What Is a Wood Lathe Used For?

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
What Is a Wood Lathe Used For?
Image Credit: Ivan Moreno/iStock/GettyImages

A lathe is a versatile cutting tool, and a wood lathe is designed to specifically shape wood. The tool is not limited to straight cuts but can instead cut the wood into the desired shape. Lathes utilize a number of tools, such as a spindle roughing gauge, scrapers, and skew chisels. The piece of wood is secured to the lathe. The lathe spins the wood while using cutting tools to shape the piece. Some lathes operate the cutting tools, while others require you to use the tools on the spinning wood.

Advertisement

Video of the Day

Wood Lathe Uses

A wood lathe can be used to shape wood into a variety of shapes. It is useful in making furniture pieces, such as tabletops or table and chair legs. It can make attractive spindles for your staircase. You can use a wood lathe to make household items that are both decorative and useful, such as lamp posts, boxes, plaques, frames, vases and candlesticks. Wood serving dishes, bowls and utensils can also be created with a wood lathe.

Advertisement

The things you can make with a wood lathe are only limited by the type and size of your wood lathe and your imagination. A small pen lathe, for example, is ideal for small pieces, such as jewelry, while a larger wood lathe can be used to create furniture pieces.

Types of Wood Lathes

There are several types of wood lathes that you can consider using. A centre lathe is a popular machine that is easy to use without having to bend over the machine. A bench wood lathe is similar but is installed on the tabletop. A vertical wood lathe holds the wood piece on a vertical axis rather than a horizontal one like the centre and bench lathes.

Advertisement

If you need to produce multiple identical pieces, such as spindles for your staircase, a turret wood lathe or a copying wood lathe are both good options. The turret lathe or hexagonal lathe can rotate to utilize up to six tools. An automatic lathe is a good option if you need to create a lot of pieces. This lathe turns and rotates tools automatically to create pieces.

Advertisement

Finally, a computer numerical-controlled wood lathe, or CNC lathe, is used to produce pieces that require precise or complex cuts, especially if you need to produce a large number of pieces.

Safety Tips and Considerations

While the cutting tools of the wood lathe are stationary and easy to avoid, the wood piece on which you are working spins while the lathe is operating. There is a risk that the piece will break free or that a small piece of wood will be thrown as you are operating the lathe. In addition, it is possible that loose clothing, long hair and jewelry may get caught on the spinning wood, causing injury.

Advertisement

Be sure to avoid loose clothing and jewelry and wear a face shield and safety glasses. A face mask is also recommended so that you don't breathe in too much dust. Keep your work area clean. Before you start using the machine, make sure it is in good operating condition. If the wood piece starts vibrating while you are using the lathe, turn it off immediately and check that the piece is properly secured.

Advertisement

references