What are the types of lathes and how much they cost?

Types of lathes and their prices

If you’ve ever wondered how baseball bats or screws are made, then you’ve surely heard of a lathe already. A lathe rotates a workpiece around a certain axis and then uses cutting machines to give it any shape the user wants.

Nevertheless, you might be wondering how much lathe actually costs?

A lathe can cost you anywhere from $100 to up to $50000 or more depending on how professional, industrial, and bigger the project is.

Well, it’s not possible to give you a definite number because there are various types of lathes and different brands in the market. However, we’ll give you an idea about the types and how much they cost in the following discussion.

Types of Lathes Price Range Idea Top Brands
Benchtop And Speed Lathe $100-$2000+ Grizzly, Shop Fox, Wen, Delta, Rikon, Powermatic. Jet Jwl, etc.
Engine or Center Lathe $4000-$15000+ Grizzly, Jet, South Bend, Le Blond, Victor, Clausing, Acer, Palmgren, etc.
Tool-Room Lathe $4500-$20000+ South Bend, Hardinge, Haas, Victor, Cutmaster, Romi, etc.
Capstan or Turret Lathe $2500-$12000+ As it's for mass production work so you can easily order it from a marketplace like eBay or Alibaba.
Special Purpose Lathes It depends upon the type and is negotiable These are the lathe for identical production so you have to pre-order it from the marketplace.

Benchtop and Speed Lathe

Benchtop and Speed lathes are very simple in construction and smaller in sizes that can fit anywhere in the benchtop of your room or garage. They are mainly for turning wood projects. The main components of these lathes are

  • tool rest
  • bed
  • headstock
  • tailstock.

These are purely hand-controlled machines. In benchtop lathe, you can have the advantage of a higher turning speed but with less versatility.

Benchtop lathes and speed lathes are often known as mini or midi lathes for their smaller sizes. Here in this article we demonstrated a clear definition of a midi lathe. They are used to create wood bowls, pens, baseball bats, hollow forms, wood platters, lidded boxes, ornaments, toys, furniture spindles, metal keyrings, and so on.

Midi lathes are the go-to lathe for DIY people. They are also a very effective instrument in making woodwind instruments. It can operate in different spindle speeds, but the making of these lathes is simple, and the cutting is done manually.

Now you may think that Midi or mini lathes do not have various kinds of functionality as other lathes may have. That’s true but it’s because they are not made for industrial projects. It is relatively cheaper and easily found in the market with various renowned brands.

The cost mainly varies here depending on the size. Mini lathes generally cost around $100-$500 dollars. But there are some upper-class benchtop lathes that are used more professionally that may cost you up to some thousand dollars. The reason they are pricy is that they produce quality finesse which is necessary if you’re looking to market the product.

Engine Lathe or Center Lathe

The engine lathe is the most common form of lathe and the most widely used lathe found in the market. It is used almost in every workshop. It helps to give shapes to metals such as brass, gold, steel, etc. The shape of an Engine lathe is kind of like speed lathes but is in bigger form, great versatility, speed accuracy, and more controls.

The main components of a standard Engine lathe machine are the headstock with different gear selectors like-

  • RPM selector.
  • feed selector.
  • a carriage system to control the movement with longitude and back and forth in latitude.
  • a cross slide to control the lateral.
  • a compound rest for controlling the angular movements.
  • an automatic feed lever to control your longitudinal and lateral automatic feed.
  • a half nut to cutting threads.
  • 3 or 4-jaw chucks.
  • an adjustable tool post.
  • a tailstock.
  • and of course the bed.

There are many different sorts of engine lathe available in the market with different sorts of functionality as well. Some greatly vary in size too. According to your needs, you need to find the right fit. Since the machine is in the market for a long time, it doesn’t cost a lot, but it surely costs more than a wood lathe.

Talking about the benchtop lathes again we thought you may like our top picked benchtop wood lathes. That’s basically a review article.

Now coming to the Engine lathe again, it can be bought a piece or in a set. A set contains everything you need in one box. A set costs around $11,000-$14,000 which is rather pricey. If you’re only looking for an engine lathe, they have a wide range of prices. Some second-hand engine lathes are valued at $1400 and more, but not exceeding $2500.

If you’re looking to buy a firsthand product, you need to spend at least around $4000-$6000 and the price can go up. The prices mostly vary here in terms of functions; the higher-priced products come with greater finishing capabilities.

You can also read our full definition of an Engine lathe where we talked about Engine lathe more briefly.

Tool Room Lathe

Tool-room lathe machines are pretty much like the Engine lathes but with more accuracy. It’s basically used to make accurate components like jigs, fixtures, tools, etc. As the name suggests, it is a professional type of lathe that ensures better finishing and more usability. It’s mostly used to make finesse products and tools. Considering its professional touch, it still costs less than one might assume, but it definitely costs more than an engine lathe.

Every engine lathe owner plans to acquire a tool room lathe someday. The price of tool-room lathes are generally started from somewhat $4000 can go up to more than $20000 in some occasion. But please, note that the price is negotiable.

The way it works is, you have to ask for a quotation from your machine dealer or manufacturer who will send you the price. We wish your success in a profitable negotiation.

Capstan Lathe or Turret Lathe

A completely professional tool for repetitive production of duplicate parts. In Turret lathe or Capstan lathe, you can use more than one tool at a time that’s why you will be able to perform multiple operations at a time. The companies that make machinery and parts in mass production use Turret lathes.

These are quite expensive and are only used for production purposes. The Capstan lathe isn’t much more expensive than the tool-room lathe. You can manage a cheaper one under $6000. As there aren’t a lot of shops that make these lathes so again you need to put a quotation in for a good price.

Special Purpose Lathe

From vertical lathe to the wheel making lathes, there are some dedicated lathes for the specific purpose. These are made for heavy-duty production of any particular parts. Definitely, for a homeowner, they are not worth the investment. But if you’re only into making wheel structures, then you should go for a wheel lathe. Or, say, if making beach jewelry is a passion of yours, you can grab one yourself.

The prices vary from functions to usability. Vertical lathes cost around 10,000 in USD. The prices of Wheel lathe follows a market skimming tactic and has a range of price in the market depending upon geography as well.

Now, we know some different types of lathes. But it is still hard to judge why some are cost-effective whereas other lathes can be hefty expensive. Let’s look at some of the variables that put a shift in the price:

Factors That Have A Say on The Price

Let’s talk about the factors that will determine the price.

Size

A common variable here is the size of the lathe. For example, a mini lathe can only be 3 feet long. Whereas, we can see engine lathes being as long as 60 feet. Now, you do the math. Clearly, the efforts and materials put into both the machines are not the same, right?

So, yes, when it comes to buying lathes, size does matter in price. You shouldn’t only look for the cheaper ones, but for the one that fits your right size.

Functions

What functions your lathe is supporting should be a big factor while buying your lathe. The gear, the head, the cutting machines may come in some lathes, but that may not always be the case. With more functions, the price rises higher.

Production

From mini-lathe to the likes of Capstan. We see a wide range of production capabilities. Lathe price also varies in terms of this ability. The more the machine is able to work, the higher the price is charged.

Conclusion

Now that you know how much a lathe costs, it’s time to get into action. Get one that meets all your requirements and doesn’t go over your budget.

Good luck!

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