Wood Lathe Vs Metal Lathe: Which One Is The Right Choice For You?

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A lathe is the most versatile and multi-functioning machine tool that is used in the manufacturing industry. Through this tool, you can cut, drill, sand, turn, face, and deform your workpieces. However, lathes are often classified as wood and metal lathe. Wood and metal lathe have some fundamental differences which will help you to select the right one.

To choose between wood and metal lathe machine, you need to know about wood lathe vs metal lathe. Well, to learn more about the differences between wood and metal lathe, you can go through this article. So, let’s have a look at the next segment of this article.

Wood Lathe Vs Metal Lathe: What’s the Difference?

There are different types of lathes in the market like wood lathe, Erie tools lathe, metal lathe, compact lathe, heavy-duty lathe and, etc. Before choosing a lathe for your work, it is essential to know the differences between these lathes.

Wood Lathe Vs Metal Lathe: What’s the Difference?

Knowing about wood lathe vs metal lathe or the similarities and dissimilarities will help you to choose the suitable lathe machine for your work. I will show you the differences between the wood lathe and metal lathe depending on their definition, features, portability, woodturning, cutting, design, cost, durability, pros, and cons. So, let’s discuss the differences between wood and metal lathe.

What Is a Wood Lathe?

A wood lathe is a kind of lathe machine that is designed for woodworking applications. These lathe machines are used to cut, drill, turn and deform wooden workpieces. Wood lathe machines are not suitable for workpieces that are made of more complex materials like metal. These lathes are highly efficient and effective in manipulating wooden workpieces.

What Is a Wood Lathe?

What Is a Metal Lathe?

A metal lathe is also a type of lathe machine that is capable of performing metalworking applications as the metal workpieces are harder than wooden workpieces. Usually, metal lathes are extremely powerful than other lathe machines. Metal lathes are able to deform and manipulate workpieces that are made of steel, aluminum, iron, and other common metals.

What Is a Metal Lathe?

Features Wood and Metal Lathe Machine

Dissimilarities between the features of wood lathe and metal lathe are mentioned below. After knowing the characteristics of both lathes, you will be able to choose the suitable machine for your work.

Wood Lathe

  • It is a freehand cutting and deforming tool, and the tolerance level of this machine is not compared to a metal lathe machine.
  • With the wood lathe, you can cut wood and some plastics also.
  • Wood lathes are usually used for decorative work, not for structural components.
  • In terms of sturdiness and weight, wood lathe machines are much lighter, thinner, and flimsier.
  • A wood lathe comes with an excellent sturdy bed so that the workpieces can swing over bed and work correctly.
  • You can add jaw chucks to deform hardwoods like maple.
  • Wood lathe requires variable speed setting on the powerful motor to deform the heavy wooden workpieces.

Metal Lathe

  • Metal lathes are extremely heavy and sturdy, and they can easily weigh a ton or more.
  • This machine needs to be sturdy to cut metal parts.
  • It needs a slower spindle RPM (revolution per minute) because metal is more rigid and tougher to cut than wood.
  • A metal lathe equipped with dials and gears to manufacture exact metal parts.
  • Metal lathe machines include shafts, screw threads, gears, bushing, nuts, bearings, washers, bolts, etc.
  • This lathe machine needs a powerful motor because to shape metal workpieces and variable speeds of the motor are essential.
  • The high spindle speeds of this lathe and variable speed control of the motor give the proper shape to the workpiece.

Portability of Wood and Metal Lathe

When the term portability comes, then the Mini Lathes get the priority because maximum wood lathe machines like mini wood lathes are portable. You can use a mini – lathe machine anywhere as it is moveable and transportable. Mini wood lathe does not need a variable speed motor, and because of this, it is easily moveable.

Portability of Wood and Metal Lathe

Metal lathe machines are a large class of tools that are designed for metalworking in larger projects, and these lathes are not suitable to move quickly. But some metal lathes like mini metal lathes are portable and moveable because of their motor powers. Mini metal lathes are small, affordable, and perfect for home shops and minor projects. Mini metal lathes work best with metal and wood also.

Wood Turning by Wood and Metal Lathe

Usually, woodturning is a skill and craft of using the wood lathe machine with a handheld tool like cross slides and cutting tools to cut a symmetrical shape around the axis of rotation. You can do woodturning in the proper way through a wood lathe machine, and your workpieces will get a better shape by the woodturning of wood lathe.

Woodturning is possible with the metal lathe machine as it has plenty of power. You need to remember that metal lathe machines support both wooden and metal workpieces but wood lathes only support woodturning in wooden workpieces.

Cost of Wood and Metal Lathe

Maximum wood lathes are expensive because these lathes work very precisely. Wood lathe needs to run for hours to give a workpiece perfect shape, and this puts a lot more wear on the motors and other moving parts than other lathe machines. Thus a wood lathe machine becomes expensive but not as expensive as a metal lathe. Some Mini wood lathes come at an affordable price because its size and compact design.

Cost of Wood and Metal Lathe

Metal lathers are also expensive because the cast iron bodies, motors, and other parts used to build these machines are costly to produce. Many laborers are involved in machining parts and calibrating the final assembled metal lathe, adding to the cost.

Durability of Wood and Metal Lathe

Both the wood and metal lathe machines are durable because these machines are used to turn rigid objects like metal and wood. These machines are made of durable and sturdy materials that are capable of heavy-duty handling work. So, in terms of durability, both the wood and lathe machine possess the same quality.

Pros of Wood and Metal Lathe

Differences between the advantages of wood and metal lathe machines are mentioned here-

Wood Lathe:

  • This lathe machine allows you to be artistic while turning the wood.
  • You can create a new and perfect shape with a wood lathe machine.
  • This machine is less expensive than the metal lathe.
  • You can quickly fix wood Lathe Chuck and other parts because it is not as complicated as a metal lathe. You can use a chuck guard to protect the lathe chuck.
  • It is perfect for doing woodturning.

Metal Lathe:

  • This machine will give you accurate and precise shapes of metal workpieces.
  • You can use this lathe for both wood and metal workpieces.
  • When the machine works, you don’t need to hold the metal and wood.
  • Metal lathe works best with hardwood like maple and hard materials.
  • You can create the perfect cone or cylinder with this lath machine.

Cons of Wood and Metal Lathe Machine

Below I have added a list of disadvantages of both wood and metal lathe machines.

Wood Lathe:

  • This lathe machine is not as precise as a metal lathe.
  • It can’t handle hardwood like maple.

Metal Lathe:

  • A metal lathe is more expensive than a wood lathe machine.
  • It is heavier than the other lathe machines.

Wood Lathe Vs Metal Lathe: Which One Is The Right Choice For You?

The primary difference between woodworking lathes and metalworking lathes is that the former is designed for wooden workpieces, and the latter supports both metal and wooden workpieces. However, choosing a suitable lathe machine depends on what type of work you want to do with it and also on your budget.

Wood Lathe Vs Metal Lathe: Which One Is The Right Choice For You?

If you want to make only woodworking applications, then you can choose the wood lathe machine, which is also affordable. You can select the metal lathe machine if you want to make both wood and metalworking applications.

Conclusion

A lathe machine is a tool that is used in manufacturing industries to cut, drill, sand, and deform workpieces. However, these machines are often categorized as metal lathe and wood lathe. If you want to choose a suitable lathe machine for your work, then you must know about wood lathe vs metal lathe.

After knowing the differences between these lathe machines, you will be able to choose a suitable lathe machine. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will learn everything about wood and metal lathe machines.

 

Author - Lee Morris

Hi, I am Lee Morris, I have run a power tools business for woodworking. Where I sell mostly wood router, compact router, trim router, plunge router, wood lathe chuck, and many other power tools for woodworking.

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