Question about using metal turning lathe for turning wood.

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Forum topic by splatman posted 08-21-2014 02:37 PM 1311 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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585 posts in 2413 days

08-21-2014 02:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: lathe question turning metal turning metalturning compatible

This is a question about whether it’s good at all to use a metal turning lathe for wood turning.
I do not have a lathe now. I plan to eventually get one. I would also like to get into metalworking, So, instead of getting separate lathes for turning wood and metal, I would rather do both with one machine. To save shop space, resources, and $$. So, can it be done without issue? Any machinists around here willing to weigh in?

8 replies so far

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1768 posts in 2744 days

#1 posted 08-21-2014 02:43 PM

If you are going to turn large dowels only, yes, it would work… I’ve done a few handles on a friends lathe for accuracy purposes only, but you couldn’t do other things as there isn’t a vialbe tool rest, unless you made your own. Also, keeping it clean and lubed would be a problem. .......... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4382 days

#2 posted 08-21-2014 02:45 PM

Metal turning is done at much lower speeds then wood. If you can find a metal lathe that will run fast enough it would work OK. Just have to build a tool rest for wood turning chisels.

View bigblockyeti's profile


7098 posts in 2735 days

#3 posted 08-21-2014 02:51 PM

It can be done, the main concern is most of the ways on metal turning lathes are well oiled which will attract dust and chips from turning wood. Turning my hand could also prove to be difficult as there aren’t any provisions for mounting a tool rest.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View REO's profile


929 posts in 3088 days

#4 posted 08-21-2014 11:05 PM

Make up a tool rest that will go in the compound slot for the too holder. babit or plain bearings found in most metal lathes wont take the high speeds needed for wood turning. There are several lathes that are equipped with roller or ball bearings that make a terrific crossover lathe. if you want to get your production up to speed switch out the cross feed screw to a lever and you can make a copy lathe out of it. This is an atlas metal lathe that has been doing this for over sixty years. it can be switched back to turning metal in about ten minutes. the template is on the back and a follower on the back of the chip guard for the cross feed follows it. video

View cutmantom's profile


408 posts in 4049 days

#5 posted 08-21-2014 11:20 PM

I have done it but only as a last resort, its just not good to get wood dust, shavings, etc. into the precision parts of a metal working tool. probably won’t damage it if its cleaned very soon afterwards but will require dis-assembly to do it, maybe get the metal lathe and use it to make parts for a homemade lathe.

View REO's profile


929 posts in 3088 days

#6 posted 08-21-2014 11:31 PM

just another teaser lol you can do parts like this too.

Got it. It wouldn’t show the picture

View Loren's profile


11031 posts in 4662 days

#7 posted 08-22-2014 12:03 AM

You can do it but it’s awkward in a number of ways.

One concern is capacity. A metal lathe that matches
a modest wood lathe for capacity is pricey and very

I have a metal lathe. It’s bigger than my little mini
wood lathe and more hassle to set up for turning
wood. It still isn’t longer enough to turn a dining
table leg, which is something any 36” wood lathe
can do at much lower weight and expense.

View splatman's profile


585 posts in 2413 days

#8 posted 08-22-2014 06:25 AM

My initial concern was about wood dust/chips getting into places where they will cause problems. That was the main reason I asked. Then I thought, if that’s so, then what about metal chips/dust when used for metal?
I didn’t know about limited capacity or limited speed; thanks for letting me know about those.
Improvising a tool rest is likely no big deal.
Maybe I’ll run with “cutmantom”’s idea: Use the metal-turning lathe to turn out parts for a wood-turning lathe.

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