Although today’s mini lathes are high tech and electric powered, this technology dates to ancient times. The modern mini lathe is, however, a high-precision machining tool that every professional should own.
A mini lathe has diverse applications including woodturning, metalworking, thermal spraying, metal spinning, and glass working.
When choosing a mini lathe for either wood or metal works, power, speed, and swing capacity should be your key consideration.
Our comprehensive top 10 mini lathe reviews and buying guide will help you learn more about this versatile tool as well as which model is best for your woodworking and metalworking projects.
What to Check Before Buying Best Mini Lathe?
1. Purpose: For wood or metal
Mini lathes tend to fall into two main categories: metal, and wood mini lathes.
Metal mini lathes are uses for machining or cutting metals into precise shapes and parts by removing some of their materials. You can use a metal lathe for making spindles, prototypes, and other models.
Wood mini lathes function the same way that metal ones do, but for cutting wood and not metal. Wood lathes tend to be smaller and more affordable than metal mini ones.
Read More: The Best Wood Lathes
The size of your mini lathe is determined by its swing over bed capacity and total work capacity. Work capacity includes the swing capacity combined with the distance between centers, which tend to be between 12 inches and 18 inches.
Based on the models we have reviewed, swing over bed capacities tend to be in the range of 7-13 inches. The higher the swing capacity is, the larger and wider workpiece the lathe can accommodate, especially for wood mini lathes.
It’s worth noting that wood mini lathes tend to have a larger work capacity than metal ones, to accommodate more robust applications.
Your lathe’s speed is measured in RPM since the tool is powered by an electric motor, which rotates a spindle.
Both mini metal and wood lathes are available in variable RPM speeds. Based on our review, most mini lathes have speeds in the range of 0-4000 RPM.
It is also possible to have a fixed RPM mini lathe, but these are uncommon and probably limited in functionality.
A chuck is one of the most important components of a mini lathe. It is a part of the tool, which holds the workpiece in place as a tool.
Your mini lathe with come with either a 3-jaw or 4-jaw chuck. The 3-jaw chuck is designed to move simultaneously, while the 4-jaw one moves independently.
The chuck you choose will depend on the tasks you wish to accomplish with your mini lathe.
A good power tool is one that performs its intended function. A functional mini lathe is one that accomplishes its intended role in an easy and efficient way.
Functionality tends to be tied to design. If your metal lathe is designed poorly, it likely to function equally bad or inefficiently.
Design is an important consideration when choosing your mini lathe. You need to check and evaluate each design for simplicity, handling ease of use, and ease of maintenance.
A poorly-designed mini lathe is likely to present challenges during assembly, use, and maintenance.
You should check to see that all components are firm and sturdy and that during the initial setup, the tool performs as expected. If you spot any design flats its best to consult the manufacturer’s customer service or the tool’s reseller.
Most mini lathes in the market are significantly heavy and their weights tend to fall in the range of 50-110 pounds.
The weight of your mini lathe thus helps to determine how and where you will install it. For a heavy mini lathe, it is best to install it on a firm surface at a location that you are unlikely to change in a long while.
Lighter mini lathes can be placed on bench tops and can be moved occasionally.
10 Best Mini Lathes of 2021 Reviewed
|1. Delta 46-460 (Largest Swing Capacity Wood Lathe)|
|2. Mophorn Wood Lathe (Superior Work Capacity Wood Lathe)|
|3. Nova 46300 (Best High-performance Wood Lathe)|
|4. Rikon 70-100 (Easy-to-use Wood Lathe)|
|5. Shop Fox W1704 (Best Budget Wood Lathe)|
|6. Grizzly H8259 (Bench-Top Wood Lathe)|
|7. Erie Tools SP2102 (Best Metal Lathe for Precision)|
|8. Grizzly G8688 (Best Metal Lathe for Machining Hobbyists)|
|9. Mophorn CC0618MINI (Best Metal Lathe for Modelling)|
|10. BestEquip Metal Lathe (Multi-Purpose Metal Lathe)|
Best Mini Wood Lathes (Product 1 to 6)
1. Delta 46-460 – Largest Swing Capacity
- Power: 1HP/120V
- Speed: 1725 RPM
- Size: 12.5 inches
- Weight: 97 pounds
Delta 46-460 has the largest swing capacity of all the mini wood lathes on our list. With its 12.5-inch capacity, this tool is ideal for professionals working on wide bowls and a vast range of wood items.
This tool is powered by a 1-horsepower motor, which is the most powerful on our list. This power combines well with its variable 3-pulley speed to enable smooth and consistent running of the tool.
The pulley system also helps with selecting the most optimal speed for your projects without altering the belt position.
Another feature you’ll love is the forward and reverse function, which enables the tool to achieve accurate and superior finishes.
An issue we noted with the Delta 46-460 is that its high price, which makes it one of the most expensive in the market.
- Large swing capacity for professional projects
- Powerful motor
- 3-pulley system for optimal speed selection
- Forward and reverse functions help with accuracy and precision
- Very expensive
2. Mophorn Wood Lathe – Superior Work Capacity
- Power: 370W/110V
- Speed: 500-3200 RPM
- Size: 10 x 18 inches
- Weight: 82 pounds
The Mophorn Wood Lathe excels in its superior work capacity, which achieves by combining a wide 10-inch swing, and a larger 18-inch distance between centers, compared to other mini wood lathes in our list.
This work capacity is able to handle projects that mini lathes with shorter distances are unable to. This tool achieves further precision through is the variable 5-spindle speed of 500-3200 RPM.
For stable and smooth operation, this mini lathe has a cast iron construction, which rests on rubber feet. These features also combine to help with vibration reduction.
To help you achieve fine workmanship, all the gears and shafts on its headstock have been grounded and hardened with precision.
An issue we noted with this tool is that when drilling holes, sometimes the headstock and tailstock may not align perfectly, hence the need to pay extra attention to this process.
- Superior work capacity
- Variable 5-spindle speed for precision
- Cast iron construction for stable operation
- Precision-grounded and hardened gears and shafts
- Headstock and tailstock may misalign when drilling holes
3. Nova 46300 – Best High-Performance
- Power: 0.75HP/550W/110V
- Speed: 250-4000 RPM
- Size: 12 x 16.5 inches
- Weight: 77.2 pounds
Nova 46300 is the best high-performance mini wood lathe on our list. This machine is powerful, fast, and versatile.
It boasts of a powerful 0.75-horsepower motor, which has one of the best performances, on the market. This motor also produces 550 watts of power, which enables the tool to handle even the most complex woodturning tasks.
This motor produces a high variable speed ranging from 250 to 4000 RPM, which is ideal for precision woodturning tasks. It has a solid cast iron build that makes this machine sturdy and durable.
Another thing to love about this mini wood lathe is its relatively low weight compared to its other rivals. Even though you won’t move this tool, a lot, it is possible to shift it from one position to another, in your workshop, with ease.
We did note, however, that the Nova 46300 mini wood lathe commands a premium price for its superior features.
- Powerful motor for heavy-duty applications
- High variable RPM
- Sturdy and durable construction
- Relatively lightweight compared to other brands
4. Rikon 70-100 – Easy-to-use
- Power: 0.5HP/110V
- Speed: 430-3900 RPM
- Size: 12 x 16 inches
- Weight: 88.5 pounds
The Rikon 70-100 is a mini wood lathe designed and recommended for its ease of use, thus saving you time and effort while at work.
It comes with a unique easy-access speed change feature, which lets you to swiftly adjust the motor speeds from 430 to 3900 RPM, over 6 speed levels.
To achieve accuracy and superior detail in your work, this mini wood lathe has a 12-position indexing head, which allows workpiece locking in multiple positions. You can use this feature for straight fluting, drilling, grooving, and many other applications.
Another feature that simplifies your operation of this tool is its self-ejecting tailstock, which will save you plenty of time and eliminate all the frustrations that sometimes arise during this process.
You get many other features built for your convenience, including a flip-up handle, which enhances mobility, and nylon faceplate washer that prevents accessories from sticking to the spindle.
Although not as expensive as the Delta 46-460 mini wood lathe, this product does not come cheap.
- Easy-access speed change feature saves time
- Multiple position indexing head for accuracy and precision
- Self-ejecting tailstock for ease of use
- Multiple convenience features
- Not the cheapest
5. Shop Fox W1704 – Best Budget
- Power: 1/3HP/220W/110V
- Speed: 700-3200 RPM
- Size: 8 x 13 inches
- Weight: 48.5 pounds
Shop Fox W1704 is the best budget mini wood lathe on our list. The affordability of this tool is something to rejoice about given the steep cost of some rival models we have already reviewed.
It delivers an 8-inch swing over the bed, and a 12-inch distance between the centers to support a variety of woodturning applications.
Besides its low price, you get a fast motor with a variable speed of 700-3200 RPM, which is one of the highest we have recorded.
Another impressive feature of this mini lathe is its low weight of 48.5 pounds, which puts it in the lightweight and portable category.
An issue we noted with the Shop Fox W1704 is that even though its maximum speed is rated as 3200 RPM, it exhibited signs of low power at max RPM.
- Reasonably priced compared other models
- Great swing and distance combination for versatility
- Fast variable-speed motor
- Lightweight and portable
- Even at maximum speed, power is low
6. Grizzly H8259 – Best-Bench-Top
- Power: 0.5HP/110V
- Speed: 826-3337 RPM
- Size: 10 x 18 inches
- Weight: 77 pounds
Grizzly H8259 positions itself as a great mini wood lathe that can be bench-mounted in your workshop.
This tool is ideal for bench-top use because of its compact and minimalist design. At 33 x 17 x 12 inches in size, it does not occupy a lot of bench space as other similar tools do.
Besides compactness, it also has a large work capacity from its 10-inch swing over the head and an 18-inch distance between centers. Superior work capacity is good for large projects that won’t fit on smaller lathes.
It comes with additional convenience features such as a tool rest, spur center, wrenches, and many others.
The tool is also incredibly easy to set up and use even for first-time users. It is great for beginners who want to get familiar with woodturning.
We did note, however, that the lower limit of Grizzly H8259’s variable speed, which is 826 RPM is still significantly high and may not be ideal for tasks demanding lower speeds.
- Compact and ideal for bench-mounting
- Large work capacity
- Additional features for convenience
- Easy to set up and use
- Lower RPM limit still significantly high
Best Mini Metal Lathes (Product 7 to 10)
7. Erie Tools SP2102 – Best for Precision
- Power: 0.53HP/400W/120V
- Speed: 50-2500 RPM
- Size: 7 x 14 inches
- Weight: 104.2 pounds
Erie Tools SP2102 is a mini metal lathe designed to achieve precision cutting on metal workpieces.
It comes with a 5-piece carbide-tipped cutter for enhanced precision. These cutters make the mini lathe a great tool for drilling, cutting, and turning metal and even plastic parts with precision.
The tool has a modest work capacity of a 7-inch swing over bed, and a 14-inch space between centers, allowing it to accommodate metals of up to 84 cubic inches in size.
To achieve both right-hand and left-hand threading, this mini lathe has a variable-motor of 50-2500 RPM, which rotates in either direction.
For simple RPM adjustment, this tool has an easy-to-read digital readout. This feature lets you choose RPMs more accurately. Another feature that simplifies using the tool is its thread indicator, which will help you turn screw threads from 12 to 52 TPI.
A major drawback we noted with the Erie Tools SP2102 is its high price, which makes it the most expensive on our list.
- High-quality cutters for precision
- Modest work capacity
- Rotates in either direction for left-hand threading
- Easy-to-read digital RPM adjustment
- Very expensive
8. Grizzly G8688 – Best for Machining Hobbyists
- Power: 0.75HP/110V
- Speed: 0-2500 RPM
- Size: 7 x 12 inches
- Weight: 74 pounds
If you’re a machining hobbyist or just getting started with the craft, Grizzly G8688 mini metal lathe is a great tool to start with.
This mini lathe has all the features you need to accomplish your hobby projects. It comes with a decent work capacity of a 7-inch swing over bed, and a 12-inch distance between centers, which is enough to handle small to mid-sized machining projects.
It also packs some decent power from its 3/4-horsepower motor, which has a variable speed to 0-2500 RPM. The low RPM limit gives you robust options, especially when experimenting with different cutting techniques and designs.
You get superior threading capabilities with the tools thread range of 12-52 TPI. A thread dial indicator, standard and metric handwheel graduations are available.
The only major problem with this tool is its high price, which makes it less attractive to buyers on a budget.
- Decent work capacity for hobby and small jobs
- Powerful 3/4-HP motor
- Variable speed with robust RPM options
- Superior threading capabilities
- Very expensive
9. Mophorn CC0618MINI – Best for Modelling
- Power: 550W/110V
- Speed: 50-2250 RPM
- Size: 7 x 12 inches
- Weight: 80 pounds
If you’re in the market for a mini metal lathe to create small and precise models, then Mophorn CC0618MINI is the right tool for you.
You can count on it to help you create mini precision parts, modeling works, and sample processing. Its powerful 550-watt motor will help you achieve such creations.
For precision, this tool’s telescopic sets have a handle scale whose length can be monitored intuitively. It is also possible to standardize the precision scaling digitally.
It comes with plastic variable-speed gears, which are study and especially valuable because they prevent damage to other mechanical components if the tool generates problems.
You get an MT2 tailstock taper, and an MT3 spindle taper, the latter of which is capable of positive and reverse rotations.
The only major issue with the Mophorn CC0618MINI is that its initial setup takes a bit of time and effort especially if you have no experience with the tool.
- Creates precise metallic models, samples, and parts
- Telescopic handle has a scale
- Sturdy variable-speed gears
- Spindle taper is capable of reverse and forward rotations
- Initial setup may require extra effort and time
10. BestEquip Metal Lathe – Multi-Purpose
- Power: 0.75HP/550W/110V
- Speed: 100-2500 RPM
- Size: 7 x 14 inches
- Weight: 80 pounds
BestEquip Metal Lathe is a great mini metal lathe for multipurpose machining projects. You can use it for turning, making bushings, counter facing, making spindles, models, prototypes, and many other applications.
Its multipurpose capabilities are made possible by an 18-thread automatic feed, and a chuck guard, which has a micro switch. This lathe thus excels in labs, engineering, workshops, and other similar settings.
The tool has a speed switch, which helps you control the spindle speed between 100 RPM and 2500 RPM to support robust machining options.
Just like the Mophorn CC0618MINI, this lathe comes with strong nylon gears, which are strong and wear-resistant. They are also durable and provide a more accurate rotation compared to other gears.
Because of its many components, cleaning the BestEquip Metal Lathe can prove involving and time-consuming.
- Ideal for multipurpose use
- 18 threads and automatic feed
- Speed switch helps to control variable speed
- Strong and durable nylon gears
- Cleaning the tool can prove challenging and time-consuming
Having done an exhaustive review of the major mini lathe models and their features, you’re now well-informed to proceed with your purchase.
Whether you’re looking to purchase a mini metal lathe or a wood equivalent, some of the key considerations you need to make include the tool’s purpose, size, and functionality.
The design of your mini lathe is very important as it affects functionality. Also, check its weight to determine how you install it.
You can also check out our comprehensive top 10 mini lathe reviews and buying guide to help you choose the best model for your machining and woodturning needs.
In this post:
- What to Check Before Buying Best Mini Lathe?
- 10 Best Mini Lathes of 2021 Reviewed
- Best Mini Wood Lathes (Product 1 to 6)
- 1. Delta 46-460 – Largest Swing Capacity
- 2. Mophorn Wood Lathe – Superior Work Capacity
- 3. Nova 46300 – Best High-Performance
- 4. Rikon 70-100 – Easy-to-use
- 5. Shop Fox W1704 – Best Budget
- 6. Grizzly H8259 – Best-Bench-Top
- Best Mini Metal Lathes (Product 7 to 10)
- 7. Erie Tools SP2102 – Best for Precision
- 8. Grizzly G8688 – Best for Machining Hobbyists
- 9. Mophorn CC0618MINI – Best for Modelling
- 10. BestEquip Metal Lathe – Multi-Purpose