disengage the spindle lock. When pulleys and belts are aligned, there should be no pulsing sounds or noise from the belt. Belt replacement requires a 3mm hex key. 

Sliding headstock

The sliding headstock pivots 360° and features seven preset positions for the comfortable turning larger pieces like trays. It operates at an infinitely variable speed ranging from 40 – 3200 rpm. The newly designed headstock locking handle is on the front side, so you no longer have to walk to the backside of the lathe to release the headstock.

The headstock is placed in an extended spindle nose with dual bearings for stronger hold and stability of the workpiece. The headstock features 36 indexing positions. The top of the headstock is fitted with a rubber pad to put aside your tools comfortably. 

Spindle indexing 

Indexing creates evenly spaced features in a workpiece while keeping the lathe spindle locked, like cutting flutes on a spindle blank with a hand-held router, while the spindle blank is between lathe centers. 

The Jet 1640 lathe provides 36 indexing positions at 10-degree increments. Rotate the spindle using the handwheel until the index pin aligns with the desired hole. Screw index pins into the hole until it engages the spindle. Unscrew the index pin until the spindle is released, and rotate the spindle to the next desired hole. Disengage index pin. Repeat the process.

Spindle lock 

Push the spindle lock pin and rotate the spindle slightly until the pin engages. Slide the plate downward to hold the pin in the locking position. Release the spindle lock by pushing the plate upward. A spindle lock prevents the spindle from turning (Mikesworkshop). 


To install, disconnect the lathe from the power source and mount the faceplate to your workpiece. Engage the spindle lock and install the faceplate onto threads of the headstock. Spindle and rotate clockwise, and tighten both set screws in the faceplate. 

The faceplate is now ready for turning. Tighten set screws in the faceplate before reversing lathe spindle rotation. To remove the faceplate, engage the spindle lock, loosen both set screws in the faceplate, and turn the faceplate counterclockwise with a faceplate wrench to loosen it. 

Operating controls 

To operate the On/Off switch, pull to start the lathe and push to stop. Remove the safety key to prevent unauthorized use of a lathe. Insert the safety key to restart the lathe. If a power outage occurs during operation, the lathe will not immediately restart when power resumes. 


Faceplates are the simplest, most reliable method of holding wood for turning, although you can still use chucks. There are dozens of chucks to choose from, but as a woodturner, consider all the types of turning that will be done and read reports or discuss with other turners who own chucks before making a decision. 

A chuck is handy when working on more than one piece. Rather than removing screws, you open the chuck and change workpieces. The popular ones are four-jaw scroll chucks with jaws to accommodate different size tenons. Most also come with a screw chuck.

Motor Brushes 

 Continuous use of a heavily worn or damaged motor brush causes damage to internal motor elements. Inspect the two carbon brushes located on each side of the moto. If motor brushes need replacing, replace both at the same time. 



The headstock has a powerful 1,1 kW motor offering high torque at various speeds. A frequency inverter secures the speed regulation with an inbuilt EMI filter connected to a digital display. The display is on the front side of the headstock. That is convenient enough.


The open-access door on the headstock. Loosen the pivot lock handle and lift the tension handle to raise the motor. Tighten the pivot lock handle to hold the lathe motor in the raised position. To change speed, disconnect the lathe from the power source.


The tailstock uses a high-quality and proven Acme thread improving its movement, accuracy, and set-up. The tailstock is robust and features a new wedge locking system. That allows a firm and stable connection to the lathe. The tailstock slides along the bedways and has a non-rotating spindle concentric with the main lathe spindle (Toolnotes.com

Tool rest 

A 14-inch tool rest comes with your lathe. It allows adjustment for height, position on the bed, and angle. Loosen locking handle on the tool rest base to slide the base forward or back, and angle it to the bed. 

Tighten the locking handle firmly before operating the lathe. Loosen the locking handle to raise or lower the tool rest and angle it. Tighten the locking handle before using the lathe. 

The tool rest extension mounts to the tool rest base and offers greater reach for the tool rest when turning off the bed when the headstock is at the opposite end. Pull the clamp bushings apart to accept the tool rest post.


The warranty lasts for five years. JET products carry a limited warranty which varies in duration based on the product. Accessories have a limited warranty of one year from the date of receipt. This warranty covers the purchaser of the product from the date of delivery and any material defects subject to the limitations stated below. 

This warranty does not cover failures due directly or indirectly to misuse, abuse, negligence or accidents, wear-and-tear, improper repair, alterations, or lack of maintenance. Using these machines in processing metal, plastics, or other materials may void the warranty. 


The Jet 1640 could have been a bit more affordable. However, it is worth it for a fully cast-iron lathe with an extra-wide lathe bed. The Jet 1640 Lathe represents great value with features that include a new headstock.


If you are looking for an affordable lathe tool, the Jet 1640 might not be your tool. However, its features make it worthwhile. Make sure it stays longer; stick to wood and other soft materials. The iron construction makes it durable. The control panel is convenient and easy to operate. You can still make it as a professional or beginner.

David D. Hughes

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