Wood Lathe vs. Metal Lathe: What to Pick & Why?

Before we begin, it is essential to understand what lathe is. In simple terms, a lathe is a machine or a device that uses a rotating spindle to cut, reshape, smooth, and carve through different objects. It is a versatile machine tool that is widely used in the various manufacturing industries. A lathe can be a wood lathe, metal, or glass lathe.

In this article, we are going to discuss wood and metal lathe. A wood lathe has a wooden rotating spindle, whereas a metal lathe works with a metal rotating spindle. We will be telling you the differences between these two devices so that it is easy for you to pick one.

Wood Lathe vs. Metal Lathe

Difference Between Wood Lathe vs. Metal Lathe

A wood lathe is a lathe used for woodworking. It is specially designed to work in wood applications. On the other hand, a metal lathe is the lathe type to perform the metalworking applications. The wood lathe can sand, cut, drill, and face wooden pieces. In contrast, metal lathes can convert and deform workpieces made of steel, iron, aluminum, and other metals.

Difference Between Wood Lathe vs. Metal Lathe

As suggested by their work, the wood lathe is lighter than the metal lathe and is not suitable for harder materials and metals. On the flip side, a metal lathe is powerful enough to work with metal workpieces. The wood lathe is smaller, simpler, and not much speedy and powerful. In comparison, the metal lathe is highly powerful used in accordance with a hard cutting tool.

Difference Between Wood Lathe vs. Metal Lathe

It is an interesting thing to know that wood lathes are highly effective at deforming wooden workpieces, but they only support wooden workpieces. On the other hand, metal lathes can work on wooden as well as metal workpieces. Here is a list of the difference between a wood lathe and a metal lathe:

  • The wood lathe is not as practical as the metal lathe since it is only limited to the edging, cutting, shaping, and transformation of wood, while the metal lathe can process metal and wood.
  • Wood lathes are simpler and easier to use, unlike metal lathes that require a skilled crafter.
  • Wood lathe is less powerful than the metal lathe as the metal lathe is designed to handle harder materials, so it is extremely powerful.
  • Wood lathe is more economical in range whereas metal lathe appears to be much costly.
  • While working with the wood lathe, you will feel wariness since it requires a lot of an individual’s physical exertion; in contrast, a metal lathe does not require manual exertion.
  • Wood lathe requires force; hence it is not a single man’s job to handle it requiring more employees. On the other metal, lathe requires a lesser but well-trained workforce.
  • The wood lathe is limited to just one kind of material. Thus, it cannot be a better investment. The metal lathe can be the best choice to invest in since it can handle multiple materials.
  • A wood lathe gives desired results within more time than a metal lathe that manipulates metal and wooden workpieces within a very short time.

Wood Lathe

A wood lathe is a device that is used to manipulate wooden workpieces in various shapes and forms. This device is mostly used at work sites or in various wooden industries. However, some crafters use it by themselves to create many things or to customize their projects. A wood late has the following parts:

Wood Lathe
  • A center. It is a special holder where the crafter inserts a piece of wood. A center holds the wood in place to process it further with the help of bladed.
  • Handles Blades. There are a variety of handheld blades in a wood lathe. Some wooden lathes hold the blade, while in some lathes, the crafter has to hold the blades itself.

A wood lathe can work with numerous blades of different widths, angles, and shapes. The type of blade depends upon you that in what pattern you have to cut the wood. The wide blades with sharper angles can cut large portions of wood away from the piece. The sharper or pointier blades are mostly used for further detailing. The device functions by spinning the center rapidly along with the wood. In the meantime, the crafter applies the blade of its choice to the wood piece to give it a specific shape.

Wood Lathe Uses

Wood Lathe Uses
  • You can use a wood lathe for sandpapering the surface of the wood.
  • Instead of holding the piece in hand, you can fix it in a wood lathe machine. It spins the wood piece while rubbing against the piece of sandpaper which you are holding.
  • For crafting and general woodworking,
  • You can also create decorative spindles with a wood lathe that are used to create fancy furniture.
  • The wood lathe can create cue sticks, baseballs, bats, and various cylindrical shapes, giving them a smooth texture.

Metal Lathe

A metal lathe is a lathe that is specifically designed to perform different metalworking applications. However, it can also process the wood pieces easily. A metal lathe is extremely powerful to handle harder materials, and it requires less individual force. It can easily deform workpieces of various metals, i.e., iron, steel, aluminum, etc. The part distinct to the wooden lathe, which a metal lathe contains is:

Metal Lathe

Metallic cutting tool. It is tied on a rotating mounting surface. You need to place the metal workpiece on the lathe. The metallic or hardened cutting tool comes in contact with it to deform it.

Metal Lathe Uses

Metal Lathe Uses
  • A metal lathe can edge, cut, shape, and transform any given object (ranging from a bullet to a ring). Metal lathes can be quite harmful if not handled by a professional. Since the metal lathes are significantly aggressive in their performance, they require to be more meticulously used.
  • In addition to this, metal lathes are very much beneficial where mass production is required.
  • A metal lathe is an all-purpose lathe, can fulfill the requirement better in a manufacturing factory and give a large-scale production.


In a nutshell, metal lathes are way better than wood lathes in their efficiency, resourcefulness, performance, and effectiveness. However, it is much costly but worth investing in due to its multi-purpose tasking.

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