What is a Mini Lathe?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

A mini lathe is a lathe designed to create small, precision parts. They are used by model makers, inventors, watchmakers and jewelers. A lathe is a machine tool that creates a product by cutting away material from a solid material in a cylindrical process. The end product is symmetrical and can range from a simple pin to a more complex finished product. The mini lathe has all the same features as a metal lathe, but can also be used for wood and plastics if required.

A mini lathe should be mounted to a workbench, using nuts and bolts. This process reduces the movement of the lathe while working with heavy materials and will improve the stability of the unit. When securing the mini lathe to the workbench, attach rubber feet to the base of the machine to improve stability, as most bench surfaces are not exactly level.

The mini lathe is designed specifically to be used with metal and the cutting tool is supported by a T-rest instead of a cross slide. A T-rest is a tool holder that is attached to a movable carriage or platform. The tool is moved back and forth with either a hand crank or the lathe motor. This flexibility provides a large degree of control and the ability to produce very precise movements.

The lathe has been in use since the time of the Egyptians to create cylindrical objects from a solid piece of wood or metal. Lathes were manual devices, which required someone to turn a crank to move the object until the mid 19th century. The mini lathe is ideal for hobbyists and is a great way to learn how to use a lathe. Mini lathes typically cost between $400 and $800 US Dollars (USD) and are available from a wide range of stores.

A mini lathe has all the functions of a lathe with the exception of screw cutting. This device can be used to create a wide range of products, ranging from eyeglass screws to small lamps. A typical lathe is used to bore, drill, knurl, mill, file and polish. When using a mini-lathe, be sure to follow all the safety precautions.

Accessories for the mini lathe are widely available. The standard accessories are different size drill bits, face plates, milling rests, chucks and arbors. These tools increase the usefulness of the mini lathe and expand the types of projects that you can do.

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