TLDR; Many mini metal lathes have similar features, but the BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 14 and the Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 12 are the best choices since they have better documentation and customer support, which is important for a complex tool such as this. All of them will require some adjustments and oiling after you receive them to make sure they work at peak performance.
Mini lathes are popular with modellers, jewellery makers and amateur machinist, but they are useful for all makers. If you’ve never worked with one, a lathe rotates a piece metal or wood, which is then shaped by a tool you hold. An experienced machinist can create complex parts by cutting off parts, drilling into it, enlarging holes and more.
A small lathe is generally considered “mini” when it is 7″x15″ in size or less. If you’re working on relatively small projects only and don’t have a lot of space to spare, this is a great space-saving option. Also, a lathe that is strong enough to cut metal will also be able to cut wood and some plastics with the proper tools. Mini wood lathes are cheaper, but they are even smaller and generally not strong enough to cut metal, except very soft ones.
In this article, we’ll review the best mini metal lathes:
- Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe
- Mophorn 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Lathe
- BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 14
- Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 12
- Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Lathe
Why do you need a metal lathe?
Those lathes are pretty small compared to industrial machines, but they are big enough for many DIY projects, even it’s they’re not as strong when working with harder metals such as stainless. You still have to make sure that the lathe you’re purchasing has a working area big enough for the parts you want to create and is precise enough. Also, lathes are heavy tools: you need a sturdy bench to work on.
A new lathe will require some cleaning, oiling and assembly: it is relatively complex as far as tools goes and it’s rarely just plug and play. If you’re able to find a course locally at a school or hackerspace, it’s a great way to get started and see if you like it and how it should work before purchase. Also, you must be very careful any time you’re using it and make sure that nothing you’re wearing (or your hair) can be caught in it: it’s a tool rotating at high speed.
Best mini metal lathes reviews
Most of those mini lathes are similar models from China made by a handful of suppliers, so in fact there are not so many differences between them. They don’t come with a lot of documentation or other information beside the specifications of the machine as reported by the manufacturer.
On the other hand, you can find replacement parts and new tools easily and they are decent machines to get started. To keep the price low, the smaller machines generally don’t come with a lot of accessories (and no cutting tools), so you’ll need to shop around a bit more depending on what you want to do with them.
Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe
There is not a lot of support for this lathe and the available information is pretty sparse, but the motor is 3/4 hp, the speed is 0-2500 RPM, and it can cut threads from 12 TPI (thread per inch) to 52 TPI. It comes with a 3 jaw chuck, but no cutting or maintenance tools.
Mophorn 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Lathe
An average machine with a 3/4 hp motor and a speed of 50-2500 RPM, with an accuracy of 0.004″ (0.1) for the spindle. It comes with some maintenance tools, replacement gears and a 3 jaw chuck.
BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 14
Another standard machine with a 3/4 hp motor and a speed of 100-2500 RPM, with a 3 jaw chuck. They are reported to have great customer service, which is important for those lathes since replacement parts are often needed. Like other lathes in this range, they need a bit of cleaning and tuning, which they explain how to do. If you need to create bigger parts or more power, their 8×16 machine is also well regarded.
Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 12
This lathe by a trusted and well-known brand comes with 3/4 hp motor and a speed of 0-2500 RPM. They are known to have good customer support and you’ll find information about this lathe easily since it’s pretty popular. It’s generally good out of the box with minimal tuning and tuning, and includes a good amount of maintenance tools, replacement gears and a 3 jaw chuck.
Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Lathe
A standard lathe with a 0.53HP motor and a speed of 0-2500 RPM. Unlike most other lathe of this size, the package includes cutting tools in additions to the usual maintenance tools, 3 jaw chuck replacement gears.
Most mini lathes of that size have similar features and interchangeable parts, but the BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 14 is the best choice, in my opinion, for the good support you’ll get from the company, and it has all the essentials for a new machinist wanting to get started. The Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe 7 x 12 is also a good option since it’s a very popular machine with good support and you’ll find a lot of help online to get started.