Everything You Should Know About Lathe Machines- Uses, Process, Working Operations.

A lathe machine is a workshop tool used mainly for shaping and designing pieces of metal. The machine can sometimes be used for shaping woods and other materials. The lathe machine was originally structured for cutting metals that are cylindrical in shape. However, the updated design of the basic lathe machine can now be used to create threads of the screw, drill homes work on knurled surfaces, thin materials, and crankshafts. Contemporary lathe machine comes in different ranges of swivel speeds and a system that either by design or manually shift and direct the cutting gear into the metal work-piece. Machinists and repair shop professionals need to fully understand the best uses of the lathe machine and how it works  for them to easily be able to repair or produce the required parts.

Lathe machine and machining

The elimination of parts of a metal from the workpiece is referred to as Machining. In the manufacturing industry, one of the best ways to eliminate parts of a metal from a workpiece is through the machining process.  The process essentially involves a range of manufacturing operational processes which can include boring holes into pieces of material, shaping materials, drilling holes, cutting through materials, reaming, grinding and much more. Almost all manufacturing process requires the machining process including metals, plastics, and wood works.  A popular tool used in the machining process is the lathe machine.

Uses of Lathe Machine

Lathe machine is used in the workshop for carrying out tasks like sawing, cutting, sanding, boring holes, deforming tools,  knurling and drilling through the workpiece. The material that needs to be machined is clamped firmly and made to revolve on an axis as it is  being bent, drilled or engraved. Lathes work for a good number of manufacturing processes including, the fabrication of crankshafts, legs of tables, camshaft, bats, candlestick holders,   bowls etc. It also works for metalwork, metal spinning, turning wood and in glass work for performing complicated tasks. It also has useful application in pottery.

The lathe machine is used to perform many different projects which have symmetry around their rotational axis.

Parts of lathe machine and their uses

The different parts of the lathe machine must be appropriately fitted together for it to function effectively and be useful in manufacturing operations. Below are essential parts of the lathe machine and how they contribute to the overall functions and uses of the lathe machine.

1. The lathe Stand/legs

The lathe leg holds the lathe machine in position and also works for raising the lathe bed to a comfortable work height.

2. Headstock

The headstock is a rigid part of the machine which is composed of a lot of pulley systems, lever machine, spindle machine, and chunk.

3. Spindle

The spindle sits inside the head box and helps to revolve a pipe linked up to the chuck. This chuck grips the workpiece, and make the workpiece to as well twirl around.

4. Gearbox

The gearbox sits inside the headstock which turns the chuck at varying speeds.

5. Chuck

Chuck is is the part of the machine that helps to mount the pieces of the metal that are not circular in shape including triangular or square shaped metals.

6. Tailstock

The tailstock is the movable part of the machine which can be made compact and sheltered. It is made up of a barrel which commonly moves in a forward and backward direction. The barrel is composed of a Dead Centre which you can use to support the material that you are working on.

7. Carriage

The carriage is another part of the machine that moves. It rotates on bed ways towards the right and left directions. It is made up of the saddle, traverse slide, composite support, top glide or tool post and the apron. Carriage works for mounting and helps to position the tool post.

8. Saddle

The saddle is H in shape. It sits on the carriage and works for assisting the cross slide to travel backward and forward on the lathe machine.

7. Traverse slide

The traverse slide also sits on the carriage and travels backward and forward on the saddle to provide engraved cut on the metal workpiece with the use of a hand wheel.

8. Composite glide

The Composite glide is found on the cross slide which is capable of swiveling around. It provides support to tool post and is used for working on narrow turns by providing an angle.

9. Tool post

The tool post sits on top of the composite rest and works for clamping the engraving tool.

10. Apron

You will find the apron in front of the saddle. It comes with a hand wheel and lever systems and helps you to regulate the carriage rotation on the bed.

11. Bed

The bed is the major part of the lathe machine. It is commonly fixed in position and provides support to the different sections of the lathe machine including the Headstock, Tailstock, Carriage and so on.

12. Way

The Way is structured upon the machine bed. It is basically the rail which offers the tailstock and carriage their ability to move.

13. Lead screw

This is an elongated rod with threads on the machine bed. It offers an automated feed to carriage starting from the stock head to its tail. The lead screw works for carving out threads on the workpiece.

Lathe Machine Processes and uses

1. The Turning process

The turning process is the procedure for minimizing the diameter of a workpiece. It as well works for offering surface finishing to the metal surface through the rod’s diameter. Turning process is performed by offering the feed from the stock tailstock to its headstock, and then creating a deep cut.

2. Facing process

The facing process works for minimizing the length of a piece of work. It is also used for providing a finishing touch along the face of the metal or the workpiece. To carry out the finishing process, you need to offer feed starting in a forward and then moving in a backward direction or by engaging in traverse slide motion.

3. Step turning

The step turning process is utilized for eliminating unwanted material from the workpiece. To do step turning, you need to create a continuous deep cut in the left and right direction.

4. Taper turning

The taper turning process is utilized to gradually minimize the breadth of the workpiece along the length of the material. It works for making the surface of a metal that leans towards an angle to get a rigid end to endpiece. To do taper turning, fix the compound slide towards a specific angle.

5. Knurling

The knurling process is utilized to create straight line angles and bent lines to a workpiece. You use this process to produce varying designs on the fixed length of the metal workpiece. To do this, use a knurling tool which commonly comes with double rollers of conflicting designs. Just touch it to work slowly on the workpiece.

6. Threading Process

The threading process works for creating threads. You make use of this lathe process to produce threads of any length and depth on the metal material you are working on. To thread, fix the tool  at right angles to the axis of workpiece and give automated feed slowly.

7. Boring Process

The boring process is the lathe process used to take away material from the interior parts of the workpiece. Use this process when you want to increase the interior diameter on a hole.T o do this, you need a boring bar, move the tool along the workpiece alignment to bore the material.

8. Drilling Process

The drilling process is used to create a cylindrical hole in the piece of the work. You do this with the use of a tool drill bit. To do this, fic the tool on the tailstock and revolve in the opposite direction to the rotation of the workpiece.

9. Reaming process

The reaming process is the lathe process that helps you to give a finishing touch to holes you’ve already drilled in your workpiece. This lathe process can also be used to increase the hole you drill on a workpiece. You need a lathe tool known as the reamer. To do it, fix the reamer on the tailstock in a similarly way to when you drill but move more slowly.


There you have it all you need to know about the basic operation of a lathe machine and its uses in the manufacturing industry. By following the lathe processes correctly, you will be able to provide the desired result and avoid dangerous accidents.

Steve McRae

Hi, I am Steve McRae. I'm an Industrial Engineer but have worked as a Project Manager in a big IT corporation for the past 10 years. I am also a husband and father to two lovely young kids. I love tech in general, which my wife reminds me of every time I bring home a new gadget or IoT device (even though she is very tolerant about it). My family has grown accustomed to the noises emanating from my office when testing out new products! I now run TopReviewedTen.com. Through this site, I help people like you get valuable information that helps you decide which product is best. My reviews usually come from my experience researching products I purchased and used. All I am doing is revealing my findings to you.

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