In-Depth Review: PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe
I think the price tag for this unit is more than fair and here's why. While there are other options on the market with similar specs, the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Mini Lathe (as its name suggests) remains a woodworking lathe specialist when it comes to cutting, shaping, grinding, sanding, and so forth of extra small work pieces that you can't cut, shape, grind, or sand with a huge rotary tool like a table saw or even a flexible band saw. This specialization in wooden work pieces makes it worth the price tag (on top of its proven durability).
Here are the alternative choices you have in terms of mini lathe.
1) RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
The RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe compares poorly to the PSI TCLC10VS Mini Lathe, but not significantly so. It's only a few inches smaller than the TCLC10VS, plus in certain dimensions it actually is bigger by an inch or three. The RIKON also weighs less than the PSI by 1.9 pounds. It even has weaker ½-HP motor and a slower top speed at 3,900 RPM or about 200 RPM slower than the RIKON's 4,100 RPM.
However, the RIKON still has a higher satisfaction rating. Long story short, the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe offers more speed and power than comparable mini lathes at a lower price thanks to its bigness relative to its class of lathe (a bigger lathe allows for a bigger motor). Alas, there are some lathes that are even bigger than the RIKON and thusly offers better torque and speed (like the PSI TCLC10VS).
2) Nova 46301 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Bundle
In regards to the Nova 46301 Comet II, it's like the midway or transitional lathe between the superior 4,100-RPM PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Mini Lathe and the 3,900-RPM RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe. It has a 4,000 RPM top speed, it weighs 89.5 pounds, and it's the second or third smallest mini lathe next to the Signwise or Mophorn lathe. However, the Nova mini lathe has about the same price as the PSI.
It even kind of looks like the TCLC10VS. So you need to make a judgment call. Are you willing to pay $1,500 to $2000 on a product with lower specs than the PSI when they're priced the same? At least with the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe, the specs can be justified with the more-than-halved price. Nevertheless, the Comet II has higher ratings, which means it's less likely you'll get damaged goods from Nova.
3) Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe
As for the Mophorn Metal Lathe, it has the same ratings as Nova 46301, the lowest top speed on the list (that it shares with the Grizzly G8688), a comparable size to the RIKON and Nova mini lathes, and a weight that's probably the heaviest on this list (92 pounds or 0.6 pounds more than the RIKON lathe). The high Amazon.com ratings promise you that you're less likely to get a bad deal or a flimsy product at the doorstep.
On the other hand, the ratings are subject to change once more and more customers begin availing of this particular brand of mini lathe. What's more, the PSI TCLC10VS Mini Lathe blows it away in every way and aspect possible. Is it too heavy for you to use or is its heaviness an asset in terms of mitigating vibration in exchange for less portability? Also, it has a competitive price but not as low as the Rikon, but low enough to make it a viable alternative.
4) Signswise High Quality Motorized Mini Metal Working Lathe Machine
The Signswise High Quality Motorized Mini Lathe is the lowest rated yet most powerful mini lathe on this review. It's also the most "mini" or smallest and lightest mini lathe available on this list of alternatives (while if you include the PSI TCLC10VS Mini Lathe in the conversation, the PSI is the largest mini lathe of them all). The good news is that the low ratings come from only four customers reviewing this piece of equipment. One bad review has more impact with fewer reviews available.
It delivers a whopping 20,000 RPM of rotational speed. However, you can feel free to be concerned in regards to such a smaller 7-pound mini lathe delivering over 20,000 RPM of speed when bigger and badder lathes go more on the 2,500 to 4,100 RPM range. To be more specific, it's not out of the question to fear instability or vibration from a high-RPM mini lathe that's so comparatively petite compared to other fellow lathes.
5) Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe
For a lathe that's called "Grizzly", the Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe underperforms compared to the true beast of this list, the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Mini Lathe and its 4,100 RPM of speed and ¾ HP of motor power. In fairness, the Grizzly mini lathe and the PSI mini lathe do share the same Amazon.com rating, which might mean they have the same level of quality control to coincide with their amount of satisfied customers.
The Grizzly G8688 shares the same top speed as the Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe. It also has comparable dimensions or size to the Nova 46301 Comet II and the Mophorn Metal Lathe. It also weighs a little under what the TCLC10VS weighs at 89.2 pounds. Finally, it's only more expensive than the RIKON 70-100 but less expensive than the Mophorn. Just remember that prices are subject to change.
Alternative Choices Comparison Table
RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe
Nova 46301 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Bundle
Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe
Signswise High Quality Motorized Mini Metal Working Lathe Machine
Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe
The Final Cut
Even with its price tag, the PSI TCLC10VS Mini Lathe is worth every penny because it's practical and filled with features. The requisite standard features like the variable speeds are there. You also have high-tech metrics in the form of a digital readout. It even features ¾-HP motor that brings extra torque to every rotation. It has a lot going for it.
You will not have problems shifting from one speed to another or even going from one gear to the next to allow for high-powered or low-powered speeds. Finding a reasonably priced mini lathe can be a steal but is it necessarily worth the risk of getting a low-grade lathe when a few hundred dollars can give you the guarantee of excellence? What's more, the TCLC10VS outdoes its competition with extras such as work lights, digitized readouts, and the SBC microprocessor that keeps the speed consistent.