Lathe Turning with a Metal Lathe

What You'll Need
Safety goggles
Work gloves
Metal Lathe
Metal pieces

Lathe turning is an art that takes time to master. However, if you’ve invested in a metal lathe, you will want to turn and cut metal if you’re particularly serious about it. It works in a similar manner to a wood lathe and you can shape the metal as it spins on the lathe.

Step 1 - How the Lathe Works

The lathe bed is the most important part of the lathe. It keeps the cutting tool stable and keeps the tail stock and headstock properly aligned. The carriage of the lathe will always be in the middle of the lathe bed and is used for the tools in lathe turning. The headstock makes sure of the spindle alignment while the tailstock not only supports the work, but can also be used in lathe turning.

Step 2 - Turning Cut

One of the most common types of lathe turning is a turning cut. You’ll do this when you want to cut down the diameter of a piece you’re working on to a specific size. There’s a choice between a left turning cut and a right turning cut, depending on the tool’s direction of travel. If the tool goes from right to left it will be a left cutting tool, for example. Generally you’ll line up as necessary, depending on which end of the piece of metal you need to reduce in diameter.

However, if you need to reduce the diameter in the middle of metal, you’ll need to use both left travel and right travel to achieve that. This will take a long time as you’ll need to make cuts on each in turn until you achieve the required depth.

Step 3 - Facing Cut

A facing cut is a square cut on the face of the metal that runs from the outside to the center. You’d do this when you need to have a flat surface that runs square to the sides. To make a facing cut, use successive cuts that go from the outside into the center to the required depth.

Step 4 - Parting Cut

You’ll use a flat tool for a parting cut, but you’ll only make one when you’re cutting the metal during lathe turning in order for the lathe to have more material to latch onto. You need to slowly push the tool into the metal on the lathe and pull it back from time to time. This lets the debris clear from the piece. With harder materials, adjust the parting tool up and down prior to each cut with result is a larger cut, which can be more helpful.

Step 5 - Boring Cut

As the name implies, a boring cut is on the inside of the metal. This isn’t just making a hole in the metal when lathe turning, it can also be for threads or a groove. To do this, first of all bore out the inside of the piece to the required diameter with the boring tool. To bore out, the tool is fitted parallel to the metal and drawn into it.

You don’t go for the final diameter all at once. Bore a small hole, then a larger one, and so on. You might need to change boring tools during the process.