There's nothing that makes a handyman smile more than a new tool, and at the top of many men's list is a metal lathe. This tool allows its user the ability to cleanly shave, form and poke holes into solid metals including aluminium and steel. See the references for more specific directions on each of these projects.
If you plan on doing a great deal of woodworking, then a belt sander is a great first project for your lathe. A belt sander can be used to sand down large planks or sharpen tools. Create this tool by cutting all your steel pieces using the metal lathe. Use a punch to form screw holes and purchase a motor and the sanding belts.
Used as the first project at the University of Central Missouri, this simple little engine familiarises its creator with cutting steel and aluminium on a lathe. When finished, the engine runs on pressurised air and can make a fun conversation piece. You will also need a drill press, horizontal mill and grinding machine for this project.
While some baby toy rings are made out of wood, you can also make a captive (interlocking) ring rattle out of aluminium. This project requires your metal lathe and a grinding machine to smooth out the metal pieces. Best of all, this project teaches precision with your lathe as it requires you to carve out pieces of metal from underneath a ring.