What Speed to Run a Lathe to Cut Brass

A lathe is a precision machining tool, which allows the user to cut, shape or trim brass and other materials.


If you need to cut a specific material, it is vitally important that you set the lathe machine to the correct feed and the correct speed. These two go hand in hand to create a precision piece of machine work.


The correct cutting tools are of the utmost importance so make sure your lathe is equipped with the right cutting tool. Brass is a copper (2/3) and zinc (1/3) alloy metal which looks similar to gold in color. It is an easy tool to machine, but the lathe has to be set to its high settings speed. If the lathe is not powerful enough it will rip the brass, but most lathes have the velocity to cut brass very easily. Not only should the lathe's revolutions per minute (RPM) be taken into consideration, but also the SFM, which equates to how many feet of surface per minute will pass through the lathe. For soft brass the average speed setting is around 110 to 130 RPM, which offers a faster speed to prevent the brass being torn. Hard brass requires a slightly slower speed of between 90 and 110 RPM and this accommodates the ability to use speed to the advantage of the right cutting tools for cutting and shaping. Of course, this largely depends on the feed of the project as well at the type of lathe you are implementing.


The angle must be very tight for cuts into brass, as it needs to be sharp enough to take shavings off the allotted areas without tear it. For ornate door handles or back plates the brass has to be locked into the lathe using chucks, depending on the type and age of the lathe.