A lathe is a machine tool which rotates the workpiece on its axis to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.
Lathes are used in woodturning, metalworking, metal spinning, and glassworking. Lathes can be used to shape pottery, the best-known design being the potter’s wheel. Most suitably equipped metalworking lathes can also be used to produce most solids of revolution, plane surfaces and screw threads or helices. Ornamental lathes can produce three-dimensional solids of incredible complexity. The material can be held in place by either one or two centers, at least one of which can be moved horizontally to accommodate varying material lengths. Other workholding methods include clamping the work about the axis of rotation using a chuck or collet, or to a faceplate, using clamps or dogs.
Examples of objects that can be produced on a lathe include candlestick holders, gun barrels, cue sticks, table legs, bowls, baseball bats, musical instruments (especially woodwind instruments), crankshafts and camshafts.