Metal lathes are an incredibly powerful yet versatile machines, capable of performing a wide range of metal shaping tasks. For this reason, you're unlikely to find a workshop or metal plant without one.

Cromwell stocks professional metal lathes, from trusted brands such as Osaki.

What are metal lathes?

Metal lathes differ from other tools - as they're one of the only tools that rotates the workpiece opposed to the tool itself. They consist of a bed, head and tail stock, spindles, a tool rest and a motor.

The bed is the main part of the lathe, with all the other parts sitting on top. The spindle is used to hold the workpiece, and rotate it around the lathe attachment for effortless cutting or shaping.

Why a metal lathe?

Known as the 'mother of machining', a metal lathe allows users to effectively turn metal stock into desired shapes and items. Previously only used to create cylindrical shapes, modern metal lathes can be used to perform tasks of all types - including hole drilling, screw thread manufacturing, and much more.

The widespread usage of metal lathes is down to their incredible power and versatility. They enable the quick and easy production or modification of a wide range of metal parts, saving the time and expense of having to buy them from the store.

When are metal lathes used?

Metal lathes are used across a wide range of industrial settings and environments. They are commonly used for:

• Metal shaping
• Cutting
• Drilling
• Knurling
• Turning
• Metal deformation

If you're looking for the right metal lathe (or other metal shaping tool) for your job but aren't sure about the best option for your needs, feel free to ask our experts for specialised advice.

Metal lathe types

There are numerous types of metal lathe machines, but we've outlined the main types below for your convenience.

• Speed lathe - These high speed lathes are used primarily for metal polishing applications.

• Centre lathe - Sometimes referred to as an engine lathe, these machines are the most commonly used in industrial workshops due to its capability to turn large piece of metal and versatility in use.

• Turret lathe - Essentially an upgraded and specialist version of an engine lathe, turret lathes are capable of performing several tasks at the same time to save you time and energy.

• Bench lathe - Unlike larger mechanical lathes, a bench lathe is a small, hand operated lathe. These are used mainly by hobbyists or smaller operations.

Considerations when choosing a metal lathe

• Motor power - As with other power tools, a more powerful motor allows for more practical uses, as the lathe can operate at a higher RPM.

• Distance between centres - The distance between centres determines the effective working space of your lathe, and how big of a workpiece you can manipulate.

• Weight / size - Lathes are designed to be heavy and secure - anyone who's ever tried to move a lathe is well aware of this. Modern lathes are available in smaller sizes which can be more suitable for hobbyists with limited space.

Metal lathes jargon buster

We want to make it easier for you to shop our range of metal lathes, so we've outlined and explained some key terms.

What does CNC mean?

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. In relation to metal lathes, a CNC lathe is highly precise as it can be programmed to exact specifications when performing metalworking tasks. This is ideal for creating multiple pieces with a common uniformity.


What can a metal lathe make?
Metal lathes can make and shape a range of metal components and items. A few common examples are:
• Rings
• Bracelets
• Hammers / Mallets
• Scribers
• Blades
• Bowls
• A range of other metal parts