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10 Best Lathes for Pen Turning (2023) – [Mini & Midi Wood Lathe]

best lathe for pen turning

Whether you’re an expert pen turner or hobbyist, you’ll need the best lathe for pen turning. It is an indispensable tool that will help you turn simple woods into beautiful pens.

That said, sometimes finding the best pen turning lathes gets tricky knowing that there are many options available to choose from.

However, you can set your mind at peace today as I am about to show you the top 10 mini wood lathes for pen turning.

So, without further delay, let’s get started.

Best Mini Wood Lathe for Pen Turning (Midi Included) – [My Top Picks]

Best Lathes for Pen Turning – Reviews (2023)

Here are the 10 best mini pen lathes you should know about.

1. JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Pen Turning Midi Wood Lathe – Best Overall

JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Pen Turning Midi Wood Lathe – Best Overall

Key Points:

  • Comes with a quiet motor.
  • Adjustable speed.
  • Secure locking system.
  • Comes with digital readout.
  • A bit heavy.
  • No feet Rubber.

Jet offers some great wood pen lathes, which are reliable, and feature-packed. The JET JWL-1221VS wood lathe is no exception. If pen making is just a hobby or you do it because of the profession, you cannot go past this lathe.

The motor inside the lathe is capable of 60-3600 RPM operation. That is a wide range of RPM to control that gives the freedom to work with.

Also, the lathe can turn forward and reverse for your convenience. They made the transition smoother and easier to work with as well.

This wood pen making lathe has a spring-loaded integrated lock system, acme thread at the tailstock, and 24 indexing positions. This allows for maintaining a fixed position while working on a pen.

They made it with sturdy materials with long service life in mind. So, having one of these means you don’t have to worry about the consistency of the build or the lasting length.

After reading all the features, it’s easy to realize whether it is making, cutting, and shaping a pen this is the best overall wood lathe for you.

2. Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Wood Lathe for Pen Turning – Best for the Money

Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Wood Lathe for Pen Turning - Best for the Money

Key Points:

  • Sturdy Steel Build.
  • Low Noise motor.
  • Unique patented belt system.
  • No digital display.
  • May slip on vibration.

Delta made a name for its cost-effective industrial product. The Delta Industrial 46-460 Midi Wood Lathe is a good example of that. If you are a beginner and looking for an affordable yet powerful lathe, this is your best for the money buy.

This midi lathe comes with 1 HP motor capable of producing a maximum 4,000 RPM coupled with a swing capacity of 12-1/2 inch and pulley system to regulate speed.

For superior finish and precision, the lathe can go forward and reverse with ease. You only need to flip a switch to change the turning orientation.

The belt tensioning system in this pen making lathe is patented. The unique six groove belt is super proficient at speed changes and offers a longer life span.

The steel construction is sturdy and durable. Additionally, it comes with a faceplate of 3 inches, another one of 6 inches, and the 10-inch tool rest for maximum tool compatibility.

When you are just starting, you would want a top rated lathe for pen turning and have all the features under your belt. Fortunately, Delta delivers all that at a reasonable price.

3. SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Wood Lathe – Best Mini Lathe for Pen Turning

SHOP FOX W1704 Benchtop Wood Lathe - Best Mini Lathe for Pen Turning

Key Points:

  • Easy to operate.
  • It comes with two tool rest.
  • It takes less space.
  • Not suitable for big projects.
  • Tool rest comes loose after a while.

Proper space utilization is very important in a small wood workshop. Individuals who interested to peruse a hobby in confined spaces should look for mini lathe for pen making.

Luckily, the Shop Fox W1704 is one of the Best Mini Lathes for Pen Turning and a great buy in respect of exploiting your tight workspace.

The machine is built with cast iron. That implies despite its small form factor, it will be strong enough to handle the rough workload.

It has a fairly powerful 0.33 HP motor which can run on 110V. It also gives liberty to control from 700-3200 RPM. Additionally, they have two added tool rests. One of which is 4-1/2 and the other one 7-inch. That’s plenty for any turning application.

This pen maker’s lathe comes with 12 inches of space from wide 5-3/4 inches headstock to the tailstock. Also 8 inches of swing over bed function.

That allows creativity in any penning project. It’s really hard to ignore, all the features that come in a small package.

4. WEN 3420T Variable Speed Mini Lathe – Best Budget Lathe for Pen Turning

WEN 3420T Variable Speed Mini Lathe - Best Budget Lathe for Pen Turning

Key Points:

  • Easy speed control.
  • Comes with motor protection.
  • Ideal for the small workpiece.
  • Simple tool rest and spindle adjustment.
  • Moves with heavy vibration.

Every woodwork shop demands tools that are great at what they do. Consequently, those tools come with a heavy price tag. It doesn’t have to be like that when you have the best budget lathe for pen turning from WEN.

This WEN 3420T pen making wood lathe has a wide 5” faceplate and MT1 spindle tailstock. Meaning it would handle any woodturning work like a pro.

The 2 amps motor is capable of soft start making it safe from damages. Furthermore, you can adjust the RPM from 750-3200 according to your work need.

The lathe also comes with a flat wrench, spur center, and cup center on both stocks. With those, you can turn any small to medium wood piece comfortably.

Its exceptional clamping system allows you to adjust two 4-1/2” and 7” tool rest and spindle tailstock. Ultimately granting you great precision in slimline pen projects.

WEN 3420T is a true beginner pen turning lathe. Now you can take your passion for turning a pen forward at the convenience of your budget.

5. Nova 71118 Comet II DR Digital Readout Pen Making Midi Wood Lathe

Nova 71118 Comet II DR Digital Readout Pen Making Midi Wood Lathe

Key Points:

  • Solid build.
  • Easy to assemble.
  • High powered motor.
  • Ideal for a small workshop.
  • Digital readout.
  • A bit heavy weighted.
  • Makes noises.

Nova 71118 Comet II DR is a capable pen turning mini lathe. This bench-top tool is well built with strong materials to last through your many pen makings as well as woodworking projects.

The whole body of the lathe is constructed with solid cast iron. Though this is a portable version still it brings sturdiness and longer service life of a regular big lathe machine.

This powerful lathe features a 0.75 HP motor that can rotate forward and reverse between 250- 4000 RPM with ease. Unlike other lathes, it has digital display and control for precise speed access.

The distance between 2 stock heads is respectively 12 and 16.5 inches. Moreover, the bed space can be extended up to 40 inches with additional purchase.

Like the previous lathes, it features 3” faceplate, adjustable tailstock, 3 stage pulleys, extensive 6 inches tool-rest, and Versaturn Coupler. 

The manufacturer Teknatool International believes in innovation and bringing the latest technology to customers. This explains how it finds a place in our pen turning lathe review.

6. RIKON Power Tools 70-105 Mini Wood Lathe for Turning Pens

RIKON Power Tools 70-105 Mini Wood Lathe for Turning Pens

Key Points:

  • User-friendly design.
  • Durable Construction.
  • Easy to move around the workshop.
  • Comes with an easy to read user manual.
  • Makes noises while operating.

Rikon 70-105 wood lathe could be a good option for you if you are looking for a portable lathe. Working with a lathe in a small workspace can be a challenge.

But RIKON Power Tools see this as an opportunity and developed mini lathe for pen turning.

The tool comes with adequate power to work on a wooden pen blank or any acrylic pen blanks with less effort. Thanks to 0.50 HP motor and its 5 stage speed regulator. Just turn the knob to get to the required speed.

The lathe is not only suitable for pens; you can use it to shape other wooden objects of small to medium sizes at the same time. The 18 inches bed size and 10 inches swing capacity are enough to handle such versatile works.

For extensive control on various moving parts, it offers a secure locking system. Moreover, various knockout bars, wrenches, and wide tool rest also aid in maximizing its functionality.  

7. JET JWL-1015 Variable Speed Pen Turning Midi Wood Lathe

JET JWL-1015 Variable Speed Pen Turning Midi Wood Lathe

Key Points:

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Smooth & quiet operation.
  • Powerful operation capacity.
  • It comes with both variable and fixed speed.
  • It has a lot of plastic in the build.
  • Few users claiming the sturdiness of the speed regulator is not up to the mark.

JET JWL-1015 is another well-built lathe for making wood pens from the JET company. Though it doesn’t make it to the top five places, still it has a lot to offer as far as the features go.

If the above lathes don’t tick your interest, maybe this one will.

This great value for money lathe has 6 different speed options. Unlike other fixed speed lathes, this has the advantage to do creative stuff with your project.            

The lathe bed is surprisingly wide to carry out rough turning with various materials. The 0.5- 15 inches space between center sure helps turn many small to medium wood pieces.

Any lathe for turning pen uses a belt to turn the head plate. If the belt has a poor groove, it won’t be as efficient. With this in mind, they developed and constantly improving the belt system to tolerate more stress while working. 

8. Mophorn Variable Speed Digital Display Midi Wood Lathe

Mophorn Variable Speed Digital Display Midi Wood Lathe for Pen Turning

Key Points:

  • Affordable price.
  • Digital speed reading.
  • Capable motor power.
  • Smooth tail stock sliding.
  • It comes with rubber feet.
  • It can’t go lower than 700 RPM.
  • Poor quality tool rest.

Mophorn is another easy to use beginner level lathe for pen making. Given all the features it comes with, it is perfect for almost any turning jobs.

With a powerful 550 watt motor, you can easily set the speed to between 500 and 3800 RPM. Also, it’s good that it has a simple speed regulator to jump from one speed to another quickly.

While other manufacturers make lathe feet with just steel, this particular model offers rubber feet to reduce slipping while operating on high RPM.

For using woodturning gouge tools and other shaping accessories it has fairly wide tool rest. Besides the tool rest can be adjusted with a lever to a decider height level and angle.

The tool is built with cast iron ensuring its longevity. If you take good care from time to time It won’t disappoint you in the future.

9. PSI Woodworking TurnCrafter Digital Readout Midi Lathe

PSI Woodworking KWL-1018VS Turncrafter Digital Readout Midi Lathe for Turning Pens

Key Points:

  • Flawless operation.
  • Offers bed extension.
  • Great value for money.
  • Equipped with elastic feet.
  • Easy to read indexing system.
  • The light is not good.
  • Tailstock screws come loose in time.
  • Doesn’t come with proper instructions.

If you are looking for a multifunctional pen makers lathe for professional use, this PSI Woodworking KWL-1018VS can be a great option and a bit dilemma with a hefty price tag. But if that’s what you want, we’re sure the price tag won’t matter at this point.

The machine is quite big and can handle the various size of wood pieces with no issue. If that is not enough for you, you can always opt for bed extension to make 42” long bed from regular 10”.

You will be glad to know this model is certified by Intertek and ETL listed. This means, 0.75 HP motor installed in this lathe is particularly capable and reliable.

Two distinct belt positions are available to adjust your RPM up to 3600. The digital meter also helps you keep track of which RPM you ‘re currently on.

10. Grizzly Industrial H8259 Benchtop Pen Turning Midi Wood Lathe

Grizzly Industrial H8259 Benchtop Pen Turning Midi Wood Lathe

Key Points:

  • Decent price.
  • Great for small projects.
  • It has adjustable leveling feet.
  • Almost no noise and vibration.
  • Capable of high RPM operation.
  • Not meant for heavy use.
  • Motor gets warm quickly.
  • It comes with a small tool rest.

Grizzly H8259 is the last model on our review list. But that doesn’t make it a dire product at all. Think of it like it’s on the list because it has features to compete with other contenders on the market.

The lathe is suitable for small operations. So if you are just starting with the pen making, you can get away with any small projects with its convenient 0.5 HP motor. Luckily the voltage requirement on this model is 110V only.

With the RPM range from 826 to 3337 and 5 levels of speed, you will have several options to turn your workpiece effortlessly.

One thing this Lathe manufacture gets it right is their adjustable rubber feet. Why is that important you may ask? When working in sensitive work, you will want your tool to be precise at the exact level and angle. And that’s where adjustable feet come in handy.   

Best Pen Turning Lathe – [Updated Buying Guide]

Before you buy one of the best lathes for pen turning, we highly recommend you to consider the following factors. This guide will help you choose the right lathe for your pen turning projects.

1. Lathe Types

Pen turning wood lathes are available in three different sizes: Full-size, Midi and Mini. 

If you’re an individual pen maker, then we recommend you to go for a midi or a mini lathe. They are benchtop machines designed for small and medium projects, lightweight and require less space than full-sized lathes.

Full-sized lathes are suitable for commercial uses, designed for large woodturning projects and heavy-duty performance. A full-size wood lathe only for pen turning is undoubtedly an overkill.

2. Power

Almost all pen turning lathes come with the power ranges from 1/2 to 1-1/2 HP. The more power the motor can produce, the better your lathe will perform, but the higher it will cost. 

If you intend to use your lathe for other projects along with pen turning, you should go for a powerful machine.

3. Variable Speed Settings

Make sure your pen turning lathe comes with this costly yet crucial feature. It allows you to switch to different speeds (RPM) by dialling the speed knob, which is extremely convenient. 

On the other hand, multi-speed lathes are cheaper than their counterparts. But every time you want to change the lathe speed, you’ll need to move the drive belt to a different position manually.

And it requires opening up the belt cover which will slow down the workflow.

4. Low Vibration

Pen making lathes with low or almost no vibration allow you to achieve your goals more efficiently. Vibration may occur for various reasons, and structural weakness is one of them.

So make sure the lathe has a sturdy and durable construction, that ensures less vibration and smooth operation. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is pen turning?

Pen turning is the process of making handcrafted pens from different kinds of pen blanks. This process requires a wood lathe and other pen turning accessories mentioned above.

What is a pen turning lathe?

A pen turning lathe is a turning machine, which allows you to draw woods from the pen blanks and turn them into pens.

What is the best lathe speed for pen turning?

You can start with 2000 RPM and speed up to 3500 RPM for turning wood pen blanks. And the suitable lathe speed for acrylic pen blanks is 2000 RPM to 2500 RPM.

Midi vs. Mini Lathe – What’s the difference?

The main difference between midi and mini lathe is in the specifications and features. 

Midi lathe comes with a more powerful motor. You can turn larger items on midi lathes due to the larger swing over bed size and between centers length. 

Mini lathes are more affordable and comparatively lightweight than midi lathes. They are suitable for mini projects such as pen turning.

Final Words

Undoubtedly, making a pen on a lathe machine can be challenging if never done before. But quality lathes help ease the learning curve  as well as achieve precision.

That’s why this article contains the list of the best lathes for pen turning, so you can find yours with less effort.

If you are still undecided which one from the best pen turning lathes to get, let us make it easy for you. Both the SHOP FOX W1704 and WEN 3420T are great from the budget perspective and portability. You cannot go wrong with any of these at all.

On the other hand, if money is not an issue then JET JWL-1221VS and Delta Industrial 46-460 will be a great buy as both offer incredible superiority and precision for any professional work.

Now it’s your turn to start making beautiful pens with a fine lathe.

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2 thoughts on “10 Best Lathes for Pen Turning (2023) – [Mini & Midi Wood Lathe]”

    • Hello Pat,
      Good to see you here. You can bookmark this pen turning lathe article on your browser for future use.


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