5 Metal Working Lathe Mistakes to Avoid

There’s no doubt that a metal working lathe can be a very useful piece of equipment in your workshop. If you do a lot of metal work, it’s almost vital to own one because it vastly increases the range of jobs you can carry out. However, a metal working lathe can be a dangerous piece of equipment. Not only should you treat it with respect, but it’s important that you know how to use it properly. There are several common mistakes people make with metal working lathes.

1. Cutting Tool is Set to the Wrong Height

The cutting tool on the metal working lathe has to be right on the center part of the chuck. This will ensure it cuts properly. You need to be certain it’s neither too low nor too high as this will affect the cut you make in the metal. You also need to make sure the tip doesn’t heat too much as you cut the metal. The simplest way to do this is start by having the lathe turn slowly so the chuck isn’t rotating so quickly.

2. Not Knowing How to Move the Carriage

You also need to understand how the carriage moves; it works along the tracks, going both to and from the chuck while the cross slides moves towards and away from the center of the lathe. You’ll need to master these as well as the power feed handles. Rather than starting out using these on a piece of metal work, learn to operate them properly at different speeds by testing them without anything in the chuck.

3. Tailstock is Loose

There aren’t so many uses for the tailstock of your metal working lathe so it’s not something you’ll gain much experience with. However, you do need to make sure that you lock down the tailstock before you feed the chuck into the moving metal. To do this, you should tighten the screws. These will either be on the tension lever or on the unit base, depending on the make of the lathe.

4. Using to Fast a Setting for the Cutting Threads

It’s important that you understand how to use the dial that controls the cutting threads. When you’re threading on metal, don’t use high speed because you’ll have far more control at lower rpms. You need to adjust the dial appropriately which means understanding how it works beforehand.

The best thing to do is test different feeds and speeds and see what happens. Make sure, however, that you keep the carriage of the metal working lathe free of metal swarf.

5. Ignoring Safety

Safety is crucial when you’re using a metal working lathe. Make sure you always wear safety goggles (not safety glasses) when you’re using the equipment and that your sleeves are buttoned so they can’t become caught in the lathe. Your workshop should always be kept clean.

Keep a small brush close to the metal working lathe and use this for cleaning metal swarf from the carriage. Never use your hands because the metal is sharp and can cut you. Keep a container handy for the metal swarf rather than just sweeping them onto the floor where they could cut you, even through your safety footwear.