Which Is the Best Mini Metal Lathe? Mechanopedia’s Top Picks

Whatever tool you intend to buy, choosing the right model is not as easy as it may seem. With the wide variety of brands and models permeating the market, the choice becomes even harder to make. That applies to whichever tool or machine you’re trying to pick, be it the best mini metal lathe, table saw, chainsaw, or even sliding compound miter saw.

Worry not, though, as, in this guide, we’ll walk you through the whole process of choosing the best mini lathe for you. We’ve also compiled a list of the top five products in this category so that you don’t need to.

Now, without further ado, here are our picks for the title of the best mini lathe.

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The Best Mini Metal Lathe – Our Picks

#1 – Erie Tools SP2102 Small Lathe

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What makes the Erie Tools SP2102 rank first among other products is the fact that it’s durable, simple to use, precise, and versatile. It performs greatly with such ease, although it may be somehow hard to use for beginners. One of the pleasing things about this product is its low, convenient price, especially if you’re one of those who are always concerned about their budgets.

With this model, you can cut, turn, and drill different materials such as metal, wood, and plastic. Like any other product, it comes with an instruction book that shows you exactly how to use this tool. No matter what task you perform and what material you choose, the SP2102 would retain its underlying features.

What we like about it:

The Erie Tools SP2102 is the best mini metal lathe you can find in the market, and for good reason. It’s the most flexible and precise mini lathe you can get, along with being tough, durable, and extremely easy to use. You’d be amazed at how excellently it functions, which is why it’s our pick for the title of the best mini lathe.

#2 – Grizzly G8688 Small Lathe

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This model, like all the products produced by Grizzly, is made of premium, sturdy materials that make of it a durable, high-quality product. Although it’s not a widely recognizable power tool company like DeWalt and Stihl, Grizzly is one among the best brands in this industry, all thanks to its use of high-quality components that enhance the lifespan of the products. It’s also known for its users-focused strategy, which should give you some peace of mind when getting a tool with the Grizzly name on it.

In comparison to the previous model, the SP2102, the Grizzly G8688 is not equally easy to use, as its design may appear complicated and not so obvious to decipher, especially for beginners. That’s why you need to be somehow acquainted with metal lathes, and more or less experienced with metal cutting. This is the reason why the Grizzly G8688 isn’t atop the list. However, it just depends on little practice for it to become your best pick.

What we like about it:

What makes the Grizzly G8688 amongst the best mini lathes is its high-quality components. Thanks to this feature, it’s a durable product that will accompany you for a significantly long time. It’s tough, not easily damaged, and resists anything. Moreover, it’s a simple tool to use, with which you can cut, drill, and turn metal easily.

#3 – Mophorn B01MCVQ42C Mini Metal Lathe

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The most remarkable flaw about the Mophorn B01MCVQ42C is its deficient motor. Unfortunately, the motor is not powerful enough and is most likely to dysfunction. Many have complained about the poor quality and performance of this model’s motor. For this reason, it’s the third on this list. Yet, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.

Otherwise, this model provides a good choice for those who aren’t familiar with mini metal lathes. Apart from being a quite cheap, affordable product, the Mophorn B01MCVQ42C is made of high-quality materials that make it a relatively good, strong, and durable product. It can be used to perform the same tasks as the Grizzly G8688 and the SP2102. Just try your best not to buy the tool with a flawed motor.

What we like about it:

The most pleasing thing about the Mophorn B01MCVQ42C is the high quality of its components. Although you may purchase a model with a low-quality, flawed motor, the Morphorn B01MCVQ42C remains one of the best mini lathes that perform with such excellence, along with being a durable product. Moreover, it’s really cheap and affordable.

#4 – BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe

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As the previous ones, the BestEquip mini metal lathe can drill, cut, and turn metal. It does so fairly good enough, and you can as well use it with plastic and wood. Its design is perfectly simple, which makes it easier to use. Yet, there are two major inherent flaws in this model that make it not the best mini lathe to choose.

The first defect to mention is about the motor. Unfortunately, as the previous model, this mini metal lathe has a flaw in its motor. It doesn’t work continuously, but rather stop every now and then, interrupting your work and consuming your time.

Secondly, this product is not made of excellent, high-quality materials. Its components are rather of low price and fragile, which affects one of the essential criteria defining the best mini metal lathe- durability. The fact that it isn’t made of good quality materials makes it easily breakable and short-lived. Probably, this is also the main reason behind the dysfunction at the level of the motor. 

These two factors don’t make of it the best mini lathe available in the market, though it does work well. You’d rather opt for another product with lesser flaws.

What we like about it:

All in all, it’s made with a quite simple design, which makes the BestEquip mini metal lathe an easy to use product. You can cut, drill, and turn metal, plastic, and wood. Although the already mentioned flaws, it works well enough and you can still achieve your goals using it.

#5 – Shop Fox M1015 Mini Metal Lathe

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Unfortunately, this model performs the required tasks, yet works rarely and with relatively low performance. It’s made with a complicated design and layout, which would make you feel uncomfortable when using it. You cannot rely on this model for the reason that the motor stops frequently. Probably, this is due to the low quality of the components of which this model is made. Unluckily, this is something widely known about the Shop Max brad.

You may feel that the price is too high for a product with such poor quality, especially when compared to other models that are righteously worth your money.

What we like about it:

What makes the Shop Fox M1015 listed among the best mini metal lathes is the fact that it does achieve the initial tasks you intend to do. To be fair, it’s initially designed for small projects. Stick to the different uses it’s made for and, hopefully, you won’t be disappointed.

Choosing the Best Mini Metal Lathe – Buying Guide

When it comes to buying mini metal lathes, the three main features to consider are the machine’s design, motor, and functionality. The tool you’re going to buy should fulfill the standard requirements; otherwise, you’d be less satisfied with the results, and the experience altogether. Below, we’re going to cover these two points thoroughly.

Design

When we say design, we say two things: the machine’s settings, and its appearance – with less importance, though. The design is highly important because it’s the basic feature that makes your experience either an easy or tiresome one.

A simple design makes you use the tool with such ease and makes you feel extremely comfortable. However, a complicated and aesthetically sophisticated design would tire you, and it wouldn’t feel right no matter how you use it. This is why, before purchasing any mini metal lathe, you need to seek a model with a simple and plain design that would all the more excellently serve the product’s primary function.  

You need to be aware that any flaw in the design would affect the tool at a general level, especially when it comes to its efficiency. With a complicated design, you will have to struggle to find the right way with which to handle and maneuver your mini metal lathe. This makes the product not flexible, and not easy to control, and you’d end up with undesirable, unsatisfactory results.

Moreover, it may also affect the product’s durability. Being made of high-quality materials is not the only factor that determines the longevity of a mini metal lathe. The design also plays a significant role. While a simple, easy to access design enhances the lifespan of your mini metal lathe, too weak or too sophisticated a design would make the product prone to damage. Remember that the best mini metal lathe is one with a simple design. This is why the design of power tools, and mini metal lathes especially, is considered an essential feature.

Functionality

We mean by functionality how excellent and effective the mini metal lathe is in fulfilling the purposes it’s made for. What’s most important is not the performance of the task itself, as all mini lathes are made and used for nearly the same tasks, but rather the quality of that performance. You aim to achieve your goal in a short time, easily and comfortably, while concluding with great results.

The design and functionality complement each other in the making of a great, if not the best mini metal lathe. These are the deciding factors as to whether or not a given mini metal lathe is of high quality, excellent, and practical. A mini metal lathe with simple, easy to use design and excellent functionality is most likely to satisfy your needs.

Motor

The most important feature about a mini metal lathe’s motor and all power tools’ motors is the speed. We measure the motor’s speed in rotations per minute (RPM), to indicate how intense the spindles rotation is. It’s evident that a tool with a higher horsepower would save you much time as it performs the task quite quickly.

Mini metal lathes with average horsepower register about one. Others may register up to three, which makes them more expensive. If you intend to make different tasks, each with different speed and shape requirements, you’d better choose a model with various speed ranges.

Picking the Best Mini Metal Lathe-­­ Frequently Asked Questions:

What Materials Can I Cut Using the Best Mini Lathe?

With mini metal lathes, you can cut various materials, including metal, wood, plastic- such as Teflon- and glass. The metals that are frequently cut with mini metal lathes are aluminum, steel, and brass. You can cut, drill, cut, and turn any material with relative ease.

Is The Weight of the Tool Important?

When it comes to dealing with metal, having a power tool with the lighter size is always better, as it makes your task easier. However, mini metal lathes are generally of heavyweight, as they are made of heavy aluminum and cast iron.

Moreover, you need a stable mini metal lathe that comes with an excellent base to ensure your safety for you not to hurt yourself or ruin your work. You’ll notice that the mini metal lathes available in the market today are rarely lightweight. Their weight varies from 78 pounds to 500 pounds. You can choose accordingly what suits your use and need.

What you need to really consider is the size of your project. There is a wide variety of mini metal lathes, and they’re made flexible to suit different tasks, and each one is made for a specific job. Obviously, heavier and larger machines are made for big projects, while the smaller ones are made for small projects such as door handles and bowls. Needless to say, bigger and heavier mini metal lathes cost more and occupy larger space.

What Should I Consider Before Buying the Best Mini Lathe?

As we previously mentioned, there are three essential features you need to consider before purchasing any mini metal lathe, which are the motor, design, functionality. The design should be simple to make the tool easy to use. If your mini metal lathe has a simple, easy-to-use design, you’ll be able to use it comfortably and without investing much effort and time.  If you buy a mini metal lathe with a complicated or poor design, you’ll find it quite hard to deal with it appropriately and get the best out of it.  

The second important criterion is functionality. The word functionality englobes two fundamental questions: does the mini metal lathe you aim to buy perform the task it is required to, and how effectively it does. A mini metal lathe is designed for specific tasks, and a good one should necessarily, at least, do its job. If you use your tool only for a few times, then it stops, or if it doesn’t work steadily on one task, then there is an inherent critical flaw.

That said, the best mini metal lathe doesn’t only perform its primary functions but does so excellently. The best mini metal lathe is the one that performs its tasks accurately and efficiently without costing you much time and energy.

Why Is the Best Mini Lathe’s Design So Important?

The product’s design is of high importance, especially when it comes to determining whether or not your tool would last quite a long time, without being damaged. You may fail to see yourself the relationship between the product’s design and its durability, but there’s a link between the two. That is to say, if the design is of high-quality and easily accessible, then your tool won’t be easily, quickly breakable, and would endure years of work and experience. In this sense, the design is a leading factor in the making of the mini metal lathe either a good- quality or bad-quality product.

How Do Mini Metal Lathes Work?

Mini metal lathes are motor-based machines that operate with a linear trajectory to shape metal. To do so, the metal should be fixed into the chuck. To make sure that the metal doesn’t vibrate and is tightly attached to its right place, the machine is designed with a large headstock into which the motor and the chuck are incorporated. The chuck is directly connected to the spindle inside the headstock. The headstock is also the component responsible for regulating the pressure and contains variable speed range controls to adjust the speed of both the chuck and the spindle.

Another element is the bed, which helps regulate the movement of the other pieces in relation to the chuck as required. The component responsible for linear movements is the linear actuator, as it moves, engaging treads in the track and making straight movement. It also has a carriage, sort of a holder, meant to maintain the angles and heights using its adjustable clasps. Finally, it has a tailstock to secure the machine’s bits.

Verdict:

Choosing between the different mini metal lathes available may not be an easy thing to do. We provided you with the best models available today, hoping that our guide would help you make the right decision. Now, it’s up to you to choose the one that best suits your needs and budget, keep in mind the essential features that you should consider before buying any model.

What are you waiting for then, fellow metalworker? It’s time to pick the best mini lathe and get back to work!

References:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_lathe
  • http://www.bloodandsawdust.com/sca/lathes.html
  • http://www.americanmachinetools.com/how_to_use_a_lathe.htm
  • Our own experience