How to Cut Gears on a Lathe

Written by amy lea
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How to Cut Gears on a Lathe
Gear teeth wear down after use. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

It is helpful to know how to cut gears on a lathe for when things break around the house. Small gears on household items often break after years of use. Plastic gears break easily on items such as music boxes and small toys. Larger gears on tools and bicycles, usually made of metal, can wear down. This shortens the teeth on the gear, making it impossible to work. Cutting a new gear on a lathe is a cheap and fast way to replace the broken gear.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Bronze blank bar
  • Mill
  • Sander
  • Lathe
  • Cutter to size
  • Metal marker
  • Metal ruler

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  1. 1

    Measure the gear size by tracing the gear onto the blank with a marker made for working on metal. Turn the bronze blank in a mill or on a sander until the blank is the same size as the original gear.

  2. 2

    Set the bronze blank bar in the holding fixture on the lathe table, securing it with the holding bar. Make sure the holding bar and screw are tightened completely. The gear must be cut to precision or it will not match in the machine from which the original came.

  3. 3

    Check the cutter to the tooth size on the original gear. Choose the cutter that is the same depth as the original tooth valleys. The depth must also be exact for the gear to work properly. Measure the tooth valley with a metal ruler.

  4. 4

    Cut the teeth in the new gear carefully. Use the metal marker to mark the teeth spots by tracing the original gear over the blank. Follow these spots for making the teeth on the new gear.

  5. 5

    Attach the new gear to the machine.

Tips and warnings

  • Make a copy of the new gear to ensure longevity of the machine or toy that needed a replacement.
  • Keep children away from power tools and machinery.

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