When you need to turn wood that’s larger than most lathes can handle, it’s time to get out the big guns! A wood lathe that can turn large bowls and other large pieces of furniture and art is available if you know where to look. Whether you’re just getting started with this craft or have been at it for years, several wood lathes are specifically designed to accommodate large bowls without sacrificing quality or speed. Read on to find out about the three best wood lathes for turning large bowls!
The swing height and headstock spindle size are the two most crucial factors to take into account when selecting a lathe capable of turning a large bowl. The swing is the distance between the lathe’s spindle and the bed. A small swing will limit your bowl’s diameter. The headstock spindle size is the part that holds the blank for both the faceplate and spindle work.
Wood lathe for turning large Bowls
These lathes are powerful, precise, and easy to use, making them perfect for professional and amateur woodworkers.
The first is a great all-around choice that offers a lot of versatility. The second is excellent for those who need a more compact model. Finally, the third is our pick for those looking for an affordable option that still delivers top-quality results.
1. Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable-Speed Midi Lathe – Editors Choice
On top of the list is our wood lathe from the delta company, which has earned its reputation for producing high-quality woodworking tools over the year. With a 12 ½ inch swing capacity and 46 between centres, this lathe can handle just about any size bowl you throw at it. Plus, the variable speed control means you can tailor your speed to the project at hand, ensuring a perfect finish every time.
The 1-horsepower maximum motor works at 1725 RPM, producing enough torque and speed to tackle even highly complex wood while also preventing tool overheating. And the most important is that you can slow it down to 250 rpm for your large creations.
Another feature that makes it top of the list is the forward-reverse capability which you easily activate by a switch. The forward-reverse capability is essential when it comes to sanding and polishing bowls. It will enable you to rotate the turned piece in both directions, making room for a much better and smooth finish. Remember that Sanding a turned piece with the grain causes the wood fibres to lay down and remain rough.
The final thing to consider was this lathe’s ability to reduce vibrations, which causes inaccuracy in your final product. It has a cast iron body which is meant for durability and strength. The only thing you would complain about is that this lathe has a manual variable speed. You have to change it yourself. Otherwise, this is the best wood lathe you would require to turn a large bowl.
2. RIKON Power Tools 70-105 – runners up
While not as big as some of its competitors, with only 10 inches of swing and 18 inches between centres, the RIKON Power Tools Mini Lathe packs a punch in both power and versatility. Fully equipped with live gears that never need oiling, this lathe delivers smooth cuts from start to finish.
Though it is largely advertised for turning small things like pens, I make bowls on this lathe. The five-speed ranges run by a powerful ½ HP motor provide ample power for all turning needs, which include turning a bowl to shape and finishing.
Another thing that makes it great for bowl turning is its ability to withstand vibrations, thanks to the cast iron mechanism. So vibration is not a factor, unlike other lathes made of aluminium.
And if you’re worried about storage space, don’t be: the benchtop design folds down flat for easy storage when not in use. Great for smaller spaces or for hobbyists who want something they can easily put away when done. Otherwise, the only drawback you would encounter is that you will have limitations to turning bowls above the 9 inches diameter. However, this shouldn’t be a turn-off considering that most bowls are less than 11″.
3. SHOP FOX W1704 – The budget choice
If you’re looking for a powerful but affordable wood lathe, look no further than the SHOP FOX W1704 Lathe. Though not as big as some of its competitors, it has the upper hand regarding price and compatibility.
This lathe has a 1⁄3 HP variable-speed motor. It can deliver spindle speeds between 700 and 3,200 revolutions per minute (RPM) with the ability to turn bowls up to 8 inches in diameter. The variable speed gives you plenty of control when working on projects, and it even includes a tool rest extension so taller people won’t have any issues working on this machine.
Another advantage is that it comes packed with a faceplate; therefore, you will not be required to buy another if you don’t have one. The 5-3/4-inch faceplate, which threads onto the headstock spindle, will give you an easy time turning and finishing your bowl. Like other lathes on the list, It’s well-built with a Cast-iron body to reduce vibrations and has a two-year warranty.
The only downside I would highlight is that soon after using it for a while, you will get hooked on bowl turning and want to upgrade. You will want at least a lathe with a swing large enough to do a 10 or 12-inch diameter.
What to Look For in a Wood Lathe for turning large bowls
You should keep a few things in mind when shopping for a wood lathe that will be good for turning large bowls.
1. You’ll want to ensure the lathe is sturdy and has a large enough weight capacity to accommodate your project. It won’t be worth buying if it is too heavy or too big for your workspace.
2. You’ll need to consider the size of the swing over the bed and ensure it’s long enough to accommodate your largest bowl.
3. Third, you’ll want to think about how easy it is to change speeds on the lathe and whether or not you can do it with one hand.
4. Another important consideration is the motor. You will want to pick a lathe with a powerful motor that will deliver more consistent results and will handle larger projects easier. Also, ensure that it is a cast-iron base to reduce vibrations.
5. Finally, you may want to think about how easy it is to maintain the machine and clean it up after use. And also don’t forget to check if the lathe has good customer support in case of any problems.
Whether a professional woodworker or a hobbyist, a high-quality wood lathe is essential for turning large bowls. The Delta Industrial 46-460 is our first recommendation because it’s a heavy-duty machine with enough power to turn any bowl smaller than 12. The second pick, RIKON Power Tools 70-105, has been one of our favourites for years due to its versatility and compactness. It also gives users many options for different types of projects. The third pick is SHOP FOX W1704, which offers many features without breaking your budget.