The WEN 3420 Lathe is a budget-friendly option, that is both powerful and affordable. This best wood lathe has received loads of good reviews since its launch, but even then we know that no product is perfect for everyone.
So we thought about reviewing it here, covering its features, what’s great about it, what’s not and pitching it against the NOVA 46300.
- Perfect for pens, chess pieces, and other small workpieces
- Soft start variable speed motor adjusts anywhere from 750 to 3200 RPM
- Includes a 5-inch face plate for turning non-spindle workpieces
- Fits workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide (max recommended working diameter: 5 inches)
- Features a 2-amp motor, an MT1 spindle and tailstock taper, and two interchangeable tool rests
The three big things about the WEN 3420 Lathe is the working surface and that you can adjust the speeds. So, the whole body is made from cast iron steel with a distance of 2 feet across and about a foot high. That’s just enough to fit most work stations.
You also have an 8-inch work area, and with the movable tailstock, you could easily fit a 12-inch piece of wood there. Being compact, this is the choice for beginners, and for professionals working on small projects.
- Dimensions: 26X10X12 inches
- Weight: 44.1 pounds
Next is the adjustable speeds that vary from 750 to 3200 RPMs, but it will not start off on full speed as soon as it turned on and gradually builds up to the speed that you need.
This is a good safety measure to have, seeing how this lathe is intended for beginners. All you have to do is change the speeds using the knob given on the side.
- variable speeds,
- budget approved,
- compact size,
- decent power,
- accessories included,
- fits most work stations.
- Not suited for big projects
Enhanced grip via tailstock
The WEN 3420 Lathe has an MT1 spindle and a tailstock for a much better grip on the article that you’reworking on.
And you can put out the tailstock mandrel by about two inches using this turntable knob given on it.
If at any time it gets jammed, you have this small tool that you can punch out to help you out with that. The MT size is good for projects like pens, bowls.
With the lathe, you are given some accessories that are sure to be helpful. These are the woodturner smoother and safer. Then you have the faceplate, the knockout rod, two tool rest pieces, tailstock cup center, flat wrench, headstock spur center among others.
We think that the power could have been better – this lather only has a 1/3 horsepower motor that’s 2 Amp in size. On the plus side, because of this motor specification, you have that gradual-start safety mechanism and prevent loads of damages.
Motor and power
This determines how quickly you can cut wood, but will only work this well on small items. Anything bigger and you could damage that item – so it also determines what kind of projects you can work on using this lathe. The power ranges from 1/8 to 2 horsepower. Normally lathes have about ½ or 1 horsepower.
WEN 3420 Vs NOVA 46300
These are two lathe models with many overlapping specifications – yet are very different in their own right.
For one, there are a lot of things that you would like about the NOVA, especially if the woodwork is your hobby or profession – and a bigger lathe is what you really need as it fits bigger blanks, stocks easily. But we think that the WEN 3420 wins this round.
- Speed range from 250 to 4000rpm – best in the market
- 12″ swing over bed and 16.5″ between centers
- 3 Step Pulley Systemto dial in low, medium and high speed ranges
- 3/4HP Electronic Variable Speed Motor – Improved
Swing vs distance
In the WEN 3420, the smaller and lightweight size and build isn’t a let down because of the 8 inches distance of the swing over bed and the 12 inches distance between the centers.
This compact build makes it easier to work with intricate carving for bigger, professional and DIY projects.
In this sense, its a good fit for intermediate users who are just getting the hang of chiseling fine details onto smaller woodblocks. But note that if you try the same with larger stock, the tool may not give you the same results.
On the Nova 46300, you have a 16.5-inch distance between the centers and a 12-inch full swing. Working, getting in those fine cuts and detailing on small stocks on this lathe was easy. Obviously with a larger size, one can accommodate bigger stock pieces.
The WEN 3420 is portable with a weight of about 44 pounds, and that’s after being assembled. The one issue we’ve seen on most quick spinning, light power lathes are the intense vibrations from the chisel and the motor. The 3420 doesn’t have this even when its on full speed.
With the Nova 46300, you have an assembled weight of 83 pounds. It’s heavy but can still be carried around. This weight also helps keep the unit steady when the motor is spinning at 4000 RPM.
The budget-friendly WEN 3420 has a 1/3 horsepower with up to five-speed transmissions. A higher gear count means that you have greater control over fast or slow you want the lathe to spin – and it also means that you can work on various density stocks too. This motor ranges from 750 to 3200 RPMs.
The Nova 46300 has a stronger motor ranging from ¾ horsepower and can rotate blanks, stocks at 250 to 4000 RPMs.
Faster maximum speeds and slower minimum speeds deliver an even greater usability factor on most wood types and sizes. The user can set a speed using the dial to any of the five gears.
This lathe is for the beginners who have just started out on wood-crafting and aren’t decide on what kind of lathe suits them best; or if they want to get used to using one before they move onto bigger, heavier professional lathes.
Also Check: Nova Galaxi DVR 1644 Lathe Review
So it all depends on how far you need to go when polishing your skills, or learning how to do projects better.
This WEN 3420 lathe would make a good supplementary tool in our workshop, in addition to one that can handle heavy jobs.
One thing to note is that the 8 inch X 12-inch model has been discontinued, so what you will find is all that’s left.
The design of the tailstock doesn’t impress a lot of people, but the lathe is still pretty solid and works just great.
The lathe is light enough to be put away when you don’t use it but it also means that you have to have extra support by clamping it down to hold it in place.
The only trade-off that you get with this price, and for the portability is that 1/3 horsepower motor that can stall when you being overloading it, making it safe for beginners.
In some cases, we found that the motor takes a few seconds to get started and we were not sure whether this was the control unit acting up or the variable speed function being read.
It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that you get on other lathes but works for amateurs. It also lacks the protective gear and cutting tools but does have the basic equipment needed to get you started.
The tailstock only extends ever so slightly, but easily and may not be good for horizontal drilling. Even with these downsides, it is still a lather for the price.
For an amateur, the WEN 3420 is a sturdy, compact lathe that fits the requirements of beginner woodturners.
For a professional, its good to have around for finer detailing on finished projects or as a benchtop tool – so there’s something for everyone. One thing we could suggest here is testing out how far you can go with the stocks on this motor.
It is very simple to set up and easy to use once you get the hang of it, and if you’re not an expert woodsman then you won’t miss out on all of the features that this lathe could have used.
We will say this – that if you’re a professional, then you will come across smaller things that might annoy you, like a seriously underpowered motor, latches that do the bare minimum and a spindle whacking out after a few months. Then again, this lathe isn’t cut out for heavy-duty use, but it’s not all that bad either.
There is this jump at the start that can be annoying but not to a point where you switch to another model, and after some time, this lathe doesn’t miss a beat. We also think that its pretty compact too and fits well onto a table already filled with tools, and even then doesn’t take up enough space.
So as you can see it is a pretty tricky decision, and we recommend seeing the entire piece in a hardware store to really get a feel of things before you buy it. Our WEN 3420 Lathe review has weighed out the pros, cons, and ways to use this machine and to see if its a good choice for you.