In-Depth Review: PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe

Summary

PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe
75 %
Review

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).

We Like

  • The PSI TCLC10VS Mini Lathe has a ¾-HP motor that brings plenty of power and ensures the varying speeds have requisite mustard to their every rotation.
  • It's quite speedy too because it can go a low as 150 RPM to as high as 4,100 RPM depending on the stock or work piece you want rotated.
  • The belt is easily accessible and removable.
  • It comes with a tool storage rack and a digital readout to know the precise speed of your mini lathe unit for good measure.

We Don't Like

  • Some units are faulty according to some customers.
  • Units that do work have a mediocre metal finish and are expensive compared to comparable units with the same specs.

Introduction

I'm a woodworking hobbyist of sorts that only recently got firsthand experience in using different brands of lathes for the sake of turning. As expensive as the likes of PSI TCLC10VS Mini Lathe is, full-sized lathes or certain all-purpose lathes with high RPMs for metalworking end up being even more expensive at times. The price range is a good midway point between too cheap and too costly. Its extra bucks mainly serve to ensure quality.

Any mini work piece that's too small to cut, drill, sand, knurl, and so forth can be deal with by making the work piece spin around as you do things to it while it's spinning, the quick rotations allowing for any number of actions. Instead of the rotary tool spinning a drill bit or a saw blade unto a work piece to bore or cut through it, you'll instead spin the work piece itself on its axis at a radius of 1.5 to 3.5 inches or 38 to 89 millimeters as well as at a lathe swing range of 3-7 inches or 76-178 millimeters.

Who Is It For?

An excellent mini lathe  is capable of rotating your work piece in an axis for the sake of sanding, knurling, deforming, drilling, and grinding it. A lathe is a large device that handles similarly large work pieces, but a mini lathe instead deals with smaller pieces requiring detail work or nuanced and minute patterns that require you a magnifying glass to see. It's also excellent in model building, whether on making small furniture for a model ship or machining car parts for a model racecar.

Therefore, it's a must-have for miniature hobbyists on top of carpenters, wood sculptors, machinists, metal workers, and the like who wish to have an excellent detailing too for the smallest of work pieces that you'd otherwise have to carve manually with a needle or a box cutter. The mini lathe also sees usage in RC model racing, model railroading, microscopy, astronomy, and fine-detail machine parts creation or repair.

A mini lathe is a good all-purpose replacement for several different kinds of tools that grind, cut, and sand for any work piece that's too big for a hand tool or stationary equipment to deal with. It works similarly to a potter's wheel that spins a lump of mud around until you can shape it into a face. You can manipulate the spinning work piece in order for you to shape or alter it into anything you want. This explains why there are so many uses for the lathe and mini lathe in the first place.

Buyer's Guide

What Benefits Should This Mini Lathe Have?

Here are the benefits that a mini lathe should have.

  • Multipurpose Application

Your mini lathe should be capable of doubling as a sander, drill, cutter or saw, and grinder. Some micro lathes are better at certain applications than others. There are also lathes capable of doing everything equally excellent with the assistance of relevant attachments or accessories, but if you only want to use the lathe for one thing, these extras tend to be unneeded.

  • Machining Hard Materials

If you want a mini lathe that's capable of machining hard materials, then you're searching specifically for a metalworking lathe that's miniaturized. Hard materials that are broken up into small pieces are harder to break apart further due to their smallness. You need a mini lathe to cut or drill through them. A metal lathe allows you to remove material from a rotating work piece by linear movements on your cutting tools of choice.

  • Woodworking Specialist

A rigid machine tool made exclusively for machining metal through drill bits, tool bits, an the like might prove too powerful or too fast RPM-wise for wood, which unlike metal can crack or crumble under too much pressure. Wood isn't as malleable as metal either, necessitating a lathe that has just the right variable speed and design to deal with woodworking specifically.

Things to Consider When Buying a Mini Lathe

Here are the things you should leave into consideration when buying a mini lathe.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

If this mini lathe is similarly sized and only a little bit faster or heavier/lighter than the competition, why not just buy a $400-$500 mini lathe and deal with the small discrepancies so as to save a whopping $1,100 to $1,200? Sometimes, it's because those differences can spell the difference between excellent work and mediocre to inconsistent work.

  • Potential Applications

Some owners use the mini lathe in order to make parts and special tools for specific work, projects, or long-term jobs. There are also hobbyists who regularly make things that are useful in and of itself, like a brass lamp. Regardless, the many uses and capabilities of the lathe should open you up to a realm of possibilities, many of them in the realm of production and creation.

  • Extras

A mini lathe product could contain various accessories and attachments that you may or may not need. Unless you absolutely need just the lathe itself and you already have tools for it in your shop, the extras found in the box could influence your buying decision significantly. It could contain knockout bars, spur center, live center, spindle lock assembly, tool rest, adjustment wrench, and tool holder.

Product Details

PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe

Description

The PSI TCLC10VS Mini Lathe is excellent for working with wood, metal, or plastic that you can't ordinary drill with a power drill, cut with a power saw, or grind with a grinder or sander because it rotates the work piece itself on its access as you hold up a tool bit and let it chisel the material away. It's also specifically designed to excel in wood-related applications.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 40 x 19 x 14 inches
  • Item Weight: 89.5 pounds
  • Top Speed: 4,100 RPM
  • Horsepower: ¾ HP
  • Power Source: Corded electric

Features & Benefits

  • Specific Woodworking Features

PSI is a respectable tool with incredible value that has specs such as its ¾-HP motor, its 150 RPM to 4,100 RPM range, and its ball-bearing tail stock center that ensures you don't end up splitting the wood you're manipulating because of its firm yet controlled grip and proper application of force. That's why woodworkers love this product.

  • Its Size Can Be Adjusted in Accordance to the Job

It has a decent size of 40 x 19 x 14 inches that covers most lathe-related work, but you can extend it further with an extension bed so that it can come with table legs and the stability of a stationary rotary tool. This way, there are plenty of toy parts and pens to turn or sculptures to sculpt with this sizeable and versatile lathe. Its normal size is usually enough to get the job done.

  • Shifting Gears for Variable Speed

While other lathes are unstable and inconsistent when shifting speeds, you have a more stable speed shift thanks to the device having 2 belt positions. One belt serves as the lower gear of 500 RPM to 1,800 RPM and the other belt allows you to go 1,000 RPM to 3,800 RPM. You can go even higher or lower than those gears, but these speeds are the most likely ones you'll encounter in everyday woodworking.

Pros

  • ¾-HP motor capable of going from 150 RPM to 4,100 RPM (as seen on the digital readout).
  • Reliable pinpoint control is achieved through the mini lathe's propriety SBC microprocessor technology.
  • You can lock the spindle and go through 24 indexing positions to boot.
  • The unit is portable thanks to its carrying handles.
  • You can easily access and remove the belt as needed.
  • Tool storage room allows you to store away chisels, drill bits, and the like.
  • You can see the intricacies of your work with the assistance of the work light.

Cons

  • Some customers ended up with mini lathe units that lasted only a month of use.
  • There are units where the readout doesn't work at all.

Reviews / Testimonials

Alternative Choices

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

Alternative Choices

Our Rating

Price

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.

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