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Can a milling machine be used as a lathe

Can You Use A Milling Machine as a Lathe? Find Out Here!

In this article, we will answer the question that many machining enthusiasts have been curious about: can a milling machine be used as a lathe? While these two machines serve different purposes, there are possibilities for converting a milling machine into a lathe and reaping the benefits it can offer. Let's explore further!

Can You Use A Milling Machine as a Lathe? Find Out Here!

Key Takeaways:

  • Converting a milling machine into a lathe is possible but requires specific modifications and attachments.
  • Some milling machines offer lathe attachments or the option for a milling machine lathe combo, allowing for turning operations.
  • Using a milling machine as a lathe may have limitations and challenges, so it's essential to understand the capabilities and consider the task requirements.
  • Milling machine lathe tooling is available for turning operations, providing a range of options for machining enthusiasts.
  • Ultimately, the decision to use a milling machine as a lathe depends on the specific needs and available equipment.

Turning on a Milling Machine

In this section, we will delve into the process of turning on a milling machine. We will discuss the availability of lathe attachments for mills and the concept of milling machine lathe combos. This will provide insights into how a milling machine can be used to perform lathe-like operations.

The Lathe Attachment: Enhancing the Capabilities of a Milling Machine

When it comes to turning on a milling machine, one option is to use a lathe attachment designed specifically for mills. These attachments, which can vary in design and functionality, allow milling machines to perform lathe operations.

By attaching a lathe component to a milling machine, users can harness the benefits of both machines, expanding the range of tasks they can accomplish. This versatile combination empowers machinists to effectively shape and cut materials using the milling machine's precision and the lathe's rotational capabilities.

Milling Machine Lathe Combo: Two Machines in One

Another option is to invest in a milling machine lathe combo, also known as a mill lathe combo or a mill turn machine. This unique piece of equipment combines the functionalities of both a milling machine and a lathe, offering a comprehensive solution for turning operations.

A milling machine lathe combo integrates a lathe bed and a milling machine headstock into a single machine, allowing machinists to seamlessly switch between milling and turning operations without the need for separate machines. This space-saving and cost-effective solution is ideal for small workshops or individuals looking to maximize efficiency and flexibility.

Can You Use A Milling Machine as a Lathe? Find Out Here!

A Practical Example: Milling Machine Lathe Combo in Action

To illustrate the benefits and capabilities of a milling machine lathe combo, let's take a look at the popular Smithy Granite lathe mill combo. This versatile machine offers a wide range of features, including:

  • Powerful 3/4 HP motor for smooth and efficient operation
  • 8-inch swing over bed and 13-inch distance between centers for versatile turning capabilities
  • 15.5-inch milling table with adjustable gib for precise milling operations
  • Two-speed gearbox, allowing for flexible speed control

With its combination of lathe and milling machine capabilities, the Smithy Granite lathe mill combo provides machinists with the tools they need to tackle a variety of projects, from intricate turning operations to precise milling tasks.

Features Description
Powerful Motor 3/4 HP motor for smooth and efficient operation
Swing Over Bed 8-inch swing over bed for versatile turning capabilities
Distance Between Centers 13-inch distance between centers for a wide range of turning projects
Milling Table 15.5-inch milling table with adjustable gib for precise milling operations
Two-Speed Gearbox Flexible speed control with a two-speed gearbox


As demonstrated by the Smithy Granite lathe mill combo, the integration of milling and lathe functionalities allows machinists to save space, minimize tooling costs, and enjoy greater efficiency in their machining operations.

Milling Machine Lathe Tooling and Turning Operations

In this section, we will explore the various tooling options available for turning operations on a milling machine. Turning operations on a milling machine involve the process of rotating a workpiece while a cutting tool removes material to create the desired shape or diameter. This can be achieved by using specific tooling and techniques designed for milling machine lathe conversions.

When using a milling machine as a lathe, there are several challenges and considerations to keep in mind. The primary challenge is the lack of a true lathe spindle and a tailstock, which affects the stability and precision of the turning operation. Additionally, milling machines are typically designed to move the workpiece in the X and Y directions, making it necessary to find alternative ways to rotate the workpiece for turning.

Despite these challenges, milling machines can still perform certain turning operations effectively. Some of the turning operations that can be performed using a milling machine include facing, taper turning, and thread cutting. However, it is important to note that the effectiveness and precision of these operations may vary depending on the specific milling machine and tooling setup used.

Can You Use A Milling Machine as a Lathe? Find Out Here!

Tooling Options for Milling Machine Lathe Conversions

When using a milling machine as a lathe, it is crucial to have the right tooling for the task. Here are some common tooling options that can be used:

  1. Turning Tools: These are cutting tools specifically designed for turning operations. They typically have a sharp, ground cutting edge that removes material as the workpiece rotates. Turning tools can be inserted into tool holders, which are then mounted on the milling machine's spindle to perform the turning operation.
  2. Tool Holders: Tool holders provide a secure and rigid platform for holding turning tools in place during the machining process. They are typically clamped onto the milling machine's spindle and can be adjusted to achieve the desired height and angle for the turning operation.
  3. Chuck or Collet: A chuck or collet is used to secure the workpiece during the turning operation. It provides stability and ensures that the workpiece rotates accurately. The choice between a chuck or collet depends on the size and shape of the workpiece.

Using the right combination of tooling and techniques, it is possible to achieve accurate and precise turning operations on a milling machine. However, it is important to note that the accuracy and capability of the turning operation may be limited compared to a dedicated lathe machine.

Overall, understanding the capabilities and limitations of using a milling machine as a lathe can help determine if it is a suitable option for specific turning operations. It is recommended to consider factors such as the complexity of the turning task, the desired precision, and the availability of alternative equipment before deciding to use a milling machine for lathe-like operations.


In conclusion, we have explored the question of whether a milling machine can be used as a lathe. Through the discussions on turning on a milling machine, the availability of lathe attachments, and milling machine lathe tooling, we have highlighted the potential for using a milling machine in lathe-like operations.

While it is possible to perform certain turning operations on a milling machine, it is important to consider the limitations and challenges associated with this approach. The conversion of a milling machine into a lathe requires specific modifications and the proper tooling. The use of a lathe attachment for a mill or investing in a milling machine lathe combo can enhance the versatility of a milling machine for turning tasks.

However, it is crucial to note that using a mill as a lathe may not offer the same precision and efficiency as a dedicated lathe machine. The limited spindle speed and rigidity of a milling machine can affect the results of turning operations. Therefore, the decision to use a milling machine as a lathe should be based on the specific requirements of the task at hand and the available equipment.

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