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5+ Best Mini Wood Lathes of 2020 – Small Wood Lathe Reviews

Woodturning is a rewarding hobby that can give you hours of enjoyment and allows you to produce a whole range of attractive and useful items, all made by your own hand. However, some of the bigger lathes can be prohibitively expensive, and if you only need to turn smaller items, a mini wood lathe might be a better option.

If you are looking for the best mini wood lathe but don’t know which one is best for you, here are our top picks to help you make up your mind.

The Best Mini Wood Lathe of 2020

1. WEN 3420T 8"x12" Benchtop Mini Wood Lathe (Our Top Recommended)

 

This mini lathe from WEN is an ideal option for beginners. It is relatively inexpensive and comes with a range of accessories, meaning you won’t have any other expenses to consider (apart from a good set of chisels, of course!)

It also includes two tools rests, one of 4 ½” and one of 7”, to give you more flexibility and control over your work.

As a mini lathe, it has a naturally small footprint, making it ideal for installing in workshops where space may be limited. It is also not heavy, so you won’t have any problems moving it around if you need to.

One thing we like – and something not present on many wood lathes – is the infinitely adjustable speed. This allows you to choose any speed you require between the minimum of 700 RPM and the maximum of 3,200 RPM rather than relying on a few pre-determined speeds.

On the downside, this is not the most powerful unit – it will struggle if you try to use it to turn very hard or gnarled wood. It is also designed as an entry-level machine – this means if you are looking for a budget-friendly option, it’s ideal, but if you need higher quality, you are better off looking elsewhere.

On the whole, a great option for beginners and anyone looking to get into woodturning without spending a fortune. A recommended product.

What We Like

  • Small and lightweight – takes up little space and easy to move
  • Budget-friendly option – great entry-level lathe
  • Includes accessories – beginners have everything they need to get started
  • Infinitely variable speed – can spin at anything from 700 RPM to 3,200 RPM
  • Two tool rests – 4 ½” and 7”, gives you more flexibility and control

What We Don't Like

  • Not a powerful unit – not designed for larger, tougher jobs
  • Entry-level unit – great value but not top-end

2. RIKON Power Tools 70-105 10" x 18" Mini Wood Lathe

 

The Rikon mini lathe features adjustable speed with five different settings, from 500 RPM to 3,200 RPM. The lower speed, in particular, is useful for working with larger pieces of wood as you shape them into smaller objects.

We like that this machine is built of strong and heavy cast iron – while it might be more difficult to move than lighter lathes, once set up and installed in its place, the extra weight helps minimize vibration as you work.

It is a very quiet lathe, making less noise than some comparable models, and we also like that it comes with a five-year warranty. This is much more than some of its competitors, so you can have peace of mind that this lathe will last for a long time.

At 10” x 18”, it is the ideal size for working on smaller projects – items like pens and small ornaments are the kind of thing this was designed for turning.

There are a couple of small negatives, though. Although this machine has different speed settings, you have to stop it and change the belt manually. Although this only takes a few moments, it can be frustrating if you need to change frequently as you work.

Also, this machine is a little expensive. It is a high-quality lathe, and if you can afford the price tag, you will enjoy using it. However, if you are looking for something that costs a bit less, there are other options available that may offer better value for money.

To summarize, this is an excellent mini lathe that will serve you well for all kinds of small wood lathe projects and one that should give you many good years of service. If this is what you are looking for, it could be well worth a look.

What We Like

  • Adjustable speed – choose between 5 speed settings
  • Strong, heavy construction – minimizes vibration during operation
  • Runs quietly – this is a relatively noiseless mini wood lathe
  • Ideal size for small objects – 10” x 18”, perfect for pens and other similar projects
  • 5-year warranty – give you increased peace of mind

What We Don't Like

  • Speed can’t be adjusted while in operation – need to stop to adjust the belt
  • Pricier option – good quality, but perhaps other models offer better value

3. NOVA 46300 Comet II Variable Speed Mini wood Lathe 12" X 16.5"

 

The Nova Comet II is a highly innovative lathe with all the basic features you would expect plus a whole lot of additions.

It is made of cast iron, and the extra weight means it reduces vibration to a minimum, allowing you to work on your projects with the utmost precision. The 12” swing over bed and 16.5” between centers give you plenty of scope for working on all kinds of jobs.

One thing we really appreciate is the spin reverse function that is not commonly found on lathes in this class. This is especially useful for sanding since sanding against the grain gives you a much cleaner finish. With this feature, you can sand in the other direction much more easily.

Another positive is the wide range of speeds, especially the very low 250 RPM minimum. This extra low speed is ideal for working on larger pieces while the faster speeds are better for precision work on small objects.

The negatives are relatively few, but there are still one or two. The speed has to be changed manually. There’s no one switch to do it – but it’s hardly a difficult operation. Also, it isn’t the most powerful lathe out there, and like many in its class, it may struggle with tougher jobs.

All in all, there’s so much to like about this lathe. It would be an ideal option for any beginner who wants to start off with a high-quality tool on which to learn the necessary techniques – but equally, more advanced turners would also appreciate everything this lathe allows you to accomplish.

What We Like

  • Can reverse direction – not a common feature on this class of lathe
  • Heavy construction to reduce vibration – made of cast iron
  • Good range of speed settings – from 250 RPM to 4,000 RPM
  • 12” swing over bed and 16.5” between centers – suitable for many projects
  • Accepts a number of accessories – makes it a highly versatile machine

What We Don't Like

  • Need to adjust speed manually – no variable speed switch
  • Not the most powerful – may struggle when used with tougher wood

4. Excelsior Mini wood Lathe

 

If you are looking for an affordable mini lathe that will allow you to learn the basics and begin producing attractive and appealing wood objects of your own, this model from Excelsior could be worth a look.

It has five different speeds, from 760 RPM to 3,200 RPM, allowing you to adapt the lathe to the project you are working on. It is ideal for making any of the classic small lathe-turned objects that are such a pleasure to make.

It is a sturdy unit with a cast iron bed. This makes it tough and durable, so you will be able to use it for many years, while also giving it extra weight to help minimize vibration.

Another positive with this lathe is the price tag. Especially for beginners, it can be a tough decision to spend a lot of money on an expensive lathe, so this model makes woodturning more accessible, even for those on a limited budget.

However, that said, this is not a high-end lathe, and the motor is slightly lacking in power. For most jobs, it will perform well enough, but if you try to use it with harder woods, you may find it struggles.

Another slight gripe is that the instructions for changing the belt could have been clearer – although it is relatively simple to work out how it’s supposed to be done.

Overall, a great option for a novice looking to get into woodturning. More advanced users will appreciate it too – as long as they understand its limitations.

What We Like

  • Great option for beginners – easy and intuitive to use, good to learn on
  • Very reasonable price – good bang for your buck
  • 5 different speeds – runs from 760 RPM to 3,200 RPM
  • Tough and built to last – you should be using it for many years to come
  • Heavy unit with cast iron bed – minimizes vibrations

What We Don't Like

  • Motor not very powerful – will struggle on bigger turnings
  • Instructions for belt speed unclear – could have been written better

5. Jet JWL-1015 Wood Working Lathe

 

This is a mini wood lathe aimed at beginners or advanced users who are looking for a machine that is positioned slightly above entry-level machines in terms of quality.

It features smooth operation and is extremely user-friendly, allowing you to produce a range of beautiful and attractive pieces, just the way you imagined them.

With 15 ½” between centers and a 10” swing over bed, this is slightly larger than many comparable mini lathes, allowing you more flexibility to attempt homemade wood lathe plans of bigger sizes.

It also incorporates 24-position indexing, allowing you to work with the utmost precision and accuracy.

The big negative is the price since you have to expect a higher price tag for higher quality – although this lathe still represents good value for money.

Another minor issue – but one that is common to many lathes – is that you can’t adjust the speed while you’re working. You have to stop the lathe and change it manually, which can slow your workflow slightly.

This is a solid pick if you are looking for a higher quality lathe and don’t mind paying extra. However, if your budget is limited, there are less expensive options available.

What We Like

  • Smooth operation – allows you to produce well-crafted pieces
  • User-friendly operation – easy to learn to use and work on
  • 15 ½” between centers and 10” swing over bed – good size for many projects
  • Integrated 24-position indexing – allows for precision and accuracy
  • 5 speeds – can run at speeds from 500 RPM to 3,975 RPM

What We Don't Like

  • More expensive option – not ideal if you have a limited budget
  • Can’t adjust speed during operation – need to stop and change manually

6. SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe

 

This mini lathe from Shop Fox is small and compact, making it ideal for even smaller workshops. One of the big advantages is the infinitely variable speed – you can choose any speed between 700 RPM and 3,200 RPM and are not limited to four or five speed settings.

It includes two tool rests, giving you more flexibility over your work, and is built to last, meaning you can expect a good many good years of service from it.

Its cast iron construction gives it extra weight, something’s that important for reducing vibration, and another plus is that it comes with a very reasonable price tag, making it a good option for anyone on a budget.

It can struggle a little with harder woods, and another minor issue is that the locking nuts can come loose and require re-tightening from time to time.

However, all in all, this is another top machine that comes highly recommended for beginners or anyone else who wants a mini wood lathe that won’t break the bank. A solid choice.

What We Like

  • Infinitely variable speed – can run at any speed between 700 RPM and 3,200 RPM
  • Two tool rests – gives you more versatility and control over your work
  • Excellent value for money – very reasonable price point
  • Built to last – made of tough and durable components
  • Cast iron construction gives extra weight – helps reduce vibration

What We Don't Like

  • Struggles slightly with harder woods – better used with softer woods
  • Locking nuts can come loose – need to be re-tightened from time to time
small wood lathe

An ideal solution for beginners and advanced users alike

For turning pens, chess pieces, small ornaments or even some bowls, owning the best mini wood lathe can be the ideal solution. It won’t cost you nearly as much as a full-sized professional-grade one and will allow you to get to grips with the art of woodturning to see if you want to take it further.

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