How to Use a Lathe?

Are you into DIY? Many people enjoy doing jobs around the home after all! Why not take things further, and start making things yourself? What do we mean by this? Well, what if you had your own lathe? Of course, you know of lathes as industrial machines used for turning wood and sometimes metal, but did you know you can buy a lathe for home use? A small yet capable lathe will easily fit in your garage or workshop, and can be a very useful – let alone enjoyable – machine to own. What can you do with a lathe, and how do you use one? That’s what we’re here to talk about!

What is a Lathe?

A lathe is a machine into which you insert a work-piece – lets say a piece of wood in this case – which is turned using either a handle, a foot pedal or by electric power. As it turns, it is cut, or has other operations applied to it, in order to shape it into something specific. Lathes are widely used in industry for turning lengths of wood and metal into usable items, so what can you use one for at home?

There are many home projects you could use a lathe for. You could fashion flowerpots out of a blocks of wood using a lathe, and they would make excellent presents, or simply produce turned wooden ornaments that look superb. You can make eating utensils such as wooden spoons, or turn lengths of wood so they can be suitable as the legs for furniture. Lathes can be used for making wooden bangles and other items to be worn – in fact, anything made from wood that has been shaped will have been turned on a lathe.

What do you need to start using a lathe, and how do you use one? Let’s have a closer look.

What You Need to Get Started

If you buy a lathe it will come with all the standard equipment that you need to get going, and while we won’t go into detail here, that means the stand, the lathe bed – which is the base – and the spindle. The latter is the part you attach the piece you need to work to. It will also include its power source, and for home use you may be using a manual lathe, one turned by yourself. What it might not come supplied with is a lathe chuck which is a device for holding the work piece in place, and these come in various types. They are not expensive, and it may be advisable to look for a lathe that comes with one supplied.

Once you have the wood in place on the spindle, the idea is that as it turns, it comes into contact with the cutting tool, which is a blade of sorts. This takes away a layer of wood in a precise manner – as instructed by the user – and can be adjusted for position. Using a lathe takes patience and, as you learn and gain experience, a modicum of skill, and it is a very satisfying feeling to see your turned piece when you take it out of the chuck.

Lathes are not just for wood, yet we have talked about a wood lathe here as a DIY home use item. They can also be used for turning metal, which requires a lot more patience and – of course – a different type of cutting tool. If you think a lathe might be a good addition to your workshop, why not have a closer look at them now and you should find one to suit your budget.


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