Small Metal Lathe


This article doesn’t address to professionals but to all DIYers who look for a mini metal lathe. Using an industrial machine that weighs tones and requires a lot of space is completely unnecessary and impractical, not to mention the fact that it costs a fortune. Unlike the full-sized version, a miniature lathe is suitable for beginners and is the perfect addition to any home workshop. Due to the fact that it comes in a compact size, a workbench is ideal for accommodating a miniature lathe. You can use the machine to polish, drill, cut and so on. A good machine adds precision and can help you finish your projects better, faster, and without hassle.

We gathered here the best small metal lathes you can currently opt for. They are precise, easy to use, and versatile. You can employ them for various small projects but we recommend you to always follow the safety instructions as these machines may be fun to use but also dangerous. But first, it’s time to decide which model best meets your needs. For helping you take the right decision, we compared and reviewed the selected mini metal lathes.

Top 5 Small Metal Lathes Comparison

1. Grizzly G8688 2. Erie Tools SP2102 3. Central Machinery Precision Mini Lathe 4. Nova 46300 Comet II 5. BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe
Grizzly G8688 Image Erie Tools SP2102 Image Central Machinery Precision Mini Lathe Image Nova 46300 Comet II Image BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe Image
BEST MODEL OUR CHOICE BEST PRICE
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Design

Dimensions (in.)
Dimensions (in.) 27.75 x 11.5 x 12 36 x 17.3 x 14.6 N/A 33 x 9 x 18 33 x 14 x 13
Weight (lbs.) 75 104.2 87 82.4 102.1
Assembly Required

Specifications

Motor Power (HP) 0.75 0.53 0.75 0.75 0.75
Speed Range (RPM) 0-2500 50-2500 0-2500 250-4000 100-2500
Spindle Taper MT3 MT3 MT2 MT2 MT3
Tailstock Taper MT2 MT2 MT2 MT2 MT2
Thread Range (TPI) 12-52 12-52 12-52 N/A 12-52
Distance Between Centers (in.) 12 8/14 10 16.5 14
Swing Over Bed (in.) 7 7 7 12 7
Cross Slide Travel (in.) 2.75 2.56 2.75 N/A 2.56
Spindle Bore (in.) 0.78 0.79 >1 N/A 0.8

Features

16-TPI Reversible Leadscrew Multi-Jaw Chuck Automatic Feed 3-Step Pulley System Telescopic Sets with Scale
Chip Tray and Backsplash Guard Automatic Feed Chuck Guard with Micro Switch Strengthened Composite Guard 4-Way Rotating Turret
Inch/Metric Reading Dials Inch/Metric Reading Dials Variable Speed in Forward and Reverse Directions Variable Speed in Forward and Reverse Directions Automatic Feed
Emergency Stop Variable Speed in Forward and Reverse Directions Chuck Guard with Micro Switch
Variable Speed in Forward and Reverse Directions Thread Dial Indicator
Thread Dial Indicator

Accessories Included

MT2 Dead Center MT3 Spindle Taper Three-Jaw Chuck 3-Inch Faceplate MS2 Fix the Top
3-Inch Three-Jaw Chuck with External Jaws MT2 Dead Center Tailstock Taper Live Center 6-Inch Toolrest Nylon Gearse
6.25-Inch Face Plate 5-Piece Carbide-Tipped Cutter Kit 2MT Live and Spur Centers Chuck Claw
Steady Rest Internal and External Chuck Jaws Knock Out Bar Double-Headed Wrench
4-Way Turret Post Full Set of Plastic Change Gears Hand Wheel Hexagon Bar Wrench
Backsplash Suard Chuck Key Chuck Wrench
Chip Pan Oil Can
Service Tools Protection Mask
4 Shockproof Foot Cushions

Warranty&Support

Warranty 1-Year Warranty 1-Year Warranty 90-Day Warranty 1-Year Warranty on Motor and Electronics and 2-Year Warranty on Parts N/A
User Manual
Customer Support

Mini Metal Lathes Reviews


1. Grizzly G8688

You won’t find many small metal lathes as well-made as this one. It features a lightweight design and is compact enough to place it pretty much anywhere in the workshop. The assembly process is pretty simple and it doesn’t take more than 45 minutes. The 0.75 HP motor can deliver a speed of up to 2500 RPM. In all speeds, it offers both forward and reverse rotation. Due to the fact that is made of cast iron, the machine is very solid. Furthermore, the generous thread range, from 12 to 52 TPI, makes it a good option for small parts featuring 18 standard and 10 metric thread pitches.

Because safety really matters when working with these machines, it features an emergency stop. Furthermore, the thread dial indicator is very helpful as it shows you the measurements. The fact that it comes with a chip tray and a backsplash guard is a great advantage as the stray materials will be cached every time you use the machine. Furthermore, it includes many helpful accessories without having to pay any extra money. When it comes to the warranty, the lathe is covered by the standard 1-year warranty.

PROS
CONS
  • Cast iron construction for a long-lasting performance
  • Includes a backsplash guard and a chip tray
  • Features a threading dial indicator
  • Lightweight and compact design for more portability
  • Includes an emergency stop
  • The quality of the paint disappoints
  • Plastic gears
VERDICT

Nice option for small spaces as it features a compact design. It is also very sturdy and easy to use. If we take into account the overall construction and the many features it comes with, this is a reasonably priced machine. The only things we don’t like is the poor quality of the paint and the plastic gears.

2. Erie Tools SP2102

With this lathe you can efficiently perform a wide range of small project. The machine is very sturdy and therefore heavier, weighing approximately 104.2 pounds. It does need to be assembled but with the help of the provided pictures, you won’t find any difficulties in performing this task. The 0.53 horsepower motor can deliver a maximum speed of 2500 RPM both in forward and reverse directions. With this model, left-threading is an option. The thread dial indicator comes in help when you need to turn screw heads from 12 to 52 TPI. The range of threads is available both in metric and imperial measurements.

For added convenience, this model comes with a multi-jaw chuck that keeps the pieces safely in places. You also have the possibility to adjust the automatic feed according to your preferences. To make things even easier, the machine keeps you informed on how many rotations per minute are produced. This is possible due to the digital readout of the spindle. The machine comes with pretty much all you need, including internal and external chuck jaws and spindle taper and tailstock taper. Also, it includes a replacement plastic gears set. The machine is warranted for a period of 1 year.

PROS
CONS
  • Automatic feed feature
  • The spindle has an accuracy of 0.0004 inches
  • Unlike the other models, this one features a left-hand threading option
  • The spindle features a digital readout
  • The chuck comes with a pivoting plastic shield
  • Plastic gears
  • Poor user manual
VERDICT

All in all, the machine is a great option but it is a little bit more expensive in comparison to the other models. It is solid and pretty heavy, so you may want to consider finding it a permanent place in the workshop. The user manual provides little information but luckily it comes with comprehensive pictures for assembling the machine.

3. Central Machinery Precision Mini Lathe

This model made by Central Machinery is another great option if you want a reliable mini lathe. It features a lightweight design, being made of aluminum and zinc alloy and ABS. The maximum speed you can select is 2500 RPM, having the possibility to use threads between 12 and 52 TPI. This machine will help you perform multiple tasks with precision. It comes with many nice features that are meant to improve its performance and your safety. With this model, you can opt for either manual or automatic feed. Also, no matter what speed you choose, the rotation of the spindle is both forward and backward.

We also like the fact that it features a check guard that has a micro switch. Operating this machine doesn’t require advanced skills, being a great option for beginners. Prior to using it, you need to assemble it but there’s nothing complicated in performing this task. Unfortunately, this model doesn’t come with many accessories, which means you’ll have to buy them separately. So, even though the machine is budget-friendly, in the end you will get to pay some extra money. The manufacturer warrants the lathe for a short period of time, only 90 days.

PROS
CONS
  • Features a manual and automatic feed
  • Comes with a variable speed knob
  • Includes a chick guard with micro switch
  • Easy to install and operat
  • ETL listed
  • You need to pay extra money for the accessories as they are not included
  • Plastic gears
VERDICT

A nice long-term option if you want to invest your money in a well-made lathe. It comes with some helpful features that are meant to ease your work. Plus, it is ETL listed. Nevertheless, prepare yourself to spend some extra money as it comes with few accessories. Additionally, it is covered by a short warranty.

4. Nova 46300 Comet II

This lathe is made by a Teknatool, a trusted manufacturer in this industry. It features a sturdy cast iron design that extends its durability. At the same time, the machine is lightweight enough to handle it with ease. The 0.75 HP motor delivers a maximum speed of 4000 RPM. It features a 3-step pulley system that delivers 3 speed ranges for multiple applications in both forward and reverse directions. It features a silent operation which is a great plus. We also like the fact that the power switch is dust sealed.

For increased stability, this machine features rubber feet. In comparison to the previous models made by the same company, the manufacturer strengthened the composite guard for this one. With this model, you can opt for an extension bed and add 23.4 inches per length to the standard machine. Additionally, this models comes with many helpful accessories. For ease of mind, the manufacturer warrants the motor and the electronics for a period of 1 year and the parts for a period of 2 years.

PROS
CONS
  • Sturdy yet lightweight design
  • Features a 3-step pulley system
  • Forward and reverse directions with separate switches
  • Variable speed control
  • The composite guard has been strengthened in comparison to the previous models
  • Not very easy to install
  • Poor surface finish
  • Features a speed range scale which is rather small
VERDICT

All in all, this is a well-made lather that will last for many years. It comes with the basic features like variable speed control, and forward and reverse direction. Also, it is cheaper than the previous models. However, it is not flawless. The machine needs more installation time and the finish is not the best quality.

5. BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe

If you’re looking for an affordable yet well-built lathe, then you can confidently go with this model. Due to the fact that is made of high-grade iron, the machine is not very lightweight, weighing around 102 pounds. The 0.75 HP motor can reach a speed of 2500 RPM with the possibility to choose the desired speed for your tasks. We particularly like the fact that the gears are not made of plastic as most ones are, but metal, thus increasing their durability. The thread range is from 12 to 52 TPI, having the possibility to set it according to your needs.

This model features an auto feed as well as a chuck guard and micro switch. Also, it comes with telescopic sets with scale that allows you to see the length of the telescopic handle. At the same time, this machine uses a four-way rotating turret. The machine is precise, easy to use and you don’t have to make many adjustments. Besides the lathe, you will receive plenty of helpful accessories, including a protection mask and 4 foot cushions.

PROS
CONS
  • Comes with metal gears
  • Includes many tools and other helpful accessories
  • Automatic feed feature
  • The machine uses a four-way turret
  • Comes with telescopic sets
  • No information on warranty
  • Needs to be adjusted to increase its working performance
VERDICT

Good option at an affordable price. This model is easy to handle and is a nice addition to a small workshop. It is highly durable as it features a sturdy construction. Nevertheless, it requires some adjustments to make it work better but other than that it has no major flaws.

6. Rikon Power Tools 70-105

The Rikon brand is well-known for manufacturing high-quality woodworking machinery that will help you accomplish a wide range of projects. This tool is 35.5 inches long, 10.5 inches wide and 14.75 inches tall and it weighs 75 pounds. It is equipped with a 1/2 HP TEFC motor that can deliver up to 1,700 RPM in a forward direction. Furthermore, it features 5 speeds, ranging from 500 to 3,200.

Due to the fact that it is made of cast iron, the tool is no only durable but also very stable. Also, the swing over bed is 10 inches and the working distance between centers is 18 inches. It features an MT2 taper for pen mandrels and the spindle nose is 1-inch x 8 TPI. We also like the fact that the tailstock ejects automatically. Additionally, you can add various other extensions. The tool is warranted for a period of 5 years.

PROS
CONS
  • Features rubber feet to make it more stable on the bench top
  • Handy on/off switch
  • Includes a hand wheel
  • Easy to change drive belt as it has an access door
  • Quiet and powerful
  • Slow in changing the pulley belt speed
VERDICT

The lathe is suitable for beginners and it works great for performing small projects. It is powerful and sturdy and it is available at a great price. Also, it is packed with plenty of features.

4 Key Factors to Consider


In the following lines we will highlight some the most important aspects that each good small metal lathe should have. By knowing them you will be able to invest your money in a dependable machine for your projects.

  • Weight

While is true that a lightweight lathe is easier to handle, it is not always the best option. In case the machine is too lightweight, its stability and performance can be affected. A solid unit is less likely to vibrate and affect your work. In order to be stable, a lathe should be made of sturdy materials like iron. Nevertheless, you should also avoid machines that are too heavy. Models that weigh between 80 and 100 pounds are generally a good option in terms of weight.

Grizzly G8688 Erie Tools SP2102 Central Machinery Mini Lathe Nova 46300 Comet II BestEquip Mini Lathe
75 lbs. 104.2 lbs. 87 lbs. 82.4 lbs. 102.1 lbs.
  • Motor

The more powerful the motor is, the larger turning capabilities. In general, small machines have motors ranging from 0.25 to 3 HP. For best performance try to look for models that have at least 0.33 HP. Lathes with powerful motors, over 2 HP, are more suitable for professionals who don’t have the space or the money for a full-size metal lathe.

Grizzly G8688 Erie Tools SP2102 Central Machinery Mini Lathe Nova 46300 Comet II BestEquip Mini Lathe
0.75 0.53 0.75 0.75 0.75
  • Variable Speed Control

Having the possibility to choose the desired speed is a great advantage as each project is different and requires different speeds. Not all the available machines come with a speed variation feature so you may want to check this information before deciding upon a model. Most models can reach a maximum speed of 2500 rotation per minute.

Grizzly G8688 Erie Tools SP2102 Central Machinery Mini Lathe Nova 46300 Comet II BestEquip Mini Lathe
0-2500 50-2500 0-2500 250-4000 100-2500
  • Distance Between Centers

This refers to the distance between bed and swing. Machines that feature a higher distance between the center are considered a better choice as they allow you to work with larger pieces. Nevertheless, if you don’t usually work with large pieces of metal, you can opt for a machine with a shorter distance between the centers.

Grizzly G8688 Erie Tools SP2102 Central Machinery Mini Lathe Nova 46300 Comet II BestEquip Mini Lathe
12 8/14 10 16.5 14

How Versatile Is a Mini Lathe?

  • Working Materials: The machine can work with a wide range of materials like steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, nylon, Plexiglas, Teflon, and so on.
  • Space: Due to the fact that a mini lathe has a compact design, it will easily fit in your workshop. In order to use it at an adequate height, you should place it on a working station or a workbench.
  • Projects: With the help of this machine, you can perform multiple projects. From making your own car engine or simply repairing your car to performing various house projects or science experiments the mini lathe is the perfect tool.
  • Precision: Even though it was not designed for professional use, a mini lathe still delivers great precision. Of course, it may not be as accurate as an industrial metal lathe but still can help you finish your projects without requiring any additional help.
  • Easy operation: Since the machine was specially designed for beginners and DIYers, you won’t find it difficult to handle. Even if you’re a novice, learning how to use it will be a breeze. However, as any other power tool, improperly handling the machine can lead to all sorts of incidents. Therefore, you should always wear protective gear when working and follow the provided instructions.


After comparing and reviewing the best mini metal lathes, it’s time to draw a conclusion. The best option to consider is Grizzly G8688 as it successfully combines great performance and ease of use. It is powerful and it comes with many helpful features and accessories. It is also affordable and has a compact design. Although it is lightweight, the machine is solid and durable. Our second option is Erie Tools SP2102. This machine is a little bit more expensive but the overall constriction and built-in features make it a trustworthy option. Also, it comes with many accessories.

If you’re looking for a cheaper mini lathe, we recommend you to opt for Nova 46300 Comet II or BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe. Each of the machines delivers great precision and an easy operation. However, they have more drawbacks and don’t provide the same performance as the first two models. As about Central Machinery Precision Mini Lathe, we like the fact that it comes with a longer warranty but it has a minus, namely the fact that it includes a few accessories.

Frequently Asked Questions



?Which is the Operating Temperature Range?
The operating temperature range may differ from model to model but in general it is between 50°F and 90°F.
?How to Maintain the Machine?
In order to produce high-quality cuts, you need to properly maintain the mini lathe. Here are some steps you should always follow:
1. For preventing accidental damage to the machine components you should clean the lathe after every usage.
2. Don’t keep your tools on the lathe. To keep them within reach, place them on a shelf beneath the lathe.
3. During work, clean away metal chips in order to prevent scoring the surface of the machine. Use a brush and a special vacuum for better and faster results.
4. Clean the chucks regularly to prevent any possible damage caused by the metal chips.
5. Lubricate the lathe and change the oil regularly by following the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
?Should I Wear Safety Equipment While Operating the Machine?
In order to prevent any possible incidents, is highly important to follow the provided safety instructions. Always wear protection gear and make sure the work piece is well-secured before starting the machine.

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