Shop Fox 3/4 HP Motor 15″ Benchtop Wood Lathe Review


Let’s be honest, woodturning isn’t your typical pastime. It’s a niche hobby that involves dust, noise, and demands a certain level of caution. When I made the decision to delve into this craft, I recognized the need for a lathe that could handle the challenges without hesitation. That’s when the Shop Fox W1836 entered the scene – a robust 12×15″ benchtop lathe, ready to tackle whatever I threw at it (figuratively, of course, because safety always comes first!).

While I’m no stranger to woodworking, I don’t claim the title of a professional wood whisperer. This review stems from the perspective of a devoted hobbyist who places equal importance on performance and practicality.

Brief Specification

  • Manufacturer: Woodstock International INC
  • Item model number: W1836
  • Part Number: FBA_W1836
  • Size: 12″ x 15″
  • Material: Wood Lathe
  • Power Source: Corded-electric
  • Item Weight: 85 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 38.5 x 15.5 x 17 inches
  • Country of Origin: China

Power and Speed

When it comes to power and speed, the Shop Fox W1836 proves that you don’t need a thunderous engine to get the job done efficiently. With its 3/4 HP motor, this lathe may not initially sound like a powerhouse, but in practice, it’s more than sufficient for the average hobbyist. I’ve subjected it to a variety of turning challenges, from unbalanced bowls to dense chunks of maple, and the motor handled everything with remarkable ease – no signs of strain or struggle.

The electronic variable speed control is a standout feature, allowing me to precisely adjust the revolutions per minute (RPM) to suit the requirements of different wood types and turning applications. What sets this lathe apart is its subdued operation; compared to some older models that sound like a symphony of noise, the Shop Fox operates with a whisper-quiet efficiency, making the woodturning experience not only powerful but also pleasantly tranquil.

Shop Fox W1836 Wood Lathe on workbench

Furthermore, the motor’s resilience adds a layer of confidence to my woodturning endeavors. It consistently delivers a stable and reliable performance, even when faced with challenging materials. This reliability not only contributes to the quality of my finished projects but also speaks to the overall durability and craftsmanship of the Shop Fox W1836. In the realm of woodturning, where precision is paramount, having a motor that seamlessly blends power with finesse is a game-changer, and the Shop Fox W1836 undoubtedly achieves this delicate balance.

Design and Build Quality

The thoughtful design and robust build of the Shop Fox (W1836) make it a standout choice for woodworkers seeking a reliable and versatile lathe. Despite its compact size, the lathe doesn’t compromise on sturdiness, catering to the needs of woodworkers with its well-balanced dimensions.

Person using Shop Fox W1836 Wood Lathe

Boasting a 12-inch swing over the bed and 15 inches between centers, the Shop Fox strikes an ideal equilibrium, ensuring suitability for a diverse range of projects without demanding excessive workshop space. The incorporation of cast iron in its construction not only enhances its overall durability but also instills confidence in its ability to withstand the rigors of heavy and prolonged use.

Moreover, the Shop Fox (W1836) elevates the woodturning experience with its adjustable tool rest and tailstock, providing woodworkers with the flexibility needed to turn various shapes and sizes seamlessly. This adaptability is particularly beneficial when tackling intricate or larger projects. The inclusion of a thoughtfully placed digital tachometer further demonstrates the lathe’s commitment to precision.

Shop Fox W1836 Wood Lathe with digital display

Real-time monitoring of spindle speed is an invaluable feature, allowing woodworkers to maintain optimal control and accuracy in their turning work. This attention to detail in design, coupled with durable construction, positions the Shop Fox (W1836) as a reliable and user-friendly tool for woodturners of all skill levels.

Performance Accuracy

When it comes to the Shop Fox (W1836) 12 Inches x 15″ Benchtop Wood Lathe, precision in turning is where it truly shines. The process of mounting a piece between the MT2 live and dead centers is remarkably straightforward, offering a user-friendly experience. The tailstock’s secure lock-down adds a comforting solidity, ensuring stability during intricate turning tasks. The tool rest, a robust piece of steel, proves to be a reliable companion, securely holding chisels in place even when navigating through aggressive cuts.

Adjusting settings on Shop Fox W1704 Wood Lathe

Speed control emerges as a highlight of the lathe’s performance. The digital readout not only simplifies the adjustment of RPMs but ensures consistent and accurate results with every use. The motor operates seamlessly, humming along with minimal complaints even at higher speeds, a testament to the lathe’s dynamic balancing system that contributes to its remarkably smooth performance.

Operating Shop Fox W1836 Wood Lathe

However, in the realm of performance, there are a couple of nuances. While the 24-position index ring proves handy for achieving evenly spaced cuts, its operation can be a tad fiddly, requiring some additional attention during use. Additionally, the included tool holder, though well-intentioned, feels more like an afterthought than an integrated feature, posing a minor drawback in an otherwise precise and efficient woodturning experience.

Review of Visual Assessment

Upon first glance, the Shop Fox (W1836) 12 Inches x 15″ Benchtop Wood Lathe exudes a robust and well-crafted aesthetic. The lathe’s compact design doesn’t compromise on stability, with its cast iron construction lending a sense of durability. The 12-inch swing over the bed and 15 inches between centers strike a harmonious balance, making it apparent that this lathe is designed with the woodworker’s needs in mind.

The tool rest, constructed from sturdy steel, and the adjustable tailstock showcase thoughtful engineering, promising reliability during various turning tasks. The digital tachometer, strategically placed for easy monitoring, adds a modern touch to the overall design. However, the 24-position index ring and the tool holder could benefit from refinements to seamlessly integrate into the lathe’s otherwise commendable visual appeal. Overall, the Shop Fox (W1836) presents itself as a visually pleasing and well-constructed tool that aligns with the expectations of a discerning woodturner.

Table of Comparisons and Competitors

FeatureShop Fox (W1836)Teknatool (T32342)
Motor Power3/4 HP3/4 HP
Variable Speed ControlYesYes
Swing Over Bed12 inches12 inches
Distance Between Centers15 inches16.5 inches
Construction MaterialCast IronCast Iron
Adjustable Tool RestYesYes
Digital TachometerYesNo
Indexing System24-position index ring12-position index system
Included Tool HolderYesYes
Weight85 pounds82 pounds
Country of OriginChinaNew Zealand
Competitive Analysis:

The Teknatool (T32342) Comet II DR Midi Lathe stands as a worthy competitor to the Shop Fox (W1836). Both lathes share a 3/4 HP motor, offering comparable power for various woodturning tasks. They feature a 12-inch swing over the bed, making them suitable for a range of projects. The Teknatool Comet II, however, offers a slightly longer distance between centers at 16.5 inches, providing a bit more flexibility in turning larger pieces.

Teknatool (T32342) Wood Lathe with digital display and tool rest

While both lathes are constructed with durable cast iron, the Shop Fox incorporates a digital tachometer for precise spindle speed control, a feature absent in the Teknatool Comet II. The indexing systems differ, with the Shop Fox having a 24-position index ring compared to the Teknatool’s 12-position index system. Potential buyers may consider these features along with other specifications and pricing when deciding between the two, depending on their specific woodworking needs and preferences.

Pros and Cons

  • Powerful and Reliable Motor: The Shop Fox (W1836) is equipped with a formidable 3/4 HP motor, proving that size isn’t everything. This motor provides ample power for a wide range of woodturning tasks, effortlessly handling everything from delicate details to more robust projects.
  • Variable Speed Control: The electronic variable speed control is a standout feature, allowing users to adjust the lathe’s speed according to the specific demands of different wood types and turning applications. This versatility is crucial for achieving precise and desired results in woodworking projects.
  • Compact Design with Stability: Despite its compact size, the lathe’s design doesn’t compromise on stability. The 12-inch swing over the bed and 15 inches between centers strike a harmonious balance, making it suitable for a variety of projects while fitting comfortably in smaller workshops.
  • Durable Cast Iron Construction: Crafted from cast iron, the lathe exhibits exceptional durability. This construction not only ensures a long lifespan for the tool but also minimizes vibrations during operation, contributing to smoother and more controlled turning.
  • Adjustable Tool Rest and Tailstock: The Shop Fox (W1836) prioritizes user flexibility with its adjustable tool rest and tailstock. This adaptability allows woodworkers to turn different shapes and sizes with ease, enhancing the lathe’s versatility and usability for a broad range of projects.
  • Digital Tachometer: The inclusion of a digital tachometer is a practical touch, providing real-time monitoring of the spindle speed. This feature is invaluable for maintaining precision in woodturning work, allowing users to achieve optimal results consistently.
  • Motor Noise at Higher Speeds: Some users have noted that the motor can be slightly noisy at higher speeds. While not a dealbreaker, it’s worth considering for those who prioritize a quieter working environment, especially during more intensive turning tasks.
  • Steep Learning Curve for Beginners: Woodturning, as a craft, can have a learning curve, and the Shop Fox (W1836) may be perceived as having a steeper curve for beginners. The array of features and adjustments, while beneficial for seasoned woodworkers, might pose a challenge for those new to the craft. However, with patience and practice, the learning curve can be overcome, and the lathe’s capabilities fully appreciated.


In my opinion, the Shop Fox (W1836) 12 Inches x 15″ Benchtop Wood Lathe is a top contender for woodworkers seeking a versatile and reliable lathe for various turning projects. Its combination of power, precision, and durability makes it a valuable addition to any workshop. While it may not be the absolute quietest option on the market, the benefits far outweigh this minor drawback.

Optimal Uses For

  1. Turning Small Bowls and Vases: The Shop Fox (W1836) 12 Inches x 15″ Benchtop Wood Lathe is well-suited for turning small bowls and vases due to its compact design and 12-inch swing over the bed. Woodworkers can take advantage of the adjustable tool rest and tailstock to create intricate designs and achieve a high level of detail on smaller turned projects.
  2. Precision Spindle Work: This lathe’s variable speed control and digital tachometer make it an excellent choice for precision spindle work. Whether crafting table legs, chair spindles, or other detailed components, users can easily adjust the speed to match the requirements of different wood types and turnings. The stability and smooth operation of the lathe contribute to achieving accurate and finely finished spindle projects.
  3. Woodturning for Hobbyists and Craftsmen: The Shop Fox (W1836) is ideal for hobbyists and craftsmen who are passionate about woodturning. Its user-friendly features, including the adjustable tool rest, variable speed control, and compact design, cater to individuals seeking a reliable and versatile lathe for a range of woodworking projects. From creating decorative items to functional turned pieces, this lathe is well-suited for those who value both performance and practicality in their woodworking pursuits.

Final Thoughts

Investing in the right wood lathe can significantly enhance your woodworking experience, and the Shop Fox (W1836) has certainly proven itself in my workshop. Its performance, design, and overall usability make it a standout choice for woodturners of all skill levels. If you’re in the market for a benchtop wood lathe that delivers on multiple fronts, the Shop Fox (W1836) is undoubtedly worth considering.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the power source of the Shop Fox (W1836) Wood Lathe?
    The Shop Fox (W1836) operates on a corded-electric power source.
  2. Can the motor speed be adjusted on the Shop Fox (W1836) lathe?
    Yes, the lathe features variable speed control, allowing users to adjust the motor speed for different turning applications.
  3. What is the size of the Shop Fox (W1836) lathe?
    The lathe has a 12-inch swing over the bed and a 15-inch distance between centers.
  4. Is the Shop Fox (W1836) suitable for beginners?
    While it offers powerful features, some users may find a learning curve, especially beginners. Practice and familiarity can help overcome this.
  5. Does the Shop Fox (W1836) lathe come with adjustable components?
    Yes, the lathe includes an adjustable tool rest and tailstock, providing versatility for turning different shapes and sizes.
  6. What is the material of construction for the Shop Fox (W1836) lathe?
    The lathe is constructed with durable cast iron, contributing to stability and minimizing vibrations during operation.
  7. Can the Shop Fox (W1836) handle dense or unbalanced wood pieces?
    Yes, the lathe’s 3/4 HP motor is powerful enough to handle a variety of wood types, including dense and unbalanced pieces.
  8. Is the lathe noisy during operation?
    While generally quiet, some users have noted that the motor can produce a noticeable noise at higher speeds.
  9. What is the country of origin for the Shop Fox (W1836) lathe?
    The lathe is manufactured in China.
  10. Does the Shop Fox (W1836) lathe include a digital tachometer?
    Yes, the lathe comes with a digital tachometer, providing real-time monitoring of the spindle speed for precision in woodturning projects.

We’re excited to learn about your experiences with the Shop Fox (W1836) 12 Inches x 15″ Benchtop Wood Lathe! Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights in the comments below. Whether you’re a seasoned woodturner or a beginner, your input can be incredibly helpful for others looking to make informed decisions. Let’s create a collaborative space where we can exchange knowledge and enhance our woodworking journeys together!

Edward Smith
Edward Smith
Forestry Author

Woodworking is about more than crafting; it's a harmonious connection with nature, mastering tools, and preserving our environment. I'm here to share my knowledge and experiences with you, forging a future where we can embrace wood's beauty and utility while safeguarding our forests' health and diversity.


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