BenchTop Lathes
for Machinists

Discover the Facts - Review the Specs on Metalworking Lathes for Home Hobby Machinists & Workshop Mechanics
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Workbench Metal Lathes -
A Big Tool Room Lathe in a Small Table Top Machine

Find all the major name brand bench top lathes for Turning Tools/Machines in one place. Compare, review, buy a Small Benchtop Machine that does exactly what you want! Harness the precision lathe turning tools provide. A Machinist Lathe that sits on your workbench...
Unlike a wood lathe, a metal turning mini lathe is precise and accurate - to within thousands of an inch. Lets not forget about repeatability either. These three features are something a woodworking lathe can't come close to matching.

Bolton Bench Top Lathe

image bolton benchtop lathe 10x15 in metal lathe
The Bolton workbench Lathe, model CQ9325A is a small benchtop machine that's BIG on features. Features include: Dual Voltage capabilities, Reversible/Replaceable Chuck Jaws, the ability to offset the Tailstock for turning Tapers, Adjustable Gibs, Power Feeds, and a Detailed Parts List. To review these features plus more, Download the Bolton User/Operations Manual
Bolton 10x15-3/4 Benchtop Lathe
  • Distance between centers: 15-3/4"
  • Spindle speeds: 9 (125-1800rpm)
  • Headstock taper: MT#4
  • Swing over bed: 10"
  • Tailstock taper: MT#3
  • Tailstock travel: 2"
  • X axis travel: 14"
  • Y axis travel: 5"
  • Motor: 3/4 HP single phase, 3 phase, 110v or 220v

What is a Lathe?

A metal lathe or metalworking lathe is a large and varied class of lathes designed for precisely machining relatively hard materials. They were originally designed to machine metals; however, with the advent of plastics and other materials, and with their inherent versatility, they are used in a wide range of applications, and a broad range of materials. In machining jargon, where the larger context is already understood, they are usually simply called lathes, or else referred to by more-specific subtype names (toolroom lathe, turret lathe, etc.). These rigid machine tools remove material from a rotating workpiece via the (typically linear) movements of various cutting tools, such as tool bits and drill bits.

The design of lathes can vary greatly depending on the intended application; however, basic features are common to most types. These machines consist of (at the least) a headstock, bed, carriage, and tailstock. Better machines are solidly constructed with broad bearing surfaces (slides or ways) for stability, and manufactured with great precision. This helps ensure the components manufactured on the machines can meet the required tolerances and repeatability.

So how long have you dreamed of owning one of these tool lathes? Now you can! Buy a machine from Grizzly, Shop Fox, or Bolton and gain the respect of your peers. Put one of these mini hobby lathes in your workshop and you'll be cranking out those "hard-to-find" parts in minutes... Your buddies are gonna be so envious.

Types of metal lathes: Center lathe / engine lathe / bench lathe

The terms center lathe, engine lathe, and bench lathe all refer to a basic type of lathe that may be considered the archetypical class of metalworking lathe most often used by the general machinist or machining hobbyist. The name bench lathe implies a version of this class small enough to be mounted on a workbench (but still full-featured, and larger than mini-lathes or micro-lathes). The construction of a center lathe is detailed above, but depending on the year of manufacture, size, price range, or desired features, even these lathes can vary widely between models.

Engine lathe is the name applied to a traditional late-19th-century or 20th-century lathe with automatic feed to the cutting tool, as opposed to early lathes which were used with hand-held tools, or lathes with manual feed only. The usage of "engine" here is in the mechanical-device sense, not the prime-mover sense, as in the steam engines which were the standard industrial power source for many years. The works would have one large steam engine which would provide power to all the machines via a line shaft system of belts. Therefore early engine lathes were generally 'cone heads', in that the spindle usually had attached to it a multi-step pulley called a cone pulley designed to accept a flat belt. Different spindle speeds could be obtained by moving the flat belt to different steps on the cone pulley. Cone-head lathes usually had a countershaft (layshaft) on the back side of the cone which could be engaged to provide a lower set of speeds than was obtainable by direct belt drive. These gears were called back gears. Larger lathes sometimes had two-speed back gears which could be shifted to provide a still lower set of speeds.

When electric motors started to become common in the early 20th century, many cone-head lathes were converted to electric power. At the same time the state of the art in gear and bearing practice was advancing to the point that manufacturers began to make fully geared headstocks, using gearboxes analogous to automobile transmissions to obtain various spindle speeds and feed rates while transmitting the higher amounts of power needed to take full advantage of high speed steel tools.

The inexpensive availability of electronics has again changed the way speed control may be applied by allowing continuously variable motor speed from the maximum down to almost zero RPM. (This had been tried in the late 19th century but was not found satisfactory at the time. Subsequent improvements have made it viable again.)

Mini-lathe and micro-lathe

Mini-lathes and micro-lathes are miniature versions of a general-purpose center lathe (engine lathe). They typically have swings in the range of 3" to 7" (70 mm to 170 mm) diameter (in other words, 1.5" to 3.5" (30 mm to 80 mm) radius). They are small and affordable lathes for the home workshop or MRO shop. The same advantages and disadvantages apply to these machines as explained earlier regarding 3-in-1 machines.

Naming Conventions: There are quite a few variations in the styling of the prefixes of these machine names. They are alternately styled as mini lathe, minilathe, and mini-lathe and as micro lathe, microlathe, and micro-lathe. For the most part, these all refer to the same type of machine lathe.

Shop Fox M1049 Mini Metal Lathe

image shop fox bench lathe 9 x 19 inch m1049
Shop Fox Table Top
Metal Lathe Model M1049:

The Shop Fox workbench mini lathe is capable of holding tight tolerences just like the big tool room lathes. Just as precise but in a much smaller package and at a fraction of the cost of its bigger brothers.

This smaller machining lathe is perfect for home and hobby projects. Place this puppy on your benchtop and start making parts right out of the box.

Use the link below to download the user manual right to your desktop. From there you can review all the specs - see the way the machine is put together. You can even see how to use this tool lathe before you buy it.

I've got a hunch you're going to like what you see and want one of these for yourself.

Download the Shop Fox User Manual
SHOP FOX 9x19" Bench Lathe
  • 4-way tool post + extra C-type post
  • Face plate
  • Includes tool box and tool kit
  • Number of speeds: 6
  • Spindle thread: 39mm x 4mm pitch
  • Spindle nose taper: MT#3
  • Range of speeds: 130 - 2000 RPM
  • Lead screw: 9/16" - 16 TPI
  • Compound travel: 1-7/8"
  • Cross slide travel: 4-1/4"
  • Carriage travel: 16"
  • Maximum tool size: 3/8" x 3/8"
  • Tailstock barrel travel: 1-9/16"

Grizzly Machinist Lathe G9972Z for Bench-Top Turning

image grizzly workbench lathe with gearbox g9972z
Grizzly Bench-Top Lathe G9972Z
A great starter metal lathe designed for better than average capacity in a unit this size. Here is an excerpt from a real customer review...
"I bought this lathe about 9mos ago to make parts for my business. I have not had any problems and it is still tight. There are set screw adjustments on the carriage to keep things smooth and accurate. The tool post is just ok since you have to shim all the tools up to centerline. A quick change tool post would make things much better."

Get all the details and specs -
Download Spec Sheet
Download the User Manual
Grizzly 11" x 26" Bench Lathe w/ Gearbox
This specially designed machine is an outstanding value - able to take on many light duty jobs. Great for hobbyists and model makers.
  • 6 speeds: 150, 300, 560, 720, 1200, 2400 RPM
  • Distance between centers: 26"
  • Motor: 1 HP, 110v
  • Swing: 10-5/8" over bed; 6-3/8" over cross-slide
  • Travel: 3-1/2" compound; 7" cross-slide; 23" carriage

New Lathe Tip...
New lathes ship with the gearbox EMPTY of oil. This is to prevent an oily mess during shipping. It is therefore imperative that you READ the user manual and fill the gearbox full of oil, grease the change gears, clean the shipping grease from the ways and oil them along with the cross slide and other key oil points. FOLLOW the directions for the best performance.

Jet Machinists Belt Drive Bench Lathe (9in x 20in)

image jet bench hobby lathe jhl-610
A huge set of features make the JET Machinists Belt Drive Lathe a machine you'll definitely want to own and use. Features include:
  • 27 longitudinal feeds from 0.005 to 0.011in.
  • Spindle is mounted in tapered roller bearings and has MT-#3 taper with 1 1/2in. x 8 TPI spindle nose.
  • Cross slide travel of 5in.
  • Tailstock adjusts for taper cuts.
  • Hardened and ground bedways
  • 7in. 4-jaw and 4in. 3-jaw chucks, faceplate, 4-way tool post, quick change gear box, threading dial
  • Includes tool kit.
JET Machinists Belt Drive Bench Lathe
(9in x 20in)
Also qualifies for free shipping.
  • Motor: 3/4 HP, 115 Volt, Single Phase
  • Speeds: 6 (130-2,000 RPM)
  • 9in Swing over bed
  • 20in Width between Centers
  • Carriage Travel: 16in
  • Inch Threads: 8-56 TPI
  • Metric Threads: .05-3mm

Jet JHL-610: Low-Cost Metal Hobby Lathe

image jet bench hobby lathe jhl-610
The JET JHL-610 Hobby Lathe is an inexpensive, economical way to start turning parts. Features include:
  • Electronic Variable Speed 100-2000RPM
  • Over-load protection
  • Leadscrew is protected under the bed with auto feed mechanism
  • Metal cuttings/shavings/coolant tray built-in
  • Chuck cover (guard) with a automatic off/on switch for safety feature
  • Tailstock has an MT-1 and is made from cast-iron
  • Cuts metric threads 0.5-1.25mm pitch
  • Cuts inch threads 16-24 TPI
  • Gear change kit is included as a standard equipment
JET Benchtop Hobby Lathe Specs:
  • Swing over Bed: 5-1/2 Inch
  • Distance Between Centers: 9-3/4 Inch
  • Spindle Bore: 3/8 Inch
  • Spindle Mount: MT2
  • Spindle Taper W/ Sleeve: MT-2
  • Number of Inch Threads: 5
  • Number of Metric Threads: 5
  • Max Tool Size: 3/8 Inch-shank
  • Cross Slide Travel: 2 Inch
  • Carriage Travel: 9-3/4 Inch
  • Taper in Tailstock Spindle: MT-1
  • Motor: 150W
  • Height: 8.5 Inch
  • Width: 11.75 Inch
  • Length: 24 Inch