In woodturning, metalworking, metal spinning, and glassworking, a lathe is a machine tool which spins a block of material so that when abrasive, cutting, or deformation tools are applied to the block, it can be shaped to produce an object which has rotational symmetry about an axis of rotation. For many people machines remain a mystery. But they quicken the pulse of those with engineering blood coursing through their veins. Take the well-used lathe shown here. The machine is a feat of engineering in itself, with knurled knobs and cogwheels, nuts, bolts and belts, winders and wheels, smooth shafts, threaded shafts, levers, and chucks with jaws. Look past the grime and dirt and it’s almost a work of art. As are the spirals of metal it has produced over the years.

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