Best Mini Wood Lathes for the Money – Top Picks & Reviews

Have you ever wanted to do your woodworking project? If so, you need to have the most important tool in your arsenal.

We’re not talking about the hammer and chisel, although they are also a must-have in any woodworking shop. We’re not talking about a wide belt sander you would start looking into if you are serious about that small shop you’re building.

wood lathe

Instead, we’re talking about the best mini wood lathes on this page. Specifically, some of the best picks you can make depend on your various preferences.

wood lathe spinning

This tool is a must-have for any woodworker and carpenter who wants to have flexibility in woodworking. This tool allows you to transform wood into various decorative or functional objects, such as a vase and bowl. It’s also used for a spindle and so much more.

For many, this tool is already enough to meet their woodworking needs. It has most of the essential features present in its bigger counterparts. But don’t think beginners only use this. Even expert woodworkers use the best mini wood lathes for the money.

Are you on the hunt for the best options for your workshop? Read on to find out the top picks that we believe will give you the best value for your money. We’ve included our reviews for each of them.

wood lathe work

What to Look for

Before comparing the different models currently available on the market, you must know what you need to look for in one. Different types have different features and options available. You need to determine which ones are essential to you, the same way other things are important if you’re buying a metal lathe.

What to look for
SizeBaseMeasurement
VibrationsMotorHeadstock
Tool restPower switchCost

Among the most important things that you need to consider are:

  • Size. This guide focuses on smaller models. You must first ask yourself if it is the size you need for all the woodworking you have in mind. Maybe a full-sized or midi option is more suitable. The bigger your projects, the bigger the size you will need. If you only need one for your turning projects, mini or midi options are often enough.
  • Base. Portability may be your priority, but it should not be at the expense of a lightweight base, particularly with the bed. A heftier base means it can withstand vibrations better. It allows you to have an easier and safer operation. In fact, it is easier to turn if the base is heavy. The heavier the base, the better it is overall.
wood lathe in a workshop
  • Measurement. Traditional models have fixed beds, but some newer models have beds that are extendable. Note that the drawback of having an extendable bed is it is not as good at handling vibrations compared to those with a fixed bed. The height will also vary. The ideal height is where your elbows are of the same height as the spindle if you want to avoid straining your back.
  • Vibrations. Thile may have been covered in part in some of the previous things that we included. We want to make sure to include it in its own section. This way, anyone who may simply be skimming over this will also realize the importance of getting a model that doesn’t vibrate too much. The heavier the cuts you are making, the more likely it is these machines will vibrate. Many products have such significant vibration to them you can’t handle the tasks you intend on doing.
wood lathe pieces
  • Motor. Most models have variable speed settings available, but their maximum speeds will depend on their size. Smaller options have limited speed options. For bigger projects, you will need more powerful motors. You will also want to be able to adequately adjust the turning speeds, as more variability makes the job easier for you to do.
  • Headstock. It should have a standard thread if you want to use various accessories for your woodworking activities. And instead of a fixed one, you should opt for a pivoting headstock. It’s great if you are using yours primarily for turning projects because it will be easier to do so.
  • Tool rest. Choose one that securely locks in place and is easily adjustable. You want one that allows you to easily switch between long and short rests. While most models only come with one tool rest, there are also other models that are equipped with more than one tool rest.
  • Power switch. Manufacturers place power switches in various locations. Select one where the switch allows you to turn your lathe on and off easily at any time.
  • Cost. Always consider your budget. Expensive models featuring all the bells and whistles may sound tempting. Ask yourself if you really need all those features and sacrifice your budget at the same time. A basic but durable model that costs way less may already be enough for your needs.

You don’t always need to choose a model with advanced features, especially starting. Look for one with features that you know are essential to your woodworking projects. Sometimes, the most basic models with the cheapest price tag are more than enough for your needs.

man using wood lathe

Best Options for Turning Bowls

A bowl may seem simple to make. Would you believe it is challenging to make, even for many experienced woodworkers? That is why if you are planning to craft your bowls, you need to choose one that will make it easy for you to do so.

If you are on the lookout for the best mini wood lathes suitable for beginners and your budget, here are some of the crowd favorites. Bowl turning will be a breeze.

creation made out of wood

Delta Industrial 46-460

It is technically a midi lathe. The Delta Industrial 46-460 deserves to be on this list, even the top pick at that. This allows you to work on both big and small projects. It features a 12.5-inch swing capacity, something relatively unheard of in its class. Not only that, this model allows you to easily activate the reverse mode with the flip of the switch.

One of the reviewers has included a vast range of pictures of the projects he’s made. He calls the Delta Industrial 46-460 the “best investment ever.”

Delta Industrial 46-460
312 Reviews
Delta Industrial 46-460
We are very impressed with what Delta has been able to fit into this device!

The patented belt tensioning system present on the Delta Industrial 46-460 lets you effortlessly shift its range without resetting the belt. Its 1-HP motor also has three different speed ranges, namely 250 to 750 RPM. Choose from 600 to 1,800 RPM, and 1,350 to 4,000 RPM. Meet your various woodworking needs with this versatile lathe. This model also has a standard 5-year warranty and is crafted using cast iron.

Pros: Cons:
It features a 1-HP motor with three variable speed ranges.
It comes with a 12.5-inch swing capacity.
It has a reverse mode that can easily be activated using a switch.
It is equipped with a patented belt-tensioning system for easy range shifting.
Durable and well-crafted
The speed range may not be low enough for some.
It does not have a digital speed readout.
The Center-to-center distance is short.
It is more suited for experienced woodworkers.
Quite pricey

RIKON Power Tools 70-105

It is suited for both beginners and professionals alike. The RIKON Power Tools 70-105 benchtop model is considered by many as the ultimate bang for the buck model for turning bowls. It is also equipped with a 1-HP motor with a variable speed ranging from 250 to 3,850 RPM. It comes with an LED panel for easy monitoring.

From bowls to pens, this RIKON device can handle it all.

RIKON Power Tools 70-105
173 Reviews
RIKON Power Tools 70-105
With enough power for any beginner, he's another worthy contender by RIKON.

Equipped with two Morse tapers, it is heavier than most other options. It means it handles vibrations better. It also features a 24-position index head, allowing you to create detailed designs on wood easily. The RIKON Power Tools 70-105 has a turning capacity or swing of 12” diameter and 20” between centers.

Pros:Cons:
It is solidly built, featuring a headstock and tailstock made of cast iron.
6 variable speeds are available.
It’s best for turning short stocks and bowls.
It’s good for both beginners and professionals.
It has a 5-year warranty.
It’s quite expensive.
The center to center distance is quite short.
The lowest speed available may not be enough for some.
It only comes with basic features despite its high price tag.

Jet JWL-1015

If you need to upgrade your current model, consider the popular Jet JWL-1015. Its price may be a turn-off for beginners and casual users. It may be justified because it is tailored more to experienced users who need advanced features, such as better speed control.

If you’re a wife looking for a present for your husband, one reviewer says this is a great choice!

JET JWL-1015
130 Reviews
JET JWL-1015
Impressive settings, allowing you to choose between six different spindle speeds.

This speed control feature is its main selling point, offering both discrete and continuous control options. Continuous control means the spindle can be set to a certain speed between 60 to 3,600 RPM. The discrete control allows you to choose between a fixed speed, namely 430 and 810RPM. It can also do 1230 or 1810 RPM. When you need to spin fast, 2670 or 3900 RPM are options.

The Jet JWL-1015 only comes with a standard tension belt that requires readjustment whenever you need to change speeds. Also, it does not have a reverse mode.

Pros:

  • It comes with a digital screen to monitor RPM.
  • It offers different speed control options.
  • It’s good for small and medium projects, including turning bowls.

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • It’s not ideal for large projects.
  • There’s no reverse mode.
  • The tension belt must be adjusted together with speed changes.
  • While it can be used by beginners, it is more suited for experienced woodworkers.

WEN 3421

On a limited budget? The WEN 3421 may be just for you, especially if you don’t need fancy features. It is beginner-friendly and has a simple interface that promotes ease of use for anyone. The 5-inch faceplate installed means you can easily craft small objects like cups and bowls. At the same time, its lever clamping system allows you to adjust the tailstock and tool rest easily.

Featuring a 4.5A motor, the WEN 3421 offers maximum torque and 5 available speed settings. It allows you to choose between 520 and 900. You can also choose 1,400 or 2150RPM. Finally, its last setting is 3,400 RPM. This model also features a soft start that helps prevent damage to it. But don’t let the price tag fool you because it is one of the most durable choices out there.

WEN 3421
1,500 Reviews
WEN 3421
While being a more bare-bone model, the WEN 3421 has impressed thousands of customers.

Pros:

  • It’s cheap but solidly built.
  • It’s equipped with a soft start.
  • It’s ideal for beginners.
  • It has 5-speed settings to choose from.

Cons:

  • It’s only best for small pieces with measurements not exceeding 8 inches wide and 12 inches long.
  • It may not be enough for power users.

Shop Fox W1704

Another relatively inexpensive option is the Shop Fox W1704. Its 5 3/4-inch faceplate makes it ideal for turning bowls, while the 8-inch swing lets you do your turning projects easily. This unit also has 4 1/2, and 7-inch tool rests installed that allow you to do other woodworking projects. The 13-inch distance between centers is usually enough for small projects.

The Shop Fox W1704 features a 1/3 HP motor with variable speed settings. In particular, its speed ranges from 700 to 3,200 RPM.

Sale
SHOP FOX W1704
518 Reviews
SHOP FOX W1704
With two tool rests and a cast-iron build, the SHOP FOX W1704 is a bit more budget-friendly than some of the others.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • It’s equipped with two tool rests.
  • It’s made of cast iron.
  • It’s suitable for use on most workbenches.

Cons:

  • It can be limiting, as it is best used for small projects.
  • It has no digital panel.

Most woodworkers consider these 5 options top value for money, especially if it involves turning bowls. However, this is not the only project you can do with all of them. You can also do many woodworking projects despite their compact sizes.

wood lathe in use

Again, don’t focus on all the features these models come with. Identify the important features you need in a good option and focus on the model that meets your requirements and budget.

Why go broke by getting the most expensive tool around when all you need are its basic features that cheaper counterparts can do? Did this article help you better understand some of the tools you should perhaps start looking into? Do you have very specific requirements that you are interested in getting in the machine you are looking for? We are building a tool that can help you select the various parameters that are important to you. We will give you the recommendation we think is perfect for you by the end. When you insert parameters, see reviews and product videos for specific products that fit the criteria. We’ll show you just what you can expect for that specific type of machine.

wood lathe spinning

We want to help increase transparency and help you do those woodworking projects you have always been dreaming of. If you have any questions or comments on this article, we’ll be happy to hear all of them.

We’ve also created this cool article on the best welding helmets we think you should read.

lathe being used

To choose a wood lathe, you need first to consider certain aspects. Here’s a guide on the topic.

How do I choose a wood lathe?

  1. Choose the size.

    Before choosing what size wood lathe you need, you need to think about what projects you will use this device for in the future.
    There are three variants on the market from which you can choose:

    – full size
    – midi
    – mini

    The larger the size of your project, the larger the model you will need to purchase.

  2. Choose the weight

    Since the device’s vibration is a big problem during its use, buying one with the right weight is essential.

    The heavier it is, the more stable it will be during use.

  3. Find the right material.

    The materials from which the wood lathe is made will greatly influence how it works.

    Most lathes are cast iron, which can absorb as much of the vibration emitted as possible.

    Some lathes are made of like-steel or stainless-steel materials and with legs made of cast iron.

    They are much more effective at relieving vibrations.

  4. Choose the engine.

    The engine of a wood lathe is one of the most important components of its structure.

    That’s why it’s important to check the engine capacity of a wood lathe before you buy it.

    Make sure it is strong enough to handle your projects.

  5. Find the right swing capacity.

    It is important to consider the capacity before purchasing it.
    This will determine the size of the wood that can be mounted on the lathe.

lathe spinning

FAQ

How do you make a small wood lathe?

If you want to build a small wood lathe, the base is considered the most important thing.

The base of a lathe is the most important element.

A good base comprises three ½ ”spruce plywood joined together with a polyurethane construction adhesive.

The 2 boards that are part of the lathe are kept tightly glued to dry.

After that, it is necessary to make the dadoes and the headstock.

The materials you need to create a lathe are as follows:

sheets of plywood
polyurethane adhesive construction
tape measure
table saw
sandpaper

What is a good hobby lathe?

The WEN 3421 has many perfect features for someone just starting or who needs a lathe just for a hobby.

It has an interface that is extremely easy to use by any beginner.

Also, the 5-inch faceplate that comes with this model allows you to create small objects such as cups or bowls.

How much does a mini lathe cost?

Generally, a mini lathe can cost between $100 and $800.

Is it hard to use a wood lathe?

It is not difficult to use it if you first make sure that you have learned all the basic principles you need.

Also, an important step that will make it easier for you to use is learning how to use one safely.

This will make your job a lot easier, and you will make sure that no accidents happen.

And once you’ve learned the techniques you need for each tool, all you have to do now is practice.

And finally, you will be able to use it like a master.

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