Grinding with a Mini Metal Lathe

When using a lathe for grinding, small metal lathes, often called mini metal lathes, are preferred. Commonly, metal lathes use grinding wheels to grind tools and fittings. The design of metal lathes allows them to hold objects and spin them to create a desired cut, shape or design. Mini metal lathes are popular in home workshops or in small businesses that do not produce a great amount of output. There are several reasons why you might want to grind using a mini metal lathe. When grinding with a lathe there are several things that you should know. 


When grinding with a mini metal lathe one key thing to remember is to remain clean. You should fully cover as much of the lathe and parts as possible to keep them clean. The dust, debris and particles created when grinding can clog up the moving parts of your lathe. As well, the buildup of grinding dust can dull your grinding wheel and be harmful to your lathe. 

The Grinding Wheel

Grinding wheels have a “gritty” texture which acts like an abrasive surface to perform the grinding. Think of the surface of a grinding wheel as you might think of sandpaper. It is important to have enough grit in your grinding wheel to perform the grind you desire. If the grit is too low, you will never achieve the grind you need and if the grit to too much, you can easily over grind your piece. When grinding steels you really need your lathe capable of turning your grinding wheel at high speeds. Your grinding wheel should be treated as any other cutting tool would be, meaning that it should be sharpened just as you would sharpen other tools. By using a dressing tool, you can resurface and sharpen your grinding wheel and eliminate the dull or dirty surface. 

You should always center your grinding wheel with your project piece. If your tool is not centered to the grinding wheel it could slip up or down during the process. The grinding wheel should rotate in the opposite direction of your project piece. If the grinding wheel and your project piece rotate in the same direction, the grinding wheel can actually rotate the piece instead of grinding it. 

The Grinding Process 

When you purchase new tools or bits, the tips may not be as sharp or as steep as you desire. If this is the case, you can grind the tool using your mini metal lathe to create a sharper end or point. To sharpen tools and bits you can use your grinding wheel. Move your tool at an angle until the entire edge of the tool makes contact with the grinding wheel and hold for a 10 second period. You want to grind against the full length of the tool to create a sharp edge. You will know that you are grinding at the correct angle because you will see sparks on the entire length of the tool. If you do not see sparks across the entire edge, you will need to adjust the angle of your tool. Once you have grinded the tool for a 10 second interval, you can dunk the tool into a container of water to cool the tool. The grinding process will cause your tool to heat up and the water will cool the cool allowing you to handle it throughout the grinding process.