There are many things to like about this lathe, but build quality may keep you from buying. I have turned several bowls and pens on mine with no problem (but see below). It runs smooth and quiet with enough power for the types of turning I do (maximum size bowls I turn is about 10", all kiln dried wood).
The key features are:
- Variable speed control (500 to 2500rpm) without having to move a belt to a different pulley. Great feature.
- Reverse: great for sanding.
-Digital readout: Not as useful as I thought it would be. The main problem is you cannot read the display while standing right at the lathe, you need to back up a little. But I set the speed by ear and feel--increase it to a comfortable speed with no vibration.
-Built-in accessory holder on the back side of the headstock. Holds the spur center, knockout rod, and Allen wrench.
-Hand wheel is a faceplate. You can attach a blank to the outboard (left) side of the headstock because the handwheel is a removable faceplate. The lathe also comes with an outboard tool rest support for mounting the tool rest on the left side.
-Tool rest has a wide range of vertical travel. With my old lathe, I could just get the tool rest low enough for use with carbide tools. With this one, I drilled out a block of wood to fit the tool rest post so it supports it in the lowest position I need.
While the tailstock is self ejecting (retract the quill and the live center pops out), this does not work if your center is a little shorter than the one that comes with the lathe. For example, I have a pen mandrel with the mandrel saver. The mandrel save is too short to self eject. The real problem is that you cannot use the knockout rod because of the hole in the end of the mandrel saver--the rod gets stuck. The solution I found was to put a bolt in the end to block the hole so the knockout rod can be used. But this means you can slide the mandrel saver too far over the mandrel, so you need to use more spacers so it doesn't have to slide on so far. This may sound confusing, but if you try using this mandrel, you'll see what I mean.
Lastly, the biggest issue is build quality--two problems:
First, the treads on the spindle were not finished very well. There were burs and the treads were very rough. They worked, but they just weren't finished/polished like you'd expect. If you rub your finger along the thread, you'll cut it up.
Second, on my lathe, the spur drive center and live center did not line up. See photos. the problem was actually that the spindle was not installed centered in the housing. Wen support sent my issue to their engineering department and it seemed to enter a black hole. You can call support and they seem responsive, but for a problem like this, they let the ball drop. I returned my lathe and ordered another Wen. I will give it one more try to get one that's built correctly. If the next one is not satisfactory, I'll spend the extra money (almost double the price) and buy the Jet-1221VS.