Manual Lathe Class
Lesson 6: Operating the Manual Lathe
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Introduction: Operating the Manual Lathe

The following outlines basic operation and etiquette for milling parts on the manual lathe.

Area and Machine Preparation

  1. Press the E-stop.
  2. Clean and clear the lathe.
  3. Secure the workpiece.
  4. Select and install the cutting tool.
  5. Calculate the RPM (speed) for your cutter and material.
  6. Use the handwheel to rotate the chuck to check for collisions.
  7. Turn the speed control to a low number.
  8. Lock the Quick lever into the forward position.

Making the Cut

  1. Start the lathe.
    • Release the E-Stop.
    • Press start.
    • Move the spindle speed range lever to high or low.
  2. Change the RPM to the calculated value.
  3. Move the cutting tool close to the desired starting point.
  4. Gently engage the cutting tool.
  5. Make the first cutting pass.
    • This may be a good time to 0 the X or Z axis.
  6. Move the spindle speed range lever to the center to stop the spindle.


  1. Press the E-stop.
  2. Remove the workpiece.
  3. Clean the lathe and the area nearby.
    • Use brushes and a vacuum, not compressed air.
    • Chips may be sharp; use a tool to remove them.
  4. Clean up any coolant spills.
  5. Put away tooling, drill bits and tools.
  6. Recycle scraps and put reusable pieces in the storage bin in the metal shop.

Print Out This Guide

This course is available as a PDF that is attached to this step. Enjoy the manual lathe safely!

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