Last Updated on June 10, 2021 by Robert L. Perkins
Wood lathes are exceptional tools for performing various wood-related operations like cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, etc. It is arguably indispensable for anyone who works with wood. But a large-sized wood lathe is often impractical for many people.
That is why it is wiser to opt for the smaller mini wood lathes as they take up less space and are easier to use.
But which mini wood lathe should you buy? What is the best mini wood lathe? How would you even know which one to get? Those are the questions that we are going to answer today. After reading this article, you will know for sure, which is the ideal mini wood lathe for you.
Best Mini Wood Lathe – Comparison
Best Mini Wood Lathe With Reviews 2020
Now that you know why you should buy a wood lathe and why that should be a mini wood lathe, it is time to know about the actual small wood lathes. From here on out, we will name 10 of the best mini-lathes for wood.
1. WEN 3420T Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 750 to 3200 RPM
- Dimensions: 26 x 10 x 12 inches
- Weight: 43 lbs
- Warranty: 2 years
It goes without saying, these accessories are very important for a tool belt, and the fact that this one has so many is a huge plus point. This is what allows it to be so easy to use and accessible to use for newcomers.
So, if you happen to be starting new and all these pieces of machinery sound way too weird and complex for you, you might want to check this out as it probably is the best beginner wood lathe.
Moreover, this wood lathe also has a long-lasting and durable motor. And it is owed to the slow start feature of the motor. This can be a double-edged sword in a way, though. While it does ensure the durability of your motor, it can be very annoying and time-consuming at times.
And it also has a great speed range, which starts at 750 and ends at 3200. This range is not special, but with the added benefit of it being so accessible, it is definitely useful.
But there are some obvious flaws. Firstly, this is not at all a good wood lathe for a professional user. You can’t perform any large task through this wood lathe. Anything you do with this has to be a very small scale.
The design and construction also have a lot of room to improve. The materials used in its construction are low quality, which reduces the durability and longevity of this device.
2. JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Mini Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 60 to 3600 RPM
- Dimensions: 32.8 x 14.6 x 21.2 inches
- Weight: 136 lbs
- Warranty: 5 years
And the jet mini wood lathe has an ideal speed range that makes it extremely easy to use and control. You can go from a very low speed to a very high one in a matter of seconds without losing control. The speed range starts from 60 RPM and ends at 3600 RPM. The product also has absolutely effortless forward to reverse transition.
Any experienced woodworker will tell you how important it is to move both forward and backward in this line of work. By moving both ways, you can obtain a finer finish. It has a belt tension system that is extremely unique and makes the product very easy to use. It is a ratchet-style tension system that is very convenient.
The tailstock is very solid with the finest quality of the thread. But the construction and design could use some improvement. Firstly, the design is extremely plain and does nothing to inspire awe. The construction of the wood lathe is also very weak. As such, the durability of this wood lathe remains in question.
Moreover, the wood lathe also has a very weak motor. The power output isn’t good enough. What’s more, is that once stopped, it takes a very long time to restart, which isn’t a good indicator for the motor.
Lastly, it is also very expensive compared to most other wood lathes. At this price, if they improved the motor and design, then it wouldn’t be an issue. But unfortunately, with the weak motor and construction, the price does seem bloated and excessive.
3. DELTA Industrial 46-460 Midi Wood LAthe
- Motor: 1750 RPM
- Dimensions: 36 x 11 x 17.8 inches
- Weight: 97 lbs
- Warranty: 5 years
The midi woodturning lathes come with a wide range of variable speeds. It contains a 3-pulley system for speed. So you can work on multiple speed levels depending on your specific needs. Not only that, because of the 3-pulley system, but you can also change the speed of the lathe effortlessly.
Like the previous entry, it also has a very smooth forward to reverse transitioning system. We have already talked about the importance of this feature in detail. So you know that this is very important for pretty much any good wood lathe. And this one definitely doesn’t sleep on this feature
Also, the belt tensioning system is of very high quality. This makes it easy to use not only for professionals but also for beginners. Because of this tensioning system, changing the speed of the lathe is very easy and convenient. It also guarantees the durability of the motor by putting less strain on it.
Speaking of durability, the construction of this wood lathe is extremely solid. It is made of cast iron, which guarantees its durability. So you can be assured that it can stand the test of time.
We have praised this device a lot. But it does have one slightly major drawback. And it has to do with its weight. It’s too heavy. And it weighs 45 kilograms. This heavyweight greatly reduces portability and comfort. So if those things are important to you, this might not be your thing.
4. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 250 to 4000 RPM
- Dimensions: 33 x 9 x 18 inches
- Weight: 82 lbs
- Warranty: 1 years
And normally a tool belt with so much style would lack substance. But that is not the case with the NOVA Comet II. It has great power, which varies from 3 to 4 horsepower. This is incredible considering the already fantastic design and a very reasonable price.
The variable speed range is also something to praise in this wood lathe. And the speed range in this lathe is 250-4000 RPM. Like the previous DELTA entry, this also uses a 3-pulley system. This makes it very easy to change the speed and thus makes the wood lathe comfortable to use.
Moreover, the wood lathe is also very light and easy to carry. So if you require portability out of your wood lathe, this one has you covered there as well. And if all of that wasn’t enough, it also has a digital speed indicator. Through this, you can know the precise speed you are operating the machine on.
Furthermore, this is a huge plus for overall convenience and comfort. This feature will help you configure the speed of the lathe, something that is considered one of the more difficult tasks in any wood lathe. So the addition of this greatly boosts the status of this wood lathe.
Even though we have basically sung the praises of this product till now, it does have one major flaw. If you are looking to use this product for any large scale projects, this one will do you no good. It works exceptionally well for any small scale projects.
But all of its remarkable features will not help you much if you are looking to do something that is more demanding.
5. RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 430 to 3900 RPM
- Dimensions: 33.8 x 18 x 11.5 inches
- Weight: 88 lbs
- Warranty: 5 years
And the best part about this is that the low price isn’t all it has to offer. The speed change feature in the wood lathe is extremely accessible and easy to use. It offers a variable speed range. And the overall design makes it very easy to change from one speed to another.
It also has a pretty strong motor. The power output in this motor is about 1.5 horsepower, which is more than enough to meet your needs. And the motor used in this wood lathe has also been proven to be long-lasting and durable.
So, besides giving you a pretty high amount of power, this motor can also stand the test of time. And for the price, this is genuinely an amazing feature.
Additionally, this wood lathe is very good for beginners. As we have mentioned, changing the speed is very easy here and so are all the other functions. This wood lathe is extremely accessible and comfortable to use for just about anyone.
Furthermore, it also comes with a variable choice of accessories that can help the beginners out greatly. So if you are someone who is just starting out in woodworking and do not have much idea about how a wood lathe functions, then this wood lathe is great for you.
But like all tools, it also has its fair share of drawbacks. The design and construction of this wood lathe are very poor. It seems like this is a common issue among budget-friendly wood lathes. The design, like the previous entry, is just very basic and leaves a lot to be desired.
Moreover, the construction is extremely poor. So even with a powerful and durable motor, this wood lathe’s construction might eventually let you down. Because this wood lathe isn’t durable externally.
6. PSI Woodworking Turncrafter Commander Midi Lathe
- Speeds: 3600 RPM
- Dimensions: 32 x 9 x 17 inches
- Weight: 82 lbs
- Warranty: 3 years
For the price, it also offers a solid amount of power output. Its power can range from 1 horsepower to 2 horsepower. While we have seen wood lathes with higher power than this, this power is by no means a bad thing. It is perfectly serviceable, and for the price, it is absolutely great.
It has a 2-pulley speed range. We have seen previous entries have 3-pulley speed ranges. While this does reduce the variety of the speed ranges, it definitely still has some solid speed options.
There are some trade-offs that you always have to make when it comes to getting a wood lathe at a slightly low price. And this is one of them. But nevertheless, the speed is good enough for it to be useable and comfortable.
Moreover, it does, however, have a digital speed readout. So like the previous entry, you can know the precise amount of speed you are using at any moment.
You can also change the speed to any level. So while this does have less variety in speed ranges compared to some wood lathes, the digital readout feature makes up for it by allowing more convenience in changing speed.
And we have talked about trade-offs that need to be made when you are buying something at a lower price. In this case, the design is a major part of it. The design couldn’t be more uninspiring. It is extremely basic and doesn’t look good. So if you are a person who values style, this one is definitely not for you.
Furthermore, construction is another thing that is lacking greatly. It is made of very weak materials and that are not durable at all. When it comes to longevity, this wood lathe will likely let you down.
So if you plan on using this wood lathe for a long period of time, you should look elsewhere because durability isn’t its strong suit.
7. Rockler Excelsior Mini Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 3900 RPM
- Dimensions: 33 x 18 x 11 inches
- Weight: 80 lbs
- Warranty: 5 years
Additionally, it is a fantastic wood lathe for beginners. It is very accessible and easy to use. The speed changing can be done very easily compared to other wood lathes. The design isn’t too complex. And if you factor in the price, this might be the best wood lathe for beginners.
If you happen to be someone who is just getting into woodworking, but you don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on a wood lathe because of uncertainty, then this wood lathe is absolutely perfect for you. You can get it by spending very little money, and it is extremely accessible and easy to use.
Another huge plus point is the durability. It’s rare to see a wood lathe at this price with solid construction. Poor construction was a common problem in both the previous budget-friendly entries.
But this wood lathe doesn’t have that problem. While it is not made of cast iron, it is still made of very durable materials and can stand the test of time.
However, this mini lathe also has certain issues. And the issues are mostly internal and have to do with the motor. The motor is very weak. It has a very low amount of power. And the motor isn’t that durable either. So while the solid construction makes the external of this mini lathe durable enough, the motor cannot last that long.
And because of the low power output and weak motor, this mini lathe isn’t good for large scale projects. This is really good for beginners who are just getting the feel of the work by starting out with small scale projects. But for professionals or amateurs, this is very weak and isn’t recommended.
8. RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR Midi Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 250-3850 RPM
- Dimensions: 12 x 40.8 x 18 inches
- Weight: 124 lbs
- Warranty: 5 years
The motor is quite durable and can last long periods of time. It also has a decent amount of power. Although for the price, the power of the motor could be higher, it is not exactly very low. It is serviceable, but no one could blame you for expecting more power from a wood lathe that costs around $700.
But one thing that doesn’t let you down is the speed and everything surrounding it. It has a variable speed range. The lowest speed limit is at 250 RPM, and the highest limit is at 3850 RPM. So you can easily operate at very low and very fast speeds. The speed changing mechanism is also easy to use and accessible.
Moreover, the wood lathe also comes with a forward to reverse transition feature. The transitioning is very smooth and adds an element of ease and comfort whenever you are operating the mini-lathe. And that is always a good thing.
It also has a very good design. And it looks incredible, and the great design makes it comfortable to use as well. However, for all the great features this wood lathe has, it is still quite expensive. You can feasibly get better wood lathes and lower prices.
We mentioned how the power output is barely average for a mini lathe that will set you back by $700.
However, the overall construction is below average. It isn’t made out ofhighly durable materials. So there is a possibility that the mini-lathe won’t last long and that can easily be a deal-breaker, especially when the lathe costs so much.
9. Mophorn 10×18 Inch Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 760-3200 RPM
- Dimensions: 35 x 16.5 x 12.5 inches
- Weight: 82 lbs
- Warranty: 5 years
It has a 5-pulley system for speed control. We have seen wood lathes that cost twice the amount this mini lathe costs, but they don’t have a feature like this. So it goes without saying, with a 5-pulley system, the user has a lot of variety when it comes to changing speed, and it also helps to control the speed.
This wood lathe also has great construction. Budget-friendly mini lathes with poor construction have kind of become a norm when it comes to mini-lathe. But this doesn’t meet the same fate. It is built of cast iron, which makes it very hard and very durable.
So not only are you getting this at a great price, but you can also use it for a very long period of time. It also has a very good design and looks very good. So it delivers on price, functionality, and style.
The biggest drawback of this mini lathe has to be its power. And the power output of this mini lathe is only 370W, and that greatly reduces the scope of its functionality. Because of this low power, you cannot use this mini lathe for any large scale work.
So if the power of a mini lathe is very important to you and if you need it to do large-scale projects, then you should look at other entries on the list. But if you only need this for small scale works, then this is a very good mini-lathe. It is arguably the best cheap mini wood lathe.
10. WEN Variable Speed Mini Benchtop Wood Lathe
- Speeds: 750 to 3200 RPM
- Dimensions: 28 x 13.5 x 7.8 inches
- Weight: 44 lbs
- Warranty: 3 years
The best quality of this wood lathe has to be in its construction. It is made of cast iron, and as we have learned, anything made of cast iron is very durable. So it goes without saying, this mini lathe from WEN is extremely durable and will stand the test of time.
It also has a very good amount of power at 3.2 motor horsepower. This makes your work much easier and increases the scope of the functionality of the mini-lathe. You can perform both small scale and large scale tasks through this mini-lathe. It also has a variable speed range.
So you can operate on multiple speed levels to make your work more precise. And to help that process, this mini lathe also features a digital speed indicator. Hence, you can know the exact speed the mini lathe is operating on, and you can set an exact speed to your liking.
Also, the product has a very good and stylish design. So this is great news for those who value some style in there machine.
But a major drawback of this machine is the motor. There have been numerous complaints about the motor getting too heated up very quickly, which can be very dangerous. So the motor definitely needs a lot of improvement. But on the plus side, this mini lathe is quite budgeting friendly.
Therefore, if you want construction, design, good power, and a friendly budget, this may be your thing.
11. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
- Speeds: 750 to 3200 RPM
- Dimensions: 7.1 x 28 x 13.7 inches
- Weight: 48 lbs
- Warranty: 3 years
To begin with, it comes with a 1/3 HP motor that is quite powerful. Because of that, you will be able to finish most of your wooden projects in no time at all. It is also adjustable. You will be able to set the RPM from anywhere between 700 and 3200 RPM.
The unit also comes with two tools rests. One of them is 4-1/2 inches, and the other one is 7 inches. They will allow you to maneuver different turning applications at ease. The distance between the centers is 13 inches.
Lastly, it comes included with a 5-3/4 inches faceplate. It will allow you to carry out non-spindle turning after you thread it into the headstock spindle.
Features to Consider before Buying
Now that we have shown 10 of the very top mini wood lathes in the market, it is time for you to go and buy the one you need. But before you do that, you have to know which factors to consider and which features you need.
So, we have given a brief description of all the features you need to take into consideration before buying a mini wood lathe below.
Most of the features will actually depend on the type of work you need a mini lathe for. If you are a beginner and you only need a mini lathe for small scale projects only, then you don’t need too much power in your mini-lathe.
Related: Mini Metal Lathes
But if you plan on doing some large-scale tasks, then your required power output will be much higher. So depending on that you have to decide how much power you need. Generally, a mini lathe with a power output of over 1 horsepower works well for any purpose.
Anyone who has operated a mini lathe will tell you that a mini lathe needs to function on multiple speed levels in order to get the maximum output. So a variable speed range is very important.
The exact variety in the speed range will again depend on the type of work you will do with the mini-lathe. But you should look for a decent amount of variety before buying the mini-lathe.
This mostly depends on the construction of the mini-lathe. Regardless of how long you need to use the lathe, it is always wise to invest in a more durable mini-lathe. So you have to make sure you know the materials used to construct the wood lathe. The durability also depends on the motor.
But that is information you won’t get from surface-level observation. Luckily for you, you can read our reviews and determine which mini lathes have the more durable motor.
The size and weight are definitely massive factors in buying a mini wood lathe. One of the biggest reasons for buying a mini wood lathe in the first place is the portability that it has compared to a mid or full-size wood lathe.
So you need to ensure that the size of the lathe is as per your requirements. It shouldn’t be so small that it is difficult to use. But it shouldn’t be so big that it loses its portability.
Style matters. No matter what anyone says, the look of a machine definitely matters. And so the design is a very important matter to consider. But style is a very subjective matter. So you have to see the design of the mini-lathe you are interested in and decide for yourself.
The design also contributes to the overall comfort while using the machine. So you have to keep that in mind before buying the mini-lathe.
A lot of wood lathes come with various types of accessories. These may include a knockout rod, tool rests, faceplates, etc. You need to determine how many and which accessories you need for your work. Depending on that, you have to choose your mini lathes.
The budget is a very subjective matter. Only you can decide what your budget is. But even if you can spend a lot of money, make sure you are getting the right properties for your price. We have mentioned all the noteworthy properties of all the products we have talked about.
We have also argued whether the products are worth their amount of money. So hopefully, you can get a good idea of cost vs. utility from this article.
Benefits of a Mini Wood Lathe
Let us first talk about the benefits of a wood lathe in general.
Woodworking is a difficult task. It takes lots of time, energy, and effort. But a wood lathe considerably saves a lot of that time and effort.
With a wood lathe in your possession, you do not need to perform tasks like cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, etc. manually. You can use the help of this machine to make your job significantly easier for you.
Saves Space and is Portable
Most people who are into various types of woodworks And craftsmen perform them in their own homes or garages. So obviously, for most of us, the free space at our disposal is very low. In this situation, a large-sized wood lathe is very impractical. So it is better to get a mini wood lathe.
Also, the relatively small size of a mini wood lathe allows more portability and comfort. You can place it wherever you want, and if by any chance you want to renovate or relocate, you can easily move it somewhere else. This is a luxury you cannot afford if you get a large wood lathe.
Allows Detailed Work
And if you are someone who prefers doing smaller and more detailed works, that is simply impossible with a large-sized wood lathe. For that, you must get a mini wood lathe.
And lastly, the larger a wood lathe is, the more expensive it is. If you are low on your budget and want to save money but don’t want to give up the functionality of a wood lathe, a mini wood lathe is simply perfect. It costs much less and performs nearly at the same level.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked queries regarding the best mini-lathes:
Q: What type of work can be done with a mini wood lathe?
A: As the name suggests, any work that you do with this machine has to do with wood. But you cannot use a mini wood lathe to craft any huge furniture. That can only be done with the help of a full-size wood lathe.
But don’t lose heart. You can still make an array of different things with mini wood lathe-like bowls, small furniture, wooden cups, etc.
Q: Is variable speed an absolute necessity in mini wood lathes?
A: No, it is not an absolute necessity. But it definitely makes things much easier compared to its alternative. With the variable speed, you don’t have to manually change the belt to change the speed of the mini-lathe.
The lathe will automatically change its speed. And that is much more convenient than changing the belt every time you need to change the speed.
Q: What is the best place to buy a mini wood lathe?
A: Amazon is the best place to buy a mini wood lathe, and we have mentioned the link to all the products that we have reviewed. But if you are not a fan of getting your products online, you can always check your local tool shop or home depot for the mini-lathe you need.
Q: How to get better at using a mini wood lathe for beginners?
A: This is going to sound cliché, but there is no alternative to practice. We could insert all the numerous cheesy quotes and proverbs about how important practice is, but in the end, as cheesy as they are, they are pretty accurate. Just keep working hard at it, and eventually, you will become a pro.
Q: Which brand makes the best mini wood lathes?
A: Pretty much all the brands that we have mentioned in this article make very good mini wood lathes, and you wouldn’t really go massively wrong by choosing any of them. But if we have to nominate the absolute best, then it would probably be a 3-way tie among DELTA, NOVA, and Mophorn.
So, What Should You Buy
So there you go. Now you know all you need to know about 10 of the best mini wood lathes out there, and you know all the important factors you need to consider before buying one. we would recommend the WEN 3420T Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe as the best choice. Otherwise, you can go for the JET JWL-1221VS Variable Speed Mini Wood Lathe. It will be a perfect choice if you’re a beginner. So, make sure you know exactly what you need and buy a mini lathe that fulfills your unique requirements.
And do not forget to keep practicing regularly. Because as that weird monkey from Bojack Horseman said, “It does get easier. It gets a little easier every day. But you have to do it every day. That’s the hard part.”
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