Woodworkers have been turning pens for many years as a form of woodworking. While it may appear like a straightforward procedure, each item is made up of several complex procedures. For this reason, having the appropriate pen-turning equipment is crucial to accurately and effectively complete the task.
Therefore if you’re looking to start turning pens, the pen lathe can be an excellent way to get started on your woodturning journey and make some cool stuff while you’re at it. There are many kinds of pen-turning lathes on the market, but as a woodworker, you need to know which will suit your needs and preferences best. This blog post will look at the best pen-turning lathe every woodturner should own!
The Best Pen Turning Lathe for Woodworkers
RIKON 70-105 Mini Lathe – Our Top Pick
Are you looking for a powerful and precise pen-turning lathe? Look no further than the RIKON Power Tools 70-105. This top-of-the-line lathe is perfect for anyone who wants to create beautiful pens easily. Thanks to its 1/2 HP motor and 5-speed ranger, this lathe has enough power to drill barrel holes, rough out pen billets, shape them, and finish them.
Another feature that makes it stand out for pen turning is the average distance between centers which usually dictates the length of the wood blank. It has a long 18” between centers, allowing you to turn a blank as long as 18 inches. Another feature that made us pick this lathe for pen turning was its cast iron body. Unlike other lathes made of aluminum, a lathe made from the iron cast has the ability to reduce vibration. Therefore with reduced vibrations, you are expected to make smooth pens.
The last thing that made it appear as our top pick was the compact size. Weighing only 75 pounds, it is small enough to carry and use in cramped areas. Also, it is very easy to store when not in use. The only drawback I would mention is the power and not having a variable speed control. Otherwise, this is the best mini lathe for pen turning you would get that has everything you need to start turning pens.
Jet JWL-1221VS– runners up
This lathe is one of the best on the market for a few reasons. First, it has a very powerful motor that can handle even the toughest materials. Second, it has a wide range of speeds, so you can adjust it to get the perfect finish on your project. Third, it has many great features that make it easy to use, like a quick-change chuck and a removable yellow On/Off safety key. Fourth, it has a very sturdy build quality that will last for years.
It has a 1HP motor, and unlike the Rikon 70-105 with a 1/2 HP, this lathe appears to be more powerful. Also, it bost an added feature of speed. With variable speed control, you can choose from three speed ranges as low as from 60-900,110-1,800, and 220-3,600 RPM. This is important if you are going to engage in other projects rather than pen-turning.
The final thing that made it appear in the second position was the distance between the center. It has 20.5 inches between centers, allowing you to work on a much bigger blank than the Rikon. However, it is heavier and more expensive than the Rikon, which disqualified it from appearing on top of the list. However, this would be the best if you are looking for a more powerful, big, and versatile lathe.
SHOP FOX W1704 – The budget choice
Shop Fox is one of our best for those looking for a quality pen-turning lathe at an affordable price. It’s a great lathe for beginners and experienced woodworkers alike. It has a powerful 1/3 HP and variable speed variable-speed motor that delivers spindle speeds between 700-3,200 revolutions per minute (RPM) so you can get the perfect speed for your project.
Another thing to note about this lathe is that it features a 12-inch bed length to work on, which means you have more space than some of the smaller models. This enables it to tackle pen turning easily and other small projects such as bowl turning.
It is also designed to fit neatly on a workstation and weighs only 55 pounds, making it portable. The cast iron body helps avoid vibration, leading to inaccurate projects. Additionally, it is covered by a 2-year warranty, making it a safe investment. Therefore, you want a durable lathe that can handle various projects. Plus, the one that’s easy to set up and use so that you can get started on your projects immediately without difficulty.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Pen Turning Lathe
When selecting a pen-turning lathe, the motor should be your first priority. You need a lathe that can handle the material you’ll be dealing with and has a strong motor. A weak lathe motor will not be able to operate the spindle at high speeds or deliver sufficient torque for the task. A 1/2 HP motor is sufficient for turning pens.
Ranges of speed
A good pen-turning lathe should have a speed range of at least 500 to 3,000 RPM. This will allow you to work with various materials without worrying about the lathe being too slow or too fast. Additionally, a wide speed range will give you more control over the finished product.
Most quality lathes also include variable speeds, which allow you to switch between fast and slow speeds depending on your working material. If you’re considering buying an entry-level model, find out if it comes with variable speeds or not. If it doesn’t, you might want to look at a different model or invest in accessories like foot controls or drive belts.
Quality of Construction
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, you want a lathe that will handle whatever you throw at it. Regarding construction quality, the best pen-turning lathes are made from heavy-duty materials like cast iron or steel. This ensures they’re built to last and can withstand years of use. These materials also help dampen vibration, which is essential for getting a smooth finish on your pens.
The Distance Between Centers
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a pen-turning lathe is the distance between centers. This measurement will determine how long or short your finished pens can be. Depending on the type of pens you want to make, you’ll need to choose a lathe with the appropriate distance between centers.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering the distance between centers:
- The blank size: You’ll need to ensure the blank is small enough to fit on the lathe.
- Your experience level: For beginners, I recommend going for a lathe with a smaller distance between centers to control your project easily.
The diameter of an object measures a swing – that could be turned on the lathe. Swing doesn’t need to be as wide as the distance between centers because no matter how big it is, you will not use it in pen turning.
check Best Woods for Turning
Summary: Best pen turning lathe
Now that you know the best pen-turning lathe, it’s time to start your next project. With the right tools and a little practice, you’ll be able to create beautiful pens that friends and family will cherish for years to come. The RIKON 70-105 Mini Lathe is best for beginners who want a mini lathe that can easily control the project. However, it lacks the variable speed control feature, so we picked the Jet JWL-1221VS lathe with variable speed control. It is also more versatile than the Rikon lathe. But it was more expensive, and you can opt-out for SHOP FOX W1704, which is more affordable and also poses enough power and variable speed.