Buyer’s Guide for the Best Mini Lathes [2020]

Sure, heavy duty wood and metal working can be super fun. But there is quite a bit of satisfaction in working with smaller sized wood and metal projects as well, and if you are interested in such projects, you have got to go with a lathe. Many full sized lathes take up a lot of space, though, so we have compiled a list of the best mini lathes to get the job done for you.

Comparison Chart of the Best Mini Lathes

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Rikon 70-100

  • Easy-access speed change feature allows users to change speeds quickly
  • Self-ejecting tail stock eliminates the need of the knock-out bar for removing the center
  • Nylon faceplate washer prevents accessories from attaching to the spindle
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Delta Industrial 46-460

  • Powered by a powerful 1,725 rpm motor, the unit has a swing capacity of 12-1/2”
  • Powered by a powerful 1,725 rpm motor, the unit has a swing capacity of 12-1/2”
  • Belt tensioning system allows quick and easy speed changes, enabling users to set the belt at the required tension
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Jet JWL 1015 Wood Working Lathe

  • Equipped with 24-position indexing and six different spindle speeds
  • Improved tensioning system gives users easier and quicker access to belts
  • Designed with wider bed ways, the unit has increased rigidity
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Wen 3420T Benchtop Wood Lathe

  • Variable speed motor can be adjusted from 750 RPM to 3200 RPM
  • 5” faceplate can be used to turn non-spindle workpieces
  • Able to fit workpieces measuring up to 8” wide and 12” long
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Grizzly H8259

  • Powered by a powerful single-phase, ½ HP, 110V motor
  • 5 different speeds include 3337, 2422, 1713, 1205, and 826 RPM
  • Comes with a live rolling center, wrenches, tool rest, and a spur center
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Benefits of Investing in a Top of the Line Mini Lathe

Below are some of the main benefits of investing in a quality mini lathe from our list

Efficiency

You want a mini lathe that is going to enable you to turn wood quickly and efficiently, so that you are able to get your projects done. You do not want a lathe whose motor is going to be cutting out all the time, or one that malfunctions in some other ineffective way.

Safety

Many top of the line mini lathes comes with safety features such as a safety switch so that the lathe cannot be accidentally turned on. These features are fantastic and an absolute must of you have children.

Less Annoying

We can’t really think of a better way to say it – a lot of the cheaper lathes on the market are loud and/or they vibrate a lot, which can produce a lot of frustration in users. Skip all of that by investing in a top of the line mini lathe.

Quick Take: Best Mini Lathes

Want to skip the review? Here is a quick look at the best mini lathes:

1. Rikon 70-100 
2.
Delta Industrial 46-460
3.
Wen 3420T Benchtop Wood Lathe

Review of the Best Mini Lathes

Since you now have a better idea of what to look for in a mini lathe, let’s check out some products:

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

PROS

  • Durable, will last a long time
  • Not very loud
  • No vibration
  • Initial setup is quick, easy, and intuitive
  • Rikon provides good customer service and support

CONS

  • Pretty labor intensive to adjust the lathe speed

The Rikon 70-100 really sets the industry standard when it comes to mini lathes. For something so small and compact, it is still extremely powerful and boasts a wide range of different turning speeds. Because of its size, it is an easy addition to any work bench and will not take up too much space if you have a smaller shop area.

This quality is especially great for beginners and those users who are new to wood turning – you can start to learn about the process of using a lathe without a huge (and more expensive) new tool that you will have to rearrange your whole shop around.

This lathe also has a number of other awesome qualities, such as a built in tool rack and a safety lock to prevent the motor from being turned on accidentally (a must have safety measure if you have curious kids!).

All in all, the Rikon 70-100 does nothing but impress and is the mini lathe to buy if you want a mini lathe.

Bottom Line

The Rikon 70-100 is an excellent mini lathe and really sets the bar high when it comes to these kinds of products. The process for changing the speed can be a little bit more complicated than on other models, but that is a small price to pay for a lathe of this quality.

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

PROS

  • Small and compact
  • Powerful
  • Made of high quality material
  • Easily cuts through a wide variety of wood
  • Runs smoothly and quietly

CONS

  • Does not provide a digital speed readout, but it is easy to gauge the speed by feel
  • Delta does not provide good customer service

The Delta Industrial 46-460 is the top of the line when it comes to miniature metal lathes. Like many of the other lathes described on this list, its small size may seem initially deceiving, but do not be fooled – this lathe packs a punch! It is quite powerful and clearly made out of hefty, high quality material.

Users report using this lathe for hundred of different projects on a wide variety of wood over the span of several years and this lathe still working just as well as it did fresh out of the box. If there do happen to be any weird issues with this lathe, it is covered by a five year warranty, so you do not have to worry about throwing your money away on this guy.

It is easy to use, so it is approachable for beginner wood turners and effective enough for seasoned wood turning veterans. Even changing the belts is a simple and intuitive process.

Bottom Line

The Delta Industrial 46-460 is an awesome mini metal lathe that will be able to help you get all of your wood turning projects done. Unlike some of the other lathes on the market, it does not provide a digital speed readout for you to know exactly how fast the lathe is turning, but it is pretty easy to figure out the speed by feel, so that is not a huge issue.

WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in. Variable Speed Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe

PROS

  • Does not require any initial setup
  • Made of solid, heavy duty material
  • Good range of speed
  • Can be reversed and used for sanding as well
  • Light enough to easily stow away after you are done with your project 

CONS

  • Motor can stall out if you load it up too much – which actually makes it safer for beginner use, so not that much of an issue
  • Wen does not provide good customer service

The Wen 3420T Benchtop Wood Lathe is the number one choice when it comes to wood lathes that are ideal at small wood turning projects. If you are trying to craft your own beautiful wood pens, this lathe is definitely the one for you.

It is also probably the most accessible lathe on this list in terms of use by beginners – it does need even require any initial setup when you first take it out of the box, it is just fully assembled and ready to go! It has a wide range of speed and can also be reversed for sanding purposes when you are finishing off your freshly turned pens.

Best of all, it is small enough and light enough that it is not much of a hassle to take it on and off your work bench, so you can easily store it away when you are done using it and want to move on to another kind of project.

Bottom Line

The Wen 3420T Benchtop Wood Lathe is a great lathe for small wood turning projects like turning pens. Because it is on the smaller side, its motor can stall out if you try to cut too much, but as long as you stay within range, you will not have any issues.

Grizzly Industrial H8259-10' x 18' Benchtop Wood Lathe

PROS

  • Quiet
  • Users report there is no vibration during use
  • Durable, will last a long time
  • Grizzly provides good customer service

CONS

  • Motor overheats easily
  • Because the motor is right under the cutting area, motor is easily covered with dust and chips and will require frequent cleaning

If you are looking for a high end mini lathe at a low end price, you will not be able to find a mini lathe that suits your needs better than the Grizzly H8259. This mini lathe comes in a fun bright turquoise color and will be able to provide you high quality wood turning enjoyment for hours and years to come.

The Grizzly Mini Lathe comes with a tool rest, a live rolling center, a spur center, and several wrenches. It has five different speed settings that are easily adjusted, and is lightweight and small enough to fit on any shop bench. It is great for turning wooden bowls, cups, and pens, and is easily used by beginners and users new to the world of wood turning.

If you are on a budget but still want a lathe that is high quality and provides good bang for your buck, the Grizzly H8259 is the way to go.

Bottom Line

The Grizzly H8259 is the best lathe for the cheapest price that you will be able to find anywhere. It does have some considerations when it comes to the motor, though: it overheats easily and will need to be cleared of dust and wood chips fairly often.   

Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe

PROS

  • A step above a beginner’s lathe
  • Easy to change speeds
  • Powerful motor, will work on turning both wood and metal (though it does work better on wood)

  • Great for small projects
  • Fits any size shop

CONS

  • Requires some initial tightening of parts to make it work at full capacity

The Jet JWL 1015 Wood Working Lathe is an excellent lathe and far and above the best one on this list when it comes to wood turning. It is well built and made out of high quality material, which makes it extremely smooth to operate. Multiple users have commented on how amazingly quiet this lathe is, which is a welcome change from some of the more shoddy and cheap models on the market.

Because this lathe is on the smaller side, you will easily be able to tuck it into the corner of your work bench in your wood shop and not have it take up too much space. Its size is definitely not any sort of compromise on its power and ability, though – this lathe is tough! It will be able to turn any wood you throw at it, and even some metal too.

It is definitely a notch above a beginner lathe, so make sure you have some experience with wood turning before you invest serious money in this bad boy.

Bottom Line

The Jet JWL 1015 Wood Working Lathe is a fantastic lathe and the best lathe you can find for wood turning. Just know you may have to get your screwdriver out and tighten up some parts when it first arrives.

Conclusion

If you are interested in crafting minute details or cylindrical shapes out of metal or wood, you need to invest in a good quality lathe. And odds are, with the amount of space most of us have available, you will probably want a mini lathe in order to take up the least amount of room in your wood shop. Mini lathes are a great choice for both novice and experienced craftspeople – invest in one today!

People Also Ask

You're not alone if you have questions. Let's see some of the most frequently asked ones:

What is a Mini Lathe?

A mini lathe is a tool that helps shape wood and metal into cylindrical shapes, such as bowls, or cups, or even something as small and minute as pens. Mini lathes employ a drill bit attached to a chuck, which is spinning very fast and powered by a motor, to shape items in this way.

Types of Mini Lathes

There are two main types of mini lathes: wood and metal. Some metal mini lathes will also work on wood, although, generally speaking, metal lathes spin at a slower rate and have more durable cutting edges, because cutting through metal is a more intense proposition than cutting through wood.

What Should I Keep in Mind While Looking for a Mini Lathe?

Size

This is the whole point of you getting a mini lathe, right? The thing is, even mini lathes can vary pretty widely when it comes to the size and space they will be taking up. You definitely want to find a mini lathe that will fit your exact space specifications.

Type

Are you going to be shaping metal or wood? Although many metal lathes will work with wood, if you anticipate doing a lot of wood work, you are probably going to want to invest in a quality wood lathe.

Accessibility

If you are a beginner or someone completely new to using lathes, you probably want a lathe that is specifically designed for people without lathe experience. If you are a bit more advanced, you might want to find a lathe more tailored for people at your level.