What is an Engine Lathe & How Does It Work – Parts of Engine Lathe Machine | CNCLATHING


A lathe machine is a machine tool used to create turned components with the desired shape and size. Common types of lathes including engine lathe, speed lathe, turret lathe, bench lathe, tool room lathe, wood lathe, CNC lathe, and special lathe. In this post, follow us to understand what is engine lathe and how does it work, as well as the main parts of engine lathe machine and their uses.

What is an Engine Lathe? - Development of Engine Lathe Machines

Engine lathe is the most common type of lathe machine for general-purpose metal cutting. In earlier days, this type of lathe was originally developed for machine engine blocks and driven by the steam engine and hence it was called engine lathe. The “engine” here is closer to the meaning of mechanical device, not the prime-mover sense, as in the steam engines which were the standard industrial power source for many years. Engine lathe was is the traditional lathe applied in the late 19th century or 20th century, with automatic feed to the cutting tool. 


Early engine lathes usually have coneheads with a spindle attached to it, a cone pulley designed to accept a flat belt, multiple spindle speeds can be obtained by moving the flat belt to different steps on the cone pulley. The modern engine lathes powered by small motors are much smaller and can be mounted on a typical workbench, but they are more powerful than original engine lathe machines. And engine lathes today are often equipped with Computer Numerical Control, allowing them to perform complex CNC turning or machining works with fewer manual operations.

How Does an Engine Lathe Work?

The engine lathe is often used to cut metal and can create various specific forms. The metal workpiece is clamped by the centers in the lathe and turned, the machine uses special cutting tools to create the desired shape. The engine lathe works on the principle of the block being rotated against a cutting tool. Notable features of the engine lathe are gears, a stepped pulley, tailstock, and a carriage. The gears function to power the transport and cushion the cutting tools. The tailstock support hole making within the spindle. The stepped pulley operates at multiple spindle speeds.

Parts of Engine Lathes and Their Uses - Engine Lathe Machine Construction

How to run an engine lathe? Figure out all the components and mechanisms of the machine and their uses, you can operate the machine to complete specific work. 

– The basic component of the lathe is the headstock where all gear selectors are located. There are speed selectors and feed selectors, the feed is determined by the gear. 

– Another main part of the engine lathe is the carriage, which controls all your movement in longitude and back and forth in latitude. You can also have an angular movement here, which is controlled by your compound rest. Also located in the carriage is your automatic feed lever, this will control longitudinal and lateral automatic feed. Engine lathe also has an emergency stop button, if you press it, it cuts all the power to the lathe. 3-jaw chucks and 4-jaw chucks both can be used on the engine lathe machine. The three-jaw chucks, all the jaws move at the same time, with the turn of a chuck key, that’s how you tighten up your work. On the carriage, we also have a tool post that contains your tool holder and tools. You can adjust the height and actual angle of the cutting tool. 

– There is also a tailstock that is used for hole-making operations, drilling, reaming, tapping, or just holding the part between centers or for stabilizing long shafts. In addition, the lead screw and feed screw turn independently of each other on the machine. The lead screw is used when threading and that is what the half-nut lever locks into. The feed screw is used to dictate how fast its feeding. 

– The way is what everything sits on, the bed is where the way located, ways need to be cleaned and lubricated in order to make them not rust.