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Whether you are an experienced machinist or a student of the craft, the lathe is an extremely easy machine to use with the potential to work on endless metalworking projects. Known as the mother of all machine tools, the lathe allows us to shape, carve and cut metals by turning the material at high speed against the desired tool.
From jewelry to tools to bespoke furnishings, investing in a metal lathe will elevate your home shop, hone your skills and open the door to new crafts. But before you rush out and purchase a lathe, there are a few considerations to ask yourself first:
- How much room do I have in my shop? – Lathes vary in size from table-top to around the size of a piano, so ensure you have enough space.
- What size projects do I want to work on? – Check the parameters of the chuck, bed, and swing, as this will determine the maximum size material you can work on.
- How powerful is the motor? – The motor speed will determine the lathe’s ability to work on certain materials and heavy-duty projects.
Once you’ve answered these questions, check out our top 5 metal lathes below, with machines to suit different budgets, experience, and spaces. Don’t forget to wear goggles, tie up long hair, and remove any loose-fitting clothes, gloves, or jewelry before you get going.
When selecting our top recommendations, we analyzed each product through Fakespot to remove any fake or paid-for reviews. This enables us to only recommend products that are tried and tested by genuine users who can testify to the quality of each lathe.
1. Eastwood Benchtop Mini Metal Variable Speed Lathe
The Eastwood Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe is designed to offer professional-level features on a much smaller scale, making this ideal for fitting right into your home workshop setup. Despite its compact size, it is more than capable of handling complex work thanks to the auto-feed system along with the selectable gear train components. This way, you can use the machine for complicated threading operations while selecting different levels of precision to effortlessly handle them all.
The Eastwood Mini Metal Lathe is made with a 2.125 inch swing over the cross slide as well as 12 inches between the centers. This setup lets you work with various materials that can be up to 11 inches in length and 4 inches in diameter.
Besides that, the inside and outside 3-jaw chuck will further help you make accommodations for a range of workpiece configurations. Such versatility lets you easily turn or cut the likes of steel, brass, nylon, and more. Furthermore, the 4-way indexable tool post lets you change out tools quickly. This way, it can serve as a learning device for novice users while offering enough beneficial features to help you enhance your skills. It further helps that this comes with HSS Cutting Tools to aid you on your way.
- ¾ HP motor
- 3-jaw chuck set
- Quick-locking tailstock
- Adjustable gibs
What we love:
- With its all-steel design, it is highly reliable and stable when sitting on a workbench
- Designed with numerous protective features for safety
- Comes with a 3-year warranty that is handy if you are just starting
We don’t like this as much:
- The lathe may require a bit of cleaning and adjusting before first use
- Home workshop-friendly size
- Auto-feed and selectable gear train components
- Inside and outside 3-Jaw Chuck set included
- Includes HSS Cutting tools
- 3/4 HP motor
2. VEVOR Metal Lathe
The VEVOR Metal Lathe is a reliable tool made from high-grade iron. Thanks to its design, it offers you a wide range of what types of applications you can perform. Much of this is due to the DC motor and the 3-jaw chuck layout. For instance, you can use this metal lathe just as well for modeling projects to handle precision parts and process smaller materials.
Even a professional compound rest allows you to better achieve various positions such as face cutting, bevel cutting, and internal cutting. This type of metal lathe is helpful for those just starting out, veteran hobbyists, and even professionals looking to do at-home projects.
Safety is taken into great consideration too with this metal lathe. This is shown with the included full-length backsplash guard. This also has ideal accuracy in terms of rotating, making it even more user-friendly for those of you with minimal experience. The self-centering chuck design better helps you steadily set cylindrical materials, which is key to making the machine safer and ensuring your projects come out as they should.
The VEVOR Metal lathe allows you the freedom to learn and still make use of advanced features to build up your skills over time. There is an almost infinite amount of speeds that you can cycle through as well, giving you more control over specific projects with a single device.
- Nylon gears
- 550W motor
- Professional compound rest
- 3-jaw chuck
- Speed: 0-2250 Rpm
What we love:
- Arrives with numerous accessories to help get you started
- Abrasive-resistant design so blades move freely
- Includes a free removable lamp so you can always have light available
We don’t like this as much:
- Over time, you may need to upgrade the nylon gears to metal ones
- Sturdy Iron Construction: The mini metal lathe bed is made of high grade iron. Equipped with nylon gears, this lathe machine is wear-resistant, durable, more accurate rotation and professional. Mini metal lathe power of motor: 550W. The full-length splashguard provides maximum protection.
- Infinitely Variable Speeds: Spindle Speed from 0-2250 RPM. Forward and reverse in all speeds. Operate either manually or with the adjustable auto feed rate. The handness and accuracy of the v-slideways are obtained by raw material, heat hardening and grinding. Emergency stop buttom included.
- Accurate 3-Jaw Chuck: Mini metal lathe chuck, 3-jaw self-centering chuck, for setting cylindrical materials steadily. Backsplash guard included. Spindle is supported by precision tapered roller bearings, spindle accuracy within 0.01mm. A free lamp is included.
- Professional Compound Rest: The mini metal lathe quick change tool post can achieve positions of internal cutting, face cutting and bevel cutting by changing the tool post angle and adjusting the compound rest. Professional cross slide is designed with abrasive resistance, moving blades freely with feed rod.
- Wide Application: Driven by DC motor, this mini metal lathe cut off tool can be used in areas such as mini precision parts processing, sample processing and modeling works.
3. Jectse Mini Lathe
The Jecste Mini Lathe is a compact tool that has a small footprint. This makes it useful for when you don’t have a lot of space in your work area, but you still need to complete simple, light-duty tasks. There is still a good amount of features offered by this tool that makes it helpful for newcomers. For one thing, it has a powerful motor that can handle turning steel at high speeds.
The turning tool also allows you to process soft and non-ferrous metals with enough accuracy and precision to make budding users feel like professionals. As the central height is 2.95 inches with the centers being 5.31 inches, it is best used for smaller workpieces. If you need to, however, you can expand the diameter to 1.96 inches using the center block.
Don’t let this lathe’s accessible appearance fool you, for it includes all the design choices that make it a reliable device to handle multiple projects over time. The connecting block, spindle box, motor blade, gear, tailstock, size slider, and long stand are all made from metal material. There is even a belt protection cover applied. With this type of layout, it ensures that the machine is built so that it can handle consistent work, making it useful for a long-term tool.
- Motor box and spindle box
- Size slider
- 60W motor
- All-metal design
- 75mm center height
What we love:
- This works best as a tool for newcomers to understand how to use a metal lathe
- It comes with an assortment of helpful metal cutting tools to get you started
- Offers a good variety of speed settings for simple projects
We don’t like this as much:
- Extra care should be taken when using this lathe at full speed as the device may vibrate
- Machine tool with powerful motor, the motor box and spindle box for conjoined structure.
- Main parts: such as the spindle box, tailstock, long stand, size slider, motor blade, gear, connecting block are made of metal materials, with belt protection cover.
- Center height is 75mm and distance between centers is 135mm, motor speed normally drops to 2000rpm when using the lathe to machine metal.
- Maximum motor power is 60W by using more powerful motor.
- Turning tool is high - speed steel material, can process soft, non - ferrous, precious metals. By using central block, the diameter can be expanded to 50mm.
4. Erie Tools Precision Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe
The Erie Tools Precision Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe is a small-scale machine designed with hobbyists in mind. You can set this up with ease following the instructions, and it won’t take up much room. It is not just straightforward to put together, but it is also very user-friendly. You can turn, cut, and drill metal, wood, and plastic components.
This metal lathe includes external and internal chuck jaws, as well as a five-piece carbide tipped cutter kit. All of these accessories and tools are useful when you are trying to get through more precision-based projects.
You can find further versatility in this metal lathe with the thread indicators. They come in handy when you need to turn screw heads within a range from 12 TPI to 52 TPI. Besides that, the machine is designed with both metric and imperial thread indicators. This way, you do not have to go out and purchase one or the other separately, as it provides you with both measurement types instantly instead.
When using the metal lathe, you are able to easily mount four cutting tools at the same time. This will let you switch back and forth between different tools mid-project to do specific jobs without having to completely stop and add on the tool you need at the time.
- 5-piece carbide tipped cutter kit
- Chuck jaws (external and internal)
- Variable speed: up to 2500 Rpm
- Thread indicators
- 11 feed rate gears
What we love:
- It is relatively easy to disassemble and clean the chuck for smoother usage
- Properly weighted so that it sits sturdily without vibrating around
- Comes with easily accessible instructions to help beginners set this up fast
We don’t like this as much:
- As the plastic gears may wear down over time, we recommend acquiring spares in advance
- Includes the lathe, chuck key, five-piece carbide tipped cutter kit, internal chuck jaws and external chuck jaws, 11 feed rate gears and owners manual
- Drill, cut and turn metal, wood and plastic parts with precision.
- Erie Tools variable speed 7 in. x 14 in. benchtop mini metal lathe creates precision parts.
- Variable speed motor adjusts to 2500 RPM in either rotational direction allows left-handed threads.
- Thread indicator helps users turn screw threads anywhere from 12 to 52 TPI. Metric or imperial.
5. BestEquip Metal Lathe
The BestEquip Metal Lathe is a robust piece of machinery packed in a mini form. As a high-end model, it can service those who are comfortable using machinery such as this. So, it is more useful for veteran hobbyists or professionals who want to tackle some projects at home as well as at work.
This is a benchtop metal lathe that is made with the standard 3-jaw chuck with a lengthy swing over cross slide (29.5 inches) that gives you the ability to handle workpieces that are larger or heavier in weight. However, this also comes with a 4-jaw chuck to offer you more versatility in how you can use the machine.
With how powerful it can be, the machine also features a protective, sturdy design that ensures you can work precisely and safely at the same time. It has a soft start, as well as spindle rotation clockwise or counterclockwise via a change-over switch. There is a steady rest as well that functions to keep the machine as still as possible for vibration-free usage. This, in turn, can help your work remain stable throughout. Of course, this lathe also features standard features such as a wide variable speed range in which you can tell the speed through the built-in LED screen.
- Professional compound rest
- 3-jaw chuck (4-jaw chuck included)
- Variable speed: 0-2250 Rpm
- LED screen
- Adjustable tailstock
What we love:
- The LED screen is designed with good contrast to make it easier to read
- Includes a backsplash guard for the purpose of safety
- Does well at cutting both soft and harder metals when using varied cutting speeds
We don’t like this as much:
- Upon initial setup, this lathe may have some loose screws, so it’s important to adjust the machine fully before use
- Infinitely Variable Speed: The mini metal lathe with metal gears is driven by powerful motor. Variable Speed: 0-2250RPM. The LED screen shows you a clear and accurate speed for accurate working. Operate either manually or with the adjustable auto feed rate. Spindle Accuracy: 0.0004-0.0012" (0.01-0.03 mm).
- 400mm Large Swing Range: The benchtop lathe is equipped with a 3-jaw chuck. Swing Over Bed: 8-1/4" (210 mm) and Swing Over Cross Slide: 15-3/4" (400mm) offers more possibilities for large size or/and heavy workpieces.
- Professional Compound Rest: The mini lathe machine quick change tool post can achieve positions of internal cutting, face cutting, and bevel cutting by changing the tool post angle and adjusting the compound rest, moving blades freely with feed rod. 4-Way turret tool post (3/8" max tool size).
- Supportive & Protective: Soft start, change-over switch for clockwise or counter-clockwise spindle rotation. Equipped with all-metal gears. Steady rest works as end support ensuring chatter-free operation. Backsplash guard included.
- Adjustable Tailstock: Taper in Tailstock Spindle: MT2. Rotate the lever clockwise to lock the spindle and rotate clockwise to advance the handwheel. To off-set the tailstock for cutting tapers by adjusting the four set screws located on the tailstock base. Travel: compound rest 2-1/8" (54mm), cross slide 3" (76mm).
FAQs About Metal Lathes for Home Shop
What do I consider before choosing a metal lathe?
Their design tells a lot about the product such as how easy it will be to use. A user-friendly layout is not just beneficial, but downright vital for those of you just starting out. This means the tool isn’t overly complex or requires you to have heavy knowledge prior to using it.
Once you have more experience, then you can consider finding more advanced metal lathes to use. These will have intricate design choices, which makes them far more useful for work that requires more skill and more additional tools added on.
Of course, you also want to focus on what you’re going to be doing when shopping for a metal lathe. This is because there are many types of metal lathes that serve various purposes. For instance, a bench lathe is beneficial when you need to mount it on a workbench as it’s smaller in scale. On the other hand, a center lathe is large, yet simple to use. Or maybe you need something more specialized for a singular task like an engine lathe.
How important is the size of a metal lathe?
The size of a metal lathe will determine both where you can use it and what you can use it for. For instance, if space is a concern, then you should ensure that you can either create the room or settle for a smaller metal lathe that will better fit on an average-sized workbench. This way, you can set up the lathe while keeping other necessary tools within reach.
As for what you can use it for, metal lathes are built in numerous sizes to support projects of varying scales. It is common to see machines that are 7in. x 14in. for the most basic of tasks, while others can reach upwards around 11in. x 26in.
Of course, you can always find something that is more within a middle ground. This way, the metal lathe is capable of growing with you as your skills develop. It helps if the metal lathe itself is adaptable. Some are designed so that you can expand the diameter of the machine, allowing you to complete projects that may be a bit wider or oddly shaped.
How fast should the motor of a metal lathe be?
In a metal lathe, the motor is used for rotating the chuck. If you want to perform jobs at a quicker, efficient pace, then you need a high-speed metal lathe. Generally, metal lathes with max speeds at around 2500 Rpm are ideal. These speeds will allow you to cut larger pieces. Also, more power will ensure that if you are cutting heavier pieces, the piece will continue to cut and turn smoothly.
At the same time, you want there to be a good range of speed too. Without slower speeds, you may not be able to address those smaller, precision-based tasks as well. For example, screw cutting doesn’t need nearly as high speeds as if you were working on something larger in scale.
Adjusting the speed should be simple enough to do as well so that you don’t have to completely stop a project and figure out how to increase or lower the speeds. Some of the more modern metal lathes even have LED screens, such as the BestEquip Metal Lathe, that display the current speed for precise operation.
Choosing the best metal lathe requires an understanding of your goals as well as spatial limitations. There are numerous types of metal lathes, some better suited for beginners while others are more useful for advanced users. Understanding which one will suit your project best comes down to your specific needs and skill set. No matter what your goal is, the only way you can reach it is by having the proper machine for the job.
Because of that, we dove deep into reviewing five top-rated metal lathe machines to offer you enough information to come to a decision. Understanding as much as you can about a metal lathe is important since this is something that you will most likely use quite a bit, whether as a hobby or as a job, so it helps that you are completely at ease when using it.
If you need some quick recommendations based on financial requirements as a starting point, you can always directly check out our top picks for our favorite budget-friendly metal lathe, our favorite mid-range machine, and our favorite high-end lathe:
- Best Budget Option – Jectse Mini Lathe
- Best Mid-Range Option – VEVOR Metal Lathe
- Best High-End Option – BestEquip Metal Lathe
If you just want to see units that are under $1000 then check out 5 Best Metal Lathes for Under $1000.
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