How to Use a Metal Lathe? [6 Easy Steps]

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Metal lathes, also known as metalworking lathes, are used to precise machine relatively hard materials.

They were created to machine metals, but with the introduction of plastics and other materials, as well as their inherent customizability, they have grown in popularity.

One or two centers, at least one of which can move horizontally to accommodate various workpiece lengths, usually hold the workpiece in place.

Two more work-holding methods are clamping the work to a faceplate with clamps or a dog clutch or clamping it around the axis of rotation with a chuck or collet.

Most metalworking lathes can also make solids with plane surfaces, rotation, and screw threads or helices with the right equipment.

Ornamental lathes are capable of producing extremely intricate three-dimensional solids. The movements of various cutting tools, such as tool bits and drill bits, remove material from a rotating workpiece with these rigid machine tools.

Advantages of Metal Lathe

  • When comparing CNC lathes to Normal Machining lathes, the accuracy is extremely high.
  • Production is flowing more freely.
  • A manual lathe has a small number of operators.
  • The CNC lathe and lathe machining went very quickly.
  • The experiment took a fraction of the time it would have taken on traditional machines thanks to CNC lathes.
  • It will take a very short amount of time to complete the project.

Disadvantages of Metal Lathe

  • If the maintenance is poor, machine parts will be damaged as a result of the lack of lubrication.
  • If the experimenter is inept, the tool will quickly wear out.
  • Since the high cutting speeds, the odor in the environment will be very strong, posing a health risk.
  • Since you can do almost all operations on the lathe, these machines were more expensive than other conventional machines.

Applications of Metal Lathe

  • By using a machining lathe and a wood lathe, it is primarily used in the manufacturing industry to shape change metal and wooden components.
  • Thermal spraying and metal spinning are two applications where it is used.
  • The aerospace, automotive, medical, textile, and automobile industries, among others, all use CNC lathes.
  • Various institutions use the lathe to conduct laboratory experiments.

How to Use a Metal Lathe?

Step 1          

Warm-up your machine by turning it on. Warming up a machine that hasn’t been used in a long time is essential. The oil will be distributed and the numerous moving parts will be lubricated as a result of this procedure. Start the spindle by increasing the RPMs to about 1,000. During the first few minutes, you can start even slower and gradually increase the RPMs to 1,000.

Step 2

Prepare your jaws for the task at hand. Replace the old jaws with the correct sized jaws for the job after loosening them with Allen wrenches and sliding them out. Smaller or larger jaws may be needed depending on the size of the raw material. Check to see if they’re properly tightened and centered. Check that the jaws are properly installed by running them through the machine.

Step 3

Place a tool block with a tool holder in the tool post after you’ve set the tool for the job. The part’s outer dimensions will be reduced as a result of this action. You can also drill holes or bore inner dimensions by using a boring bar or drill in the tails stock.

Step 4

Tighten the chuck jaws with the chuck key after placing the raw material in them. While cutting, this will keep the material in place. RPMs should be adjusted based on the material and insert or drill being used. Faster RPMs and feeds into the part are possible with harder tooling.

Step 5

Before starting the spindle, start the cycle and bring the tool close. All of your measuring devices, including the ways for the tail post and the measuring wheel on the tail stock, should be reset to zero. You can cut multiple pieces to the same dimensions every time by resetting these measuring devices for your tooling. To maintain accuracy when running multiple pieces in a production run, this reset establishes a starting point reference.

Step 6

To prevent metal chip buildup, clean the lathe with compressed air after each cycle. Metal chips can get caught in the jaws, resulting in inaccurate cut dimensions. A clean machine lasts longer and ensures that parts are cut to exacting specifications.

Safety Tips

  • If you’re working in a machine shop, you should be wearing safety glasses with side protectors, if not a face shield. If not, the best time to get ready is before you start working on the lathe.
  • If your hair is long, tie it up and roll up any long sleeves. When using a lathe, never wear gloves, rings, or a watch. You’ll quickly find yourself in a deadly situation if any of these items get caught in the bit or spindle.
  • While the lathe is running, do not make any adjustments. If you want to move something, wait until the lathe is completely off before doing so. You should also switch off the power supply if you need to perform any maintenance on the lathe.


Most metalworking lathes can also turn plane-surfaced solids, rotate them, and produce screw threads or helices. To use a metal lathe correctly, follow the steps outlined above.

You can read our blog on How to Check for a Broken Wire with a Multimeter?


  1. What is the purpose of a metal lathe?

A metalworking lathe is a special type of lathe that is made to work with metal. They are used for a variety of machining operations, such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, and turning, just like other lathes.

  • In which direction should metal lath be installed?

Horizontal hanging of metal lath is recommended. In a standard brick-laying pattern, the joints between panels should be staggered. On the bottom of the wall, the seam between the first and second panels should fall in the center of the panel immediately above them.

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