Shop Fox W1704 Review : Best Budget Wood Lathe

Why to choose:SHOP FOX W1704

Just getting on started on wood turning? Then you need a lot of reliable tools and that includes a start up wood lathe. One lathe that is pretty efficient and cut out for small scale, intricate projects is the Shop Fox W1704 wood lathe complete with 1/3 horse power.

You have countless variations when it comes to lathes ranging from the small bench top like this one to the massive industrial ones. These machines differ only slightly depending on motor power, weight, speed range, swing over bed. If you’re a beginner, then the Shop Fox W1704 is the choice to go with – you can chose the similar choice from the Harbour Freight brand, but the only really difference lies in the price and colours.

In fact, you can download the PDF manuals from the Shop Fox and the Harbour Freight website – you’ll find that both wood lathe are almost identical, give or take a few differences.

Shop Fox W1704 Review

In this review we’ll be looking at this best wood lathe in full detail to see why its such a great choice for a number of wood workers who love it due to the sturdy construction, compact build and variable spindle speeds. What this offers them is a way for them to take on various smaller projects on both soft and hard wood types. So, is it a good choice for you? We’re here to help you to decide.

One thing that does stand out is that it has adjustable features. This is a bench top wood lathe that either work as a beginner platform or for specialised wood turning.


  • 8 inch swing over bed,
  • cast iron body,
  • variable speed motor,
  • safety paddle switch,
  • 14 inches between centres
  • Dimensions: 7.1X27.9X13.7 inches –
  • Weight 45.5 pounds

So these dimensions aren’t much when you consider the average bench top lathes – but it is strong and fits most work benches. And since its light, you can move it over to another bench, just in case.

The cast iron build guarantees working satisfaction and good results on cutting, turning even after running it for hours – this is further enhanced by the distance between centres and the sizes of the swing over bed.

The W1704 lathe from Shop Fox comes with two tool rests of 4 ½ inches and 7 inches, with noiseless, vibration less performance. Its not the strongest motor but should manage most work thrown at it.

The machine comes with a 5 – ¾ inch head stock spindle for any non-spindle turning. You can use this for making circular shaped objects that can’t be supported by the tail stock.The spindle thread size is ¾ inch by 16 TPI, while the taper uses the same Morse Taper of 1 or MT 1.



  • Versatile features,
  • variable spindle speed,
  • ideal for small scale projects,
  • durable and stable structure

The Shop Fox W1704 bench top wood turning lathe get top votes for the spindle speeds that you adjust; also for its ability to set up and use easily. It does have a rugged build and means that one can use for a very long time.

Then for the price, it has more than enough features on it but don’t expect to see everything though. Buyers settle for this one when it comes to the price, features, something affordable, for small projects or for detailing.

Its a mixed bag of feelings on this lathe – on one hand, it is designed to address all smaller tasks, projects and would be good to have around for DIY stuff, brushing up on wood polishing skills or for detailing.

On the other hand, it has the variable speeds and this offers you versatility for working on hard and soft woods.



  • accessories are hard to find,
  • tailstock feels a little sloppy,
  • no hand wheel included,
  • limited to small tasks only.

Some users have described how the lathe malfunctioned in minor ways after only just being set up, or started up. This might have to do with the 1/3 horse power motor that doesn’t suit the turning out of larger projects.

The next trouble area is the instructions that come with it, that don’t provide a thorough explanation of what goes where – and this could be a huge issues for beginners. We guess you won’t have any issues if you’re install lathes before and know where everything is supposed to be.

Some users even say how they have trouble with the knob for tightening the tail stock that they pull down to a finicky design.There was also this other issues with the set screws on the knob, where it would unscrew each time the knob was used to tighten blanks. If it was screwed too tight then the screws would grind against the knob, even stripping it out.

The other issue is with the bar that steadies the carving tool.This occasionally comes loose as well and the bolt on top of the tail stock keeps jumping the groove it is supposed to sit in – this is annoying to a point where certain users ended up shearing off the T-Lock bolt. Others had a machinist do it or replaced this lathe.

Also Check : Shop Fox W1758 Review

We think that these cons might have something to do with certain products being flawed – which is what one can expect. The other cause could be poor installation due to the less than perfect instruction manual. If you’re new to lathes, get this one installed by a professional as this could save you a lot of money in the long run. On top of that, replacing broken parts were tough and this is why you have to be careful using the machine.

We don’t recommend trying this point out –but some users were shocked by how they could easily stop the lathe using their fingertip and a slight touch. This was even after fully extending the lathe belt. In one way, we think that this is a fool proof safety mechanism.

In other ways, it shows that the lathe lacks a certain level of power which is to be expected seeing how its been designed to be that way.

Shop Fox W1704 Frequently Asked Questions

Is Shop Fox W1704 suitable for beginners?

  • Yes

Is it suitable for working on hard material?

  • Yes, the machine has spindle speed Varity to work on any kind of material.

How much warranty Shop Fox W1704 has?

  • 2 Years.

What is the construction type?

  • Sturdy and durable cast iron

Does the machine include safety paddle switch?

  • Yes

How much power supply does the machine need to operate?

  • 110V power supply


This is the right choice for those who are just getting into woodworking and are likely to enjoy the job thanks to this lathe. You can use this for making bowls, pens, bottle stoppers and eventually candle holder, vases, and pots once you’ve mastered the easy stuff. So its possible for you to enhance your skills easily using this lathe and speaks a lot about its ease of use.

We can’t say that its good for the complicated, bigger tasks and so eventually you will have to upgrade or consider getting a second lathe. All jobs carried out on the lathe were smooth sailing. It isn’t just any lathe, but for novice wood turners the versatile features, variable speeds are all you need for this to be a right fit.

We suggest setting on the lowest speed first before setting on the power, and you’ll find this and other tips given in the manual. Purchase this if you need to make pens or for hobby work – this choice in lathes comes first because of the electronic speed control as opposed to stopping the lathe motor and adjust the belt just to change speeds. You don’t have this inconvenience with the Shop Fox W1704.

When set on the maximum RPM, it runs quiet and doesn’t have any vibration – the same goes for when we changed the spur gears to the face plate.

This sturdy, neat little bench top lathe isn’t large and heavy like one would expect lathes to be. Yet it is still stable, easy to set up and is the perfect tool for those who are just learning the craft.

Granted its not the powerful option on the market right now, but it has this variable motor that fits the overall size of the lathe just right, and is capable of delivering speeds between 700 to 3200 RPMs. Speeds are easily adjustable using a dial knob, meaning that you can switch speeds depending on the kind of wood you’re working on.

It is loaded with all of the right features, making it a good value buy. The lather bed and the bagged parts are covered on oil, so its messy but it does protect everything. The centres of the tail stock and the head stock are aligned perfectly, and you get a nine foot long  power cord so you have all the flexibility that you need.

It is perfect for small projects, intricate detailing and can manage any wood density. The compact size makes it easier to handle, maintain and store. In a lot of ways, there are plenty of pros with a handful of cons and the choice of buying the Fox Shop W1704 lies with what kind, and level of wood work you would like to have done. Understand that all the limitations might shows up if the installation isn’t done correctly or if you use the lathe for something else.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply