5 Best Mini Metal Lathes of 2023 – Top Picks & Reviews
Metal lathes are indispensable tools in wood- or metalwork projects. They allow you to machine, notch, or cut metal and wood without a lot of hassle.
Nonetheless, standard metal lathes are incredibly expensive since they are typically utilized for industrial applications. If you are a professional or hobbyist looking to get the benefits of metal lathe without spending thousands of dollars, a mini metal lathe is what you need.
However, with there being dozens of mini metal lathe models on the market today, it is imperative that you do your research before you invest in one. Mini metal lathes can go for well over $1000; therefore, a poorly guided decision can be costly.
To save you the trouble, we have compared numerous products to bring you these reviews of the best mini metal lathes out there today.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||BestEquip 8x16” Maintenance-Free Mini Metal Lathe||
|Best Value||Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe||
|Premium Choice||BestEquip Metal Lathe Mini Metal Lathe||
|Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe||
|Nova 71118 Comet II DR||
The 5 Best Mini Metal Lathes
1. BestEquip 8×16” Maintenance-Free Mini Metal Lathe – Best Overall
This product by BestEquip is possibly the best mini lathe on the market today. It features an impressive design and array of features that can handle just about any type of metal or wood project with astounding efficiency. It is also incredibly durable thanks to its high quality, solid construction
Thanks to its long DBC (distance between centers) of 15¾ inches in addition to wide SOB (sliding over bed) capacity of 8¼ inches, this unit by BestEquip is able to handle larger materials than most of its peers can. As a result, you are able to take up a wider array of projects using this mini lathe.
It comes with a 1-HP brushless motor that not only produces a decent amount of power but also does not cause as much as wear and tear as motors with brushes. Additionally, it has a variable control speed spindle that can reach up to 2,500 rotations per minute (RPM). You will also love the 4-way turret post that makes changing tools a breeze.
This equipment does not come cheap, but this is expected given its exemplary features and performance. Moreover, this unit is so incredibly durable that the manufacturer is confident that it does not require any maintenance.
This tool is designed for people who need a reliable high-performance mini metal lathe.
- Large with a 15¾” DBC and 8¼” SOB
- Powerful 1-HP motor
- Durable construction
- Variable speed control
- Excellent performance
- Needs tuning before use
2. Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe – Best Value
In the bid to balance the trifecta of features, quality, and price, one often has to sacrifice either features or quality to get a product at a reasonable price. If you want a high-quality product that has all the features that you need, you must be willing to pay the price. Nonetheless, this does not mean that there aren’t products that offer you a good balance of everything; the Grizzly G8688 is a good example.
For starters, the Grizzly G8688 is one of the most powerful mini lathes in the game today, thanks to its ¾-HP motor. As a result, it generates enough power to allow you to push the variable spindle to speeds of up to 2,500 RPM.
Another thing that we love about this unit is its ease of operation. It comes with a reverse switch to allow you to work from your dominant hand. Moreover, it accommodates a threading range of between 12 and 52 teeth per inch (TPI)¾, in addition to having a 4-way turret tool post for your convenience.
With its 7-inch bed, 12-inch DBC, 2½ –inch tailstock travel, 2⅔-inch cross slide travel, and a 20 mm spindle bore, this mini lathe has the size to handle most projects comfortably. Moreover, thanks to its great design and sturdy build, it is one of the most reliable mini metal lathes on the market.
The only issue with this mini lathe is its lack of a tachometer for displaying spindle speeds. Other than that, it is one of the best mini metal lathes for the money on the market today.
- Powerful ¾-HP motor
- Spindle speeds of up to 2,500 RPM
- A wide array of features
- Good for beginners
- Great value for money
- Does not come with a tachometer for spindle speed readings
3. BestEquip 8×16 Inch Mini Metal Lathe – Premium Choice
If you are willing to go all in and get a mini lathe that comes with all the features that you could possibly want out of a metal lathe, and with quality to boot, then look no further than this product.
This mini metal lathe by BestEquip is arguably the most precise product of its kind. It also offers you great performance coupled with versatility, durability, and quality construction.
The first thing that you will notice about this mini lathe is that it has a significantly larger swing over capacity (SOB), as well as a longer distance between centers (DBC) than other products in its category. As a result, it allows you to take on a wider array of projects.
When it comes to features, this unit is simply a cut above the rest. It comes with a 1-HP brushless motor to power a variable speed spindle that can achieve 2,250 RPM. The brushless nature of the motor enhances the machine’s energy efficiency, in addition to resulting in lesser friction, thus increasing its durability. Moreover, it reduces the amount of maintenance that you have to perform since you do not have to keep replacing the brush.
Since different projects and materials require different rotation speeds, the variable speed spindle allows you to fine-tune the lathe to your project requirements.
This product, however, requires some getting used to before you can get it to deliver the results you are looking for. It is also quite pricey.
We recommend it to experts whose projects require a high degree of precision.
- Powerful and precise
- Large size
- Quick assembly
4. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe
This mini lathe by Central Machinery is an option worth considering if you are looking for a reliable, reasonably priced mini metal lathe.
With dimensions of 7 x 10 inches, it is not a particularly large lathe, and it does not have to be since it is designed for lighter weight projects. Its small size also makes it light as well, thus making it easy for you to carry it from one station to the next. Thanks to its construction consisting of ABS, aluminum, and zinc alloy, this unit is incredibly durable.
The Central Machinery mini metal lathe comes with a powerful ¾-HP motor that allows it to generate spindle speeds of up to 2,500 RPM. Moreover, it allows you to rotate the spindle both forwards and backwards to allow you more control over your project.
While you will need to assemble the unit before you can use it, it is not that tall of an order. Additionally, this machine is easy to use, which makes it one of the best mini lathes for beginners. Nonetheless, it might not suit the needs of some, as it is quite limited in terms of accessories.
- Needs assembling
- Plastic gears
- Limited in accessories
5. Nova 71118 Comet II DR
To cap off this list is the Nova Comet 71118. This mini metal lathe has a solid construction that consists of cast iron. This is one of the most durable materials used in construction.
The Nova 71118 is equipped with a ¾-HP motor that can deliver speeds of up to 4.000 RPM. Additionally, it has a 3-step pulley system that allows you to adjust the machine’s speed ranges to suit different applications. It does so in both the forward and reverse directions. What’s more, this unit is incredibly silent during operation, which makes for a better work environment.
The 71118 mini metal lathe is remarkably stable, thanks to its rubber feet that allow it to have a firmer grip on the surface.
This product, however, does have some drawbacks. You will find that it can be difficult to assemble and install. The pulley system gets loose after a while, which means you will have to remember to tighten it after every few uses. Its speed range is also rather small. Its finish is also not something to write home about.
- Digital speed display
- You can buy extendable beds
- You can attach a grinding wheel or other accessories
- Pulley loosens after some time
- Difficult to assemble
- Poor finish
- Limited speed range scale
Buyer’s Guide – Finding the Best Mini Metal Lathe
So, what is it that you should look for in a mini metal lathe when you go out to shop for one? The following are some of the most important factors to consider when purchasing your ideal mini lathe:
Size of Your Project
The size and type of your projects determine the specifications that a lathe must have to bring your project to fruition. Some of these specifications include:
Swing Over Bed (SOB)
Also referred to as swing distance or swing, it refers to the maximum diameter of a material that a mini lathe can handle. Simply put, how wide are your workpieces going to be? If large, you will need a lathe with a wider swing capacity.
Distance between Centers (DBC)
This refers to the maximum length of a material that can fit in the lathe. Same as with SOB, if your projects involve working with long pieces, you should look for a mini lathe with a long DBC.
We recommend that you purchase a mini lathe with a wide SOB and long DBC at the onset so that you are never limited in the types of projects that you can take on.
Some people prefer lightweight mini metal lathes, as they are easy to handle. However, that might not always work to your favor because lightweight models do not offer you stability, thereby affecting your accuracy.
Therefore, while you might not be able to manhandle heavier lathes, they give you a stable base to work on. Nonetheless, when it comes to weight, choose what allows you to do your best work.
Powerful motors give you better performance; it is as simple as that. The power in a mini metal lathe motor can range between ¼ and 3 HP. The sweet spot is between ¾ and 2 HP.
Variable Speed Control
Having the freedom to select your cutting speed is invaluable since different materials require different speeds. However, not all lathes have variable speed control, which is why you must ensure that the model you are interested in has that capability.
Considering that metal lathes are not cheap tools, it is important to ensure that your lathe features a sturdy design and construction. This will allow you to subject it to heavy use without worrying about maintenance all the time. This is why you should avoid going for products with attractive price points without first ensuring that they are durable.
Extra Feature and Accessories
Lathes with more features and accessories typically enhance the quality of your work. Therefore, if two models fascinate you, compare their features to find one that will make your life more convenient. Nonetheless, you should never compromise quality for more features.
Setting your budget ceiling before you head out to look for mini lathe will save you a lot of time and effort. This is because you will not spend time checking out products that you cannot afford. Instead, you can spend that time evaluating the products that are within your budget range.
As mentioned, mini metal lathes expensive pieces of equipment. As such, you need to know that you are covered in case of a defect. Make sure that you study the warranty terms carefully before you purchase a product.
More buying guides like this:
Metal lathes are invaluable workshop tools that make your metal or woodwork projects a lot easier. However, if you do not have a large operation, a regular-sized lathe would be overkill and would cost you a pretty penny.
Mini metal lathes allow you to handle small to medium-sized lathe projects. However, they come in all shapes and forms. Therefore, it is important to do your research to find one that suits your needs best.
We recommend checking out the BestEquip Mini Lathe, as it is arguably the best mini lathe on the market today, thanks to its superior performance, quality, and reliability.
The Grizzly G8688 is one of the most powerful mini lathes on the market, with variable spindle to speeds of up to 2,500 RPM. For the price, it’s pretty hard to beat.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our reviews and hopefully, you’re ready to make a smart decision.
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
- 2 The 5 Best Mini Metal Lathes
- 3 Buyer’s Guide – Finding the Best Mini Metal Lathe
- 4 Conclusion