Why a Metal Turning Lathe Should be Horizontal Why a Metal Turning Lathe Should be Horizontal

A metal turning lathe is a heavy duty precision piece of equipment designed to work with hard materials. While it was originally designed to work specifically with metals, other materials such as plastics or wood will also work.

The horizontal set up of the metal turning lathe is important for stability while operating the machine. For this reason, you need to know how the machine works.

Method of Operation

A metal turning lathe works by spinning a piece of metal at a high rate of speed on a spindle.  The spindle turns a rod or sheet of metal while a tool is pressed against its surface with a predetermined amount of force.

The speed and the tool against the metal allow the metal to be shaped or cut into a symmetrical form. The lathe also has the ability to form, twist, cut or gouge the metal while it turns.

Due to the speed of the metal lathe and the machining action, it is important that the lathe has very stable construction.

Horizontal Lathe Bed

Having a horizontal metal turning lathe bed is important for the lathe's accuracy. The axis of the metal piece that is being worked and the level of the lathe bed should be horizontal and parallel for accurate machining.

Horizontal installation allows machined items placed in the head to be perfectly symmetrical along the length of the shaft. The shaft may taper off at the other end if the lathe is not horizontal and level.

Proper installation also benefits the stability and durability of the equipment. It also aids in damping, which is the reduction of vibrations caused by alternating currents, noise or mechanical oscillations by dissipating the energy created.

Level the Lathe Bed

The act of using the lathe creates vibration and wear to the equipment. If a metal turning lathe is not parallel and leveled, it will increase deterioration and shorten the life of your lathe.

Verify that your lathe has been properly leveled. The operation of the machine will be hindered if it is not level, even by just a one thousandth of an inch.

Signs of an Improperly Leveled Lathe

A sign of a horizontal and leveled lathe bed will be that it is level both crosswise and lengthwise. However, although your lathe may look level, it may not be.

There are some signs to look out for that show that your lathe is not been properly leveled. These signs will appear while operating the lathe. Signs include a chatter sound, tapering of the turn or bore, scoring of the bed, spindle or carriage, excessively worn spindle bearings, binding the carriage or the lathe face will become concave or convex. You may also see twisting in the headstock, tailstock, carriage, bed or spindle that causes excessive and uneven wear on these components.

If you see any of these signs, stop operating the lathe and level the lathe.

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