We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Copy Lathe?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A copy lathe is a special type of lathe that mimics a template or shape to produce the same item continuously. This is mostly used for hard-to-make or irregularly shaped items that would otherwise be difficult to reproduce without fault. To do this, the item is produced once or a template is purchased, and the copy lathe follows the shape and depth to perfectly reproduce the item. This function is provided on most lathes, because many lathe workers find it useful.

The copy lathe is the copy machine of the woodworking and metalworking world. It starts with the worker creating a shape or getting a template. Templates are just pre-made pieces that are no different than if the worker were to create the shape himself or herself. Getting a template is easier, but templates are usually standard shapes like a banister piece or chair leg, so the worker may be unable to find a template to fit his or her needs. In this instance, the worker creates the shape using the lathe or carving by hand.

After the shape is created, it is taken from the cutting part of the lathe. It is then placed in the copy portion of the copy lathe, which is usually on the bottom. The setup is similar to setting the wood or metal in the cutting portion. Both ends of the object are secured, and a metal piece is set up to touch the template. The difference is that the metal piece is not for cutting but for guiding along the template to understand the shape and depth.

Material is placed into the cutting portion of the copy lathe. A worker may have to make a connection between the copy and cutting portion, but having the template in the copy portion also may automatically turn on the copy function. This depends on the copy lathe model.

The material in both the cutting and copy portions of the copy lathe begin to spin. On the copy portion, a stylus softly drags along the template. The cutter responds to the stylus by moving in and out, according to the template’s design. Cutting from one side to the next, the lathe will make an exact copy of the template.

Copy lathes are made so workers can recreate the same shape without any faults. This means the worker can make the same piece, regardless of how intricate it is, as many times as needed. Thomas Blanchard patented the first copy lathe around 1820, mostly for making gunstocks and other irregular items such as shoe lasts.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.