Talk:Lathe

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Original?[edit]

Is this original work? -- Zoe

I wrote the glassworking section, the metalspinning section, heavilly rewrote the metalworking section and the woodturning section, etc., and there is no derived material anywhere in there. Do you have a specific concern? Tjic

Elliptical lathes[edit]

How about adding some material on lathes that produce objects with elliptical and skewed symmetry? They were well known in the 16th century, but do not seem so common now. AK.

Agreed. Old Schwamb Mill in Arlington, MA, has elliptical lathes that are still running. That would make a good link. Tjic

The "machine that reproduces itself" theme[edit]

I have heard that a lathe is the only machine tool capable of reproducing itself. Does anyone have a source on this? Kd5mdk 06:56, 12 Apr 2005 (UTC)

No offence, but that sounds rather stupid.--84.139.62.107 10:45, 10 May 2005 (UTC)
It's a commonly stated thing, and from what I've read (e.g. the Gingery build-your-own-machine series), (a) it's true; (b) folks who ACTUALLY BUILD THEIR OWN TOOLS say it's true. What do you object to? Tjic
A lathe is not capable of reproducing itself. Hobbyists love adapting lathes to do many different things that turn them into milling machines, grinders, gear cutters, etc. A lathe rotates work and advances a static tool into it. If you mount the tool in the chuck, and put the work on the cross slide, you now have a milling machine. So, while you are capable of modifying a tool far beyond it's own definition to machine itself, that's also true of milling machines with indexing heads, or grinders, or anything else you spend enough time modifying. If a professional machinist requires a milling operation, they mount the work in a mill and do it there instead of modifying the lathe they're on into a mill. Toastydeath 21:04, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
I disagree that a conventional lathe cannot be used to reproduced itself. Of course the discussion is dependant on swing and travel of the lathe, operator skill, and tolerances the machine must hold, but the big difference between a conventional vertical mill and a conventional lathe is that a lathe can turn long outside diameters and then can turn that same round part back into a completely square piece again without any external attachments. Also another major difference is that the lathe can also create ID and OD threads with out any additional attachments as where the mill cannot. Sure a mill can use treading tools such as dies and taps, but the mill cannot create these tools so therefore it could not create the threads. On the other hand a lathe can create a tap and a die in addition to creating ID and OD threads on a work piece (so a tap and die is not needed). The only things a lathe would need are its mounting devices and a blank piece of high speed steel. It could then create a vast array of tools from that point on while the mill would sit for the lack of the ability to create threads from a blank.
For example: if I take a round piece of stock, I can mount it into an adjustable jaw chuck and face a flat surface. I can then use gage blocks, indicators, or height gage to locate a position on the part to center for more work to be done by the lathe. This can all be done very accurately as where a mill would require additional attachments, chatter the teeth out of your brain and deflect endmills while work hardening long diameters that would create unfavorable dimension. Parts can also be mounted in the slide for additional work even though one can argue that by using the mill in this fashion would convert a lathe to a mill. The statement would be false as the lathe would be lacking the traditional Y axis of a Mill and the lathe will still be a lathe with the operator taking advantage of its untraditional usefulness. But mounting the workpiece on the slide to circumvent the drawback of not being able to mill slots such as dove tails is pointless as the same feature can be created by the lathe after doweling and bolting two pieces together creating the dovetail slot.
The fact that a lathe can turn ID and OD diameters, create ID and OD threads, face surfaces on round parts making it square again and the ability to drill multiple hole locations on a flat surface (on a face plate or adjustable jaws) makes it a perfect candidate to make just about any machine.I already forgot 21:44, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Just wanted to add that gears can be created by the lathe as well. Instead of the straight cut type you create helical gears that replicate the lead screw.I already forgot 21:53, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Ha, edit conflict. A lot of what I was going to say involved helical cutting that you just added in. Mills definately can do a lot of the things lathes do, and vice versa.
The origional mills had no Y axis, Z axis, or spindle movement, only an X axis. So to say that a lathe rotating a tool is not a milling machine because it lacks particular axes is a fallacy, as the first mills had only one degree of freedom (which is less than the two a cross slide mounted workpeice has). The Smithsonian exhibit on machine tools has such an early machine on display, with a video of it in operation. In addition, the basic definition of a lathe since antiquity has been rotating a work being cut by a static tool.
I have to stand by my assertation that no basic mill or lathe, without creating intermediate machines to preform specific steps or modifying the underlying tool/work principles, is going to fully replicate itself. Only machines that blur the lines of mill/lathe/etc are capable of self-reproduction. I could see a machine designed with self-replication in mind having success, but not a general purpose lathe or mill performing the same task. - Toastydeath 22:29, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
I guess to avoid a discussion to fit ones own ideas, do you have an example of why a lathe could not reproduce itself? I have given an example of why a lathe can and why a mill cant...do you find fault in those statements and do you have examples to share?
The idea of building a lathe from a lathe is an old idea to explain the functions of the lathe. The first time I heard the idea explained to me was from my teacher when I was an apprentice. I understand the idea behind it without going into specific 2nd operation details that would make the lathe more friendly and precise.I already forgot 23:42, 9 August 2006 (UTC)


The Gingery comment relates to the way he details building of his home made machines. You temporarily mount a boring bar and use it to bore the headstock, then you mount the bar in the headstock to bore the tailstock. Once you have the basic lathe, you use it to turn other bits for the lathe. Then you use the lathe to assist in building a shaper, which you use in combination with the lathe to build a milling machine, then you use all three to build accessories for all three machines. I've got his books and it is quite clever and well thought out. A lot quicker but probably not half as much fun to just buy ready made machines. SilentC 22:28, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Let us not forget that a lathe is incapable of casting its own iron base structure. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 97.93.1.252 (talk) 18:52, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

Boxway vs guideway[edit]

Does anybody know what the difference between a boxway and a guideway lathe is? Would be a useful addition. Thanks.

A lathe with box ways uses parallel and perpendicular way surfaces guide the carrage/table/whatever, as oppsed to a V-way bed (which use many different angles arranged in V's). Guideway is the unshorted version of "way." Toastydeath 21:04, 3 August 2006 (UTC)
Look up the Holtzapfel or Holzapfel lathe for ornamental turning. This is where the info needs to go. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ornamental_lathe&action=edit

Too much "advertising"?[edit]

I've only scanned some of the links, but it seems that most of them (here as well as in the "machining" topic) are a little skewed towards company information, versus independent information resources. Perhaps I can offer a few other links if I get a chance this weekend, but I wanted to point out my initial thought on the article(s).

Unfortunately the Vendors section along with the support section were starting to attract links to either payment only material or second hand machinery and reseller sites, this has been the case for a while and isn't going to stop while some seemingly okay links remain (manufacturers such as bridgeport and south bend). I've redirected South bend to their informative 9 inch Workshop Lathes article as it has value. The rest are toast, unless they can show they add something to the resource. — Graibeardtalk 13:29, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

1) At Last we have sense with lathe centres but the illustration is still incorrectly labeled "a live centre" and not a revolving centre. It might be more useful to add "Revolving centre sometimes incorrectly refered to as a live centre". There are other centres such as female centres.

Live center is the correct term, and the one used in production work. I've never known or seen anyone working in a production shop tool up with a "revolving center," just hobbyists. Toastydeath 21:04, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

2) I published an article in "Model Engineer" on how to achieve elliptcal turning on a modern lathe. As per the article, I have never really found a use for this but it is a great way of getting visiting machinists to scream on seeing the action.

3) Lathes do tend to follow the ideas of the manufacturer hence brand name orientated data. How one lathe works may well differ from another.( What frightens me is how quickly I adapt. I do not think how to start or stop. I just do it and then realise that the action is quite new but I did it "on automatic".) Many marks now used by amateurs are no longer made but the life of machine tools can literally be handed from one generation to another. Reading your notes I guess that you do not own or operate amateur machinery. Whilst a world of its own, I also agree that published data could do with a clean up.

Ron Wallman 19 July 2006



2) Elliptical turning can be useful for making pipe flanges e.g. for cylinders; whether this warrants making up an elliptical chuck depends upon whether you like makings tools for their own sake.

Alanb 13:41, 20 July 2006 (UTC)


What, might I ask, is wrong with the term "live center?" That is what it is commonly called in the US.--Jburstein 14:11, 19 July 2006 (UTC)


Machine tool edits[edit]

An editor keeps changing the intro to describe a lathe as a machine tool and a woodworking tool. A machine tool is a general description to describe work performed or aided by a machine instead of hand operations. Doesn’t make any difference if the machine tool is used to perform work on wood or metal. It also doesn’t make a difference if the machine tool is used for making a wooden chair leg via a hand chisel or turbine engine housings using computer controllers, it is still being made via the aid of a machine tool as apposed to hand tools.--I already forgot 20:46, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

You might like to address the machine tool article then, which doesn't mention woodworking machinery at all, except where there is a crossover, such as lathe or drill press. The opening line is "A machine tool is a powered mechanical device, typically used to fabricate metal components of machines by the selective removal of metal." I'll change the opening line to refer to woodworking machine until you rewrite machine tool ;) SilentC 22:06, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
If you want to include woodworking tools in the opening lathe section, you need to include all other persuits lathes occur in. It would be unfair to give woodworking distinct mention in the lathe article just because a lathe is a machine tool, and you don't like how the machine tool article is written. The machine tool article is written with the industrial use of machine tools in mind, which is the manufacture of parts from metals. This, by the way, is being presented as a main example, not suggesting it is, in any way, the only use of machine tools, only the most common. Which is true. So, I'm going to revert your edit (again) because you are editing the wrong article, as you youself mentioned the problem is with the definition of machine tool. I suggest you add or modify machine tool, which will help in resolving any other articles that might suffer from the lack of fairness you precieve the lathe to suffer from. - Toastydeath 00:09, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Firstly, your tone is a bit aggressive, so you might consider toning it down a bit. Second, it's the first time I have made that change, so you might want to check your facts. Now, I'm not planning on editing the Machine Tool article, because it is not my area of expertise. I know nothing about industrial machinery, so I'm not competent to alter it. I believe that the opening line, which points to machine tool (which currently speaks only of metalworking machines) is misleading, because it seems to indicate that lathes are metalworking machines, when clearly that is not all they are. What "other persuits [sic] lathes occur in", I can't say, so if you know of some other than woodworking and metalworking, then perhaps you should add them to the article. I don't know why you have jacked up on this particular point. I'm not trying to give woodworking an 'unfair' distinction over other types of lathe, but you have to admit that woodturning and metalworking are certainly important topics when it comes to the lathe. If you believe that machine tool needs to be expanded to cover the woodworking lathe, then go for it. Personally, I have never thought of the wood lathe as being a machine tool, any more than I consider a jointer, or tablesaw to be a machine tool, yet by the broad definition you suggest, they would be. SilentC 00:26, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Incidentally, would you consider a pole lathe to be a machine tool? SilentC 00:42, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
And one last question before I go, Google 'machine tool' and let me know how many links you find to non-metalwork related subjects :) SilentC 00:44, 22 September 2006 (UTC)


Without getting into a heated debate, I wanted to give my opinion on the machine tool article. In regards to the machine tool opening statement, the operative word is "typically used to fabricate metal components...", which I think is an undisputed statement even though no source is provided. The problem I have found in the manufacturing section of wikipedia is that the terms and processes vary depending on which part of the world you come from. In the part of the world I reside, we have basic categories to describe the kind of tool used when manufacturing industrial parts or to build a flat. Here is a list:

  • Power tool: powered hand tools such as circular saws, power hand drills, power hand planer, etc.
  • Cutting tool: Drills, mills, broaches, inserts, fly cutters, etc.
  • Measuring tool: Mics, calipers, scale, tape measure. This also includes powered (cnc measuring devices).
  • Hand tool: Hammer, pipe wrench, non-powered hand drill & planer, etc.
  • Machine tool: Lathes, mills, grinders, saws (band, table, cabinet, jig), etc.
  • Holding tools/devices and jigs & fixtures.

Depending on which part of the world you're from, the interpretations will most likely vary. The above seems like a logical categorization though, especially with the ambiguous use of machine tool to describe a lathe. Also, all of the above devices do not distinguish between what type of material is going to be cut but we can determine which tool is typically used for a certain type of material.

We could look into every ambigous tool category and find an obscure tool to cross reference between categories but I'm only talking the basics.--I already forgot 00:48, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

I actually believe it's more to do with the field of your work or interest. The term 'machine tool' may at one time have been in general use for the kinds of machines that you speak of, with no imperative that they be used for metalworking, however, my 5 minute research on Google shows without a doubt that these days, machine tool is synonymous with metalworking. I have never heard of a woodworking machine, such as a tablesaw, bandsaw or lathe, being referred to as a machine tool. I'm happy to accept that in one sense of the definition, these qualify for inclusion. However, there are two sticking points in my mind. One is that machine tool is unquestionably oriented towards metalworking machines. That can be addressed by a rewrite. The other is that the term machine tool clearly has a relationship with metalworking in common usage today. Whether or not that is historically accurate is moot because we must also pay attention to modern usage of terms, even if they are wrong. So what shall we do, is it a revert war, or do we reach a compromise? SilentC 00:56, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

I consider myself a craftsman in wood working and metal working but I may be speaking from POV as I have been formally trained in the field of manufacturing. So instead of speaking from my pov I will look for any type of ref for machine tool and wood working. I wont make any edits on the subject with the hopes that the editor can use the references to form a logical edit.

--I already forgot 01:07, 22 September 2006 (UTC)


I'm a hobbyist I suppose, although I've worked in the building industry, but no formal education in the field. I sometimes think that formal education drums ideas into your head that are hard to budge, and one of these is classifications of things. Each field has it's own terminology and then of course there are regional differences. Definition of terms also change over time. Computer for example. 100 years ago that was a person (one who computes) but who ever applies that usage these days?
My main concern is that we don't slant the lathe article too heavily towards the machine shop definition (there's that word again). When I followed that link to machine tool, I just thought "this isn't right". I have no doubt that you will be able to find "machine tool" in relation to woodworking machinery. Maybe you are right, I just think we should leave the reference to woodworking machine in place until machine tool is expanded to cover all machinery, if that is the right thing to do (I still don't feel comfortable about it). Could this be a US vs. other parts of the world thing? I'm in Australia. SilentC 01:23, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree that there should be more coverage on woodworking as well. --I already forgot 01:31, 22 September 2006 (UTC)


Perhaps no one has taken the liberty of reading the paragraph immediately following the introduction. It mentions woodworking, metalworking, glassworking, and metalspinning. So, is there a particular reason for mentioning woodworking twice, or moving woodworking up from the other areas where lathes are used? I really, truly believe this is an inane thing to include or even argue over. It's already got a section that one can expand, and it's already represeneted in the beginning section of the article. Since the tool is so versatile, the introduction is an absurd place to mention any kind of specific task aside from the fact it's a machine tool. This includes metalworking, despite the predomanant and overwhelming use of the lathe as a metalworking tool compared to other areas. The lathe article was clearly written by people who are machinists or involved in industry, so I invite anyone with knowledge of woodturning lathes to expand the already included woodturning lathe section, instead of making the introduction redundant and disorganized. I will refrain from further commenting or editing on this. Whatever you people decide works. - Toastydeath 05:38, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

"the introduction is an absurd place to mention any kind of specific task aside from the fact it's a machine tool" What do you think we are debating? I'm saying that calling it a machine tool labels it as a piece of metalworking machinery. I base that opinion on the machine tool article itself, plus a Google search on "machine tool", plus my own understanding of the term. I want a definition that doesn't just label it as a machine tool. What about a pole lathe? What about a foot lathe? Are these machine tools? I'd say not. There's nothing industrial about a bodger's lathe. Yet they are lathes, so they belong here.
Throwing your hands up in the air petulantly doesn't help improve the article. If you don't care enough to comment or edit further, why get involved in the first place and why the some what heated inital comment on it? Don't you want this article to be improved? That's all I want. I think it needs a lot of work. I think we need a complimentary Lathe (wood) article and I think we need a very general lathe article that makes no specific attempt to categorise something that is perhaps more of a machine concept than a specific physical device. Then we can split off into the specific details. If you don't want to be involved, then fine but if you do, you obviously have a lot of knowledge to impart and I hope you do so. SilentC 05:56, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

Lathe tools[edit]

This page is badly in need of pictures, lists, and descriptions of tools. Should I make a summary and create a different page for that? If I put them on this page, where would I put them? Please note that I am only familiar with the woodworking lathe, and thus would appreciate help and attention from others.

EDIT: I did not realize that there is also a woodturning page.

Micro lathe[edit]

A page has been opened for micro lathes. Could interested editors please contribute. Thank you. -- Sparkzilla talk! 10:18, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Modern Woodworking Lathe image[edit]

There seems to be a revert war over the lathe image, spurred by this thread from an internet forum. Since some people are understandably passionate about using the image of a lathe in a living room, and since the image is an accurate picture of a modern woodworking lathe, I think we should go with the living room image. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 12.117.239.194 (talk) 20:45, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

No one is passionate about the image, its a poor quality picture plain and simple. In addition, most all lathes are found in a work shop and not a living room with shitty furniture. Add the fact that its being added because of a message board chit chat and has copyright issues, the image should be deleted. If the image keeps getting added, new users may be banned from editing the article --I already forgot 21:28, 9 October 2007 (UTC)
Please keep this civil. No need to make threats. Your statement that no one is passionate about the image is wrong. And, I just wanted to point out why people keep putting in the living room image, in case you were curious. you know, for historical reasons.
Dude, you're smart. Now go play with the my little pony article where you will look like king.--I already forgot 22:34, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Interesting dialog. I think the Lathe King should talk to ELIZA. MrGBug 23:26, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Agree with User:I already forgot. While an image of a woodworking lathe certainly has a place on wikipedia, it should be representative of wood lathes in general. This includes environment. Also, this includes some sort of minimum image quality. - Toastydeath 04:52, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Phonograph record cutting lathes[edit]

Why no mention of recording lathes that create a playable phonograph record or lacquer master? Scully and Neumann made a bunch of them in the 20th century. Here's a photo of a mastering engineer next to a Neumann lathe in 2001. Binksternet (talk) 21:01, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Swing[edit]

Can we/I get a definition of the "swing" of a lathe. I "think" I know what it means, but I would appreciate if someone with more knowledge could explain it. Thanks. Wizard191 (talk) 03:18, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

As you probably figured, the swing is a measurement of how large a workpiece can be turned on the lathe. It is the largest radius or diameter that can pass over the bed. There are a few corollary details. Traditional American nomenclature names swing in terms of diameter. Traditional British and continental European nomenclature names swing in terms of radius (American "10-inch", British "5-inch"). (Those crazy Brits—they also traditionally named their artillery by the weight of the ball rather than the diameter.) The only other detail to know about swing is that what just barely swings over the bed won't swing over the carriage. Therefore, if you're looking at a catalog description of a lathe, for example in the MSC or Enco catalogs, the "specifications" box will give two numbers, such as "swing over bed: 10 inches" and "swing over carriage: 7 inches". So keep that carriage away when a monster workpiece is spinning merrily, lest things go KA-BOOM. (This "highly desirable feature" could be called "positive stopping action" by the marketing department.) — ¾-10 03:40, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the answer. I guess it isn't what I thinking. Does the term mean something different when cutting or grinding screw threads? I recently had a job "no quoted" because they didn't have enough "swing" to cut a special acme thread, even though the stock is only 5/8" OD. Thanks! Wizard191 (talk) 13:01, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
Hmm. I don't know what that may refer to. Maybe they meant that the part length was longer than could be accommodated in their CNC lathe or screw machine? But if so, not sure why they'd say swing. Sorry I can't shed any light on this. — ¾-10 19:40, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
No, the parts not long. About 3 inches. Thanks for your help. Wizard191 (talk) 20:12, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

String Lathes[edit]

I wanted to learn more about the lathes used to make spun instrument strings like those used on guitars and pianos. Many automated lathes exist for mass production and many manual ones are used for restoring old pianos. How are they set-up or used? What makes them different from other lathes? It doesn't cut anything so it's more like a spindle (not mentioned in Wiki's spindle article). It's hard to find good information about them.65.80.178.227 (talk) 06:53, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Safety[edit]

May I suggest including a small section on lathe safety? Thanks, Rubik's Maniac (talk) 05:18, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Not here, for two reasons. Firstly the general WP:NOTHOWTO provision. Secondly this is the top-level article for the huge subject of lathes and turning. There are too many variations within that: hand woodturning lathes are different to engineer's screwcutting lathes are different to CNC turning centers are different to brake disk truing jigs. All would need totally different safety comments, yet each has just as much right to space in this overall topic.
It might be possible to add something to articles on specific lathe types. The risk of anthrax in ornamental turning (couple of recent cases amongst bagpipe makers) is just one that's useful content in that narrow context, but couldn't survive in the broad picture. Even then though, WP:NOTHOWTO is a problem. It's reasonable to describe specific risks, but not to go into detail of the working practices to try and avoid these. Risks, not techniques. Andy Dingley (talk) 09:29, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Accessories section[edit]

This point probably applies to more than the "accessories" section, but there seems to be a lot of redundancy between that section and the "construction" section at lathe (metal). Is there any way we can structure this better as to reduce the redundancy? Wizard191 (talk) 00:29, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Good idea. I will plan to look into this. I started with "steady rest" tonight. — ¾-10 05:04, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what prompted me to write the above. Wizard191 (talk) 12:40, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Wood vs metal[edit]

Isn't a lathe used just for wood? A metal work lathe is called a centre lathe. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fabregas485 (talkcontribs) 2011-09-05T11:28:39

Simply - no. Centre lathes are used for both. In most cases, there is more woodturning still done between centres than metalworking. For small metal pieces, it's pretty much universal to hold the work in a chuck, not between centres. Andy Dingley (talk) 16:28, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Fabregas485, the dichotomy in your mind comes from a grain of truth, but the answer is that it is only a tiny grain from a larger set, so it's incorrect by itself. "Centre lathe" is somewhat of a set-phrase name for what is also called an engine lathe or (in some cases) bench lathe (see lathe (metal) > Center lathe / engine lathe / bench lathe). But the broader truth is that there is no universally used tree of terminology (taxonomy) that corresponds in a one-to-one fashion to the variety of types of lathes that exist. Machinists call any lathe a "lathe" when the rest of the context is implicit. Thus they will call an engine lathe, a turret lathe, or a CNC lathe all simply "lathe" in speech when no contradistinction is necessary in the context of the speaker's and listener's conversation. The same is also true of wood lathes. An rough analogy is if someone calls any kind of truck—a tow truck or a fork truck or a pickup truck or a 5-axle dump truck—just a "truck" when the context makes the rest clear. (For example, "Put this on the truck.") You could say that each type and subtype should have one, and only one, "official" name, with no overlap or ambiguity, but humans often don't talk that way, even if a machine or a Vulcan would find it more logical. Hope this helps. — ¾-10 01:45, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
' Machinists call any lathe a "lathe" '
I consider the lathe articles to be quite poor, and this is one of the reasons why. The principle of a point cutting tool on a rotating workpiece is ancient. The lathe (as a recognisable machine) is relatively recent - late medieval. The word is much older, but wasn't applied to quite the same machine.
For most of the history of the lathe, the lathe has _not_ rotated continuously. It was powered by either a wrapped bowstring or a springy branch (the pole lathe) and rotated with a back-and-forth motion. Much later, clockmakers tried to work metal and found this motion imprecise, so developed the "turns", the first continuously rotating lathes. These weren't considered to be lathes at the time, they were thought of as quite a different machine, with different applications. It was only with the relatively late development of the Great Wheel lathe that continuous rotation was applied to what its users would call a lathe, and which was being used to make the wooden turned goods that were traditional lathe production. This was the first merger of the name "lathe", the principle of continuous rotation, and the use of the machine for general work - and it was very late, 17th century or so. Before that, the machinists who had machines that rotated continuously would never have called them mere "lathes", lathes were for hairy-arsed bodgers who lived wild in the woods, not precision urban craftsman who'd served their apprenticeship to use the marvellous clockmaker's "turns". Andy Dingley (talk) 09:57, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Agree that the coverage is poor, but in my case the reason for saying that is their incompleteness rather than any inaccuracy. CNC lathes, turning centers, and screw machines could have their own huge article in and of themselves, given how much info there is to know about them. I intend to spin CNC lathes off into their own article someday, but have never yet felt enthused enough to dig into it. It'll happen eventually. As for what you said about the history up through the 17th century, Andy, I wouldn't doubt that you're right, but as for the 19th, 20th, and 21st century usage of the term, it is what it is, regardless of how many turns in his grave anyone from the 15th century would have done if he'd have heard it. And that includes the usage even of the most skilled and grizzled 20th-century tool and die makers; so the usage isn't just a matter of "it degraded once there were no real craftsmen left in the world". — ¾-10 01:28, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Fabregas485, today an analogy occurred to me that puts this nomenclature question in context. It has to do with hierarchical branches of taxonomy. Consider trees. There are oak trees, maple trees, and pine trees, but people also call them just "tree" in context. Even a certified arborist (an expert on trees) might say, "I recommend a picnic beneath a tree." In his case it's not because of lack of knowledge or qualification—it's just natural language. A master joiner knows all about the different types of wood and which tree each comes from (oak for this application, ash for that one; sometimes even particular varieties—red oak instead of white oak, etc)—but that doesn't mean that he doesn't have the superset concept, tree, in his brain or his speech. Just as a knowledgeable arborist can say simply "tree" when referring to a white ash, a knowledgeable machinist can say simply "lathe" when referring to a centre lathe. The concept that Andy mentioned is related but distinct. The analogy of his theme applied to trees, wood, and joinery is that it's lamentable when people are ignorant of the types—for example, a real carpenter should know to make his ax handle out of ash rather than pine. This is true, but the theme that even tree experts can say "tree" without being ignorant is also simultaneously true. To bring the analogy back to your question, you were asking, essentially, "why did that guy refer to a tree of the oak family as a 'tree' when he could/should have said 'oak tree'?" The answer is simply that either one makes sense depending on how specific you need to be in the context. Thus you wouldn't say that a master tool and die maker is ignorant for calling a centre lathe or a wood lathe "lathe" in context. He's not ignorant, he's just speaking naturally. I hope this sheds light on the usage. Regards, — ¾-10 03:25, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

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