Picking up the best metal lathe is complicated sometimes. You have to have a clear vision of what you’re buying and what project you want to work with. You have to keep in mind what types of projects you’re going to design, the machine’s versatility, and many other elements. you can’t just go out with a handful of money and expect to buy the perfect machine every time.
Metalworking is a process that creates satisfying results out of the most ordinary materials. It is not only for professionals either! You can do metalworking as a hobby, or for academic purposes teaching students. Regardless of what your purpose is, the best way to turn the metals is through a metal lathe.
Today, we will go through the different lathe types and what they do and help you pick the best one to start working on your due projects. So let’s jump in.
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Table of content
- 1 10 Metal Lathes That We Think Are The Best for 2020
- 1.1 1. Best Equip Variable Spindle Speed Mini Lathe
- 1.2 2. Mophorn Mini Benchtop Metal Lathe
- 1.3 3. PM-1030V Precision Matthews Metal Working Lathe
- 1.4 4. Erie Tools Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe
- 1.5 5. BestEquip Maintenance Free Metal Lathe With Variable Spindle Speed
- 1.6 6. SHOP FOX M1016 Metal Lathe
- 1.7 7. Grizzly G8688 Metal Lathe
- 1.8 8. Central Machinery Precision Mini Lathe
- 1.9 9. Shop Fox M1112 12-Inch by 36-Inch Gunsmithing Lathe
- 1.10 10. Jet 321360A BDB-1340A Metal Lathe
- 2 Things To Consider Before Choosing One
- 3 Few cutting tools you need besides just the lathe
- 4 The Types of Lathes
10 Metal Lathes That We Think Are The Best for 2020
Enough of introduction and waiting. Now let’s jump onto the main part of this article. We are bringing in to the table the top-notch metal lathes you could get depending on your needs out there in the market. Here you go.
1. Best Equip Variable Spindle Speed Mini Lathe
When you are working with metals, your best ally is a tool capable of working with them. This tool needs to have a powerful energy source, constant rotations per minute and variable speed. Herein, the BestEquip mini-lathe meets all of those requirements effectively. It features a 0.75 horsepower motor working at 550W and 110 volts.
The motor is powerful enough to distribute the energy across the machine making it very easy to work the metals. For higher versatility, you can change the working speed from 100 to 2500 rotations per minute. The motor and its many benefits allow you to work on different materials. Of course, the main purpose of this tool is to work with metals, but you can use it for wood and jade as well as other materials.
That versatility makes this item a reliable tool to use for experts and amateurs. For example, you can use it in the laboratory, particular workshops, and for educational purposes. It also features a unique chuck with adjustable jaws. This chuck allows the machine to hold asymmetrical materials while also enabling a precise configuration for cylindrical materials as well.
The machine’s pieces are easy to adjust, and you can adjust it to work on different projects. This particular lathe is the best mini metal lathe for people who like to have perfect results. For the tool’s maintenance, it takes a couple of simple steps to follow. You should clean every surface with a commercial solvent. Nonetheless, products like thinner or gasoline could damage the product’s functionality. This is why you have to follow the maintenance instructions strictly.
✅ The exclusive chuck has four adjustable jaws
✅ It is a multi-function machine
suitable for professional and amateur purposes
✅ Delivers high precision and quality results
✅ Features a turret capable of rotating in multiple directions
❌ Requires you to check its pieces constantly to see if they are well adjusted
Try making some time to see this awesome review of the Grizzly G0602 model. It’s a different one but you can see the differences before making any decision.
2. Mophorn Mini Benchtop Metal Lathe
This mini lathe is a valuable product that delivers precision. It is suitable for different types of metals and works perfectly under many applications. For that reason, you are going to find a great ally for your projects with this product.
One of the best features from this machine is how effective it is under different applications. Naturally, it has incredible performance for turning, but it can also drill and cut materials. Thanks to this versatility, you can use it to execute a wide range of projects without a problem.
A few good examples of its many applications are in certain areas like mini precision work, and for processing parts. It is also great for sample processing, and you can use it for modeling projects as well. Its main power source is a 0.75 horsepower motor with 550W and 110 voltages. This motor produces the energy the machine requires, and it maintains a constant and steady work frequency.
Additionally, it gives you the possibility to adapt extra accessories to the machine. If you have the appropriate changing gear, you can adjust the pieces to best suit the project you will work on. It also includes tools to increase and close the jaws, providing a solid grip around materials of different sizes. Regardless of the material you are using, you can have the certainty that the machine will hold it tight while you work.
✅ Highly effective benchtop lathe
✅ Capable of providing solid performance in different tasks
✅ It is an easy to use tool
❌ The motor could have more powering capacity
3. PM-1030V Precision Matthews Metal Working Lathe
If you are looking for a smaller lathe with a solid performance, then this product is a great choice for you. It features a 1 HP motor, making it more powerful than many lathes currently available on the market. This product does not disappoint at all when it comes to its performance, and it will produce satisfying results for your projects.
To get a firm grip of the pieces, this machine includes two chucks, one with 3 jaws and the other has 4 jaws. Incorporating these two chucks, the unit offers you the option to decide which one is the most suitable for your projects. On top of that, the chuck also allows the machine to offer versatility. It is capable of working with different materials of many sizes.
The lathe’s efficiency is guaranteed regardless of the materials you use. To ensure its functionality, it also features a tool post for quick changes and adjustments, a faceplate, a drilling chuck among other elements. All of these tools work together to help you design and create a variety of projects successfully.
✅ The tool post allows you to make quick changes and adjustments
✅ A different set of chucks with a variety of specifications
✅ Delivers precision for your projects
✅ Includes a powerful motor
✅ Whether it is on forward or reverse, the lathe works effectively
❌ Not easy to use and requires preparation
4. Erie Tools Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe
The product’s efficiency is possible because of its energy source. It features a single-phase motor with different speeds. You can adjust the speeds up to 2500 rotations per minute capacity. This speed produces quality in both rotational directions, whether it is forward or reverse.
It also features many pieces that support the lathe during its operations. These pieces are the chuck, a five-piece cutter set, the internal jaws for the chuck as well as the external jaws, a very helpful 11 feed rate gears, and of course, the manual for the owner which provides the tool’s information. It is because of all these elements that this machine is very effective. Not only does it provide an incredible experience for the user, but also a productive performance no many other tools can deliver.
For that reason, this lathe is suitable for drilling, cutting and turning a diverse amount of materials. These materials are metals naturally, but it also works great with wood and even plastic elements. Regardless of the material, the lathe will deliver smooth and quality results.
In case you need to adjust the RPMs, you can always check out the digital readout. It has all the information you need, and it is very easy to read which allows everyone to use it regardless of their past experience.
Overall, this is a very efficient tool at an accessible price. If you want to get started as a metalworker, you will notice that this could easily be the best beginner metal lathe.
✅ Not only does it work great for metals, but you can use it for wood and plastic as well.
✅ Different speeds deliver high precision and smooth results. They also work on both rotational directions.
✅ It is easy to adjust, thanks to its digital readout.
❌ The included three-jaw chuck does not have enough quality.
5. BestEquip Maintenance Free Metal Lathe With Variable Spindle Speed
This product uses a brushless motor good enough to produce larger torque. The lathe’s motor is also capable of providing the right amount of energy-reducing any energy bursts and increasing the machine’s lifespan overall.
The motor works at 750W and produces a variety of spindle speed. From a low range of 50 to 1250 rotations per minute to a more powerful high range of 100 to 2500 rotations per minute. Its different working speed allows you to design and create a variety of projects effectively.
Another important benefit of this model is the fact that it does not require external help. Metal lathes often need external tools to adjust their pieces, but this particular model does not. You will receive all the pieces the machine needs, and the manual helps you to set it up.
Naturally, this type of work demands highly resistant lathes, and this product from BestEquip does not disappoint when it comes to resistance. It is a highly wear-resistant machine which means you will have the option to use it as much as you need it, and it will maintain its durability over time. This durability comes in handy for people who spend a high amount of time using the lathe.
If you are someone with multiple projects in mind, this product will become a great supportive tool. Nonetheless, it does require a detailed adjustment process. To get it to work properly, you must follow the instructions clearly, as it will allow you to understand its different pieces and the limitations they have.
✅ Durable product; you could put it through high demanding tasks and it will keep its functionality over time
✅ Worthy product for both professionals and hobbyist
✅ Offers high precision and versatility for multiple applications
❌ The setting up takes some time
6. SHOP FOX M1016 Metal Lathe
Here we have an outstanding tool that delivers what it promises exactly. It is a comfortable small size metal lathe with 9-3/4 inches wing and an effective 21 inches distance from the centers. The main power source for this product is a 3/4 HP motor working at 110 V during a single phase. For the speed range, it is capable of working at 6 spindle speeds, from 150 to a maximum capacity of 2400 rotations per minute.
As standard equipment for this lathe, it includes a 5 inches chuck with 3 jaws, which is strong enough to get a firm grip on the materials. It also features a cross slide table for more comfort and 11 change gears. With all of these additions, this tool becomes a valuable machine capable of keeping up with your work.
It is worth noticing that this is a worthy option if you are looking for the best metal lathe for the money. We could describe this product as a combination of the mini and the industrial lathes. This machine is capable of producing results with high quality, and it offers the comfort of a mini lathe. Ultimately, this translates into a highly effective tool that you can use from the comfort of your home if you want to create a personal workshop.
Although its price is high, it is worth every dollar you invest in it.
✅ Multiple different speed possibilities; works for projects that require low and high speed efficiently
✅ Includes up to 11 changing gears for better adjustments
✅ The tool post includes a 4-way turret
✅ Features eye shield to keep your vision protected while working
✅ Great for heavy-duty purposes
❌ The price is high
Not that satisfying? Try reading this solo and special review Shop Fox M1049.
7. Grizzly G8688 Metal Lathe
But perhaps you are not looking for a big machine that takes too much space. Your projects do not require bulky and extravagant tools. Instead, you want to have a metal lathe that allows you to place it almost everywhere, especially if you are using it from the comfort of your home. If that is the case, then let me tell you that this is probably the product you need.
While it is true that it does look small in comparison to other models, you should not dismiss this machine’s capacities. It is powered up by a capable 3/4 horsepower motor which provides the necessary energy for your projects. The motor is responsible for the multiple working speeds in this machine, and they have multiple ranges.
These speeds vary from 0 to 1100 rotations per minute at a low range, but it also features a higher range with speeds going from 0 to 2500 rotations per minute. The different speeds work great for both forward and reverse directions. This means you will acquire a versatile tool and more control over the metals in the machine.
Other specifications from this product are a 7-inch swing and a 12-inch distance from the center. It also features a dial indicator to keep track of the machine’s functionality and standard handwheels for better graduation.
As a final observation, we are mentioning its weight. This tool weighs 74 pounds making it one of the metal lathes with lesser weight in this list. The weight and the lathe’s small size make this product worth considering. It is a very comfortable machine, especially if you are a beginner.
You can get the full review of this gem right here. Just to let you know everything we know about this model. We really hope it will worth your time.
✅ Multiple speed ranges
✅ Works forward and in reverse effectively
✅ Small size and less weight than other models
✅ Features a dial indicator for the threading
❌ Not suitable for big projects
❌ Takes some time to get used to the machine’s functionality
8. Central Machinery Precision Mini Lathe
When you are initiating your way into the metalworking field, you definitely need the proper tools to assist you. Getting a complicated machine is not recommendable for beginners, especially because they feature too many accessories that you won’t need in smaller projects.
On the other hand, buying an easy to use and cheap metal lathe is probably your best choice because it will allow you to work on small projects while you learn your way around the machine. It features a 3/4 horsepower with a 2500 RPM maximum capacity which you can control through a knob successfully. The machine includes an automatic feed for better operations as well. Additionally, it features a chuck guard to keep it secured.
Thanks to the lathe’s great performance, it allows you to turn, shape and make bushings, prototypes and design your own models. However, the setting up for this tool is not easy, and it could become an issue quickly. To get it to work properly, it requires you to disassemble the pieces, like the carriage, compound, and the cross slide to make a quick maintenance process and clean them up.
It is very important that you follow the manual and the instructions clearly, especially when it comes to setting it up and its maintenance process.
Otherwise, if you make even a small mistake, your general experience will have unpleasant consequences like malfunctioning and a poor quality result.
Other than that, it is a good option to consider. You could put it under different applications as well, either a workshop or in a lab environment.
✅ Comfortable knob to control the different speeds
✅ Features an automatic feed
✅ The chuck guard includes a micro switch
✅ A great option for beginners
❌ For better functionality, it requires maintenance before using it
9. Shop Fox M1112 12-Inch by 36-Inch Gunsmithing Lathe
This product is easily the best metal lathe for gunsmithing, and we have multiple reasons to believe that. For starters, it works at multiple different speeds. These working speed ranges are: from a very low 70 RPM, up to a steady and suitable 1400 RPM. With all of these speed ranges, there’s no excuse for you to keep delaying those special projects you always wanted to do, regardless of the intense requirements they might demand.
Controlling it is not difficult either. It includes a tool post that allows you to change the tooling very quickly. This is great for both experienced and people who are initiating their ways on the field. The tool post also includes a piston sort of mechanism and a tool holder.
Other important elements to talk about are the handwheels. One of the handwheels is responsible for the carriage’s movements. You can place it to the right or left side of the bed. These adjustments are required when you are setting up the tool. It is a very welcomed feature during operations as well, as it gives you more control over what you do.
But you get another hand wheel for cross slides. Moving the cross slide to different positions from the working area becomes easier. This hand wheel and the compound hand wheel give you complete control over the machine’s structure when you are working.
Get the full review of this beast here in this link.
✅ Big variety of working speeds
✅ Features a 6-inch chuck with 3 jaws, and an 8-inch chuck with 4-jaws
✅ The tool post makes the adjustment processes quick
✅ Cast iron material for its stand and extended base
✅ Keeps the noise very low
❌ Does not include the chip guard necessary for the chuck
10. Jet 321360A BDB-1340A Metal Lathe
In our final spot, we are going to talk about a powerful tool. The lathe’s motor is the most important element, and sometimes metal lathes do not have the motor you need. This problem can cause many incidents in a chain reaction.
A weak motor for working metal is not ideal, and it becomes an unpleasant experience quickly. Its weakness translates into a deficient performance from the machine. This creates vibrations or noises and it ruins the total experience.
However, there are options to topple those problems. A great example of that is the Jet 321360A. With the two horsepower motor capacity, you will complete your many projects without functionality issues. The motor produces enough energy and distributes it successfully across the machine.
Naturally, every machine needs the right pieces to withstand the power. In order to do that, this metal lathe includes a suitable gearbox. This gearbox features helical cutting gear that reduces unpleasant factors, like the noise. By keeping the noise low, it allows you to have full concentration which is necessary to get the best result possible.
Like any other tool, this machine seeks to assist you for an extended amount of time. To achieve that, it features bigger splash guards that maintain the machine’s integrity intact. You also get a durable tool because of its resistant building materials.
In case you want to do changes and adjustments, the gearbox allows you to have a faster and easier changing process. It is a quality machine with a solid performance in different types of projects.
✅ Reduces the noise to a very low level providing you a more comfortable experience
✅ The gearbox is easy to understand and allows you to make changes or adjustments quickly
✅ Helical cutting delivers a smoother experience overall
✅ Includes a gap bed extension suitable for bigger diameter work
❌ The price makes this product unreachable for some budgets
❌ It is not a recommended item for beginners
Things To Consider Before Choosing One
So, you finally decided to go ahead and buy a metal lathe, but the many options available on the market are confusing to sort out. After all, every model and brand offer different features, and each model seems suitable for your project, but this is not always the case.
Before you make any decision, you have to make sure the item you buy meets certain requirements. These requirements not only make the product a great acquisition, but it will also provide you with a more pleasant experience while working.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the considerations you should have in mind before buying the metal lathe.
The tool’s design may seem like something not important, but that is far from the truth. Through its design, the lathe is capable of giving you very important information about what it can or can’t do.
The main highlight we get from the design is whether or not it is an easy tool to use. We encounter two types of products in the market, one with an easy to understand design and other products with a more complex design.
When you are starting your way in this type of job, you will need a user-friendly product that does not require high technical knowledge. Sure, you can always learn and use more complex machines, but even the cheapest and simple machine can produce great results.
For that reason, getting a product with a simple design is the best action to take as you learn your way around the lathe. The other option is, obviously, machines with a more complicated design.
Now, these types of tools are great for experienced users because they can benefit from all the advantages it offers. A more complex machine allows you to add multiple tools to increase its performance, and you’ll produce a more quality result in the end.
Another important element to consider is the machine’s structure. Ideally, the best metal lathe should have a solid structure with great support. Not only will it provide a more comfortable machine to use, but it will also have better functionality by maintaining its positioning.
When the machine does not have a solid structure, it is likely that the user will encounter issues like vibrations, loud noises and will produce results with poor quality.
For that reason, considering the machine’s structure is always an important thing to do. Look for the tools with quality materials like steel, because they will offer you the stability not many products have to offer.
A solid tool produces quality results, a highly comfortable experience, and it also maintains the tool’s lifespan by reducing impact risks and other malfunctions. Another great benefit of a great quality structure is versatility. These metal lathes often have different applications like labs or home workshops, and that is possible because of the steel and materials in its structure.
The machine’s functionality is another decisive factor to keep in mind. Of course, every brand out there will tell you their product is the best option, but remember, nobody knows what you need better than yourself. If your job requires you to work with metals in particular, then all of the products in this review are a great option for you. However, if you work with a variety of materials, there are specific products that give you that possibility.
These machines are incredible to work on metals, but some of them have enough versatility to work on wood or other materials as well. However, it is not only about the materials, but you have to consider its other applications too.
For instance, a good metal lathe will produce great results under certain circumstances, but a great machine delivers quality results in multiple scenarios. Not only does it work at a professional level, but it can work for beginners and even students if you use it for educational purposes.
For all of those reasons, make sure you get the best metal lathe capable of operating in a wide variety of applications.
So all of these features are worth considering when you decide to buy a metal lathe. Every aspect of the tool, even if it seems minimal and unimportant, will determine your project’s success. Every piece counts and every little detail is important for creating a pleasant working experience.
Few cutting tools you need besides just the lathe
Metal lathes include all the pieces you need to have a good performance. Nonetheless, there are additional cutting tools that enhance your experience, and the main purpose of these tools is to produce the best result possible.
Among these tools we can find the following;
The Boring Bar
A boring bar is a tool for metal and woodworking applications. Boring is a popular technique that focuses on building processes, and woodworkers continue to use that technique to this day, even though it dates back to many decades ago.
For metalworking purposes, the boring bar is different from its woodworking counterpart. You can use this tool to create asymmetrical channels, but it works great to create circular holes. It all depends on which direction you use are using it.
We also have drill chucks. These tools are capable of locking the materials to keep them in their place. Through the use of a drill chuck, the worker will have a comfortable operation without worrying about a soft grip. This tool proves its worth by allowing you to have a successful working session. It also provides you with a satisfying and smoother result.
More often than not, you will find, the material exceeds the size of the machine. Therefore, you cannot work on it as comfortably as you would want. For these scenarios, the parting tool is a great problem solver. It allows you to cut those unnecessary pieces shortening the material and making it more suitable to control it.
You can use this tool if you have the need to add knurling for your stock. It is an effective tool for knobs when you require a stronger and solid grip over the pieces.
The Types of Lathes
To help you decide which one is the best option for you, we are going to go through the different types of lathes. They have different size, structure, and functionality. Let’s take a look at the different types below.
This tool is a small lathe in comparison to other models. You can mount it over benches or cabinets depending on the task you are performing. The bench lathe is the best option when you want to accomplish fine and quality results. Its small size is one of the best benefits because it provides more accuracy and precision for your projects.
This type of lathe shares similarities with the bench models. For instance, you will find that most of the accessories for other models work great for speed lathes as well. However, this particular type does not have a gearbox, and it also lacks other standard pieces.
Nonetheless, they are efficient at what they do. You can use it for regular woodturning, but you can also polish materials successfully.
This type of lathe is the most popular and among the most reliable products. It is similar to the speed lathe and shares most of the same features, but the engine lathe has a more heavy construction. A clear example of their difference is the headstock, which is a bigger size than other lathes.
It also differentiates in other elements, like the motor, the system to change speed, and the gears you can use in it.
Tool Room Lathe
The tool room lathe is almost an exact copy of the engine lathe. However, the big difference relies on the extra equipment gear it uses. These extra items enhance the machine’s performance. They increase the lathe’s accuracy and precision as well as the working speed.
Its extra attachments are the taper turning, chucks, and collets among other additions.
This type of lathe is highly effective for mass production projects like commercial and industrial applications. They are capable of performing for many projects of different sizes, which makes it a trustable and reliable tool for everyone regardless of their expectations.
These models are very user-friendly as it does not require any skill to use it. Part of its easy to use quality is because of the machine’s semi-automatic features.
These products are the optimum choice when you want a great working experience and quality result. It is able to complete every part of the project automatically, and it does not require the operator to take part in it except for supervision purposes.
The automatic lathe is one of the most effective types of lathe, mainly because of its automatic process. It will deliver a satisfactory result without needing your involvement in the operation.
Lathes for A Particular Purpose
We also have lathes that have a specific goal. These lathes won’t work on other applications besides its main purpose. While we could perceive it as a disadvantage, the truth is that it provides more efficiency as they are designed to work on a particular material.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the metal lathe work with other materials like wood?
Yes, they can work with different materials other than metals. However, this is not recommendable. There are specific lathes for woodworking, and while the metal lathes can operate over wood, its main goal is to work with metals. After all, the woodworking results will not have the same quality.
Who can use the metal lathe?
Students, beginners, and professionals. Thanks to its higher versatility, you can use these machines for different applications. These are great for professionals at a highly demanding job, but seem effective for beginners as well. On top of that, students can also use it for learning purposes.
Does it require maintenance?
Yes, it does. Like any other tool that uses steel in its structure, the metal lathe requires maintenance to keep it in a good state. Proper maintenance is necessary if you want to keep away issues like rust. Nonetheless, it is important that you use the right tools to maintain it, and make sure you keep it from receiving unnecessary damages. If you do, it will definitely work for you for many years.
Is the metal lathe easy to use?
Most of them are easy to use. Obviously, if you are going to work on bigger and complex projects, it will require certain knowledge and proper preparation to produce a quality result.
Will I need extra accessories to get the best outcome?
Not necessarily. You can add extra accessories if you want to, but they are mainly for people who want to achieve the most perfect and professional results.
That’s all, we gave it all to you. Now that you know all the details of the best metal lathe for the money should have, selecting the right one is an easier task. Remember, this is a tool you will use for longer periods of time. Because of that, it is recommendable that you pick the option that makes you feel more comfortable.
Wishing you very happy metalworking with your own satisfaction. Comment if you want to know more or some specific. Well then, see you next time!