The 9 Best Metal Lathes
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in October of 2018. Identifying the right tool for the job can be hard when you have too many options to choose from. We've done the difficult part for you and narrowed down your choices to only the best metal lathes money can buy. All of these machines can cut threads, drill cylindrical, conical and other surface shapes, and more. They do this by rotating the workpiece while moving the cutter in a linear motion. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
February 16, 2021:
Metal lathes are highly versatile machines that, depending on their size, can cut a wide variety of materials, from the hardest metals such as stainless steel, and carbon steel, to soft, non-ferrous, and precious metals. This makes them useful not only within the metalworking and manufacturing industry, but also for hobbyists, jewelry makers, and novices who want to hone their skills. In this update, we found that several older models have been discontinued, therefore we broadened the spectrum to include both large floor standing options, suitable for commercial use, and smaller benchtop models that can produce accurate shaping and cutting, to decorative work such as rings and pens.
The largest lathes in this ranking are the Jet BDB-1340A and the Grizzly G9729. Both are professional-grade machines that can stand up to the rigors of a busy workshop. The Jet can accept large stock of up to 40 inches long and features a 2 Horsepower motor with a wide speed range that allows for turning a variety of metals. The Grizzly, on the other hand, is a combination machine that integrates a pillar drill, making it ideal if floor space is an issue while increasing its functionality.
Benchtop models come in a range of sizes, from the Sherline Sher-4000, which is only eight inches in length and boasts pinpoint accuracy and an electronic speed control ranging from 70-2800 RPM, to the Techtongda Bench, which has 31-inch centers, equal to that of many floor-standing models. It also has hardened gears and a brushless motor making it suitable for turning stainless or carbon steel. The Shop Fox M1099 is another notable addition as, although compact, it has many of the features found on professional models, such as a six-speed gearbox, a reversible chuck, a four-way tool post, and a full range of carriage and apron assemblies.
November 27, 2018:
Considering that a lathe is one of the most important tools in any workshop, we knew that it was prudent to filter out all the low-quality machines that are known to break, overheat, or bog down when cutting. We also realize that while a 1,000-pound behemoth might be a great addition to a commercial shop, the average weekend hobbyist would find that to be overkill, not to mention it might take up all of their valuable floor space. For this reason, we have included both large and small models to suit a variety of needs.
Super Precision Digital Threading Collet Lathe is a high-precision, digital machine for use on small parts. It is built using high-quality Japanese and German-made parts, and its three-horsepower induction motor is microprocessor-controlled via a touchscreen LED panel, providing accurate and repeatable cutting and threading. southbendtools.com
Nova is a Finnish company that produces a wide array of machinist tools and specialist workshop machinery. Their range of lathes feature step-less speed controls and are suitable for everything from high output industrial requirements, to occasional hobbyist use. Take a look at their website to compare the latest models. novamachinetools.com