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Lathe/Turning Machine Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts

Lathe and Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic Career Video

Sets up, operates, or tends lathe and turning machines to turn, bore, thread, form, or face metal or plastic materials, such as wire, rod, or bar stock.

This career is part of the Manufacturing cluster Manufacturing Production pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Inspects sample workpieces to verify conformance with specifications, using instruments such as gauges, micrometers, and dial indicators.
  • Studies blueprints, layouts or charts, and job orders for information on specifications and tooling instructions, and to determine material requirements and operational sequences.
  • Adjusts machine controls and changes tool settings to keep dimensions within specified tolerances.
  • Moves controls to set cutting speeds and depths and feed rates, and to position tools in relation to workpieces.
  • Starts lathe or turning machines and observes operations to ensure that specifications are met.
  • Selects cutting tools and tooling instructions, according to written specifications or knowledge of metal properties and shop mathematics.
  • Cranks machines through cycles, stopping to adjust tool positions and machine controls to ensure specified timing, clearances, and tolerances.
  • Lifts metal stock or workpieces manually or using hoists, and positions and secures them in machines, using fasteners and hand tools.
  • Replaces worn tools, and sharpens dull cutting tools and dies using bench grinders or cutter-grinding machines.
  • Positions, secures, and aligns cutting tools in toolholders on machines, using hand tools, and verifies their positions with measuring instruments.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Computer Numerical Control Lathe Operator (CNC Lathe Operator) --
  • Computer Numerical Control Operator (CNC Operator) -- Operates computer-controlled machines or robots to perform one or more machine functions on metal or plastic work pieces.
  • Lathe Operator --
  • Lathe Set Up Person --
  • Machine Operator --
  • Numerical Control Operator (NC Operator) --
  • Screw Machine Operator --
  • Screw Machine Tool Setter --
  • Set Up / Operator --
  • Turn Operator --