June 13, 2020

Shop Fox W1704 Bench-Top Wood Lathe Review [UPDATED]

The Shop Fox W1704 is a benchtop wood lathe. If you are looking for a benchtop wood lathe that can carve diameters up to 8 inches? Many manufacturers make wood lathes, and you must know what to look for in a lathe to know that you are getting value for money. 

It will help you greatly if you know what you intend to carve and the type of wood you will turn. Some lathes are not cut out for every time of wood. This may leave you stranded if you buy the wrong one. 

The Shop Fox W1704 is a good portable benchtop lathe for small projects like turning pen barrels. It will also help you greatly when you want to make caricatures and small figurines. 

Shop Fox W1704 Bench-Top Wood Lathe

It measures 8 inches by 13 inches. It is a benchtop wood lathe with a 1/3 horsepower and 120 volt AC motor. The electronic speed varies from 700 to 3200 RPM. There is a distance of 14 inches between centers which means that you have to limit your projects to less. 

It is quite a portable lathe as it weighs 41 pounds. It also has an 8 1/2 inch swing over the bed. It makes sense that this is the lathe that you would use for the smaller projects on your list. 

Let us take a look at all that the W1704 can offer you.


This lathe is made of cast iron. Its width from one side to the other is 29 inches, while its depth is 10 1/2 inches, and its length is 13 inches. It has a paddle safety switch within reach, making cutting the power in time of emergency easy. 

The spindle speed dial is placed just next to the headstock, in the same vicinity as the on-off switch. The motor is placed just underneath the bed, while you can easily swing the tool rest over the bed. 

The quill lock handle is placed on top of the tailstock, ready to lock the quill in place when you need to. It also has a tailstock lever that locks it in place, attached with a tailstock adjustment knob.

Performance Review

All the parts that come with the lathe are well oiled, which is for protection. Check that all the parts are in place and working correctly when you unpack it. 

One of the most important things to check on is the alignment of the centers. You want to make shapes that are cylindrical and perfectly symmetrical. This will be impossible to do if the centers are off.


It comes with a 9-inch long power cord. This means that it is essential for you to keep the lathe close to a power source and ensure that there is no chance of anyone tripping on it. 

Before switching on the power, make sure to set the machine to low speed. You must follow all the precautions, especially for electric connections. It is one of the ways that you can injure yourself if you are not careful.

The manual guides you and ensures you know what you are doing when you operate the lathe. Avoid unnecessary mistakes and possible injuries by reading and adhering to them. 

Before adjusting anything on the lathe, ensure that the lathe is unplugged at the source to avoid accidents. 

Also, be sure to protect yourself with the necessary protective clothing. This includes wearing dust masks to protect you from inhaling any hazardous dust. Also, make sure that you do not wear any clothing that could potentially get caught in the machine at work. 

The lathe comes with a tool rest here. You can place tools when you are not using them. Before starting the machine, make sure that there are no loose tools. Shop Fox warns against this because the tools can be projected towards you when the motor starts to run, causing possible injury.

The lathe on its own is not complete. You will need to use other tools as you turn the wood. Make sure that you use the recommended accessories.

The variable speed rates need to complement the wood you are working on, including its size. This is why you must go through the manual to know what speeds work best. Experience with woodturning will also come in handy at this point. 

Also, always make sure that your turning tools are sharp and ready to carve through the wood that you are turning. If the tools are dull, they can cause injury by pulling your hand into the workpiece. 

Who is this product ideal for?

This lathe is meant to be used by trained operators. You should not be trying to operate this lathe if you are not trained. The manual warns you not to try to use this machine if you are not trained. 


  • It is perfect for small projects. 
  • It is durable
  • It is stable
  • It has variable speed control
  • It is accurate.


  • You can only use it on small projects. 
  • It does not have a work lamp attached to it, so you may need to rely on the room light.

Our Verdict

Have you ever wondered how you get to tun small projects such as pens, caricatures, or figurines?

It is an excellent lathe with just the right power to give you a seamless carving. When it comes to making cylindrical carvings, precision and accuracy are key.

The Shop Fox W1704 benchtop wood lathe is all you will need in a lathe this size. The cast iron construction makes it a sturdy machine, ready to deliver. Get carving the way you need to, using this portable and versatile lathe. Happy shopping! Be sure to check out our Shop Fox W1836 Benchtop Wood Lathe Review.

David D. Hughes

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