What Is a Vertical Turning Lathe?

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  • Written By: Jean Marie Asta
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 14 July 2019
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A vertical turning lathe is a piece of equipment commonly used in metalworking to cut custom parts. It is made up of two parts that grip the work piece and spin it very rapidly, allowing a worker to carve into the work piece as needed. They have been used in industrial settings for over a century and continue to be commonly used to this day.

Although these lathes can take on many shapes and sizes there are some parts that are common to all of them. First is the plate, which is where a worker places the object that he or she will be working on. When the lathe is turned on, the plate will spin the object rapidly. The other necessary part in a vertical turning lathe is a turret slide. This part helps workers use tools precisely to carve or drill into the objects they are working on in a way that doesn’t allow the tools to move around or become jostled by the spinning of the object.

Vertical turning lathes are very similar to other lathes. They are basically customized horizontal lathes that have been upended at a ninety degree angle. All the kinds of lathes that are used in manufacturing and industrial environments spin an object around in order for a worker to make exacting circular carvings on the body of the object.


These lathes rotate more slowly than other lathes. A vertical turning lathe is used for objects that are too big, too heavy, or too oddly shaped to work on a standard horizontal lathe. As a wide variety of objects may be cut on a vertical turning lathe, most manufacturers have determined it is safer and more effective to work on a slowly-turning object than one rotating at a high speed.

Purchasing a vertical turning lathe can be accomplished in several different ways. Many sites on the Internet sell industrial equipment to businesses. This can be convenient as the purchaser can have the lathe shipped directly to where it is needed, avoiding having to transport a heavy piece of machinery from the seller to the worksite. The cost of shipping such a heavy piece of equipment is very high, however.

These tools can also be purchased new from industrial supply stores. Suppliers may also provide shipping services to customers. Vertical lathes may also be acquired secondhand from other manufacturers who no longer have a need for their lathe. This is the most affordable option but it may be difficult to find a secondhand seller, and shipping is not likely to be included in this purchasing option.



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