A lathe is a machine tool that rotates and shapes pieces of raw material (usually wood, metal, or plastic) around an axis to produce a desired part or object.
As their name denotes, mini lathes are much smaller and more portable than traditional lathes, making them easier to use in different environments.
It can be used for smaller projects and is usually cheaper than a traditional lathe.
This article lists and reviews the best mini-lathes for metalworking and woodworking applications.
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Best Mini Metal Lathes
1. Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe-Best Overall Metal Lathe
|Variable Speed||0 - 2,500 RPM|
|Range of thread cutting||12 - 52 TPI in 18 steps|
A quick overview of Grizzly G8688 mini lathe
Grizzly G8688 is a benchtop metal lathe. It has an all-metal build and weighs around 74 lbs.
Its footprint measures 30.25" x 13", and can house workpieces up to 12" in length and 7" in diameter. Its bed has a width of 3.25".
The length of the workpiece it can house will also depend on the chuck and tailstock center used with the lathe.
Grizzly provides a chuck, dead center, tool rest, etc., with the G8688 lathe. Following is the list of accessories provided with the machine.
|3" Three-jaw chuck with external jaws|
|Four-position turret post|
|Complete set of change gears|
|MT#2 dead center|
List of accessories provided with Grizzly G8688
Grizzly G8688 is powered by a 3/4 hp motor. The motor connects to the spindle via a belt drive.
The motor speed can be adjusted between 0 - 2500 RPM in two steps (low and high) by using the variable speed control knob.
Other motor controls include a forward/reverse switch and an emergency stop button.
Grizzly G8688 supports thread cutting within the 12 - 52 TPI (threads per inch) range, allowing you to make left-hand and right-hand threads.
The threading dial provided with the machine helps ease the process by allowing you to align the cutting tool with the emerging thread.
G8688 metal lathe comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty and good after-sales support.
You can contact Grizzly by phone or e-mail or visit their showrooms in Washington and Springfield, USA.
A 3/4hp motor with variable speed control drives the spindle.
Grizzly provides it with a 1-year warranty.
|Bolton Tools BT210V|
|Variable Speed||50 - 2,500 RPM|
|Range of thread cutting||10 - 44 TPI|
A quick overview of Bolton Tools BT210V metal lathe
BT210V is a benchtop metal lathe from Bolton Tools. It has a footprint of 29" x 15.4" x 14.6" and weighs around 143.3 lbs.
It has a bed width of 3.9" and provides a distance between centers of around 15.7", which means it can house workpieces up to 15.7" in length and 8.3" in diameter.
BT210V is a precision metal lathe, meaning it can make intricate solid parts with a smooth surface finish.
The spindle is powered by a 1hp powerful motor with variable speed control that provides a speed range of 50-2500 RPM.
It provides a digital readout screen, above the rotary switch for precise speed adjustment, and provides a thread range of 8-44 TPI.
The headstock also houses an emergency stop switch and a motor reverse/forward switch.
BT210V has a benchtop design by default, but Bolton Tools provides an optional stand attachment that you can use to transform your machine into a stand-alone lathe, eliminating the need for a workbench.
Bolton Tools BT210V lathe comes with the following accessories.
|Dead Center - MT3 and MT2|
|A 3-jaw chuck|
|3 external sets of jaws for ED work holding|
|Key for 3 jaw chuck|
|5 hex socket wrenches|
|3 double end head wrenches|
|A set of change gears|
List of accessories provided with Bolton Tools BT210V metal lathe
Using BT210V mini lathe, you can make threads within 10 - 44 T.P.I range. The four-way tool post mounted on the lathe gives you the flexibility of locking multiple tools at the same angle.
Bolton Tools provides a one-year warranty for the BT210V mini lathe. For queries, you can contact them through telephone, online contact form, or visit their showroom in California, USA.
|Eastwood mini metal lathe|
|Variable Speed||0 - 2,500 RPM|
|Range of thread cutting||12 - 52 TPI|
0.4 - 2.0 mm
A quick overview of Eastwood mini metal lathe
This mini lathe machine from Eastwood is a lightweight machine that weighs around 90 pounds.
It sits on top of a chip tray that comes with the machine. The overall footprint is 27.75" x 8.75".
The lathe can house metal workpieces up to 12" in length and 7" in diameter. The maximum compound travel of the tool post is 2.75", and the carriage travel is 10.5".
It features a MT3 spindle taper and an MT2 tapered tailstock.
You can use it for cutting threads within the 12–52 TPI range.
The electrical enclosure has a forward/off/reverse switch, which can be used to turn the spindle motor on/off and toggle its direction between reverse and forward.
Next to the forward/off/reverse switch is a variable speed control knob that allows you to control the spindle's speed between 0-2500 RPM.
Eastwood's mini metal lathe comes with a 3-jaw chuck mounted to its headstock. The kit also includes a set of three outer jaws for applications that require external diameter (ED) work holding.
Following is the list of accessories provided with the machine.
|List of accessories|
|Set of 4 Hex Keys (3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm)|
|8mm x 10mm and 14mm x 17mm Double Open-End Wrench|
|Morse Taper No. 2 Dead Center|
|External Chuck Jaws|
|2 Pc. HSS Cutter Set|
|Tooth Plastic Gear|
(30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, and 65)
Accessories provided with Eastwood's mini metal lathe
The Eastwood small lathe is shipped in a semi-assembled state. You must assemble all the parts to make it a functional metal lathe.
Assembly instructions are available on their website and user manual.
Eastwood offers a one-year warranty for the mini metal lathe. For queries, you can contact them through phone or email.
A 3/4hp motor with variable speed drives the spindle.
Eastwood provides it with a warranty of one year.
Best Mini Wood Lathes
|Swing||10" or 12"|
|Motor||3/4 hp or 1hp|
|Variable Speed||500-3800 RPM or 150-3800 RPM|
A quick overview of Turncrafter Commander mini wood lathe
Turncrafter Commander is a benchtop mini wood lathe. It has two carry handles on both sides, making it easier to move around.
It's made of cast iron and comes in two swing-over bed sizes: 10" and 12". Both can accommodate workpieces up to 18" long.
You can even upgrade it with an extension kit from PSI Woodworking. Upgraded Turncrafter Commander can turn up to 42" long workpieces.
The one (KWL-1018VS) with a 10" swing has a 31" x 7.25" footprint, and it weighs 82 lbs, whereas the 12" swing model (KWL-1218VS) has a 31" x 9.5" footprint and weighs 106 lbs.
Moreover, the 10" variant is driven by a 3/4 hp motor, while a 1 hp motor powers the 12" variant.
With variable speed control, Turncrafter Commander allows you to change the motor speed anywhere between 500-3800 RPM on the 10" variant and 150 to 3800 RPM on the 12" variant.
It also has a digital readout mounted on its headstock to assist you in the process.
The headstock and tailstock are MT2 tapered and come with a 3" faceplate and spur center.
It comes with the following accessories.
|6” and 12" Tool rest|
|MT2 Spur drive center|
|Heavy-duty tailstock live center|
|18" flux cabled work light|
List of accessories provided with Turncrafter Commander
Turncrafter Commander has 24 indexing positions, and you can use them to scribe line patterns for future machining or designing applications.
It ships as a semi-assembled kit, and you must assemble the remaining parts to make it ready for the job. Assembly details are available in the user manual.
For Turncrafter Commander, PSI Woodworking provides a three-year warranty. You can contact them by phone or email.
With the optional bed extension, you can achieve a 42-inch center distance.
It comes with a warranty of 3 years.
|Shop Fox W1704|
|Variable Speed||Between 700 and 3,200 RPM|
A quick overview of Shop Fox W1704 mini wood lathe
W1704 is one of the most popular mini wood lathes from Shop Fox. It has a benchtop design with cast iron parts, giving it a total weight of 53 lbs.
It has a footprint of around 23.37" x 5.5" that can house workpieces of up to 12" in length and 8" in diameter.
The spindle and tailstock are MT1 tapered, meaning the tapper length will differ from the most preferred MT2 spindle taper.
|4.25" and 7" tool rest|
List of accessories provided
W1704 is powered by a 1/3 hp motor that connects to the spindle using a belt drive.
It uses a variable speed control system to adjust the spindle speeds to anywhere between 700 and 3,200 RPM.
Most wood lathes use step pulley drive, which requires you to manually adjust the belt between different pulleys to change spindle speeds.
W1704 is shipped as a semi-assembled kit, and you must assemble all the provided accessories to make it a functional lathe. Assembly instructions with images are provided in the user manual.
Shop Fox provides a two-year warranty for the W1704 wood lathe. The warranty registration form will come attached to the user manual.
Since Woodstock is the parent company of Shop Fox, you need to register your warranty with them.
For queries, you can contact Woodstock through a phone call or email.
It can house workpieces of 12 inches in length and 8 inches in diameter.
Comes with a 2-year warranty.
Before buying a mini lathe, you must consider the projects you plan to make, your budget, and your needs.
Many factors will decide which type of mini lathe is best for you. This includes
- The type of material you plan to work with
- Material length and width
- Motor power
- Variable speed control
- Reverse turning capability
- Tool type
- Accessories provided
- Upgrades available
- Part availability
Mini lathes are not limited to machining metal workpieces and can be used for making projects with various different materials like wood, plastics, etc.
These lathes are affordable and easy to use. The only limitation is the size of the objects or parts you can make.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Are mini lathes safe to work with?
Yes, mini lathes are safe to work with if you follow the necessary safety precautions. While operating a lathe, make sure you wear safety glasses to protect yourself from the airborne projectiles spawning from the turned workpiece. Also, make sure you don't wear loose clothes around the lathe, as they could potentially get caught in the machinery and lead to accidents.
What tools are the best to work on wood lathes?
Some of the best tools to work on wood lathes are scrapers, parting tools, gouges, and skew chisels. You can get these tools individually as per your requirements or as a set.
Should I worry about lathe motor overheating?
Lathe motor overheating should be taken seriously as it can result in the expansion and warping of motor parts, gradually damaging the motor. In lathes, the most common reason seen for motor overheating is work overload and low air circulation.