Whether it’s for personal or professional use, a wood lathe is a necessity for a woodturner.
How are you going for time? If you don’t have enough to read through this entire article, we’ve made a quick overview of the best mini-wood lathes we’ve discussed today:
- Delta Industrial 46-460 Mini-Wood Lathe
- JET JWL-1221VS Mini-Wood Lathe
- WEN 3420T Mini-Wood Lathe
- SHOP FOX W1704 Mini-Wood Lathe
- RIKON 70-100 Mini-Wood Lathe
A wood lathe gives you the power to craft large pieces of wood into a perfectly smooth and usable object, something that alternative power tools are unable to do.
Wood lathes can take up a generous amount of space, which can be limited within a workshop. Luckily, these lathes can also be found in smaller models, such as the mini lathe – and that’s what we’ll be looking into closely today.
I’ve put together five of the best mini-wood lathes that you can find throughout a hardware store or online, just so you can be as prepared as possible when making a decision.
Many of these mini-wood lathes also feature in our ‘5 Best Wood Lathe’ guide, and this strengthens the point made throughout this guide – that mini-wood lathes are quite efficient and powerful for their size.
I hope this guide makes it easier for you when it comes to making that decision, and you can let me know what you think of these lathes in the comments at the bottom of this article.
When starting with mini-wood lathes to cover, we have to go directly to the best in the class.
The 46-400 mini-wood lathe from Delta Industrial brings power and adjustability into one. Why is this so important?
Well, unlike certain lathes that are aimed towards a targeted skillset, the 46-400 model can be used by everyone – all in thanks to the user-friendly features that Delta Industrial have included.
Delta Industrial are user-focused, and that is evident with their inclusion of additional accessories that are included with the purchase of the 46-400. Firstly, let’s look into the features and specifications, which are described in detail below.
- Maximum speed of 1725 RPM with the 1 HP motor, thanks to the variable speed function
- 12-½” swing capacity is the largest within the entire wood lathe class
- Three-pulley variable speed in convenient location eliminates the need to change belt position constantly
- This model features a complete cast-iron instruction, built with durability and stability as the prime focus for turners
- Forward to reverse functions easily used, with a user-friendly quick switch
- 1 x Delta Industrial 46-460 mini-wood lathe
- 1 x 6” tool rest
- 1 x 10” tool rest
- 1 x 3” chrome face plate
- 1 x Tool rest base
- 1 x Knockout bar
- 1 x Live center
- 1 x Wrench
My Favorite Feature: Belt-tensioning System
- Fast speed changes and tool longevity are the focus with this patented belt-tensioning system
Firstly, it’s important to note that the belt-tensioning system found on this model is exclusive to Delta Industrial, so it’s a very unique feature than what is found on alternative lathes.
A prevalent issue with some lathes are found with speed adjustments, especially when you’re working with an inconvenient and tricky belt. Not only is this annoying, it’s also damaging to the longevity of your lathe.
This is what Delta Industrial are looking to eliminate with this model, with swift speed changes made thanks to the belt automatically setting to the correct tension each time. Due to this, the overall tool life of the lathe is increased.
Unique and useful to your turning experience is definitely a good combination, what are your thoughts?
Some lathes are difficult to use due to obstructing features, with older lathes reducing control through heavy vibration. If control isn’t found – the quality of your work will decline.
JET have designed the JWL-1221VS mini wood lathe with control in mind, looking to increase the overall turning experience – something it does effectively. This model features a cast-iron bed, also included a forward to reverse feature.
These are just some of the features found in this model, with a raft of additional features included.
We’ll look into these additional features to understand why this is one of the best five mini-wood lathes currently available.
- 24 integrated indexing positions for additional versatility
- Ratchet style belt tension system, that is unique to this model (patent pending)
- Spindle included an integrated, spring-loaded lock
- Cast iron bed which reduces vibration when turning
- Smooth transitions when moving forward to reverse
- 1 x JET JWL-122VS mini-wood lathe
- 1 x 3” faceplate
- 1 x 4 prong drive center, live tailstock center
- 2 x tool rests
My Favorite Feature: Digital Control & Variable Speed
- Digital control provides user with speed monitoring, as you control the lathe with three different speeds
So, how exactly do JET provide total control over your mini-wood lathe? With the variable speed feature, of course.
The three-speed option provides an RPM range of 60 – 3600. This is easy to manage when using this lathe, as all speed changes
are made with a rotating knob. A simple rotation is all you need to control the speed at will.
In addition to the variable speed, JET have included a convenience factor within the JWL-1221VS – the digital control system
Simply put, you’ll always be able to monitor your speeds and adjustments with a quick glance over to the control system.
If you’re looking to begin a future in turning, then this mini-wood lathe should definitely be in your testing list.
Like many power tools designed by WEN, the 3424T is budget-friendly, without skimping on quality and performance.
This model is one of the first manufactured within the 342 series by WEN. It includes an impressive list of variable speeds (that we will discuss in detail later), as well as a 4.5 amp motor – which is very powerful for a lathe within the mini-wood category.
Small to medium-sized objects can be turned on this lathe, thanks to a decently sized amount of bed-space.
As well as the standard features found in a wood lathe, there are a number of accessories also included upon purchase.
Firstly, what are some quick specs found on the 3434T? Find out below:
- Dimensions of bed are 18” x 12”, giving you more space for medium-sized pieces
- 4.5 Amp motor for greater control over five speeds
- 7-⅞” tool rest for chisel and additional support during operation
- Clamping system is straight-forward and adjustments can be made on both the tool rest and tail stock
- 3-⅛” faceplate is perfect for pieces that don’t require spindles, such as turning cups, bowls,
As well as the mini-wood lathe, there are some extra accessories which are included within:
- 1 x WEN 3424T mini-wood lathe
- 1 x Headstock spur center
- 1 x Tailstock cup center
- 1 x Flat wrench
- 1 x Knockout rod
- 2 x Hex wrenches (3 mm and 5mm)
- 1 x Accessory holder
- 1 x 3-1/8 inch faceplate
My Favorite Feature: 5 Speed Variable Speed
- 5 separate speeds for complete freedom over projects using the variable speed knob
Recently, many manufacturers of lathes have included variable speed features into their designs, as they aim to give users more variety to their techniques, resulting in premium level turning projects.
WEN achieve this by including not just one, or three variable speeds – but five separate speeds to choose between.
What are these speeds? Great question. This mini-wood lathe features speeds of 520, 900, 1400, 2150 and 3400 RPMs.
That’s a lot of speed to work within, which is perfect for projects that require complete control – such as small and intricate designs.
Within the five mini-wood lathes we’re reviewing today, this model from Shop Fox is one of the most well built out of them all.
Built from cast iron, the W1740 is a lathe that can master all small items you’re looking to turn – from rings and pens, to bowls.
As well as being specifically designed to craft small items with efficiency in mind, the W1704 is made from extremely high-quality components. At its price, this makes the W1704 a very cost effective and durable addition to your workshop – as you know it’ll last.
- 1 x SHOP FOX W1704 mini-wood lathe
- 1 x Spur center
- 1 x MT No.1 live center
- 1 x 1-¼” and 7” tool rests
- 1 x 5-¾” faceplate
- 1 ¾” x 16” spindle
My Favorite Feature: Motor
- ⅓ HP, 2 Amp motor paired with variable-speed can deliver between 700 – 3,200 RPMs
The motor is essentially the heart of this mini-wood lathe, with its’ powerful output, allowing turners to craft with speed without worrying about vibration throughout the spindle – which is exactly what you’re looking for, right?
The speed on this ⅓ Hp, 2 Amp motor ranges from 700 to 3,200 RPMs. This is perfect for turning different types of woods, giving you more control and variety over the projects you can attempt.
The variable speed option on this lathe is in the form of a dial – and considering the lower-end of the budget this model is priced at, it’s a very welcome and beneficial addition.
Another mini-wood lathe that we’re looking into from a respected brand, the 70-100 from Rikon.
This model features an extremely durable and sturdy design, a helpful feature itself – as its’ design reduces the amount of vibration that is dispersed throughout the lathe.
As well as its’ design, there is also an immense range of customizable accessories and extensions which can be utilized, many which are included with the 70-100 itself, and others which can be purchased in time. This puts this model in high regard for many turners.
For you, however, let’s look into the specs before you make any decisions, don’t you agree?
- Power specs include ½ HP motor with 6.6 amps
- Laser engraved ram with 1-½” distance of travel
- Knock-out bar no longer needed to remove centre due to the self-ejecting tail stock
- Belt is used to control speeds, with convenience and time and mind, also includes a chart for spindle speeds
- User-friendly features, such as nylon face plate washer, tool holder, and flip-up handle for easy mobility.
There are a number of useful add-ons that are included with this mini-wood lathe.
Here are these inclusions:
- 1 x RIKON 70-100 mini-wood lathe
- 1 x Knockout bar
- 1 x Adjustment wrench
- 1 x 8” tool-rest
- 1 x Live center
- 1 x Spur center
- 1 x Spindle lock assembly
- 1 x Knockout bar for live center pointer
- 1 x Tool holder
- 1 x Panhead screw
My Favorite Feature: Indexing Head With 12 Positions
- Added versatility when turning, with a 12 position indexing head
As more and more lathes include additional accessories and adjustable-friendly features, the 70-100 has raised the bar with its own unique inclusions, one being the 12 position indexing head.
What is the purpose of this feature? The main function of this feature is to provide more patterns to work with, making designs easily created thanks to the many positions available.
If you’ve ever viewed an image of a smoothly turned pen or bowl with differing shapes, a multi-position indexing head is just of the ways in which these designs are crafted. As a bonus, the 12 position indexing head allows for the spindle to be locked into place.
You won’t have to concern yourself with accessories binding to the spindle, as Rikon have included a nifty nylon faceplate washer that will prevent this from occurring – giving you more time to focus on what’s important.
The Final Say
We’ve reviewed some reliable and high-quality mini-wood lathes today, with all of them being on a very cost-effective list, with some more so than others.
You won’t go wrong in purchasing any of these five – as they’re five of the bests. But, there’s always going to be a clear-cut winner, and that’s the Delta Industrial 46-460.
This mini-wood lathe is not only perfect for a workshop with limited space, yet it’s also designed with a simple design, welcoming users of all experience levels. What’s not to enjoy with this model?
Luckily for you – any of the five mini-wood lathes discussed today will assist in your projects – and it’s best to pair them up with both your experience level and projects needed – so you have the perfect new addition to your woodworking family.
What do you think? Is the Delta Industrial the best of the five, or perhaps there’s another mini-wood lathe you’d like to mention?
Leave your comments below, it’ll be great to read them.