CNC Technology is everywhere and the huge advances in computer technology are being seen in the size, price and capability of the latest metal lathes. It was not that long ago that a small metal lathe would still take six men to move it now you can get a benchtop metal lathe that you can pick up on your own. Admittedly this may be better described as a mini metal lathe or maybe a portable small metal lathe but it will still do all but the biggest jobs.
The size of lathe that you buy will really depend on what you want to use it for. Like any workman you need the tool that is right for you, if you are making model boats, planes or other smaller items then a desktop metal lathe which can be packed away between uses may well be perfect. If you work on larger items then you will need a larger metal lathe, since they can be pricey and so many companies are having trouble in our present economy you may want to look at used metal lathes if you need a larger model.
A bench top lathe may be small but that does not mean it lacks power or functionality. You can even get bench top models that connect to your laptop or Pc so you can plan out your milling and set it going automatically. Even if you are only using the benchtop metal lathe to help you with your hobby rather than work it will be great fun to watch it start up without you even touching it.
Metal machine tools
When you start to work out a budget to purchase you lathe make sure that you allow yourself enough money to buy the metal machine tools that you will need still. It is also not a good idea to spend a fortune on a benchtop metal lathe and leave yourself with no budget for the machine tools. It may be hard but it is a better idea to buy the best benchtop lathe you can and then wait a while, save some money up, and buy the best machine tools you can get.
Benchtop or Desktop lathe
The only difference between a benchtop metal lathe, a tabletop metal lathe and a desktop lathe is the description in the sales leaflet normally. When you look at a few metal lathe for sale adverts you will see that some companies will say they are selling a benchtop metal lathe while others will call it a desktop metal lathe. The only things you need to consider are:-
Size -You need the lathe to fit onto your work bench, you also need it to be big enough to work on your items. There is no point buying a mini metal lathe if the items you work on are all going to be three feet in length and weigh fifty pounds each.
Functions – Does the benchtop metal lathe do what you want it to do. Since you will only be buying this item once you should make sure that you buy one that has all the functions you need. There is no fun in wishing you had bought the next model up every time you use it.
Power- if your workroom only has access to 120v power there is no use in buying yourself a benchtop metal lathe that requires 240v. Getting the new power line installed could well cost more than the lathe does.
You have probably already been thinking about purchasing your benchtop metal lathe for months so there is no reason to jump on it today. Look at some models and be ready to grab the one you really want, do not just go and buy one for the sake of buying it.