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Lathe FAQs

Answers to FAQs about lathes, as well as basic troubleshooting steps for WEN lathes. If you're still having problems after checking these steps, or if you can't find the question you need answered, please don't hesitate to contact us.

General Questions

What lathe is right for me?

It depends on your experience level, space available, and the types of projects you plan to turn. Generally, if you're newer to turning, it's a good idea to start with a smaller lathe, such as our 8x12 variable speed lathes, and work your way up from there. If you plan to turn larger projects, or cut down rough stock, a larger midi lathe or benchtop lathe may be right for you.

Should I get a variable-speed lathe or multi-speed lathe? What's the difference?

Variable-speed lathes adjust the spindle speed by electronically controlling the motor speed, allowing you to dial in the precise RPM you want. They may also have a belt adjustment for speed range adjustments, and tend to be more expensive than multi-speed lathes. These lathes are best for advanced users, since there is a chance the electronics could be damaged if the lathe is used improperly.

Multi-speed lathes only have a belt adjustment, and therefore a discrete number of spindle speeds; as such, they're less expensive, and more forgiving than variable-speed lathes. They're better suited for beginning or intermediate users.

What lathe accessories do you have available?

WEN offers a complete lineup of lathes and accessories, including chucks, chuck jaws, a lathe stand, bed extensions, pen mandrels, pen presses, and more.


Why does my lathe keep stalling? 

Typically, this is caused by one of a few things:

  • Improper spindle speed for the application. Lower speed gives more torque and is best for roughing cuts; higher speed gives less torque and is better for sanding and finishing cuts.
  • Improper drive belt tension. Make sure the motor pulley is adjusted so that the belt gives proper tension. If lightly pressed with a finger, the belt should deflect about 1/8" (3mm). It may take some trial and error to get your belt properly tensioned, and may need adjusting over time.
  • Improperly adjusted tool rest. Make sure the tool rest is positioned properly relative to the workpiece. See your owner's manual for more details.
  • Dull chisels or overaggressive cuts. Always keep your chisels sharp, and let them do the work. This will prolong the life of your chisels and of your machine, and give you better-quality cuts with more control. This takes practice and time to master, so don't get discouraged.
  • Using a workpiece that's too large or heavy, or one that's imbalanced. Don't overexert your lathe. Try to ensure that it's mounted as close to concentrically with the spindle's axis of rotation as possible. If using a chuck, you may need to use slightly smaller workpieces than if, for example, you screwed a blank to the faceplate, since the motor must work against the mass of both the workpiece and the chuck.

Why won't my lathe turn on?

Make sure the lathe is plugged into a working outlet. If using an extension cord, make sure it is of the proper gauge and length. If your lathe has a circuit breaker or fuse, check to see if it is tripped or blown. If your lathe has a brushed motor, make sure the carbon brushes aren't worn down; if they're worn, replace them. Make sure your drive belt isn't tensioned too tightly. Feel free to contact us if you need more help.