How Lathe Machine Operates?

A lathe machine is a tool used in workshop which spins a block of material to perform various operations such as cutting, turning, facing, threading, sanding, knurling, drilling or deformation such as metal spinning with tools that are applied to the work piece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation. The lathe equipment holds a piece of material between two rigid supports called centers, or by some other device such as chuck or faceplate which revolves about the center line of the lathe. Metal is removed from the work piece using a hardened cutting tool, which is usually fixed to a solid moveable mounting also known as toolpost which is then moved against the work piece using hand wheels or computer controlled motors. The lathe tool which are controlled by the computer are known as CNC lathe machine used for mass production of parts. These are commonly provided with a variable ratio gear train to drive the main leadscrew which enables different pitches of threads to be cut. Some older gear trains in a lathe machine are changed manually by using interchangeable gears with various numbers of teeth, while more modern or elaborate lathes have a quick change box to provide commonly used rations by the operation of a lever. To better know about how it operates, it is necessary to undergo the details of the components as given below:-


The headstock includes the main spindle, speed change mechanism and change gears. It is required to make a headstock as robust as possible because of the cutting forces involved during the process of cutting or shaping metals using a lathe machine.


The main spindle is generally hollow to allow long bars to extend through to the work area, which reduces preparation and waste of material. The spindle then runs in precision bearings and is fitted with some means of attaching work holding devices known as chucks or faceplates. This end of the spindle will also have an included taper, usually morse to allow the insertion of tapers and centers.

Electric Motor and Gear Box

The lathe machines use a gear box which is driven by a dedicated electric motor. The fully geared head in the gear box allows one to select the speed through the gear box.


The bed is a stationery base in a lathe machine which is connected to the headstock. It allows the carriage and tailstock to get aligned parallel with the axis of the spindle.

Feed and Lead Screws

The feedscrew is a long driveshaft that allows a series of gears to drive the carriage mechanisms. Like feedscrew, the leadscrew is driven by either the change gears or an intermediate gearbox known as quick change gearbox.


The carriage holds the tool bit and moves it longitudinally or perpendicularly under the control of the operator. The carriage can be moved manually by the operator or automatically if the feedscrew is engaged with the carriage feed mechanism.

Cross Slide

The cross-slide stands atop the carriage and has a leadscrew that travels perpendicular to the main spindle axis, to perform permit facing operations.

Compound Rest

The compound rest is also known as top slide which is the part of the machine where the tool post is mounted. The axis of compound rest can be adjusted independently of the carriage or cross slide.


The tailstock is placed opposite to the headstock and directly mounted on the spindle axis.

So, now when you have the information about how lathe works, if you want to buy a lathe device to complete the processes at your workshop with accuracy then just visit and view the specifications and details of various types of lathe which will help you to select just the right one to accomplish your metal shaping and cutting jobs quickly and accurately.

Written by Yash Shah

This blog written by Mr. Yash Shah is about machine tools including workshop machinery, wood working machines, sheet metal machinery provided by Bhavya Machine Tools, a leading distributors of machine tools in India.