A mini wood lathe is a great option for hobbyists and craftsmen working on small projects.
They are also a perfect choice for those who have limited space or are looking for an affordable option to get started with woodworking.
Mini wood lathes are designed to hold and spin wooden workpieces around a pivot point, allowing you to turn them into the desired shape.
This article reviews the best mini wood lathes on the basis of their features and capabilities.
In the end, I've also discussed the things to look for when buying a mini wood lathe.
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Best Mini Wood Lathes
|Best Mini Wood Lathes||Price|
|2||Excelsior Mini Lathe||Amazon|
|5||Shop Fox W1704||Amazon|
Best mini wood lathes
1. Turncrafter Commander - Best Overall
|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 from PSI Woodworking is a benchtop mini wood lathe. It has carry handles on each side for ease of mobility.
It's built out of cast iron and is available in two swing-over bed configurations, 10" and 12". Both have an 18" distance between centers.
The one (KWL-1018VS) with a 10" swing has a 31" x 7.25" footprint, and it weighs around 82 lbs, whereas the 12" swing variant (KWL-1218VS) has a 31" x 9.5" footprint, and weighs around 106 lbs.
In addition, the 10" variant is powered by a 3/4" hp motor, and the 12" variant is powered using a 1 hp motor.
The SBC microprocessor technology used by Turncrafter Commander allows you to vary the motor speed anywhere between 500-3800 RPM on the 10" variant, and 150 to 3800 RPM on the 12" variant.
Turncrafter comes with a digital readout, mounted on the headstock, for setting the RPM accurately.
In addition, Turncrafter Commander has 24 indexing positions, and you can lock the spindle with a press of a button.
The headstock and tailstock are MT2 tapered and come with a 3" faceplate and spur center. Its tailstock uses ball-bearings to cancel out any possible splitting.
Turncrafter Commander comes with a 6" and 12" tool rest. Also, an 18" flux cabled work light clears shadows and makes the work area more visible.
It ships as a DIY kit with a detailed assembly manual, and needs to be assembled by the user.
The machine is upgradable with an extension kit that increases the distance between centers to 42".
Turncrafter Commander comes with a three-year warranty, and you can contact the manufacturers through phone, email, or visit their office in Philadelphia, USA.
With the optional bed extension, you can achieve a 42-inch center distance.
It comes with a warranty of 3 years.
|Excelsior Mini Lathe|
|Motor||1/2hp, 370W, DC motor|
|Variable Speed||5 Speeds|
(60, 1100, 1600, 2200 and 3200 RPM)
A quick overview of Excelsior Mini Lathe
Excelsior is a mini wood lathe from Rockler that can house workpieces with a maximum length and diameter of 17.75" and 10", respectively.
It has a chrome-plated cast-iron build and weighs around 80.5 lbs. It has a benchtop design, and its footprint measures 30" x 8".
Excelsior uses an MT2 tapered spindle, and it comes with a 3" face plate. A 1/2 hp DC motor powers the spindle.
The speed range of the spindle is between 760 to 3200 RPM. You can set it to five different speeds, 760, 1100, 1600, 2200, and 3200 RPM.
You need to manually switch the belt drive to different pulleys to adjust the speeds.
Rockler provides an optional bed extension for their Excelsior mini-lathe, which can extend the distance between the centers to 38.5".
By default, Rockler provides a 6" tool rest with Excelsior. You can even upgrade it with their 12" or 8" tool rest kits.
Excelsior ships as a DIY kit and assembly details are provided in the user manual.
It comes with a one-year warranty. For queries, you can contact Rockler by phone or email. They also have a community on Facebook.
It can house workpieces of 17.75 inches in length and 10 inches in diameter.
Comes with a one-year warranty.
3. WEN 3424T
|Variable Speed||5 speeds|
(520, 900, 1400, 2150, and 3400 RPM)
A quick overview of WEN 3424T mini wood lathe
3424T form WEN is a benchtop mini wood lathe. It has a cast-iron construction with a sturdy wobble-free configuration.
It weighs around 70 lbs and has a footprint of 30.25" x 8.75" x 16.25". The distance between centers is 18" long and the swing is 12" wide.
3424T uses an MT2 tapered spindle and tailstock that is compatible with many different accessories. It comes with a 3.125" face plate, ideal for applications like making bowls.
The spindle is belt-driven by a 4.5A 1/2hp motor, and you need to manually loosen the belt and adjust it between the spindle and motor pulley to change its speed.
On 3424T, you can switch between five different speeds: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, and 3400 RPM.
For supporting the tools, WEN 3424T uses a 7.8" tool rest which can be moved across the bed and tightened using the locking lever.
3424T is to be assembled by the user and detailed assembly instructions are provided in the user manual.
WEN provides a standard warranty of two years for the 3424T mini-lathe. For queries, you can contact them through phone or email.
Has 5 variable speeds.
It is powered by a 4.5A 1/2hp motor.
Comes with a 2-year warranty
4. JET JWL-1015
|Variable Speed||6 speeds|
(500, 840, 1,240, 1,800, 2,630, or 3,975 RPM)
An overview of JET JWL-1015 mini wood lathe
JET JWL-1015 is a benchtop mini wood lathe. Its working distance between centers is 15.5" and it can safely house workpieces up to 10" wide.
It has cast-iron construction and weighs around 77 lbs. The overall footprint of JWL-1015 is 35" x 18.1" x 14.56".
JWL-1015 uses an MT2 tapered spindle and tailstock. For supporting the tool, it comes with a 7.32" tool rest.
The spindle is belt-driven by a 1/2 hp motor. Using its belt tensioning system, you can adjust the spindle speeds between 500, 840, 1,240, 1,800, 2,630, or 3,975 RPM.
In addition, the spindle also has 24 indexing positions which help scribe lines on the workpiece for post-carving or designing operations.
JET-JWL-1015 also provides an optional stand and bed extension. This makes JET-JWL-1015 ideal for users planning to expand and work on larger workpieces in the near future.
JWL-1015 has a paddle-style on-off safety key at the tailstock end for conveniently turning on and off the machine.
It does not ship as a pre-assembled kit, and all the assembly details are provided in the user manual.
JET provides a five-year warranty on the JWL-1015 mini wood lathe. For queries, you can contact them by phone.
It can house workpieces of 15.5 inches in length and 10 inches in diameter.
Comes with a 5-year warranty.
5. Shop Fox W1704 - Best Bang for your Buck
|Shop Fox W1704|
|Variable Speed||Between 700 and 3,200 RPM|
A quick overview of Shop Fox W1704 mini wood lathe
Shop Fox W1704 is a benchtop mini wood lathe. It has a cast iron construction and weighs around 53 lbs.
W1704 has a footprint of 23.37" x 5.5". It can house workpieces under 12" in length and 8" in diameter.
It uses an MT1 tapered spindle and tailstock. It also comes with a spur center, live center, and a 5.75" face plate.
For supporting the tool, it comes with a 4.25" and 7" tool rest. The shorter tool rest can be used while working on small workpieces and the other for large workpieces.
The spindle is belt-driven by a 1/3 hp motor that supports variable speed. You can change the speeds to anywhere between 700 and 3,200 RPM.
Shop Fox W1704 provides a knob to adjust the spindle speeds, which is comparatively more convenient than adjusting the belt, thereby enhancing the ease of use of the machine.
W1704 doesn't come assembled. Instead, you need to assemble each part according to the detailed assembly instructions provided in its user manual.
Shop Fox offers a warranty of two years for the W1704 wood lathe. You can contact them via phone or email.
To validate your warranty, you need to register your machine with Woodstock Inc, which is the parent company of Shop Fox.
It can house workpieces of 12 inches in length and 8 inches in diameter.
Comes with a 2-year warranty.
6. RIKON 70-105
|Variable Speed||5 speeds|
(500, 1,175, 1,850, 2,225, and 3,200 RPM)
A quick overview of RIKON 70-105 mini wood lathe
RIKON 70-105 is a benchtop mini wood lathe with a cast iron construction. It has a footprint of 35.5" x 10.5" x 14.75" and weighs around 75 lbs.
The distance between its centers is 18", and can safely house workpieces up to 10" wide. RIKON designed it specifically for pen-turning works.
RIKON 70-105 has five switchable speeds, 500, 1,175, 1,850, 2,225, and 3,200 RPM.
To change the speed, you need to loosen the belt drive and adjust it between the spindle and motor pulley.
It uses an MT2 tapered spindle and tailstock. Also, it comes with a spur drive and live center.
A Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled (TEFC) 1/2 hp motor with a rated speed of 1,700 RPM drives the spindle. It can only turn in the forward direction.
Along the bed, RIKON 70-105 houses a 5/8" tool rest post that you can move along the axis. The swing over the tool rest is 7.5".
They also have 4", 6", and 8" tool rests available as additional accessories. RIKON also have made the replacement parts available on their website.
It has a paddle-styled on-off safety switch on the tailstock leg, which is easy to access.
RIKON 70-105 ships as a DIY kit with detailed assembly instructions in their user manual.
RIKON offers a 5-year warranty for this machine. For support, you can contact them through phone or email.
Has different speed settings that you can switch between.
It is powered by a 3.7A 1/2hp motor.
Comes with a 5-year warranty
7. BACHIN Mini Wood Lathe - Smallest on this List
|BACHIN Mini Wood Lathe|
|Variable Speed||4,000 RPM - 8,000 RPM|
A quick overview of BACHIN Mini Wood Lathe
BACHIN mini wood lathe is the smallest lathe on this list. It has a 12.2" x 2.36 x 2.55" footprint and weighs under 4 lbs.
It's best suited for beginners and hobbyists making chess pieces, beads, tool grips, replicas, pens, rings, or anything small.
BACHIN mini wood lathe can process wood with a maximum length of 5.5" and a width (swing) of 1.96".
It uses a ball-bearing DC motor with a max speed of 8,000 RPM. The power adapter has seven power levels that you can switch between to change the motor speed.
Since it uses a DC motor, you can reverse the spindle direction by changing the input polarity.
The dual-spin direction is useful for sanding operations.
BACHIN mini wood lathe comes with six carving blades, wrenches, a polishing wheel, drills, and some sandpapers.
Note that the BACHIN mini wood lathe is comparatively less sturdy and can't work on medium to hard woods.
The portability comes at the expense of material and process flexibility.
It is best suitable for applications involving simple operations like turning and sanding small 5" softwood blanks.
Also, you won't get any support directly from the manufacturers. Instead, you'll have to get in touch with the community on Amazon or YouTube if you experience any problems.
BACHIN mini lathe is best suitable for users interested in lathe turning of extremely small workpieces.
Best suited for making chess pieces, beads, and pens.
Has variable speed adjustment.
Doesn't come with any valid warranty.
What to Look for While Buying a Mini Wood Lathe?
Portability is the first thing many look at while selecting a mini wood lathe. Generally, these benchtop lathes offer good portability because of their small footprint and weight.
Distance Between Centers
Distance Between Centers (DBC) refers to the maximum distance between the headstock and tailstock.
Mini wood lathes have a DBC of anywhere under 20," and they can house wood stocks needed to make small projects like tool grip, bottle stopper, pen, chess pieces, etc.
You can't use them to make large projects like a baseball bat or table leg.
Swing Over Bed
Swing Over Bed (SOB) means the diameter of the workpiece that you can house on a lathe's workbed. Generally, mini wood lathes have an SOB under 12".
If you want to work on projects having a larger diameter, you'll have to look for a larger option. If that's the case, a midi or full-sized wood lathe will be your best bet.
Power and Speed
For performing woodturning operations on a mini lathe, you need at least a 1/2hp motor with variable speeds.
A motor with 1/2 hp power will help turn small workpieces by overcoming the resistance of the tool.
With variable speed support, you can work on workpieces having variable diameters and hardness.
While some lathes require a manual adjustment of the belt drive to change the speed, others provide a controller knob to change the speed of the spindle.
The ones with control switches are much easier to work with, and they'll greatly reduce the work cycle.
Accessories are very much important for a machine like a mini wood lathe.
While purchasing, check if the manufacturer has all the accessories you need. If not, ensure that the machine has a universal setup and can be retrofitted with third-party accessories.
Support from the machine manufacturer and the community can help you overcome many problems.
Make sure the manufacturer provides enough documentation on the machine and its working. Also, look for one with a warranty term that suits your need.
Mini wood lathes are small, compact, and lightweight machines. that can be easily moved from one place to another.
They are also affordable and easy on the pocket compared to other wood lathes.
The design of these machines makes it difficult to work with larger pieces of wood. Although, you can easily upgrade the ones that support bed extension.
Mini wood lathes generally have an over-the-bed swing of 8" - 10" and a distance between centers of 12" - 15".
These machines are ideal for small workshops or users who want to work on small pieces of wood.
The most common application of mini wood lathes is turning workpieces like pens, bowls, spindles, dippers, and other round objects.
However, you can also use it to make small wooden ornaments, toys, etc.
Wood lathes consist of a hand-held tool, and therefore cannot be automated like other CNC lathes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the best wood-turning lathe for a beginner?
For any beginner getting into wood turning, mini wood lathes are the best option. They are compact lathes made for small woodworking projects. Manufacturers like Rockler, Nova, PSI Woodworking, JET, and RIKON have some of the best mini lathes.
What can I make on a mini wood lathe?
You can make various projects on a mini wood lathe, like spindles, kitchen utensils, dippers, bowls, chess pieces, bottle stoppers, rings, pens, beads, vases, and more.
What size bowls can I make with a mini wood lathe?
With a mini wood lathe, you can turn bowls to about 8" in diameter. For working on anything larger than 8" in diameter, you need to upgrade the machine's swing over the bed.