Ever wanted to build your own stuff with precision? Perhaps you’ve dreamed of making your own 3D miniature models or becoming a machinist. No matter your interest, there is no reason to spend big bucks on a bulky machine.
The best option to help kickstart your interests is a mini lathe. It’s a reliable yet relatively affordable machine for beginners and professionals alike. With this compact machine, shaping workpieces made of materials like metal and wood has never been easier.
And to help you find the best mini lathe for your next workpieces, we’ve prepared a detailed buying guide below.
Top HandPicked Mini Lathe in the Market
Our choice for the best mini lathe is none other than the RIKON 70-100. The impeccable design takes essential factors such as user convenience, adaptability, and adjustability into consideration. There’s a generous amount of space for you to work on your metal, wood, and plastic materials. Whether you’re a model maker or a casual machinist, the efficiency and precision that the RIKON 70-100 brings will surely delight you-
RIKON Power Tools 70-105
When it comes to power tools, people can always rely on the RIKON brand. Here, they have the 70-105 Mini Lathe. It’s got a ½ horsepower that makes easy work of small workpieces. In fact, you’re getting the same horsepower as its bigger variant, the RIKON 70-100.
The 70-105 has the right size and power for you to shape your metallic and wooden pens, which are popular DIY gifts. The lathe bed, headstock, and the tailstock are made of cast iron for assured sturdiness. They’re all heavy enough to keep the machine from vibrating a lot once you shape a workpiece.
- Durable parts
- No overheating issues
- Balanced machine with
- Has a 5-year warranty
- Changing the turning speed isn’t quick
- Motor could have had more spacing
From pens to ornaments and wooden toys, there are many pieces to create with the RIKON Power Tools 70-105. This mini lathe is a great investment with a long lifespan, made possible by combining heavy materials with a design that offers premium stability.
This silver-colored NOVA mini lathe weighs 82.4 pounds, heavier than the RIKON Power Tools 70-105. This is an advantage since more weight concentrated in such a compact machine lends it balance. Even when you switch from 250 rpm to the maximum speed of 4000 rpm, the vibrations should be negligible.
The motor performs quietly even if it packs ¾ HP, 0.25 more than the RIKON 70-105. Likewise, the noise reduction can be attributed to how easy it is to align the workpiece. Wood and metal pieces are right at the center.
- Well-written instruction manual
- Reverse switch for changing the spin direction
- Variable speed setting to get the precise rpm
- Minimal noise
- Only has a 1-year limited warranty
- Speed dial isn’t digital
The NOVA 46300 Comet II is a heavy yet compact mini lathe that will delight hobbyists and craftsmen alike. It has enough clearance for you to work comfortably. And with so many accessories available to enhance its capability, the Comet II won’t ever disappoint.
BestEquip 550W Mini Metal Lathe
Both wooden and metallic materials can be shaped and designed with the smallest details, something model makers will appreciate. You won’t have any mistakes in determining the scale of your model thanks to the telescopic sets, which have a built-in scale for verifying measurements.
- Reliable ¾ horsepowe
- Rotating turret can move in four different way
- Minute details are easy to add
- Includes protective mask and foot cushion
- Motor needs tightening
- Requires fine-tuning to achieve an optimal operation
The BestEquip 550W Mini Metal Lathe is a well-built model that focuses on precise measurements and user safety. Once everything is set up, there’s nothing that can affect your operation. Consider your metal and woodworking tasks done with this machine.
Like the RIKON Power Tools 70-105, this mini lathe has a net weight of 74 pounds. This makes it lighter than the NOVA 46300 Comet II, but its design ensures its overall stability.
Plus, the Grizzly G8688 features a variable speed setting. This means that the mini lathe will adjust its speed and power usage accordingly, depending on the current size of the workpiece. You can choose any speed ranging from 0 to 2500 rpm as it runs using a ¾ HP motor.
- Complies with the ISO 9001 standard to satisfy users.
- Moves in reverse without losing speed.
- Chip tray and backsplash guard to protect against swarf
- Measurements provided in inches or in metric form
- Speed dial does not include reference marks for guidance.
- Quality of threading gears needs improvement.
Hobbyists and machinists will love the simple build of this mini lathe. It has a nice color combination to differentiate one part from another. Certainly, the Grizzly G8688 is a fine addition to any small machine shop at home.
Instead of a 10” by 18” design like that of the RIKON 70-105, the 70-100 opts for 12” by 16”. You can easily add lathe bed extensions with this space. The increase in size proves beneficial without affecting the machine’s compact form.
If you like creating tiny patterns, the 70-100 can help you with its 12-position indexing head. This way, you can position the workpiece in exactly the way you want to.
Quiet and smooth performance
- Enough space to quickly change the speed setting
- Can have multiple extensions for the bigger workpiece
- Two-year limited warranty
- Headstock cover won’t completely close.
- Included screw might be bent
The RIKON 70-100 is one of the biggest mini lathe models out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s less beginner-friendly. In contrast, the additional space it has will give you a more comfortable workpiece cutting and shaping experience.
Powered by a ¾ HP motor, the Mophorn variant focuses on the primary task of a mini lathe. Its slowest speed is 50 rpm, which helps beginners safely work on their first workpieces. The speed can then go up to 2500 rpm, but your safety is guaranteed with the protective mask. There’s even a shockproof foot cushion for optimum comfort.
- Great for drilling and threading metal bars
- Replicating the same dimensions with different materials is possible.
- Stop switch for emergency situations
- Handy indicator lamp for when the power is on
- Fuse is difficult to locate
- Takes several hours to assemble and fine-tune
This is ideal not only for hobbyists and model makers but also for people who want to embark on making home maintenance products. If you want a mini lathe that does what it needs to do well, get the Mophorn 550W model.
With a net weight of 71 pounds, this is one of the lightest mini metal lathes out there. You can store and move it around much easier than the other models. Likewise, the Shop Fox M1015 is manufactured in an ISO 9001-compliant factory. This means the company follows industry regulations to give customers quality products.
- Gear ratio threading chart to get the right TPI (threads per inch)
- Excellent machine for making a scale model.
- Two-year limited parts warranty
- Ergonomic knob for adjusting the rotation
- ½ horsepower limits its functions
- Side casing is not durable
The Shop Fox M1015 is a relatively light mini lathe that’s built for shaping smallest workpieces. From tiny machine parts to elaborate pens, there are many things you can create with this impressive mini lathe.
WEN 3420 – Best Wood Lathe for Turning Bowl
This is a benchtop known as one of the best wood lathe that can reach an impressive speed of 3200 rpm. For beginners who need to practice more caution, the speed can be reduced to 750 rpm. No matter your skill level, the WEN 3420 can protect itself thanks to the soft start motor. As its name implies, this ensures that the machine takes its time to power up instead of having a risky surge.
- Ideal for making pens and small bowls
- You can switch the placement of the work rests
- Two-year warranty
- Clamping system for adjusting the tool rest and the tailstock
- Tailstock is not always secured in its place.
- Assembling takes several hours
This mini wood lathe has several adjustment features to help personalize your home with customized bowls, cups, and even table legs. Featuring the iconic black-and-orange design of WEN, the 3420 Mini Lathe will certainly appeal to every hobbyist and small-time woodworker.
This mini lathe weighs 80.8 pounds, which is heavy enough to keep itself stable. Likewise, the Jet JWL-1015 uses a wide bed to further improve the balance. The speed ranges from just 500 rpm to a whopping 3975 rpm, which drastically cuts the operation time.
- Setting the machine up isn’t difficult.
- Shaping pens and bottle stoppers are easy
- Five-year warranty You can change the belt with ease
- Plastic components might affect its lifespan
- Adjusting the speed takes time
This mini wood lathe excels in speed and stability. And even if you use it at maximum speed, the noise and vibrations are minimal. So for those who have workshops and don’t want to disturb others, the Jet JWL-1015 is a top-tier pick.
Finally, this is the lightest mini lathe on our list. The Proxxon 37020 DB 250 weighs a mere 5.5 pounds, so you can conveniently take it with you. You might be worried about the quality of its parts due to the weight, but Proxxon has you covered. The machine comes with six different-sized collets that help you secure the spindle in place.
- Extremely light and portable
- Relatively quiet operation
- Two-year warranty.
- Sturdy lathe bed made of cast aluminum
- Tool rest is fairly short.
- User manual needs improvement
Like any excellent mini lathe, this model is tough and efficient. The speed is digitally controlled, and you can reduce it to concentrate on the finishing touches of your workpiece. If you’d like to create beautiful scale models, the Proxxon 37020 DB 250 serves as an ultra-weight option.
Why You Need a Mini Lathe?
As its name implies, a mini lathe is primarily characterized by its small form. Like any other lathe, it’s used to efficiently cut and shape workpieces. It’s a huge time and energy-saver compared to manually creating spindles and even pieces of furniture.
This compact size makes it appealing to people who want to try metalworking without renting out bulky tools or paying for professional assistance. Thus, it’s the ideal choice for people who have their own workshops at home.
Otherwise known as the micro lathe, this machine can be used for MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) activities involve a wide variety of materials. It’s designed for working on metals like steel and aluminum, but plastics such as acetal and Teflon are also workable.
A mini lathe is great for making small components of a machine compared to an industrial model, which would use an unnecessary amount of power. Thanks to its size, the process of drilling holes and deoxidizing workpieces wouldn’t be difficult.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Mini Lathe
Once you’ve determined that what you need is a mini lathe, it’s time to understand what differentiates one model from another. Below are several aspects to remember if you want your first purchase to be the right one for you.
The headstock is located at the left side of the bed of the mini lathe bed. It’s a non-moving section that supports the rotating parts of the machine such as the spindle and the driving pulley. When buying a mini lathe, check if the headstock is sturdy. One that’s made of cast iron is a safe bet for sturdiness.
Furthermore, it must have a generous spread between the bearings, which lower the overall stress and friction between the spinning parts of the mini lathe. You can conveniently rotate the machine around a fixed axis with the right bearings. If the headstock provides enough bearing spread, the spindle won’t get bent or broken during intense metalworking operations.
There are two things to keep in mind here: durability and inclusion. A mini lathe needs a sturdy stand, one that doesn’t move even as the machine starts rotating at a high speed. Flimsy stands ruin the symmetry and precision necessary in metalworking.
Some durable stands are made of plywood while others use steel. What matters is that they’re heavy enough to stay put and large enough to have the mini lathe on top.
The second issue, inclusion, refers to the fact that not all lathes come with a stand. You can just buy one, but that means having to spend extra money on an item that’s essential for a mini lathe. Before buying a lathe, do inquire what items comprise the whole package.
If the stand is responsible for carrying the whole machine, the lathe bed serves as the base of the headstock. This is how the mini lathe is leveled when you’re assembling the mini lathe. Thus, the bed cannot be bent down nor distorted.
Lathe beds vary in materials such as steel shafts, aluminum, concrete tubes, and cast iron. Like the stand and the headstock, the lathe bed must be durable. A low-quality bed affects how well the carriage and tailstock will move in accordance with the spindle’s axis.
Lastly, the bed must have a dedicated space for all the swarf to pass through. Also known as shavings or fillings, swarf refers to the tiny pieces resulting from machining operations. Sufficient space makes it easier to dispose of the swarf.
Mini lathes are all smaller than the other types, but each one still varies in terms of weight. While superior lightness is beneficial for carrying, it can also affect stability. A heavier mini lathe will have fewer vibrations, which keeps the cutting and shaping processes precise.
How safe to use is a mini lathe?
The machine suits hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts, but extreme caution is still required. Wear protective gear not only for your hands but also for your eyes. A single piece of swarf entering the eye can be painful. There are mini lathes that have chip trays and a backsplash, but not all of the swarf will be contained since they’ll get thrown around in many directions.
What should you do if the mini lathe vibrates all the time?
There are many factors that contribute to vibrations. The stand or the bed might be unstable. But one common beginner’s mistake to avoid is not placing the workpiece at the center. Improper positioning ruins the balance of the machine.
Why is the mini lathe creating a lot of noise?
Any lathe will generate noise, but lubrication significantly reduces the noise level. If you keep hearing loud grinding sounds, determine if the bearings and gears are well-lubricated. Not all parts need the same amount of lubrication, so do check the user manual first.
Being in love with reading and writing, I become a journalist and writer. My father’s educational background in the Literature has given me a strong background in writing and editing. I have technical writing experience and have written product reviews to help the readers to choose the best product from the market.