Let’s look back to the 19th century, people were used to making things using hand. During the technological advancement, people invented the machine to work for them gathering knowledge from mechanical principles and theories. A lathe machine is the best example among them. In today’s world, the lathe machine has always played an important role in machining industries.
A machine that has a lathe tool to cut object rotating about an axis and with the position of the lathe tool the workpieces can be made in various shapes is known as a Lathe machine.
It has mainly two kinds depending on the workpieces. One of them is used to shape metals and another one is to shape woods.
Its main motion is the rotating speed of the motor. Metal lathe machines have comparatively a slower speed than the wood lathe machines. The range for the metal lathe machine can be 0-2500 variable RPM (adjustable) and the wood lathe machines can be 0-4000 variable RPM (adjustable).
Motor Power generally has a range of 1/3HP – 1 HP both for benchtop wood and metal lathe machines. And the center distance we choose between 10 inches to 20 inch which is normally enough for the household objects.
In this article, we are going to compare several benchtop metal-wood lathe machines. We know people’s needs are not always the same and it changes with different interests. Depending on the different interests’ different models will be suitable for the operators. So, based on few aspects let’s find the top 10 best lathe machines.
The points on which we will concentrate are the motor power, capacity or center distance, rotational speeds of the motor and nature of the speed panel, and most importantly buyer reviews. The lathe machines we are going to talk about is the general mini machines which are used in local workshops. We will also describe the pros and cons as well.
Based on the experience from the workshop, let us see a glance on metal and wood lathe machines. We have categorized the serial of the models based on the mentioned aspects.
Top 5 Best Benchtop Metal Lathes
1. Shop Fox M1016 10-Inch by 20-Inch Metal Lathe
This adorable Metal lathe machine will be the best choice for noob operators. Because the operating tools are highlighted very clearly on this machine. Having 600 watts of motor power with a 110V will be very much suitable for the lathe operation. The variable speeds can be very useful to operate the workpieces. Starting the spindle speed of 150 it has 240, 490, 750, 1200, 2400 RPMs.
The M1016 is an excellent small-sized lathe machine, it has an excellent 10 inches (around) swing and 21 inches distance between centers. This lathe machine offers some handy accessories such as a 5 inch 3-jaw chuck, eye shield, and 4-way turret tool post. Having a basic size of 44-inch Length, 23 inches of width and 12.5 inches of height it is a pretty good machine to operate.
- 1. Very much accurate operations.
- 2. Easy to operate.
- 3. Variable rotational speed.
- 4. The automatic tool, infinitely variable, professional tool post
- 5. Wear-resistant, durable, accurate and professional
- 1. Price comparatively high.
- 2. 386 lb. which is heavy compared with other lathe machines.
2. Grizzly G0768 8″ x 16″ Variable-Speed Benchtop Lathe
This Grizzly G0768 Variable-Speed Lathe is ideal for a powerful workbench. From the review of the buyers and operators, this machine is perfect for the noob operators. They said it features a variable-speed spindle with high or low-speed ranges and convenient to the quick-lock tailstock. It has a reverse feed for cutting left-hand threads and a great selection of included standard equipment.
Motor Power is the same as the SHOP FOX M1016 model having 600W (3/4HP) motor with 110V DC power supply needs 10A of current.
As mentioned before, it has a feature with the speed regulating options. It has 2 panels of speed regulations. Low speed includes from 50 RPM to 1000 RPM, High-speed panel includes 100 RPM to 2000 RPM.
Grizzly G0768 is a comparatively medium-sized lathe machine having 36 inches of length, 16 inches of width, 14 inches of height, is a pretty good size for household operating objects. Center distance 16 inches is enough to operate any workpieces.
- 1. Variable speed regulations.
- 2. Very much safe to operate.
- 3. Not that heavy, not gigantic.
- 1. Comparing with the other Lathe machines the Motor Power is lower than others.
- 2. Price comparatively higher.
3. Digital Precision Metal Mini Lathe Variable Speed 750W 2500 RPM
This precision metal mini variable-Speed Lathe is normally designed to perform various types of metal, jade, and woodturning. It is ideal as a stand-alone unit when mounted on a suitable stand.
If we look back on the normal characteristics we can see, it can also be used in areas such as mini precision parts processing, sample processing, and modeling works. It is both perfect for noob operators and professional modelers who are looking to add complete detail to their construction projects.
This model has a very strong powerful motor comparing with other models. 1Horse Power or 750 W motor power will be very much suitable for any casual operations.
This DIGITAL PRECISION model has the variable speed limits like Grizzly G0768 with the variable speed limits. Two panels of the speed limit. Lower speed contains 50 RPM to 1250 RPM, higher speed contains 100 RPM to 2500 RPM.
With a length of 36 inches, a width of 19 inches and a height of 17 inches, this machine is only 128lb (58) of weight. This is the main attracting part of this model. Center Distance or capacity of the workbench is 16 inches which normally a perfect range.
- 1. Higher Horse Power of the motor
- 2. Lightweight.
- 3. Variable speeds (Low to High)
- 4. Cheap in Price.
- 5. Extra features with the metal gears and shell.
- 6. High precision, able to turn out standard qualified works
- 7. Wear-resistant, durable, accurate and professional
- 1. A limited number of lathe types.
4. Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe
This Erie Tools brought a complete feature like the other models we have discussed above. The lathe turns metal up to 84 cubic inches in size. It is easy to read digital readout when adjusting the rotational speeds. The thread indicator helps the operators to turn screw threads from 12 to 52 TPI including the metric imperial pitches. This is also a pretty good machine to operate household objects.
Specifications come with the variable speed single phase 400W motor which normally loads 120V DC power supply. It can provide the variable rotational speed up to 2500 RPM. No other extra features like SHOP FOX or Grizzly or Digital precision on speed panels.
This model is about 36 inches of length, 17.3 inches of width and 14.6 inches of height. The 5/16-inch capacity tool is capable to mount 4 cutting tools at once which is a normal characteristic like the others. No other special features.
This model is pretty good simple to operate, noob operates may face difficulties on speed regulations. The experienced operator can use this model to perform in their workshops. The main attraction of this model is the price, you can buy expending a few hundred dollars to get this model.
- 1. Comfortable price with high precision.
- 2. Lightweight, easy to carry.
- 3. Variable Speeds.
- 1. Low Motor Power.
5. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe by Central Machinery
Whether you’re turning and perform other lathe operations, this precision mini lathe will be perfect. On the other side, this small mini lathe machine will be perfect installing in workshops, university labs or any educational settings.
600 watt(3/4HP) Motor power will bring the 0-1100 RPM rotational speed (low) and can be high up to 2500 RPM. This model is pretty easy to operate.
This Central Machinery model has a length of 27 inches, 12 inches of width and 10 inches of height can work within 10inch of center distance for workpieces. Comparing with the size this model is quite heavy to carry.
- 1. High precision.
- 2. Variable speed.
- 3. Automatic feed
- 4. Cheap Price comparing with other models.
- 1. Heavy to carry.
- 2. No low control panel of speed.
- 3. Center distance is small.
Which one will be perfect??
Now it is too hard to choose a perfect one, right?? Every model has complete features with different capacities. Let’s make it easy to choose. As I mentioned before, SHOP FOX, Grizzly, and central machinery lathe machine are easy to operate. These three can be installed at a University lab or any educational setting. If you are a noob operator you can choose these 3 lathe machines. Besides this, if your budget is enough you can try Grizzly or SHOP fox. From the review panel, the professional operators suggested choosing Grizzly cause it is very safe for the newcomers and convenient to use.
Don’t think the rest two are less important if you did so then you are wrong. The other two are not any of less than those three models. The digital precision model and Erie tools model will be perfect for the experienced operator. Considering the price these two will be a wonderful choice to select.
Top 5 Best Benchtop Wood Lathes
6. Delta Industrial 46-460 12-1/2-Inch Variable-Speed Midi Lathe
Wood Lathe machine has the same working principle as the metal lathe machine has. The only difference in their rotational speeds and price. Generally, we use wood lathe machines to duplicate parts to repair chairs, dig into a burl to make a bowl or make our custom candlesticks. Wood lathe tools come in many sizes, from small pen lathes to huge bowl turning machines. Here we will discuss TOP 5 Wood lathe machines, we will review their performance and judge which will be best to buy.
Delta brought this model with a Large around 12 inches of swing capacity provides the largest capacity in its class. Its drive spindle is 1 inch to 8 RH TPI thread. The variable speed of the motor provides the expected speed to the object. Forwarding and Reversing function allow the turner to achieve a complete finish. Sanding, knurling, grinding, etc can be performed in this model.
This has 1 HP max strong motor which provides variable rotational speeds up to 3200RPM. As we know that the wood lathe machine has comparatively higher RPM so we have to focus on this point while we go to my lathe machines.
It is 36 inches of length, 11 inches of width and 17.8 inches of height sized machine securing 12 inches of center distance. It is around 92 lb in weight. It is not heavy to carry.
- 1. Powerful Motor and Variable Speed for Consistency and Precision
- 2. Forward and Reverse Provides a Superior Finish
- 3. Patented Belt-Tensioning System for Fast Speed Changes and Longer Tool Life
- 4. Cast-Iron Construction for Durability and Strength
- 5. Five-year warranty.
- 1. Comparatively expensive than the other model.
7. PSI Woodworking KWL-1218VS Turn Crafter Commander 12″ Lathe
With a powerful 1 HP, motor PSI KWL-1218VS will be a wonderful choice for the professionals. It’s strong like the Delta model. Producing two steps of rotational speed Low-speed covers from 500 to 1800 RPM, High-speed covers from 1950-3800 RPM.
With a Digital display, this model is made by cast iron having 32 inches of length, 11 inches of width and 10 inches of height will be very much suitable for professional operators. The center distance will cover up to 18 inches and swing over the bed can up to 12 inches which is a good feature with the price range.
- 1. Powerful Motor.
- 2. 18 inches of bigger center distance.
- 3. Cheap in price.
- 1. Heavy.
8. Shop Fox W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
This model is made of cast iron and designed to fit neatly on a workbench. It features a safety paddle switch, an MT No. 1 spur center, an MT No. 1 live center. 4.25 inches, and 7 inches tool rests, a 5.75 inches of the faceplate, and a .75 by 16 inches of TPI RH spindle. Sanding, grinding, milling, etc all the different features are available in this model.
1/3 Horsepower motor will generally provide speed between 700RPM to 3200 RPM depends on the operator’s demand.
It has 27.9 inches of length, 13.7 inches of width and 7.1 inches of height size. Having 12 inches of center distance which is enough to create all the general workpieces. It is a 48.5 lb very light-weight machine.
- 1. Light-weight machine.
- 2. Comfortable Price range.
- 3. 2 years of warranty.
- 1. Motor Power is not that Powerful.
- 2. Not for operating heavy workpieces.
9. WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in. Variable Speed Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe
This model is perfect for pens, chess pieces, and other small workpieces. It includes 5 inches of the faceplate for turning non-spindle workpieces. It fits workpieces up to 12 inches of length and 8 inches of width ( recommended max workable diameter is 5 inches). It features a 2 ampere of the motor, an MT1 spindle, a tailstock taper, and two interchangeable tools rest.
The 1/3 HP motor will provide 750 to 3200 RPM rotational speeds. It is the same as the previous one we discussed.
Size may come with variations with other models, having 26inch of length, 13.7-inch width, 12 inches of height of size makes it a black orange adorable combination. Center distance is of 12 inch which is generally enough to operate any general workpieces. It is 43lb weight the same as the previous one.
- 1. Variable Speed Control
- 2. Lightweight, easy to carry.
- 1. The motor is not strong.
10. Nova 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 12-Inch x 16 1/2-Inch
Nova Comet II is a portable, space-saving – yet delivers the capacity and the rugged stability of larger lathes. It is perfect for a wide range of woodworking projects. This adorable midi Lathe takes the Nova mini lathe and gives it a massive improvement. The user now has a digital display with dial-in speed control for maximum convenience and control of the operator’s experience.
It comes with a 0.75 HP of Motor Power that will provide the rotational speeds from 250 RPM to 4000 RPM. In comparison with other models will provide the speed range up to 3500 RPM, but this model will provide an extra. This is a unique characteristic of this model.
Nova Comet II is 33 inches of length 9 inches of width and 18 inches of height in size. The center distance will occupy 16.5 inch which is normally enough to operate household workpieces. With this size in dimension, this machine is a little heavy compared with other models.
- 1. Variable speed up to 4000 RPM.
- 2. 3 steps of pulley system low, medium-high speed ranges.
- 3. 1 year of warranty.
- 1. Medium ranged from motor Power like the previous ones.
Which One to Choose?
Comparing these five, all of the models are perfect for turning, sanding, grinding, milling, etc. But there have few differences among their capacity and motor power and speeds. The first two Delta and PSI model has very strong Motor which is around 1 Horse Power of each. This is a wonderful feature for both of them. It can overload higher strength than the other models. So, Choosing these two will be a perfect decision.
But considering the capacity, the PSI and NOVA lathe machine are the best ones to choose from. Both of them have more than 16 inches of capacity. Though 12 inches of center distance is enough for any operations. But in case those who need bigger capacity can choose these two models.
On the other hand for more convenience, choosing SHOP FOX and Wen will be a perfect decision. Because both of them are not that heavy and easy to use. Comparing with the price these two models are not expensive, noob operators can try these two.
Buying Guide Benchtop Lathe
To choose a Metal or Wood lathe machine we should focus on the main few factors of the machine. They are:
1. Motor Power: This is the main important part of choosing the lathe machine. Normally you can operate any turning procedures using 3/4 HP Power of Motor. But if you have a special occasion you can choose the higher power motor.
2. Capacity: Generally, as we mentioned before that 12 inches of center distance is enough to operate any operations. But on a special occasion, you can choose the bigger capacity machine. It depends on your purpose.
3. Rotational Speed: This is one of the most important aspects to consider. Generally, as we mentioned metal lathe has a slower speed than the Wood lathe. Not only the higher speed but also the variable speed panel is very much necessary for a good lathe machine. To consider the safety and smoothness of the work, you should consider this part.
4. Price: Price is also one of the important factors to consider. Maybe you don’t have enough budget, but you still need a good lathe machine, then you will have to read this article completely, you will get a piece of complete knowledge about the lathe machine. You will automatically understand which one will be best with your choice.
5. Others: Other factors like Thread range, swing spindle, spindle speeds, lathe tools, warranty, disassembly tools, Overall size, etc.
These are the main factors that you need to consider. I hope this article will help you to know the general idea of lathe machines. So, Best of luck with your project.