The 5 Best Mini Metal Lathes Reviewed

Mini Metal Lathes

The home mini-lathes we examine below are generally good for someone who wants a durable and well-designed machine that can fit in a small location. These lathes provide toolmakers, model makers, gun hobbyists, and the DIY machinist a way to affordably create threaded parts, small precision parts, fittings, and dies.

A miniature metal lathe is a machine tool that turns a cylindrical material, touching a cutting tool to it, which then cuts the material. The material to be cut is firmly fixed to the chuck of a lathe.

The lathe will be switched on and then the chuck is rotated. The lathe will touch a byte's tip into the material and make a mechanical part.

We would caution, after having examined buyer reports, that these home metal lathes will not run right out of the box. They will require assembly and some handiwork, oftentimes, to get them up and running.

Many buyers recommend taking a machine shop course at a community college to ensure that you're skilled enough to begin using one of these mini-lathes. Let's take a look at 5 of the best-selling miniature lathes on the market today and see how they compare. 

Mini Metal Lathes Compared

The Top 5 Mini Metal Lathes

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

This 7 x 10 mini metal lathe offered by Central Machinery is effective, easy-to-use and precise. Users love the smooth working mode, but some do note that the feed gears are plastic.

This small lathe has an automatic feed, a chuck guard with micro switch, a variable speed control knob, a tool post and you can use threads from 12 to 52 TPI. The mini lathe also a low speed from 0-1100 RMP and a high speed from 0-2500 PRM. Overall, this is an excellent tool, but you should be aware that it doesn’t come with any bits.

In general, users have a favorable opinion of the Central Machinery mini metal lathe, and they praise its performance, design, and precision. A buyer comments that even though the package was damaged, the mini lathe was undamaged and there were no missing parts.

The reviewer also states that it’s a pleasure to use this metal micro lathe machine and he has been using it to make various tools. Another happy purchaser advises that this is the best mini lathe for beginners, but you should take your time to tighten everything and to oil it. However, some customers have complained that it’s nearly impossible to find replacement part of this mini lathe and that the manual is incomprehensible. Some also state that they had problems with the switch and the speed knob control.

The Central Machinery Mini-Lathe 

Pros

  • An automatic feed
  • Variable speed knob
  • A tool post
  • A chuck with micro switch
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Replacement parts are hard to find
  • Unclear instruction
  • Problems with the switch and knob control
  • Plastic parts

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

This bench top mini metal lathe is efficient, practical and suitable for various types of metal turning. Users love the price, but some do note that the lathe is made in China.

With a size of 36 x 17.3 x 14.6 inches, this metal lathe has a 7 x 14 swing bed, digital speed readout, a 4-inch chuck, 11 gears for changing feed rate speed, an emergency stop switch, variable speed knob control, a power indicator, and a spindle speed of 100-2500 RPM. The range of the metric thread is from 12-52 TPI and the package also includes a 5-piece cutter kit.

A buyer shares that he was surprised by the quality and efficient of this mini metal milling lathe and that it was easy to set it up and to make adjustments. Another satisfied customer shares that this micro lathe arrived quickly and in perfect condition with no missing part. The reviewer also mentions that the motor is powerful and the gearing is quiet.

He would recommend it to anyone looking for the best milling lathe. A purchase states that the lathe needs some improvements, and he advises that you watch some YouTube videos to understand how Chinese mini lathes work. However, some customers have complained that the thread and speed gears are plastic and it would be better if you switch them with metal ones.

Some also complain that they received a damaged unit and that there wasn’t enough padding in the package.

Pros

  • Well-made
  • Digital readout
  • Safety features
  • Variable speed knob
  • Power indicator
  • 5-piece cutter kit

Cons

  • Made in China
  • Plastic parts
  • Complaints of malfunctioning

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

If you are searching for a top-rated bench top mini lathe, you might want to take a look at this metal lathe offered by Grizzly. Users love the high quality, but some do note there is a noise present.

This 10 x 22 mini metal lathe has a hardened V-way bed, nine longitudinal feeds, 1-inch spindle bore, six speeds ( 150-2400 RPM), 5-inch three jaw chuck, 6-1/2-inch four-jaw chuck, and an 8-inch faceplate. You can use inch threads from 8 to 72 TPI and metric threads from 0.25mm to 3.5mm, and the package comes with extras like oil-bath gearbox and tool box with service tools.

A user commented that it took him awhile before he decided to try the Grizzly benchtop mini lathe and that he only regrets that he didn’t buy it sooner. The reviewer also states that this metal lathe is well-built, solid and it comes with a lot of useful features like the variable threading ranges. He would recommend it to anyone looking for the best mini metal lathe.

Another happy customer mentions that he has been using this metal mini lathe for about two years and that he is extremely impressed with the quality and durability of the lathe. A happy customer also mentions that the Grizzly mini lathe is made of high-grade material and it’s perfect both for small and large projects.

However, some customers have complained that the paint started peeling off quickly and that that it’s difficult to change and adjust speeds. Some users also complain that the assembly instructions are incorrect and that the quality of the wrenches is poor.

The Grizzly 10 x 22 Lathe Video Review

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • High-quality
  • Hardened V-bed
  • Nine longitudinal feeds
  • Six speeds
  • Good thread range

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Paint peeling off
  • Difficult to change speeds
  • Difficult assembly
  • Slightly noisy

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

This bench top metal lathe offered by Generic is well-built, powerful and useful for professionals and novice alike. Users love its precision, but some do note that the quality is not what they expected. With an overall size of 30″ x 12″ x 11-1/2″, this metal lathe has an induction harden bed way, 80-mm chuck, 20-mm spindle bore, 550-watt motor, spindle accuracy of 0.01 mm, variable speeds and a spindle speed of 0 to 2500 RMP.

Overall, this mini metal lathe could be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a reasonably priced lathe.

In general, users have a mixed opinion regarding the Generic mini metal lathe – some praising its design and precision, while others have complaints regarding its functionality. A happy purchaser mentions that he likes the quiet belt drive and that he quickly figured out how to use it, even though he had no prior experience.

However, the customer notes that some of the essential parts are plastic and you should consider changing them to metal ones.  A customer shares that he did a lot of research before buying the Generic micro metal lathe and he chose it mainly due to the price and the good reviews. But the reviewer also mentioned that the first unit he received broke right away, but fortunately custom support was helpful, and they sent him a replacement immediately.

The replacement metal lathe was well-built and worked smoothly, so the customer is overall pleased with his purchase.

Pros

  • Induction hardened bed way
  • 550-watt motor
  • Variable speeds
  • 0, 01 mm spindle accuracy

Cons

  • Plastic gears
  • Complaints of malfunctioning

Effectiveness

Price

Ease of Use

This 6 x 10-inch metal lathe offered by ShopFox is compact, well-constructed and an excellent choice for producing small details. Users love the easy control mode, but some do note that it’s smaller than they expected.

With an overall size of 27-3/4″  x 11-1/2″ x 12″, this metal lathe machine has a 3-inch 3-jaw chuck with internal and external jaws, 3/8″ spindle bore, 1/5 HP motor, thread inch range from 16-24 TPI, a chuck key fuse, and four hex wrenches. The package also includes a double-ended wrench, socket head wrench, and an oil cup.

In general, users have a mixed opinion regarding the Shop Fox lathe machine. A buyer comments that this metal lathe has great safety features and he doesn’t have to worry about his fingers. The reviewer also states that he produced a lot of brass and stainless steel parts, even though he didn’t have much experience, so this micro lathe is perfect for beginners.

Another happy user shares that he can make almost everything he wants on this metal mini lathe and that he has been using it daily for months and it doesn’t show any signs of damage.

On the other hand, one customer has complained that the fuse went off after a piece got stuck and that even after replacing the fuse, the metal lathe still didn’t work. Some other users have complained that the lathe arrived damaged due to poor packaging or that they couldn’t even turn it on.

Pros

  • Easy to use and assemble
  • 3-inch 3-jaw chuck
  • 1/5 HP motor
  • wrenches
  • oil cup

Cons

  • Small
  • Poor package
  • Complaints of malfunctioning

What Are Buyers Saying?

There are lots of versions of lathes inside the metalworking industry. A few variants aren't all that obvious, yet others tend to be more niche. For instance, a centering lathe is a dual head machine in which the work stays fixed and the heads move towards the workpiece and machine a center drill hole into both ends. The ensuing workpiece may well then be utilized "between centers" in an additional procedure. The application of the term metal lathe can also be regarded as fairly out-of-date nowadays, as plastic materials along with other composite materials are in broad use and with suitable adjustments, the same concepts and methods might be applied to their machining as that employed for metal.

Lathes can be split into 3 varieties for straightforward identification: engine lathe, turret lathe, and special purpose lathes. A few smaller sized ones are bench-mounted and semi-portable. The bigger lathes are floor-mounted and may even call for custom transport when they have to be relocated. Field and maintenance metal shops usually make use of a lathe which can be modified to a lot of functions and that's not too huge to be transported from one job site to a different one. The engine lathe is preferably suited to this purpose. An experienced machinist can achieve more machining jobs using the engine lathe compared to almost every other machine tool. Turret lathes and special purpose lathes are generally found in production or job shops for mass manufacturing or specialised parts, whereas basic engine lathes are generally employed for any kind of lathe work.

The miniature precision home metal lathe by Central Machinery was moderately well received by its reviewers. Some people opted to purchase it from Harbor Freight. One buyer told us that when you purchase one of these miniature metal lathes that essentially you are getting a variety of different, unassembled parts. After you wipe off the packing grease, you'll have to consult the manual, which many buyers told us was completely useless. The reviewer who spoke to told us that the best thing to do was to go to YouTube and look up advice on assembling and configuring a miniature metal lathe-there's a ton of information out there that can help you to get started, including how to add cutting tools, adjusting hex keys, dealing with replacement screw sets and starter kits.

Beginners Guide To Operating A Lathe

Another reviewer was overwhelmed by the complexity of the machine- saying that you get a lot of different components at a reasonable price, but it is not completely polished and pre-assembled for you to get it up and running. If you are mechanically inclined, and gifted with some solid commonsense, this might be the cheap miniature metal lathe to purchase. If not, it would be wise to join a community college machine shop course to apprise yourself of the basics. One reviewer advised that you never drink before or during operation of this miniature home metal lathe because it has a ton of horsepower that could potentially injure or even kill you.

As well, you should not wear loose clothing while you are using it- make sure to remove, tie, cover your hair or lose articles of clothing so that it doesn't get near the machine when it is running. This reviewer also sad that after you unpackage it, make sure that you go over it thoroughly, tightening all of its components, removing the covers from the feed and lead screws to oil them, cleaning it with a small shop vacuum and chip brush, and keeping it fully lubricated throughout its lifespan.

Another reviewer we spoke to says that he has been using his miniature metal lathe for over three years without any issues, cutting stainless steel and a variety of different wood, sometimes operating it up to 14 hours a day, for a week at a time. This buyer also cautioned new purchasers that you will have to spend some extra money to get this miniature metal lathe completely operational for you- you'll have to buy bits, parting blades, center drills and other components before you can start having some fun as this reviewer did making tools for home use.

Another option we examined was the precision benchtop miniature metal lathe. Its manufacturers say that it is ideal for ID (interior diameter) and OD (outside diameter) turning, threading, drilling and performing cuts on different materials. When you purchase this miniature metal lathe it includes external jaws, a chuck key, internal draws, and speed read out, 11 gears engineered to alter feed read speeds, and a 5/16 inch steel-brazed carbide cutting set.

Maching Rebar With A Metal Lathe

One reviewer we spoke to said that for the price it is an exceptional value, considering that you will not be able to find an American-made miniature metal lathe at this price point. This buyer actually modified his miniature metal lathe with a 5 inch chuck along with a custom face plate, including a cam stop kit for the tailstock. He told us that after these modifications, along with deliberate practice and patience, he was able to perform all of the cuts that he wanted to. He just cautions new users not to make cuts that are too deep. In general, he says that this is a great tool for the weekend hobbyist, but if you are in the market for something more professional you would want to look at the Warner Swasey metal lathe.

Yet another reviewer told us that like other buyers he thought this was a solid miniature metal lathe, but it will not run right out of the box- it will require your deliberate attention to configure it and operate it the right way.

Another option was the Grizzly G0602 bench top metal lathe. One buyer we spoke to who is a DIY machinist hobbyist was in the market for a small benchtop miniature metal lathe that would enable him to turn relatively small-sized projects with adequate precision. But he wasn't interested in spending over $3,000. He was particularly impressed by the threading range, especially in comparison with other miniature metal lathes that lack a true variety of inch and metric threads. He also commended the quality of its build, saying that it is very solid.

On the downside, he was unimpressed by the tailstock because it only has 2.5 inches of travel. The four-way tool post was also a disappointment- he ended up swapping it out. Another reviewer who thought that it was a smooth and reasonably powered miniature metal lathe with solid options for a cutting threads, did criticize it for the poor engineering of its belt changes for spindle speeds.

The Shop Fox 10 inch miniature metal lathe was not as well received at some of the other models we examined. Its manufacturers stress that this miniature machine is ideal for the enthusiast, and is designed for small scale turning. Particularly, ShopFox says that this relatively compact miniature metal lathe is great for gun hobbyists, model makers, toolmakers in any sort of hobbyist machinist searching for a way to economically create threaded parts, small precision parts, dies and fittings. It comes with two different feedrates that will move the apron .002 inch and .004 inch per each revolution of the workpiece. As well, repair ad is able to cut threads of 24, 16, 18, 19, and 20.

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