Best Metal Lathes of 2021- [Unbiased Product Ranking for you]

Best Metal Lathes

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. 

Why is it essential to get the right metal lathe for yourself?

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.

Lathe Measure

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.

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8 Best Metal Lathes

1. BestEquip Metal Lathe 7″ x 14″, Mini Metal Lathe 0-2250 RPM Variable Speed- Durable Machine with Variable Speed

BestEquip Metal Lathe

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.

Key Features
  • 550W Powerful Motor
  • 7″ x 14″ small size
  • Features an MT3 spindle taper, 2/4HP motor, 3-jaw chuck in a small package
  • Abrasive Resistance for smooth movement of blades
  • 4 Changeable Blades
  • Infinitely variable speeds from 50 to 2500 RPM
Pros
  • You can operate the machine manually as well as automatically depending upon workpiece requirements.
  • The small size of the lathe ensures you can accommodate it in smaller spaces at home.
  • The machine is wear-resistant and durable. It’s sturdy and quite heavily built for industrial usage.
Cons
  • The lathe doesn’t come with socket tools and gears, which you may have to buy additionally for precise results.

2. Shop Fox M1015 6-Inch by 10-Inch Micro Lathe- Compact Lathe with Automatic and Manual control

Shop Fox M1015

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.

Key Features
  • Variable spindle speeds from 100 to 2500 RPM with manual and auto control
  • ⅕ HP single Phase motor
  • Maximum Tool Size of ⅜” x ⅜.”
  • Thread Range between 16 to 24 TPI
Pros
  • The compact lathe can fit in smaller spaces in the garage and home and is one of the best metal lathes for small scale usage.
  • It offers a wide variety of control for beginners to learn fabrication and metal shaping.
  • It comes with a 2-year warranty for manufacturing defects.
Cons
  • The lathe is specifically built for household and small scale usage. It has a horsepower of ⅕ HP, which isn’t good enough for industrial use.

3. TECHTONGDA Brushless Motor Precision Mini Metal Lathe DIY Bench Lathe- Powerful Motor in a Compact Package

TECHTONGDA Brushless Motor

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.

Key Features
  • 600W powerful motor
  • All parts made of metal
  • Comes with a metric scale for measurements
  • Comes with 3-month warranty and lifetime servicing
Pros
  • Techtongda is one of the best metal lathes in its price segment because of its exceptionally high powered motor in a compact design.
  • It comes with 2 gears and allows for variable speeds between 50 to 2500 RPM.
  • The lathe produces quite a low sound making for a comfortable metal shaping session.
Cons
  • The metal lathe is quite heavy for an industrial lathe but yet doesn’t have enough power for large scale usage.

4. Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling Lathe- Multi-Purpose Lathe for all kinds of material

Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench

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.

Key Features
  • Compact 7″ x 14″ size for small benches
  • 2500RPM variable speed motor
  • Digital Readout for easy measurements
  • 5/16″ capacity tool for 4 cutting tools mounted at once
Pros
  • You will get a complete package of tools with an MT3 spindle taper, MT2 tailstock taper, 5-piece carbide tipper kit, and plastic change gears.
  • The digital readout makes way for easier measurement tracking.
  • You get a large range of 12 to 52 TPI thread manufacturing.
Cons
  • The lathe requires a bit of adjustment and isn’t the best metal lathe for beginners.

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 321360A BDB-1340A

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. 

Key Features
  • Coolant tray to prevent overheating
  • Impressive 13″ swing
  • 12 spindle speeds with variable speed from 60 to 1240 RPM
  • Comes with a stand
  • Its helical-cut gears reduce noise
Pros
  • Its high-quality component makes it a valuable investment and the best metal lathe for industrial use.
  • Its user-friendly design makes way for a smooth gear change.
  • It has an ultra-powerful 2HP motor driven at a voltage of 230V.
  • The 12 varying spindle speeds allow you to turn and shape a variety of metal and craft a host of tools.
Cons
  • The best metal lathe for industrial use can’t be used in households because of its large size and high price.

6. Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision Mini Lathe- Excellent for Longer Operations

Central Machinery 7 x 10 Precision

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.

Key Features
  • Variable Speed control knob for smooth usage
  • Adjustable variable speeds from 0 to 2500 RPM
  • 18 threads with a manufacturing range of 12 to 52 TPI
  • ¾ HP engine
Pros
  • The motor of Central Machinery lathe operates at 250 to 260-watt rating and delivers about 4A power for quick small scale manufacturing.
  • The power switch has a light that indicates power, which protects it from overheat and accidents.
  • You can use its spindle in forward as well as reverse gears for a variety of uses.
Cons
  • You won’t get cutting tools with the package and need to buy one additionally. That is justified because of its significantly lower costs.

7. Jectse Mini Lathe, Lathe Tool Kit, Lathe with Powerful Motor- Budget Lathe for Hobbyists

Jectse Mini Lathe

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.

Key Features
  • 10-pound lightweight
  • 2000 RPM motor speed
  • Comes with belt protection cover
  • Expand diameter by 50mm using central block
Pros
  • It is the best metal lathe on its price segment because you would hardly get many options at such a price.
  • It’s ideal if you are beginning to craft metal tools in your garage. You don’t want to spend too much on trying out a hobby.
  • Its compact size ensures it can fit in the smallest of benches.
Cons
  • The machine isn’t ideal for super hard metals and is good enough for small scale uses only. It works quite slowly as compared to its more expensive counterparts.
  • Eastwood Benchtop Mini Metal Variable Speed Lathe 7″ x 12″ Drilling Machine- Industrial style lathe in a compact form

8. Eastwood mini-lathe measures as less as 7″ x 12″ 

Eastwood mini-lathe measures

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.

Key Features
  • Includes HSS cutting tools
  • ¾ hp Powerful motor
  • 7″ x 12″ compact size
  • 12-52 TPI range
Pros
  • It’s a compact lathe which is apt for small to medium scale manufacturing because of its high thread manufacturing.
  • It comes with a 1-year warranty.
  • The 3-Jaw chuck set allows accommodation of a wide range of workpiece configurations.
Cons
  • It is a bit costly for a compact-sized metal lathe.

Buying Guide

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:

Size

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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Headstock Bearings

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.

Spindle Speed

Cutting Metal

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.

Power

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.

Tumbler Reverse

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.

Drive Systems

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

1. Warranty

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

Lathe Handel

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.

3. Budget

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.

5. User-Friendliness

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.

Ratings- ⅘

Final Verdict

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.