Mini lathes are nothing new. They have been around for quite a long time, however, their popularity has skyrocketed because of online purchasing.
To be clear, we are not talking about lathes used in tool rooms. Those little machines can be fantastic, but if you locate them for the same price as a micro lathe, they are usually quite old and worn out. Even so, if you have enough in your budget for buying a certain tool room lathe, go ahead and acquire one.
There are a few other types of mini lathe out there, and you can buy them on Alibaba as well. The inexpensive cost of these machines is what makes them appealing.
The 7 by 14 inches are undoubtedly the most ubiquitous machines on the market. This implies they can spin objects with a diameter of up to 7” and a length of up to 14”.
There are also several machines that are longer and shorter, such as 10′′, 12′′, 18′′, and maybe a few more. However, the 7” swing is rather frequent.
Are all mini lathes created equally?
Is there any single brand that can stand out above the rest? Could online reviews be insufficient or biased as a result of some people purchasing the cheapest of the inexpensive lathes while others do not?
You will see a variety of “brand names” floating around, but they are all the same. We would not be astonished if every “small lathe” available is manufactured in the same factory, with different paint jobs and stickers.
Only horsepower is an exception to this rule. Some motors are 250 watts, others are 350 watts, and yet others are 500 watts. Horsepower is the most limiting factor on these machines, hence unless you are extremely patient, it is worth paying a little extra for any 500W machines.
What is the Quality?
You should not expect these items to become family heirlooms because they are created deep in the certain bowels of China. After moderately using them for the first year, almost everyone will need to repair some parts.
The paths are relatively smooth. They are also precise. The headstock is equidistantly aligned. The carriage’s rack and pinion have some tight areas. The safety features, such as the chuck cover, can be a chuckle. We won’t urge you to remove any machine’s safety features, but we will not encourage you to do so with this machine.
One more common stumbling block is the fact that they all have plastic gears. These usually crack after using them moderately for a few months. We did not have any issues since we take care of it, lubricate it periodically, and fine-tune it (particularly in terms of bore size) before using it. Getting some metal gears can still be a popular addition.
When you acquire the machine, plan to perform some adjusting and fine-tuning. Look up how you can shim a rack, align a headstock, and so on. If you are not willing to put in that kind of effort, you are not going to really enjoy the machine. It will require it sooner or later.