Lathes– One of the Oldest Machinery Tools to Date

Lathes– One of the Oldest Machinery Tools to Date

Lathes have come a long way from when they were first introduced. In fact, lathes were around as early as 3,000 years ago, and they were used by the Egyptians. The Egyptians developed and used a two-person lathe where one person would use rope to turn a woodwork piece and the other person used a sharpened tool to cut it.

These machines are one of the oldest tools! By 1569 C.E., they were used by the French for wooden products and later modernized during the Industrial Revolution by the English. Lathes have progressed dramatically, and these machines are more advanced and ready to tackle your fabrication projects.

Basics of a Lathe Machine

Lathes are used for various applications; they work by holding and rotating your workpiece while a tool is held against it. Metal-cutting lathes can cut both solid and hollow cylinder and cone workpieces and produce round parts to tight tolerances.

The primary components of a lathe consist of the lathe bed, headstock, tailstock, and carriage. The bed is the foundation of the entire machine and holds all the other components. On the beds are ribs which add to the rigidity against cutting forces. Lathes are designed with inverted V’s to provide better alignment from the cutting forces.

There are a few functions that the headstock provides. The first is that it supports the spindle, so the axis remains coaxial with the tailstock, and in most designs, it is permanently connected to the same casting.

Next is the tailstock. This has a casting that glides along the ways. Ways are the machined pieces of the carriage and tailstock slide. A binding lever on the tailstock secures it to the ways and keeps it from moving.

And lastly, we have the carriage, which has four components: saddle, apron, compound slide, and cross slide. The H-shaped casting on the carriage is the saddle, and it lies on the ways. This supports the cross slide and apron and forms the carriage’s base. The apron on the lathe is the flat plate on the user’s side of the saddle. The drive mechanisms are inside to help move the carriage along the ways. The compound slide on the machine can be moved 360º, locked in any position, and holds the tool holder. Then your cross slide is a casting on the saddle that holds the compound rest.

What We Offer

Choosing the right lathe can make all the difference in your fabrication. Palmgren offers a range of lathes to assist you in your fabrication applications.

At Palmgren, we currently offer bench and engine lathes. In both categories, each machine provides something unique so you can find the best one for you. Our offerings range from 9” x 20” to 22” x 80”. Palmgren bench lathes deliver precision, power, and versatility for handling a wide range of turning operations typically found in much larger machines. Heavy cast iron construction, smooth power transmission, precision thrust and ball bearings in the headstock and spindle, and hardened and ground ways combine to give you years of trouble-free precision turning.

All our lathes are built and inspected to the DIN 8606 toolmakers’ precision lathe standard, assuring accuracy and consistent performance. With high-end functionality, you can quickly turn small metal parts for prototyping, fabrication, maintenance work, jewelry, and hobby applications; the options are nearly endless.

Learn More

We hope you feel more informed on the purpose of lathes and the options available to you. In addition to our lathes, Palmgren sells a complete line of machinery such as mills, finishing machines, vises, and more. To learn more about our lathes and other products, head to

Palmgren®, “Embrace the Work™”

2024 © Palmgren (a C.H. Hanson brand) - All rights reserved. No portion of this site including text, graphics, image, icons or other elements may be copied or used without the expressed written consent of C.H Hanson. We make our best efforts to ensure specifictions and product information is accurate. We assume no responsibility for information errors.