When working with lathes, it’s important to understand that problems will likely arise from time to time. When they do, this doesn’t mean that you should run for cover and hope that the problem resolves itself in time. But rather, you should embrace the challenge of learning something new and ultimately improving your skill in the long run.The following are 10 common problems and questions that wood and metal lathe workers have posed over the years and their potential solutions. Just remember that even though you may find that one of these common problems is similar to yours, the solution you require may be different than what worked for someone else.

My wood lathe is vibrating quite a bit not matter what I put in it. What can I do and should I be concerned?

A: A wood lathe should spin at a rate of between 2,400 and 3,000 revolutions per minute (or RPMs). There are a couple of reasons why your wood lathe may be vibrating. The first and most common is that the piece of wood that you’re working on is not centered. At the speed of the lathe, when the wood is unbalanced, it is naturally going to throw the lathe off balance, causing it to vibrate. The more out of balance that your wood piece happens to be, the more vibration you’re going to experience.

Is this vibration dangerous? It could be, but in most cases it’s minor and a nuisance more than anything. While you may not have an option to have balance wood to start with, always try and minimize the imbalance by shaving off one side or making sure the wood is centered properly.
Another reason for vibration is that the RPMs are too high. If the wood is vibrating enough, it could lead to the piece being thrown from the lathe machine. Slow down the RPMs until the vibration stops.

I’m having trouble with my wood cutting evenly. Am I doing something wrong?

That’s a difficult question to answer. Yes, you could be doing something wrong, or nothing at all. The most common reason why beginners struggle with uneven lathing is experience. The more you work with a wood lathe, the more you’ll begin to understand how it works. The most likely culprit is tentativeness. When you press down with your wood shaping tools, are you being even with your pressure? The moment the tool connects with the wood, you may be letting up on the pressure. It’s important to maintain even pressure for even pressure equals even cutting.

Why is my lathe making grinding noises?

A: The most common reason that a lathe would make grinding noises is that it’s noise being lubricated properly. Any parts that move require lubrication. Bearings, gears, and seals should all be checked for proper lubrication and if they are dry, check with your manufacturer’s specifications and lubricate as needed. Always make sure that you choose the proper lubrication for the parts.
If the grinding noise continues, it’s best to check with your lathe’s manufacturer to determine the cause of the noise.

I’m getting tearout with wood bowls with my lathe. What’s going on?

While you may want to eliminate tearout on the inside edge of the end grain of the wood you’re working on, it’s a common problem. It’s also one that is very difficult to eliminate. There are many factors that can lead to tearout, the type of wood that you’re working with being the most common.
Softer woods are more prone to tearout, so you may want to choose a denser wood. However, another common reason for tearout is using dull tools. Make sure that your tools are sharp during the entire process. Sharp tools are vital to minimizing the risk of tearout.

Why is my wood splintering when I’m using my lathe?

A: One of the most common problems that beginning lathe workers experience when working with wood is splintering. There are a couple of factors that can cause splintering, and they are easily correctable.The first key is to make sure that your lathe is spinning at the right RPMs. Wood lathes should rotate at around 2,400 to 3,000 RPMs. If it is spinning at a slower rate, then this can potentially cause splintering.
Also, make sure that you are working with sharp tools. Dull tools can pull on the wood, causing splintering.
Finally, apply sandpaper to the wood after you’ve worked it with your tools and before stopping the lathe. This will help smooth the surface and help avoid splintering effects.

How do I know what lubricants to use with my metal lathe?

A: Each metal that you work with will require some level of lubrication or coolant, depending on the type of metal and the heat that is generated from the cutting process. You can choose from three different types of coolant options: flood, mist, or dry. There are different opinions about these various cooling options, but it depends on the type of job that you’re working on. For small, quick lathing jobs, dry cooling is enough. For larger jobs, you will likely require flood cooling. Misting can be useful for jobs that heat up the metal, but for which you’re only doing quick cuts with time between those cuts.

How common are lathing accidents?

A: Not too common, if you follow common sense rules and regulations. Always wear safety gear, including gloves and goggles and never wear loose clothing that could become caught in the lathe unit itself. Safety is up to the individual using the lathe, so to say that accidents won’t happen is misleading. As long as you are safe, following safety protocol, and pay attention at all times when the lathe is in operation, then you will inherently minimize the risk of accidents for you.

The threads on my metal lathe refuse to cut properly. What can I do?

A: You may need a transposing gear is the threads on your metal lathe are not cutting properly. Threads are based on the lead screw and some other factors and make it difficult to change until you use a different gear, such as a 127-tooth gear, or the transposing gear.
If you continue to have problems with the threads, lower the RPMs of the lathe. This will help you control the threads you’re trying to create. The more you experiment, the more you’ll be able to refine your approach and get the threads the way you want them.

Why isn’t my metal lathe functioning properly?

A: The simple answer could be in the tailstock. If the tailstock is not fixed properly, the metal may not cut properly. Even though the tailstock doesn’t have much of a purpose, it needs to be locked down properly, or it can affect the entire machine. Inspect the screws on the tailstock and tighten as needed.
If they are tightened properly, check other parts of the machine for any loose screws or parts.

Q: The metal doesn’t seem to cut properly with my lathe. Why is it?

A: If your cutting tool has not been set properly, it can cause problems in the cutting process. Make sure the cutting tool is placed in the center. If it’s not directly in the center, this can affect all of the cuts during the process.

You should also let the cutting tool(s) cool properly to ensure good cutting throughout. Finally, make sure the chuck rotates at a speed that you can readily control.[clear]