A wood lathe project can be accomplished by both a metal and a wood lathe. However, with each project, each type of lathe will have its advantages and disadvantages.
To better understand these tools for your next lathe project, it is important to first know how each type of lathe works.
The differences between the lathe types pertain to their function. A metal lathe is a large, industrial strength piece of equipment that is used for notching or machining metals. It can be used on hard metals such as brass, steel and iron.
Wood lathes can come in various sizes and are designed to hold a piece of wood and turn it at a high speed. This allows you to create symmetrical curves in the wood. These lathes are used by both woodworkers and artists.
Before starting any wood lathe project, you must consider the advantages and disadvantages of each lathe type.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Metal Lathes
A metal lathe is a very accurate tool that allows you to make precision turns in a material, including wood which enables you to make a perfect cone or cylinder. While it works, you do not need to hold the wood as it is held in place. You also have an advantage if you are working with a hard wood such as maple, as a metal lathe works best with hard materials.
Disadvantages of metal lathes when working with wood are that they are not suitable for large wood lathe projects due to their limited capacity. They also work at limited speeds which may not make them suitable for all wood projects.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood Lathes
A wood lathe is ideal for working with wood. It allows for you to be artistic and create shapes while turning the wood. You can either follow along the given shape of the wood or you can create a new shape.
In terms of cost, a wood lathe is less expensive than a metal lathe. It is easier to fix than a metal lathe as it is not as complicated and has less working parts.
Unlike a metal lathe, a wood lathe is not as precise of a tool. You would need a metal lathe or a jigsaw to create a perfect circle or sphere.
The Best Lathe for Your Project
Working with wood allows you to work with both types of lathes. However, when thinking in terms of your lathe project, you will want to choose and use the right lathe for the type of project and material that you are using. For example, if you have a lathe project that involves a large piece of wood, a wood lathe would be your best choice.
If you work with both wood and metals and you have the space and the money, consider having both a metal and a wood lathe on hand.