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How Is the Size of a Wood Lathe Determined?

Modern carpentry evolved over the course of hundreds of years from the art and craft of woodworking. In the 21st century, the discipline incorporates elements of engineering and architecture. A myriad of tools affected this evolution, including the wood lathe. Determining the size of a wood lathe requires an understanding of how lathes work, what woodworkers use them for and the various sizes of lathes you can use. Wood lathes differ significantly from wood laths.
  1. Wood Lathes

    • Wood lathes are carving tools. They help create bowl-shaped items with hollow basins and other wood carvings with furrows or dugouts, such as ornate chair legs. Lathes contain a bed, a head and tools. The bed constitutes the work surface, or bench, of a lathe, and the head holds the wood in place while you work on it with tools. Numerous types of lathes exist, such as a speed lathe, center lathe, geared heat lathe, bench lathe and automatic lathe.

    Lathe Sizes

    • Lathes usually fall into one of two overarching categories, bench top or floor -- the latter sits on a bench while the former stands on the floor with legs of its own. Within these categories numerous sizes of lathes exist. Three common methods of measuring lathe size are: the maximum diameter of a piece of wood a lathe can rotate during a job, the maximum length of a piece of wood you can fit on a lathe between the head and the carving tools or the length of a lathe bed, including the head.

    Size and Need

    • Determining the size of lathe you need for a job depends on why you need the lathe. Lathes exist for many sizes of jobs, from carving wooden tees for golf to shaping large wooden bowls and pieces of furniture. Finding the right type of lathe for your project comes down to determining the type of lathe you need -- automatic, bench, speed, etc. -- and the size. To determine the size lathe you need, compare the length or diameter of your raw wood materials with the corresponding measurements on the lathe.

    Lathe Vs. Lath

    • Though the words differ by only one letter, a wood lathe and a wood lath are very different things. A wood lath constitutes a piece of wood nailed to the frame of a structure from which builders hang tiles, slate or plaster. The size of a wood lath depends upon the type of wood used in the project, the size of the building frame and the size of the surface the builder wants to cover with tile or a similar material.