Home Home & Patio Best Mini Metal Lathes [Buying Guide] in 2019

Best Mini Metal Lathes [Buying Guide] in 2019

by Jonathan Logtenberg
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Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 x 12-Inch
Shop Fox M1049 9-Inch by 19-Inch Bench Lathe
Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe by Central Machinery
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Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe
Shop Fox M1049 Metal Bench Lathe
Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe
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Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 x 12-Inch
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Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe
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Shop Fox M1049 9-Inch by 19-Inch Bench Lathe
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Shop Fox M1049 Metal Bench Lathe
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Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe by Central Machinery
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Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe
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What is a mini metal lathe? A lathe is a machine tool used for rotating a workpiece, whether wood or metal on its axis. The aim of rotating the workpiece is to sand, deform, reform or drill aspects of the metal piece. Basically, the main function of a lathe is to make components like bushings and shafts which are cylindrical in shape. Lathes creates symmetry within the workpiece for either artistic or functional purposes. Typically, almost all mechanical and engineering devices rely on lathe components. Therefore a lathe is a great tool to have, especially if you are an inventor with interests in things such as motorcycles, robotics, microscopy, astronomy, RC cars, planes, helicopters, boats. They are also used in car repair, motorcycle repair and repair of household a-appliances and fixtures.

A metal lathe can also be used by an artisan for making and designing bangles, beads among other jewelry materials.  As the name suggests, these are small lathes mainly used for home workshop or MRO shop. A mini-metal lathe is a miniature version of the general purpose center lathe or industrial metal-working lathes. They are extremely versatile machines that are used to create and produce variety of objects either as complete mechanical systems or as component parts. They are quite different in their designing and feature swings ranging between 3 to 7 inches in diameter. Normally, these lathes are designated at various dimensions including 7×10, 7×12, 7×14 and 7×16. These refers to the diameter and length (in inches) of a workpiece that the lathe is capable of working on.

Though a mini lathe is smaller than a full size lathe, the turner should always remain the same. The body height should also be equal to that of a standard metal lathe. Always ensure that the center is about 2-inch above your elbow’s for convenience. This means that you need to place your mini lathe on a work bench which is of suitable height. The footprint of a mini lathe should fit in a 1 inch or 2 inch area. This provides you with more room for moving the lathe around. If the machine features a headstock which cannot be turned, then you require at least 2-1/2 feet at the lathe’s end for turning the bowls. The headstock can also be moved to the end of the lathe bed for turning larger bowls.

Depending on the model, the four designations of mini metal lathes are capable of rotating a 7-inch diameter workpiece to approximate lengths of 10-inches, 12-inches, 14-inches and 16-inches. However, when it comes to practice the workpieces are usually limited to 4-inch diameter or less due to varied factors. Mini lathe can work on most metals including brass, aluminum and stainless steel. Harder metals like stainless steel and those with larger diameters requires smaller cuts and that is where mini-metal lathes becomes very useful. You can easily take cut of 0.040 inches on ‘-inches diameter aluminum using these great tools. They are basically best suited best suited for turning cylindrical shapes. Most of the work produced on mini metal lathe are cylindrical due to its inherent rotational nature.

Though mini metal-lathes are mainly used for metal works, they can also be used for shaping non-metal equipment such wood materials and plastics like Nylon, Delrin and Teflon to attain accurate dimensions. However, using these lathes on acrylic plastics like Plexiglas may be hard due to property of the plastics. These plastics tend to melt and therefore may not withstand the high temperatures generated by the cutting components of the lathes. On mini metal lathes, the cutting tools are usually held rigidly. This is done using a tool holder which is mounted on a movable platform known as carriage. The tool moves in and out by two means, which are back and forth and hand wheels. This is achieved either by under power from the lathe or turning a hand heel manually. To produce truly precision shapes, the material should be removed from the work piece under precise control.

Now let’s go through the Surf’n’Buy’s top nine mini metal lathes in 2019.

Top 9 Mini Metal Lathes

1. Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 inch x 12 inch: Best Metal Lathe for Commercial Applications

Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 x 12-Inch
  • Variable Speed
  • 16 TPI Reversible Lead screw
  • Forward and reverse in all speeds
  • Chip Tray and Backsplash Guard
  • Threading Dial Indicator

The Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lethe is a tool for creating high-quality work. It is excellent for commercial applications like gun-smithing, housewares, art work and others. The versatile machine is reliable and comfortable.   The mini metal lathe features high-quality casing with great designing. It maximizes on workspace, thanks to its ideal dimensions and shape. The Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe has been specifically designed for those who prefers small and efficient machines over bulky equipment. The standard equipment for this product include a backsplash guard, MT#2 dead center, 4-way turret post, chip pan, 3-jaw chuck featuring external jaws, 6-1/4-inch face plate and others.

FEATURES

  • Variable Speed
  • 16 TPI reversible lead screw
  • Forward and reverse in all speeds
  • Standard and metric graduation
  • Threading dial indicator
  • Chip tray and backsplash guard
  • Distance between centers: 12 inches
  • Bore Size of Included Chuck: 16mm
  • Swing over bed: 7 inches
  • Spindle bore: 20mm
  • Spindle nose taper: MT #3
  • Tailstock taper: MT #2
  • Cross-slide travel: 2-3/4 inches
  • Motor: 3/4 HP, 110-volt, single-phase
  • Number of thread pitches: 18 inch & 10 metric
  • Tailstock travel: 2-1/2 inches
  • Maximum tool bit size: 5/16-inch
  • Range of threads: 12 to 52 TPI
  • Speed range: Low Range: 0-1100 RPM, High Range: 0-2500 RPM
  • Net weight: 74 pounds

PROS

  • Easy to use
  • Relatively cheap
  • A small size lathe with quality work

CONS

  • Not suitable for heavy duties
  • Not appropriate for professional projects
  • The threading gears & head housing gears are made of plastic. It would be better were they made of alloy.

2. Shop Fox M1049 Metal Bench Lathe with Precision Adjustments

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Shop Fox M1049 9-Inch by 19-Inch Bench Lathe
  • Six-speed lathe for a wide range of projects
  • Speeds from 130-2,000 RPM
  • Sturdy 7-1/4-inch 4-jaw chuck
  • Handy reversible jaws
  • Nine-inch swing over bed

The Shop Fox M1049 is a bench sized lathe with all the features and precision of the larger lathes though it cost much less. Among its standard features include chip and splash guard, 4-way tool post, threading dial, hardened and ground cast iron bed, three and four jaw jack and steady rest. Its overall dimensions is 40-1/2 inch length by 23-1/2 inch width by 15 inch height. It features a manual feed option allows you to move the cutting tool around the workpiece manually using the three handwheel on the apron. The longitudinal is very important, especially when you want to cut tappers on parts or when you want to set a proper infeed angle when threading. The carriage is moved left or right through the help of the longitudinal handwheel. It is very helpful when the lathe is set up for turning or when you want manual movements for turning operations.

The cross Feed handwheel is designed to move the top slide towards the piecework and away from it. If you turn the dial clockwise the slide is moved towards the workpiece with extreme precision.  Compound slide wheel comes handy when controlling the cutting tool’s position in relation to the workpiece. The graduated dial can be adjusted and set in a parallel position to the spindle axis to be used in cutting precise lengths longitudinally. Four Way Tool Post is mounted at the top of the compound slide to allow for simultaneous loading of four tools hence maximum efficiency.  It also allows for quick indexing of new tools when the top handles is rotated counterclockwise and the tool post set in the desired position. To set a new tool ready for working, the top handle is rotated clockwise hence locking the tool into precise position.

The Shop Fox M1049 Mini Metal Lathe also comes with a three-jaw scroll chuck and four chuck. The three jaw chuck features hardened steel jaws that enables the workpiece to self-center. There is an extra set of jaw for matching larger workpieces. The four jaw chuck features adjustable hardened steel jaws ford holding off center workpiece. Each jaw can be adjusted independently and removed from the chuck body. The steady rest can be fixed anywhere along the lengths of the ways to act as support to the long shafts.

FEATURES

  •  Tailstock barrel taper: MT #2
  • Spindle taper: MT #3
  • Motor: 3/4 Horsepower: 110V, 11.5A, 1750 RPM
  • Spindle thread: 39mm x 4mm pitch
  • Swing over bed: 9 inch
  • Bed width: 4-1/2 inch
  • Tailstock barrel travel: 1-9/16 inch
  • Distance between centers: 19 inch
  • Cross slide travel: 4-1/4 inch
  • Swing over cross slide: 5 inch
  • Swing over saddle: 5 inch
  • Compound travel: 1-7/8 inch
  • Leadscrew: 9/16″ – 16 TPI
  • Carriage travel: 16 inch
  • Spindle speeds: 6 at 130, 300, 400, 600, 1000, 2000 RPM
  • Spindle bore: ‘ inch
  • Maximum tool size: 3/8 inch by 3/8  inch
  • Thread range (inch): 27 at 8-56 TPI
  • Longitudinal feed range: 4 at 0.0047 inch – 0.012 inch
  • Thread range (metric): 11 at 0.05-3.0m

PROS

  • Convenient control panel
  • A small lathe with durable metal parts and accessories
  • It has two available feed rates for precision adjustments

CONS

  • It lacks the compound cross slide feature that comes with other lathes
  • Not suitable for professional projects
  • Limited power for faster cuts

3. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe 

Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe by Central Machinery
  • Variable speed control knob
  • Automatic feed
  • Chuck guard with micro switch
  • 0-2500 RPM (high)

The Central Machinery 7 X 10 Mini Metal Lathe is a multipurpose mini lathe for various tasks such as spindles, designing bushings, prototype tool models and others. With 18 threads and a micro switch chuck guard, this mini metal lathe is ETL listed and ideal for engineering settings, educational settings, workshops and labs.  It adopts corded electric power-source and comes with plastic steel rotator handles. This lathe has automatic feed and variable control knob. You can use it for cutting a wide range of tools from stainless steel to wood. The Central Machinery 7 X 10 Mini Metal Lathe is the perfect mini lathe for operating on projects that requires longer hours since it has a high power output and a compact designing.

FEATURES

  • MT2 Tailstock Tapper
  • MT2 Spindle Tapper
  • Chuck guard with micro switch
  • Sped Range: 0-1100 RPM (low) and 0-2500 RPM (high)
  • 12 to 52 TPI Thread size
  • 14.95 additional Freight Charge
  • Distance between centers: 10-inch
  • Acting 4 amp mini Fuse
  • Through Chuck Capacity: 5/8- inches
  • 1.5 mm pitch
  • Horsepower motor: 120 Volt/ 60 Hz
  • Teeth: 70
  • Bed Dimensions: 15-7/8-inch length x 3-1/4 inches width
  • Work Tolerance: 0.005- inches
  • Max. Tool Bit Size: 5/16-inches
  • Swing Over Bed: 7 inches
  • Swing Over Gap: 7 inches
  • Swing Over Saddle: 4-1/2 inches
  • Swing Over Cross Slide: 2-1/8 inches
  • Carriage Travel: 6-1/2 inches
  • Compound Travel: 2-3/4 inches
  • Cross Slide Travel: 2-3/4 inches

PROS

  • It features automatic feed
  • A perfect mini lathe machine for hobbyists
  • Multipurpose mini lathe

CONS

  • This lathe will take some cleaning and adjustment to really work well
  • It does not come with cutting tools and you have to buy some extra parts to operate the lathe
  • Relatively costly

4. SUNWIN 6 in 1 DIY Mini Metal Lathe for Multipurpose Projects and Modelmaking

SUNWIN 6 In 1 DIY Tool Wood Lathe Mini Multipurpose Metal Material Machine Modelmaking
  • The Mini Metal Lathe is a tool for DIY,hobby,modelmaking,crafts,students,small parts processing and others.
  • This is metal version. if you need the normal Aluminum+Carbon steel+ABS version please contact us for more details.Thanks.
  • Saw blade is special designed, only 4mm cam short trip, which will protect human skin from injury.
  • Fix the machine on the board or other table. Shot off the power when not use.
  • Total weight: about 7KG

If you are looking for the perfect DIY tool, then this is the equipment for you. It is good for variety of hobbies and tasks such as small parts processing, model making, small part processing among others. It is available in both metal and alloy form consisting of carbon, steel, aluminum and ABS. The main parts of the lathe include jigsaw casing, jigsaw table, headstock, jigsaw base, drilling table, connection piece, drive belt cover, wheel guard, big slider, motor blade, sanding paper panel, wood-turning chisel base, central block, drilling lever, grinding wheel, wheel guard, cross slider, grinding wheel and others.

The saw blade is specially designed featuring 4mm cam short strip to protect your skin from injuries. The SUNWIN 6 in 1 DIY Mini Metal Lathe is capable of processing brass, soft aluminum, copper, precious metals and plastics. With ISO9001 quality certification, the product’s quality is assured and safety guaranteed. You can assemble the kit into a maximum of six different tools including lathe, jig saw, Wood turning lathe, milling machine, sanding machine and drilling machine. However, only one function can be used at a time. Apart from the milling machine, all other tools are safe for touching. Parental or teacher instruction is recommended when the milling tool is being operated by a kid.

FEATURES

  • Power: 12VDC/2A/24W, 
  • Motor speed: 20,000rpm
  • Length of processing material: 20mm
  • Maximum diameter of processed material: 20 mm
  • Self-centering tree 3-saw chuck   
  • Table size: 90 x 90mm 
  • Slide travel: 30 –50 mm 
  • Stroke: 25mm 
  • Working area: 123 x 100mm
  • Clamping dimensions: 1 to 6 mm 
  • Center height of metal lathe: 25mm 

PROS

  • Perfect DIY tool machine
  • Most parts made of high strength metal material
  • Combines different workpiece tools in a single unit

CONS

  • Not safe for kids to operate
  • Not perfect for professional projects

5. Shop Fox M1015 Mini Metal Lathe

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Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe
  • 4 hex wrenches, 100-2000 RPM spindle speed:
  • MT #2 spindle taper, MT #1 tailstock taper
  • Double ended wrench, socket head wrench
  • Oil cup, stand Included
  • Chuck key, 3 external jaws

The Shop Fox M1015 Mini Metal Lathe is perfect for those looking for durable and perfectly designed machine that is space saving. The machine is designed to fit in small locations and good for tool makers, hobbyists, model designers, mechanists and others. It is actually the perfect lathe for scale builders and provides an economical way of producing parts, fittings, dies, threaded parts and small precision parts. The Shop Fox M1015 Mini Metal Lathe 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe features a convenient control panel which is located at a convenient and easily accessible location. This enables you to access variety of lathe functions including speed dial, selector knob, and clutch for the various adjustments to enable accommodation of turning requirements. 

This lathe is created for mini machine enthusiasts with all the features and precisions you expect for a small scale turning. It comes with two feed rates that moves the apron 0.002 inch and 0.004 inch per each workpiece revolution. This precise adjustments allows for accurate cuts of the material. It features both auto and manual feeds. The manual feed handwheel moves the workpiece to the right or left along the lathe bed. The manual feed control is of great help, especially when you desire manual movement during your turning operations. You can easily shift between manual and automatic feeds with the help of feed clutch. The lathe is capable of cutting variety of threats including 16, 18, 19, 20, and 24 threads per inch. Featuring thread gears and 3-inch three jaw chunk, the machine also provides a wide range of accessories to allow for various set ups.

 FEATURES

  • 4 hex wrenches
  • Double ended wrench, socket head wrench
  • Oil cup
  • Stand
  • Chuck key
  •  3 external jaws
  • Spindle speed: 100-2000 RPM
  • Spindle taper: MT #2
  • Tailstock taper: MT #1

PROS

  • Space saving
  • Features both manual and automatic feeds

CONS

  • Not suitable for professional work turning
  • Requires other accessories for complete workpiece operations

6. Signswise Motorized Mini Metal Lathe Machine: Best for Hobby, Science, Education, and Model Making

This mini lathe features a more durable design with main parts adopting full metal structure. As suggested by the name, it is perfect for DIY, student model, student model making, craft processing and processing of small parts. It is connected by I-shaped metal connecting blocks featuring more durable metal slider. This high quality mini metal working lathe have a special designed and built-in bearing. For safer operation, the machine is equipped with built in overheat protection. It is suitable for processing materials such as aluminum, wood, plastic, copper and other soft metals.  The Signswise Motorized Mini Metal Lathe Machine cannot however be used for industrial high accuracy machining therefore it is not suitable for buyers with high precision expectations.

FEATURES

  • Material: Aluminum Alloy + Zinc Alloy + ABS
  • Center Height: 25mm
  • Length of Processing Materials: 135mm
  • Slider Travel: 140mm
  • Center distance: 135mm,
  • Metal lathe turning speed: 20000 rev / min.
  • Motor speed: 20,000rpm
  • Power Supply: 12V DC/2A/29W

PROS

  • Durable Design
  • Space saving

CONS

  • Not suitable for professional work turning

7. T-king(TM) Miniature Metal Lathe: Best for DIY Model Making

chuangsheng Mini Lathe Machine,12V Miniature Metal Multifunction Lathe Machine DIY 20000Rev/min 45135mm
  • Application:Wood, plastic, soft metals (aluminum, copper, etc.). Softwood, hardwood
  • You can use the three-jaw chuck or collet (1 ~ 6mm) clamping the workpiece, center gongs high 25mm, center distance of 135mm.
  • Motor speed:20000rev/min
  • The transformer has over-current, over voltage, over temperature protection.
  • 1 YEAR WARRANTY: If you have any issues with this product, please feel free to contact us

This mini lathe is only for DIY model making. It is not suitable for large scale commercial or industrial production. The set up consist of a mini lathe, an adapter and a set of other accessories. It can be used for working on plastic, wood, soft metals such as copper and aluminum. It can also be used for processing hardwood and softwood to create arbitrary shape. The T-king(TM) DIY DC Miniature Metal Lathe is a high speed steel machine for machining soft nonferrous metals and precious metals. The use of intermediate block heightening enables it to be expanded to 50mm diameter range. You can use a 1-6mm collet or three-jack for clamping a workpiece on operation. The transformer has over-voltage, over-current and over temperature- protection for safety purposes.

FEATURES

  • Center gongs: 25mm
  • Center distance of 135mm
  • Input voltag:-12V DC 
  • Input current: 2A 
  • Power: 24W 
  • Motor speed: 20000rev/min 
  • Processing materials length: 135mm. 
  • Processing materials maximum diameter: 45mm

PROS

  • Can be used for variety of workpieces
  • Features over-voltage and over-temperature protection for safety purposes

CONS

  • Only for DIY tool making and not fit for professional works

8. 7 X 14 Mini Metal Lathe

7 X 14 Mini Metal Lathe
  • 7 x 14 Mini Lathe 2500RPM
  • Distance between centers: 14" ; Swing over bed: 7" ; Tailstock taper: MT2 ; Chuck diameter: 80mm
  • Power of motor: 550W ; 120V 60Hz ; Top slide travel: 35mm
  • Spindle accuracy: 0.01mm ; Spindle speed: 0-2500RPM ; Spindle bore: 20mm ; Cross slide travel: 65mm
  • Quantity: 1 ;Dimension: 30" x 12" x 11-1/2" ; Color may vary: Blue or orange

Just like other min lathes, the 7×4 Mini Metal Lathe lathe uses a form of pulse-width modulation for controlling the motor speed. The technique adopts the use of DC motor at about 120 volts where the power input is sliced electronically. This results to a steady and accurate speed control with high torque. High torque is very important, especially when controlling the mini lathe at low RPMs. It features variable speed control and induction Harden Bay. The 7x4 Mini Metal Lathe is available in color variations of blue or orange.

FEATURES

  • Distance between Centers:14 inches
  • Swing over Bed: 7 inch
  • Swing Over Cross Slide: 110mm
  • Spindle Taper: Mt3
  • Tailstock Taper: Mt2
  • Chuck Diameter: 80mm
  • Spindle Bore: 20mm
  • Cross Slide Travel: 65mm
  • Top Slide Travel: 35mm
  • Spindle Accuracy: 0.01mm
  • RPM Spindle Speed: 0-2500. 
  • Power: 500w Motor 120v/60Hz. 

PROS

  • Comes with pulse-width modulation for controlling the motor speed

CONS

  • Not suitable for professional and industrial metal turning

9. EverVictory Mini Metal Lathe: Best Lathe for Hobbyists

EverVictory Mini Metal Lathe DIY Wood Model Gift Craft Student Woodworking Machine Tool
  • Three jaw chuck clamping diameter: positive jaw: 13mm; anti-claw: 45mm
  • The max processing diameter: 20mm
  • Material of turning: Soft metal(such as gold, silver, aluminium etc.)
  • Input Voltage: AC100V~240V 50/60HZ output voltage: DC12V 2A Motor rated power: 24W

The EverVictory Mini Metal Lathe is perfect for turning soft materials such as silver, aluminum, gold and others.  

FEATURES

  • Motor speed: High-Speed Moto-18000r/min 15, low speed-10000r/min 15%
  • Spindle speed: Hi-Speed-3000r/min 15%, low speed: 1600r/min 15%
  • Big slider route: 45mm
  • Small slider route: 35mm
  • Height of center: 25mm
  • Center distance: 110mm
  • Weight: 2.50 KG
  • Output voltage: DC12V 2A
  • Input voltage: AC100V~240V 50/60HZ
  • Motor rated power: 24W
  • Spindle run out: 0.1mm
  • Maximum cutting diameter: 13mm/45mm
  • Three-jaw chuck clamping diameter: 13mm/45mm
  • Handle Wheel Graduation: 0.1mm/range
  • Packing size: 230mm by200mm by315mm
  • Weight: 2.2KG
  • Jaw: 4 Jaw chuck (optional)
  • Size: 48mm by 40mm
  • Connection: M12*1 Screw
  • Minimum clamping size: 1.5mm by 1.5mm
  • Maximum clamping size: 18mm by 18mm

PROS

  • A perfect mini metal lathe machine for hobbyists
  • Comes with two jaws, a standard 3-jaw and an optional 4-jaw
  • Relatively cheaper

CONS

  • Not perfect for more precise metal turning
  • It is not suitable for professional projects

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Mini Metal Lathe

Metal turning is a very important section of metal works that is becoming common among industrial metal, students and hobbyists alike. Getting started in this field and get more precise results, requires a good quality and sturdy metal lathe.  If you have made a choice of purchasing a good mini lathe for your projects, you need to concentrate on the level of precision you expect from your lathe. Mini lathes are the perfect choice if you are intending to turn small objects such as pen. The Surf’n’Buy’s team knows that sometimes finding the perfect mini lathe can really become a hard task. They normally come in variety of specifications, sizes and prices and hence making it difficult on settling on the ideal one. However, you can make the task easier by considering the factors discussed below before purchasing a mini metal lathe.

A Sturdy Base

For you to achieve quality turned metals, a solid foundation is very important which requires a sturdy base. The bed of a lathe is the main horizontal beam lying across the lathe base, usually made of cast iron material. The base of a mini metal lathe needs should be heavy to minimize the vibration caused by the spinning effect of the wood on the motor. Even in its slightest degree, vibration is not good because it makes metal turning difficult and unsafe at the same time. Ideally, the more heavy the lathe base, the easier it becomes to turn the metal workpiece.

The Lathe Measurement

When buying a mini lathe, there are two capacity measures to consider, depending for the intended work or project. The first one is the maximum length between the two ends of the lathe and the second one is the swing. The maximum length of the workpiece you can turn on a mini lathe and swing is determined by the distance between the two centers.  The swing on the other hand determines the highest diameter of a workpiece you can turn on the mini lathe. 

Another crucial factor to consider is the motor. Typically, most lathes features motors ranging between 1/8 horsepower to 3 horsepower. Normally, a small mini lathe requires at least 1/3 horsepower. Speed variations can be achieved by fitting the motor with three or four step pulley systems. This delivers a speed range of 400rpm to 2000 rpm.  The larger the motor installed for your mini lathe, the larger the workpiece it is capable of turning. Today many lathes come with variable speed control and can a give a speed range of 400 RPM to 3000 RPM or even more.

The Headstock and Tailstock

The headstock spindle of a metal lathe is normally threaded and designed for various accessories such as chucks and others. Always ensure that your lathe have a standard thread to ensure that all your threaded accessories remain useful in case you want to upgrade your lathe.  A tailstock is a rotating pin usually located on the other end of a metal lathe. Its function is keeping the spindle centered and even rotation. You need to ensure that your lathe's tailstock is locked securely in a position along the bed. This will enable you to carry out various types of turning jobs.  Another thing you need to look for in a mini lathe, is whether it come equipped with Morse tappers at the tailstock and headstock.   Tappers makes a lathe more versatile and ensures that your lathe is not restricted to the initial manufacturer’s settings. It will allow you to install centers and other various tools.

Tool Rest

Tool Rest is another crucial factor to consider in a lathe. A tool rest is used for resting the tool under lathe’s operation. A tool rest offers a level of adjustment to the turner and when setting it, always ensure it get locked in apposition.  It should be about 10 inches long featuring cast iron materials to minimize vibration. Generally, a lathe with a loose tool rest can really be dangerous.

Power Switch

When it comes to power switch of your lathe, accessibility is the primary factor to consider. This allows you easily turn it on and off when required. Whatever the motor type you choose for your mini lathe, always ensure that you can easily access the switch gear despite the size of the workpiece. The switch should not be hidden by large tools. Preferably, you need a switch with a separate off button at knee height. This is very important in case of emergency situations when both your hands are busy. Some lathe machines features magnetic switch box that you can easily move around depending on the nature of workpiece you are dealing with.

The nature of your project

This is all about what you intend to achieve with your mini metal lathe. If you are a hobbyist who peruses metal turning as a hobby, a basic model will be perfect for you. However, if you are taking metal turning a professional level such as industrial, you should go for a quality metal lathe that meets all your requirements.


Mini Metal Lathe Parts and Attachments

With the right accessories and special attachments, mini lathes can do much better than they seem to do. The Surf’n’Buy knows that there are variety of attachments that can be mounted onto the mini lathe to enhance the capabilities of the mini lathe. These ranges from tapper cutting to milling attachments. The various accessories are meant to allow for safe operation of the lathe on the metal workpieces of various sizes and shapes. The type of accessory or attachment normally depends on the intended purpose of the mini lathe. Most of them are used to supplement lathes work. While a professional metal worker may need all these attachments and accessories, a hobbyist may only require the lathe and some few attachments such as the boring metal. The following are some of the common lathes accessories and attachments.

Lathe Rests

There are two types of lathe rets; center rest and follower rest.  Also known as steady rests, a lathe center rest are used for supporting bars or skinny shafts that are being worked on the mini lathe. Lathe rests are very important attachment, especially for long and slender work pieces that requires maximum control during cutting. Follower rests are used for buffering small workpieces which requires spring up during cutting. Generally, lathe rets are perfect for workpieces featuring small diameters.

Carriage Stop

A carriage stop is designed to stop the movement of a carriage when facing, boring or turning duplicate workpieces. When a carriage stop is manually attached to the lathe bed, you do not have to measure the measurement of each of the workpiece. This is because the carriage stop ensures that the carriage is automatically stopped that the exact point on each of the workpiece under operation.

Taper Attachments

These are bolted at the back of mini metal lathe carriage. They are usually used for turning and boring tapers into the metal workpiece. Tapper attachments usually slide at a certain angle to allow for creation of a tapper on the metal. You can set the sliding angle by adjusting the guide bar, another attachment clamped to the lathe bed.

Lathe Centers

Lathe centers are used usually attached to the tailstock spindles and the headstock. They are used for holding workpiece and rotating it on its axis.  There are two centers in a lathe machine; live center and dead center. Live center serves the function of rotating the workpiece while revolving with the workpiece. They are normally characterized by soft design.  The dead center on the other hand revolved the workpiece attached to it while in a fixed position while the dead center works while remaining fixed.  They usually feature tempered and hardened body build to absorb the wear and tear of the workpiece being done. Lathe live center features integral ball bearings which allows the tip to turn down independent of the tapered end. The ball bearings reduces friction when the center is used for supporting workpiece’s end.   The dead center adopts solid steel piece without bearings. It is used for supporting tailstock end of a long and limber workpiece. The tip has to be well lubricated to avoid friction which causes heat since there are no bearings.

Lathe Chuck and Faceplates

Lathe chucks are usually mounted on the spindle nose and adopt jaws that are used for holding the metal workpiece in place while it is being into by the bit. Chucks comes in different types. Most metal workers prefers four-jaw independent lathe chuck since the various jaws can be adjusted individually to hold metal workpieces of different shapes. Another lathe chuck called draw-in collet chuck is used for holding small pieces and is mostly used to achieve more precise results.  Also known as scroll chuck, the three-jaw universal chuck is used for holding round universal chuck. Faceplates are usually mounted on the spindle’s nose for the workpieces which cannot be held with the chucks or centers.

Turning Tools

Turning tools also comes in different types. A standard right-hand turning tool allows for the workpiece to be worked on from the right to the left.  For left handed metal workers, a left hand turning tool is an important accessory. The cutting edge of a left hand turning tool is normally located at the right side of the tool hence allows the metal worker to work on the workpiece from the left to the right. Round-nosed turning tools are used for creating rough cuts in the metal workpiece and finishing cuts. Ambidextrous turning tools are characterized by a cutter bit without an angle at the top. This allows for the workpiece to be cut regardless of the direction from which the metal is fed.

Toolpost and Tool Holders

Toolpost are used for providing more support to the tool resting on the lathe tool rest. This provides more stability to the lathe head which lead to precision and consistency in the workpiece under operation. Tool holders allows the drill bits of a metal lathe to work at different angles hence providing a wider range at which the lathe can work. Knurling and threading usually have their own tool holders apart from the common tool holder. Knurling tool holders normally adopts two knurled rollers which roughen the surface of a metal work piece. A threading tool holder is usually characterized by a formed cutter. 


Mini Metal Lathe Tools and Accessories

Apron- This refers to the front part of the carriage assembly where the handwheel is mounted.

Bed- The main supporting casting that runs through the lathe’s length.

Carriage- Refers to an assembly with the function of moving the toolpost and cutting tools as it moves. 

Carbide- This is a hard heat-resistant material that is used to make cutting tools.

Carriage Handwheel- A wheel with handle used for moving the carriage by means of pinion and rack drive.

Centre Drill– This is a short and stubby drill which is used for drilling pilot hole and shallow countersank hole.

Centre Line- Imaginary line with that extends form the spindle’s center through the tailstock ram’s center. It represent the lathe’s central axis around which the piecework is rotated.

Chunk- This is a clamping device used to hold workpiece in the lathe. It can also for holding drills in the tailstock.

Compound– Movable platform that can be set to a given angle to the workpiece and used for mounting toolpost.

Compound Hand Wheel- Also called compound feed, this is a wheel featuring handle that is used for moving slide in and out.

Countersink- A cone-shaped tip cutting tool that is similar to a drill bit and used for cutting countersink hole. It is usually combined with short drill bit for drilling countersink or center drill.

Cross Feed– A crank or handwheel moving through the cross-slide by means of turning the screw.

Cross Slide- This is a platform which moves perpendicular to the metal lathe’s axis under the cross-slide handwheel’s control.

Cross-Slide Handwheel- A wheel featuring a handle that is used for moving the cross-slide in and out.

Cutting Tool– Refers to any cutting material used for cutting or removing metal or other materials such as lathe bit, reamer or drill.

Dog- This is an L-shaped adapter featuring cast iron and has a locking screw for securing the workpiece and a hole. Also known as dogleg or Lathe Dog, this part is used for clamping a workpiece and applying rotational forces to it while mounted between centers alongside faceplate. The Lathe dog engages with the face plate’s hole for easy application of force to the workpiece.

Faceplate- A metal plate featuring flat face mounted on a lathe spindle for holding irregularly shaped workpiece.

Half-nut– A nut that is formed from two halves clamped around leadscrew under the control of half-nut lever. Usually, half-nut features from 6 -10 inches length for easy spreading of the driving force over a wider area.

Half-nut Lever– Lever for engaging the carriage with leadscrew to enable the carriage move under when subjected to power.

Handwheel– As suggested by the name, this is a wheel turned using the hand to move lathe’s component or any other machine tool. It features a handle extended from the front face which facilitates its rapid turning.

Headstock– Refers to the main casting mounted on the bed’s left end. It serves to main functions of mounting the spindle and housing the spindle change gears.

High Speed Steel- A highly resistant Steel alloy used to cut tools like drill bits and lathe bits.

Lathe Bit- Refers to sharpened cutting tool used for removing metal and other materials from a workpiece. Typically, a lathe bit has a square cross-section with one featuring a sharpened tip.

Leadscrew– It is a precision screw running through the length of the bed and used to drive the carriage for thread cutting operations and turning. Smaller leadscrews are used within the compound and cross-slide to move the parts for more precise amounts.

Pilot Hole– A shallow con-shaped hole that allows the drill bit to enter the workpiece at desired point when the material being drilled. This prevents wandering or drifting of the material.

Quill- It refers to the part of the machining tool, lathe tailstock or drill press extending from the machine and retracts into machine’s part via the control of a handwheel or a hand lever. Quills have industry’s standard taper for holding a chunk. 

Rack and Pinion- This the gear arrangement used for moving a rack (linear hear). It used for converting a handwheel’s rotating motion.

Short Taper- A cut on the metal lathe that is shorter in length to be easily cut to the desired taper angle by means of off-setting the compound. 

Shoulder-This the point where the piece sharply changes from one diameter to another diameter.

Spindle through the Hole- This is a dimension indicating the diameter of the hole which passes through the spindle. A workpiece with a smaller diameter than this can easily pass through the spindle hence facilitating longer pieces of work. For a mini metal lathe, it is usually inches but can be reamed out up to 13/16 inches. The area close to the front of the spindle through the hole is normally tapered.

Swing– It is a dimension that represents the workpiece’s largest diameter where the lathe can easily rotate. For 7×10, 7×12 and 7×14 mini metal lathes, they all have a 7-inch swing. This means that the maximum size that a workpiece can rotate to is limited to 7-inch.

Tail stock- Cast iron assembly located at the lathe’s right end can be locked in place or allowed to slide freely. It is used for holding long work in place or mounting drill chuck for drilling into the workpiece’s end.

Through Hole– A hole passing through the spindle and allows smaller diameter rods to pass ad extend through. This makes it possible for the lathe to work on the rod’s end which would have been too long for the metal lathe.

Tool Blank- This is a piece of high-speed steel from which you can ground a cutting tool on a bench grinder. A mini Metal lathe typically features 5/16 inches square by 2 long.

Tool post- Holding tool that is mounted on the lathe’s compound unto which the cutting tool is clamped. 

Ways- A precision ground surface along the bed’s top where the saddle rides. Usually, ways are aligned with the metal lathe’s centerline.

Workpiece– The material that is held in the lathe for machining works.


Types of Metal Lathes

Mini Metal Lathes

Mini metal lathes are versatile machines and great choice for model designers, home mechanists and hobbyists.  They are miniature versions of industrial metal lathes and offers excellent results, especially when fabricating relatively smaller precision parts. They are also called micro lathes and are typically ideal for home applications. Due to their small size, they can easily be installed on table for small in-house projects. Their accuracy is relatively high compared to industrial metal lathes hence they produce high quality results.  There are limitations to the workpieces that can be accomplished by mini lathes based on their sizes and shape. This means that it is not possible to work on larger pieces of metals or woods using min metal lathes as you would do with larger lathes.

Industrial Metal Lathes

Industrial metal lathes are used for handling bigger projects, especially those that cannot be handled by mini lathes. They features relatively more horsepower than mini metal lathes. Actually, the size of a metal lathe is determined by the size of the horsepower produced. If you are planning to work on larger projects, then larger industrial metal lathes are the perfect option. This is because larger projects usually produce a lot of vibrations which requires a more stable base. Heavy duty lathes comes with base of about 400 pounds. Higher bases provides better lathe mounting. To reduce vibrations caused by turning large workpieces, you can bolt the lathe base to the floor. The benefit of industrial metal lathes is that they can turn variety of materials ranging from small projects to larger projects. However, they are quite expensive and are not as accurate as mini metal lathes.

Mid-sized Metal lathes

These are lathes that suits almost all projects with relatively higher level of precision. They are typically perfect for individuals who want to regularly work on both small and larger projects. 

Swiss-style lathe

A specific type of lathe that is used under CNC control and provides extreme accuracy. It holds the workpiece with both the guide bushing and collet. Usually, the workpiece rests in front of the guide bushing while the collet sits at the back of the guide bushing. This enables the workpiece to be held on the Z-axis. To achieve lengthwise cutting along the part, the tools usually moves in while the workpiece moves forth and back along the Z-axis. This makes the lathe perfect for operating on slender workpieces since all the work is carried on the workpiece near the guide bushing where it is held more rigidly with minimum chances of deflection or vibration.

Combination (3 in 1) lathe

This is the type of lathe that combines lathe tools, drilling tools and milling tools. They feature a milling which rises up above lathe bed. The idea behind the creation of this tool is the need to bring lathe, milling and drill operations into one simple and affordable tool. They are usually common among hobbyists due to their simplicity, rigidity and affordability. When given enough skill and time, they give high level of accuracy.

Wheel lathe

As suggested by the name, these are lathes for manufacturing and resurfacing railway cars wheels. Resurfacing is usually done on worn out tools where the tool is used for re-cutting and reconditioning the wheel.

Brake Lathe

A lathe for resurfacing brake discs and drums in trucks and automotive.


Tips on Choosing the Top Mini Metal Lathe

Metal lathes are among the versatile machines for creating variety of projects, tools, artwork, and engine accessories. Mini metal lathes enables you to fine tune your crafting projects to more professional tools. Mini metal lathes are common among engineers, mechanics, and welders among others. There are various aspects that you should consider when making a choice on the prefect mini metal lathe. One important factors to consider is the speed options available for the metal lathe. Normally, each mini lathe speed setting is designed for different projects and turning capabilities. The more speed options available for your metal lathe. The more speed options available for your mini lathe, the wider range of projects you will be able to deal with. The second feature you should look into is the thread options.  A perfect mini lathe needs to feature multiple thread options to enable you insert various sizes of workpieces. Other features includes back splash and chip tray which provides a secure frame behind your lathe machine. This stops and catches loose debris from the work material being worked on. Sticking to these components will enable you to choose a well-equipped mini lathe for professional and efficient metal workpiece projects.


Making a Decision When Purchasing Best Mini Metal Lathe

Though a mini lathe is smaller than a full size lathe, the turner should always remain the same and the body height should always be equal to that of a standard metal lathe. Always ensure that the center is about 2-inch above your elbow’s for convenience. This means that you need to place your mini lathe on a work bench which is of suitable height. The footprint of a mini lathe should fit in a 1 inch or 2 inch area. This provides you with more room for moving the lathe around. If the machine features a headstock which cannot be turned, then you require at least 2-1/2 feet at the lathe’s end for turning the bowls. The headstock can also be moved to the end of the lathe bed for turning larger bowls.

After careful assessment of the above top 9 mini metal lathes, the Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe emerged as the top machine on Surf’n’Buy’s list. It rose above its competitors due to its high quality, excellent features, durability and others aspects expected of a standard mini lathe. The Grizzly G8688 metal lathe is the best of its level and among the most well rounded equipment. The lathe is a powerful machine capable of crafting and shaping various metal workpieces into great pieces of kitchen wares, automobile parts, artworks and others.

Your workshop is never complete without the Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe, 7 inch x 12 inch, especially if you enjoy working on metals as a hobbyist or accomplishing other tasks. It is not however recommended for professional projects. Other top mini metals lathes reviewed alongside Grizzly G8688 also provides great results.  Always conduct thorough research before purchasing a lathe machine. Generally mini metal lathes are perfect for DIY work but do not offer quality professional results compared to the industrial metals lathes. However, they offer great precision on metals and other workpieces.


Sources:

  • GRIZZLY
  • How to Set Up a Lathe, WikiHow

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