Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I may earn a small commission if you purchase through these links.
Ask any metalworker the one machine they can’t live without, and most will tell you their trusty lathe. The easy-to-use turning machine, allows you to shape, carve and cut metal with pinpoint precision in a way no other tool or machine allows.
Once you’ve got to grips with your metal lathe, you will be able to create specialized tools and parts as well as bespoke items such as models, furniture, and jewelry. But be sure to check the parameters and power of each lathe as this will determine your project’s size and materials.
When it comes to purchasing machinery, we know budget plays a large part in people’s decisions. After all, not too long ago, buying a lathe would set you back a small fortune. However, there are now excellent options all for under $1000 that will open the door to a wide range of metal turning projects.
To highlight some of the excellent metal lathes available for under $1000, we’ve put together our 5 top recommendations. When compiling this list, we made sure to include a range of products, taking into account different features, sizes, and budgets. We also analyzed product reviews through Fakespot to ensure other genuine users were happy with their metal lathe so you can buy in confidence.
1. BestEquip Metal Lathe 7″ x 14″, Mini Metal Lathe
This precision mini benchtop lathe is seven inches by fourteen inches and comes with a three-jaw chuck, an MT3 spindle taper, an MT2 tailstock taper, a tool rest, a 3/4 HP motor, and an infinitely variable spindle speed of 0-2500 rotations per minute. It is simple to operate and designed to handle a variety of metal turning work. Its dimensions are seven by fourteen inches. The bed is made of precision ground cast iron with a high-frequency quenching process.
The BestEquip Mini Metal Lathe is made from sturdy aluminum to keep it functioning for years and years to come. It arrives with a full-length splash guard for as much protection as possible while working. It also comes with a variety of accessories including various wrenches, adjustment gears, an oil bottle, as well as a user’s manual. It operates with nylon gears, making this lathe more wear-resistant and accurate as it rotates. All this provides you with a very professional loadout from the get-go.
It can be operated either manually or by using the machine’s adjustable auto feed rate. This gives you the precision that you need when cutting regardless of your situation. This ability will help you to produce the quality of work that you are looking for. As a result, this lathe can easily be adjusted to your skill and goals for your work. That means that whether you are doing professional work or simply working in your garage you have a tool that can be adjusted to what you are making and how you are trying to make it. This level of adjustable feed makes it possible to find the right setting for your project regardless of what it may be.
What we love:
- This metal lathe has an emergency stop button for increased safety and reliability
- It has a cross slide that is designed to have abrasive resistance, so as to prevent wear and tear
- This lathe is ideal for cutting small precision parts
We don’t like this as much:
- We’d love to see a digital readout of the settings or amount of feed received
- Sturdy Aluminium Construction: The mini metal lathe bed is made of high grade iron. Equipped with nylon gears, this lathe machine is wear-resistant, sturdy, more accurate rotation and professional. Mini metal lathe power of motor: 550W. The full-length splash guard provides max. 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 hardness and accuracy of the v-slide ways are obtained by raw material, heat hardening and grinding. Emergency stop button included.
- Accurate 3-Jaw Chuck: Mini metal lathe chuck, 3-jaw self-centering chuck, for setting cylindrical materials steadily. Back splash guard included. Spindle is supported by precision tapered roller bearings, spindle accuracy within 0.0004" / 0.01 mm.
- 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.
2. Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe
This metal lathe from Erie Tools has an easy-to-read digital readout for adjusting the revolutions per minute at which it spins. It has a thread indicator to help users turn screw threads from 12 to 52 TPI. It has a multi-jaw chuck to hold workpieces tightly. It has an optional auto-feed that can be easily adjusted from project to project. This also comes equipped with a tool post capable of holding up to four cutting tools at the same time making it easy to switch as needed while working on a project. This means that you can work while having your cutting tools exactly where you need them when you need them.
This lathe has both internal and external chuck jaws along with eleven feed rate gears for easy adjustment of the feed rate. It is capable of drilling, cutting, and turning metal, wood, and plastic with the precision you need to create precision parts. Its rotational speed can be adjusted to up to 2500 revolutions per minute in both directions.
All this allows you to produce quality and high-precision work regardless of what your project may be. It allows you to do a highly professional job at making precision parts. This means that whatever project you are working on, if the parks fit this lathe, then you are good to go. Its ability to work with multiple materials adds extra flexibility for what you can make using this lathe.
It also allows for the precision necessary for professional work making it useful for more than just a tool for a hobbyist’s garage workspace. Regardless of the project you are using this lathe for, this mini lathe will provide you with the precision you require.
What we love:
- This metal lathe comes with a five-piece carbide-tipped cutter kit so that you can start working with it right away
- This lathe has a spindle accuracy: 0.0004 inches or 0.01 millimeters to ensure superior precision
- Features a longitudinal feed rate of 0.0039 inches to 0.00787 inches, broadening the spectrum of what you can achieve
We don’t like this as much:
- The thread indicator operates best when using metric units, so you may need to make a calculation to translate this for your projects
- 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.
3. Jectse Mini Lathe
This metal lathe comes with a powerful motor that delivers two thousand revolutions per minute when turning metal. It has a maximum power output of sixty watts. The motor box and spindle box are combined to form a single structure with the main parts made of various metals and protected by a belt cover.
The lathe has a central height of seventy-five millimeters, and a separation distance of one hundred thirty-five millimeters. Its turning tool is made of a high-speed steel material that is designed to work on soft, non-ferrous, and precious metals. Furthermore, using the central block expands the diameter to fifty millimeters.
The Jectse Mini lathe weighs in at just eleven pounds making it extremely lightweight and portable. It has a maximum motor speed of 12000 revolutions per minute. It runs on a 12-volt power adapter, a factor that limits its power but makes it extremely portable, and capable of being used nearly anywhere. It has a maximum diameter for machinable materials of one hundred millimeters and a maximum length of one hundred thirty-five millimeters. It has a machining accuracy of 0.07 millimeters, making it accurate enough for most uses.
If you are looking for a metal lathe targeted towards hobbyists rather than one for professional use this lathe may be what you are looking for. It is accurate enough for most projects and as such, if you are just starting out doing lathe work, it is a good starting tool to help you develop your skills. It will help you gain the vital experience you need before moving up to a bigger model. This lathe has the advantage that it is light enough to make it easy to move around. That makes portability one of its best features.
What we love:
- This metal lathe has a handy LCD display to let you know the settings and general status of your work
- The main unit comes pre-assembled, reducing the time required before you can commence with your projects
- This metal lathe comes with cutting tools as well as the tools necessary for initial maintenance
We don’t like this as much:
- This metal lathe is specifically targeted towards beginners to the hobby, so it is not as ideal for professional use
- 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. Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe
This mini lathe will fit almost anywhere with a size of only 27.75 by 11.5 by 12 inches, and a weight of just seventy-one pounds. It has an easy-to-access control panel with several functions on it. They include a rotational selector knob, speed dial, and clutch knob. Combined, this provides for a wide variety of adjustments to fit whatever your needs are. It also has different settings that allow for both manual and automatic feed. It even has a gear ratio threading chart for determining which gears are required for a given number of threads per inch.
It has two selectable feed rates of 0.002 inches and 0.004 inches per revolution. It has a distance between the centers of ten inches and a spindle speed ranging from one hundred to two thousand inches per minute. A spindle bore size of three-eighths of an inch. It has a thread range of sixteen to twenty-four TPI in inches. Its maximum tool size is three-eighths of an inch by three-eighths of an inch.
It is a handy tool that has a sufficiently wide range of adjustments to get the precision that you may need. At seventy-one pounds it can be shifted around easily. It is a small metal lathe that can handle most projects you are likely to use it for. For projects of the size it is designed for, this lathe has what it takes to get the job done. It has a variable turning speed and feed rate that should fit most projects that you will be working on with it. Regardless of your particular project, it has the flexibility and easy-to-use controls, and precision that will get the job done.
What we love:
- Comes equipped to work on steel, plastics, aluminum, and wood, giving you a wide variety of materials to work with
- This metal lathe comes with an oil cup and stand to keep your oil available when and where you need it
- This metal lathe runs on the alternating current right out of a standard outlet and does not need to be adjusted
We don’t like this as much:
- Due to the sheer amount of settings available to tweak, you may need to spend some extra time reading through and learning what each setting does
- 4 hex wrenches, 100-2000 RPM spindle speed:
- MT #2 spindle taper, MT #1 tailstock taper
- Double ended wrench, socket head wrench
- Oil cup, stand Included
- Chuck key, 3 external jaws
5. Eastwood Benchtop Mini Metal Variable Speed Lathe
This mini metal lathe from Eastwood is perfect for machining your own parts in the comfort of your own home! You can turn steel, aluminum, nylon, Delrin, brass, and oil-impregnated bronze with ease and precision. It is powerful enough to be able to make a one-hundredth of an inch cut in steel, this would allow you to make actual parts for a car.
The Eastwood mini lathe has all the features that you would expect to find on larger lathes but in a home workshop-compatible compact size. It has an automatic feed with selectable gear train components. This will allow you to use it for complex threading needing high precision cutting. It has an inside and outside 3-Jaw chuck set allowing for the many types of workpiece configurations needed for a large variety of turning and cutting jobs. With a 2.125-inch swing over the cross slide and a twelve-inch maximum center separation, you can make parts up to four inches in diameter and eleven inches in length with ease and precision.
It comes with several useful tools for setup and maintenance including a chuck key; a hex wrench set with three-, four-, five- and six-millimeter sizes; a handy oil container; an 8/10mm open-ended wrench; and a 14/17mm open-ended wrench. Combined these tools will help you to use and maintain your mini lathe for years to come.
All this makes this mini metal lathe an excellent addition to the do-it-yourselfer’s home workshop. If you want to be able to make your own parts for inventions, tools, or any other project you may be thinking of, this lathe may be just what you need. It is a type of tool that any do-it-yourselfer would proudly show off when showing someone around their workshop. If you have a home workshop this mini metal lathe would make an excellent addition to your equipment collection.
What we love:
- Very compact, making it perfect to store atop a bench in the garage
- Features a 0.75 horsepower motor, giving you the power that is necessary for most hobby-related projects
- This metal lathe comes with a set of HSS cutting tools so that you have nothing extra to buy and can start using it right away
We don’t like this as much:
- We wish the reset mechanism was a little more straightforward to access and utilize
- 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
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the main function of a lathe?
A lathe is a tool used for shaping wood or metal parts. This machining tool rotates a workpiece around a stationary cutting tool. It works by removing unwanted material to mold the workpiece to the desired shape for the part being created.
Because of the need to produce parts from different materials using different techniques, there are many types of specialized lathes. Lathes are often used to make parts for other machinery, but they can be used for modeling and other uses. These uses can include specialty bowls and musical instruments. Regardless of what they are designed and used to make; all lathes use the same basic working principle. The object being cut is placed on a rotating structure; that holds it in the right place in relation to a cutting tool that is being held in place. This results in the cutting tool being able to cut around the object in a controlled manner, to cut it according to a predesigned plan.
The result is that a lathe is capable of cutting machinery parts with a precision that cannot be matched by other means. A lathe is ultimately a precision rotating cutting tool that is most frequently used for making parts for machinery and other objects such as models and even art.
What can you make using a mini metal lathe?
A mini metal lathe is a very useful and amazing tool to have. These machines can be used to make other tools as well as machine parts. Some of the common uses include making screws, gun barrels, and musical instruments. Pretty much as long as the parts you are making fit the dimensions of the lathe you can make it. Even though you can always buy these items, a mini metal lathe makes it easy to get into metal crafting for yourself, so that you can get that extra satisfaction of knowing it’s something you’ve made. Plus you may even save yourself some money.
Some easy examples of things that you can make using a mini metal lathe include a metal scriber, a metal mallet or hammer, a metal wedding ring, and even a steel jewelry box. The list of possibilities goes on, but these are fairly simple examples of what you can make. Naturally, once you have made some fairly simple items such as these, you are in a position to improve your skills and work on more complicated projects.
Ultimately, the things that you can make using a mini metal lathe are only limited by the dimensions of the lathe, its power, and your own imagination. For the record, your imagination is the biggest possible limiting factor. After all, it can help you figure out how to get around the other two limitations.
What are the different types of metal lathes?
There are three main types of metal lathes. Each type is designed with different objects and materials in mind. The types are a speed lathe, engine lathe, and tool room lathe.
A speed lathe is often used on wood or metal, and as the name indicates its main feature is speed. They are often used to make bowls, baseball bats, and parts for furniture. It is the simplest type of lathe consisting only of a headstock, tailstock, and tool turret.
An engine lathe is intended for metalworking jobs like boring, drilling, and reaming. The name “engine lathe” comes from the fact that early versions used a steam engine as a power source. Today they are used for working on a variety of metals.
A tool room lathe is used in situations where extreme precision is needed. They have much of the same functionality as an engine lathe including turning, drilling, boring, and reaming but with far greater precision. As a result, they are the lathe of choice where accuracy is essential. They are used in making high-precision tools and equipment parts that require higher than normal levels of accuracy.
The type of lathe that you use will depend upon what your needs are. However, for most personal uses in a home workshop, a mini metal lathe will meet your needs.
A mini metal lathe is a handy tool for making things out of wood and metal. They can be used to make all sorts of things with varying degrees of precision. Finding the right one will depend upon your needs including factors such as price, speed, and cutting precision. Here are our three top recommended mini lathes:
- Budget – Jectse Mini Lathe
- Mid-range – BestEquip Metal Lathe 7″ x 14″,Mini Metal Lathe
- High End – Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe
911metallurgist.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.