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What is a lathe?


Lathe, a mechanical appliance for holding and rotating any material to be worked upon by a tool for the purpose of cutting. polishing. etc. In the ancient 'bow and cord' and 'pole' lathes the movement was alternately forward and backward; the wheel-driven lathe was not used until the 14th century. The essential principle of all modern lathes is that of two point centers in which the work rotates, and a rest to support the tool operating on its surface. If the work revolves between fixed centers the lathe is termed 'dead-center', but very few are of this class.

A lathe consists usually of a bed carrying a tail stock and headstock, by which the work is supported and driven.

The tool is held and moved by a tool-rest, which is mounted on the saddle.

In the capstan lathe the tools required for various operations are held in a holder which resembles the old-fashioned capstan. the tools taking the position of the capstan handles. By revolving the capstan the various tools can be brought into position in the proper sequence.

The turret lathe is a capstan lathe in which the capstan head is automatically operated by power-turning of the tools in correct sequence for the job in hand. The work usually done by a lathe includes turning, screw-cutting, facing, and boring. Modern lathes are powered by electric motors. Automatic lathes are available in which all the operations are automatic except for loading and removing the workpiece which may also be automated in special 'conversions' .

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