How Much Does a Lathe Machine Cost?

Written by: Staff

Lathe machines are tools that rotate a workpiece on its axis and can perform various operations such as cutting, sanding and knurling.  These machines produce different products such as cue sticks, table legs, baseball bats and different musical instruments.   The machines vary in shape, size as well as different power outputs, and usually, the more powerful the machine is, the higher the costs may be.

Lathe! by .dh, on Flickr
Lathe!” (CC BY 2.0) by .dh

How much does a lathe machine cost?

On average, a lathe machine can cost anywhere from $75 for one being used at home to as much as much as $55,000+ for one being used in a commercial factory setting.  Refer to the table below to see what it may cost based on the size and power output.

Lathes, designed for home use, can cost anywhere from as little as $75 to more than $1,200.  Sears, for example, sells a Craftsman 1/2 hp 12″ x 16″ midi lathe for $425 and a 10″ x 22″ top metal lathe for $1,300.  Lowe’s, on the other hand, has one available for about $600.

TypePrice Average
- Bed Length : 4.5/5/6 Feet
- Spindle Speed : 1500 RPM
- Motor : 2HP
- Bed Length : 6/7 Feet
- Spindle Speed : 1535 RPM
- Motor : 3HP
- Bed Length : 7/9/12/14 Feet
- Spindle Speed : 1550 RPM
- Motor : 5 HP
- Width Of Bed: 300 mm
- Power of Main Motor: 3 /4.5 kw (4/6HP)
- Bed Length : 9/12/14/16 Feet
- Spindle Speed : 700 RPM
- Motor : 7 HP
- Width of Bed – 755 mm
- Main Motor Power – 22kw
- Bed Length : 16"
- Spindle Speed : 660 to 4,000 RPM
- Motor : 1/2 HP

Lathe machine overview

There are five types of lathes commonly found on the market:  a CNC, commonly referred to as a computer numerically controlled, engine lathes, special purpose lathes, tool-room lathes and wood lathes.

The machine may or may not have legs.  If it doesn’t have legs, it will be designed to be set on a table and the user will be able to elevate the working height.

A lathe machine will consist of a headstock, tool post and tailstock.  The headstock will be designed to hold the piece in place so it can be rotated at certain speeds, referred to as RPM, just like in your automobile.  The tool post will be located in the middle of the headstock and tailstock and will be able to slide on the X and Y axis.  This part is important and necessary since it will perform the operation on the object fixed on the tool post.  Lastly, the tailstock will be used to hold the workpiece in place to be aligned with the center of the Chuck, a part used to hold the device if the workpiece is too long.  This piece can also be used to hold additional attachments.

All machines should have a horizontal beam, but some CNC lathes may have an inclined bed so debris can fall free of the bed.

These machines are usually used to spin metal, turn wood and work with just about any glass and/or metal object.  There are also other functions you can perform on the machine such as knurling, cutting, sanding and drilling.  The working of the machine will change with every operation and cut desired.

Some of the most common types of lathe operations include facing, taper turning, contour turning, form turning, chamfering, cutoff, threading, boring and drilling.

Several cutting tools will also be included, which may include carbide tip tools, a grooving tool, cut-off blade, parting blades, boring bar and side tools.

Major categories

What are the extra costs?

Unless the piece you’re working with has a taper machined on it, which is a very rare circumstance, an accessory will be needed to mount the workpiece to a spindle.

A faceplate may be necessary to secure the work to the machine, but it can also be mounted on a mandrel, an accessory which clamps the workpiece instead.  If the piece was a cylinder, it can be held in a collet.

Due to the heavy size and since most of these machines come out of China, hefty shipping may apply to some online sellers.  Larger lathes may require special transporation and a professional installation to make sure it’s properly installed.

Tips to know

Before using a lathe machine, you will first need to know about the feeds, the cutting speed, the depth of cut desired and the usage of the tool.  Each operation will have its own factors so it’s important the machine is used properly so one can avoid mishaps or any sort of mishandling.

How can I save money?

Consider purchasing a used machine to save close to 40 percent or more.

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