Metal Lathe

Metal Lathe
Tool Stats
Type Metal Lathe
Make Harrison M300
Test Map
Needs Induction?
Status Ok
Owned by So Make It, Donated by Warsash Maritime Academy.

Role Required

A Role is required to use this equipment:


The Lathe Superuser group are responsible for inductions and awarding lathe roles.

Summary of Risks and Controls


The lathe is really, really, REALLY dangerous. According to HSE this is how most accidents happen:

  • A fatal accident arising from entanglement on rotating parts happens every year or so in the UK.
  • Entanglements on workpieces, chucks, carriers and unguarded stock bars cause most accidents.
  • Many accidents happen using hand-held emery cloth to smooth and polish components
  • Direct contact with moving parts causes many injuries
  • Eye injuries from machine cleaning, swarf removal and unenclosed machining when eye protection is not worn are frequent.
  • Chuck keys ejected from rotating chucks.

(Health and safety in engineering workshops HSG129 (Second edition, published 1999), HSE)

The main risks according to our risk assessment (version 1.0 June 2019) are:

  • Entanglement on rotating parts
  • Contact with ejected parts
  • Contact with moving parts
  • Accidental starting of lathe
  • Persons that are not risk aware using the lathe
  • User or bystander falling into lathe

The outcomes of these risks can range from minor cuts, eye injuries, finger and limb dislocations or amputations through to death of the user or bystanders.


The main way we control these risks is:

  • Physically restricting use of the lathe
  • Requiring an induction and user roles
  • Requiring supervision of Lathe Trainees
  • Pre-use, in-use and post-use checklists.


  • Eye protection must be worn at all times by the operator and bystanders.
  • No loose clothing, tie back long hair, remove jewelry and anything else that may get entangled.
  • The lathe should not be used when the workshop is crowded.
  • Ensure proper workpiece holding, tool selection, speed and feed rate.
  • No emery cloth or hand tools may be used on the lathe.



Before unlocking the power switch, check:

  1. No loose clothing, hair, gloves or jewelry
  2. Wearing eye protection
  3. There are no distractions, awake and alert
  4. Enough space to work, by-standers are a safe distance
  5. Stop button is depressed and the clutch is in the off position
  6. Inspect the lathe, ensure everything is tight and lubricated as required



Check each time before the lathe is started:

  1. Clutch is in the off position
  2. Power feed and thread cutting are not engaged
  3. Workpiece is held firmly in the chuck
  4. Tailstock and quill are locked if required
  5. Tool is sharp, correctly aligned and firmly in tool holder
  6. Rotate chuck to check clearance between moving parts
  7. Speed and feed is correctly set
  8. Chuck key is safe
  9. Guard is down
  10. Your foot knows where the emergency brake is


Do this every time you stop the lathe:

  1. Stop button is depressed
  2. Clutch is in the off position
  3. Power feed and thread cutting are not engaged
  4. Lift guard


  1. Stop button is depressed
  2. Clutch is in the off position
  3. Power feed and thread cutting are not engaged
  4. Remove all tooling and refit 3-jaw chuck if applicable
  5. Remove swarf (wear gloves or use pliers to handle swarf)
  6. Clean tracks and lightly oil
  7. Power switch is locked

Stop the lathe if:

  • Someone or something is distracting you
  • You take your eyes off the workpiece
  • Not feeding or cutting as expected
  • Excessive noise or vibration

Additional Usage Guidelines


Risk Assessment

The Risk Assessment was last updated June 2019.

User manual

The User Manual is available here.


Signage for the lathe is being updated.

Maintenance and Inspection

Regular Maintenance

  • Oil levels should be checked and oil should be added to each oiling point every day that the lathe is used. Use only the designated lathe lube oil.
  • All swarf and debris must be cleaned up at the end of each session.
  • All tooling must be put away in its designated place at the end of each session.
  • The lathe bench must remain clean and tidy at all times.
  • All lathe tools must be kept sharp - please report broken/dull tooling so it can be fixed/replaced.
  • Keep the lathe and tooling clean using tough blue tissue roll (the lint free stuff that doesn't break)


The lathe should be regularly inspected.


  • 2016: The cross slide gib strip was broken replaced with a new one.
  • May 2019: The topslide retaining bolts were broken when a workpiece was ejected. The bolts showed some signs of wear. This incident led to a revised risk assessment, new user roles, checklists and a major update to this page.

Upgrades/Parts wanted

Set of cutting tools Milling vice to fit cross-slide

On loan

Metric dial gauge ( - Chris Smith's Imperial spanners - Chris Smith's Parting tool - Chris Smith's Solid square - Chris Smith's Metre rule - Chris Smith's

Swarf Management

Using the lathe will generate large amounts of swarf over time. This should not be picked up with bare fingers or wipe off with your hand as it can contain all sorts of nasty bits like metal splinters. The lathe itself can be cleaned with tough blue tissue but ideally we need some kind of collection system to clear up the swarf that falls into the swarf tray. A dustpan and brush dedicated to the lathe would be advisable. A wet'n'dry shop vacuum would be lovely.

It may be wise to maintain different swarf bins for different metals - in the event of accumulating enough scrap to make it worthwhile, there is the possibility of selling the metal for scrap if it is segregated.


Some pointers...

Listen to the tool. If it is making strange noises, turn it off. If something is out of balance (unintentionally), you will be rewarded with excessive vibration.

Make sure chucks are done up tightly in use.

Do not try to take too deep a cut - there are a variety of outcomes, none of them ideal. Excessive chatter (and marring of the workpiece), tool tip breakage, forcing the workpiece out of the chuck or stalling the motor are all possibilities (although it is more likely that the belt will slip rather than the motor stopping).

Practice on softer materials e.g. Delrin, aluminium.

Check that everything is clear before switching on - ensure the chuck's rotation will not hit the topslide. Check everything is tightened up - headstock bolt, tailstock bolt, top slide, tool bolts.

Choosing cutting tool inserts:

Stockists & Suppliers

Tools & Tooling


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