A Metal Lathe is a tool to machine metal by rotating it against a stationary cutting tool.
Makespace owns a Warco metal lathe - a powerful, solidly built machine that can achieve micrometre-level precision.
In contrast to the freehand cutting typical of a wood lathe, a Metal Lathe constrains the cutting tools. This rigidity is how it is able to cut metal with high precision.
What can a Metal Lathe do?
Types of operation:
facing cuts, also known as cross-cutting
turning cylindrical bits
boring an internal hole
centre drilling to make accurate concentric features
cutting at an angle to make a taper or cone
chamfering sharp edges away
screwcutting to make threads
What can you make using a Metal Lathe?
What materials can you machine using the Metal Lathe?
The Makespace metal lathe can machine:
all ferrous (iron-based) materials except hardened steel
aluminium, brass, bronze, and copper
plastics such as Deltrin/acetal, HDPE, Nylon, Acrylic, PTFE
It CANNOT be used to machine e.g.:
glass, stone, or ceramics
hardened steel - it is too tough
fibreglass, Kevlar and carbon fibre-based composites - they produce toxic dust
rubber or similar soft materials
wood - should be turned on the dedicated Wood Lathe instead
The work pieces can be up to 65 cm long and up to 32 cm in diameter.
EXCEPTION: very thin and long material pieces (e.g. 65cm by 5mm diameter nylon) - they cannot be properly supported, which can be dangerous.
Online training coming soon!
The materials below are not specifically approved by Makespace, but they might be useful.
There are thousands of good videos on YouTube, with different techniques to suit everyone's style
Joe Pi is an excellent source of information and practical advice
Vintage e-book "How to Run a Lathe" by South Bend Machine Works
Machinery's Handbook no. 31 - available in the Makespace library in Cakespace