How Much Is a Lathe?

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The size of the lathe and the projects it can handle are two important considerations that can affect a third question — how much is a lathe cost? Use this article as a guide to learn how much you should expect to pay for different kinds of lathes and inform your purchasing decisions. 

How Much Is a Lathe Cost By Type?

There are many different kinds of lathes, and they are all priced differently. Some of the various lathe types are; bench lathes, engine and center lathes, turret and capstan lathes, as well as special-purpose lathes. In the sections below, learn about the lathes available for purchase and their respective costs. 

Lathe machine

How Much Is a Bench Lathe? 

Bench Lathes usually cost between $100 and $800. 

Bench lathes are mostly used to create small wooden objects such as bowls, pens, and spindles. They are the most popular lathe with DIY consumers because they are relatively inexpensive and don’t take up much space. 

Bench lathes are great for beginners and work as a solid first purchase as you get into woodturning.

How Much Is a Mini/Midi Speed Lathe?

Mini and midi-lathes can usually be found for less than $1,000, averaging between $100 and $800. 

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Mini speed lathes are small bench lathes, while larger bench lathes can also be called midi speed lathes. As bench lathes, they are composed of a headstock and tailstock, connected by a motor, with a tool rest in between. They are used to shape wood

The best midi lathe works as a great hybrid option. Mini lathes will be a little bit cheaper.

How Much Is an Engine Lathe?

A brand new, standalone engine lathe costs between $4,000 and $6,000. Used or refurbished models can be found for $2,500, but seldom drop below $1,400. Engine lathes are also sold as one piece of a set, with multiple accessories included. These sets are usually priced between $11,000 and $14,000.  

Engine lathes are used to shape metal. They are larger than bench lathes, and also have more moving parts/accessories. On an engine lathe, you can control the RPM and feed rate of the lathe. It has a carriage system with cross rails and a compound for the precision introduction of various tools. 

Engine lathes can be used to machine most metals, including brass, aluminum, and steel. 

How Much Is a Center Lathe?

‘Center lathe’ is simply another term for an engine lathe. The costs are therefore the same: $1,400-$2,500 for a used center lathe, $4,000-$6,000 for a brand new machine, and $11,000-$14,000 for a full engine lathe set. 

How Much Is a Tool Room Lathe?

Tool room lathes start around $4,000 and can cost as much as $20,000. They are usually not sold via consumer showrooms. You will generally need to go through a dealer or direct to the manufacturer in order to purchase a tool room lathe, which may mean some wiggle room for negotiating the price.

Tool room lathe maintenance contracts are often negotiated alongside the purchase price. 

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Tool room lathes can perform the same tasks as engine or center lathes, but at a much higher level of precision. They are suitable for use in a professional context. Tool room lathes often have larger beds on that engine or center lathes. 

Lathe machine

How Much Is a Capstan Lathe?

A capstan lathe is likely to cost around $6,000 for a basic model. The more features and capability the lathe has, the higher the price will be. 

Capstan lathes allow multiple tools to be used at the same time. Thanks to their extreme accuracy, they can be used to mass-produce parts to exact specifications. 

How Much Is a Turret Lathe?

A turret lathe is another term for capstan lathe, so the cost is the same. You’re unlikely to find a turret lathe for less than $6,000. Both turret and capstan lathes can be incredibly specialized, and so it’s difficult to give an upper-cost threshold. It’s safe to say that $20,000 is not an unheard-of price for a highly customized and ultra-precise turret lathe. 

How Much Is a Special Purpose Lathe?

Special purpose lathes include vertical lathes, pit lathes, brake lathes and oil country lathes, as well as any lathe purpose-built for specific part or tool creation. These lathes rarely cost less than $10,000 and can cost more than $50,000. 

Factors That Affect Lathe Cost

The cost of an individual lathe is driven by several factors, including; size, power, and production level. 

Size

Larger lathes cost more than smaller lathes. This is partially due to the cost of material — it costs more to make a larger, free-standing lathe than it does to make a bench-mounted version. However, larger lathes also tend to have more features and capabilities. These features add to their value, driving up the cost of larger lathes. 

Power

Different lathes operate at varying power levels. Horsepower, or HP, is used to measure the power of the lathe motor. A lathe that is ¾ HP is going to cost significantly less than a lathe that can operate at 15 HP. 

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Function

The price of a lathe is partially set based on it’s capability. Computer Numerical Control or CNC lathes have the capability to make precise cuts and adjustments using computerized controls. A lathe equipped with this technology will naturally be more expensive than a fully manual lathe. 

Production Level

Some lathes are not meant for heavy use. They are geared toward hobby woodworkers or machinists who aren’t going to be using the lathe on a daily or even weekly basis. Other lathes are meant for professional industrial manufacturing and heavy, day in/day out use. Lathes geared towards industrial use are more expensive than hobby or consumer lathes. 

Conclusion

Bench lathes are the least expensive lathes and can be found for under $1,000. Engine and tool room lathes cost between $1,400 and $14,000. The cost for turret and Capstan lathes is usually at least $6,000 and could be up to $20,000 per machine. Special purpose lathes are the most expensive type of lathe, costing between $10,000 and $50,000 or even more. 

Ellenkate grew up on job sites run by her family’s construction company. She earned her theater degree from The Hartt School, a prestigious performing arts conservatory in Connecticut. Her design and DIY work from her Chicago loft was featured in the Chicago Reader and on Apartment Therapy.