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What is a Wood Lathe Used for?

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A wood lathe is a machine used to form a piece of wood into the desired shape, whether it is bowls, spindle, vase, toys, and candlesticks. It produces high quality goods like furniture legs and table tops.

What makes this process possible is an arm that holds onto the spinning piece of solid lumber while various tools are steadily tapped against the spinning board and manipulated by hand in order to carve out its intended design.

The owner can choose how they want their final product shaped by choosing which tool will work best on whatever part may need shaping. Wood lathes allow people who make furniture professionally.

If you want to know the uses of wood lathe, then you have to know their size types. Its uses mostly depend on its size and types.

What are the sizes of wood lathe machines?

What are the sizes of wood lathe machines

The wood lathe can come in different sizes from small handheld models to large factory floor machines. What size of machine you choose will depend on your project needs and the space available for a particular workbench or workshop location. However, there are three wooden lathes according to size. They are:

  • Pen wood lathe
  • Mini wood lathe
  • Midi wood lathe

What is a pen lathe?

What is a pen lathe

It is the smallest lathe that can be used by hand. It is made of wood, metal or plastic and typically has a turn handle on the side with an assortment of chisels to use for cutting shapes in the piece of work that you are working on.

What is a pen lathe used for?

It is primarily designed as a beginner’s tool because it doesn’t require any electricity, but there are other uses such as making pens, small bowls and spindles.

The pen lathe comes in various sizes: large ones make furniture and cabinets; medium size makes decorative items like boxes, plaques or frames while smaller ones make toys or jewelry.

The more sophisticated model includes bearings so they may spin faster without friction wear from cutting which allows for faster turning.

What is a mini wood lathe?

What is a mini wood lathe

A mini wood lathe is a small, hand-powered machine. Its size usually ranges from 12 to 14 inches and often lower quality specifications when compared with larger industrial machines.

Dremels work well with Mini Wood Lathes because these tools have variable speeds which allow you to achieve different effects with the wood.

What is a mini lathe used for?

Mini Wood Lathes come in different styles and can be used for various tasks:

They may be attached to a bench or table so that someone can use them while seated; mounted on casters to make them mobile; left free standing with no surface attachment points.

They are used in smoothing rough edges on cut pieces of lumber. Rounding corners during furniture repairs and touching up cabinets that have been scraped or scratched by sharp objects. Shaping decorative items such as pens, spoons, bowls and other household accessories.

What is a midi wood lathe?

What is a midi wood lathe

A midi lathe is a machine that is bigger than a mini lathe. What size and specifications can vary, but generally, it’s a smaller version of its larger counterpart, the floor model; often found in schools or homes where space is limited.

What is a midi lathe used for?

Bowl: for use as salad bowls or serving vessels.

Spindle: for turning round objects like table legs or chair posts.

Vase: great decorative pieces that will add elegance to any room. Just think about your grandmother’s prized porcelain vases! When you give flowers to someone, they’ll love receiving them from such an elegant vessel!

Types of Wood Lathe Machines

Types of Wood Lathe Machines

There are 7 Types of Wood Lathe Machines:

  • CNC Wood Lathe
  • Bench Wood Lathe
  • Centre Wood Lathe
  • Vertical Wood Lathe
  • Automatic Wood Lathe
  • Turret Wood Lathe
  • Copying Wood Lathe

What is a CNC Wood Lathe?

CNC lathe is used for processing a large quantity of wooden workpieces in a short time in order to ensure consistent dimensions and quality.

CNC wood lathes can be used for carving, cutting, shaping or sanding workpieces made of various materials such as brass, aluminium, plastic etc. CNC Wood Lathe machine is ideal for producing a large quantity of products that require very precise cuts.

What is the difference between a traditional wood lathe and a CNC?

Traditional wood lathes use manual tools like chisels and knives while CNC lathe uses computer numerical control (cnc) with spindles which spin at high speeds using powerful motors.

What does CNC lathe look like and accessories come with it?

The layout resembles that of a sewing or embroidery machine. You will need enough room around the work area; expect anything up to six feet tall by six feet wide.

This machine comes in package form with common attachments, which include; router bits, shaped cutters and moulders.

What is a Bench Wood Lathe machine?

What is a Bench Wood Lathe machine

It is also known as benchtop or tabletop wood lathe machine. Benchtop wood lathe machine is a type of woodturning tool used for shaping a wide variety of different types and sizes in one sitting, unlike other machines that process only one size at a time. Bench Wood lathe come with a chuck, drill press bed and four different cutting tools.

Benefits of using a Bench wood lathe rather than a traditional one

  • A Bench Wood Lathe uses an arm to hold and drive the workpiece, while Traditional Wood lathes use belts or gears to turn the workpiece. This gives you more control with little effort from your hands when shaping parts for projects on a bench wood machine.
  • The shape of the cutting tool can be changed by simply changing it out in seconds without having to stop what you’re doing for any length of time.
  • You don’t need as much room or floor space because there’s no turning mechanism up above spinning all over the place.
  • You can easily save money on power bills because there isn’t any spinning mechanism up above getting all tangled up causing machinery failure.

What is a Centre Lathe?

Centre Lathe

A Centre Lathe machine is used widely to make different items of various shapes. It is used to produce a variety of products such as bowls, spindles, vases and any other desired shape with relative ease.

Benefits of using a Centre lathe

  • It saves time because the wood can be shaped at an even pace while it spins on a rotating arm.
  • Centre Lathe allows for more accurate shaping than many other similar machines which force the craftsperson into difficult positions that often lead to injury over long periods of use or extended production cycles.
  • Due to its versatility, one centre lathe could potentially replace multiple tools such as sanders and jointers if they are built in-house.

What is a Vertical Wood Lathe?

Vertical Wood Lathe

Vertical Wood Lathe is used for woodwork pieces that have large diameter but short length. Generally, the lathe is used for making bowls that have wide and deep diameters.

Bowls are one of the items made on wood lathes but there are also other objects like spindles, vases and a variety of other useful and/or decorative wood items.

The piece of wood is secured to a spinning arm which rotates at high speeds while various types of tools shape as it spins.

Benefits of using vertical wood lathe

  • The main advantage of using Vertical Wood Lathe is that it can produce round, oval or square shaped items by rotating the piece of wood while various tools are used to shape the item as long as desired.
  • Another advantage in using a vertical lathe machine is that it requires less work space and takes up less time when compared with horizontal lathes since more than one person can operate on different parts simultaneously without getting in each other’s way. What this means for you: You will be able to create many pieces at once if you make use of a vertical lathe machine instead of just being limited to one project at a time with a horizontal model machine.
  • The final benefit of using this lathe is that it is not required to be built at waist height. What this means for you: You don’t have to worry about bending down and twisting your back in order to make use of the machine as with horizontal models.

What is an Automatic Wood Lathe?

What is an Automatic Wood Lathe

Automatic wood lathes operate completely independently from human input. Operators use the automatic wood lathe for applications such as production, prototype work, and artistic creations.

The operators have full control over both speed and direction which allows them to do anything with their piece that they wish without any limitations from using hand tools.

Benefits of using an automatic wood lathe

  • An automatic wood lathe machine can produce items at a much higher rate than manual methods.
  • They are designed to make the process of shaping a piece of hardwood smoother and more efficient.
  • This type of machine can shape materials that would otherwise be difficult for an inexperienced user or require excessive work by hand, such as routing a very large section without concern for making mistakes.
  • They also offer efficiency in space; this means it takes up less room on your property because you do not need all those tools around the house just to get started with one project! What’s even better about automatic wood lathes is that there isn’t any guesswork involved when using them.

What is a Turret Wood Lathe?

What is a Turret Wood Lathe

Turret Wood Lathe is popular for its repetitive production ability of duplicate parts. What this means is that it can produce numerous pieces of the same shape, size and even thickness.

Benefits of using a turret lathe

  • It can reproduce the same product according to manual input.
  • It speeds up the process by reducing manual labor.
  • It can be used to produce straight or curved lines, depending on which tool is being used and how much pressure is applied.

Drawbacks of using a tower lathe

There may be some disadvantages when using a wood turning machine such as the need for power tools in many cases. It increases potential for injury by spinning an arm with one hand while working with another cutting tool.

A possibility of dust accumulation may also occur if materials are frictional against each other during work processes resulting in shavings or chips. Maintenance and upkeep are also required.

What is a Copy Lathe?

What is a Copy Lathe

It is a semi-automatic wood lathe machine that is also used to reproduce the same products from a template.

Benefit of using Copy Lathe

  • It can reproduce a large quantity of wood products within a short time.
  • The machine is easy to use as it requires no manual labor, the worker just has to hold it with one hand and guide its work piece in front of the cutting tool.
  • It does not require much space for storage or operation as most parts are mounted on top of one another allowing for ease of handling.
  • Its main feature is that there are no restrictions imposed by either shape or size when making molded articles since they could be made from any type of wood used, such as veneer strips which produce large thin sheets called plywood; solid blocks which give rise to solid-wood furniture.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to use a wood lathe?

Set the wood to be turned on a block so that it is not touching its edges. If there are any rough spots, use sandpaper to smooth them out before applying the finish. Set up your lathe according to instructions and start turning!

What are the common components of a wood lathe machine?

A wood lathe machine is composed of a lathe bed, headstock (Parts: spindle lock, headstock spindle) and tailstock (Parts: tailstock taper, Morse taper).

The lathe is operated by the turning of the lead screw at the back with an adjustable feed nut on top so that it can move forward or backward in order to cut wood pieces with minimal waste.

What are basic wood turning tools?

There are few wood turning tools that are used in wood woodworking projects besides using wooden lathe. These tools are:

  • Skew chisel
  • Spindle Roughing Gouge
  • Spindle Gouge
  • Bowl gouge
  • Scraper
  • Parting Tool

What is essential safety equipment when using a wood lathe?

When using a wood lathe, it is important to wear safety equipment. The type of tool you require depends on what you want to make out of your piece of wood, so this really comes down to personal preference.

However, there are some basic supplies needed. The most common items are gloves and goggles or glasses. Both should be made from materials that will not easily break if they come into contact with the spinning parts of the machine.

Safety shoes can also protect feet in case something falls off of the work surface during use. In addition, protective clothing helps prevent skin injuries when handling sharp objects like saws cutting metal pieces.

Do I use wood lathe for metal workpieces?

Wood lathes are primarily used for woodworking, but they can also be adapted to work with few metal pieces when it does not require the piece to have a certain diameter.

If you want to use a cast iron for turning bowls, then you must need a metal lathe. Metalworking lathe is more expensive and powerful than wood lathe.

What you need is an appropriate mandrel and then just change your cutting tools out for more suitable ones. You will want to use some kind of lubricant such as wax or oil so that metal shavings don’t clog up in the gears as well.

There’s no set way of using these machines when doing metal work other than changing out your tooling appropriately!


Woodturning lathes are a great addition to any woodworking shop. They can be used for everything from shaping pieces of lumber and carving intricate designs in them, or even making furniture parts with the help of some extra tools that will attach to the lathe’s work table.

If you want something more than just your basic metal tool but don’t have as much space as you would need for a full-sized version, then this might be just what you’re looking for!

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