Woodturning and metalworking

Lathes are used in woodworking to produce what are known as turned objects:

  • furniture components such as knobs and chair legs
  • joinery parts like spindles for staircases
  • decorative pieces including bowls, cups, candlesticks and plates
  • musical instruments, among them recorders and clarinets
  • sports equipment such as snooker cues, and
  • parts for industry such as wheel spokes, hubs and tool handles.

Skilled operators using lathes can turn out very sophisticated 3D wooden objects.

Woodturning is a hobby that’s grown enormously in popularity in recent years. Turners use three main kinds of hand-held tool: chisels (similar to regular woodworking chisels), gouges (which have a concave inner surface to the blade) and parting tools (which come to a “v” at the sharp end). 

Flat objects, like lids, can be held in place on the headstock alone; longer pieces need to be secured at both ends, in the headstock and tailstock.

The engineering industry uses lathes to machine a huge variety of metal objects in a wide range of materials, from alloys to glass and plastics. Anything from threaded screws and shafts through to tram wheels and pistons for car engines can be turned on a metal lathe. Copy lathes can reproduce complex shapes from a template.

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