Parts of wood lathe explained

 Wood lathe is a machine which turns a piece of wood while it is shaped and curved to impart a plethora of geometric shapes. The machine turns the wood and helps it in shaping in a way which is not possible with conventional tools. Using a wood lathe, you can impart any design to the wooden stock to make bowls, candle holders, pen holders, toothpicks, decorative pieces and a whole lot of other wooden items.

Wood lathes come in various sizes and are categorised into mini, midi, regular and large wood lathe. Mini wood lathe are small in size and used for small pieces of wood. Midi lathe are mid-sized machine which can be placed on benches. The regular wood lathe are freestanding units which have a strong base. Large wood lathe are used for elaborate projects. They are labelled using numbers which indicate their swing diameter and bed length.

Regardless of the size, the parts of a top rated wood lathe are same. The various parts have been discussed here.


The headstock is that part of the wood lathe which transfers the power provided by the motor to the wooden stock. The headstock can be fixed in its position, rotate 360 degrees or move along the length of the wood. There are various components present in the headstock.

The spindle is the component to which the wood is attached. The outside part of the spindle is threaded to hold attachments. The spindle is measured as per the thread diameter and the number of threads. The thread diameter is measured in inches while the number threads is measured as threads per inch or TPI. The interior of the spindle is hollow to attach accessories. The accessories are fixed to the inside of the spindle using Morse TAPER. They come in various sizes rated as MT-1, MT-2, MT-3 and so on. Pulleys and belts drive the spindle.

Headstock handwheel is used to rotate the lathe in the absence of power. It can be used to check whether the stock is clearing the tool rest or not. The handwheel is also used to decrease the speed of the lathe after it is turned off in order to stop it quickly.

Tension pulleys allow the drive belt to be shifted between pulleys of various sizes to manage speed and torque of rotation.


Tailstock is the far right part of the wood lathe. Tailstock holds the wooden stock firmly in position. The top left part of the tailstock is the tailstock spindle which is hollow and has holes to attach accessories using Morse TAPER. The tailstock handwheel is present on the far right of the tailstock. It is a threaded screw which is used to either push the accessories attached to the tailstock spindle towards the wooden stock or pull them away from the wooden stock.


Bed is the foundation of wood lathe on which all the components are mounted. The bed can be made of cast iron, steel or timber. The stronger the bed, the less will the wood lathe vibrate.


Electric motors are usually used to power wood lathes. Hydraulic motors are used in some high quality wood lathes. The motor can be of A/C or D/C configuration.