Metal lathes turn blocks of metal into machined parts and shapes. These tools use sharp edges, often made of carbide, to remove thin layers of metal to reshape metal into cylinders, tubes or many other shapes. Metal lathes require coolants, such as oil or graphite, to help dissipate the heat generated by the tools.
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A facing tool for a metal lathe attaches to the end of the turning and creates a flat surface on the turned piece. The metal being worked is held in place by a chuck or a series of clamps that secures the metal in the centre of a rotating plate. As the piece turns, the facing tool is moved up and down along the opposite side of the turning. With each pass, thin layers of metal are removed. After several passes, the base of the turning is square and smooth.
Knife tools mount to the side of the turning and are designed to smooth outside surfaces on metal turnings. They also can be used to create indentations or collars in the turning. To create a collar, you turn the entire piece to the thickness of the collar at its widest point by shaving off repeated thin layers of metal. Once the turning is the desired collar thickness, the areas below the collar are shaved off. The collar is formed by setting a stop on the knife tool to prevent it from cutting through the collar portion of the turning.
A boring tool is used to enlarge a hole in the centre of the turning. Although commercial metal lathes can sometimes create a bore in a solid block, many are designed to enlarge a hole that already exists. The boring tool is similar to a knife tool in the way it works. However, the boring tool's cutting edge is designed to shave metal from the inside of a turning. They are used to make cylinders or indentations where the turning will mate with a smaller turned piece.
Recessing tools are similar to boring tools. However, the tip of boring tools typically is pointed toward the chuck end of the turning. Recess tools are straight or square-edged to form a square corner on the recess. Recessing tools are used in existing bores or drilled holes to finish and square off the inside portion of the turning.
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