The Basics of Buying a CNC Lathe

CNC Lathes have arguably entered legendary status, as they were among the first metalworking machines. Frequently referred to as “the mother of machine tools,” CNC lathes are “turning” machines that turn a piece of material, such as a metal or wood, to help create a desired shape. As the material turns on its axis, the laborer or hobbyist presses an abrading or cutting tool into it. If you want to purchase a used CNC lathe but are unsure what is involved, review the following guide! It details how to buy a used lathe to help you make a purchasing decision you are satisfied with for years.

How to Buy a CNC Lathe: Tips to Keep in Mind

Familiarize Yourself With the Types of Lathes

New and used lathes for sale are available in three main types: the traditional engine lathe, mini-lathe, and computer numerical control (CNC) lathe. Traditional engine varieties are generally used for repair work, short runs, and secondary operations, as they were eventually eclipsed by computer numerical control lathes. CNC lathes remain widely celebrated for their quick turning abilities and precision. Mini lathes work best in small workshops.

If your used lathe needs mainly fall into the ‘repair’ and ‘secondary operations’ categories, the traditional model might be all you require. Should you need a dependable, fast lathe for commercial operations, the CNC version is probably best. If you are mainly a hobbyist and do not have a large amount of space to complete various crafts, the mini lathe could be ideal.

Consider the Features of the Lathe for Your Specific Needs

Depending on the lathe you purchase, it will come with features that streamline personal and commercial projects. The following components may or may not be perfect for your current needs:

Heavy-Duty Cast-Iron Bed and Base: The heavier the used lathe machine, the deeper the cuts. Those with heavy-duty case-iron beds and bases are also regarded for reducing cutting vibrations, improved rigidity, outstanding precision, and machine longevity compared to those with welded steel bases.

Tailstock: If you opt for a two-axle lathe, it will likely include a chuck, spindle, carriage, and lathe bed. However, this type of lathe might not include a tailstock, or a moveable component that supports your metal or wooden piece on the end opposite the headstock and chuck. The support this feature provides avoids taper issues and chatter marks that impact the piece in question’s appearance and usability.

Removable Ways: Some lathes allow you to take off a few of the ways found below the chuck. Doing so creates a space or gap that makes turning larger diameters possible. If you require clearance for a large diameter, you’ll want a lathe with removable ways.

Steady Rest: This feature includes numerous adjustable jaws that connect to the turning machine’s ways. It provides extra support for your metal or wooden piece.

Think Critically About Manual Vs. Computerized Lathes

CNC lathes rely on computerized instructions to provide automatic machining services. They provide efficient, precise results, but require related knowledge to regulate the parameters, such as the depth and speed of each cut. If you do not feel comfortable programming a CNC lathe or k know someone who can, a manual version might be better. However, you can still train yourself to use a CNC lathe. If you prefer the manual option, you’ll have complete control over every cut. The risk of mistakes with a manual lathe is naturally higher, but if you have the skills and experience, it could be exactly what you need.

Consider the type of work you normally do, your current lathe budget, and how much work you do that calls for this machine on a regular basis.

Our experts are here to help you with any questions you may have regarding our selection of used CNC equipment! Browse our large selection of used CNC lathes for sale at today to get started. Contact us today with any questions, our experts are ready to help! 

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