Best Metal Lathe 2021

This review is aimed at showing the best metal lathe machines, these machines are powerful, and do lots of work, anything below the best wouldn’t do a perfect job. If you are interested in knowing the best metal lathe, you should read through this review.

BUYER’S GUIDE

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 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.

Buying a lathe is a bit of a complicated process, but you’ll be helped immensely if you keep the project in mind as you shop.

What are you intending to use the lathe for? With that project as the determining factor, the necessary complexity of the lathe and any size or weight restrictions will become apparent. You’ll be able to make a much more informed decision if you keep the needs of your project foremost.

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.

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.

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.

Factors to look out for in a metal lathe machine:

Size

In the US, you’ll find lathes described as “8 in. by 24 in.” lathes. The latter number refers to the distance between centers (i.e., the headstock and tailstock), or the longest piece of material that lathe can handle.

The first number, in the US, pertains to the maximum diameter a workpiece can have and still be above the lathe bed. This is also known as the “swing” of the lathe.

In the UK, the first number is expressed differently; as the measure between the center of the chuck, so in theory the center of any workpiece, and the closest point of the bed of the lathe. An 8 by 24 lathe in the US would therefore be a 4 by 24 lathe in the UK.

Most hobbyists and craftsmen working on smaller pieces will find that a 3” x 15” lathe is typically as small as one should go, while about double that size, 6” x 30”, forms the upper end of what a home lathe can be.

Weight

Be aware that like many pieces of machinery, lathes can be quite heavy. The sizing as given is not the dimension of the lathe itself, but rather of the workpiece which can be accommodated; the lathe will be significantly larger.

A 3” x 15” lathe can easily weigh more than 30 kg; a lathe double that size would weigh far more, and require an engine lift or small crane to move into place.

Power

One of the last things you’ll need to consider when buying a new lathe is the motor. While some lathes operate at a single speed, many will have multiple speed settings. There is also the matter of torque to consider.

For cutting larger pieces, your lathe will need more than just high RPMs; it will need the power to keep a heavy workpiece turning and cutting smoothly. Advertisers may proudly proclaim maximum RPMs for their lathes; but minimum RPMs can be even more important for operations such as screwcutting.

Axis

Lathes have at least two axis of movement: an X axis (forward/backward along the cross-slide), and Y (perpendicular to the X axis).

However, a high-end CNC lathe may have as many as 7 axis, from X, Y, and Z (three-dimensional movement) to rotating axis. So, axis X may have additional axis of movement A, which is a rotational along the X axis.

This may sound confusing; suffice it to say, that the more axis of movement a lathe has, the more complicated, expensive, and industrial it is likely to be.

BEST METAL LATHE MACHINES

  1. BestEquip Mini Bench Metal Lathe
  2. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe
  3. Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe
  4. Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe
  5. Jet 321360A BDB-1340A
  6. Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe
  7. SHOP FOX M1018 Small Combo Lathe Mill
  8. Grizzly Industrial G0602-10’’ x 22″ Benchtop Metal Lathe
  9. Mophorn Small Metal Lathe
  10. Grizzly Industrial G0768-8″ x 16″ Variable-Speed Benchtop Lathe
NAMES FEATURES WHERE TO BUY
BestEquip Mini Bench Metal Lathe

B081VGVJQR

Very precise thread range

Ships with two chucks

Versatile rpm settings

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Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe

B006ZB9W6Q

Automatic feed

Chuck guard with micro switch

Variable speed control knob

Speeds: 0-1100 RPM (low)

0-2500 RPM (high)

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Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe

B00TXW5DKI

Motor: 400 Watts, 0.53HP

Spindle Accuracy: 0.0004 inches

Thread Range: 12 to 52 TPI

Swing Over Bed: 7 inches

Chuck Diameter: 4 inches

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Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe

B0000DCZ7D

16 TPI reversible lead screw

Threading dial indicator

Swing over bed 7”

Distance between centers of 12”

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Jet 321360A BDB-1340A

B0007M6HAS

Enclosed gearbox design provides smooth, quiet operation

Fast, easy speed changes

Low voltage motor controls

Helical cut headstock gears reudce noise

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Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe

B001R23S9U

Distance between centers: 10″

Swing over cross slide: 4-1/8″

Swing over saddle: 5″

Cross slide travel: 2-3/8″

Carriage travel: 10″

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SHOP FOX M1018 Small Combo Lathe Mill

B001R23SB8

Distance between centers: 19-1/4″

Lathe cross slide travel: 4-1/2″

Lathe compound travel: 3″

Lathe carriage travel: 14-3/4″

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Grizzly Industrial G0602-10’’ x 22″ Benchtop Metal Lathe

B000M67TJ2

Easily movable

User-friendly design & convenient operation

Variable speed ranges

High-end material & durability

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Mophorn Small Metal Lathe

B07JMQZJ63

Total weight of 83 lbs, dimensions of 7” x 14”

110 V, 550 W, 0.75 HP motor

Thread range of 12 to 52 TPI

4” Three-jaw chuck with tool turret that holds ⅜” bits

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Grizzly Industrial G0768-8″ x 16″ Variable-Speed Benchtop Lathe

B0121VB63A

 

Motor: 600W (3/4 HP) Single-Phase

Swing: 8-1/4″

Distance between centers: 15-3/4″

Spindle bore: 0.787″

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BestEquip Mini Bench Metal Lathe

B081VGVJQR

BestEquip. The 1.1-kilowatt motor delivers enough power to tackle just about any project.

You can adjust the speed to as low as 50 RPM up to about 3000 RPM depending on the nature of your project. But since it’s hard to tell the spindle speed, this unit has an easy-to-read LED screen which shows the exact speed of the machine when in use for greater accuracy in your applications.

PROS CONS
It has a variable-speed motor. It is a little expensive.
It has an LED screen.
It offers a wide swing range.
The 1100-watt motor is very powerful.

Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe

B006ZB9W6Q

The Central Machinery model 93212 mini lathe is a 7×10 mini lathe. (Harbor Freight uses a different kind of ruler from everyone else when measuring their 7×10 mini lathe because it is actually 4 inches shorter than the 7×12 mini lathes.) The Central Machinery model 93799 mini lathe is a 7×12 mini lathe. This is the same size as all the other 7×12 mini lathes. Harbor Freight includes a 2 Morse taper live center with their mini lathes. The earlier version of the Harbor Freight 7×10 mini lathe is model 33684. The newer versions have some additional guards, but are basically the same machine.

PROS CONS
Automatic feed system Low torque
Lightweight (relatively)
Chuck cover with micro switch

Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe

B00TXW5DKI

The Erie Tools precision benchtop mini metal lathe is one of the most accurate machines around, with a spindle accuracy of 0.0004 inches. The size is fairly average for a mini metal lathe, with a swing over bed of 7 inches and distance between centers of 14 inches.

It has a ¾ HP motor, and a variable speed of 0 to 2500 RPM in either direction, allowing you to create both right-handed and left-handed threads, and the thread sizes are adjustable from 12 to 52 TPI. The medium-sized motor means that this machine is suitable for both hobbyists and professionals who don’t need a larger machine, as it offers a high-quality machine for a reasonable price.

PROS CONS
Highly accurate Occasional missing parts upon delivery
Great for beginners and hobbyists Some customers have complained about poor packaging
Cost-effective The users manual is difficult to read
Solid performance

Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe

B0000DCZ7D

The Grizzly G8688 mini metal lathe is one of the best mini-lathes around, although it’s along the higher end of the price range for mini metal lathes, for the money you will get a high-quality machine that is perfect for beginners and semi-professionals alike. Grizzly is known for their high-quality lathes, so you can be sure you will get years of use due to the quality of the machine and parts.

Due to its small size, this lathe is perfect for use in the home or in a workshop, as it is portable and easy to move around if you need to.

PROS CONS
Small and easy to move around More expensive than similar mini lathes
High-quality components Can be tricky for beginners to learn to use
Large speed range of 0-2500 RPM
Tough plastic gears
Very durable

Jet 321360A BDB-1340A

B0007M6HAS

JET Belt Drive Bench Lathes feature an enclosed gearbox with helical cut gears for noise reduction and smooth operation. The full length splash guard on all sizes prevents hot chips and fluid from contaminating the work area and the quick change gearbox allows for fast and easy gear changes for metric threading. Each JET Lathe comes loaded with features you’ve come to expect, all backed by the industry leading JET Two Year Warranty

PROS CONS
Lots of horsepower but still single phase Very expensive
Gap bed section for larger diameter work
Variable rpms

Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe

B001R23S9U

Created for the mini machine shop enthusiast, the M1015 Metal Lathe has all the features and precision required for small-scale turning. In fact, it has proven to be a hugely popular machine for scale model building. It includes a 3″ three-jaw chuck, and a full selection of optional accessories is also available for a wide variety of setups.

PROS CONS
Lightweight Expensive for the size and best for a particular type of hobbyist
Micro-sized lathe with excellent capabilities
Both manual and automatic feeds

SHOP FOX M1018 Small Combo Lathe Mill

B001R23SB8

Hobby or entry-level machinists will not want to pass up this versatile machine. Great for turning, cutting threads, and drilling and milling small projects, this combo lathe is packed with extra add-ons like a 4-way turret tool post, 9-1/2″ faceplate, 4″ 3-jaw chuck, and a built-in rotating vise. Features a 16-1/2″ swing over bed, 11-1/2″ swing over saddle, 19-1/4″ distance between centers, 3/4″ spindle bore, and MT#3 tapers.

PROS CONS
Very durable More substantial than “mini” lathes
A wide range of diameters
A wide range of options

Grizzly Industrial G0602-10’’ x 22″ Benchtop Metal Lathe

B000M67TJ2

The Grizzly G0602 10 x 22-inch benchtop metal lathe is the best-suited metal lathe for anybody who is looking for hard materials. It has really made its way into the work areas with great performance and high functionality.

Most significantly, while compared to the price with every other similar device, you can easily find the difference which will make you seek out this product. Furthermore, it has a capacity of lots of thread changes, and a wider bed and the other parts at a completely lower price. These all make this device superb and help you make your buying decision.

The Grizzly G0602 benchtop metal lathe comes designed with 1” spindle bore and from 1 to 3 or 4” x 8” TPI spindle with MT4 spindle taper. Additionally, the Grizzly G0602 provides with a gearbox with six speeds to select from 150, 300, 720, 560, 1200 and 2400 RPMs helping you choose precisely what is required for the kind of application and material you are thinking about working with.

PROS CONS
A lot of more features than its predecessor, the famous G4000, but just costs a little more. Only 1-year of warranty
Great quality and value for the price for this little device
Really beginner friendly
The 1-inch bore can turn some critical metal and even larger projects.

Mophorn Small Metal Lathe

B07JMQZJ63

Mophorn, like BestEquip, has four separate mini metal lathes up for purchase to the public, all which are at different ends of the pricing spectrum. This particular model we’re looking at also has a bed swing of 7”, as well as a 14” distance between the centers.

It’s also quite compact enough to fit into the smallest of spaces within your workshop, and is perfect for sitting on a benchtop.

PROS CONS
Well made Needs lots of tuning and cleaning before you can start using it
Highly precise
Very good value
Quick and easy to assemble
Very good for beginners

Grizzly Industrial G0768-8″ x 16″ Variable-Speed Benchtop Lathe

B0121VB63A

The Grizzly G0768 8″ x 16″ Variable-Speed Lathe is perfect for a sturdy workbench or as a stand-alone unit when mounted on the T26599 Optional Stand.
Features variable-speed spindle with high/low speed ranges, convenient quick-lock tailstock, reverse feed for cutting left-hand threads and a great selection of included standard equipment.

PROS CONS
It is lightweight. The design is a little complicated for beginners.
All the components are of high-quality.
The unit offers 2-speed ranges.
It comes with a splash protector.

CONCLUSION

If you read through this guide, chances are that one of the metal lathe reviewed above might have caught your interest, if so you should go for it. Metalwork is an interesting job and hobby. Whether you are a professional metal worker or simply enjoy indulging in DIY at-home projects.