June 12, 2020

Shop Fox W1856 Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe Review

Should you get the Shop Fox W1856? Are you looking for the best wood lathe on the market today? A lathe will help you carve out hollow shapes from a piece of wood with accuracy and precision. It does this by removing excess wood, as it spins it between two axes, giving you symmetrical shapes. 

The lathe will hold the wood on two ends and begin to bore out the excess wood you do not need. This is how you get to carve out bowls and shapes that need symmetry. The result depends on how skilled you are with the tool. 

Shop Fox W1856

 Sometimes the lathe you want may not fit in the space you have, so it becomes necessary to look for something that fits. Remember that it is about fitting it in your workshop and making sure that you can work around it. 

If you already have a workbench, you can fix a lathe and get the convenience of a lathe that is not mounted on its separate stand. Doing this requires that you have a sturdy bench that can uphold the lathe. 

The W1856—12″ x 18″ Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe weighs 82 pounds and measures 38.5inches by 15.5inches by 17 inches. You must know the product specifications before you commit. 

Another thing that can influence your decision is how easy it is to get replacement parts and what they cost. Some machines may not be worth the hassle, depending on where you live. Let us take a look at what the W1856 can do for you.


It looks very compact, with everything that you will need from it. The features that it comes with are visible and within reach. There are 15 inches between centers and a 9-inch swing over the tool rest. 

The horizontal bed seems almost laden with various features. This sturdy machine is made of cast iron, and this goes for the stock as well. The 15 inches between the centers means that this is the size of the material you can work with. 

White Shop Fox W1856 lathe

The W1856 is white and also has the authenticity that comes with Shop fox tools. It looks sturdy and dependable. While these may not be the usual aesthetic adjectives, they also help describe the great performance you can expect from this lathe.

If you think the lathe’s bed is not long enough for you, you can extend it. Meaning that with this lathe, you get more than you bargained for. 

Performance Review

This lathe has a powerful 3/4 HP motor with variable speed spindle control. To make your life easier, it has a digital RPM reader. This way, you get accurate speed adjustments. You will not have to worry about spacing and marking evenly. 

The lathe has 24 index points that increase by 15 degrees to help you mark and space evenly. This is one of the things that make this bench lathe stand out from the rest. It is one of the things that shop fox has delivered excellently in this bench lathe.  

Another feature that makes this lathe an excellent choice and makes it perform better is that you can switch the speed, thanks to the variable speed control. This also helps you get the optimum spindle torque in each range and will make woodturning extremely easy. 

It has a 12-inch swing over the bed. This means that the largest piece of wood that you can rotate on the spindle without hitting the bed has to be 12 inches. This is an important factor to know s that you get the lathe that is best suited for the work you intend to do. 

This means that you can work on a wide variety of projects. This versatility makes the W1856 a worthy contender compared with other benchtop lathes in its league.


It is important that you do not ignore the manual and carefully read it to know what you need to be careful of when you use the lathe. Understand how it needs to be used and what precautions need to be taken before using the lathe. 

When you are sure that you have done this properly, you can then set it up. Make sure that you make all adjustments before you plug it into the power source. You do this to avoid accidents. 

Also, make sure that you place it where the power cable can easily reach the lathe. Always avoid having any cables stretched across the room. Make sure that you do not leave the lathe unattended.

Always unplug it from the power when you are done, and make sure that children and any inexperienced users could get hurt.

Ensure that all the moving parts of the machine are safely hidden away or covered with protective guards. 

When you are using the lathe, make sure that you protect yourself. Using protective eyewear can help protect you from anything that can fly away as you carve at high speeds. 

Who is this product ideal for?

This lathe is suitable for experienced users, people who know what they are doing. It requires a certain level of expertise that you can not learn overnight. 


  • It is versatile
  • It has a powerful motor
  • It is a sturdy tool that gives you stability as you work


  • It needs to be placed on a workbench, and sometimes this is difficult to find a bench that is sturdy enough

Our Verdict

The W1856—12″ x 18″ Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe is a worthy lathe from Shop Fox and can help you get precision and accuracy as you carve asymmetrical shapes. 

The features on this lathe make it a great bu that we can recommend with a clear conscience. We hope that this review helps you find the best benchtop lathe you need. Happy shopping! Be sure to read our round-up of the best wood lathes.

David D. Hughes
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