View Full Version : looking for info on CNC Lathe - manufacturer name etc.

Jim Underwood
06-27-2007, 4:32 PM
Anyone know anything about CNC lathes?

Just need a push in the right direction... Names of manufacturers would be a good start.

Scott Shepherd
06-27-2007, 4:47 PM
Ran them and programmed them on and offline for many years, bought several of them over the years. I'm not current on the models, but I'll help where I can.

What's the application? Job shop? Production environment? Who'll be programming it? Online or offline? What types of tolerances will you be working with? +-.005" or more into the +-.0005" range? What size work? A chucking machine or a bar fed machine? Milling spindles, Yes/No?

HAAS has done well in the recent years. I know several people who have them and they have run them for years with no major issues. Pricing will be some of the best out there. Often compared to a ford or a chevy. Just a machine that gets the job done, but isn't the best on the market.

Mori-Sieki (sp?) had a wonderful product in their lathes. Killer tolerances and a real solid built machine. Personally ran one for years and bought several when I ran a Manufacturing Engineering Department.

Mazak- for years a high priced product with proprietary software which some people loved and other people hated with a passion. I ran a shop that had about 10 of them, all with multiple spindles, robot loaders, the works. They stayed broken down. They were a real bear to keep running. When they ran, they ran fine, but I can honestly say that we never had a week go by they we didn't have either one or multiple Mazaks down.

Citizen - makes small kick butt machines. Typically largest work size is in the 3/4" diameter range. Great for small parts, high production. Expensive machines though, but in the right application, you can't beat them. They are typically Swiss Style machines, which is a totally different concept than normal lathes. The work moves, and the tool stays still.

Trying to think of a few more off the top of my head, but most of them have been bought out or gone out of business.

Ask away, if I can help, I will. PM me if you wish, or post here.

Jim Underwood
06-27-2007, 9:11 PM
Hi Scott,
Thanks for the reply..

The application is purely theoretical in nature.

I'm looking for a CNC woodworking lathe... with a user friendly interface so anyone could design something and send it out to the lathe and have it cut out with a minimum of fuss.

Something on the nature of a Legacy Ornamental Mill on steroids I believe.


I heard that Anderson CNC routers have been fitted with a "4th" axis "lathe" servo and columns can be made on them.

I think this would work, but putting this rig together is not only costly, but not something that is "stock" by any means, and the software probably would not be "user friendly".

Any suggestions?

Russ Buddle
06-27-2007, 10:00 PM
Shopbot offers an 'Indexer' which is a lathe like attachment to produce turnings and other round stock with their CNC router.

Jim Underwood
06-27-2007, 11:18 PM

I was right on target then when I thought of them...

I'll give them a ring in the AM and see what I can dig up..

Thanks for that bit of info!:)

Wil Lambert
06-28-2007, 6:01 AM
We have a 4th axis for our Techno router and while it may work similar to a lathe it is not a lathe. The speed at which you can make a large round part would not compare to and actual CNC lathe. They have to make CNC wood lathe since there are many production turned wood parts. Unless they are using a simple copy lathe but I doubt it for high production.


Scott Shepherd
06-28-2007, 7:27 AM
Wood is also not the best application for a CNC lathe, unless it's one made for wood (which there are). The dust created by cutting wood is not a happy site. CNC lathes have automatic oilers on them, which oil the ways that the axis run on. Oil is an integral part of the accuracy of the machine. Now imagine sawdust in any oily environment.

I'd stick more with something made just for wood like mentioned above.

Jim Underwood
06-28-2007, 11:14 AM
Wood is also not the best application for a CNC lathe, unless it's one made for wood (which there are).....I'd stick more with something made just for wood like mentioned above.

And who makes CNC lathes made for wood?:confused:



Wil Lambert
06-28-2007, 11:49 AM
Google for "cnc wood lathe" with the quotes and you will get results. Here is one of them.


looks like a small high speed mill with a 4th axis. Not what I expected.

I think with a little time you could convert an old manual lathe into one with some steppers and Mach 3 for a control.


Wil Lambert
06-28-2007, 12:13 PM
Here's an idea. If you happen to own a CNC router already what about mounting a standard wood lathe motor and tail stock onto the bed of the router. Then you can get the benefits of the wood lathe speed and CNC itself. When programming just program a centerline toolpath that only goes on XZ or YZ depending on your configuration. This would be similar to the 4th axis for the router but actually for turning it would be better. My 4th axis only goes about 30rpm not nearly enough to productively turn on.


Michael Kowalczyk
06-28-2007, 2:17 PM
Hey Jim,
I have a Thermwood with a 4rth axis indexer. I can do columns up to 60"+- I think. Artcam Pro software works great for it. Just decide if you want to do this as a hobby or production. I do not have a Shopbot but know several that do and they make some awesome stuff also. There are many questions I can think of that you need to ask yourself is but here are few major ones:

#1 Do you need a automatic tool changer (ATC)? For me the answer is a big "YES". My first CNC did not and with in 6 months I maxed it out and wished I had an ATC. Your production time will be significantly less, especially when using a program like ArtcamPro's Z level roughing. Once you have used multiple tools it's hard to go back to single tooling or even manual changing. If you are doing one of a kinds or hobby type stuff a single head manual quick change tooling my suffice.

#2 What is your primary goal? Is it a Hobby or Business? This will help you in whether to get a good entry level CNC or High production CNC.

#3, 4 5, ... How much space do you have and how many amp service do you have available? is it 3 phase? will you need a vacuum hold down also? Do not limit yourself!

Both are good machines but I would go to each of the CNC manufactures with an example of what you want to do and say let's do it from beginning to finished product and see how long it takes and what is involved. Obviously don't take a super ornate 8" diameter 8 foot tall Cherry column
and expect them to cut that, although they could show you how it could be done using a Z slice. Maybe you can call them and schedule some time at the AWFS show in Las Vegas coming up. Both will be there along with many others.

Here is a link to Artcampro showing what I think you are after. I too have been watching the Legacy ornamental mill and can do what they do and alot more by adding 3D carving to the product. But if I wanted to just do a few items it would probably be faster but more labor intensive on the legacy.


Jim, there are many vehicles that will get you from point A to B it just depends on how fast you want to get there and how many times you want to make the trip each day.

Hope this helps,(147)

Ed Lang
06-28-2007, 2:26 PM
ShopBot Tools Inc, in Durham, NC.

ShopBot CNC and the Indexer.

Nigel Morgan
06-28-2007, 6:03 PM

Techno-Isel makes a CNC wood lathe, I think it runs on a simple Fanuc controller.



Jim Underwood
06-29-2007, 9:13 AM
Wow! Lot's of great information here. Thanks for the help guys.

I've passed this on to the interested party, so now we'll see what happens.

Michael Kowalczyk
06-29-2007, 12:04 PM
Hey Jim,
I thought your name looked familiar. Are you by chance the same that was on the CV forum?
I hope everyone's info is helpful.


Bruce Boone
06-29-2007, 5:04 PM
I have a Mazak lathe that I do some wood in. Being that I also run titanium with coolant, it makes for a messy lathe that I need to vacuum out after running a wood part. I highly recommend Mazak lathes for their accuracy and ease of programming, but they are very expensive and may not be cost justified just doing wood parts. If you need to make 3 phase power, I also recommend solid state Phase Perfect phase converters. I can run my lathe and machining center without it blinking an eye, and the phases are perfectly balanced.