How Do I Choose the Best Lathe Motor?

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  • Written By: Jordan Weagly
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 December 2019
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When searching for the right lathe motor, variations in lathe design have the most dramatic effect on motor requirements. The best lathe motor will be the right size, speed and design for a given lathe. It will also interface properly with the rest of the lathe machinery, including the mounting position and belt position. The model number, speed and requirements of a particular lathe usually can be found in the lathe's user manual or written on the machine’s exterior.

A motor is the basic driving device for any lathe, and there are many types of lathes. Buying a lathe motor to replace a broken one or to improve performance can be beneficial, but making the wrong choice also can be unsafe. For instance, the motor for an industrial-size lathe is likely to be too powerful for a home-use bench lathe. The correct replacement lathe motor will be compatible with the rest of the lathe parts.


The most common factors that change between lathe motors are the horsepower, rotations per minute (RPM), and the electrical configuration. The best lathe motor often will be the one that generates the range of horsepower and RPM specified by the lathe design. A woodworking lathe, for instance, will likely have different speed requirements than a metalworking lathe. Depending on the electrical configuration of the lathe, it might also require a triple-phase or single-phase motor. These variations all alter the design of the motor and may affect the longevity of a replacement lathe motor.

Often, the best lathe motor will be one that can be considered reliable. When purchasing a new motor, try to find a manufacturer that offers a long warranty. While there are many manufacturers for lathes and lathe parts, it is also important to choose a brand with the best available maintenance or repair service. Check user reviews, if possible, to locate the most popular brands within a particular price range.

Lathe motor prices can vary almost as much as their design. Small motors for a palm-sized jeweler’s lathe, for instance, will often be much cheaper than the large engine lathes used for industrial operations. Motors with essentially the same characteristics may also range in price, mostly as a result of motor quality and manufacturer. While purchasing a cheaper motor might be the better option in some cases, make sure the price is not being outweighed by poor craftsmanship or an absence of maintenance opportunities.


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