Be it metalworking or woodturning; mini lathes are nothing short of multi-purpose mini monsters. Not only do they save a ton of space, but they can work effortlessly with almost all materials, like brass, steel, wood, or aluminum.
Never go by the size when it comes to mini lathes; they are packed with power and flexibility to meet all your creative projects. When you only have a dozen options, ask questions like how they are different from each other, and which is the best one for you?
To make things easier, we have compiled a list of five mini lathes, their excel points, and drawbacks that’ll help find the best mini lathe for you.
Best Mini Lathes: 5 Top Picks
We have listed five of the best mini lathes in the market, considering the price, sturdiness, automatic and manual features, motor speed, and many others.
The Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Benchtop Mini Metal lathe is our best pick from the lot. This metal lathe works on a single-phase motor, with 2500 RPM turning power. It is one of the best metal lathes under 2000 that also comes with a variable speed.
The Erie Tools Mini lathe has 7-inch SOD and 14-inch DBC, which is good enough for average metalworking. Moreover, the digital readout displays the current RPM output of the machine, and it also allows the left-hand threading option.
The mini lathe comes with a multi-jaw chuck, which helps hold the workpieces in their place steadily. The jaws are numbered, making it easy to put them in order. The chuck also supports auto-feed, which means you can adjust the tools as per requirement even when working with the lathe.
Further, the 5/16-inch tool post lets you mount four cutting tools simultaneously. This is an excellent feature if you need to make adjustments in the work during an on-going project.
Given the power and features of this mini lathe, we suggest that this product be apt for experts or intermediate metalworkers. They are often compared to Warco mini lathes.
Erie Tools Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe Pros:
- Digital RPM readout
- Multi-jaw chuck with auto feed
- Multiple cutting tools mount option
- Versatile metalworking
Erie Tools Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe Cons:
- Plastic gears are not sturdy
- Customers often complain of motor burning issues
Priced decently, the Grizzly G8688 mini lathe is both performance-oriented as well as affordable. One of the features that stand out in this metal lathe is the both-way forward and reverse rotations.
The SOD and DBC of this metal lathe are 7-inch and 12-inch, respectively. It further comes with a 20mm spindle bore, a 2-3/4-inch cross slide travel, and 2-1/2-inch tailstock travel.
The thread range of the lathe provides ample flexibility with its ten standard pitches and ten metrics. The machine can pull off 12 to 52 TPI threading tasks, which is exceptional given the price.
Speaking of the motor speed, the Grizzly mini metal lathe supports two-speed settings, low up to 1100 RPM and high up to 2500 RPM. Power is undoubtedly not an issue with this lathe as it comes with ¾ HP single phase, making it perfect for extensive metalwork.
Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal-Lathe Pros:
- Variable speed settings
- Threading dial indicator
- Forward and reverse rotation options
- Durable material usage
Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal-Lathe Cons:
- The plastic parts are short-lived
- Customers often complain about motor issues
#3 Mophorn Small Metal Lathe – Best Value
Undoubtedly, one of the best mini-lathes available in the market is this one from the house of Mophorn.
One of the primary features of this Mophorn mini lathe is its infinitely variable speed setting ranging between 50-2500 RPM. Not only that, but it also supports forward and reverse rotations in all speed settings. It can be operated both manually as well as with the auto-feed feature.
The Mophorn mini-lathe has a SOD and DBC of 7-inch and 13.78-inch, respectively. Further, it comes with a 20 mm spindle bore, and a threading dial indicator. It has a thread range of 12-52 TPI with standard and metric handwheel graduations.
One other distinctive feature of this mini lathe is the high-accuracy chuck. The 3-jaw chuck comes with a backsplash guard while the spindle has tapered roller bearings with accuracy within 0.01mm. Additionally, it also comes with an adjustable lamp.
The Mophorn mini-lathe comes with a single-phase 550W DC motor, which can be a turn down if you consider the other products in this range. It has a substantially low HP if you want to work on extensive projects and is thus, not suitable for experts.
It may not be the best mini lathe, but the Mophorn is one of the most competitive and feature-packed products in the market.
Mophorn Small Metal Lathe Pros:
- Highly affordable
- Variable speed settings
- Backsplash guard with the 3-jaw chuck
- Movable lamp
Mophorn Small Metal Lathe Cons:
- The motor is not competent or suitable for extensive projects
This BestEquip lathe is rated as one of the best mini wood lathes. It comes packed with features like variable speeds, 3-jaw accuracy chuck with backsplash guard, cross slide for abrasive resistance, and many more.
One of the best features of this mini lathe is the four-way tool post. With this, you can quickly change the tools and adjust the compound's angle with the rest of the lever. It has a SOD of 7-inch, and the DBC is 14-inch.
The mini lathe comes with an MT3 spindle taper, tailstock taper, and tool rest. One of the turn downs for this lathe is the weak HP. The single-phase 550W DC motor is only suitable for delicate or small projects.
BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe Pros:
- Accurate 3-jaw chuck
- Infinite variable speed
- Durable aluminum make
- Four-way tool post
BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe Cons:
- The motor is not powerful enough for extensive projects
Like the previous, the ShopFox mini lathe is also one that is primarily made for delicate or small projects. It is also much smaller and lighter in size and weight, making it a great pick in the micro metal lathe section.
The ShopFox mini-lathe comes with 1/5 HP single-phase motor that does not provide sufficient power for big projects but can effortlessly pull off precise ones. It has four hex wrenches and a speed range between 100-2000 RPM.
Its other features include a 3-inch 3-jaw chuck for both internal and external jaws. It comes with an easy-to-use control panel where you can use functions such as speed dial, rotator selector knob, and also clutch knob.
Shop Fox M1015 Mini Metal Lathe Pros:
- Easy-to-use control panel
- Auto and manual feed
- Different thread cuttings
Shop Fox M1015 Mini Metal Lathe Cons:
- Poor built quality
- Low HP
Q: Why Can't I Use My Metal Lathe Properly?
A: It is primary for the lathe to be in the correct position that is the center. Overheating of the machine can also make it less precise.
Q: Which Lubricant Should I Use With A Metal Lathe?
A: Picking the right lubricant majorly depends on the type of project the lathe is going to be used for. Using a cutting oil is always advisable over coolants.
Q: Why Is My Lathe Cutting Taper?
A: If your lathe is cutting taper, the lathe bed has probably twisted. Check and adjust the tailstock end and try to make another cut.
Q: How do I choose a mini lathe?
A: It would be best to choose a cast iron lathe over one made of aluminum or steel rods. Additionally, you can mount your lathe to a bench and weigh it down with a large piece of material. One woodturner makes use of pre-mixed concrete bags. I've incorporated amounts of vintage railway iron.
Q: Can a mini lathe cut steel?
A: The mini-lathe can be used to deal with virtually any metal, including aluminum, brass, steel, and even stainless steel. When working with more rigid metals, such as stainless steel and greater diameters, it is necessary to make more delicate cuts. You may make cuts of up to 3/4" diameter aluminum.
You’ve probably realized that there are lots to know before you finally make a buy. But if you ask me, I would go for the Erie Tools Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe. It is undoubtedly one of the best mini lathes, given its digital RPM readout, variable motor speed, multi-jaw chuck, and versatile applications.