How To Buy A Metal Lathe
This will depend on what you want to make with your lathe machine. For light tasks that require less than 2 HP worth of torque or undercutting/threading applications, a smaller benchtop unit should suffice.
how to buy a metal lathe
If you plan on working in metals like stainless steel alloys (300 series), aluminum alloys (1100-1300 series) or workpiece weights over 160 lbs., then a larger model would be more appropriate for those heavy-duty jobs.
Other headstock and spindle considerations to be aware of: does the headstock allow outboarding? While pieces are intended to be mounted between the headstock and tailstock, over the bed of the lathe, outboarding allows the workpiece to be mounted away from the body of the piece.
While this sounds complicated, just now that it is the carriage and cross-slide which determine the number of axis on which your lathe can move, whether that be two, three, or four. The size of the turret, and the number of heads which it can hold, is determined by the size of the piece you want to turn. Larger workpieces require larger cutting heads, which in turn require larger turrets.
In the UK, the first number is expressed differently; as the measure between the center of the chuck, so in theory the center of any workpiece, and the closest point of the bed of the lathe. An 8 by 24 lathe in the US would therefore be a 4 by 24 lathe in the UK.
For cutting larger pieces, your lathe will need more than just high RPMs; it will need the power to keep a heavy workpiece turning and cutting smoothly. Advertisers may proudly proclaim maximum RPMs for their lathes; but minimum RPMs can be even more important for operations such as screwcutting.
So many everyday items are made with them that you have to wonder: where we would be if these incredible machines were not invented? Almost everything that is made of metal has been designed, in some small way, on one of these machines.
A Variable Speed Bench Top Lathe by Baleigh offers exceptional usability in a sturdy, yet compact frame, making it ideal for small machine shops. Another remarkable hobby lathe is this Belt Drive Benchtop Lathe by JET, which is engineered with precision-tapered roller bearings for smooth operation.
Henry Maudslay would recognize any of these modern metal-cutting lathes from Kent USA. All have hardened and groundway surfaces that allow the carriage to move longitudinally via a leadscrew. Sitting atop the carriage is a cross slide for axial motion, with a four-sided indexable tool post attached to that. A series of changeable gears power the carriage and give the lathe its screw-cutting capabilities, while a geared headstock provides plenty of power at the rotating spindle. For anyone interested in buying a lathe, these are just a few of the primary functions to keep in mind. The Kent USA MLX-2060T precision lathe is a very good example of a well-equipped modern lathe.
This class covers the safe and proper use of the metal cutting lathe. We cover the use of insertable cutters, tool holders, tapping basics, collets, chucks, mounting of work pieces, Basic cutter tool sharpening, and other tooling and work holding. Proper technique in single point threading, ID boring, grooving, deep hole drilling, and filling will be discussed or demonstrated. Students will leave the class with a handmade non-marring hammer.
Operators of lathes are one of the largest machine worker populations in the United States, estimated to account for over 140,000 machinists. Of this population, approximately 3,000 suffer lost-time injuries annually in the United States. Some of these are fatal. These accidents occur in large industrial settings and factories, as well as in much smaller machine shops. No lathe operator is immune from an accident.
Research shows there are numerous factors that can lead to a lathe accident. At the top of the list are malfunctions due to defective machinery, the failure to install proper safeguarding, mistakes due to the lack of employee training, poor lighting, and not providing proper PPE.
Operator Training & PPEFirst and foremost, lathe operators must be trained and held accountable for following safe work practices. This is essential in avoiding injury. Examples of lathe machine safety precautions include not wearing loose clothing, rings and other jewelry, keeping long hair pulled back while operating a lathe and keeping hands and fingers away from rotating parts. As mentioned earlier, these practices are important because rotating parts will catch loose or dangling items and pull the operator into the machine, causing serious injuries or death.
OSHA makes it the responsibility of the employer to provide training that addresses safe start-up and shutdown as well as proper machine operation, speed adjustments and work piece placement, control and support. Employers must also equip lathe operators with proper PPE that includes safety glasses or other suitable eye protection, earplugs, protective footwear, and close-fitting clothing.
An important standard that ANSI B11 standards reference is ANSI/NFPA 79, Electrical Requirements for Industrial Machinery. It provides detailed information for the application of electrical/electronic equipment, apparatuses, or systems supplied as part of industrial machinery, including lathes. This standard addresses such issues as requirements for operator controls, emergency-stop devices, disconnect switches, motor starters, and protective interlocks.
Hinged chuck-shields are one of the most common methods to protect lathe operators from the rotating work-holder. Their purpose is to prevent an operator from inadvertently coming in contact with the chuck, which often results in entanglement, serious bodily injury or even death. Chuck shields are commercially available from numerous providers. They may be constructed of metal, polycarbonate, or some combination of materials. When not in use, they need to be swung up out of the way, so most are hinged. Same for during set-up.
Although U.S. Safety Standards and Regulations do not require chuck-shields to be interlocked, some European and Canadian manufacturers offer that feature. With electrically interlocked shields, when the lathe chuck shield is lifted up, the positive contacts on the microswitch open, sending a stop signal to the machine control. The machine will not start up again until the emergency stop button has been reset.
As protection against chips, coolants, lubricant and sparks, lathes should be equipped with a chip and coolant splash guard, also known as a carriage safety guard. This type of guard can be electrically interlocked like a chuck shield, and gives added protection to the operator from direct contact with rotating components. Coolants are often overlooked as a hazard yet workers often are exposed through inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or absorption through the skin, leading to burns and irritations. Without a chip/coolant shield, operators can also be at risk of inhalation of airborne substances such as oil mist, metal fumes, solvents, and dust.
8. Telescopic stainless-steel sleevesAlthough slow moving, horizontal rotating components in a lathe can entangle an operator and crush body parts with their tremendous torque. Installing telescopic stainless-steel sleeves will seal off their pinch-points plus protect the components from metal chips and other destructive contaminants. Unfortunately, operators complain that these devices are time consuming to install, need to be removed and cleaned regularly, and cause a loss in carriage travel. However, when compared to preventing a life-changing injury, these complaints are trivial in comparison.
9. Other PrecautionsAs with any machine, provision for Lockout/Tagout is always important with lathes. Danger and warning signs, depicting specific hazards on lathes, are also strongly recommended.
10. Conduct Machine Safeguarding AssessmentsMachine Safeguarding Assessments are a critical step in any machine safeguarding process as outlined by ANSI B11, especially for companies deploying older or refurbished lathes. It is not unusual for lathes built in the 1940s to still be in active service, having been resold several times over the decades.
Forge welding is essentially the oldest way of joining two pieces of metal together. Some say that it's been around for almost 4,000 years, starting from when people were learning to smelt iron from...
The biggest stumbling block for many when contemplating a metal lathe is the skill required to use it. Like with any workshop task such as welding, skills can be built on by using the tool and becoming familiar with its operation. There is much that can be learnt through books and online videos, and a little instruction from a knowledgeable person can go a long way.
Shopfox has been continuously growing due to their high quality and cutting edge designs in their woodworking and metalworking machinery. They sell machinery and products such as, bandsaws, drill presses, dovetail machines, sanding tables, and dust collectors.
Whether you are an experienced machinist or a student of the craft, the lathe is an extremely easy machine to use with the potential to work on endless metalworking projects. Known as the mother of all machine tools, the lathe allows us to shape, carve and cut metals by turning the material at high speed against the desired tool.
From jewelry to tools to bespoke furnishings, investing in a metal lathe will elevate your home shop, hone your skills and open the door to new crafts. But before you rush out and purchase a lathe, there are a few considerations to ask yourself first:
When selecting our top recommendations, we analyzed each product through Fakespot to remove any fake or paid-for reviews. This enables us only to recommend products that are tried and tested by genuine users who can testify to the quality of each lathe. We also got plenty of support from our community of metallurgists who shared with us the models and brands that stood out: 041b061a72