Finding the best metal lathe is a pretty hard quest since there are a lot of brands available and a lot of choices to make. From shipping costs to maintenance and quality of the materials you have to take into consideration a lot of things before making a purchase in order to be sure that it is an informed investment.
A good metal lathe should include various qualities from a good design to a big jaw chuck (depending on the needs) and finally to a great value for the money. You will find both mini metal lathes as well as large metal lathes so that we cover all types of customers.
Brands like South Bend, Grizzly, Shop Fox and others have a large variety of metal lathes and other types of lathes and most importantly they have a long experience and tradition in manufacturing high-quality tools and machinery. This is one of the reasons why you will see some of these brands in our review.
I am writing this review so you can make an informed purchase and not bother with research more than you should as a regular buyer. I hope you will find this useful!
BEST METAL LATHE FOR THE MONEY
As a compromise option between an industrial metal lathe and a mini lathe, the Shop Fox M1016 offers the best value for the money I have seen on a lathe of this kind. It comes with a vast range of speeds, a large chuck, threading capabilities and more.
Other features include a 3 jaw chuck, a 3/4-inch spindle bore, a single phase motor with 3/4 HP and running on 110 V. You can see other technical specifications on the link’s page.
This metal lathe is great for both beginners and professionals who want a quality lathe that is somewhat affordable. And comparing it to the competition I think this is a best buy; well worth the investment.
For a mini metal lathe, it is quite remarkable how much you can do with the Grizzly G8688. It comes in a sturdy, high-quality casing made out of mostly high-quality materials, it has a good design and an ideal weight and dimensions for those who do not have enough space for an industrial sized lathe. The price is also more than affordable considering that you would have to pull out thousands of dollars for other metal lathes. So this Grizzly metal lathe is also a great compromise in terms of price and quality.
It comes with a 3 jaw chuck and a 16 mm chuck bore, a speed limit of 2500 rpm, a 12-inch distance between the centers and various other tools that you can see the link.
While you can use this metal lathe for various commercial applications like gunsmithing it is however not that good of a choice for professional projects. For that, you can take a look at the all-time winner Shop Fox lathe below which is also much more expensive. This is the best metal lathe in the price range in my opinion.
Similar to the Grizzly lathe above, this Central Machinery Mini Lathe model is perfect for hobbies, small projects, house projects and different applications which do not require a tremendous amount of precision and space between the centers, big chuck, etc.
There are no major differences between this model and the previous Grizzly, although I would prefer this one for its versatility. You can decide between the two based on shipping costs, ETA and even brand. If you had a Grizzly lathe before and were pleased with the quality of their craftsmanship then you might want to invest in the same brand. If you want something new then the Central Machinery metal lathe is a great model to look for.
The technical specifications are pretty much identical to the Grizzly model, with small differences like the micro switch from the chuck guard present on this model or the automatic feed.
BEST METAL LATHE (OVERALL)
This Erie Tools mini lathe is perfect for hobbyists who don’t want their tools to take up a lot of space, but still want to enjoy some versatility. The package includes the lathe along with a chuck key, five-piece carbide tipped cutter kit, internal chuck jaws and external chuck jaws, 11 feed rate gears and an owner’s manual that’s pretty easy to follow.
You can use the lathe to drill, cut and turn metal, wood and plastic parts with precision. The machine allows you to pick between variable speeds depending on project, which is always a good thing. Besides, the variable-speed motor is adjustable from 50 to 2500 RPM in either rotational direction, which makes left-hand threading an option. Moreover, the thread indicator helps users turn screw threads from 12 to 52 TPI with either metric or imperial pitches and the lathe comes with a digital readout that will come in handy when adjusting the RPM.
Finally, the 5/16-inch capacity tool post allows up to four cutting tools to be mounted at once, making for simple substitutions mid-project. If you were looking for an accessible and easy-to-use lathe that can cater to a variety of projects, you can’t go wrong with this one.
This is a professional full-size metal lathe with all of the features and tools required by professionals. Since this requires a lot of space, money and time to get up and running the results are stunning. You will get the required results in no time due to the quick change tool post and the additional features which are not present in other lathes.
To enumerate some specifications it has:
- 13 inch swing over bed
- Spindle Speeds ranging from 60 to 1240 RPM
- Independent leadscrew and rod
- A large distance between the centers of 40 inches
- A single phase 1.5 kWh 230V motor
- 1 3/8 Spindle Hole
- Carriage mounted spindle
You can see more on the link’s page. Speaking of build quality the lathe is made of mostly high-quality materials and the tools are put together professionally. I like the ease of use of the tools and the other components.
Overall this is an investment worth making for the professional, be it the gunsmith or the metal manufacturer.
That’s pretty much it, hope I helped you find the best metal lathe for your needs.