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Though classified as a "midi" the features and capacities lean more towards a full-sized machine.
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JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe

Caution: The object of this review is larger than it appears!

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 8-12-2010

One of the all too common pitfalls of getting into woodturning is buying a lathe that is smaller than you need soon after “getting your feet wet”. Regardless of our experience or needs price and available space remain high on the purchase criteria list. The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe is certainly a good value for our tool dollars with its worth bolstered by capabilities that exceed its physical size. Both of these factors are important because almost without fail, the potential project list for new woodturners will quickly outgrow the capabilities of the mini lathe so many buy “to get started”. In many cases this can happen within weeks of buying the now too small lathe.

The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe brings many full-sized features to your shop but in a mid-sized footprint. Despite its midi price the liberal use of cast iron and steel give this machine an impressive 355-LB overall weight. Add the variable speed control, pivoting headstock, plus the included accessories and the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe keeps looking better and better when compared to similarly priced machines on the market.

The Facts

Even the legs (left) are cast iron and have adjustable feet and cast-in brackets for a shelf. The controls (right) are grouped on the powerhead and all work well.
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The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe has a 56-3/4”-long by 20”-wide footprint that makes it compatible with even smaller shop spaces. The individually adjustable feet at each corner make stabilizing the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe easy even on not-so-flat floors. Also, each of the cast iron leg sets has integral shelf brackets for adding a shelf.

The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe has a 14” swing over the bed and 10” of swing over the tool rest base. The 56-3/4”-long one-piece iron bed equates to a surprising 42” (maximum) between centers! And the 44-1/2” spindle center height above the floor makes this a very comfortable lathe for most folks to stand at during those long turning sessions.

The cast iron headstock can be positioned anywhere along the bed plus it can pivot to one of six indexing stops (45, 90, 135, 180, 270 or 360-degrees) at the same time. A locking pull knob on the front of the headstock locks and unlocks and the pivot function. Of course, the large headstock locking handle must also be used to secure it for turning.

The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe has a tough spindle machined with the popular 1 X 8 TPI (threads per inch) on the snout. The spindle runs in multiple high-quality ball bearings that are responsible for its smooth running as well as a long life. The spindle also has the virtually standard #2 Morse taper within the snout that will accept virtually any modern accessory. A 4-1/2”-diameter handwheel is included and makes many setup tasks easier and safer.

The pin in this photo (left) screws into one of three positions to access extensive indexing capabilities. JET includes (right) a quality 4-wing drive spur and a 6"-diameter faceplate.
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The spindle also has a 3/8”-diameter through hole that accepts the included knockout rod for removing the four-wing drive center that also is standard equipment. You can also use this through hole for auger boring lamps and similar projects.

A pushbutton spindle lock is built into the headstock that makes installing and removing screw-on accessories like the included 6”-diameter faceplate, aftermarket chucks or other screw-on accessories much easier. A screw-in pin can be installed in one of three positions on the spindle housing for extensive indexing capabilities. A descriptive chart in the user manual explains this capability completely.

Power and Speeds

The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe is powered by a 1-HP, TEFC (totally enclosed fan cooled) motor that can run on 115V or 230V (1 Ph) though it comes pre wired (and corded) for 115V operation. JET motors are rated using a continuous duty cycle, which gives you a much better indication of the actual power available all of the time rather than the “peak” or “max developed” smoke-and-mirror claims some manufacturers continue to push.

Another nice feature on the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe is the mechanical variable speed control that lets you choose from 8 speeds. Simply pull the handle out slightly and move it to select 450, 600, 850, 1100, 1500, 1900, 2300, or 3000 PRM. That is a very useable speed range that will handle virtually any job on a lathe. It is important to note that speeds must be changed with the lathe running as is common with mechanical speed controls.

JET's 1-HP motors (left) may seem stronger to some because so many other manufacturers use "peak" and "maximum" figures that pertain to short bursts of power, not all-day use like the continuous duty cycle JET uses. The mechanical speed control (right) is easy to use and effective.
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The motor is turned On and Off with an oversized paddle switch located on the front of the headstock. The paddle has a removable yellow plastic “key” that disables the switch and motor when it is removed. Reinstall the “key” and the switch is functional again.

Tool Rest

The tool rest base is a big chunk of cast iron on its own but the bed portion has a low enough profile to prevent interference with all but the biggest work pieces. The locking lever is long enough to give you plenty of leverage to lock the base in place without strain.

The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe comes with a 12”-long tool rest that mounts in the base with a 1”-diameter post. The tool rest has its own repositionable locking lever. Using the 1”-diameter post gives the tool rest lots of strength and resistance to vibration.

JET includes a cast iron tool rest extension that provides additional reach for when you run into the odd job or turn a large piece off the bed. This extension fits right in the tool rest base and the tool rest then mounts in the extension. The tool rest extension isn't something you will use all of the time but it is worth its weight in free mahogany when you need it.


The tailstock is another place that JET piles on the cast iron to insure rigidity. The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe features a tough steel spindle that has an overall travel of 4”. The spindle has a #2 Morse taper that automatically ejects whatever tooling is in it when the spindle is fully retracted. That #2 Morse taper also makes it compatible with lots of aftermarket accessories. The tailstock spindle has a 3/8”-diameter through hole that can provide access for tools like a lamp auger.

The included 12"-long tool rest (left) is long enough for the big jobs. The tool rest extension (right) that JET includes gives you extra reach when you need it.
Click images to enlarge

A tough, double-row ball bearing live center with a removable point is also standard fare with the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe. Not so long ago woodturners automatically bought a live center when they bought the lathe to replace the standard and much cheaper “dead” or cup centers manufacturers supplied. JET just saved you some time and probably a little money.

In the Shop

When the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe arrived my biggest problem was getting it assembled by myself. Thanks to my trusty 2-ton hoist I was able to assemble this machine without injury. However, because of the heft of all that cast iron you need either a hoist or a few buddies to get this done safely.

I checked the center-to-center alignment and that came out as close to perfect as I can see without the aid of a microscope. I also tried pivoting the powerhead to all of its presets and then back to zero and the center-to-center alignment returned as well.

The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe runs smoothly and the speed control handle moves through its selections easily. I should note that because this is a Reeves-style drive you can only change speeds while the machine is running. That is not peculiar to the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe but rather the way it is with this type of drive. If shifting on the fly is a hassle for you the only real option is to step it up (pay more) and get a machine with an electronically variable speed control.

The tailstock (left) is solid, moves and locks into place easily. The spindle (right) has 4" of travel and features an etched scale. The double row ball bearing live center is standard equipment.

The tailstock and tool rest groups performed fine throughout the evaluation. Their oversized handles make locking these components in place on the bed a no-strain chore. I did not have any “creep” occur during any of the turning I did on the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe.

Motor power is more than adequate for this size lathe. Regardless of the RPM setting or the piece being turned I never felt lacking for power. This motor actually surprised me a little with the amount of power available at lower RPM. I suspect that is because JET tells you the real deal on the all-of-the-time power rather than some “peak” hocus-pocus.

Overall the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe did everything I asked of it. If my previous history with JET equipment is any indication you can expect a very long service life from this machine. It is built very well and the only vibrations I encountered came from badly out of balance wood, not from the lathe itself. The heft of the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe does a good enough job of soaking up vibration that I did not add any weight. Take light cuts at lower speeds with out-of-balance piece of wood and vibrations are easily dealt with – and go away quickly as the piece rounds out.

Video Tour

The tailstock is first rate as is the tool rest. All of the pieces that come with the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe worked fine in all of the situations I could come up with. With a little common sense care I expect that the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe will continue to perform perfectly for a very long time.


The JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe is a well-built, well-designed machine that brings more than its mid-sized share of features and capacity to the shop at a sub midi price. With a street price of $1249.99 (8-9-2010) the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe is a very good bargain in this category. Consider the capacities and included equipment and the JET JWL-1442VSK Wood Lathe just might be the answer for your desire to get into turning without over taxing your shop space or tool budget.

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