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What Are the Different Types of Metal Lathe Tools?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

Metal lathe tools, such as cutting tools, are designed to be used for particular applications. Both right- and left-hand turning cutting bits are used to cut steel in a specific direction without making contact with the tool holder. The round-nose cutting tool bit is used for most basic cutting and finishing and is the most widely used of all metal lathe tools. Thread-cutting tools, knurling tools and parting tools are all used for specific cutting and texturing applications when turning steel on a lathe.

These tools perform a multitude of tasks, from cutting and shaping to threading and finishing steel. With each tool designed to perform a specific task, a wide assortment of metal lathe tools is required for most projects completed on a metal lathe. High-strength carbon steel is used in the production of most metal lathe tools to enable the tool to cut or press into the turning steel of the lathe project and be resharpened when the tool becomes dull. Dull metal lathe tools will produce a less-than-quality outcome on any given lathe project regardless of the level of skill the metal lathe operator possesses. This is also true when examining the quality of the metal lathe itself; a dull or poor-quality tool will produce a poor-quality finished project regardless of the quality of the lathe.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Most metal lathe tools come in both left- and right-hand styles, with each tool in a particular group such as roughing, side-facing and finishing tools used only when making cuts in that particular direction. Most of these tools are also available in carbide-tipped or tungsten-tipped versions, along with the plain steel type. Thread-cutting tools are able to cut both fine and coarse threads, and knurling tools are able to apply the diamond-like pattern on most types of metal to provide an area of superior gripping ability to any project.

Boring tools are some of the most common metal lathe tools and are an irreplaceable tool when the need to bore into a project is required. Some metal lathe tools such as the different styles of chucks and tail centers enable an operator to produce detailed work on the metal lathe. While the number of jaws on a chuck or the method of tightening the jaws onto a project are not always thought of as being lathe tools, to a skilled lathe operator, they are.

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