How Dangerous Is a Metal Lathe

There has been some discussion about proposed inductions on the metal lathe recently - see enclosed article. As people will see if they read it - there are a number of health and safety factors to consider when using a lathe:

Metal Lathes - Safety Factors

How dangerous is the metal lathe?

Answer very

If you don’t believe me Google Russian lathe accident look for YouTube video make sure you don’t have a full stomach

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Are any of these hazards you consider needing extra mitigations not covered by our RA and induction?


I am doing the sample induction tonight, strangely the lathe is the only tool in the makerspace that I am formally trained to use although it was a few years ago.

We will go through the risk assessment and the induction.

The lath was designed for use by school children aged 14 + , so hopefully we should be able to make this work in the modern world.

Although school children were more disposable in the 70s


"It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with. It doesn’t feel pity of remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. "

There’s no stop button??? That’s a serious oversight on the risk assessment!

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I see you are a man of culture.

We’re a little off topic here

Sorry to have a sense of humour failure…but H&S is s serious matter

@joeatkin2 and @Howard would be great of you have a look at the page ahead of tonight’s induction as it may well have something we’ve missed (this is the nature of risk management as a dynamic process)

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The old London Hackspace, Hackney had a sign on their lathe, with advice I remember to this day:

Do not use the lathe, it wants to kill you.


We could call it Boris the lathe, it neither knows nor cares whether you live or die

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I think pretty much all of that has been covered in the induction

We need a few boxes of these|%2BPersonal%20Protection%20%26%20Clothing&utm_term=ZT1172948X&utm_medium=pla_css_2&targetid=pla-394811355599&loc_physical_ms=1007135&dev=m&gclid=Cj0KCQiAuP-OBhDqARIsAD4XHpe1nrk9DJ61eVdTBDmJpaM0wxg8eMjz1oDYoSeDTnLZL4pcYd6eUHYaAs-kEALw_wcB

Hahaha, if it was the 3 in 1 then I miiiiiiiiight have put that label on it.

That said - we were turning a long threaded rod on that very machine one night when suddenly the machine started vibrating heavily. I reached over and slammed the E-stop and something bit my finger. When the machine ground to a stop I looked at the hand and the tip of my right finger was hanging by a little flesh at about 90 degrees to normal. The bone was still there, but I’d suffered a partial degloving of the finger!

What had happened was the long rod had been inserted through the headstock spindle hole - the rotational force has suddenly snapped the entire piece 90 degrees and it was swinging around. When I hit the E-stop (at the top left side of the machine) was my finger hot whacked by the bit spinning around.

Fortunately an artsy friend of mine cleaned it up with sterile water and superglued it back on.
Had a lack of feeling till some nerves regrew and still have a scar.

For a long time I had an M6 thread gauge on my finger tip where it’d hit me!

(Metal lathes can be extremely dangerous)

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That’s very supportive of proper health and safety assesment, do we need an e stop on the floor to be operated by a foot AND/OR not on the left side???

Glad it all regrew, what an exciting story!

E-stops can be chained - so the more the better. A foot E-stop is a very good thing - used this quite a lot at a community college where they used to run a model engineering night. It was a long metal bar that ran the length of the machine.

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There is one big floor e-stop button at the woodshop band saw, but metal bar sounds like you might find it quicker than a button.