10 Best Mini Wood Lathes & Buyer’s Guide
Do you have a passion for carpentry? Whether you are an experienced wood turner or simply a novice, choosing the best lathe is vital. Lathes work by spinning a piece of wood or another material really quickly so that you can shave it down into any shape you choose.
Wood lathes come in all sorts of sizes, from mini ones which fit on a table-top to bigger ones that can be larger than the floor of a small house. Mini lathes are perfect for smaller projects like pens, boxes, lamps, table legs and bowls.
And that’s what this article and guide is all about, choosing the best mini lathe that you can afford depending on what exactly you think you’ll be using it for. Below you’ll find our buyer’s guide with a lot of great information on what to look for and think about when buying a mini lathe. So let’s get started…
Top 10 Mini Wood Lathes
|Product Name||Bed Length||Price|
|KKmoon Mini Metal Lathe DIY 6 in 1 Multi-functional Motorized Transformer Multipurpose Machine Jigsaw Grinder Driller Plastic Wood Lathe Drilling Sanding Turning Milling Sawing Machine Tool Kit||5.3||$|
|JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe||21||$$$|
|RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe||16||$$|
|Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe||12.5||$$$|
|Jet JWL-1015VS 10-Inch X 15-Inch Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe||15||$$$|
|SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe||15.5||$|
|Excelsior Mini Lathe||17.75||$$|
|NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 12-Inch x 16 1/2-Inch||16.5||$$|
|Grizzly H8259 Bench-Top Wood Lathe, 10-Inch||10||$|
|Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe||15||$$|
Our TOP Pick!
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
Our Top Pick for the Best Mini Wood Lathe is the SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe. Shop Fox have payed very close attention to detail and produce top quality products that combine high functionality with a simple appearance and this mini wood lathe is no exception. This lathe is easy to work and has many outstanding features. The 5 speeds and 24-position indexing make it very versatile and perfect for loads of different sized projects.
This lathe comes with 2-year warranty and its 15.5-inch lathe bed makes it great for big pieces of work. This is very good quality and brilliant value for money and definitely the best on this list.
How to Choose the Best Mini Wood Lathe
A seasoned wood turner will have a good idea of what they are looking for in a new lathe, however for a beginner it can be a daunting task. There are many things you need to consider when buying a lathe and this guide will talk you through the most important ones to help you find the right lathe for you.
The bed is the long metal rod at the base of the lathe and it the mechanism for holding the tailstock in place, it is often made of cast iron. In general, the heavier the bed the easier it will be to use the lathe. If the bed is light then turning the wood will result in a lot of vibration which is not good. If the lathe vibrates it makes turning difficult and using the lathe, as well as making it quite unsafe.
The length of the bed is also a consideration. The longer the bed is the longer the spindle you can use will be. Bigger things like chair legs will require a longer bed whereas a pen would not need a long bed at all. The tail stock will move along the bed to accommodate any size spindle smaller than the length of the bed so a longer bed doesn’t mean you have to make huge pens. The maximum size stock you can turn all depends on the size of the bed.
Most lathes have a power between 1/8hp and 3hp. For a mini lathe, though, a motor than can produce about 1/3hp is ideal. If you intend to turn bowls then you might want to go for a slightly more powerful motor. Bigger motors will also allow you some speed variation which is a very handy feature that can significantly improve the quality of your projects. Speed variations often range between 400 and 3000rpm, without the variation it is a lot harder to create a nice piece of work.
The tool rest is an integral part of the mini wood lathe for reasons of control, quality and safety. The tool rest allows you to keep your cutting tool at the same level while cutting. Cutting without resting your tool on the tool rest is never safe and shouldn’t be attempted. The tool rest gives you more control for a more even cut and stops it from being knocked out of your hand. Just make sure you keep all cutting parts very sharp.
The tool rest is mounted to the bed and should be able to be adjusted all the way around the spindle so that whatever cut you want to make can be made safely. It should also lock into position for increased safety as a loose tool rest can sometimes be worse than no tool rest.
The tailstock is another important part of a lathe as this is what slides along the lathe bed to allow for varying lengths of work. The tailstock is locked at your preferred position away from the headstock. Ideally the tailstock should have a cast iron body and clamp to the bed securely to minimize vibration and movement.
And if you love wood, then check out our article on the best wood routers here.
Our Best Wood Lathe Reviews
1. KKmoon Mini Wood Lathe Multi-functional
Are you a fan of DIY? This mini 6 in 1 lathe machine is a fantastic handcraft tool kit for model making, crafts and much more. With package dimensions of only 18.9 x 14.6 x 3.5 inches, this product definitely fits the ‘mini’ criteria, making it one of the smallest of its kind on the market. Made of advanced aluminum alloy this product is very durable and weighs in at just 7.2 pounds, making it very portable.
However, as it is so lightweight it means that the lathe bed is more prone to vibration and flexing which is a safety hazard and could affect the work you are turning. The length of the bed is just 5.3 inches which reduces the spindle sizes available to use, so if you’re looking to turn table legs this is not the lathe for you.
The 6-in-1 functions, including drilling and sawing, mean that the possibilities are almost endless, not to mention that this lathe can process many other materials such as plastics and soft metal. This product’s innovative design and multipurpose functionality makes it great for turning small pieces of wood!
This multi-purpose lathe is very good quality and is very easy and simple to assemble. This wood lathe comes with a pair of protective glasses for when the machine is in use and a case to store small items necessary for the product to reduce the liability of crucial parts getting lost.
- Easy to assemble
- Multipurpose machine
- Good price
- Very easy to use
- Plastic parts which could impair how rigid the product is
- Weak engine
- No variation in speed
- Light bed causing vibration and affecting turning ability
2. JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe
The main concept of this wood lathe is control, it has unrivaled speed control which makes this wood lathe one of the best in its category. The speed is controlled using a simple rotating knob, this ease of use makes this lathe very appealing. There is also a three-step pulley system which will allow for even more control providing speed ranges to suit any situation. The more speeds the better, and this range goes from 60 rpm on the low step to 3600 rpm on the high step. A lathe providing such a low speed is hard to find and this will allow you to turn larger pieces of wood with great control.
This ergonomics of this product have been carefully considered, such as the size of the buttons and switches which have been designed so as not to clutter its minimalist look. Although the lathe’s mobility is slightly reduced, weighing in at 137 pounds, the bed is exceptionally strong and rigid so there are no vibrations or flexing when pressure is added. This is very important for the user’s safety and for work’s outcome.
- Variable speed controller
- Reduced mobility
3. RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
The Rikon 70-100 has a 12-position index head, ideal for holding your stock in lots of different positions, improving the accuracy when doing detailed work. Due to its compact design and small footprint this lathe won’t take up any room on your workbench, you won’t need to worry about space! However, this compact design has not compromised its capacity, in fact this lathe features an impressive 16-inch lathe bed, making it a very desirable product to own. Easy-access speed change enables the user to change speeds ranging from 430rpm to 3,900rpm, as well as being able to adjust the drive belt from an access cover, this gives the handler a lot more control.
The tail stock can be moved along the lathe bed due to a ram that can travel up to 2.5 inches, this allows you to put the tailstock in the perfect position. There is also no need to use the knock-out bar to remove the centre as this product has a unique feature, a self-ejecting tail stock. It is hard to find a problem that would stop you buying this mini wood lathe. Not only does it have a ½ HP motor, but also the ability to add multiple extensions, tailoring this device to exactly how you want it! This lathe is very popular and if you come across any issues, there is nothing to worry about as it comes with a 5-year warranty. This Rikon lathe is also great value for money!
- High-quality design
- Self-ejecting tail stock
- Easy access speed change
- Powerful motor
- Hard to change belt
4. Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe
This Delta Industrial 46-460 review shows has outstanding consistency due its incredibly powerful motor, a 1-horsepower motor which can rotate up to 1,725rpm. The 12.5-inch swing capacity also allows for the user to turn a bowl of a large diameter, this is a great asset to the product. The variable speed also allows for precision not found in many of its competitors, with an added advantage of not having to change the belt position to turn the project as three pulley speed ranges provide the required speeds. A belt tensioning system also allows for these quick and speedy changes whilst providing maximum power transfer.
‘Midi’ lathe does not define what this product can create as superior power provided by a six-groove belt allows for large objects to be worked on. The durability and strength of this lathe must be commented on as it has a cast-iron construction including 6-inch and 10-inch tool rests for tool support. The tool rest support is very important as it ensures that the cutting tool is kept at the correct level whilst cutting, it also ensures the safety of the worker.
- Very good value for money
- Fantastic quality
- Powerful motor
- Cast-iron constructed
- 5-year warranty
- Not very stable
5. Jet JWL-1015VS 10-Inch X 15-Inch Variable Speed Wood Working Lathe
This impressive looking wood lathe has three speed ranges: 200-1050, 300-1750 and 600-3600. The speed ranges aid your control of your work and create more interesting pieces such as small detailed creations. The rigidity of this product is very high due to its wide bed, giving this lathe a longer lifetime than others therefore making it great value for money. The tensioning system has also been improved giving the user easier access to the belt. The Jet JWL-1015VS is a very user-friendly mini wood lathe.
This wood lathe continues to receive rave reviews, especially on its ease of use and how smoothly it runs while turning. With a 15-inch lathe bed and integrated 24-position indexing this lathe is not one to miss!
- Excellent value for money
- Motor is very quiet
- Parts are easily adjustable
- Sturdy and powerful
- Great for beginners
- Lathe can slide on certain surfaces
6. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
An amazing price and will not disappoint! This lathe has an 8-inch swing over the bed which allows for a variety of turning projects. With two tool rests, 4.5 inches and 7inches, you can safely lead your tool to the wood. Turning hard or soft pieces of wood is easy with this lathe due to the infinitely variable speed control ranging from 700-3200 rpm! Not to mention the fact that a 5.75-inch face plate is included which means that non-spindle turning can be done, this is ideal for those customers that want to make bowls and other items not supported by the tailstock.
This lathe is ideal for pen turning and small projects and has been designed to fit neatly on a work bench, not taking up too much space. It also features a safety paddle.
- Includes two tool rests
- Great value for money
- Infinitely variable speed control
- Included faceplate
- Large gap between the wire
- The handle demonstrates too much flex
- Short handle
7. Rockler Excelsior Mini Lathe
This mini lathe from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is perfect if you’re looking to make chair legs, small table legs and decorative turnings. The Excelsior mini lathe spindles up to 17.75 inch in length and can turn bowls up to 10 inches in diameter.
Being able to change the speed is an essential feature for a lathe to have and this mini lathe does not disappoint, having 5 different speeds: 760, 1100, 1600, 2200 and 3200 rpm. This variety of speeds is very important as you will need to use a low speed when turning large diameter pieces of work but as you start to finish the piece you will want to increase the speed.
- High quality
- Very good value for money
- Powerful motor
- Minimal vibration
- No indexing chuck
8. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 12-Inch x 16 1/2-Inch
This small lathe is very portable yet delivers the capacity of some of the larger lathes on the market today, making this wood lathe very desirable. The Nova 46300 Comet II offers the widest speed range on the market from 250-4000 rpm due to its ¾ HP, electronic, variable speed motor. This gives the user ultimate control and the ability to produce great pieces of work. It doesn’t stop there! With a swing capacity over the bed of 12 inches and 16.5 inches between center capacity you can turn a variety of projects.
Safety is a very important aspect when using a lathe and NOVA have designed this lathe exceptionally well, ensuring you are always safe whilst working with it. Such safety features include the improved on/off switch where a no-vault release has been fitted. The construction of this lathe is solid cast iron which delivers maximum strength reducing vibration to the minimum and increasing the customer’s safety. The three-step pulley system provides more torque for applications that are more demanding than others.
This lathe is backed by a full replacement 1-year warranty on the motor and electronics and a further 2-year limited warranty on other parts.
- Excellent quality
- Great value for money
- Widest speed range on the market
- Motor runs quiet
- No tools needed for belt changes
- Difficult locking levers
9. Grizzly H8259 Bench-Top Wood Lathe, 10-Inch
With 5 different speeds, the Grizzly H8259 is great for working on a variety of different sized pieces of wood and lots of different projects. Although being able to vary the speed is a very handy feature, the lowest speed offered is 826 rpm which is relatively high for its lowest speed. This could make it harder for those less experienced when wanting to turn large diameter pieces. It contains a ½ HP motor and has a swing over bed of 10 inches, both great for turning small to medium sized pieces of wood.
This lathe also comes with adjustable leveling feet which is ideal as it means that the user can ensure that the lathe’s spindle is at the right height. it is ideal for the wood lathe to be at the same height as your elbows and this allows that to be the case no matter how tall or small you are. This is very important as if it is too high it will make it quite hard to keep the tools in line with the tool rest.
- Very good value for money
- Great quality
- Variable speed
- Quiet-no vibration
- Adjustable levelling feet
- Motor gets very hot
10. Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe
The Jet JWL-1015 has been rated 5 stars across the board and has many outstanding features. The wood lathe has six spindle speeds; 500, 840, 1240, 1800, 2630 and 3975rpm. This low speed will allow you to turn wider stock. This has integrated 24-position indexing which allows you to lock the spindle in the perfect place.
The length between the centers is 15.5 inch which is ideal as long beds tend to vibrate more and flex which will reduce your safety and affect your project’s overall quality.
- Top quality
- Integrated 24 position indexing
- Six spindle speeds
- Runs quietly
- Mounting holes hidden