Are you looking for a metal lathe that can cut and shape metals in your workshop? Or do you want that machine in your garage because you have become a recent hobbyist? Whatever be your reason, there’s a metal lathe for everyone.
The metal lathe can indeed make metal shaping and wood shaping a lot easier. You can save massive amounts of money, creating spare parts and tools right in your garage too.
A metal lathe allows you to create car spare parts, gun equipment, and much more in a quick time. The machine can fix most of your metal fabrication needs at the factory as well as at home. It is a go-to machine for hardcore DIYers that want to do it all by themselves.
But the metal lathes cost much more than other machines. You must be well informed to choose one that fulfills your purpose and comes under a budget. That is why we have prepared this list of the best metal lathes for various uses.
In the beginning, you might find a lot of metal lathes at relatively moderate prices. Most of the mini-lathes today are ideal to use for beginners. But once you discover the potential the seemingly potential machine has and the products it can create, you might find your lathe to be limiting.
Entry-level lathes can’t work for long hours and deliver cuttings of only a limited thickness. While an error in cutting may work in your household project, it can lead to huge losses if you cut a tool for industrial usage.
Now while you would want lighter machines at your disposal, it isn’t that way with lathes. Lathes should be heavier to ensure they can last longer and don’t vibrate enough.
Factors like these and a few others mean that you cannot easily decide upon buying a metal lathe. That’s why we have written a detailed buying guide after the comprehensive review list of the best metal lathes. Read the complete article since it’s an expensive investment that must last long.
Table of Contents
- 1 8 Best Metal Lathes For Beginners, Table Top and DIY In 2021
- 1.1 1. BestEquip Metal Lathe 7″ x 14″, Mini Metal Lathe 0-2250 RPM Variable Speed- Durable Machine with Variable Speed
- 1.2 2. Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe- Compact Lathe with Automatic and Manual control
- 1.3 3. TECHTONGDA Brushless Motor Precision Mini Metal Lathe DIY Bench Lathe- Powerful Motor in a Compact Package
- 1.4 4. Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe- Multi-Purpose Lathe for all kinds of material
- 1.5 5. Jet 321360A BDB-1340A 13-Inch Swing by 40-Inch between Centers 230-Volt 1 Phase Belt Drive Bench Metalworking Lathe- Powerful Metal Lathe for Industrial Usage.
- 1.6 6. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe- Excellent for Longer Operations
- 1.7 7. Jectse Mini Lathe, Lathe Tool Kit, Lathe with Powerful Motor- Budget Lathe for Hobbyists
- 1.8 8. Eastwood mini-lathe measures as less as 7″ x 12″
- 2 Buying Guide
- 3 Important Factors to consider when buying a metal lathe
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Our Top Pick
- 6 Final Verdict
8 Best Metal Lathes For Beginners, Table Top and DIY In 2021
1. BestEquip Metal Lathe 7″ x 14″, Mini Metal Lathe 0-2250 RPM Variable Speed- Durable Machine with Variable Speed
If you’re looking for a metal lathe that can undertake a variety of tasks and can last for years without maintenance, look no further. Best Equip metal lathe is built like a tank with high-grade iron.
It comes with nylon gears and a splash guard for optimum protection. The machine is quite flexible with the option to use it forward as well as a reverse on all speeds from 50 to 2500 RPM. You can also run it on automatic mode and complete other tasks simultaneously.
Its DC engine motor also allows for various applications like sample processing, modeling, and mini parts processing.
2. Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe- Compact Lathe with Automatic and Manual control
If you are an aspiring weekend machinist or toolmaker for your garage and gun needs, here is an ideal lathe for you. It’s compact and allows for both manual and automatic control, making it one of the best metal lathes to use in households for beginners and intermediaries.
Its M1015 control panel gives you access to a wide variety of functions like speed dial, clutch knob, and rotation selector knob. That allows you to craft customized pieces with a lot of precision.
The package also comes with a gear ratio threading chart that can help beginners to determine the gears they need to use to acquires the desired TPI or threads per inch.
3. TECHTONGDA Brushless Motor Precision Mini Metal Lathe DIY Bench Lathe- Powerful Motor in a Compact Package
Techtongda metal lathe is one of the most powerful lathes in its size range. It’s compact and yet provides a massive power of 600W. It is also one of the best metal lathes in its price segment because of its heavy-duty body.
Weighing at 150 pounds, the metal lathe consists of only metal parts from gears and bearings to the spindle. The lathe can manufacture threads between 0.5 to 3mm, making it ideal for hobbyists. It’s wear-resistant and provides accurate operation for small scale usage.
4. Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe- Multi-Purpose Lathe for all kinds of material
If your cutting needs are more than just steel or hard metal, you would want a lathe-like Erie Tools precision, which can cut and turn plastic and wood apart from metal. It comes with a variable speed motor of 2500 RPM that can work in both forward and reverse gears.
Its USP is the wide range of thread manufacturing. Its ability to turn screw threads from 12 to 52 TPI makes it one of the best metal lathes in its price segment. Additionally, you would get both imperial and metric measurements for easier usage.
5. Jet 321360A BDB-1340A 13-Inch Swing by 40-Inch between Centers 230-Volt 1 Phase Belt Drive Bench Metalworking Lathe- Powerful Metal Lathe for Industrial Usage.
Jet Metal Lathe is an industrial leader in terms of quality and durability. Its long-lasting range of equipment makes it suitable for use in large metal workshops too. Likewise, its price is multiple folds higher than a mini bench lathe.
It comes with a well-ground V-way bed that allows you to work smoothly in a large space. While it can easily last for several years, the Jet Metal Lathe comes with a 2-year warranty.
6. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe- Excellent for Longer Operations
If you are looking for a mini lathe to be used in your labs to create models, Central Machinery is one of the best metal lathes for that purpose. It is ideal for longer operations, which are required in education labs and workshops.
It provides a range of 12 to 52 TPI for diverse usage. The kit is complete with a micro switch and 18 threads. You can switch from automatic to manual mode effortlessly with its knob controllers. Despite all those features, the metal lathe is quite cost-effective.
7. Jectse Mini Lathe, Lathe Tool Kit, Lathe with Powerful Motor- Budget Lathe for Hobbyists
If you are starting on metal shaping and turning at your home, Jesse is the best metal lathe to start. It is ultra-lightweight at just 10 pounds and has a moderately powerful motor of 60W. It hasn’t compromised on quality, though.
Its spindle box, tailstock, size slider, long stand, blade as well as gear is made up of high-grade metals. The machine delivers up to 2000 RPM, which can handle small-scale tasks easily.
8. Eastwood mini-lathe measures as less as 7″ x 12″
It can easily fit on your garage bench. But don’t go on its compact size; it is one of the best metal lathes for households in terms of power.
It can deliver variable spindle speeds of up to 2500 RPM quite smoothly. You will also get a large range of thread manufacturing from 12 to 52 TPI. It has a reasonable weight of 90 pounds and needs a stable environment to be operated.
Buying a metal lathe can be a difficult task because of the wide variety of metal lathes available. Moreover, the equipment is quite expensive, and you don’t want to end up getting frauded or spending an amount more than it’s worth.
The machines have come with a range of features, and determining your purpose is essential to make a purchasing decision. Here we list a few factors which can help you make a better purchase decision. Here are the features to look out for in the best metal lathe:
The metal lathe comes in different sizes. Industrial lathes typically have larger sizes than household lathes. You should consider the type of project you need to undertake to decide its size.
If you have a smaller space in your workshop or garage, you should buy a mini bench metal lathe. Jet lathes are typically larger because of industrial usage.
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A lot of the metal lathes use headstocks and spindle assembly to adjust to speed and loads of various sizes of metals. You need to check if your metal lathe has ball bearings or taper rolling.
A plain bearing is difficult to replace, while a ball bearing can be replaced easily. Ball and roller systems are low maintenance and cost-effective too.
You should choose the best metal lathe based on its spindle speed. A variable spindle speed is ideal to choose from. You should buy a metal lathe with 0 to 1200 RPM speed for household use, while machines that deliver above 2000 RPM can manage more inventive tasks.
The power of the metal lathe is an important consideration while buying the machine. A small household lathe will typically have a horsepower of less than 1. If you’re buying it for household usage, your metal lathe should operate on a single phase.
You should always choose a metal lathe that allows you to operate in reverse directions. This feature allows you to perform diverse cutting and shaping tasks by changing the motion of the rotation.
Some metal lathes operate with a variable electric speed drive while others operate on V-belt drives. V-drive allows for better bending, which comes in useful during large-scale operations.
Important Factors to consider when buying a metal lathe
A metal lathe is a long-term investment because of its significantly high price. You can’t afford to buy such high-end equipment time and again. Hence you should only settle for machines with at least 2 years of warranty, although the best metal lathe can last for decades.
2. Size of you workspace
Metal lathes are heavy equipment that you can’t port around easily. They should have a proper destination where you use them. Hence buying a large lathe for a small workspace isn’t ideal. Moreover, cramping up your machine can lead to overheating and damage.
With a wide price range available while buying metal lathes, it can get challenging to figure out how much money you should invest in your machine. Household usage lathes are typically inexpensive and cost less than $1000. But if you’re looking to buy one for a large-scale business, you should buy an expensive one that can last long and has powerful fabricating capabilities to maximize your profits.
4. Your Experience
If you have just started on metal cutting and turning as a hobbyist or enthusiast, you should buy a lathe suited for beginners. A lathe like the Central Machinery one on the list is ideal for you because of its digital meter, friendly price, and easy-to-use features.
Most metal lathe features are built to make your experience more efficient. But some metal lathes have ultra complex designs that can be hard to control for first-timers. You should also check if the lathe comes with a user manual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is a lathe commonly used to make?
Metal lathes can be used to create a variety of tools like gun barrels, spinning tops, hammers, bearings, and more. Apart from metal equipment, you can also craft plastic and wooden tools from it.
Q2. How similar are wood and metal lathes?
Ans. Chuck, headstock, bed, and tailstock are similar components. The machines also change gears in similar ways, and a few metal lathes also work as wood lathes.
Q3. Which lubricants should you use with metal lathes?
Ans. Small and quick lathes use dry coolants, while flood cooling is preferred for heavier machinery. If your machine is used for a short time, you can use misting to cool it.
Q4. What to do if the metal threads aren’t properly cut with a lathe?
Ans. You might need transposing gear to correct an improper thread cut. You would need to lower the lathe’s RPM and employ a transposing gear to achieve better precision.
Q5. What can cause the metal lathe to function improperly?
Ans. If the tailstock isn’t fixed, your metal lathe might not cut properly. Similarly, loose fittings can prove to be detrimental to the precision cutting that you want.
Our Top Pick
Shop Fox M1015 Micro Lathe
Being an entry-level option, the lathe from Shop Fox can give the bigger ones a run for their money. It has an admirably powerful engine despite its small size to partake in small and medium scale tasks.
Choosing the best metal lathe can be challenging for beginners and experts alike. It’s because you can’t be sure at times about how much cutting power you would need. Moreover, the determining factors like TPI, cutting power, durability, and more are unclear at times.
We have hence laid out a comprehensive guide for you to determine your purpose and choose accordingly. Once you have gone through the whole of the list, you should also foresee your future with the machine to an extent.
While it’s safe to buy an inexpensive metal lathe for your household DIY projects, you should think of the future when buying a machine for industrial usage. In that case, it would be better to buy a metal lathe that can perform heavier tasks for longer periods.