Projects Using Metal Lathes

Written by steve smith
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A metal lathe is used to shaped metal into round, tubular shapes. It can cut patterns into the metal, or shape it into dowels similar to those you would find in banister rungs, chair legs and table legs. In this way, the metal lathe is similar to the wood lathe. However, with metal you can craft much more durable items that will last a long time. Making tools, lamps and other items are a possibility when you use a metal lathe.

Joinery Marking Gauge

One interesting project is to create a scribe tool used by master craftsmen and furniture makers. A joinery gauge is used to mark and cut joints in cabinets, bureaus and other wood projects. The gauge consists of a metal cylinder and a collar that slides over the cylinder. Both can be cut on the lathe. The cylinder is spun from steel and the collar spun from brass. An edge is cut around the outside of the collar and a hole is drilled through the centre to accommodate the sliding scribe cylinder.


A floor lamp is one of the more common metal lathe projects. This project involves cutting a long cylinder on the lathe from aluminium, brass or a heavier metal such as steel. With this project you have the freedom to create a design or pattern on the metal using the lathe. By shaving away sections of the metal, you can create rings and designs along the length of the lamp stand. For the base, spin and shape a flat disk of metal and then rivet a flat disk of metal to the bottom. Attach a lamp outlet and shade to the top to complete the project.

Candle Holders

Candle holders are another traditional project for the lathe. A candle holder is relatively small (anywhere from 6 inches to 24 inches long) so it can be crafted on smaller metal lathes. Like the lamp stand, it requires shaping and cutting parts of a metal rod to create a pleasing pattern. This can be completed in several ways using a variety of lathe cutting attachments like the straight blade. In addition, the end is bored out to create a slot into which the candle is set. This is a great project for a beginner or advanced metal lathe operator.

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