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The JET JWL1642 series lathes are very well built, thoughtfully designed and exceptionally practical in the home wood shop.
Click image to enlarge
(Photo courtesy JET Tools)

JET JWL-1642EVS Woodturning Lathe

Big shop features - home shop price

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 1-13-2008

A dominant feature of the woodturning "addiction" is an overpowering desire for a larger lathe. This craving is actually justifiable because the project list usually includes larger items as our skill and experience grows. Unfortunately, the tool budget does not always grow at the same pace. The JET JWL-1642EVS Woodturning Lathe brings the capacity and features you want without breaking the tool bank.

Two Models - One Difference

There are two primary versions of this lathe, the JET JWL-1642EVS & JWL-1642EVS-2. They are identical with the exception of the motor and power input requirements. Because both machines use 3 phase motors driven by inverters, they cannot be converted to use a different voltage. Both machines run on (input) single phase electrical power to be compatible with home electrical systems. The JET JWL-1642EVS has a 1 1/2HP motor and runs on 110V power. The JWL-1642EVS-2 has a 2HP motor and runs on 220V power.

This review is based on the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe, including the photos, video and testing. I have spoken with several JET JWL-1642EVS-2 owners and aside from the motors, there is no difference between the two models physically or in use.

Solid Foundation

Everything from the headstock (left) to the legs (right) are cast iron. Note the brackets cast into the legs for adding a shelf or platform for weight, though it is unlikely adding weight to this 400-lb + machine will be necessary to combat vibration.
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The JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe bed, headstock, tailstock, tool rest/base and legs are made from iron casting, giving this machine its 400 lb plus curb weight. Those castings are precisely machined and fitted with high quality ball bearings where needed, evidenced by the smooth operation.

The all cast iron legs appear over built in terms of what is needed to support the lathe itself. However, using these large iron castings adds to the exceptional stability and vibration resistance of the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe. Large diameter, fully adjustable feet make it easy to keep this machine firmly in contact with uneven floors.

The leg castings have special brackets cast in that accept common 2-by material for making a large storage shelf or a platform for sandbags if additional weight makes your world turn more smoothly. A swing out basket, mounted to the left leg beneath the bed provides additional storage.


An access door on the front of the headstock (left) makes getting to the stepped pulleys simple. Inserting the screw-in pin in one of three holes engages the 36-position indexing system.
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The headstock on the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe is large because it supports the spindle, motor, drive system and a considerable electronics package. The heavy-duty spindle has 1 1/4 X 8 TPI threads at the snout to accept most common accessories. It has a #2 Morse taper and a 3/8"-diameter through hole for removing tools from the taper with the included knock out rod. The spindle is set in large diameter, high-end ball bearings that keep drag to a minimum while insuring smooth running for many years.

The JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe comes standard with a four wing drive spur, knock out rod and a nice 6"-diameter face plate.

Also in the headstock is a 36 position (10 degree intervals) indexing system for doing fluting, drilling and other operations. A screw-in pin inserted in one of three threaded holes locks the spindle for indexing.

The spindle can also be locked temporarily with a pushbutton on the front of the headstock. This is handy for installing or removing screw-on accessories like faceplates and chucks.

The control panel (left) has everything you need to run this machine close at hand. The inverter on the rear of the headstock (right) handles sending 3-phase power to the motor insuring lots of torque at low speeds and full rpm control.

A tall door on the front of the headstock provides access to the stepped pulley system that gives the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe two major speed ranges, 0-1200 and 0-3200 rpm. Even the belt tensioning lever and lock are on the front of the headstock so changing belt positions is fast, easy and done entirely from in front of the machine.

The JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe uses a serpentine type belt and corresponding multi-groove pulleys. The serpentine belt is widely favored because it is very thin and wide. It resists slipping very well but produces far less heat than the more common V-style belts do. The result is less heat transferred to the surrounding bearings which increases their life span considerably.

The control panel on the front of the headstock puts everything you need within easy reach. The pull on - push off button makes it easy to shut the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe down in a hurry if necessary. A simple toggle switch handles changing spindle direction from forward to reverse.

Being able to move the headstock "off the end" of the bed provides plenty of capacity below the spindle. Obstructions ABOVE the spindle might be more of a concern!
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This panel also houses the variable speed dial that makes the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe exceptionally versatile. Rpm control is infinite and a large, easy to read LED display shows the exact spindle rpm. The inverter makes this rpm control possible and supplies a surprising amount of torque at the lower speeds.

The headstock on the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe does not pivot but it can be positioned anywhere along the bed. A simple but very effective locking handle is located on the back of the headstock. An interesting capability is being able to position the headstock at the end of the bed, the spindle actually beyond the bed for turning oversized bowl, platters and other large-diameter projects.

Tool Rest and Tailstock

Both of these components have easy to use but very effective locking levers. If you have owned a lathe that required beating on the handle to get the tailstock to stay put, you will appreciate these locks on the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe.

The tool rest base is sized to support the included 14"-long tool rest (1"-diameter post) rigidly. The base is long enough to enable getting the tool rest outside large blanks but the portion over the bed is only 2"-high for the least possible interference with large blanks.

The 14"-long tool rest (left) and tailstock (right) are both very well built, stable and lock in position easily with large levers. The tailstock has a #2 Morse taper, (self-extracting when the ram is retracted fully) 4" of ram travel and a very nice multi-bearing live center with a screw-on tapered cone adapter.

The tailstock has a heavy ram that features a #2 Morse taper, a 3/8"-diameter through hole and a full 4" of travel. An engraved inch scale on the operator side of the ram makes drilling specific depth holes a no-brainer. A 5"-diameter handwheel with a spinner handle makes turning the ram in or out very easy.

An unexpected piece of included equipment is a very nice multi ball bearing live center. In addition to the normally sized point, it comes with a screw-on cone that is 1 5/8"-diameter at the largest point. This is very nice to have when turning things like peppermill bodies or other projects with a bored center.

In the Shop

One of the first things you notice about the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe is that it is very smooth running and quiet, even at 3200 rpm. Everything from the motor through the spindle is well made and operating on high quality ball bearings. All of the repositionable components move freely and lock down securely without having to beat anything up.

See It Work!

The electronic speed control is simple to use and very effective. The digital read out is a nice touch and is clearly visible from virtually any operating position. The two speed ranges give the operator all of the rpm versatility needed to handle everything from pens to very large bowl blanks. Use the 0 to 1200-rpm range for oversized blanks and the amount of torque at slow speed is remarkable.

The considerable weight of the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe does a great job of soaking up vibrations caused by out of balance wood. The JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe never did vibrate on its own throughout testing so as you round the piece, what vibration there is, goes away. I never did add extra weight to the JET JWL-1642EVS Wood Lathe and never had a problem with stability.


The JET JWL-1642EVS and JWL-1642EVS-2 Wood Lathes represent a great way for the average woodworker to bring high-end turning capability to their shops. The over bed and between centers capacity is more than adequate to handle everything from pens to balusters, bowls and platters. Both models have plenty of power and the construction is first rate, making this a long-term piece of equipment. The 1 1/4" X 8 TPI spindle threading and #2 Morse tapers mean accessories you have or those you want will be compatible.

With a street price of $1499.99 for the JET JWL-1642EVS and $2110.06 for the JET JWL-1642EVS-2 (1-10-2008) adding one of these lathes will be an investment but one that will keep your shop in the happy zone of woodturning for many years to come.

If adding a wood lathe to your shop sounds like an intelligent idea, checking out the JET JWL-1642EVS and JET JWL-1642EVS-2 lathes is even smarter.

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