Whether you’re a professional carpenter or you simply enjoy working with wood, metal, and other materials as a hobby, a lathe is an essential tool for your workshop. However, traditional lathes are big machines that don’t only take up a lot of space but can easily take too much off smaller pieces of material.
Luckily, there is a solution to these problems. If you’re trying to shape or carve intricate details into small, thin wood or metal, you need a mini lathe. These are designed specifically with smaller projects in mind and, as they are smaller in size, they also take up less space in your workshop.
There is one problem, though. A quick online search will pull up results for hundreds of mini
lathes, which can make finding the right one for your needs a little difficult. So, to make things easier, we’ve done the hard work for you!
Below, you’ll find a list of the 10 best mini lathes available today. We’ve also included a super useful buyer’s guide that’s packed with information on what to look out for before you make your final decision.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Let’s get straight into it by taking a look at our top pick. The WEN 3421 8”x12” Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe is designed to fit workpieces measuring up to 12-inches in length. This makes it perfect for working on smaller projects including bowls, cups, pens, chess pieces, and more.
It features a 3.2-amp motor that makes it around 50% more powerful than most other mini lathes. This motor also features a variable speed function, starting soft and allowing you to gradually increase the speed from 750 RPM to 3200 RPM as required.
Other features you’ll find on this mini lathe include a 2.3-inch faceplate, an MT1 spindle, and a tailstock taper. It also comes complete with two interchangeable tool rests, giving you the ability to work with ultimate precision no matter what you’re crafting.
- Fits workpieces up to 12-inches in length - ideal for working on smaller projects.
- Features a 3.2-amp motor - operates with around 50% more power than most other mini lathes.
- Variable speed - allows you to gradually increase the number of revolutions from 750 RPM to 3200 RPM.
- Interchangeable tool rests - offers you the ability to work with ultimate precision.
- The tailstock is prone to moving - some people found that, while in use, the tailstock moved slightly out of place despite having a locking mechanism.
If you’re looking for something a little more hi-tech, the JET JWL-1221VS Woodworking Lathe is an excellent choice. This is because it features a digital readout that shows you exactly how many revolutions you're working with, which also allows you to work with more precision.
It also features easy-to-reach controls and three speed ranges (60-900 RPM, 110-1800 RPM, and 220-3600 RPM). This gives you the power to craft a range of smaller projects and get those perfect details you’re looking for. There’s even a directional control feature that ensures a smooth transition when shifting from forward to reverse.
Other features you’ll find in this mini lathe include an innovative ratchet-style belt tension system, an acme thread in the tailstock, and 24 integrated indexing positions. There’s also a removable on/off safety key and, to top it all off, there is an integrated storage caddy on the end of the machine.
- Digital readout - shows you exactly how many revolutions you’re working with.
- Variable speed controls - allows you to adjust the number of revolutions from 60 RPM all the way up to 3600 RPM.
- Directional control feature - ensure a smooth transition when shifting from forward to reverse.
- Integrated storage caddy - offers you a place to store your tools and keep your workbench tidy
- Heavy - this mini lathe weighs 121 lbs which, although helps with sturdiness, may be a little too heavy for some people to unpack and set up by themselves.
The WEN 3424T Benchtop Wood Lathe is designed to handle workpieces measuring up to 18-inches long and 12-inches wide. This makes it ideal for both smaller and medium-sized projects which, in turn, gives you the power to craft a greater range of items using just one machine.
The 5 speed settings allow you to adjust the number of revolutions as necessary. Simply switch between 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 RPM depending on what you’re working on. It also features a 3-⅛-inch faceplate which is ideal for turning cups, bowls, and other non-spindle workpieces.
This mini lathe operates with a powerful 4.5-amp motor and features an MT2 headstock spur center as well as an MT2 tailstock live center. It also has an 8-inch tool rest that helps you work with better precision and, when you need somewhere safe to keep your tools, you can store them in the onboard accessory holder.
- Fits workpieces up to 18-inches long and 12-inches wide - ideal for both smaller and medium-sized projects.
- 5 speed settings - allows you to seamlessly switch between 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 RPM.
- Feature a 3-⅛-inch faceplate - perfect for crafting bowls, cups, and other non-spindle items.
- 8-inch tool rest - allows you to work with better precision by supporting the weight of your tools.
- No safety features - the on/off switch isn’t surrounded by a safety box and, while this means it’s easier to turn on and off as needed, it could lead to an accident if accidentally bumped.
If you’re new to woodworking and you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use lathe, this Mini Lathe from RIKON Power Tools is a great option.
Made from cast iron, it’s super durable and stays steady on the workbench while you work. This heavy-duty construction also helps to eliminate vibrations, making it easier to concentrate on honing your craft.
You’re offered a choice of 5 speeds as well, giving you the opportunity to work with precision across a range of workpieces. It also features a tool rest that bears the weight of your tools and helps you focus more on hitting the perfect angles and holding your wood steadily in place.
Other features you’ll find with this mini lathe include a live center, a knock-out bar, and wrenches. It also comes with a very generous 5-year warranty that gives you peace of mind and acts as a testament to this mini lathe’s quality and performance.
- Ideal for beginners - easy to use and made from super-durable cast iron which helps reduce vibrations and stops the lathe from moving while you work.
- 5 speed settings - perfect for working across a wide variety of workpieces.
- Built-in toolbar - bears the weight of your tools and helps hold the wood steadily in place.
- 5-year warranty - offers you both peace of mind and value for money.
- No RPM gauge - while you’re able to choose between 5 speeds, there’s no way of telling how many revolutions you’re working with.
Just like the option listed above, this Mini Wood Lathe from Mophorn is also made from high-quality cast iron. This ensures durability, helps reduce vibrations and increases stability while you’re working. Perfect for anybody crafting a super-intricate workpiece.
It also features a powerful 550W motor with a soft-start. This means that the lathe starts up slowly and gradually increases in speed, which helps to ensure a safe start to your project every time. Once your wood is safely in position, you can increase the speed between 500-3800 RPM by simply turning the control knob.
While this is a mini lathe, it’s also ideal for medium-sized projects. This is because you have an 18-inch distance between centers and a 10-inch swing over the bed. All you need to do to adjust the distance you’re working with is move the tailstock.
It also features interchangeable tool rests that can be adjusted to any position or direction, giving you even more of an ability to work with extreme precision.
- Cast iron construction and rubber feet - reduces vibration and maximizes the stability of the lathe while you work.
- 550W soft-start motor - allows you to move your workpiece safely into position before increasing the speed.
- Variable speed controls - switch between 500-3800 RPM easily by turning the control knob.
- Ideal for small and medium-sized projects - features an adjustable 18-inch distance between centers and a 10-inch swing over the bed.
- The slowest speed is 500 RPM - this may be slightly too powerful for some tasks, such as fine sanding.
If you’ve got a passion for crafting pens, the PSI Woodworking Portable 15lb Mini Lathe is an essential addition to your workshop. This is because it’s been designed specifically with pen making in mind and, as such, features a headstock threaded to ¾-inch x 16tpi.
Its pen-making abilities don’t stop there, though. It also comes complete with a pen mandrel shaft, mandrel saver, five 7mm bushings, two collet wrenches, and a 7mm drill bit. The pen mandrel shaft even features a collet close nut that allows you to securely mount it to the lathe.
Constructed from aluminum, this mini pen-making lathe features mounting holes and a flange that allows you to easily and safely secure it to your workbench. It also features a hood mounting bracket and a mini dust collection hood with a 2-inch port and 2-inch hose clamp.
This helps keep things tidier while you work, and offers you the ability to clearly see what you’re doing at all times.
- Designed specifically for crafting pens - features a headstock threaded to ¾-inch x 16tpi.
- Includes multiple features that are ideal for pen-making - comes with a pen mandrel shaft, mandrel saver, five 7mm bushings, two collet wrenches, and a 7mm drill bit.
- Aluminum construction with pre-drilled mounting holes - super durable and easy to safely secure to your workbench.
- Features a dust collection hood - helps keep everything clean while you work which, in turn, increases the visibility of your workpiece.
- Not suitable for a wider variety of projects - as this mini lathe is designed specifically for pen-making, it’s not the best choice if you’re looking to create many different pieces such as cups or bowls.
The JWL-1015VS Mini Wood Lathe from JET Is another excellent choice for any novice woodturner. It features an improved tensioning system that allows easier access to belts as well as increased rigidity that maximizes stability and reduces vibrations while you work.
The 15 ½-inch space between centers allows for compact turning, giving you the ability to create some really intricate, smooth shapes across a variety of workpieces. It’s also compatible with several other additional accessories including a 21-inch bed extension.
This makes it ideal for anybody who would like to expand their skills and the variety of pieces they can create without having to purchase a separate lathe.
This mini wood lathe also features variable speed control and gives you the power to gradually increase and decrease the number of revolutions between 200-3600 RPM.
- Improved tensioning system - gives easier access to the belts.
- Increased rigidity - maximizes stability and reduces vibrations while you work.
- 15 ½-inch space between centers - allows for compact turning, making it easier to achieve smooth, intricate details.
- Variable speed control - gradually increase and decrease the speed from 200 - 3600 RPM as required.
- Expensive - while this mini lathe has some undeniably impressive features, it does sit at the higher end of the price range.
If you’re a professional woodworker who needs something a little more powerful, the T25926 Mini Lathe from Grizzly Industrial could be the perfect choice. The 1x8-inch TPI spindle and tailstock taper combine with the 18” distance between centers, giving you the ability to work with precision across a variety of pieces.
You also have full control over the speed with variable controls of 650-3800 RPM, and you can see what speed you’re working with simply by glancing at the built-in digital spindle speed indicator. It also features a 5-¾-inch tool rest that bears most of the weight of the wood and allows you to concentrate on hitting those perfect angles.
This mini lathe is made from high-quality cast iron, which helps to ensure durability and stability while you work. It also features rubber feet that minimize vibrations and help to make sure your workpiece is held as steadily as possible while you carve.
- 1x8-inch spindle and 18-inch distance between centers - offers the ability to work with ultimate precision across a variety of projects.
- Variable speed control - reduce and increase the number of revolutions from 650-3800 RPM as needed.
- 5-¾-inch tool rest - bears the weight of the wood and your tools, helping you concentrate more on carving or sanding.
- Cast-iron construction - ensures durability and stability while you work.
- It May be too powerful for fine sanding - the minimum speed is 650 RPM which, unless monitored very closely, means you could easily sand off more than you intended.
If you’re setting up a workshop on a budget, or you're simply looking for an inexpensive way to make some beautiful workpieces, the NW2 Mini Lathe Machine could be an excellent choice.
Not only does it sit at the lower end of the price scale, but it comes complete with several accessories that offer more value for money.
This includes 3 hex shanks (1.5mm, 2mm, and 2.5mm), 1 screw thread fixed needle, 1 collet wrench, and 1 hexagon wrench. It also features variable speed controls from 4000-9000 RPM, giving you the ability to work quickly and efficiently while creating a perfectly smooth finish.
Despite operating with such power, this mini lathe has a very low noise output which makes it ideal for home workshops and craft enthusiasts. It also features a 70mm maximum turning diameter and a 50mm maximum blade diameter, so it’s perfectly sized for smaller projects.
- Budget-friendly - inexpensive and comes with a variety of accessories that offer you more value for money.
- Variable speed controls - allows you to gradually increase the speed from 4000-9000 RPM.
- 70mm maximum turning diameter - perfectly sized for smaller projects.
- Low noise output - ideal for home workshops and hobbyists.
- Potentially too powerful - the minimum speed is 4000 RPM which is pretty powerful for a starting point.
While most mini lathes are designed for woodworking, the Mophorn Precision Mini Metal Lathe is designed for crafting metal. Made from high-grade iron, and equipped with nylon gears, it’s durable, wear-resistant, and ideal for both professional and hobby work.
It also features a powerful 550W motor that makes short work of shaping metal, and further durability is provided by precision-tapered roller bearings that support the spindle.
Another impressive feature that this mini metal lathe has to offer is its infinitely variable speed control. It begins at just 50 RPM for a safe start and can be adjusted all the way up to 2250 RPM. You can also work forwards and reverse, regardless of the speed you’ve chosen.
This mini metal lathe also features a 3-jaw, self-centering chuck for setting materials steadily, and a backsplash guard for safety. An extra safety feature is offered in the form of an emergency stop button.
- Designed for metal work - features a powerful 550W motor, precision-tapered roller bearings, and nylon gears that make shaping metal easier than ever.
- Variable speed control - allows you to work in forward and reverse at speeds ranging from 50-2250 RPM.
- 3-jaw self-centering chuck - sets materials steadily and keeps them secure while you work.
- Safety features - comes complete with a backsplash guard and features an emergency stop button.
- Only suitable for metal work - this mini lathe would be far too powerful to use on wood and is only suitable for metalwork.
Best Mini Lathes Buying Guide
It’s quite easy to be blinded by excitement when you’re looking for a mini lathe, especially if you’re a DIY enthusiast looking for something to help with multiple projects around the house.
However, to make sure you get the best mini lathe for your personal needs, it’s important to pay attention to certain features. Below, you’ll find some key points to bear in mind when you start shopping.
Taking the time to look into each of these will help you find the perfect mini lathe for your workshop and, ultimately, will save you time and money.
The first thing you need to consider is size, and there are a couple of things that fall into this category. The size of the mini lathe itself is the first of these.
Even though labeled as “mini”, the irony is that some mini lathes can be pretty big and the measurements that some are advertised with only apply to the work area. For example, a 12”x18” mini lathe will fit workpieces measuring this much inside them, while the machine itself may be much larger.
So, before you do anything else, check the overall measurements of your chosen mini lathe and make sure it’ll fit in your workspace.
The second thing to consider when looking at size is the size of the projects you plan on working on. As we’ve discussed above, the measurements that each mini lathe is advertised with give you a clear indication of how much space the center offers and, as such, the size of the pieces you’ll be able to fit in.
The next thing to look at is the material that the mini lathe is made from. When you’re turning wood, metal, or any other material at high speeds, there is an increased risk of vibrations and wobbling. And, when this happens, it’s all too easy to accidentally ruin your whole project.
To stop this from happening, the best material to look for in a mini lathe is cast iron. This is naturally heavy and, as a result, the weight dramatically reduces wobbling and vibrations.
Cast iron mini lathes can be more expensive than their aluminum counterparts, though. So, if you’re looking for a less expensive option but still want to ensure stability, make sure you choose one that features pre-drilled mounting holes.
Variable Speed Settings
It’s not just important, but pretty much essential to make sure your chosen mini lathe has variable speed settings. This will help you achieve the perfect finish on a variety of projects, slowing down to finely sand away and speeding up to carve deep lines and holes.
The speed settings will be measured in RPM (revolutions per minute) and the wider this number is the better. Don’t be tempted to go for anything too powerful as this could lead to accidentally taking too much off your workpiece. The ideal speed settings for a mini lathe would be between 50-3600 RPM.
Finally, it’s important to think about how much money you’re willing to spend on a mini lathe. If you’re a professional woodworker, you can probably afford to go a little more expensive as you’ll be making money from your projects. You’ll also need something a little more professional with higher performance.
However, if you’re a DIY enthusiast or a hobbyist, you may not need some of the features that can be found on more expensive mini lathes. This is especially true if you’re new to woodworking, and going for a mini lathe at the lower end of the price range allows you to get a feel for the craft without having to spend a fortune straight away.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a mini lathe?
A mini lathe works in the same way as a standard-sized lathe, but it allows you to work with precision and achieve fine details on smaller workpieces. There are loads of different options available and you’ll find mini lathes with variable speeds and different center sizes.
However, one of the best mini lathes on the market is the WEN 3421 8”x12” Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe. Check out our full review above to learn more about it, along with nine other fantastic mini lathes.