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In-Depth Review: JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe


JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe
95 %

JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe is a personal choice among the many options available because it is versatile with optimally designed speed that ranges from 60 to 3600 RPM to use for any type of wood and various jobs. It is also convenient to use and operate with its quick belt change mechanism.

That may seem easy for me to say, hence this review will provide you needed information about this variable speed wood lathe.  And perhaps as we go on, you may find this the best choice for you as well.

We Like

  • Variable speed
  • High in power
  • Optimally designed speed range
  • Quiet

We Don't Like

  • Variable speed control can be sensitive to touch
  • Some parts are made of plastic material


What started as a hobby, my love for woodturning have grown and now become a business and a career. I used to make these wooden decorative pieces for home use and gift to friends until I had more than enough of these items just sitting at home that I thought of sharing my love of wooden art to others as well.

Having a variable speed wood lathe is essential to my work as it does everything easy and efficient for me. I bought the JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe to replace my old one that was broken, which I am glad that it did because otherwise, I will not be able to discover the greatness of my new Jet wood lathe. The variable speed is flawless and very useful, plus it comes with other innovative feature that just perfectly fits for me.

Who Is It For?

Every woodturners, carpenter or even hobbyist should have a variable speed wood lathe in his or her toolbox. Professionals especially use it for a variety of uses. It is essential to use in both big and small jobs because of its sturdy and stable construction that can carry out even heavy-duty tasks. It is versatile that it allows you to adjust it to your desired speed that is required for a particular project. And because sometimes it is inconvenient to have several kinds of turners used in different materials, this one power tool can do all the work for you. Some high-end models come with an innovative and full feature to ensure you have the best and productive experience.

Even beginners and those who use it for DIY purposes will find this hassle free and convenient that you will be inspired to make more projects. There are models that are smaller in size and are portable, thereby making it easy to use and be transferred when necessary. Most of us also worry about wanting to have all tools but don't have a huge space to store. That will not be a problem as you can choose models that are midi, compact and space saving ideal for limited areas.

Buyer's Guide

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Wood Lathe

Whether you will turn pens, home wood décor or table legs, choosing only the best wood lathe should be a primary concern. And since we understand the market is bursting with options, we have to be wise in picking which one to buy. Here are the following points that you might want to consider before making the purchase

  • Power

This determines the extent of performance and capacity of a wood lathe. Make sure to pick one with high power that can carry all desired tasks especially if you ought to be making some heavy-duty and complex jobs. The best wood lathes are those that can turn any kind of materials.

  • Speed

Variable speed is essential for a wood lathe especially in doing several tasks and working with a variety of materials. This feature allows you to adjust the machine to a particular speed that will be required for the job to achieve optimal results. This is considering that every job may require specific range.

  • Durability

In any tools and machines, a sturdy construction that can withstand even the toughest job should be a primary consideration. It should also be able to stand even the frequent use and handling. And with a durable composition, a wood lathe can tackle turning and cutting even on grainy and hard materials uninterruptedly.

  • Storage

Some wood lathes are designed to be small and compact in size to accommodate the need of some customers for easy storage and maximizing space. So if you have a limited area, it will not be a problem as you will surely find one that will fit your requirements.

  • Usage

It is necessary to first assess your need for the job or projects. If you will only use it for small DIY tasks, then you might want to consider small and mini wood lathes that can carry small to medium jobs. But if you ought to use it for heavy duty jobs, then you should be opting for high-powered and optimal variable speed wood lathes. This will allow you to have the best value for your money and maximize its use.

  • Materials Used

Generally, common wood lathes are best to use on normal wood types, unless you will be undertaking uneven, dense or very coarse material, then you should single out your choices for heavy duty models and features for best results.

Product Details

JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe


With an optimally designed variable speed, JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe comes with innovative and convenient features for all your needs. Its unparalleled control component is one of its best features that make it a preferred choice for beginners and experienced woodturners.

Product Information

  • Item Weight: 137 pounds
  • Product Dimensions:32.8 x 14.6 x 21.2 inches
  • Power Source: Corded-electric
  • Cord Length: 4 feet
  • Number of Handles: 6
  • Speed: 3600 RPM

Features & Benefits

  • Versatile and unparalleled speed control

One of the outstanding features of this wood lathe is its versatility. This can be attributed to its variable speed that ranges from 60 to 3600 RPM. This allows you to use this tool for a variety of jobs and projects using different kinds of wood materials.

Aside from allowing you to have the upper hand control and adjustment on its speed, it also comes with 24 integrated indexing positions for an improved performance and productivity.

  • Convenient belt system

JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe is designed with a patent-pending propriety feature or an innovative ratchet style belt tension system. This allows a quick and easy belt change, thus saving you time and effort.

  • Reversible Mechanism

This wood lathe is built with a unique feature which is a reverse mechanism that allows easy and smooth transition of wood on the opposite side using a reverse setting. Through this, you will not need to take the wood out and turn in around to work on the other side.


  • Variable speed
  • It is designed with a digital speed control
  • It exudes plenty of power
  • Versatile
  • Smooth and quiet to use


  • Some parts like the belt speed adjustment access hole is made of thin plastic
  • The digital speed control may interfere with the AM radio signal

Reviews / Testimonials

Knowing how the product appealed to its customers is essential in the decision process as it can provide you with details of its actual performance.

The customer reviews in Amazon has earned this variable speed wood lathe an outstanding product rating in average, which only goes to show that a large number of its customers were greatly pleased and satisfied with this product.

What was most noteworthy from several feedbacks was the fact that has plenty of power and wide speed range that makes it versatile and efficient to use. Several customers also mentioned the easy process to change the belt as it makes this wood lathe convenient aside from its already great performance. It is smooth to use and most especially quiet. And the digital variable speed control is also a thoughtful and useful addition to its features.

You have to be careful with the variable speed control though, and make sure it is adjusted securely because if not, it jumps to the setting unintentionally. It is a little sensitive that it turns even with a slight touch and little movement.  It was also suggested that manufacturer should consider replacing some parts with durable material as its good attributes would definitely deserve better than thin plastic.

But other than that, the majority still believes it is an ideal wood lathe both for beginners and professional turners.

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Alternative Choices

With all these options available, we have listed four more of these outstanding wood lathes that you might want to also consider.

1) Nova 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 

You will be able to turn a wide range of jobs and projects with this Nova 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe as it comes with a speed ranging from 250 to 4000 RPM. It is designed with a forward and reversing switch for added flexibility and optimal finish.

Upgraded from previous models, this variable speed wood lathe has other features such as strengthened reinforced guard with a rapid access latch for quicker and hassle-free access, improved on and off switch button, robust die cast housing and fitted with a no-vault release for additional safety measures. 

Though relatively small in size, its power and performance can be at par with those larger models. It is portable, easy to store and space-saving.

2) Delta Industrial Variable Speed Midi Lathe

With a robust performance, Delta Industrial Variable Speed Midi Lathe is powered by 1 HP, a 1725 RPM motor and a three-pulley speed ranges for improved consistency and control. It is designed with a patented belt tensioning system for fast and easy speed changes, maximum power transfer, and prolonged tool life by setting the belt in the correct tension setting.

Its other feature consists of a forward and reverse function to allow the turner for an outstanding finish. It is durable to handle difficult and heavy duty jobs with its cast iron construction that is ideal for professional woodworkers

3) Jet JWL 1015 VS Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe

Jet JWL 1015 VS Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe has the power and precision for any type of projects that is best for novice woodworkers and professionals. It is versatile to use with its three-speed feature that ranges to 200 to 1050, 300 to 1750, and 600 to 3600 RPM.

It is also user-friendly that is convenient to use even for beginners. Its other features include integrated 24 position indexing, and improved tensioning system with easier access to belts.

4) General International 25-200M1 Variable Speed Maxi-Lathe 

It comes with a variable speed with a quick belt tension lever that ranges to 300 to 900, 600 to 1800, and 1200 to 3600 RPM for versatility and precision of use. It is built with a stable cast iron frame for durability.

Its other most notable features include head and tailstock for a smooth and vibration-free performance, 36 positive indexing positions at 10-dgree increments, and a digital spindle speed display for a variety of tasks and small to medium sized turning projects. 

Alternative Choices Comparison Table

Alternative Choices

Our Rating


Nova 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe

Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable Speed Midi Lathe

Jet JWL 1015 VS Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe

General International 25-200M1 Variable Speed Maxi-Lathe

The Final Cut

Looking for the best variable speed wood lathe can be harder than you would expect because aside from looking into different models, you also have to examine its individual features and specifications. For our different needs and purpose, a wood lathe that is versatile and efficient should be on top of our list.

JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe is a great option because firstly, it can accommodate any types of cutting, sanding and turning jobs with its optimal designed speed ranges.

It is also efficient with a wide capacity of usage that produces outstanding results.

And what sets it apart from most of the other wood lathes is its reversible mechanism that automatically reverses the wood on the other side without needing to remove it from the machine.

All these things considered, you will have a great quality wood lathe for all your needs. If you want to check this one out, you may click here.