What Is The Difference Between A Wood And Metal Lathe?

A lathe is a manufacturing tool. It is of two types, wood and metal, which differ quite widely. They need to be used as per their work type. These features will give you a more comprehensive and detailed view of both the pieces of machinery.

Difference Between A Wood And Metal Lathe

Let’s have a glance.


This is the most basic and significant difference of all. Wood lathes are applicable for woodworking which means sanding, facing, deforming, cutting, drilling and turning of only timber pieces. They are not at all advisable to be used for any hard materials. Now, here comes the metal lathes, which are mainly mastered to work upon both wooden and metallic workpieces. These are extremely powerful, for which they are majorly applied on metal workpieces. These can very easily manipulate and in turn deform iron, aluminium, steel, etc. But then, of course, they can also definitely work on timber pieces.


Since the metal lathe is the one which can be applied to work on both timber and metallic surfaces, the price of this type of machine is quite higher. Whereas on the other hand the wood lathe performing only on timber surfaces cost much lower. To be more specific with the pricing, one will have to read more of the physical and technical differences of both these lathes. Also, the wooden lathes can be more easily found than metallic counterparts.

Physical Features

The noticeable physical difference between them is that wood lathes are a much smaller machine to work with whereas, the metal ones are far bigger and heavier, a machine. Also, these machines are made of much simpler parts than those of the metal ones. Working on wood machines may not need proper expertise training, but if one decides to take up metal lathes to work with, then he or she will require proper professional training for that.


Adhering to the physical features, it can be very well understood that metal lathes are heavier, bigger and thus more difficult to take it from one place to another. On the other hand, wood machines are quite lightweight, smaller and therefore far more portable. Metal counterparts are best for stationary jobs, whereas wooden ones are apt for transportation jobs.

Difference Between A Wood And Metal Lathe - woodworking lathe

Manner of Use

Wood lathes are manually working machines, which need proper manpower (that refers mainly to the hands) to function. Additional to this character, such wooden machines are required to be under supervision for a major period of time. On the other hand, metal lathes are totally the opposite. These are computer programmed instruments which neither need manual force nor critical supervision. But when it comes to comfort, wood tools are far easier to work with than the metal ones.


Hand-worked machines are always sure to leave back rough edges whereas computerized works don’t. Same goes with wood and metal lathes; the former provides its users with much less accuracy than the latter.

Common Hazards

Both are more or less hazardous. But as it is always said, the percentage differs. A timber lathe can cause damage to the eyes from the dust of timbers. Dust of defective timbers is riskier. Whereas, on the other hand, similar kind of metal machine cannot only cause damage to the eyes from its flying objects but also to the ears for being subjected to continuous loud noise. And entanglement with the machine parts is a danger which is common to both. These are some of the most basic information about the two types of machines. It can help you to choose the one which is best for your workpiece.

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