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Home > Video > Video Display > How to Cut a Thread on a Manual Lathe

How to Cut a Thread on a Manual Lathe

Single-point threading, also colloquially called single-pointing (or just thread cutting when the context is implicit), is an operation that uses a single-point tool to produce a thread form on a cylinder or cone. The tool moves linearly while the precise rotation of the workpiece determines the lead of the thread. The process can be done to create external or internal threads (male or female). In external thread cutting, the piece can either be held in a chuck or mounted between two centers. With internal thread cutting, the piece is held in a chuck. The tool moves across the piece linearly, taking chips off the workpiece with each pass. Usually 5 to 7 light cuts create the correct depth of the thread.
The coordination of various machine elements including leadscrew, slide rest, and change gears was the technological advance that allowed the invention of the screw-cutting lathe, which was the origin of single-point threading as we know it today.
Today engine lathes and CNC lathes are the commonly used machines for single-point threading. On CNC machines, the process is quick and easy (relative to manual control) due to the machine’s ability to constantly track the relationship of the tool position and spindle position (called “spindle synchronization”). CNC software includes “canned cycles”, that is, preprogrammed subroutines, that obviate the manual programming of a single-point threading cycle. Parameters are entered (e.g., thread size, tool offset, length of thread), and the machine does the rest.
All threading could feasibly be done using a single-point tool, but because of the high speed and thus low unit cost of other methods (e.g., tapping, die threading, and thread rolling and forming), single-point threading is usually only used when other factors of the manufacturing process happen to favor it (e.g., if only a few threads need to be made,[6] if an unusual or unique thread is required, or if there is a need for very high concentricity with other part features machined during the same setup).
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