CNC Lathes, Milling and Woodworking – A Mechanical Engineer’s Guide to Key Terms

CNC Lathes woodworking

The world of woodworking is a world unto itself. You will find different terms and machines when it comes to cutting wood as opposed to cutting metal. Some tools can be used for both – some CNC lathes and milling machines are easily adapted to both materials. But when it comes to woodworking, there are some terms that can be confusing for people coming from a metalworking background.

Material differences

Wood is organic; each piece is different, and each type of wood responds slightly differently to common woodworking processes and methods. Hardwoods and softwoods have different characteristics, which means an experienced woodworker must constantly tailor their approach to the material and specific project at hand.

This variety and complexity are exactly what makes a finely crafted piece of woodworking so valuable. Good woodworking requires both art and craft – and the right tools to go with it. Visit also: CNC Machine parts

Tool Terms

In woodworking, a lumber mill or sawmill is the first stage of the wood manufacturing process. Raw logs are processed in huge sawmills and converted into standard length moldings.

Then, when the wood arrives at the shop, woodworkers typically turn to tools like a CNC router to produce a finished or nearly finished piece. A router operates on much the same principle as a CNC router. The cutting tool is suspended from a gantry that hangs above the bed of the router or router. The workpiece is mounted on the bed, and the cutting tool moves along two or sometimes three axes. In metalworking, the process is called “milling.” For woodworking, the older word “rout” – “to hollow out” – is used, giving the machine its name.

In metalworking, milling machines are machine tools used to produce finished parts. In woodworking, milling machines refer to the first stage of woodworking.

Lathes vs. milling machines

The process gets a little more complicated when you consider the milling process and traditional turning.

High-speed lathes, also known as turning centers, are based on a fundamentally different machining process. The workpiece is attached to a spindle, which rotates rapidly, via a chuck or collet. The cutting tool is attached to a moving post or arm and brought into contact with the rotating workpiece, removing material evenly around the circumference of the workpiece.

Lathes are used for both woodworking and metalworking. In fact, lathes are among the oldest machine tools and were used for woodworking for centuries before being adopted for metalworking during the Industrial Revolution.

Can you “mill” wood or metal with a lathe? Not exactly, as the underlying processes are different. However, sometimes “milling” is used in a general sense to refer to the removal of material, also known as subtractive machining. Like milling machines, lathes also use a subtractive machining process. At least in woodworking, people may occasionally refer to using a lathe to “mill” a piece of wood.

Woodworking, metalworking, and modern machine tools

In both wood and metal, craftsmen have more tools at their disposal than ever before. DIY mini-mills and lathes bring industrial performance to the home workshop. Engraving machines allow for additional flourishes in finishing. Drills and boring machines offer additional versatility in machining and woodworking.

With modern machine tools, even the novice has access to advanced carving machines that can handle both metal and MDF.

And, of course, there’s the growing power and flexibility of modern lathes. Advanced lathes and turning centers often use CNC technology and can have tool heads capable of mounting rotary cutters. In other words, modern high-end CNC lathes often behave like metal milling machines or wood milling machines. The workpiece can be fixed and the cutting tool rotated, just like a milling machine.

This versatility means that the line between traditional lathes and routers or routers is easily blurred. It also means that advanced modern lathes give craftsmen more options than ever before. By using carbide cutters and adjusting various settings, experienced machinists can turn CNC routers into wood-cutting CNC routers.

CNC Master Lathes – Highest Versatility

The company offers two high-end turning centers. Each of them offers a range of features that can be easily adapted to almost any situation – and almost any material.

1340 CNC Manual Lathe

With a 13″ swivel range across the lathe bed and a 40″ length between spindles, this machine can machine small to medium-sized workpieces with ease. The CNC offers full two-axis automation for the spindle, so most operations can be easily automated. This is a top-notch, variable speed, mid-size lathe that is capable of machining the toughest materials but is also capable of handling intricate woodworking projects.

And if you need a little more control or want to “feel” your way through a project, the 1340 lathe can be quickly switched to full manual control. There’s no need to stop and restart the entire lathe; you can simply pause the current program and finish the operation manually, operating the lathe like a giant power tool.

The result is a highly versatile lathe that is at home in both an advanced woodshop and a machine shop, capable of both custom CNC machining and full manual control.

Manual CNC lathe 1440

The 1440 manual CNC lathe combines the power of a much larger lathe in a compact, efficient package. It is slightly larger than the 1340 lathe but just as versatile. The addition of CNC control to the basic design of a manual lathe means that frequently recurring operations can be fully automated quickly and easily.

At the same time, 1440, like 1340, can be switched from CNC to manual control at the touch of a button.

Both lathes can machine metal as well as wood. With the programming software included with all CNC lathes, you can quickly learn the basics of CNC programming.

These lathes are the perfect solution for workshops and production stores that need sturdy, everyday turning and cutting machines, but don’t need the size and price of large industrial models. The ability to switch between manual and CNC modes allows anyone to operate these lathes, from machine operators learning CNC programming to experienced manual turners.

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