Best Mini Wood Lathe

7 Best Mini Wood Lathe (Tested & Reviewed in 2024)

Wood turning can be a fun hobby that allows you to create all sorts of wood craft projects. But sometimes you don’t need a full size lathe to complete your projects and a mini lathe is large enough.

But finding the right mini wood lathe can be challenging, and that’s why I put this list of best mini wood lathes together—to help you find the best product for your next project! Let’s begin!

In a hurry? The WEN 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe is the superior mini lathe because it’s a low-cost system that uses high-quality parts, delivers first-rate results consistently, and is easy to use.

Quick Answer: Here are My Favorites! 👇

Best Mini Wood Lathes

1. WEN 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe – #1 Best Mini Wood Lathe Overall

WEN Benchtop Wood Lathe
WEN LA3424 4.5-Amp 12-Inch by 18-Inch 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe
  • Attack work pieces up to 18 inches long and 12 inches wide
  • Switch between five different speeds: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, or 3400 RPM
  • Includes 3-1/8 inch Faceplate for turning bowls, cups and other non-spindle work pieces

Determining which of these mini wood lathes is best overall was no easy task, but the WEN 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe deserves the title of “#1 Best Overall” because it’s a well-built, easy-to-operate, and versatile product that’s much more affordable than other high-quality mini wood lathes.

It has a swing-over capacity of 12”, and the distance between centers is 18”. So even though it’s a mini lathe, it does have a fair bit of capacity, and I like this little bonus a lot.

Granted, it’s not the lightest system (weighing about 70 lbs), but this doesn’t matter much if you plan to keep it in one spot.

Powered by a very capable 4.5 AMP motor, it has five speed settings: 520, 900, 1400, 2150, and 3400 RPM.

For tapers, it has an MT2 headstock taper and an MT2 tailstock taper.

The tool rest is 8”, and there’s an on-board accessory holder so you don’t have to go searching for necessary tools while working.

And when you purchase this simple yet highly efficient mini lathe, you get:

  • MT2 headstock spur center (1)
  • MT2 tailstock live center (1)
  • Flat wrench (1)
  • Knockout rod (1)
  • Hex wrenches (3 mm & 5mm)
  • 3-1/8” faceplate

Finally, this mini wood lathe is backed by a two-year limited warranty, and it covers defects related to materials or workmanship.

What I Liked:

  • The MT2 tailstock can accommodate a variety of accessories, making this wood lathe more versatile.
  • A reliable clamping system keeps the tailstock and tool rest in place, ensuring better results.
  • Several accessories can be stored on the tool, so you’ll always have the accessories you need.
  • It can accommodate larger workpieces, mainly because it has a sturdy cast-iron construction.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Since there are five speed settings, you’re limited in terms of how fast or slow you can spin.
  • Rubber feet would make this mini wood lathe even sturdier and prevent workbench scratches.

My Thoughts:

In short, the WEN 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe is the superior mini wood lathe because it can do everything a mini wood lathe should do and more. Specifically, it can turn larger workpieces than your average mini, and it’s a sturdy system that generates less noise and less vibrations. And because it’s free of bells and whistles, it’s a more-affordable wood lathe that’s easy to use and maintain. Sure, you’re confined to working with the speed range WEN built in, but this one gripe is vastly outweighed by all its advantages. This is also one of the best wood lathes for beginners.

More Stores

2. PSI Woodworking Turncrafter Commander Midi Lathe – Best Quality

PSI Wood Lathe
PSI Woodworking KWL-1018VS Turncrafter Commander 10″ Variable Speed Midi…
  • KWL-1018VS replaces TCLC10VS. ETL Listed and certified by Intertek
  • Powered by 3/4 hp Variable Speed high performance motor(110V) & an SBC microprocessor. Two belt positions: 500-2000 RPM & 1500-3600 RPM
  • Headstock Thread 1″ x 8tpi. Headstock/Tailstock Taper #2MT. Distance between Centers 18″. Swing over Bed 10″. Cast iron base

The PSI Woodworking Turncrafter Commander Midi Lathe was certainly designed with quality and consistency in mind, and this is indicated by the fact that it’s capable of delivering top-notch results every time it’s used, in large part because it’s equipped with some of the best components a mini wood lathe can have.

It’s 31” x 7-14” and weighs nearly 83 lbs, and its swing-over bed is 10”. The distance between centers is 18”, and its turning components are mounted 5” above the bed.

Of course, an MT2 headstock taper is employed with an MT2 tailstock taper, and I like how this system’s shell is smoother than others I’ve seen—this is rare for cast-iron and I like it a lot!

There are 24 indexing positions for the spindle, and it can spin up to 3,800 times in a minute because this mini wood lathe runs on a 4 AMP motor.

There’s a highly visible digital readout to ensure you always know how fast the spindle is going, and carrying handles are included to make moving this lathe much easier.

An adjustable, overhead light is built in as well, and while it can be clunky at times it generally makes operation easier.

And unlike many similarly-sized wood lathes, this one has a ball bearing system in the tailstock—big fan!

Also, when you purchase it, you get a lot of accessories, including:

  • 6” & 12” tool rests
  • 3” faceplate (1)
  • MT2 headstock spur center (1)
  • MT2 tailstock live center (1)
  • Hex wrenches (4)
  • Rubber feet (4)
  • Goggles (1)
  • Knockout rod (1)
  • Tool caddy (1)
  • Philips screwdriver (1)
  • Tailstock handle & bolt
  • Three-year limited warranty

What I Liked:

  • Easy to control thanks to SBC microprocessor technology.
  • Carrying handles ensure it’s more portable, especially if two people carry it.
  • Ball bearing system in tailstock helps with preventing workpiece splitting.
  • Belts are easy to access, adjust, remove, and replace.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Only spins one way.
  • Light can get in the way or throw the tool off balance.

My Thoughts:

The PSI Woodworking Turncrafter Commander Midi Lathe is one of the best mini lathes available today, as it’s unbelievably reliable, built to last, and equipped with many features that other wood lathes lack. I specifically like how motor speed is easy to adjust, because more speed control almost always translates to better results. And unlike other lathes, this one has a ball bearing system in the tailstock to ensure seamless spinning while protecting against workpiece splitting. If it spun two ways (clockwise and counterclockwise) and had a better light, it’d be 100% perfect!

3. SHOP FOX Benchtop Lathe – Best Value

Shop Fox Wood Lathe
Sale
SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe
  • Motor: 1/3 HP, 2 Amp, 110V, Single-phase, 60 Hz
  • 12-inch distance between centers
  • 8-inch swing over bed

Nothing beats getting a quality tool at an even better price, and that’s exactly what you get with the SHOP FOX Benchtop Lathe.

This mini wood lathe may be smaller than the ones discussed thus far, but don’t let its size fool you—this machine is totally capable in all the respects that matter, and its simplicity makes it a good wood lathe for those who are just starting out with woodturning.

It’s 13” x 8” with an 8” swing-over bed, and it’s one of the lighter benchtop models I’ve come across, weighing just 52 lbs.

The distance between the centers is 12”, and there’s 6” between the bed and the spindle.

Its 2 AMP, variable-speed motor is less powerful than the ones you’ll see on other systems, but it’s still able to generate up to 3,200 RPM, which I find pretty impressive.

There’s an MT1 taper at the headstock and one at the tailstock, and this cast-iron wood lathe has a safety paddle switch to not only protect the user but the tool as well.

Finally, regarding what this tool comes with, you’ll get the following with your purchase:

  • MT1 live center (1)
  • MT1 spur center (1)
  • Tool rests (4-1/4” & 7”)
  • 5-3/4 faceplate (1)
  • 3/4” x 16” TPI RH spindle (1)

You’ll also get a two-year limited warranty that’s pretty basic in terms of what it covers, and I love when affordable, quality products are backed by good warranties—makes them all the better!

What I Liked:

  • Tool rests are easy to adjust and reliable once locked in place, so they help you get great results.
  • The variable-speed knob is well-placed, so adjustments can be made quickly and safely.
  • At just 52 lbs, it’s more portable than other mini wood lathes.
  • Color scheme distinguishes important components well, so disassembly and reassembly are easy.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • No digital readout means you’ll never know exactly how fast it’s spinning.
  • Generates more vibrations than other mini wood lathes, especially at lower speeds.

My Thoughts:

For those of you who love getting bang for your buck, I can’t recommend the SHOP FOX Benchtop Lathe enough, as it’s an all-around quality mini lathe that performs just as well as some of the best systems, yet it’s sold at a fraction of what these systems cost. Granted, it’s on the smaller side and therefore unable to double as a midi late, but its simplicity and reliability make it a sought-after product for professionals and DIYers alike.

More Stores

4. Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe – Best Speed Control

Mini Wood Lathe
Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe – Cast Iron Mini Wood Lathe Turn Bowls 10” &…
  • Mini Wood Lathe Machine: With solid cast-iron construction, a robust 1/2 hp motor, and a precision-machined…
  • Perfect For Woodturning Projects: The Excelsior 5-Speed mini wood lathe can turn bowls of almost 10″ in…
  • Excelsior 5-Speed Wood Turning Lathe: A convenient mini woodworking lathe door provides easy access to the…

Being able to control a wood lathe’s speed is incredibly important, and I like the Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe specifically because it’s an easy-to-control, variable-speed lathe that’s especially good at turning bowls, table legs, bed extensions, etc.

This cast-iron, chrome-plated wood lathe has a 10” swing-bed, and the distance between the centers is 18”. Distance from swing-bed to spindle: 5”.

There’s an MT2 headstock taper and a corresponding MT2 tailstock taper, and the spindle thread is: 1” x 8 TPI.

But exceptional speed control is what makes this wood lathe truly special, and there are five speed settings to choose from: 760, 1,100, 1,600, 2,200, and 3,200 RPM.

And on this system, speed is controlled by adjusting a series of belts under the hood. This way of adjusting speed can be much more precise than turning a knob, and systems that rely on belts tend to last longer.

Additionally, there’s a ball bearing system in the tailstock to ensure smoother operation, and there are numerous camlock-ratcheting levers to ensure adjustable components stay fixed in place once set.

Of course, since speed is controlled using a belt-tensioning system, all the belts have to be easy to access, and adjusting tension is a breeze too.

Honestly, I’m a big, big fan of the belt system employed here, especially since many wood lathes use a lackluster pulley system.

And you get a lot when you purchase this Excelsior mini wood lathe, including:

  • 6” tool rest
  • 3” faceplate
  • Headstock spur center
  • Tailstock live center
  • Knockout bar
  • Hex keys (3 mm, 6 mm, 8 mm)
  • Spindle washer

And just as the wood lathes discussed already come with their respective warranties, this one comes with one too—a generous, five-year limited warranty, to be exact.

What I Liked:

  • Its cast-iron construction and non-slip feet keep it from vibrating vigorously at high speeds.
  • Lever clamping system is easy on the fingers and will stay reliable for many years.
  • It has five different speed settings so it can handle all kinds of small wooden objects.
  • Its belt-tensioning system can be accessed using two doors, so adjustments can be made quickly.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Motor is relatively loud when generating higher spindle speeds.
  • There’s no exterior digital RPM readout or speed dial, so you may forget what speed you’re at.

My Thoughts:

All the best wood lathes offer variable-speed control, but the Excelsior 5-Speed Mini Lathe delivers the best speed control by far, and it also has a pretty attractive speed range. And because it’s capable of spinning so quickly, it’s a durable, heavier system. But it vibrates much less than other mini wood lathes, in part because it has non-slip feet. Of course, to ensure speed is perfect every time, you need to understand its belt system, but this is a small requirement for such an efficient and dependable mini wood lathe.

More Stores

5. RIKON Mini Lathe – Best for Pen Turning

RIKON Wood Lathe
RIKON Power Tools 70-105 10″ x 18″ 1/2 hp Mini Lathe
  • Rikon mini lathe: This Rikon mini lathe features a ½ motor that provides ample power for all turning needs….
  • Sturdy and Dedicated: Designed specifically at the request of pen turners who wanted a sturdy, dedicated…
  • 5 speed ranger: This mini lathe has a 5 speed range that covers the bases for boring barrel holes, roughing…

Without a doubt, the RIKON Mini Lathe is the best mini wood lathe for pen turning, mainly because it’s powerful, well-equipped, and more compact than other mini lathes.

Another variable-speed, belt-driven system, it has a 1/2 HP motor, so it’s capable of spinning thousands of times in a minute, something that’s absolutely essential for pen turning.

The swing-bed is, of course, 10”, and the distance between centers is 18”, so it’s not limited to small projects—much applause!

And since it’s made of thicker cast iron, it’s on the heavier side (74 lbs), but at least you don’t have to worry about it moving when spinning; non-slip feet help in this respect too.

The self-ejecting tailstock is a nice touch too, especially if you like being able to make adjustments in mere seconds. I do!

An optional bed extension is sold separately, and this is a good buy if you want to turn this mini lathe into a midi lathe sometimes.

Finally, here’s a list of things you’ll get when you purchase this phenomenal, pen-turning lathe:

  • 6” tool rest
  • Live center
  • Spur center
  • Knockout bar
  • Wrenches
  • Rubber feat
  • Manual
  • Five-year limited warranty

What I Liked:

  • Tool rest is easy to slide up and down the bed since the cast iron is relatively smooth.
  • Changing out tailstock accessories takes just a few seconds since the tailstock is self-ejecting.
  • The extender piece is easy to attach, and it doesn’t throw the lathe out of balance when it’s attached.
  • Rubber feet ensure workbenches don’t get scratched while the lathe is producing thousands of RPM.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • There’s only one belt-access point, so changing speeds may take a minute or two.
  • The tailstock is prone to bending, especially if you turn larger workpieces often.

My Thoughts:

I’ve yet to find a better pen-turning wood lathe than the RIKON Mini Lathe, and I don’t think I will any time soon, as it possesses everything a pen-turning wood lathe needs to be successful. Moreover, it’s one of the cheaper mini wood lathes, making things even better. And if you like stability, you’ll definitely get it with this cast-iron beauty. Now, to be fair, the belts aren’t the easiest to access, but this is the only problem I could find on an otherwise fantastic wood lathe.

More Stores

6. PROXXON MICRO Woodturning Lathe – Best for Small Furniture & Chess Pieces

PROXXON Micro Wood Lathe
Sale
PROXXON MICRO Woodturning Lathe DB 250, 37020 , Green
  • Spindle runs in a ball bearing assembly with a through-going bore of 13/32″ (10 mm) for serial production of…
  • Stable tool rest adjustable in height and turning through 360.
  • Faceplate for attaching bigger sized work pieces is included.

If you want to make chess pieces, doll house furniture, parts for wood toys, marionette limbs, or small countertop accessories, the PROXXON MICRO Woodturning Lathe will serve you well, as it’s perfectly sized, simple, and relatively low-cost when you consider what other extra-mini wood lathes go for.

Since its dimensions are 21.65” x 6.1” x 3.94”, it doesn’t take up much space. Even better, it’s one of the lightest mini wood lathes, weighing just 6 lbs for maximum portability.

The swing-over bed is 1-3/5”, and the distance between centers is just 10”.

And even though this is one of the smallest mini wood lathes on the market today, it’s still capable of generating up to 5,000 RPM, and speed is easy to control because it’s a variable-speed system. Love that!

As far as other notable specs go, the headstock spindle bore is 13/32”, and the tailstock travels 1-3/16”.

When you purchase this mini lathe, you get:

  • Six collets (5/16″, 1/8″, 5/32″, 15/64″, 5/16”, 13/32”)
  • Drive center (1)
  • Live center (1)
  • Faceplate (1)

Also, a two-year limited warranty comes with your purchase, but be advised that this is one of the stricter warranties I’ve seen, so you should be extra careful when using, storing, and maintaining this mini wood lathe.

What I Liked:

  • It’s more compact and lightweight than any other wood lathe, so it’s easy to store and transport.
  • The variable-speed control knob is responsive, so speed changes happen immediately.
  • It can spin denser woods better than other mini lathes, so it’s more versatile.
  • Makes minimal noise, so it can be used indoors and outdoors without disturbing those nearby.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Tool rest is only 2-3/8” long, so you have to adjust it a lot.
  • The knob on the tool rest can get in the way.

My Thoughts:

The PROXXON MICRO Woodturning Lathe has proven to be the best mini wood lathe for super-small workpieces, and I especially like how compact and lightweight it is. And even though it doesn’t take up much room, it still packs a punch, and that’s because it has a highly efficient motor and reliable, variable-speed controls. Granted, the tool rest could’ve been larger—and they could’ve put the locking knob on the other side—but this is my only issue with an otherwise superb machine.

More Stores

7. UOKRR Mini Wood Lathe Machine – Best Mini Wood Lathe for Beginners

No products found.

When you’re first learning how to turn wood, you’ll need a wood lathe that’s simple, reliable, and efficient, and that’s exactly what you’ll get from the UOKRR Mini Wood Lathe Machine.

Another system with an 8” swing-over bed and 12” of distance between the centers, it’s great for small projects and even some midsize ones, and I’m always a fan of such versatility.

Ample power can be generated by its 2-AMP, pure-copper motor, and it’s a variable-speed system that can spin 750-3,200 times in a minute.

Its structure is made of smoothed cast iron—very nice—and the spindle thread is 1” x 8 TPI.

Two tool rests come with it, and one is 4” while the other is 7”. And whereas other mini lathes have a fixed tailstock, this one has a movable tailstock, and therefore tailstock adjustments are easier to make.

Regarding what it comes with, you’ll get the following with your purchase:

  • Tool rests (2)
  • Headstock spur center (1)
  • Live center (1)
  • Wrench (1)
  • Knockout bar (1)
  • Goggles (1)
  • Manual (1)

Finally, this 26” x 5” x 12”, 42 lbs mini wood lathe is backed by a two-year limited warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. Therefore, if you don’t like the product, you have thirty days to return it for a refund.

What I Liked:

  • It was designed with vibration-absorption in mind, so your chisel won’t vibrate on the tool rest.
  • It’s one of the only mini wood lathes to have an energy-saving, copper motor, so it’s more efficient.
  • It has holes so it can be mounted to a benchtop for maximum stability.
  • You can set your own speed, so precise results are easier to achieve.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Tool rest steel handle can be hard to lock in certain spots.
  • It doesn’t have anti-scuff feet, so your workbench’s finish may suffer when it’s mounted.

My Thoughts:

The UOKRR Mini Wood Lathe Machine has all the hallmarks of a truly phenomenal mini wood lathe, but its simplicity is what makes it perfect for those who want to learn the woodturning fundamentals on a reliable and versatile wood lathe. And even though it’s made of ultra-smooth cast iron, it’s relatively lightweight, so it doesn’t have to permanently take up space on your workbench. Of course, the tool rest lock can be problematic at times, but overall this is an all-around excellent mini wood lathe to learn the basics on.

More Stores

What to Consider When Buying a Mini Wood Lathe

Capacity

Even on a mini wood lathe, capacity is a big deal. Mini wood lathes come in different sizes, and whereas some could almost be labeled midi lathes, others are just large enough to handle pen turning.

The average swing-over bed on a mini wood lathe is 8″-10″, and usually the maximum distance between centers on these machines is 10″-18″.

And if the tailstock can be moved, the mini wood lathe should have more capacity; this can also be added with an extender bed, but only a few mini wood lathes are designed to accommodate extensions.

If you’re going to be turning larger workpieces routinely, it’s best to use a midi wood lathe instead of relying on a mini lathe with an extension, mainly because mini lathes don’t have the powerful motors midi lathes have.

Speed

Speed is another important factor to consider when browsing mini wood lathes, since how well you can control speed will largely determine the results you get.

Generally, variable-speed systems are easier to use than the ones that rely on belts, but belt systems can work exceptionally well if you know what you’re doing.

In short, the best mini wood lathe is one that lets you set your own speed, and a digital readout is a big help because it’ll help you monitor speed.

Ease of Use

A mini wood lathe must be easy to use, otherwise you won’t be able to achieve extremely precise results consistently when woodturning.

Usually, it’s the systems that don’t have a lot of bells and whistles that are easiest to use, and just because a system is simple doesn’t mean it can’t be reliable for many years.

Basically, you should be on the lookout for a wood lathe with a streamlined design, only the necessary features, and decent portability—these are the markers of a truly easy-to-use wood lathe.

Design

Most mini wood lathes are made of cast iron, and almost all of them have four legs to support a rather narrow lathe bed.

And if a wood lathe is symmetrical with evenly distributed weight, you shouldn’t have any problems regarding stability.

It’s also good if the mini lathe is designed to absorb vibrations, since vibrations tend to cause subpar woodturning results.

Here’s a great video explaining what size is applicable for your wood lathe projects!

Safety

It’s one thing for a benchtop wood lathe to be powerful and efficient, but it has to be safe as well.

So if your benchtop lathe is capable of generating thousands of RPM, it should have an easy-to-access shutoff switch.

And, of course, the two tapers need to be extremely reliable, since these are what keep workpieces in place while they’re spinning rapidly.

Lastly, since wood lathes don’t have dust-removal systems built in, the inner components need to be 100% shielded from dust. So look for systems with a totally enclosed fan-cooled motor, as these tend to last longer.

Price & Warranty

As far as prices go, most high-quality wood lathes go for $300-$400, while budget-friendly options usually cost $200-$250. And if you want an exceptionally high-quality mini lathe, expect to pay $500-$700.

And most small wood lathes are backed by a multi-year warranty that covers defect related to materials or workmanship.

Final Thoughts

To recap, the WEN 5-Speed Benchtop Wood Lathe is the best mini wood lathe overall because it’s designed with seamless operation in mind, so it’s reliable, consistent, and easy to use, whether you’re a pro or an amateur.

The PSI Woodworking Turncrafter Commander Midi Lathe is the best mini wood lathe for pros who spin small and midsize workpieces routinely, as it’s well-equipped and possesses more swing capacity than most of its peers.

Then there’s the SHOP FOX Benchtop Lathe, a terrific budget mini wood lathe for any DIYer who wants to practice woodturning without making a big investment up front.