Mini Wood Lathe
My mini wood lathe preferences have been put to one side for just a moment so that I can be fair to all, by researching and not be blind to other makes.
I have therefore looked at the following makes to compare and view other people's views in the review sections:
Taig, Klein, Harbor Freight, Mastercraft, Delta, Vicmark, Rockler, Oneway,
Fisch, Jet, Rikon and Sealey, Shop Fox and Powermatic.
What is evident when you view the comments left by people who have bought them, is that there isn't a single one without at least one negative comment.
It's to be expected because we are talking about machines here and at times they may have been abused or misused, however when the same things keep going wrong with the same machines, that is inferior manufacture.
To emphasise the point, one of the better makes was descibed as lightweight by one commenter, whilst all others said it was rock solid.
To get down to the nitty gritty, there are only 5 makes which are in a class of their own, the others I've put in the re-cycle bin, As the talent shows say 'and in no particular order'.
A mini wood lathe described as having variable speeds doesn't mean that the belt doesn't have to be changed. It does but only once in its full range of speed, when you want to change from low to high speed or vice versa.
All others have usually 5-6 different speed settings requiring belt changes.
Low for large and High for small turnings.
The smallest variable is the Harbor Freight Precision Mini Lathe, with a maximum turning diameter of 7" and turning length of 10" and includes a handy reverse.
It's towards the high price range though.
JET 708375 JML-1014I, 10-in x 14-in 1/2 HP Indexing Mini Lathe variable does a 10" diameter and length of 14". The length can be increased to 39" with the additional extensions, but most makes have these too. There are 4 models of the 1014, this one costs $429.99.
Just for good measure here’s a link to a more expensive small Jet at $699.99
JET 708376VS JWL-1220VS, 12-in X 20-in Variable Speed Wood Lathe but you can view the whole range at I believe unbeatable prices (even Amazon can’t beat them) by following this link to
N.B. JET intend a price increase from 1/1/2013 so now is a good time to buy.
Rikon 70-200EVS Variable Speed Mini Lathe is another of this type and it has a diameter turn of 12" and length of 16" priced at $969.99. The price has fluctuated over the last year, at one point it was $1,024.99.
The second of this brand is the RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe priced at $379.99
So I will move on to the
length of almost 18", but this is a 5 speed and with good ratings and a low price tag too of $279.99
The SHOP FOX W1704 1/3-Horsepower Benchtop Lathe has a very low price of $166.04 with attributes of a Variable speed motor, 8-Inch swing over bed, Weight of 45-Pounds, variable speed control and Cast iron construction.
The last variable speed is the Sealey Mini Lathe, which will take a diameter of 8" and length of 13" and is a 240 Volt.
Just a note here, Oneway made a well received mini 1018, but it is no longer made. (just in case you have heard of it)
The remaining quality mini wood lathes all require 5 or 6 belt changes to provide the full range of speeds. Not much inconvenience when you consider that it takes less than a minute to change them.
Some are more awkward than others but a little practice and you'll be firing on all cylinders.
The remaining one at $529.99 from Jet is the
JET 708375VS JML-1014VSI, 10-in x 14-in 1/2 HP Variable Speed Indexing Mini Lathe
Mini Wood Lathe Conclusions
As you can see, that by elimination, we have arrived at 5, Rikon, Jet, Sealey, ShopFox and Rockler.
As a matter of interest and without favouritism, three of these are my favourites, but I had to go through the process to discover Sealey and Harbor Freight.
All are highly rated, now it is up to you to find the product to do the turning you require and within your budget too.
Be aware of the comments you will find but look more to the positives, you will always find that people comment more about negatives.
Just to finish off, Klein and
priced at $372.71, both make Micro 'starter' Lathes but maybe these will be too small for your needs and I certainly wouldn’t bother with the Taig. It looks as though it’s part of an experiment.
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