Metal lathes aren’t exactly the most affordable power tools out there. In fact, you may have to cough up a hefty fee to own one. However, hobbyists, modelers, and small shop owners do not need a large, expensive machine.
Benchtop models make more sense for most of them due to their smaller sizes and pocket-friendly price tags. In addition, the price of most benchtop units is below $1000. And at this price point, there are plenty of options to choose from, and it is normal to feel indecisive.
To make the process less challenging, we have compiled a list of the best benchtop metal lathes and what they are good at. We have also included a buying guide to help you make an informed decision.
List Of Today’s best benchtop lathes
Reviews Of The best benchtop lathes
Erie Tools 7 x 14 Precision Bench Top Mini Metal Milling
The Erie Tools 7 x 14 inch precision benchtop lathe, designed primarily for hobbyists and small metal shop owners, has some amazing features. It is compact enough to fit in your home workshop or small shop.
With a 7 inch swing and distance of 14 inches between centers, it will be sufficient to handle most of your metal turning tasks. Also, the single-phase 60Hz motor should provide you with just enough power for your needs.
In terms of accuracy, this is the Best small metal lathe in regards to accuracy. Its spindle precision stands at 0.01mm and Longitudinal Feed Rate: 0.0039 in. to 0.00787 inches. You can also adjust the speeds from 50 to 2500 RPM. This lathe gives you the flexibility you need to suit the task at hand.
The rotation can be in reverse with a switch. As for threading, you can adjust the threads per inch as well. Thanks to the threads indicator feature that allows you to turn screw thread from 12 to 52 TPI. Also, in the package, you get a complete set of plastic change gears.
It also comes with a number of accessories, including an MT3 Spindle Taper and an MT2 Dead Center Tailstock Taper.
BestEquip Metal Lathe 7″ x 14″,Benchtop Mini Metal Lathe
The BestEquip 7 x 14 inch mini metal lathe is one of the more budget-friendly good quality options out there. However, this is not to say that it’s of inferior quality compared to pricier models. On the contrary, it has some fantastic features.
Speaking of fantastic features, we loved the four-way rotating turret. The latter allows you to attach four tools for shaping your metal. This saves you the time you would have otherwise wasted swapping out different tools.
You get a speed control knob that allows you to adjust the spindle speed from 50 to 2500 RPM. More importantly, you can operate it either manually or using the adjustable auto feed rate. It has a distance of 12 inches between centers.
Accuracy is something you can expect from this tool, with its 7-inch swing over bed 21 mm spindle. The latter is supported by precision tapered roller bearings. This guarantees a spindle accuracy of up to 0.01mm. This unit has a 1-year warranty on parts.
Some of the accessories you get with this model include a spindle taper and a tailstock taper. You also get an instructions manual. Overall, this is a tool you can use at home or in a small workshop.
Eastwood Benchtop Mini Metal Variable Speed Lathe
The Eastwood benchtop mini metal variable speed lathe is described as a compact machine with the features of larger and pricier models. So, how true is this description from the manufacturer? Let’s find out.
Firstly, this Eastwood model is quite small, measuring 7 by 12 inches. Nevertheless, it does deliver on its promises and is available at a relatively affordable price. In addition, it comes with an HSS cutting tool that allows a user to cut different metals.
Powered by a ¾ HP motor with a 120v input voltage, this mini machine is capable of making .010 inch cuts in steel. But the feature that impressed us was the 3-jack chuck that allows you to work with workpieces of varying configurations.
But what size metals can it handle? With its 2.125 inch swing and a distance between centers of 12 inches, it can handle metals that are 4 inches wide and 11 inches long. As a homeowner, it is unlikely you will be dealing with bigger metals.
This model comes with a 1-year warranty from Eastwood. It also comes with a number of accessories, including a spare fuse and MP 6 head span screws.
How to Choose the best benchtop metal lathe
When shopping for a metal lathe, there are some features to consider. The right tool should meet your needs while offering a good performance. Here is what to consider when shopping for a metal lathe.
Lathes are typically large in size and tend to take up more space than most other tools. However, they vary in size, with the best industrial metal lathe being large and requiring a bigger floor space than benchtop models. These also come with hefty price tags attached to them.
On the other hand, benchtop lathes are smaller and require less space. Thus if you have a small workshop either at home or in your business, a benchtop will be a good option. The best budget metal lathe will typically measure 7 by 14 inches.
The power output of most lathes ranges from 1 to 3HP. So how much power do you need?. The average power output is 1 to 2HP. However, there are some that offer an output of more than 3HP. These typically have a single-phase supply to enable them to be plugged into a standard home outlet.
For most people, 1-2HP is enough. However, high-end and high-quality options feature a 3Hp and beyond power output.
The rotating speed is another important factor to consider. For hobbyists and homeowners, a variable speed will be useful. A variable speed allows you to control how fast the spindle rotates depending on the task at hand.
Ideally, a good quality model will offer a variable speed range of 30 to 2500 RPMs. This should be sufficient for most of your applications.
The reverse rotation or tumbler reverse feature allows the lathe to rotate in reverse. This gives you the ability to perform a wider range of applications. Thus you will want a lathe that is capable of reverse rotation.
Most lathes feature a 4 tool post. One tool is usually in use with the other 3 nearby for easy replacement when needed. When shopping for a lathe, it is wise to consider one with four post tools.
Benchtop lathes cost less than other types of lathes. This makes them a perfect option for hobbyists and homeowners. There are countless options available in the market, and finding the best benchtop metal lathe. The three we have reviewed above are of great quality and are available at an affordable price.