The 8 Best Mini Metal Lathes of 2020 | Buying Guide and Reviews

What to Know Before Buying

If you’re like most folks, the chances are that you’ll inevitably feel indecisive when confronted with all the available options out there when choosing a new power tool - especially one that's expensive. 

This is all too true when trying to choose a metal lathe. Sure there are only a dozen or so options, but how do they all differ? What factors actually matter when selecting a lathe? How much to spend on this machine? What's the best one for my uses? What other tools do I need? Why can't this just be easy? All these questions you may ask yourself on your purchasing journey.  

To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled this list of the best metal lathes, what they excel in, how they fall short, which one's are easy to use, and break down the best models on the market for you to choose from.
So, how do you exactly determine which mini lathe is the best one for you? Here are the top four factors to consider before making your buying decision.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Size of Your Project

How big are your metal turning projects? The answer to this question will determine the two important specifications that your equipment needs to have – the swing over distance and the distance between centers.
swing
distance between centers
Swing over bed (SOB), swing, or swing distance is the maximum diameter of the workpiece that can be handled by the mini lathe. In other words, how thick/wide your project can be. For example, are you planning to produce large wooden bowls? Or something thinner like table legs? 

On the other hand, the distance between centers (DBC) is the maximum length of the material that the lathe can accommodate. In other words, how long your project can be. 

Before buying, be sure to check out these two capacities to ensure that the product you choose can handle the size of your metal turning projects.

2. Available Space in Your Workshop

This might seem a no-brainer, but this aspect can be easily overlooked especially if you are too excited to get your hands on your new mini lathe. Always check the dimensions before pressing that buy button so you won’t have to go through the ordeal of returning the product. In fact, make sure that you still have enough room to spare since you still need to move around the lathe while working on your projects. 

Further down we lay out a few great smaller units and mini metal lathes you should check out if your space is limited.  

3. Your Set Budget For The Purchase

We might want the best the world has to offer but the reality is, we will always be constrained by the budget we allocate for a specific purchase. Once this budget ceiling is set, you can then try to look for the best option within that budget range.

We do our best to give you an idea of what a good dollar amount is for these units, but keep in mind the prices  do change over time. 

4. Metal Lathe vs Mini Metal Lathe

Metal lathes are a large class of tools, primarily designed for metalworking, but also are commonly used for harder composites such as plastics. A metal lathe is an umbrella term for any kind of lathe used to work on metal. Within that umbrella is many types such as center lathes, turret lathes, gang-tool lathes, and more. 

The most commonly researched type lathe is the mini metal lathe. These are lathes that commonly have swing over distances in a range of around 3-7 inches, and diameters of around 1.5 to 3.5 inches. These small, affordable units are perfect for the home shop and smaller projects. 

Below is our full list of reviews and recommendations of for mini metal lathes, for those of you shopping for your own workshops! If you happen to be looking for a full sized lathe, we cover those nearer the bottom of the article. Enjoy! 

 

The Best Mini Metal Lathes of 2020

1. BestEquip Maintenance-Free Metal Lathe

bestequip metal lathe
Top Overall Pick 
PROS
- 15 3/4" DBC
- 8 1/4" SOB
- 1 Horsepower motor
- Maintenance free design
- Excellent customer service
- Plenty of power
- Versatile project sizes
- Great variable speed control
- Included 3 and 4 jaw chucks, tool storage box and accessories
CONS
- Need to properly adjust components once received

After searching and comparing all the lathes we’ve found, we found a mini lathe that is a cut above the rest - the BestEquip Maintenance Free Mini Bench Metal Lathe. This impressive mini lathe has all the features and a design you need to get any metal turning job done and, coupled with its high quality, durable construction, and solid overall performance, we simply have no choice but to make it our top overall pick.

While it is classified as a mini lathe, it can handle larger projects that its peers can’t accommodate, thanks to its lengthier DBC which measures 15 ¾ inches and a larger SOB capacity at 8 ¼ inches. It has a longer service life thanks to its 750W (1HP) brushless motor which powers its variable control speed (50-2500) spindle. The 4-way turret tool post is super handy when changing tools.
Of course, there is a small downside to having all of these impressive features and the main issue here is budget. It is currently available on Amazon at around $1,300 which, unfortunately, puts it over most people’s budget. But for an almost wear-resistant equipment capable of precision metal parts fabrication and modeling jobs, it is our best mini lathe of 2019/20 - for those who can afford the functionality and performance.
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2. Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe

grizzly g8688 mini metal lathe
Best for the money
PROS
- 12" DBC
- 7" SOB
- 1 Horsepower motor
- 20mm spindle bore
- Extremely powerful
- Up to 2500RPM speeds
- Great for beginners, hobbyists
- Excellent customer service
- Included 3-jaw chuck, chip pan, turret post, service tools
CONS
- No tachometer for exact spindle speed reading

Every smart shopper knows that a great buy does not necessarily mean getting the cheapest option available, nor is it about getting the product with the most amazing features and specs. Rather it’s all about getting the product that gives you the best value for the money you’ve spent. A perfect balance between price and features is what you can find in the Grizzly G8688.

With its 3/4 HP motor, the Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe is considered as one of the most powerful machines in the market today. Users will get to enjoy the control of its variable speeds which can reach up to 2500 rotations per minute in spindle speeds. 

The Grizzly G8688 is very easy to operate and at the same time is very reliable for everyday use. However, some professional operators say that it is not that useful for advanced metalworking. Guess it all depends on how ‘advanced’ you are. Threading range is between 12 and 52 TPI and it has a reverse switch so you can make both right and left-handed screws. Another great feature is the 4-way turret tool post 

This Grizzly G8688 mini lathe has a 7-inch bed, 2 3/4 inch cross slide travel, 2 1/2 inch tailstock travel, 12-inch DBC, and has top quality 20mm spindle bore. Not only is this mini lathe fast and strong, but it is also durable. Expect it to last longer than others since it is constructed well, with a great design.

The Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe is one of the best mini lathes among beginners, but know that achieving accurate alignment can be quite difficult for some. Nonetheless, the company behind this, Grizzly, is known for providing incredible customer care service. This is a great choice, and the best mini metal lathe you can get for most tasks, if you need all that power.  
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3. SHOP FOX M1015 Metal Lathe

Shop Fox M1015
Best Benchtop unit
PROS
- 10" DBC
- 6" SOB
- 1/5 horsepower motor
- 3/8" spindle bore
- Small, cheap
- Great for beginners
- Includes 3 jaw chuck, 11 feed rate gears
- Speed control 100-2000
- 2 Year SHOP FOX Warranty
CONS
- Less powerful
- Not as many speed options
- Some shipping damage reported

Many folks can't afford - both financially and the space - a larger mini lathe like the BestEquip we feature above. This SHOP FOX tool is a perfect solution for those just looking for a benchtop metal lathe, something with all the power and precision, packed into a smaller model, with an affordable price tag. 

When we say smaller size, we really mean it, as this SHOP FOX mini lathe measures in a swing over bed of just 6" with a DBC of of 10". It is smaller, which does mean a smaller motor - just 1/5HP, but it still can provide control of a variable speed (100-2000 RPM) spindle. While it may seem small, and it is a little less powerful than some others on the list, it's still plenty of power, functionality and suitable dimensions for many folks at home.

The SHOP FOX M1015 also comes with a bunch of features like two feed rates, a 3" jaw-chuck, and a 2-year warranty. The one downside is that you may have to reset the tool post when changing tools. Because of the dimensions, features and limitations of this SHOP FOX, there is a possibility you will one day outgrow this lathe with larger tasks, but it is an easy to use, compact and inexpensive mini lathe and one of the best for the hobbyist or beginner. Plus, SHOP FOX provides a 2-year warranty make it an awesome choice.
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4. Central Machinery Precision Mini Lathe

central machinery 7 x 10 precision mini lathe
great for the home shop
PROS
- 10" DBC
- 7" SOB
- 3/4 Horsepower motor
- Efficient and precise
- Variable speeds, low and high
- Included 3 jaw chuck
- Great user reviews 
CONS
- Small projects only, not a problem for most folks

For most buyers, a product’s price is a major factor when making a buying decision. But of course, it’s not the only factor to consider since if you go by price alone, you’ll end up buying a mini lathe of low quality. After doing some research, we found an option that’s affordable without sacrificing quality – the Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision mini lathe.

Central Machinery is designed for those who always wanted to experience a smooth working mode. Known for its efficiency, this small lathe has a remarkable automatic feed, a speed control knob, chuck guard with micro switch, and an excellent tool post. When it comes to speed, the Central Machinery can go from 0 to 1100 at low speed, and from 0 to 2500 RPM at high speed. The chuck guard is an often overlooked feature that many other lathes on our list don't come with standard. 

While the Central Machinery 7x10 has received many favorable comments and reviews from owners because of its precision, design, performance, and efficiency, one of the most common complaints that you will read on the internet is that its spare parts are very difficult to search for and replace. But, for individuals who are looking for something that can get the job done, the Central Machinery is definitely recommended. You just need to know a good place that has spare part available, just in case.

Its SOB capacity is a bit on the low side and measures only 7 inches while its DBC is 10 inches, which makes it smaller compared to other mini lathes. However, it works just fine as long as your workpiece dimensions does not exceed those capacities. For mini metal lathes on a budget, this is a great choice.

Also, this gem is perfect for those who want to be able to do more projects and commit fewer mistakes. It’s really that efficient, folks. But take note that some folks complained that it takes some time to disassemble, grease, and tune this model up before use. Definitely something to keep in mind before purchasing, but overall this Central Machinery precision mini lathe is a great choice and the best one for home shops.
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5. Mophorn Precision Mini Lathe

mophorn precision mini lathe
great option for under 1000
PROS
- 14" DBC
- 7" SOB
- 3/4 Horsepower motor
- Affordable
- Includes mask, oil can, wrenches and nylon gears
CONS
- Made in China means difficult replacement parts
- Not the most durable
The Mophorn Metal Mini Lathe is for people who want to join the metalwork club but don’t want to spend too much money on a machine. This is definitely the best budget product that you can buy in the market right now. But don’t be deceived by its price because its variable control speeds can still go from 50 to 2500 RPM. It might not be as versatile as the others that at a higher price range, but the Morphorn can certainly do its job, and do it easy.

It has a TPI range of 12 to 52 and has great quality chucks with 3 jaws. The package includes a mask, oil can, wrenches, and nylon gears. The problem is, it doesn’t come with any tool bits. And aside from affordability, it is also known for its reliable performance. Although it is a cheaper option, the Mophorn has an awesome design is still made out of top quality materials and components. The 7" bed is pretty standard, but the 14" DBC is great for longer projects. 

Addressing issues with this power tool can be time-consuming, though, so keep that choice in mind. You need to know that this item ships from China, which means that you will be having a hard time replacing the parts. So before purchasing, be sure you already where to go when in need of replacing its parts.
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6. BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe

bestequip mini metal lathe
Perfect for beginners
PROS
- 14" DBC
- 7" SOB
- 3/4 Horsepower motor
- Precise and powerful
- Durable cast iron bed
- Outstanding customer service
- Affordable
- 14" DBC great for long projects
- Includes backsplash guard and 3-jaw self centering chuck
CONS
- Made in China
Let’s be honest, these machines in general can be quite intimidating to use, especially if you are a beginner. But with the BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe, doing metalwork should be easy. It is a simple mini lathe with a good design that is known for its optimal precision. It has a 14-inch distance between center and a 7-inch bed, which is made of durable cast iron. It also has a 4-way rotating turret and can work with different types of metal.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an expert or beginner in metalworking, this item should be able to provide all the power you need to complete a project. But its simplicity comes with few disadvantages. Like the fact that it doesn’t do anything special. If you are looking for a mini lathe that can do many things, you may want to keep looking.

On the other hand, if your desire is simplicity, the BestEquip lathe is definitely worth considering. Just know that some of its owners complained about poor quality components. You will also hear some who claimed that the motor is bad and that it is not that durable. But then again, if you’re a starter who just want the basics for most tasks, this choice is a great one.
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7. BestEquip 8x16 Inch Metal Lathe

bestequip 8x16 inch metal lathe
precision focused
PROS
- 16" DBC
- 8" SOB
- 1 Horsepower motor
- Included 4-jaw chuck, tool storage box and accessories
- Precise and powerful
- Quick assembly
CONS
- Occasional shipping damage
- Made in China
- Slightly on expensive side

One of the best-selling metal lathes available today is the BestEquip 8x16. The reason behind its popularity is because it has an incredible speed setting that offers precise parts and sample processing. This is ideal for use in laboratories, workshops, and even at home. It is a multifunctional automatic tool that can provide accurate, smooth operation and professional performance. But because of its remarkable features, this may not be for people who are looking for affordable ways to do metalwork. It can be quite expensive compared to other models. But then, if you are searching for something that provides very precise thread range and versatile speed settings, then this is definitely worth every penny. Plus it's easy to use! It's a machine that is also made to be durable with a great design, which makes it a great tool for people who plan to use the product more often than usual. You need to be aware, though, that it needs a lot of work out of the box, meaning that you really have to read the user manual carefully in order to make it work properly. Designed by a reputable manufacturer, the BestEquip 8x16 is definitely an excellent tool for both beginner and expert metalworkers and one of the best choices you could make. If you want to learn more about this great lathe, you can read our full review.
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8. Erie Tools Precision Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe

erie tools 7 x 14 precision bench top mini metal milling lathe
Great for multi-material use
PROS
- 14" DBC
- 7" SOB
- 1/2 Horsepower motor
- Works with many materials
- Includes carbide tipped cutter kit, 3 jaw chuck, 11 feed rate gears
- Variable speed control 50-2500RPM with digital readout
- Good customer service
CONS
- Accessories poor quality
- Some shipping damage reported
- May need to spend on replacement parts
Looking for a tool that can do almost everything? The Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Benchtop might just be the one for you. It’s that small but terrible thing that can help you drill, cut, and manipulate whatever material you have in your workspace. It doesn’t matter whether you are working on wood, metal, or plastic, this gem can do the job.

This Erie Tools machine includes a 5 piece carbide-tipped cutter kit, external and internal chuck jaws, and a top quality chuck key. But even though it is known for its great functionality and flexibility, the Erie Tools can be quite complex to use, especially for new users, so that’s something to keep in mind. If you’re having a hard time operating the lathe smoothly, then its user manual, which is included in the package, should be of great help. And, luckily, the digital readout speed readout makes it super easy to operate!

Apart from helping you create awesome metalwork, this Erie Tools unit also provides top-notch performance. Not only is it designed with great finesse and precision, but it’s also built to last for many years. But some may get disappointed with how products are packed and delivered. As well, some replacement parts tend to be of poor quality. Nonetheless, if it’s ease and flexibility that you are looking for, with the Erie Tools 7x14,  it's what you'll get.
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Why Choose Mini Metal Lathe

Saves a ton of space

Working in a smaller area is now made possible with mini metal lathes. If you are working with smaller metal projects then there is no need to buy heavy machines that eat up too much space in your work area. Instead, you get to choose a smaller version of it yet still high-quality. One that’s easy and smooth to operate and provides satisfactory results.

Work on different materials

Just like the heavier machines, these mini versions can also accommodate brass, steel, aluminum, and even wood. Along with metals, these portable power tools can also be used on plastic. Unleash your creativity and work on various sources such as acetal, Delrin, Teflon, nylon, and even plexiglass. Although they are small in size, these machines have all the power and flexibility you need in order to create useful and artistic projects.

Multi-purpose mini monster

Keep in mind that almost all types of mini lathes can remove oxidized residue from metal. And whether you are drilling holes into hardened materials or common metals, these mini monsters are your friend in whatever metalworking endeavors you have. You can even create cylindrical objects and beautiful pieces of jewelry such as rings. So yes, whether that’s small stuff like jewelry, home decor, or any other products you can come up with, these tools got you covered.

The Best (Full Sized) Metal Lathe of 2020

jet 321360a
Best Full-Size/Power Pick

Jet 321360A

While a mini lathe is versatile and powerful enough to handle most metal turning projects for hobbyists or smaller shops, the fact remains that their design just can’t accommodate larger workpieces which also require more powerful motors. If you are looking for a larger, and more powerful industrial lathe, then Jet 321360A might be the perfect option for you.
This lathe is a full-sized option (not mini) specifically designed for larger metal turning projects. It has a SOB of 13 inches and an astounding 40-inch between centers. Working with projects this large requires a very stable lathe but it’s not an issue with the Jet 321360A since it’s not only big, it weighs a whopping 1,175 pounds which makes it very stable.
Aside from stability, larger industrial projects also require a more powerful motor to get the job done. This lathe does not lack power either as it has a 2HP motor which is strong enough for larger workpieces.
This is one of the best metal lathes you can get your hands on, and we actually don’t find any problems with its operations. But if we have to come up with something negative about it, it’s probably its price, size, and weight. It’s offered on Amazon at around $6,850 which puts it way beyond the budget of most people. In addition, its large size and heavy weight make it too heavy to move around so better make sure where exactly you want it placed in your workshop.

Final Thoughts

Metal lathes come in all shapes and sizes. By now, you’ve probably realized that we really can’t decide which option is perfect for you as only you know your specific needs and preferences. What we hope, however, is that you’ve found the equipment of your dreams in one of our suggestions. Or, at least, this article has helped you understand better what to look for when choosing a machine for your workshop so you can make the right choice on your own.
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