Types of Horizontal Lathes: Which One Is Right for You?

Types of Horizontal Lathes: Which One Is Right for You?

Horizontal lathes are reliable and versatile machines used for machining or manufacturing operations. The machine rotates a workpiece on its axis so that tools can cut it into the desired shape. There are several types of Horizontal lathes, each with its features and benefits to meet different manufacturing needs.

The Engine Lathe

The engine lathe is used for a variety of operations, including turning, facing, drilling, reaming, knurling, and threading. It can produce complex and accurate parts for a wide range of materials, such as metal, plastic, and wood. The engine lathe typically has a headstock that holds the spindle, a tailstock that moves along the bed to support long workpieces, and a carriage that holds the cutting tool. A motor powers the spindle, and the cutting tool can be adjusted in speed, feed rate, and depth of cut depending on the application. Engine lathes can be manually operated or automated with computer numerical control (CNC).

The Bench Lathe

The Bench lathe is one of the most popular types of Horizontal lathes and is often found in workshops and home garages. It features a spindle mounted on an adjustable bed that can move along the X-axis (left to right) and Y-axis (in and out). This allows for great accuracy when cutting and shaping metal pieces. Bench lathes are smaller and typically come with manual controls, allowing easy operation. They are perfect for hobbyists and people who are starting in metalworking.

The Capstan and Turret Lathes

Capstan and turret lathes are a type of horizontal lathe specially designed for high-production work. These machines have an automated tool changer that quickly changes the tool used on the lathe for faster production. The spindle usually rotates faster than other types of horizontal lathes, making them ideal for operations requiring precision or high-speed cutting. Capstan and turret lathes can efficiently handle parts with complex designs or multiple faces because they can accommodate different tools and offsets. These types of horizontal lathes are well-suited for industrial applications where a high degree of accuracy and productivity is required.

CNC Horizontal lathes

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) horizontal lathes can turn larger parts than a conventional, manually-operated lathe. A computer controls the tool’s motions while an operator makes precise and intricate cuts to create highly accurate shapes, holes, and grooves. CNC horizontal lathes can also handle complex jobs with multiple operations in a single setup, increasing their accuracy and efficiency. By eliminating manual intervention, CNC horizontal lathes complete projects quickly, reducing costs associated with machining complex parts.


When it comes to the different types of Horizontal lathes, each has its unique advantages and drawbacks. The Engine lathe is an excellent choice for large and complex machining projects. The Bench lathe is perfect for smaller operations or hobbyists on a budget. The Capstan and Turret lathes offer quick and efficient production cycles. Finally, CNC Horizontal lathes provide highly precise and repeatable results with minimal operator intervention. Choosing a suitable Horizontal lathe for your needs requires careful consideration and research, but ultimately, it can make all the difference in achieving the desired result.