What is a Midi Lathe: Is It Only a Marketing Gimmick?

Generally, the Benchtop lathes, which are commonly known as woodturning lathes (it’s a link from our buying guide of wood lathes), come in 3 sizes. Mini, Midi, and Full-sized Lathe. Each of them have their own qualities, characteristics and productivity limitations.

So what is a Midi Lathe? Is it just a marketing gimmick to separate them from the crowd, to create another space?

Saving both workspace and budget, Midi Lathe comes in-between mini and full-sized lathe. Currently costing between $300 to $700 in the market, these lathes took over since the 1990s. Some think that Midi is just a marketing trick, but there are apparent differences in features and advantages.

There are other types of lathes in the workshop that are being used for various other purposes like mass production or any bigger projects.

Now let’s find out some more about Midi Lathes to see why it’s not a marketing hype only.

To look for that we need to see what are the differences and what they do.

Characteristics of Midi Lathe

Midi lathes generally have a minimum of 12 inches to 14 inches of bed swings. This article will help you with a clear definition of lathe swing.

So they can easily turn things like pens, baseball bats, wood platters, wood bowls, lidded boxes, hollow forms, ornaments, toys, and any furniture spindles you like.

If equipped, it will help you to cut, thread, slot, and even pattern holes with an excellent finish.

Now a standard Benchtop lathe consists of 4 major parts-

  • Headstock
  • Tailstock
  • Tool-rest
  • Bed.

And a modern standard midi lathe will mostly be featured with-

  • variable speed control
  • forward to reverse directional control
  • spindle
  • quick-change belt system
  • digital readout meter
  • external bed extension if you want.

The speed range will be generally from 60 to 3600 rotation per minute. You can rotate the wheel at the speed you want to work with, as per your requirement or comfort.

The cost of these machines, as demonstrated in the linked article, starts from 200 to up to 2000 us dollars depending on the quality and brand. The more stability, versatility, and features, the more the price goes up, simple.

But to be honest, you can find a quality one under 700 US dollars.

Difference Between Midi Lathe and Mini Lathe

Mini and Midi are quite the same, but the significant differences, of course, here are the size and the HP.

Let’s give you some basic differences between the Mini and Midi.

Mini Lathe

Generally has a swing of 8″ to 10″ over the bed. The length between the center normally would be 12″ to 15″. You can have variable speed control DC motor in both the midi and mini.

This small lathe is absolutely gorgeous when it comes to turning a workpiece that is small in size like pens, small platters, bowls that are under 8 inches in diameter, etc.

As turning pens have an old connection with the invention of mini-lathes so people often buy mini lathes to turn pens and these lathes are killing it. The price range here for the Mini’s is between 150-500 us dollars.

Anyone likely to enter into the turning world without risking much, A Mini lathe like the Wen 3420 will be a very safe move. See detail in that linked article.

Midi Lathe

Now Midi lathes come with a robust motor and capability to turn a larger spindle, enabling it to uphold or support more significant items. You will find a minimum range of 12″ with some going up to 14″ bed swing in a Midsized lathe.

The length between the center could go up to 40″ if you can add a bed extension to turn things like table legs or baseball bats.

The HP rating is also a big difference between them. Well, the price range? The price range for a standard quality midi lathe is generally from $300 to $700 or more.

Midi lathes are much beefier, heavier, wide in both swing and the center length than the minis.

What Are the Parts Found in A Midi Lathe?

We’ll list down parts generally found in midi lathes. You can check this list when you get yourself a new one from the market and want to make sure you at least have the basic things to operate this machine without any major problems while operating.

Talking about problems, find out what are the most common and fundamental issues you may face with your first lathe along with their solutions in the linked article.

Now here we go with the parts (in no particular order);

  • Headstock
  • A motor that drives the headstock
  • Spindle wrench
  • Tool organizer
  • Locking pins for a headstock
  • Drive spur
  • Live center
  • Tool Rest
  • Mount for the tool rest
  • Inserts to cover up to protect the bed
  • Drive belt and pulleys
  • RPM guide
  • Attachable drill press
  • Lathe duplicators
  • Tailpiece extensions
  • Faceplate that can be mounted directly to your material
  • On/off switch with a safety key
  • Center advance

What are the function of the parts?

Now, let’s come to the part where we discuss roles that the parts mentioned above play:


The motor beneath the headstock, powers your lathe. When you open the headstock, you’ll find the motor hooked up to a spindle by pulleys via a drive belt. As a matter of fact, it’s the spindle that turns your wood.


This can be anchored directly to your material. When you choose to use it, lock the spindle lock so that it can’t be removed.

Drive Spur

You can get the drive to spur out with the removal tool if you want to mount it to your workpiece. Find more detail about various mounting methods here.

On/off Switch

The on/off switch is provided with a safety lock so that it cannot be powered on accidentally.

The Bed of the Lathe

To reduce vibration and to shake, the bed of this machine is created with sturdy cast iron. You can make it 40 inches larger if you use an extension.

Tool Rest

As the name suggests, this tool will aid you in resting the tool while you work. It is exceptionally handy as you can move it anywhere along the length and across the width of the bed of the lathe. This allows you to place it in a comfortable position.


It’s the end side of the lathe. Live center inhabits the tailstock. Like the tool rest, you can also move the tailstock along the length of the bed.

Live Center

This part provides support for your work by giving the other side of the workpiece a point to work on.

Center Advance

Similar to a sewing machine, this component in a lathe is a handle that enables you to move the center; however, it is needed.

Why You Should Own A Midi Lathe

The role of this machine is that you can rotate or spin items such as bowls, wooden doorknobs, wooden stool legs, pencils, or other items using wood that is normally 12″ in diameter. Tailpiece extenders are also a plus point for turning larger wood pieces like baseball bats.

In addition to the tailpiece extenders, the compact size makes them very convenient if you are lacking in big space and of course the price that you don’t want to spend so early to acquire a full-sized lathe.

You definitely wanna go with a midi lathe then.


A midi lathe is quite a handy tool to make your tasks easier at a lower price than the full-sized lathe saving your workspace. It won’t compromise the quality.

Again there are limitations as it can’t give you all the facilities as a full-sized lathe would when you are after something big. But comparing all the other aspects, The midi lathes are the real deals.

So there you have it. We hope we’ve provided you with enough to gain about this tool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *