Jet 1221vs Lathe Review Main Photo

Jet 1221vs Lathe Review for Wood Bowl Turning

The Jet 1221vs lathe (vs stands for variable speed) fills a much-needed gap between small not-so-powerful and more expensive large wood bowl turning lathes. This lathe is an ideal wood lathe for the beginner to advanced wood bowl turner working with pieces up to 12 inches in diameter.

Jet 1221vs Lathe Specifications

  • Max Swing or Bowl Diameter – 12”
  • Spindle Length – 20.5”
  • Headstock Spindle Size – 1” x 8 threads per inch
  • Spindle Interior Taper – MT2
  • Tailstock Quill Taper – MT2
  • Banjo Toolrest Inset – 5/8″
  • Motor Power – 1 horse
  • Power Source – 115V Standard (grounded)
  • Recommended Circuit – 10 Amps.
  • Pulley Speeds – L (60-900 rpm) M (110-1800) H (220-3600)
  • Speed Range – 60-3600 R.P.M.
  • Index Positions – 24 (inside pulley compartment)
  • Overall Size – 33.6”L x 11”W x 17.7”H
  • Weight – 137 pounds
Jet 1221vs Lathe on Work Bench
Jet 1221vs Lathe on Work Bench

Jet 1221vs Size

Before I got this lathe, I was concerned about how much space it might take up. I have a small workshop in my garage, and I didn’t want to lose a ton of space.

It was a relief to discover that the footprint of the Jet lathe is ideal and not too large. The lathe fits on one cabinet bench section or the width of a standard two-door cabinet.

Jet 1221vs Lathe Power

A one-horsepower electric motor comprises the drive train of the Jet 1221vs lathe, which is standard 115v. This lathe plugs into a standard outlet.

There are three pulley settings from the electric motor driving the headstock spindle. Each pulley setting adjusts rotation speed and torque.

“Why are there pulleys if it’s a variable speed lathe?” I’m often asked. The answer is torque. There is more torque at the lower pulley setting than at the higher settings. Adjusting torque is essential when turning a larger, heavier bowl blank compared to a small-diameter spindle.

The motor speed can be increased or decreased with the variable speed control knob. The headstock speed and torque are controlled and dictated by the range of each pulley configuration: Low, Medium or High.

Lifting the pulley adjustment level at the bottom of the machine makes pulley adjustment easy. This level essentially lifts the electric motor, providing enough slack for moving the belt to a different setting.

An important note about the power supply: the 115v outlet used to power the Jet 1221vs lathe should have a dedicated breaker. The outlet I use is not dedicated and occasionally the lathe will trip the breaker.

Jet 1221vs Lathe Control Module

The controls on the lathe are simple and straightforward. The Jet 1221vs lathe variable speed control knob is fantastic for easily dialing in ideal turning speeds and getting the bowl blank up to speed quickly.

The Jet’s digital r.p.m. readout is a fantastic luxury for such a fair-priced lathe. The readout makes it very easy to quickly return to a previous known speed and continue turning a bowl.

A reverse setting is also an available option on the lathe controls. There is a forward and reverse sliding switch next to the speed control knob. Unfortunately, the forward and reverse switch is a sliding switch with a peaked oval-shaped thumb surface.

At first, this switch may seem like no big deal. However, I found myself many times second guessing whether the Jet 1221vs lathe was in forward or reverse before starting the lathe. The switch appears to be a flip-able toggle switch. Because of this, the switch appearance looks to be in the reverse setting.

I overlooked the reverse switch issue after a short while. But correcting this switch confusion is something Jet might consider updating in future versions.

Jet 1221vs Lathe Reverse Forward Switch Detail
Jet 1221vs Lathe Reverse Forward Switch Detail

Jet 1221vs Lathe Control Module Location

The location of the control module to the right side of the lathe is great, because it keeps you out of the way of the turning wood in the event something goes wrong. If the need should arise to turn off the lathe quickly, most of the time this can be done quickly without crossing the turning timber.

There are some occasions when I need to be on the headstock side of the lathe working a particular area of the bowl, and it can be a bit unnerving knowing I need to reach across the spinning wood bowl to get to the switch.

The location on the right side is 100% better than being on the left side, which would require constantly crossing the turning bowl. I guess with the Jet 1221vs lathe, the only way to improve this setup would be to make the control module corded and mobile. All in all, I really like the controls being on the right side.

Jet 1221vs Lathe Accessories

The Jet 1221vs Lathe comes with a variety of tools and accessories including: a faceplate, two tool rests (short and long), knock out bar, two tool racks, drive center, live tailstock center, hex wrench, and headstock wrench.

Not included with the lathe, but available from Jet, are additional accessories for this lathe.

Jet makes a Stand for this lathe that allows the lathe to be a freestanding (and movable) machine in your shop. Jet especially designed the Jet JWL-1221VS Stand for the Jet 1221vs lathe.

If I had more shop space, I would purchase this stand to free up my bench space. And it gives the option of locating the lathe in different areas of the shop easily.

The Jet 1221vs lathe bed length is 21” long, or 20.5″ according to the specs. An optional Bed Extension, Jet JWL-1221VS BE Bed Extension can be used to add 20 more inches, 40” total spindle length to the lathe bed.

Jet 1221vs Lathe Accessories plus Additional S Curve Tool Rest
Jet 1221vs Lathe Accessories plus Additional S Curve Tool Rest

Additional Toolrest and Faceplate

The included tools that come with this lathe are great items to get started. I also really needed a curved tool rest for working bowl interiors more efficiently. I found this very nice “S” Bowl Interior Toolrest (check Amazon for current price)

I also added an additional Faceplate (Amazon link) to be able to have a dedicated faceplate for my jam chuck. By adding this faceplate instead of just using one and moving it back and forth, I save a lot of time and don’t strip screw holes out of my jam chuck.

Four-Jaw Chuck

Of course, as a bowl turner, a four-jaw chuck is a must and a very valuable addition to the turning process. I’ve found the Hurricane Tools 4 inch HTC100 Chuck (See my Recommended Chucks page for more details) to be a great four-jaw chuck to turn bowls. Its sturdy construction and dovetail jaws hold the bowl blank tenon flawlessly every time.

Also, this chuck comes with a center screw chuck. Additional jaws of various sizes may be purchased, giving you a variety of turning attachment options.

Example of LED Side Light on Bowl
Example of LED Side Light on Bowl

Additional Light

I found I really needed a good light source while working with my Jet 1221vs lathe. The overhead lights in my garage shop are good, but I really needed a better adjustable light up close.

This Gooseneck Arm LED light with a magnetic base (Amazon check current price) worked perfectly. Not only does it securely attach to the iron body of the lathe with its magnetic base, it is easy to position anywhere I need additional light.

Having an adjustable light is critical for many turning occasions, but never as much as when sanding or removing tool marks from bowls.

I position the gooseneck LED light to shine from the side, across the bowl surface to see any trouble areas. This side lighting technique quickly illuminates any wood surface areas needing attention.

It’s shocking how many times, before I use this focused sidelight with just the overhead shop light, that I think the bowl surface is fine. My bowl quality has improved dramatically since using this light.

Jet 1221vs Lathe with mounted bowl blank and additional LED light
Jet 1221vs Lathe with mounted bowl blank and additional LED light

Jet 1221vs Wood Lathe Overall


  • Tool rack blocks access door to pulleys. All tools need to be removed beforehand.
  • The forward and reverse switch looks like a toggle, and it is not clear if forward or reverse is selected.
  • Tool thumb locks on tool rest and banjo could be sturdier.
  • Won’t accommodate turning larger-diameter bowls


  • Great size and ideal for small to medium wood bowl turning
  • Three torque range pulley settings (L is ideal for wood bowl turners)
  • Variable Speed Control for turning bowls at the optimum speed all the time.
  • Digital R.P.M. Speed Readout
  • Compact Footprint
  • Solid construction no vibration
  • 5 Year Warranty

The Jet 1221vs lathe is a fantastic turning machine for wood bowl turners. Bowls ranging from 4 or 6 inches up to 10 or 12 inches can be turned on this lathe efficiently.

Natural Edge and Regular Wood Bowls Made on Jet 1221vs Lathe
Natural Edge and Regular Wood Bowls Made on Jet 1221vs Lathe

I believe, for the wood bowl turner that enjoys making small to medium pieces, the Jet 1221vs lathe is a great match. Check here for the current price of the Jet 1221vs Lathe, along with the Jet JWL-1221VS Optional Stand and Jet JWL-1221VS BE Bed Extension.

For the woodworker that wants to get started making various turned items for general woodturning and incorporating turnings in other woodworking projects, this lathe is a dream.

The Jet 1221vs lathe is not the clunky, too-small lathe that typically collects dust in the corner of the shop. No, this lathe is a lathe that can make bowls, turn spindles, create fantastic craft projects, ornaments and basically anything you can think of within the 12” diameter limit.

I would recommend the Jet 1221vs lathe to anyone wanting to start out in small bowl turning or anyone who is ready to step up from their smaller midi or mini lathe.

Jet 1221vs Lathe Review Image Pinterest
Jet 1221vs Lathe Review Image Pinterest

Do you already own a Jet 1221vs lathe? If so, please leave a comment below and tell what you think of your lathe.

Are you looking for a larger, more serious lathe? Check out my review of the Robust Sweet 16.

Here are a couple of Lathe articles to check out next:

Happy Turning,


  1. Thank you for the great review, it tells me I made a good choice, my 1221 arrives today, can’t wait to get started, also read your review on sweet 16, maybe someday when my experience, and ability progress

    1. Author


      Thanks for writing and enjoy your new lathe!!! That’s such a fun feeling!

      Happy Turning,

  2. Hey Kent! I also have a 1221vs and it is a sturdily built machine… (here it comes) but on mine at least the speed control is WAY too touchy. It seems to take a very long time (out of balance stuff is measured in milliseconds) to settle on a final speed. Did you find this on your machine?

    By the way, well done website…

    J.R. Darnall

    1. Author

      Hi Jerry,

      Yes, the speed seemed to jump quickly when turning the knob. I have to be sure to make very small incremental adjustments. That’s a good point.

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hey, Cool website! I found it doing some gouge sharpening research and totally appreciate all the info, research and stuff you share here. Really cool.

    Just saying nice work, thanks for sharing. Do you have an instagram account? Lots of cool turning stuff there as well.

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