A midi lathe is the perfect tool for woodturning tasks that involve midsize workpieces, so long as it’s well-designed and equipped with all the features needed to achieve top tier results.
That’s why I put this list together—to help you find the best midi lathe for your project! Let’s begin!
In a hurry? The JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe is the best midi lathe because it’s efficient, reliable, easy to use, and equipped with a handful of innovative features.
Quick Answer: Here are My Favorites! 👇
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Best Midi Lathes
- Best Overall – JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe
- Best Quality – Delta Variable-Speed MIDI Lathe
- Best Midi Lathe for the Money – WEN Benchtop Wood Lathe
- Smoothest Operation – RIKON Midi Lathe
- Most Capacity – WAHUDA Midi Lathe
1. JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe – Best Overall
- Innovative Design: Ratchet-style belt tension system (patent pending)
- Optimal Speed: Choose from three speed ranges (60-900/110-1,800/220-3,600)
- Convenient Controls: Easy-to-reach controls and digital readout
The JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe is advertised as a truly unique and efficient midi lathe that’s great for experienced and inexperienced woodturners, and not only do I agree with these points but I must add a couple too, for it’s versatile and built to last.
This midi lathe is powered by a 115V, single-phase motor, and since it’s a variable-speed system it can generate 60-3,600 RPM.
It can also switch from clockwise to counterclockwise spinning seamlessly, which I like because I change spinning direction frequently.
A ball bearing system ensures the spindle lasts long and works properly all the while, and there’s a spring-loaded spindle lock to ensure accuracy. The spindle thread is 1” x 8 TPI.
Its ratchet-style belt system is the most innovative part by far, and it ensures belt changes are quick and easy—a big plus in my book.
The tailstock taper is an MT2, there are 24 indexing positions, and there’s a storage basket so you can keep workpieces, woodturning tools, and accessories close by.
Additionally, it has wide table legs to ensure stability, and there’s a bed extension you can buy to bump its total capacity up to 43”.
As far as dimensions go, its swing-over bed is 12.5”, while the distance between centers is 20.5”.
It’s 33.6” x 11” x 17.7” and weighs 121.25 lbs which I’ve found to be the perfect size.
Finally, it comes with a five-year warranty if it’s going to be used for industrial or commercial use; or a two-year warranty if it’s being used for recreational work.
What I Liked:
- It delivers precise results consistently because you can make incredibly fine adjustments.
- It can accommodate small and midsize workpieces thanks to its streamlined structure.
- Its tailstock slides well and locks easily to ensure precise cutting.
- It has numerous features to ensure accuracy, efficiency, and safety, yet it’s easy to use.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Transitioning from the lowest speed to any higher speed can be bumpy.
- The powerful motor is one of the noisier ones I’ve encountered on a midi lathe.
2. Delta Variable-Speed MIDI Lathe – Best Quality
- Powerful 1 hp max, 1,725 rpm motor
- Large 12-1/2-inch swing capacity provides the largest capacity in its class. Drive spindle: 1 inch -8 RH TPI thread
- Electronic variable Speed with three-pulley speed ranges provide the required speeds needed to turn a project without changing belt position
If you want stunning results every time you turn wood, consider the Delta Variable-Speed MIDI Lathe, as it’s a powerful, durable, and easy-to-use midi lathe that can be a game-changer for virtually any woodworking task.
Powered by a 120V motor, it has three speed settings: 250-700 RPM, 600-1,800 RPM, and 1,350-4,000-RPM.
Like other high-quality systems, it does forward and reverse spinning flawlessly, and its swing capacity is 12-1/2”.
Its six-groove belt can be adjusted in seconds, and it’ll automatically move itself to the best possible spot before locking in. This feature keeps the tool running efficiently for longer, and it might be the thing I like most.
The spindle it employs is 1” x 8 RH TPI, there’s an M2 taper, and it has 24 indexing positions.
Plus, it’s made of cast iron, so it’s not only stronger but more stable.
It has ball bearing wheels to ensure seamless turning, and it comes with a 3” faceplate, a steel knockout bar, and two tool rests (6” and 10”).
As far as dimensions go, it’s 36” x 11” x 17-3/4” with a 9-9/16” swing-over base, and the distance between its centers is 16-1/2” when fully extended to 42”.
Also, it’s lighter than other models, even though it’s made with stronger materials.
Finally, there’s a tool storage area to provide that extra convenience I love, and it’s backed by a five-year limited warranty.
What I Liked:
- Compact design and minimal weight make it easy to store and great for use in tight spaces.
- Seamless transitioning from forward to reverse spinning ensures ultra-smooth cuts.
- Six-groove belt system ensures it can handle larger, heavier workpieces.
- Speed is easy to adjust and predictable in all ranges, so you can operate the lathe comfortably.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Bed bumps can make the tool hard to slide and extend.
- Sturdier tool rests would be nice.
3. WEN Benchtop Wood Lathe – Best Midi Lathe for the Money
- Attack work pieces up to 18 inches long and 12 inches wide
- Switch between five different speeds: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 RPM
- Includes 3-1/8 inch Faceplate for turning bowls, cups and other non-spindle work pieces
The WEN Benchtop Wood Lathe may be at the lower end of the price range, but it’s one of the most capable and well-designed budget midi wood lathes I’ve ever used.
It’s powered by a 4.5 amp motor, and whereas other wood lathes have just three speed settings, this one has five: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, and 3400 RPM.
Its 3-1/8” faceplate makes it a wonderful lathe for turning bowls, cups, and other workpieces that don’t require a spindle.
Two MT2 tapers are employed—one at the headstock and one at the tailstock. This arrangement ensures a variety of lathe accessories can be used, which is big for me since I have a lot of these.
An 8-inch tool rest is also included, and it’s kept in place with a lever clamping system.
And as far as dimensions go, this wood lathe is 30.5 x 8.75 x 16.25 inches with a 12” swing-over capacity, and it weighs just 70.3 lbs, even though most of its components are metallic.
Finally, it comes with a two-year limited warranty.
What I Liked:
- It has more fixed speed settings than other wood lathes, so you get more control.
- It’s built with mostly metallic components, so there’s no wobbling at any speed.
- It’s lightweight and compact, so it’s easy to transport and maneuver.
- It has a sturdy tool rest so achieving top-tier results is much easier.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Accessing the belts can be complicated and time-consuming.
- It has trouble sustaining max RPM for an extended period.
4. RIKON Midi Lathe – Smoothest Operation
- Powerful 1HP DC Motor provides ample power for all turning needs
- Electronic variable speed controls, wider range of operating speeds, digital RPM readout for forward and…
- Pivoting belt cover for easy access when changing belt speeds
The RIKON Midi Lathe is one of the easiest midi lathes to operate, mainly because a handful of components are included solely for the purpose of ensuring smooth operation, regardless of what the task may be.
Equipped with a powerful 6 amp motor, this midi lathe has three speed ranges: 250-850 RPM, 430-1450 RPM, and 950-3200 RPM.
Like other top-tier midi lathes, it has a 12” swing-over bed, and the distance between centers is 16-1/2”.
But one thing that separates it from most of its peers are the magnets on the back of the control box. These ensure the box can be placed anywhere, providing more control and safety—it’s always right there in case I need to shut down in an emergency.
Additionally, belt changes can be handled quickly and without much fuss because the housing cover pivots for easier access.
And here too a ball bearing system is employed for smoother and more accurate spindle operation, but it’s better than some of the others I’ve come across.
And every critical component aligns perfectly, which can’t be said of other systems.
There are 24 indexing positions, of course, and MT2 tapers are utilized at the headstock and tailstock.
Its size is pretty average at 39” x 13-3/8” x 15-5/8”, and at 95 lbs it’s neither too heavy nor too light.
Lastly, when you purchase this midi lathe, you get one spur and one live center, a 3” faceplate, a 6” tool rest, knock-out bars, two hex wrenches, a tool holder, and a five-year limited warranty.
What I Liked:
- Easy to operate carefully and safely thanks to movable control box.
- Locks keep adjustable components firmly in place to ensure accuracy.
- Lag-free digital readout ensures you can change speed without interruption.
- Belt changes are quick and simple thanks to easy-access housing.
What I Didn’t Like:
- An attached extender can sometimes cause wobbling due to uneven weight distribution.
- After-purchase support isn’t the best.
5. WAHUDA Midi Lathe – Most Capacity
- Wahuda Tools has listened to many people’s suggestions and integrated the most desirable features into our…
- The exceptional 1HP AC motor that is perfectly paired with an inverter that maintains a higher and more…
- The Midi Lathe has three speed ranges (30-800, 150-1,700, and 350-3,700 RPM) which can be easily changed with…
The WAHUDA Midi Lathe is an attractive midi lathe for numerous reasons, but its extra capacity is the quality that sets it apart from the other top-tier models.
Specifically, its swing-over capacity is 14”, and I’ve found that this extra 1-1/2” makes a big difference when I’m turning larger workpieces.
It also has an incredibly powerful 13 amp, three-phase induction motor that’s capable of generating and sustaining up to 3,600 RPM.
Again, 2MT tapers are utilized for the headstock and tailstock, and the spindle thread is 1-1/4” x 8 TPI.
It employs a three-step poly-V pulley system and a load-sensing inverter to ensure maximum torque and stable spindle spinning.
And like with virtually every midi lathe, there are 24 indexing positions, and the distance between centers is 16”.
The tool rest is smaller, however, at 6”, but it is supported by a sturdy 1” post.
For dimensions, it’s 32” x 17” x 13”, and it weighs 90 lbs.
There are also threaded holes at the bottom, so you can mount it to your workbench for more stability—big fan!
Lastly, it comes with a two-year limited warranty that covers defects related to materials or workmanship.
What I Liked:
- More swing-over capacity ensures larger workpieces can be turned comfortably.
- The motor self-cools at lower RPM settings to ensure efficiency and longevity.
- Larger spindle helps with eliminating wobbling.
- Speed control is responsive and doesn’t “jump” when switched, ensuring smoother operation.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Digital rpm readout can be hard to see sometimes.
- A two-year limited warranty is pretty short for an intricate and expensive midi lathe.
What to Consider When Choosing an Midi Lathe
Quality & Reliability
When it comes to midi lathes, quality and reliability go hand in hand. Put differently, if your system is well-designed and made with high-quality components, it’ll probably operate efficiently for many years, so long as it’s taken care of.
Quality midi lathes contain mostly steel components, and each piece is finally machined so everything fits together perfectly.
Moreover, the best midi lathes are neither too heavy nor too light, and they’re compact to ensure portability and maneuverability.
And just because a midi lathe is relatively simple doesn’t mean it can’t achieve top-notch results consistently. In fact, it’s the over-engineered lathes that’ll give you more headaches than quality results, but fortunately such lathes are more common in the full-size category.
Want to know how to use Midi Lathes more effectively? Check out the video down below!
As is the case with virtually all power tools, the motor is the most important part of a midi lathe.
These tools may be on the smaller side, but most are equipped with powerful motors that are capable of generating thousands of RPM.
And the really cool thing about a lot of these motors is they’re powerful yet relatively quiet, and they don’t generate a lot of vibrations. This latter point is especially important for lathes because wobbling is the one thing that’s simply intolerable.
But just because a motor can generate more than 3,000 RPM for several seconds doesn’t mean it can sustain that speed for an extended period, but more on this in the next section.
The main takeaway here is: the best midi lathes are equipped with powerful, efficient motors that run quietly, vibrate less, and self-cool when in use.
Are you a beginner wood turner? I highly recommend one of these beginner wood lathes for anyone getting started!
Speed control is everything on a lathe. If you can’t control how fast your lathe is spinning, achieving those distinct woodturning results will be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
An excellent lathe will have at least three speed ranges, and transitioning from range to range will be seamless.
The two components responsible for spindle speed are the motor and the belt-and-pulley system. If a variable-speed system is equipped with a powerful motor and a larger belt system, it’ll be able to generate and sustain thousands of RPM with no issue.
Size & Capacity
Size and capacity are also essential qualities that must be considered when shopping for midi lathes. After all, its their size and capacity that distinguish them from mini lathes and full-size lathes.
Most midi lathes are compact, benchtop systems with a swing-over capacity between 12″ and 12-1/2″, and some can even be mounted to a workbench for greater stability.
There are some stand-alone models too, and even these (with their wide legs) don’t take up a lot of floor space.
Plus, most midi lathes can be extended to increase their capacity, but extenders are usually sold separately.
The best midi lathes have a range of features to ensure safe and efficient operation.
For example, some lathes have easy-to-access belt pulleys that automatically lock into the ideal spot after an adjustment is made.
Other lathes have a movable digital RPM readout to ensure better control, and usually a high-quality faceplate is included to make turning bowls a breeze.
I already touched on the critical features lathe motors boast, but it’s also important to point out that nearly every other feature these tools possess is possible because of a capable motor.
And none of the common features complicate operation, which is why most midi lathes are accessible to professionals and hobbyists alike.
Price & Warranty
Midi lathes may not cost as much as full-size versions, but they’re far from cheap.
That said, you can find budget midi lathes, and these are closer to midi lathes in terms of price.
For a high-quality midi lathe, expect to spend between $700 and $1,100.
The vast majority of midi lathes available today come with some kind of multi-year warranty; usually it’s a five-year warranty
Generally, a higher price translates to a longer and more generous warranty, but the WAHUDA Midi Lathe proves this isn’t always the case.
What are Midi Lathes Used for?
A midi lathe is designed to accommodate workpieces that are too big for mini lathes and too small for full-size lathes.
They have powerful motors and a lot of the capabilities full-size lathes boast, but they’re not as big nor as expensive.
Some woodturners question whether midi lathes should even exist, but the simple truth is this: certain workpieces are perfectly sized for midi lathes. Therefore, if these didn’t exist, turning such pieces would be challenging.
Plus, the midi lathe is probably the easiest to learn. And once you master the midi, it shouldn’t take you long to master a mini or full-size lathe.
Wondering what projects to start with? Check out these amazing wood lathe projects that sell!
To recap, the best midi lathe overall is the JET JWL-1221VS Wood Lathe, as it’s expertly designed to deliver top-notch results consistently, yet it’s accessible to professional woodturners and hobbyists alike.
Then there’s the Delta Variable-Speed MIDI Lathe, which distinguishes itself from virtually all its peers by being one of the toughest and most precise midi lathes on the market right now.
And last but certainly not least is the WEN Benchtop Wood Lathe—the best midi lathe for anyone who doesn’t want to spend top dollar. It may be cheaper, but it’s capable of achieving results that more expensive products could never deliver.