Used Wood Lathes

Used Wood Lathes: Should You Consider Buying?

Wood lathes can be expensive.

Hence, a lot of people prefer to buy second-hand devices. Although it saves them some bucks, it isn't without risks.

When you are purchasing a used device, there's a chance that you are also purchasing owner’s problems.

So, is it a bad idea to buy used wood lathe?

Not necessarily.

A quality wood lathe, even if it’s second-hand, is certainly worth your money.

But first, you need to find out whether the device is in a good working condition.

If it has worn out over time, then you are better off without it. For wear will make the device error-prone and render it virtually worthless.

For this reason, you need to inspect the device thoroughly before making the purchase. Following are some of the things you should look at before sealing a deal.

The Bed

The bed is a vital part of a wood lathe.

For the carriage and saddle move upon it in order to attach the cutting instruments to the workpiece.

Over time, the bed starts to deteriorate. To make matters worse, they usually deteriorate unevenly. Most of the wear tends to occur closer to the headstock and less towards the tailstock.

If the bed wears out rapidly and uncontrollably, then it can cause the device to lose its accuracy.

To find out about the current condition of the bed:

Reduce the gap between carriage and headstock and then fasten the clamp. Afterward, slacken it enough to let it move.

Then drive the carriage in the opposite direction of the headstock. The further it can move the less amount of wear is on the bed.

Nick and gauges can also contribute to the damage by dropping things on them. Therefore look for dents or any sign of damage before making the purchase.


The headstock rotates the workpiece by using a chuck. Inside the headstock, you will find a motor and a gearbox.

Used Wood Lathes

The most effective way to investigate if the bearings are damaged is to let the lathe run for a few minutes.

If there's no problem with the bearing, then it shouldn't make any sound. Neither should it become so hot that it can’t be touched.

There's another way to check the bearing without turning the device on:

Make an attempt to move the spindle.

In an ideal situation, it should be impossible for it to move either vertically or laterally.

If even a slight movement is perceivable, then there's a problem with the bearing.

Gear Train

In order to check the gears, you will need to run the device for a while. If you hear any unusual sound, then there might be a problem with the gears or the bearings.

You should run the device at all the speeds available to make sure that gears are in fine condition.

If the gears are damaged, then you should hear a harsh and grating sound.

You should also look for visible signs of damage such as dents.

Grease may be used as a lubricant for the device as it manages to dampen the noise. That’s why during the trial, you should run the lathe for at least half an hour. So that any lubricants used by the owner gets warmed up.


You will like to check the fit between the body of the tailstock and spindle.

Although space is needed to connect and disconnect the parts, too much free space can cause chatter or drill bits. It may result in errors and imprecision in hole sizes.


The carriage is mainly used to move the cutting tools.

Perhaps it’s the most vulnerable component to deterioration, with the exception of the bed. Even in quality lathes, you are often required to change the bearings in the saddle and carriage.

You'd like to look at the movements of carriage, saddle, and cross-feed for backlash.

What If You Are Buying Online?

As you won't be able to inspect the lathe firsthand, it will become more difficult for you to determine the quality of the device.

However, you can ask the owner to perform some above-mentioned steps and send the video recording of those inspections to you.

Nonetheless, despite being difficult to inspect the device, online is a great place to buy wood lathes.

On an online platform, you get a lot of options. Hence, you can compare the devices and choose the most suitable wood lathe for you.

Final Word

The most important question you need to answer before splashing your money on a used lathe is, what is the condition of the device?

For, a quality lathe can render you years of devoted service, irrespective of whether they are used or new.

Therefore, it's perfectly fine to buy a used wood lathe provided that you do a proper inspection before buying the appliance.

See Also:

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  2. Top wood lathe manufacturers: what you need to know
  3. How to build a wheelchair ramp out of wood?
  4. User guideline for a midi wood lathe
  5. What to look before buying mini metal lathe?
  6. VFD for lathe mistakes that most beginner makes
  7. Get a Harbor Freight wood lathe
  8. Jet JWL 1236 wood lathe reviewed

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