Metal Lathe

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Metal Lathe
Location Workshop
Owner So Make It

Warsash Maritime Academy kindly donated to us a working Harrison M300 lathe. It is in the workshop and may only be used by those who have the lathe user role, or are directly supervised by someone who does. If you wish to become a lathe user then get in touch with one of the lathe superusers, Duncan.

There are some important documents you will want to refer to if you are using the lathe. The user manual is here, the risk assessment is here and, mandatory signage that should be displayed next to the lathe at all times.


Health & Safety

Personal protective equipment should be worn when operating or being near the lathe. This includes safety goggles and apron. Do not wear gloves or baggy sleeves or have anything dangling from you like jewellery or hair. They can snag in rotating tools with unpleasant results.

Nothing should be put in the cupboard underneath the lathe - the door obstructs the emergency foot brake pedal.

Do not clear swarf by hand - metal swarf is razor-sharp and will cut deeply - use a brush and blue paper.

Never, ever let go of the chuck key while it is in the chuck - if you forget it is there and start the lathe it will fly across the room and hurt someone, probably you.

Do not attempt to machine the more excitable pyrophoric metals - titanium, magnesium etc. With no coolant used in machining, the swarf from these metals can combust and there are no facilities to extinguish them.

The main power isolator switch on the lathe should be turned off and secured when there is no lathe user present. There are several safety interlocks on the lathe - do not attempt to bypass any of these, in fact check that they are working before starting the lathe.

The safety systems will not stop you doing some things that will break the lathe and you, for example driving the tool post into the chuck on autofeed. You must take suitable precautions to prevent these things happening yourself. Never leave the lathe running unattended.

Regular Maintenance

Oil levels should be checked and oil should be added to each oiling point every day that the lathe is used. Use only the designated lathe lube oil.

All swarf and debris must be cleaned up at the end of each session.

All tooling must be put away in its designated place at the end of each session.

The lathe bench must remain clean and tidy at all times.

All lathe tools must be kept sharp - please report broken/dull tooling so it can be fixed/replaced.

Keep the lathe and tooling clean using tough blue tissue roll (the lint free stuff that doesn't break)

Critical repairs/upgrade

The cross slide gib strip was broken and has been replaced with a new one. It is expensive and time consuming, please don't break it again.

Upgrades/Parts wanted

Set of cutting tools

Tachometer to give RPM readout

4 jaw chuck + backplate to fit headstock spindle

Shimless tool holder (Or better yet, make a quick change tool holder)

Milling vice to fit cross-slide

Chuck board

On loan

Metric dial gauge ( - Chris Smith's

Imperial spanners - Chris Smith's

Parting tool - Chris Smith's

Solid square - Chris Smith's

Metre rule - Chris Smith's

Swarf Management

Using the lathe will generate large amounts of swarf over time. This should not be picked up with bare fingers or wipe off with your hand as it can contain all sorts of nasty bits like metal splinters. The lathe itself can be cleaned with tough blue tissue but ideally we need some kind of collection system to clear up the swarf that falls into the swarf tray. A dustpan and brush dedicated to the lathe would be advisable. A wet'n'dry shop vacuum would be lovely.

It may be wise to maintain different swarf bins for different metals - in the event of accumulating enough scrap to make it worthwhile, there is the possibility of selling the metal for scrap if it is segregated.


Some pointers...

Listen to the tool. If it is making strange noises, turn it off. If something is out of balance (unintentionally), you will be rewarded with excessive vibration.

Make sure chucks are done up tightly in use.

Do not try to take too deep a cut - there are a variety of outcomes, none of them ideal. Excessive chatter (and marring of the workpiece), tool tip breakage, forcing the workpiece out of the chuck or stalling the motor are all possibilities (although it is more likely that the belt will slip rather than the motor stopping).

Practice on softer materials e.g. Delrin, aluminium.

Check that everything is clear before switching on - ensure the chuck's rotation will not hit the topslide. Check everything is tightened up - headstock bolt, tailstock bolt, top slide, tool bolts.

Stockists & Suppliers

Tools & Tooling


Other lathes in space

There is a wood lathe in the workshop on loan. Refer to its page for details. We also have a home made watch makers type lathe donated by Jem Gillam.

Personal tools