Today, the market assortment can please buyers with a huge variety of different lathes. In this review I am going to help you to choose the best mini lathe.
The lathe is used both for working with metal and for working with wood. They are completely different: some are suitable for people who are just starting to try themselves in this business, and in turn, the full-size machines that are created specifically for professionals.
However, there is another side to the coin. Out of the sheer number of a truly decent lathe, it is often very difficult to make the right choice. For this reason, in this material, you can learn in detail about the devices you are interested in. Also, for maximum convenience, all products are divided into different categories.
Difference between mini, midi and full-size lathe
Let’s figure out which lathe to choose. First, you need to understand what you want from this tool and what exactly you want to make. For example, when choosing the best mini lathе, pay attention to the power, it can be overwhelmed. Also, find out the permissible diameter of the raw material that can fit into it for your work session.
When choosing a midi lathe, you should already understand that the diameter of the processed material can be larger. You can also count on more power produced by it.
Finally, among the full size lathes, it is always important to remember that you are working with large pieces of material, therefore, firstly, the device must be powerful enough. Secondly, check out the adjustments, as they are incredibly helpful when working with large materials.
Mini and Midi Lathes Comparison Table
|Mini and midi lathes||SOB||DBC||Motor, Amps / hp||Speed, RPM||Review|
|WEN 3420 best mini wood lathe||8″||12″||3.2 / 3/4||750 – 3200||Review|
|Shop Fox M1049 best mini metal lathe||9″||19″||N/A / 3/4||130 – 2000||Review|
|JET JWL-1221VS best midi wood lathe||12″||21″||N/A / 1||60 – 3600||Review|
|Powermatic 3520C best full size for PRO||20″||36″||N/A / 2||40 – 3200||Review|
|Laguna Revo 1836 best full size for home use||18″||36″||N/A / 1.5||135 – 3500||Review|
How we tested
The reader should also understand that the materials are different for everyone. Someone uses oak, maple, and other types of wood. To check all the lathe indicated in the article, various materials were used. For example, lathe work with wood was tested on ash and beech wood. By the way, for those who want to use a lathe for wood with metal, it is important to know that we also tested how a lathe works with aluminum. For this reason, I think you can probably rely and trust the descriptions of the mechanisms.
Best mini lathe reviews
Best mini wood lathe
WEN 3420 – best mini wood lathe
First on the list is WEN 3420. And by the way, it is the first in the list of best mini lathe and there is a specific reason for this. In fact, I can call it the best mini wood lathe, but let’s figure out why. WEN has long made a good name for itself thanks to the qualitative machines they produce. Model 3420 is the ideal solution for those who want to start creating small wooden crafts. I suggest that you do not want to hesitate, so let’s move to the WEN 3420 specifications.
This model covers a range of workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. What’s more, 3420 is equipped with a 3.2-Amp motor. If you dare to ask what is so remarkable about this, I will answer: this motor is 50% more powerful than ordinary motors that come in the basic set of a mini lathe. It is also possible to control RPM, from 750 to 3200. To my mind, this mini lathe variable speed is really decent.
Swing over bed, inch: 8″
Distance between centers, inch: 12″
Motor, Amps/hp: 3.2 / N/A
Ranges of speed, RPM: 750 – 3200
The ultra-convenient choice for bowls turning because of 2A soft-start motor that prevents damages
Features more powerful motor than the majority of mini lathes
An excellent choice for creating small objects like pen turning
Needs frequent cleaning of the torque mechanism because, over time, it simply stops working and causes problems
Including the RIKON mini-lathe, I want to present it to you in more detail. For good enough money, you get a super functional system. As for me, it is very beautifully and succinctly made. There is practically nothing superfluous on it, all the components are in their places. In use, RIKON 70-105 is very solid and reliable. It is ideal for woodcraft small crafts, pens, toys, and more.
To more clearly understand why it is so good, let’s take a look at its specifications. Rikon 70-105 mini lathe features a ½ motor With a 10 ”swing and 18” between centers, this mini lathe also has a self ejecting tailstock and has easy access to speed change. Despite the fact that the Rikon 70-105 has a fairly basic RPM: 500 – 3200, the developers took a step forward and made 5-speed levels. With their help, it will be much easier for you to choose the right speed for work.
Swing over bed, inch: 10″
Distance between centers, inch: 18″
Motor, Amps/hp: 3.7 / 1/2
Ranges of speed, RPM: 500 – 3200
With plenty of power, the machine is pretty quiet and smooth
The compact design makes it easy to place wherever you want without sacrificing performance
Requires incredibly careful adjustment to avoid vibration and chafing that sometimes appear in most users
Plenty of customers complain about the very thin tailstock
Shop Fox W1704
With mini lathe machine reviews, Shop Fox W1704 stands out. This model is very popular among lovers of mini wood lathes. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly, this product is very reliable, well-designed, and practical. Secondly, due to the price, it is very affordable, undoubtedly a good advantage. Other lathes with similar characteristics are much more expensive.
I suggest moving on to the specifications. The device is equipped with a fairly solid motor, With its 1/3 horsepower and 700 to 3,200 RPM you can easily do whatever you plan. It’s also worth mentioning that the W1704 has a 13-inch distance between centers and an 8-inch swing over the bed.
Despite all the positive aspects, there is one rather unpleasant. The fact is that there are many user complaints about component parts such as bolts, bearings, etc. Weight and load in the W1704 are not always neatly distributed and often parts suffer and break. Therefore, I advise you to pay attention to them, immediately before work.
It is important that you have a large flat work table to place this mini lathe on.
Swing over bed, inch: 8″
Distance between centers, inch: 12″
Motor, Amps/hp: 2 / 1/3
Ranges of speed, RPM: 700 – 3200
Affordability is a great con among other similar products
Powerful enough to carry on all possible crafts you want to make
The tailstock is pretty unreliable because of poor quality
Components sometimes break so they need more attention, cleaning, and care
Best mini metal lathe
Shop Fox M1049 – best mini metal lathe
In the category of the best mini metal lathe, another product from Shop Fox, model M1049, can be called the permanent winner. This product is very compact, reliable and most importantly, it works smoothly and smoothly. Made from premium cast iron, it will provide the perfect performance and zero vibration and twitching. All component parts including bed, base, headstock, and gears are made of high-quality iron.
Starting to talk about the internals, the first thing I would like to mention is the powerful inline motor which has a horsepower of 3/4. With such a motor, you can easily process the required metal and, in addition, at the required speed, because it can be easily adjusted from 130 to 2000 RPM. Also, this lathe has a 9″ swing over bed, and accordingly 19″ distance between centers.
Swing over bed, inch: 9″
Distance between centers, inch: 19″
Motor, Amps/hp: N/A / 3/4
Ranges of speed, RPM: 130 – 2000
Incredibly reliable machine with 100% vibration-free
Smart control panel placement for very convenient work sessions
The device has an additional handwheel for precision adjustment
Pretty small motor power index and RPM index is also quite weak
The Grizzly G8688 is a pretty solid product. It gained its popularity among craftsmen due to its reliability. Using it, you will forget what vibrations are and, therefore, your crafts will grow in quality. This mechanism can please the buyer with its high-quality and powerful motor. Moreover, one of the features of this is variable Speed Options. ¾ HP motor will provide comfort and RPM from 100 to 2500 is also quite a good indicator.
Capacity indicators are also quite good. The swing over the bed is a little small, it features 7-inches. However, this is more or less a standard figure for lathes of this size. G8688 slide travel of 2.75 cross slide and a tailstock and a spindle that measures 20mm. It’s also important to mention that threading gears are made of plastic. This is not bad, but not very good either. It would be much better if Grizzly used iron or alloy.
By the way, I want to note that the kit contains several pleasant and useful things. Packaging includes a guard for the protection of the backsplash, a steady resting tool, Jaw chuck with external jaws, Chip pan, and a 6-1 / 4-inch faceplate. Many manufacturers do not shell out for such things, so it often happens that you still have to buy additional tools. Therefore, this is a huge respect for Grizzly.
Swing over bed, inch: 7″
Distance between centers, inch: 12″
Motor, Amps/hp: N/A / 1/3
Ranges of speed, RPM: 100 – 2500
Compact and lightweight design make this an excellent choice for beginners
Thanks to a powerful motor and variable speed controls, it turns metal without any vibrations
Very easy to set up thanks to manual included
Some details are made of plastic that is not so reliable as iron for example
Best midi lathe reviews
JET JWL-1221VS – best midi wood lathe
Starting to talk about the best midi wood lathe, I would like to mention JET JWL-1221VS right away. As expected, the system power ratings are an order of magnitude higher than that of mini lathes. Such a lathe is the greatest option for those who have already mastered this skill but still fall short of working with full-size machines. This particular model shows off its interesting design. Moreover, despite the fact that this is a midi model, it still takes up relatively little space.
The power of the JWL-1221VS is worth a separate mention. a one-horsepower electric motor is ideal for all possible actions with this mechanism. In addition, the range of speed is also very pleasing because it starts from 60 to 3600 RPM. There is a special convenient button on the body for adjusting the rotation speed. Swing over the bed is 12 inches and, accordingly, Distance between centers is 21 inches.
The control system of the JWL-1221VS lathe is very simple and straightforward. With its help, you can easily control the speed and also use the reverse. JET also offers a faceplate, two tool rests (short and long), knock out bar, two tool racks, drive center, live tailstock center, hex wrench, and headstock wrench, complete with a lathe.
Swing over bed, inch: 12″
Distance between centers, inch: 21″
Motor, Amps/hp: N/A / 1
Ranges of speed, RPM: 60 – 3600
The perfect mix of affordable price and quality from a good manufacturer
Thanks to the high-quality durable metal body, it makes almost no sounds and just does its job at the highest level
Extremely easy to set up with simple and useful manual included
Pretty heavy as for a midi lathe
Delta 46-460 is a very simple and reliable way to achieve your goal at an average price. Despite lacking newfangled features, this best midi lathe will still provide you with the highest level of comfort and quality during use without any problems.
The 46-460 is equipped with a powerful 1 hp max motor that produces a maximum of 4000 RPM. With so much power, you can handle even heavy and large materials. Large 12-inch swing capacity provides the ability to handle large materials for handling. Also, the distance between centers is equal to 16.1 “. In addition, the machine accepts the use of the extension, so the indicator increases to 42”. My favorite feature is the electronic speed control. It is incredibly easy to use and comes with 3 options to choose from. Moreover, the built-in speed regulator makes it possible to reduce vibrations to zero.
By the way, there are several very useful things in the kit with the lathe. The package includes a 6-inch and a 10-inch tool rest, a knockout bar, a live center, wrenches, and a detailed user manual to set up and configure your device without headaches.
Swing over bed, inch: 12″
Distance between centers, inch: 16″ (with extension: 42″)
Motor, Amps/hp: N/A / 1
Ranges of speed, RPM: 250 – 4000
Provides really extended working area even for biggest materials
It comes with a rich set of accessories which you don’t have to buy any more
Extremely adjustable and easy to use
Lots of complaints about unstable variable speed work
Best full size wood lathe
Powermatic 3520C – best full size wood lathe for professionals
Now it’s time to talk about the giants of woodcraft. Meet the Powermatic 3520C, a huge machine that is impeccably the best full size wood lathe for professionals. Despite its large size and weight, this machine is quite versatile. For example, it has a moveable control box for customization, electronic variable speed with low and high-speed ranges, the spindle lock, digital RPM readout, and a laser-etched quill that is self-ejecting. All these small but important features make this product perfect. As for me, it is the presence of so many pleasant bonuses that makes this product a good choice for guys who are already considered professionals in the field of woodcraft.
By the way, let’s talk about the specs of this wonderful machine. First and foremost is the motor. It has a capacity of 2 horsepower and will master from 40 to 3200 RPM. While we are talking about professional lathes, Powermatic 3520C has a 20″ swing over bed and 36″ distance between centers. Thanks to these impressive numbers, you can actually make very large items without any problems.
Swing over bed, inch: 20″
Distance between centers, inch: 36″
Motor, Amps/hp: N/A / 2
Ranges of speed, RPM: 40 – 3200
Thanks to sturdiness and qualitative materials, vibrations are almost undetectable
All components are made of reliable iron for maximum stability and reliability
Package includes the anti-rotation tailstock key, a two-position mount, an ergonomic spindle lock design, and a sliding hammer knockout rod
Ultra limited mobility because of the overall weight
Laguna Revo 1836 – best full size wood lathe for home use
Compared to the previous lathe, I like the Laguna Revo 1836 more because of its neat design and compactness for home use. Therefore, it can be concluded that the 1836 model is the best full size wood lathe for home use.
Speaking of design, it’s worth mentioning the incredibly cool ergonomic angled control panel made from anodized aluminum. Revo 1836 is equipped with very convenient buttons: emergency stop, forward, reverse switch, start/stop, and variable speed adjustment knob. The bed is made from steel which allows the cast iron headstock to work incredibly smoothly and then prevent vibrations. By the way, steel is the preferred material due to its well-known longevity and strength.
The filling of Laguna Revo 1836 is also quite solid. The motor is equipped with 1.5 horsepower. Also, when working with wood, the minimum rotation speed is 135 RPM, which is very cool for detailed work. However, the maximum indicator is 3500 RPM. This perfect device features an 18″ swing over bed and 36″ distance between centers for big parts of materials.
Swing over bed, inch: 18″
Distance between centers, inch: 36″
Motor, Amps/hp: N/A / 1.5
Ranges of speed, RPM: 135 – 3500
In-built induction motor is extremely quiet even in the high spin level
Because of smart placement, speed changing buttons take seconds to switch
Speed controls are easy to use and the LCD display is very bright
No cons found
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Setting up your lathe
When you have made an important purchase of a lathe, the next step is to install and configure it. These settings change depending on which lathe you bought. If, for example, it is a mini version, it is better to set it up on a workbench or sturdy table. Alternatively, you can craft a special surface using thick plywood. The most important thing is that the surface is stable and not wobbly. Nobody needs an extra shake, right?
Another thing is the correct placement of large lathes as full-size or midi versions. They are often preferred to be placed against a wall to save space. As for me, this is a mistake, because this way you lose access to the front side of the machine. I think the best solution would be to place the lathe perpendicular to the wall. However, the choice is yours.
Leveling your lathe
To work with a wood lathe, it is not enough just to purchase it, unpack it and plug it into an outlet. There are quite important settings that should not be neglected in order to firstly protect yourself, and secondly, to make the work as comfortable as possible for you. Correct leveling is a very important thing, which, unfortunately, is often forgotten.
It should be level along the length of the ways and across the ways at each end. Across at each end is most important, because different states of the level at each end of the lathe may introduce a twist into the bed. In fact, fiddling with this is not as much as it seems. You just need to adjust the adjusting screws on your lathe post to be horizontal. Remember that it is important to first put your machine in the right place and only then adjust.
Are lathes dangerous
I think it is obvious that any device in inept hands is dangerous. The lathe has never been an exception. When using this mechanism, you should always keep in mind the basic safety rules.
Fortunately, from early childhood, we are taught how to properly handle sockets, electricity, and so on. Your lathe must be connected stably, have a steady flow of electric current, and no drops. Do not turn off the device until the end of the work.
It is also important to remember that dust also has a role. Probably no one is pleased with the thick layer of dust on the face. It is unpleasant when it gets into the eyes or into the respiratory tract through the nose. In fact, it is fraught with more problems than just sneezing. Therefore, I strongly advise you to protect yourself and purchase special protection.
The rotating mechanism itself deserves special attention. As you already know, it spins at incredible speed and can cause injury if used carelessly. Always remember that you don’t have to stick your hands where you don’t need to. Moreover, friction produces heating. When working with wood, remember to take breaks after a long session. Sawdust, dust, and natural resins that are released from wood are incredibly easy to catch fire. Keep this thought in your head while you work and keep yourself safe.