Shaping metals can be a tedious and complicated process when you do not have the right tool. And the right tool for the job is a metal lathe.
If you are new to metalworking, you may be overwhelmed by the countless options available in the market. Furthermore, not every tool will be right for you. So which is the best metal lathe for beginners?
Here I want to help you answer this question by giving you my top 3 metal machine recommendations. I picked the BestEquip Metal machine 7″ x 14″ Mini as my top pick.
A quick view of our best beginner metal lathe
Reviews Of Best metal lathes for beginners
BestEquip Metal machine 7″ x 14″,Mini Metal machine
I found the BestEquip Metal machine 7×14 to be the best option for those on a tight budget. It offers features that I have come to expect from costlier models. Fair to say it worked better than I expected.
It is powered by a ¾ HP motor, which is to be expected at this price point. As for the speed, it can be changed from 50 to 2500 RPM. More crucially, it can rotate in reverse and forward mode at all speeds. It includes 18 threads, and you can adjust the speed automatically.
While it is designed to work with metals, you can also use it on wood and other materials. The three-jaw self-centering chucks are one of the tool’s stand-out features. With this chuck, you can hold asymmetrical materials.
It is also able to hold cylindrical materials with great precision. This machine does require some adjusting before you can use it for the first time, though. However, most machines will require adjusting before use.
What I liked
- It can be used by both pros and amateurs alike
- The turret is capable of rotating in multiple directions
- It is an exact and accurate machine
- Works with a standard 110v power input
- Has a variable speed range of 50 to 2500 RPM
- Requires a lot of adjusting before first use
- It is not suited for heavy-duty works
Eastwood Benchtop Mini Metal Variable Speed lathe
For those who have used the Grizzly G8688 – 7″ x 12″, then you will find a lot of similarities between this Eastwood Mini model and the former. However, this Eastwood lathe offers more power than its new Grizzly counterpart.
Its 3/4 HP motor offers more power than the ⅓ HP motor of the grizzly G8688. One of the best things about this lathe, though, is the HSS cutting tools. Not many budget models feature additional tools such as an HSS cutting tool.
Thus the inclusion of this cutting tool is a big plus. Its distance between centers of 12 inches puts it firmly in the mini-machine category. Do not expect it to handle large pieces of metal. But what you can expect from it is precision and accuracy.
You have two spindle speed ranges to choose from 0-1100 and 0-2500 RPM. This means you can handle a wide array of metal shaping projects, which is not something you typically see at this price point. I also liked the inclusion of a 3-jaw chuck set.
What I liked
- Features auto fee and selectable gears for complex threading operations
- The 3-jaw chuck can accommodate a wide variety of workpieces
- Comes with an HSS cutting tool included
- It is offered at a relatively affordable price
- It is small enough to fit in most home workshops
- Most users have had trouble with the reset switch
- Not designed for heavy-duty works
Jectse Mini lathe, machine Tool Kit
One of the cheapest models on my list is also one of the least known. While it is marketed as a powerful metal lathe, I found it is best suited for soft aluminum. However, you can also use it for turning wood.
This model is best for learning, and I recommend it for beginners. And nothing demonstrates its beginner-level status as its distance between centers. You get a distance between centers of about 5.3 inches.
This is relatively small, and do not expect it to be your everyday lathe. When machining metal, you can expect the speed to drop to 2000 RPM., which is to be expected for a machine of its price.
This unit is best suited for soft non-ferrous metals and precious metals. This is why it is cheaper than most other models. But despite its price, it offered some nice features. It is, however, designed for small metal machining projects.
What I liked
- Easy to use for beginners
- It is offered at an incredibly budgeted price
- Works best for machining non-ferrous metals such as aluminum
- It can be used at home thanks to its low 12v power input rating
- Weighing 4990 grams, it is quite lightweight
- It is only ideal for machining soft non-ferrous metals
- Its 5.3-inch distance between metals is too small
Best metal lathe for beginners buying guide
So why did I pick these three options as my top picks? There are several factors that I considered, which you should also consider when buying a metal machine. These are the features to consider when searching for the best beginner metal lathe.
The motor is what is responsible for a lathe’s power output. As a beginner, you will be looking for a model that is small, lightweight, and available at an affordable price. The latter typically have under 1HP motors. A ¾ HP motor will be the ideal choice for small home projects.
Regardless of the type of machine, a variable spindle speed is a necessity. This allows you to customize the speed to fit the task at hand. For mini models, a speed range of 30 to 1200 RPM.
Some will go up to 2500 RPM, like the models I have reviewed, but it is unlikely you will require all the speed for most tasks.
The best metal lathe for home shops will be capable of changing the direction of motion. This means it can rotate in reverse. The benefit of this is that it allows you to perform various cutting roles.
Distance between centers
The distance between centers influences the size of materials you can shape. Typically mini machines tend to have smaller distances compared to large models. Fifteen inches is the most you can expect to find on a mini machine.
However, 12 inches will be more common in this category.
Even the best cheap metal lathe under 1000 comes with accessories. What accessories you get with your machine will show its quality. Some come with accessories such as HSS cutting tools and tapers. These accessories make your work easier.
A mini machine will be a great addition to your metalworks shop. However, not every model will be ideal for you. The best metal lathe for beginners will be one that is offered at a reasonable price without compromising on quality and performance.