Basic Lathe Operations
The following procedures describe typical
sequences for setting up a workpiece for basic
lathe operations. Before operating the lathe,
please review the safety practices.
In the following sections we will explore these
basic lathe operations:
Short Taper Turning
These operations are the most commonly used
on the lathe and account for perhaps 80% or
more of all lathe work.
All of these operations will use a piece of
aluminum round stock 1" in diameter x 2 ½"
long. The exact length and diameter are not
critical, but the workpiece should be at least ¾"
diameter and between 2" and 3" long.
Select a suitable piece of material and mount it
in the chuck jaws. As the jaws are tightened
around the stock, twist the stock slowly back
and forth to ensure that it seats evenly
between the three chuck jaws.
Make sure that the stock is not skewed at an
angle. Tighten the jaws firmly. It is good
practice to use two, or all three, of the key slots
to tighten the chuck to ensure that the
workpiece is secure and properly aligned in the
Cutting Tool Selection
Lathe cutting tools usually are made either
from high speed steel (HSS) or carbide or a
similar very hard material.
carbide cutting are convenient, since they are
already configured in various shapes for
standard cutting operations. They also have a
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long life, particularly in high-volume industrial
settings. They can be purchased in sets with a
variety of commonly used shapes.
accommodate different sizes of lathes.
The C4 uses tool bits with a 5/16" square
On larger tool bits, the tip of the cutting surface
may be above the centerline of the lathe. While
HSS tools could be ground down until the tip is
the right height, there is no easy way to
accommodate carbide tools if the tip is too high.
HSS tools are an excellent choice for the home
shop and other non-industrial settings. They
are inexpensive, will last for a long time and
when properly shaped and sharpened will
provide an excellent surface finish on most
materials. Plain HSS blanks can be purchased
in a variety of cross-sectional sizes to
accommodate the size of the lathe or special
HSS tools usually are sharpened by the lathe
operator on a bench grinder, but also may be
purchased in pre-sharpened sets including a
variety of shapes. The sharpening process
requires some skill and experience and is
beyond the scope of this manual, but many
resources describing the process can be found
on the internet and in technical text books.
Searching with Google for "grind lathe tool" will
locate several useful resources.
An advantage of HSS tools over carbide tools
is that they may be ground to unique shapes
for specialized cutting operations. For example,
small blanks may be used to form a thread
cutting tool for cutting very fine threads.
5/16" HSS Tool Blank
Item # 22-501-020