Machine tool that performs turning operations in which unwanted material is removed from a workpiece rotated against a cutting tool. Lathes are among the oldest and most important machine tools, used in France from 1569 and important in the Industrial Revolution in England, when they were adapted for metal cutting (see Henry Maudslay). Lathes (usually called engine lathes) today have a power-driven, variable-speed horizontal spindle to which the workholding device is attached. Operations include turning straight or tapered cylindrical shapes, grooves, shoulders, and screw threads and facing flat surfaces on the ends of cylindrical parts. Internal cylindrical operations include most of the common hole-machining operations, such as drilling, boring, reaming, counterboring, countersinking, and threading with a single-point tool or tap. See also boring machine.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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