Metal Lathe


You must must pass Makespace training to use this equipment.

Key Information

Report any issues here.

Report minor injuries here.

Call 999 if needed.

Phones are next to both doors.

First aid kit is at the sink.

You must pass this course and the practical before using this equipment.


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.

Get Trained!

Online training coming soon!

External Materials

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

  • 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

Additional Resources