One of the tools that will set up the beginning woodworker to become a more skilled tradesmen, and open up their creative arsenal and begin producing more complex and visually striking pieces is a proper wood rotary lathe. We Modern Makers tests the WEN 8×12 inch lathe to find out whether it is a good fit for an entry level woodworker, or someone looking for a lathe without taking up a huge footprint in their shop.
WEN has been making tools for the woodworking industry since 1951 when it was first established. WEN was one of the first tool makers to really bring electricity to tools, or “power-tools”. WEN is an american enterprise with its headquarters located in Elgin, Illinois. With over 60 years in the field, and over 50 million tools sold worldwide, WEN is a standing workers brand that knows what they’re doing when it comes to tools.
The WEN 8×12 inch wood lathe comes with the capabilities of accommodating any project up to 12 inches long and 8 inches in overall width. So your typical spiral bedpost, chair top, or chess piece just to name a few pieces are all capable of being crafted on this machine. Given its overall size, it’ll fit rather well onto a pre fabricated working surface without taking up too much of a footprint like a larger lathe would.
This WEN 8×12 inch wood lathe has a 1 inch by 8 thread per inch tail stock allows for a quick an easy change out of accessories to go with the project at hand. Included with this lathe you also get a concave cup center, a knockout rod, a headstock spur center, and a 5 inch faceplate for all your various project needs.
The motor WEN decided to include with this little mini lathe is a 2 Amp 1/3 horse power motor that runs off of your standard 120 volt outlet. The nice thing about the motor on this lathe is the easy-to-use variable speed adjustment. Instead of having a selector setting to choose which RPM you’d like to use, you have a speed dial that allows you to fine tune the exact speed you’d like to turn your piece at. This gives you greater control over your overall work, which we believe is important to the success of any project. Its also a slow-start motor, so no jumping from a stop into full speed. You’ll have the time to dial-in the rotation to exactly where you want it.
WEN went above and beyond on their entry level lathes. The WEN 8×12 inch lathe comes with two tool rests that have quick locks for easy adjustment both in rotation towards the piece and forwards and backwards throughout the length of the piece you’re working on. The tool rests that are included with this lathe come in 4.5 and 7 inch heights, allowing for some flexibility in how close and how much material you’re going to remove from your project. This flexibility is a welcome sight especially in a fairly priced lathe by a company who’s been making products for woodworkers for the better part of half a century.
We Modern Makers found the WEN 8×12 inch lathe to be a strong little monster. It delivers on the brand name in its capability to turn a project safely and give the user the right amount of control and adjustment throughout the process. Buying a lathe can be a daunting experience for the novice woodworker, and WEN does a good job of taking some of the stress out of choosing which lathe to buy and what all goes into turning your first piece of wood.
This mini lathe by WEN is a great introduction into the world of wood-turning. Making your first symmetrical pawn for the chess board you’ve clamped together and built can be daunting and exciting all at the same time. However, we believe that at the price point WEN is offering this lathe and the accessories that come with it, that even the most novice of woodworkers will be able to find success and confidence in creating their first real unique piece of turned-wood. This is a great lathe that won’t break the bank, and won’t take up a large footprint in your garage or shop either.
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