Although woodworking has been around for centuries, it has evolved due to advancement in technology. New machinery and equipment have emerged over time to make the entire job a whole lot simpler and better. Lathes are one of the most commonly used equipment among woodturners. Modern lathes are miles ahead of traditional lathes because of the technology that has been implemented to make a carpenter’s job easier, precise and more effective. We even have mini lathes nowadays which can fit easily into a tiny workbench and are convenient for a small workshop. In this article, we look at some of the best mini wood lathe reviews popular among woodworkers, and the benefits they can provide.
Our Top Pick:
WEN 3420 8” by 12” Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
Among all the mini lathes available in the market right now, our top pick is undoubtedly the WEN 3420 8” by 12” Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe. This is mostly because of how enjoyable and easy the lathe is to use. You don’t have to bother assembling or adjusting anything on this tool after you take it out of the box. The tool itself is made from heavy duty premium materials, making it one of the most durable mini wood lathes out there. It is very versatile due to its variable speed, and the motor is reversible as well. It has got a lot of value packed into it and it’s perfect for beginners.
(We have published a complete review article about WEN 3420 8” by 12” Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe. In there you can know details about this wood lathe. Check it out by clicking on here.)
5 Best Mini Wood Lathe Reviewed!
Here in this section, we are just going to list all the 5 Best Mini Wood Lathe Reviews that we are going to talk about in details later on!
1. Delta Industrial 46-460 Variable Speed Mini-lathe
If you are interested in crafting wood items that are a bit larger than your typical projects, such as medium-sized sculptures and furniture, than the variable speed mini lathe by Delta Industrial is just perfect for you! What’s astonishing is, this lathe can also be used to craft smaller wood items such as bowls, giving it great versatility. The lathe comes with a very powerful motor of 1 HP and has a maximum speed of 1725 RPM. The swing capacity of the instruments sits at around 12.5 inches, and it is believed to have one of the largest swing capacity in its class. A switch can be used to make the entire instrument function in reverse, which makes the crafting process a whole lot easier. However, the most distinctive feature of the Delta Industrial mini lathe is its patented belt tensioning system, which is used to alter the turning speed hassle-free without the need to change the position of the belt. The base of this tool is made from cast iron and provides variable speed options to users. On top of this, it also comes with wide swing adjustment.
- It is very strong and durable, giving it good longevity.
- The Delta Industrial Lathe has got great versatility in terms of crafting large and small items.
- The tool can switch between forward and reverse.
- The speed can be adjusted on this tool.
- New base and base extension can easily be fitted to this tool.
- Comes with a warranty of 5 years.
- Can be a bolt in place to a woodworking table to increase stability while using the tool.
- Customer Service is not very good according to some people.
- There is a chance the spindle might be bent in some tools.
- Quite a bit of space is required to mount properly.
2. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe 12-Inch x 16 1/2-Inch
The Nova 46300 Comet II is one of the most recognized and reliable lathes out there in the market right now. Unlike many other types of wood lathes, this one, in particular, is small and portable. It can be easily carried when traveling around. It comes with a powerful motor of ¾ HP, which can provide enough juice for all your small turning projects. The compact size of this tool lets you place it on any small bench available in your home. In order to increase the flexibility of the device and to help it craft wood with superior precision, the tool comes with a forward and reverse switch. The speed range of this instrument is also quite remarkable, starting from a mere 250 RPM to all the way up to 4000 RPM. Due to this distinctive feature, the tool can be used for many different kinds of turning projects that require either low speeds or high speeds. Other than that, the swing over bed capacity normally sits around 12 inches and 16.5 inches for the center capacity but can be raised to 41 inches by means of the bed extension accessory.
- It is very strong and durable and can be used for many years without worry.
- The lathe is versatile due to the different speeds it offers.
- It has a powerful motor, despite being a relatively small lathe.
- Compact design lets you save space in your crafting area.
- The magnetic switch helps prevent crafting error when you accidentally bump to reverse from forward.
- Some people find the tool rest to be a bit too small.
- There is no lock on the tailstock.
- May make clicking or swishing noise when used initially out of the box.
3. RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
Rikon has obtained quite a bit of reputation over the years for manufacturing quality products in the entire lathe industry, and the 70-100 12 by 16 inch Mini Lathe is no exception. It is indeed one of the best lathes in the market right now. The motor on this lathe is fairly powerful at ½ HP and it offers a variable speed range between 500 and 3200 RPM. The variable speed allows this tool to craft items of different forms, be it small or large. The tool has been meticulously constructed with cast iron, which makes it very durable. It also helps minimize vibration when the tool is being used. Moreover, in the Rikon 70-100 Mini Lathe, you can access the lower and upper pulley easily to change the speed at the lowest possible downtime. One of the most significant features of this tool is that it comes with 12-positioning indexing head which helps you lock your workpiece in different positions. This feature helps raise effectiveness and precision of your work. Finally, the lathe also has the ability to fit additional extensions to it to make it more versatile and raise capacity. Other than that, it comes with a self-ejecting tailstock as well.
- The Rikon 70-100 is well-known for its durability and quality.
- The alteration of speed in this tool is easy and required less downtime.
- It is versatile due to its ability to accommodate different extensions.
- The cast iron construction keeps the tool stable and reduces vibration when used.
- 2 years warranty.
- 12-position indexing head makes help you craft with greater precision and details.
- It’s quite heavy compared to other lathes in the market.
- Not suitable for beginners.
- Can easily cause injury if improperly used.
- The screws that come with it are prone to bending.
4. PSI Woodworking PENPAL Portable 15-Pound Mini Penmaking Lathe
Unlike many other mini lathes found in the market, the PSI Woodworking Mini Lathe is a bit different in the sense that it has been designed specifically for crafting small wood items due to its very small form factor. However, you would be pleased to know that despite its purpose, it works pretty well in terms of crafting larger wood items as well. This tool is particularly suited to beginners because it is much easier for them to handle. The PSI Woodworking Mini Lathe comes with a ¾ HP motor which also provides variable speed to users, starting from 150 RPM to all the way up to 4100 RPM. Due to this, the tool can be used to craft different wood items of different form factors. The extra power provided by the motor in such a small tool makes it very effective and accurate in terms of working on difficult turning projects. Because of the lathe’s cast iron build, you can be fairly certain that it can take a lot of abuse and remain usable for quite some time, making it perfect for new users. An extension bed is also provided with it, which you can easily attach to increase its capacity. You can also use this tool in low light conditions because of the adjustable work light attached to the top.
- It has a digital display for readout.
- The motor is quite powerful given the Lathe’s form factor.
- The lathe can take a beating due to its cast iron build.
- Suitable for beginners.
- Can craft with superior precision and details.
- Unlike many other lathes, it does not have reversible functionality.
- No Mandrel is provided with the lathe.
- Some customers have complained about its reliability.
5. Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe
The Jet JWL Wood Working Lathe is a top-notch lathe that truly delivers its users more than what they bargained for. Although it is a bit weightier, at one hundred and thirty-seven pounds, compared to the other lathes on our list, it is definitely very compact. You don’t have to worry about this mini lathe not fitting on your small workbench. If anything, the extra weight only adds to its stability when used. This tool has one of the most powerful motors on our list, sitting at 1 HP. One of the most distinctive features of this tool is its ratchet style belt tension system because it offers the ability to control speed. The speed range lies between a super low RPM of 60 to all the way up to 3600 RPM, giving it great versatility in order to carry out different types of projects. This tool comes with a reverse mechanism as well, but unlike other lathes, the transition from forward to reverse in this device is swifter and smoother. Although this lathe does not offer an extension bed, the overbed swing capacity is still pretty great sitting between 12 inches and 21 inches. You also get a good 5-year warranty with this lathe, so you do not have to worry about it not functioning properly. Finally, the controls in this lathe are easily accessible.
- The lathe provides impressive turning capacity.
- It is versatile due to its wide variable speed range.
- The motor is very powerful at 1 HP.
- Swift and smooth transition from forward to reverse.
- Compact size.
- Controls are conveniently located.
- The lathe is quite heavy compared to other lathes.
- It may have some alignment issues.
- The placement of the motor is not appropriate.
Buying Guide for Mini Wood Lathe:
1. The size of your project:
The size of the woodturning project you plan on an undertaking is one of the most important factors you must consider before purchasing a wood lathe. Although modern mini wood lathes have become quite versatile and suitable for projects of different forms, it should be quite obvious that smaller projects such as crafting pens, bowls, door handles, and bangles and so on, do not really require a large machine in your workshop. You would be better off using a mini wood lathe if these are the type of items you craft mostly. Buying an oversized machine for crafting small items would be a waste of money, as bigger machines tend to cost more due to the additional functionality they provide. However, if you plan on moving to larger projects in the future, then you can potentially think of purchasing a midi lathe or a full-sized lathe. If big projects are something you plan on partaking in occasionally only then you can just go for a normal mini lathe and use extensions to increase the capacity.
2. Headstock and motor of the lathe:
Depending on the type of project you want to work on, you must consider how much power you need to work optimally and effectively. The type of motor in a lathe determines how much power it is capable of pushing out. The power of the motor can be anywhere between 1/8 HP to all the way up to 3 HP or more. Most motors in the market even offer variable speed options, ranging from anywhere between a few hundred RPM or lower to an astonishing 4000RPM. If your motor is larger and more powerful, it will be able to turn larger and heavier blocks of wood better as a constant speed is important to keep the block turning. If you want to turn bowls and spindles without using a tailstock, then having an interchangeable faceplate and an appropriate drive center is a must. In case the bowl that you want to turn is big, you need to make sure that the headstock has enough space between itself and the base while rotating.
3. Performance of the lathe:
No matter how powerful the motor is in your lathe and how much speed it can push out, it can still manage to perform poorly when it comes to woodturning. This is because there are many seemingly good lathes available in the market that do not live up to the expectation. Therefore, as a potential user, it is completely up to you to gather enough knowledge on a particular lathe before making a purchase and committing to it. The easiest way to do this is by reading reviews and customer feedback online on different mini lathes available in the market. You can even go as far as seeing some of the wood pieces carved using a particular lathe. Watching videos on YouTube of the lathe being used can also help immensely in terms of obtaining a general idea.
4. The convenience of a lathe:
Compared to a full-sized lathe or a midi lathe, a small lathe is often much more easy to use and set up. Because of their small stature and lighter weight, you can easily place them on a small bench in your workshop without any hassle. They also tend to be more portable compared to the larger lathes. In most cases, the mini lathes come fully-assembled or require minimal assembly out of the box. This makes them very suitable for beginners. Moreover, the mini lathes usually ship with different necessary accessories which can actually make your first woodturning experience less complicated.
Benefits of a Mini Lathe:
Easier to use compared to larger lathes:
Unlike larger lathes, mini lathers may not provide its users a lot of necessary woodworking functions. Although newer models of mini lathes have increased versatility and very detailed projects can be undertaken with them, they are often nowhere near a full-sized lathe. However, if you are someone who is new to woodturning, then the additional features and functions that a larger lathe might offer may not be all that important to you. Instead, you might want a tool that is comparatively easier and more convenient to use compared to the immensely complicated fully-sized lathes. In that case, a mini lathe is your best bet. You can easily learn how to craft effective and accurately using a mini lathe and eventually improve your woodturning abilities and skills in the long run.
Carrying things around can be a bit of a difficulty when it comes to larger full-sized lathes. This is mainly due to the weight of the larger lathes. If you are one of those people who travel around a lot, but still like to carry their beloved tools wherever they go, then you would definitely be better off with a mini lathe than a full-sized lathe. It’s not wrong to be passionate about something, and you should have the right to indulge in your hobbies all the time. You can always pack your mini lathe in a box and carry it with you wherever you go due to their small form factor and lightweight. This makes mini lathes more convenient to own compared to full-sized lathes.
The precision of work:
You may be one of those old school people who like to stick to traditional lathes and chisels for carving wood. No one can really blame you for having your own preference. However, I am pretty certain that no one would deny how difficult and time-consuming it maintains accuracy when woodworking with traditional equipment. If you want to raise both your effectiveness and efficiency while working on wood, then your best option would be to use a modern mini lathe. These mini lathes provide a good number of useful features that can enhance your performance when you engage in woodturning. Because newer technology has been implemented in modern mini lathes, you can work on your projects with superior precision for less effort and difficulty. These lathes come with a powerful motor, variable speed, and reversible functionality to increase your accuracy when carving individual blocks of wood.
Maintain consistency of work:
It is quite problematic to maintain consistency of work using traditional woodturning tools and equipment. There is a greater tendency to make mistakes when we work manually and refrain from using automated machinery. As the human error is bound to occur, we may actually end up carving a poor quality wood item despite the relentless effort that has been put into our work. This issue can be resolved only when you choose to use a mini lathe for woodturning. Your work is bound to be more stable and consistent this way and you might actually end up carving something of high quality.
Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQ)
Question: What should I do if the wood lathe vibrates a lot? Is it normal?
Answer: Since a wood lathe usually comes with a powerful motor and often spins at a speed between 2400 to 3000 RPM, it is meant to vibrate to some extent. The most common reason is that the block of wood you are working on is not centered. At high speeds, a piece of wood that has not been centered is likely to throw the lathe off balance causing vibration.
Question: How do I cut the wood piece evenly when using the lathe?
Answer: If it’s your first time cutting wood then it is probably due to your lack of experience. The more you learn about woodworking, they better you will become at it. Try to keep even pressure when pressing down with your wood shaping tool to get the best result.
Summing Things Up:
There are some really great mini lathes in the market that you can look into. We have reviewed some of the most well-known and best performing mini lathes in the market. Sure, larger full-sized lathes may provide more options and functionality, but if you are merely just starting out on the whole woodworking game, then a mini lathe would suit your purpose better. Among all the mini lathes we have reviewed, our top pick is the WEN 3420 8” by 12” Variable Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe. We have picked this to be the best specifically for its ease of use, convenience, and for providing a remarkable speed range that you can alternate between. However, this does not necessarily mean the other mini lathes we have reviewed are comparatively inferior to this particular model. Every lathe has their own benefits and shortcomings, and it is up to you to decide which one suits your needs better. However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before actually making a purchase. You should decide on your purchase based on the size of your project, the ease of use and convenience of the lathe, the power of its motor, and finally, how well it performs.