Best Mini Lathe Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

best mini lathe reviews

If you’ve been looking for the best mini lathe reviews, you are in the right site. Just like you I don’t want to settle for anything less than the highest quality lathe. With the right equipment you’ll be able to use it for woodworking, metalworking, experiments and various projects.
Depending on the mini lathe you buy, you’ll be able to use it for shaping various other materials. Of course this all depends on what type of mini lathe you buy. That’s what this guide is for. Here I have prepared a list of the top mini lathes you can find online.

Why need a Mini Lathe


The best mini lathe is capable of many things, but basically it is a tool that lets you shape, rotate, knurl and otherwise modify different types of materials, often wood and metal. They are frequently used by professional woodworkers and metalworkers.
The mini lathe is a small version of the lathe. While compact, they are well equipped to handle most DIY and hobbyist projects. A simple mini lathe can create pens, spindles and other objects. With enough time and practice you’ll be able to use it to create other pieces of furniture.
Can you do these projects without a mini lathe? It is possible. However it is going to take more time and resources. If you ask a woodworker – DIY or professional – why they need a mini lathe, they’ll tell you the same thing: it makes work easier.
When it comes to wood or metal working, there are few things more important than precision and speed. If you do this manually it’s going to take more time and be prone to errors. With a mini lathe, you get all of these functions. These machines work in different ways, but they’re all designed to simplify the wood or metal working procedure.

Advantages of the Bench Grinder


  • Power: The best mini lathe packs a lot of horsepower. This allows you to use it for various complex projects.
  • Greater Capacity: Mini lathes have now have a better swing and wide distance between the centers. This allows you to work with more materials. These machines can be used for shaping a wide range of objects. Aside from wood and metal, there are also lathes for using other materials.
  • Speed: These lathes have variable speed settings. This allows you to work with precision. Mini lathes are relatively easy to operate.
  • Flexible: Mini lathes are designed to be flexible. They can handle various tasks and have multiple options. Also mini lathes are not as heavy as full blown lathes. However they don’t compromise in features.
  • Durable: These lathes are built for long term use. Even at high speeds mini lathes are able to maintain their performance.
  • Stable: Mini lathes are not as heavy as the regular lathes. However they remain stable. This is very important to ensure the unit doesn’t move out of place. This is one reason why a lot of woodworkers prefer mini lathes.
  • Affordable: These machines are no longer as expensive as they used to be. Competition has brought the cost down. However the features and capabilities have improved.
  • Reduced Noise: The best mini lathe doesn’t make a lot of noise.
  • No vibration: Mini lathes have anti-vibration properties. Excess vibration affects the output. With a mini lathe you’ll be able to avoid it.
  • Various Options: Mini lathes are designed for users of varying skill levels, from beginner to advanced.

Things To Consider Before Buying a Mini Lathe


Capacity, speed, horsepower and price are among the primary factors you have to consider. In addition you have to be familiar with the different types of lathes. The ones you’re going to come across are engine lathe, turret lathe, and the mini lathe. The stationary lathe is the largest type, weighing over 200 lbs.

Weight and Stability: The mini lathe shouldn’t be too heavy. But some weight is good to prevent vibration.

Bed and Swing: The distance between the centers has to be 30 inches at least, 36 inches is preferable. As for bed length the ideal is 760 to 915 mm. A longer length is not always better as it could produce more vibrations.

Mounting: A floor mounted lathe is for professionals. For home use however, a mini lathe is sufficient.

Stand: Some mini lathes are sold with a stand. If it doesn’t come with one, you can buy online. What’s important is you get a stand or bench. How and where you mount a mini lathe affects its performance.

Lathe Bed: Lathe beds are constructed from tubes or metal bars. Other mini lathes have a flat cast bed. Whatever the type, it must be durable enough to handle the tool-rest and the tailstock. The lathe bed should also allow shavings to go through.

Headstock: The headstock has to be cast or otherwise solidly made. The headstock must also have a decent spread between the bearings. This ensures the spindle rigidity is at its optimum level.

Spindle: The headstock spindle has to be of the highest quality. Make certain it works with standard threads or your options will be limited. ¾ in x 16 TPI is the standard for small lathes.

There may be other features you’re interested in, but the ones above are the most important.

Our Pick For Best Mini Lathe


We made a short list of 5 best mini lathe for you. Let’s take a look at our best pick.

Short Review Of Each Best Mini Lathe


Here is the short review of each best mini lathe that we selected for you.

1. Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe


Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe

The Delta Industrial is considered one of the best mini lathe in this range. I like the belt tensioning mechanism as it makes changing speed easy. Adjusting the belt for the proper tension is easy too. The reverse and forward function provides a smooth finish.
You’re also going to like the variable speed option on the mini lathe. On other machines this process is hard. With Delta Industrial it’s a straightforward process. I also have to point out the box comes with an assortment of tools and utilities. This means you can start lathing right away.
Delta Industrial has made some pretty good mini lathes. This is one of their most versatile. It is easy to use yet comes with lots of features.

Specifications:


  1. Motor: 1 HP max, 120V, 60 Hz, 1 Phase, 1,725 rpm motor
  2. Motor Control: Electronic Variable Speed
  3. Speed: 250-700, 600-1,800 and 1,350-4,000 RPM
  4. Swing Over Bed: 12 1/2 in.
  5. Swing Over Base: 9 9/16 in.
  6. Distance between Centers: 16 1/2 in.; with Extension: 42 in.
  7. Drive Spindle: 1 in.-8 RH TPI Thread
  8. Drive Spindle through Hole: 15/32 in.
  9. Head and Tailstock Taper: #2 MT
  10. Tailstock through Hole: 13/32 in. Self-ejecting
  11. Tailstock Spindle Travel: 2 1/4 in.
  12. Tool Rest: 6 in. and 10 in.
  13. Length: 36 in.
  14. Width: 11 in.
  15. Height: 17 3/4 in.
  16. Weight: 97 lbs.

Benefits:

  • Motor is powerful and reliable.
  • Consistent performance.
  • Produces a smooth finish.
  • Durable built.
  • Can be used for different projects.
  • Easy access by on/off switch.
  • Five-years warranty.

Drawbacks:

  • Some customers complain of the balance.
  • There are some people who have experienced difficulties with customer service.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


Among the best mini lathe reviews, the main focus on its performance. One customer gave it five stars and says it’s perfect for patio work. Another person wrote that it’s ideal for making pens. Other 5 star ratings were given by customers for its reliability.
There are some negative reviews for the Delta. However, the majority are positive. Most customers also express satisfaction with its woodworking capabilities. One reviewer said it is excellent. Another said it provides good quality while being affordable.

2. JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe


JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe

If you read the best mini lathe reviews on the web, the Jet mini lathe is among those that get top ratings. One of the reasons I have included this here its versatility. Its RPM range (60 to 3600) is nice. Even when I vary the speed, performance isn’t affected. The belt tension system is unique and works as well as expected. The bearings might need some adjustment at first. However this is easy enough to do. Overall it’s simple to use and durable. The machine doesn’t vibrate. The mechanism is reliable and the finish is smooth.

Specifications:


  1. HP: 1 HP
  2. Speed Range: 60 – 3600 RPM
  3. Swing Over Bed: 12-1/2″
  4. Swing Over Tool Rest Base: 9-9/20″
  5. Distance Between Centers: 20-1/2″
  6. Spindle Bore: 3/8″
  7. Spindle Taper (In. x TPI): MT2
  8. Quill Taper: MT2
  9. Quill Travel: 2-1/4″
  10. Spindle Thread (In./TPI): 1/8″ TPI
  11. Spindle Speeds: 60 – 3600
  12. Number of Indexing Positions: 24
  13. Motor Power (HP): 1
  14. Motor Phase: 1
  15. Motor Voltage (V.): 115
  16. Prewired Voltage (V.): 115
  17. Motor Current (Amps.): 6
  18. Recommended Circuit Size (Amps.): 10
  19. Height 21-1/4″
  20. Length: 35-3/4″
  21. Weight: 125 lbs.
  22. Width: 14-1/2″
    Weight (lbs): 137

Benefits:

  • Uses the 1" X 8 TPI standard, ensuring compatibility.
  • Indexing head has multiple stops / positions.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Adjusting is straightforward.
  • Variable speed controller works nicely.
  • 24 integrated indexing positions.
  • 5 Years Warranty.

Drawbacks:

  • Doesn’t come with an Allen retrench.
  • Shavings can be cumbersome to remove.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


The reviews are mostly in its favor. Most of the customers who bought the lathe agree it is powerful. One reviewer said it’s easy enough for his son to use. Another customer review spoke highly of the variable speed control. There is also a customer reviewer which says it’s really quiet.
Just like with most products, there are some negative reviews. A few have complained the settings aren’t to their liking after opening the package. But most buyers like it. What most of them say is the mini lathe works as well. One customer simply said the Jet Is great.

3. RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe


RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe

The Rikon 70-100 is a good entry level mini lathe. It comes with all the features you need to start lathing wood. Changing variable speed is quick and easy. It’s ½ HP motor gives you enough power to work with different types of wood. This is also the biggest mini lathe I have seen. The extra weight and size adds more balance. The construction is solid as well. One of the knocks against mini lathes is their size. With 16 inches between the center and a 12 inch bed, there is plenty of room here.

Specifications:


  1. Powered by a 1/2 HP TEFC motor.
  2. Swing over bed 12″
  3. Swing over tool rest base 9-1/2″
  4. Working distance between centers 16″
  5. Ability to add multiple extensions
  6. 12 position indexing head,
  7. self-ejecting tailstock with 2-1/2″ ram travel,
  8. 8″ tool rest
  9. six speed (430, 810, 1,230, 1,810, 2,670, 3,900),
  10. #2 MT head stock,
  11. Overall dimensions: 32″ long x 10-1/2″ wide x 19″ high.
  12. Includes: 8 tool rest, live center, 3 faceplate, spur center, tooling knockout.

Benefits:

  • Changing speed is easy.
  • Powerful and reliable motor.
  • Adding extensions is a simple process.
  • Good for intricate work.
  • Easy enough for beginners to use.
  • 5 Years Warranty.

Drawbacks:

  • Needs regular maintenance.
  • One customer complained of the tailstock being damaged.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


The feedback has been mostly good. A customer wrote a detailed review and says he’s satisfied with the performance. Another one said the Rikon is of high quality. This sentiment is shared by another reviewer who said it’s perfect for beginners.
The reviewers are generally in agreement concerning its versatility. One reviewer remarked that it works great for his woodworking projects. Another said the Rikon makes it easy to make pens. This perspective is shared by other reviewers. One of the more interesting reviews came from someone new to wood lathes. He found the machine easy to learn. He also likes the Rikon because of its affordable price.

4. Jet JWL-1015VS 10-Inch X 15-Inch Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe


Jet JWL-1015VS 10-Inch X 15-Inch Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe

Some of the best mini lathe reviews have been given to the JWL-1015VS. It’s a mid-size lathe with sufficient power for most home projects. The bed way is wider than in other lathes, providing greater stability. The motor is powerful but it’s not as noisy as other lathes. The tension mechanism is well-designed. There are three speed ranges (from 200 to 3600) for precision work. Features wise, this is suitable for beginners.

Specifications:


  1. Three speed ranges: 200-1050, 300-1750 and 600-3600
  2. Integrated 24 position indexing
  3. Swing Over Bed (In.): 10
  4. Swing Over Tool Rest Base (In.): 7-5/16
  5. Distance Between Centers (In.): 15-1/2
  6. Spindle Bore (In.): 3/8
  7. Spindle Taper: MT2

Benefits:

  • Easy to change speeds.
  • Runs smoothly.
  • Sturdily built.
  • Stocks are well aligned.
  • Provides sufficient power.
  • 5 Years Warranty.

Drawbacks:

  • The instruction manual could have been more detailed.
  • Not enough power for advanced users.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


The best mini lathe reviews for the Jet have come from novices and professionals. One longtime woodworker said the mini Jet lathe is the perfect complement for his regular tools. Another buyer said he liked the smooth operation. Another reviewer said he’s happy with the purchase. In the review the customer said he uses the Jet to make pens.
The Jet has received a lot of 5 star reviews for its design. One reviewer said the Jet does everything he expects it to do. A novice said the Jet makes it easy for him to lathe. Still another customer pointed out it’s solidly built. Another said it’s one of the sturdiest mini lathes he has tried.
Taking everything into consideration, it’s clear to me this is one mini lathe that lives up to the hype.

5. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 2013 Edition


NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 2013 Edition

The Nova Comet II is a major improvement over the previous version. The original Comet got some of the best mini lathe reviews, and the same thing here. What I like most about the Comet II is the speed range. With RPMs of 250 to 4000, you can work with precision. You can change the speed easily with the dial. When it comes to power the ¾ HP motor is sufficient. The reverse and forward switch really helps when it comes smoothing the finish.

Specifications:


  1. Speed ranges from 250 to 4000rpm
  2. 3 Step Pulley Systemto dial in low, medium and high speed ranges
  3. 3/4HP Electronic Variable Speed Motor
  4. 12″ swing capacity over bed
  5. 16.5″ between center capacity
  6. expandable to 41″ with the optional bed extension accessory
  7. Includes 3″ faceplate, hand wheel, 6″ tool rest, 2MT Drive center, 2MT Live Center, knockout bar, manual and fastening
  8. 2-Years limited warranty

Benefits:

  • Changing belt configurations is easy.
  • Reverse function works nicely.
  • Excellent speed range.
  • Efficient motor.
  • Solid construction.
  • 1-year full replacement warranty.

Drawbacks:

  • A bit heavy.
  • Using it for platters and bowls takes more time.

Summary of Customer Reviews:


The best mini lathe online get good reviews and this is no exception. Several customers who bought the lathe agree it is powerful. One customer said he wasn’t sure the Comet II could generate the necessary power, but it does. Another customer said he likes the variable speed.
There are a few negative reviews here and there. But most are content with its performance. One customer said the Nova is great for beginners. One happy reviewer said he did a lot of research before buying. He then says he’s happy with the Nova.
Other people who bought the Nova agree about its performance. Most are also content with its controls and how little vibration is reported.

How to Use a Mini Lathe


The following is an overview. The best mini lathe will have a detailed manual you should consult.

  • Find the right piece of wood or metal. Refer to the instruction manual for information on this.
  • If you’re using a wood lathe, square the stock.
  • Cut the stock to length you prefer.
  • The center of each end of the stock should be marked. It should be placed between the centers of the lathe.
  • Position the tool rest so it is parallel to the workpiece length. It has to be of some distance so the workpiece can be turned without striking it. But it should be as near as possible. The ideal distance is ¾ inches.
  • Hand turn or free spin the workpiece to ensure the tool rest doesn’t get hit.
  • Select the appropriate chisel.
  • Turn on the lathe. Set the speed to the lowest speed possible.
  • The cutting edge resistance should be felt, and you will see the chips as they’re cut.
  • Position the cutting edge so it is parallel to the workpiece rotation.
  • Keep pushing into the wood. Do this gradually and pause regularly.
  • If you’re new to wood lathing, stop often. Assess your progress. Look for any wood cracks. Remove any debris that could affect your work.
  • Increase the speed to smooth the corners. Hold the tool so it is near, but not touching the wood. The slower you move, the smoother and lighter the cut will be.

Accessories for a Mini lathe


Delta Industrial 46-462 Midi-Lathe Stand with Straight Legs


Delta Industrial 46-462 Midi-Lathe Stand with Straight Legs

This stand was built specifically for Delta Industrial mini lathes. There is storage on-board for organizing your tools. The stand is also stable. It’s hard to emphasize the importance of the Midi 46-462: without the right balance it’ll be impossible to do any accurate work.

Jet JWL-1221VS Stand


Jet JWL-1221VS Stand

This is a mini lathe stand known for its stability and quality. The feet are wide, essential for balance. Setting up is quick so you’ll be up and running in no time. The design is also fully ergonomic. The stand also makes turning convenient.

Delta Industrial 46-461 Reversible Nova G3-D Woodturning Chuck


Delta Industrial 46-461 Reversible Nova G3-D Woodturning Chuck

This chuck works with different types of mini lathes. Its main feature is the auto-stop jaw slides. This ensures the chuck jaws are at their optimum setting. There’s also an anti-release spindle lock.

PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 HSS Wood Lathe Chisel Set, 8-Piece


PSI Woodworking LCHSS8 HSS Wood Lathe Chisel Set, 8-Piece

This versatile kit is great for beginners. You can use this to create bowls, pens, spindles and other objects. Even experienced users will find this convenient. The box comes with a chisel, spindle gauge and other tools you’ll need. Aside from being affordable, the tools are durable too.

Big Horn 19053 8-Inch Caliper Set, 3-Piece


Big Horn 19053 8-Inch Caliper Set, 3-Piece

As anyone who’s used a mini lathe will tell you, accuracy is all important. You can use this caliper set for various measurements. Since it relies on a threaded spool system, there’s no limit to the adjustment. If you’ve ever had problems with accuracy, this caliper set can certainly help.

Safety Tips


  • As the best mini lathe reviews point out, you should always wear safety goggles. The goggles should be high quality and with side shields.
  • Don’t wear loose sleeves because it could catch on the piece.
  • Wear shoes to protect your feet from falling wood or metal pieces.
  • Don’t wear jewelry, chains, necklaces, wrist watches or other accessories.
  • If you’ve got long hair, tie it up so it doesn’t get caught up in the lathe.
  • Make certain the workpiece is clamped or is set between the centers before operating.
  • Read the manual before using the machine, especially the safety tips.

Maintenance Tips


Even the best mini lathe reviews make clear upkeep is necessary to ensure optimum performance. Here are some tips:

  • Remove the chuck key after every use.
  • Clean your lathe as indicated in the manual. Different mini lathes require different cleaning options.
  • Keep your mini lathe in a clean environment. Your workplace should be oil free as well.
  • Used mini lathes need more maintenance. Some features may not work anymore. A new mini lathe is more expensive. However it’s not going to require as much maintenance.
  • Make sure you keep the lathe bench in good condition too. If you’re going to make one, don’t use wood because they warp and change.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why is wood lathe vibrating?
Answer: Your wood lathe speed should be between 2400 to 3000 RPM. The most likely reason is the wood isn’t centered.

2. Why is wood cut uneven?
Answer: The most likely reason is lack of experience. Keep practicing and there will be improvements.

3. Why is there a grinding noise?
Answer: The lathe needs lubrication. Stop using it and lubricate the moving components.

4. What causes wood bowl tear outs?
Answer: Soft woods are vulnerable to tear outs. If this happens frequently, go for a harder piece of wood.

5. What causes wood splintering?
Answer: Make certain the tools you’re using are sharp. If the problem persists, adjust the RPMs so it’s between 2400 to 10000 RPMs.

6. What lubricant should I use?
Answer: This depends on what type of material and mini lathe you’re using. Check the owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website.

My Recommendations


I would recommend the Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe and the JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe. The JET gets my vote as one of the best mini lathe because of its exceptional speed control. Performance is also smooth regardless of the speed.
The Delta Industrial also gets my nod. The biggest reason is its power. I also like how easy it is to make changes to the settings. The other mini lathes I have reviewed here are also of good quality. However these two are just better than the rest. If you’re looking for value, these two will do.

Final Word


Back in the day lathes were only available for serious wood or metal workers. They were large and expensive. Nowadays you can purchase these mini lathes packed with features without compromising ease of use. The challenge of course, is figuring what to get.
With my best mini lathe reviews, you should now have a clearer understanding of what a mini lathe is and what it can do. If you have never purchased a mini lathe before, deciding what to buy can be difficult and confusing. Not knowing the facts could result in mistakes. With this guide you’ll now know what to buy. Good luck!

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