lathe machine

Understanding lathe machine

The lathe machine is one of the oldest machine tools and is considered the mother of all machine tools. It is a machine tool that rotates a workpiece about an axis of rotation to perform various operations as well as give the workpiece desired shape and size. Today we’ll be looking into the meaning, history, types, working principles, parts, and applications of lathe machine tools.

History has shown the lathe machine to be an ancient tool, the first screw-cutting was designed by an Englishman, Henry Maudslay in 1797, which becomes one of the basic operations done on lathe.

lathe machine



The applications of lathe machines are broad as they offer great advantages to their operations. It is used in woodturning, metalworking, thermal spraying, metal spinning, glassworking, and parts reclamation. lathe application also includes pottery shaping best known as potter’s wheel. Metalworking is popularly known for the use of lathe machines as various operations can be accomplished these operations include cutting, sanding drilling, facing, knurling, turning, and deformation.

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Working principle of lathe machine

The working of a lathe machine is quite easy as it requires some basic knowledge before using it. However, the basic know-how of using a lathe is by placing the workpiece between the headstock and tailstock which is said to be “between centers”. Well, for small pieces, the operation should the done on a smaller version of the lathe which can be held strongly by only the spindle. In this working condition, facing operation is done as less force is applied via the cutting tool. Work can also be done at a right angle to the axis of rotation

An eccentric turning or multi-axis turning can be achieved when a workpiece is mounted with a certain axis of rotation. When it’s then remounted with a new axis of rotation, resulting to various cross-sections of the workpiece are rotationally symmetric. However the workpiece is not rotationally symmetric. The tool post firmly holds cutting tools toward the revolving workpiece which helps to achieve the desired cut.

The video below shows the working principle of the lathe machine:

The following shows a complete diagram of the lathe machine;

diagram of lathe machine

Specification of lathe

The lathe can be generally specified as;

  • Swing: the largest diameter that can be swung on for the lathe bed
  • The center between the headstock and the tailstock center
  • Length of the bed in meter
  • Speed range and number of speeds of HS spindle
  • Horsepower of the machine
  • The weight of the machine in tone
  • The pitch of the lead screw

Parts of the lathe machine

The lathe machine consists of several parts that form one effective tool, but there are some major parts that must be known as an operator.

The followings stated below are the major components of the lathe machine;

  • Headstock
  • Bed
  • Tailstock
  • Tool-post
  • Carriage
  • Saddle
  • Cross-slide
  • Compound rest
  • Lead screw
  • Feed rod
  • Chuck
  • Main spindle
  • Leg

Types of lathe machine

Apart from the lathe machines used in other fields, new invention is introduced as technology advances. The following are the various types of lathe machine that exists due to categorization;

  • Center or engine lathe
  • Speed lathe
  • Capstan and turret lathe
  • Toolroom lathe
  • Bench lathe
  • Automatic lathe
  • Special purpose and
  • CNC lathe machine

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Lathe machine safety precautions

While using a lathe machine, there is some safety an operation must know and follow to keep the operator, work, and machine safe. These include;

  • A brush should be used to clean up chips but not a hand
  • Workpiece should be supported using a holding device, don’t use a hand
  • Adjustments should not be made while the machine is working
  • Do not measure on revolving parts
  • Use Google to avoid flying chips from entering the eye
  • Ensure all machine parts are securely tight
  • Avoid flying cloth or loose cloth
  • Tools should not be placed on the drilling table

Read more: Parts of lathe machine

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I hope you found this post interesting and that you’ve attained knowledge. If so, you can freely give your point in our comment section and please share with other students. Thanks!


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