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Metalworking Lathes

Lathes designed for metalworking are machines that turns a cylindrical block of metal into a functional product. Depending on the type and size of lathe, you can use this piece of machine to create metal hardware or specialized products for your work or for hobby. Choosing a lathe for metalworking can be difficult due to the large variety available.

What types of metalworking machines are there?

There are five main types of lathes for metalworkers:

  • Center lathe: Also known as a bench or engine lathe, this piece of machinery holds the metal object in place and uses two drill bits to shape it. This machinery is considered to be essential for metalworkers as it can be used for many purposes, including thread cutting, spinning, grinding, and boring.
  • Toolroom: This machine is designed to create high-quality work.
  • Turret: This type of lathe is designed to reproduce duplicates of work pieces. It allows multiple cutters to be used all at once to speed up the process.
  • Gang-tool: The work table slides and repositions each tool during the process of shaping the metal.
  • Multispindle: This lathe can use multiple spindles at once to create pieces, saving time and energy when working with metal.
What lathe size should you consider?

There are three main sizes:

  • Mini: These small sized lathes are designed for crafters or the occasional hobbyist. They typically weigh between 30 to 100 pounds so that they can be moved around and stored when not in use.
  • Stationary: These versatile lathes can weigh as much as 200 pounds or more. They are extremely powerful and are designed to be put in a workshop. They are designed for constant professional use.
  • Benchtop: These lathes usually weigh between 100 and 200 pounds. They are designed to sit on a bench. They are powerful but can also be moved as needed, making them a necessity on construction sites. While not as powerful as the stationary models, they can withstand heavy use.
What should you consider when looking for metalworking lathes?

When looking for a metalworking machine, you may want to consider the:

  • Size: In addition to the size of the actual machine, the swing and the distance between centers may also vary by lathe.
  • Motor size: Motor size is stated in horsepower. The more horsepower a lathe has, the faster metal materials can be removed from your project. However, you want to make sure that the motor and the design of the lathe match to prevent damage to the gears and bearings.
  • Function: Some lathes are designed to have specific functions depending on the items you are creating. For example, some are designed to make screws and thread cuts while others cannot.
  • Gap bed: This is a portion of the bed that can be removed for larger projects. This gap may be located in various places on different machines.
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