Woodturning is one of the top arts out there. You get to portray your creativity through wood. Just like how a potter uses the pottery wheel to mold his bowls, a woodturner uses a wood lathe. And in this article, we review the best mini lathes on the market, and everything you should know about them.
Beginners will enjoy using this lathe. It is affordable due to its low price. The lever clamping system is used to adjust the tool rest and tailstock.
It has a firm grip and a wider plate which makes it versatile to handle different workpieces. Additionally, the two amp motor provides just enough power which can be adjusted from 750-3200 rpm. As compared to other 8” lathes, it gives you 50% more power.
- Product: WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in.
- Speed: Variable Speed
- Type: Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe
- Style: 8 x 12 inches (variable speed)
- Weight: 43 pounds
- Dimensions: 26 x 12 x 10 inches
- Material: Cast iron
- Includes an interchangeable 4-1/2 and 7-Inch Tool Rest
- Headstock Spur Center
- Tailstock Cup Center
- MT1 Spindle & Tailstock taper
- Provides a 5-Inch Face Plate for non-spindle projects
- Knockout Rod
- Flat Wrench
- Can fit workpieces which are 12″ long and 8″ wide
- It is designed for small workpieces such as bowls and cups
- It is very efficient for small work-pieces jobs
- It has an adjustable speed of 750 to 3200 rpm
- Easy to use clamping system
- It’s not suitable for bigger jobs and projects.
- The tailstock can be hard to use
The WEN 3421 8″ by 12″ Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe is powered by a 3.2 amp motor with a variable speed. It is ideal for making small workpieces and is considered one of the best mini lathes out there. As compared to the WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8” x 12”, this lathe produces 50% more power. It features a 2.3” faceplate with two interchangeable tool rests. Additionally, it uses a MT1 spindle and tailstock.
- Weight: 44.9 pounds
- Dimensions: 28 x 13.3 x 7.6 inches
- Power: 3.2 AMP
- Style: 3.2-amp Lathe
- Components: 1
- Fits workpieces up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide
- Easy to use and install
- There is no problem of overheating unlike other models
- The faceplate is suitable for different size projects
- The speed control makes it a great tool for professionals and beginners at the same time
- Changing a belt is difficult
- It is hard to find the parts of this machine
- It is a little bit expensive
Woodturning has been made easy with the JET JWL-1221VS 12” by 21.” With speeds of 60-3600 rotations per minute. This wood lathe is designed for speed and control. With this tool, you can finish your projects on time.
It has an unrivaled speed of 60-3600 rotations per minute and has been designed for smooth transitions between the forward and reverse rotations. The 24 integrated indexing positions help you set measurements easily. The conveniently located controls make it easy to handle while the spring-loaded spindle locks quickly and firmly in place.
- Spindle Lock: Yes
- Swing Over Bed: 12.5
- Swing Over Tool Rest Bed: 9.45
- Tailstock Taper: MT2
- Tool Rest Width (in): 16
- Width (in): 14.56
- Weight: 136.4 pounds
- Size: 32.82 x 14.56 x 21.25 inches
- Power: 115 volts
- Number of Handles: 6 handles
- Warranty: 5 yrs
- Very innovative design
- Easy controls with a digital display
- Better turning capacity
- The more powerful motor of 1hp
- Relatively expensive
- You will have to buy chisels and other tools to use with it
- It’s a bit heavier
This wood lathe is one of our favorites because it is made from cast iron. It features a six speed, ½ HP motor with 480-4023 rpm, making turning your pieces very easy. This benchtop lathe has a swing over bed of 10″ and a width of 15″ long. It also comes with an optional extendable swing bed of 38″ long.
The motor is a 1/2 HP, 120V, 6A single-phase that provides sufficient power to the machine. The speed variables are 480, 1270, 1960, 2730, 3327, and 4800 rpm. This is beneficial when having bigger projects and you need to finish on time. The swing over the bed has a width of 10″ providing ample space for your materials and enough workspace to get your project done.
Additionally, it comes with an option of a 38″ extension bed. It has a visible paddle switch which makes it easy to switch off as needed. This ensures that you don’t fumble looking for the switch, therefore saving you time.
It has a removable key that disables the switch ensuring no unauthorized use of the lathe. This provides security especially to individuals working from home. The rubber feet provide for fewer vibrations and a more stable work environment.
- Material: cast Iron
- Swing over bed: 10
- Weight: 99 pounds
- Tool rest length: 6-1/4”
- Distance between centers is 15-1/2” with optional extension
- Easily accessible controls
- Rolling centers, a spur center, and a 3face plate
- Has an adjustable toolset
- Safety paddle switch has been included
- Rubber feet to reduce vibration and increase stability
- Relatively heavier
- It is hard to find parts of this machine everyone
- Relatively harder to handle and use because it is a very powerful tool
Unlike other lathes made with aluminum, these Rikon Power tools are made from cast iron which minimizes vibrations. The ½ motor is capable of producing a five speed range for all your turning needs. It comes with a nylon faceplate washer and can add multiple extensions. It also comes with a knockout bar, a tool rest, and wrenches.
It is well designed with a firm and sturdy grip, ensuring pen turners get the best out of turning as they enjoy their craft. It comes with a five year warranty and a self-ejecting tailstock.
- Motor size: ½ HP TEFC, 3.7Amp,120V, 60HZ
- Spindle Range: 500, 1,175, 1,850, 2,225, 3,200 RPM
- Swing Over Bed: 10
- The spindle nose: 1 x 8
- A Ram Travel: 1-3/4
- An over Tool Rest: 7-1/2
- A working Distance Between Centers: 1
- Tool Rest Post Diameter of 5/8”
- It has a durable and good build easy to use
- It is very versatile
- Includes a 5speed range
- Has stable support for the pens turners
- It has a live center, a faceplate as well as a tool rest
- It does not have a variable speed
- Only usable for small projects
- It is a heavy machine as compared to other lighter models
WEN has been making lathes since 1951 and is one of the best manufacturers in the industry. The WEN 3424T 4.5-Amp 12-Inch by 18-Inch 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe is one of the best rated with a 4.8 star review.
This piece of machinery has an outstanding performance as compared to other lathes in its category. It comes with a 4.5 amp motor with a five speed range providing 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 rpm. Furthermore, the 3-1/8 faceplate allows you to turn bowls and other non-spindle workpieces. On top of that, it includes an accessory holder, an MT2 tailstock and headstock taper that allows for compatibility with more lathe accessories.
- Weight: 70.3 pounds
- Style: 12 by 18 in. (5 Speed)
- Product Dimensions: 30.5 x 8.75 x 16.25 inches
- Speed: 520 RPM- 900 RPM
- Size: 12 x 18 (5 Speed)
- Power Source: 4.5 amp motor
- Everyone loves accessories and the WEN 3424T has a wide variety of accessories included
- It has 5 different speed settings making turning an enjoyable experience
- It comes with a 2-year warranty meaning you’re getting quality
- Able to accommodate large chunks of wood with no hustle
- It has a firm grip and therefore won’t move during operations
- Under some pressure, the machine will stop turning to the other sides
- Some customers have reported overheating problems
Choosing the best mini lathe can be tough, especially if you aren’t sure of what you’re looking for. These lathes are from the best-renowned brands ensuring that you are getting the best value for your money. In this review, we’ll take you through the most important aspects to consider when buying a lathe.
When it comes to powerful lathes, you might want to look at the SHOP FOX W1752 Mini Wood Lathe. With a 1/2HP and six speeds, you are assured of power when turning wood.
Additionally, the over bed allows you to turn large chunks of wood without interfering with the machine. Moreover, it comes with the option of a 38” extendable bed to provide for more space. It is highly recommended for professional turners.
Every novice should start with the WEN 3420T Mini Wood Lathe. You’ll get a good value and an incredible lathe. It has been made to be used on a benchtop or a stand. The clamping system is perfect giving the lathe stability and a firm grip.
The 750-3200 rpm power is just enough for making small pens and other workpieces. It’s lightweight and maneuvers easily. Another good option is the WEN 3420T 2-Amp 8 in. x 12 in. Variable Speed Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe.
Given that a pen turner concentrates more on small projects, I would recommend going for the RIKON Power Tools 70-105 10″ x 18″ 1/2 HP Mini Lathe. It comes with the power and stability needed to ensure quality.
Everyone loves a machine that can handle more accessories. With the WEN 3424T 4.5-Amp 12-Inch by 18-Inch 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe, you get exactly that.
Combined with its power, accessories, and firm grip, this is the best lathe to go for.
Finally, I would choose the JET JWL-1221VS 12-Inch by 21-Inch Variable Speed Wood Lathe. It’s got power and control. Perfect for professionals who are on top of their game.
It can handle big and small projects. While it is relatively more expensive, it is everything you’ll need to turn wood. A digital display, accessible controls, detachable key for security, and better turning experience are some of the things you will find with this lathe.
What is a wood lathe?
It is a tool used by woodturners to craft items using wood. For example, bowls, cups, sculptures, and so on.
Is woodturning safe?
It is safe if you use the right gear.
Is it difficult to turn wood?
Having the right training will make you enjoy the craft. Again, you need to learn the basics to be able to handle the lathe.
Is woodturning a good investment?
Like any other hobby, woodturning can be a good way to earn income. You can sell your finished projects and earn a good income through that.
Whether a novice, intermediate, or just an outright professional, choosing the best mini lathe to fit your needs can be tiresome due to the crowded marketplace.
However after reading this article, I hope you are ready to choose the right lathe for your needs and budget. So go forth and start turning that wood.