Jet JWL 1236 Wood Lathe Review: Does It Suck?

Jet has built a reputation for manufacturing quality and durable wood lathes.

So, has their latest product Jet JWL 1236 lived up to the reputation of its manufacturer?

That’s for you to decide. And by the end of this article, you’ll have your answer.

The lightweight lathe has a 34.5 inches distance between the center and is able to turn material of 12 inches in diameter.

An interesting feature of this lathe is its rotating headstock. It makes it really nice for sanding or doing some turning where you don’t wanna reach over the turn on the lathe.

In addition, the headstock includes a motor with a horsepower of ¾. The motor is covered in a metal casing to give it more durability.

The machine enables you to work with variable speeds, as it has 6 different speeds that range from 550-300 RPM.

You can make longer hole bores as the tailstock permits hollow centers boring.

Below I am going to detail the key features.

JET JWL-1440VSK 14'x40' Wood Lathe with Legs (719400K)

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Key features It Partakes


It’s quite easy to set up the lathe.

The stand can be set up in an instant with the bolts and nuts. You will need to tighten them by your hand though.

Next, attach the wood lathe to the stand with bolts. Then plug the motor into the switch before securing it with bolts and nuts.

The instruction manual says explicitly that you can’t assemble this lathe alone and will need help from another person.

And they are right. So get one of your buddies to help you with this.

The unit can be a little bit difficult to manage as its weight isn’t evenly distributed and mostly concentrated towards the headstock.

The holes in the bed will need to be aligned with the holes in the stand in order to unite the two assemblies. With the help of another person, it becomes much easier.

Following that, you are gonna need to set up the tool rest, handles and the bed extension.

Then your lathe is basically ready to turn woods.

But before you turn the device on, go through the whole machine one more time and check if all the parts are tightened properly.

It will help you to avoid any kind of mishap.


It is recommended that kerosene is to be used to cleanse the cast iron parts. It will help to prevent thick and greasy protective coats.

However, other cleaners such as Windex can also be used to clean the lathe parts.

You’ll need to remove the center in both headstock and tailstock and give them a proper clean with a Windex laden piece of old cloth.

Both centers include Morse tapers which need to be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent deterioration and jam.

Full-Face Shield

The unit comes with a full-face shield to protect your eyeballs from flying splinters.

Wear safety glasses along with the shield for additional protection.


The JWL 1236 weighs 173 pounds. Although it’s not the heaviest lathe available, it is sufficient for most of the projects.

The lathe doesn’t vibrate or shake much during the operation. 

Yet, its stand includes stretchers for people who desire more ballast.

You can establish a platform upon the stretchers to hold the sand bags.


The swiveling headstock is an extremely useful feature of this lathe.

In order to turn larger faceplate items, you can rotate the headstock at 90° so that the spindle point towards you.


The indexing pin ensures that the workpiece is properly aligned, while the locking handles make sure that the material remains in its place.

However, the motor could have been better placed. It gets into the area behind the spindle and can cause problems for turning bowls.


The removable center of the tailstock contains a small hole. The drilling bar runs through the hole to conduct boring.

The unit contains a knock-out bar to help you remove the centers.

The quill travel of the tailstock is around 2 and ½ inches.

Tool Rest

It has got a heavy-duty iron-cast tool rest. The tool rest is sturdily built and has a good size. The edge of the tool rest won’t wear down quickly.

The tool rest is large enough to accommodate most of the turnings.


Reeves-type belt system has been used to allow the customers to change the speed instantly.

The unit has 6 different settings and the speed ranges from 550-3000 RPM.

An initial speed needs to be set before you mount the workpiece, as it requires the machine to be running when changing the speed.


It’s a cast iron bed.

The lathe has a 12 inches swing over the bed and 8-3/4 inches swing over the tool rest.


  • The headstock can be rotated

  • Reeves-type belt system allows the speed to be changed quickly

  • Reasonably priced


  • The placement of motor may cause problems while turning bowls

  • Makes a lot of sounds

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Some Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Maximum Length of Lumber this Lathe can Hold?

It has a 12 inches throw and the maximum length it can hold is 36 inches.

2. What is the Speed Range of This Machine?

The speed range of this machine is 550-3000 RPM. The speeds are: 550, 800, 1250, 1650, 2600, 3000 RPM.

3. Is There a Speed Controller to Get the Speed of This Device Below 550 RPM?

You could install a Rheostat and control the minimum speed. However, 550 RPM is slow enough for turning most of the spindles.

Final Verdict

The Jet JWL 1236 is a great device for beginners and amateurs.

This machine is suitable to help them grow and gain more experience in woodworking over time.

Even professionals can complete most of their projects with this lathe.

Variable speed of this lathe can be exceedingly useful during truing.

Overall, the JWL 1236 is certainly worth the money as you would be hard-pressed to find another lathe of the same quality in this price range.