The Mother of Machine Tools – Part One
Monday, April 17, 2017

The lathe - a tool used to rotate a workpiece of metal, wood, plastic, or other sorts of material on its axis to perform various operations - has been around in one form or another for centuries beginning in ancient Egypt, Assyria and Greece.  Known as the “mother of machine tools”, it is the very tool that allowed the manufacture of other machine tools igniting the Industrial Revolution.

Turning, the function of rotating and cutting away materials with a lathe, dates to the Ancient Egypt around 1300 BCE and the earliest form needed two people to work it and was primarily used to shape wood.  One person turned the wood work piece with a rope while the other used a sharp tool to cut shapes into the wood. Ancient Rome improved the Egyptian design with the addition of a turning bow and in the Middle Ages a pedal replaced hand-operated turning, allowing a single person to rotate the piece while working with both hands. That system today is called the "spring pole" lathe and were in common well into the early 20th century.

Eventually, as technology advanced rapidly, lathes became more and more commonly used as new and more efficient means of powering them came along.   In the late 1700s horse power (the kind that requires lots of oats and hay), and then more mechanized forms of power like the water wheel and steam engine, made machines faster and more accurate and even easier to use for more and more applications, most notably the machining of machine tools!

By the late 1800s and into the mid-1900s the huge engines that powered these early lathes using line shafts were replaced by individual electric motors at each lathe and beginning in the 1950s, servomechanisms  – automatic devices used to correct the performance of a mechanism by means of an error-sensing feedback (often shortened to “servos”) - were applied to control lathes and other machine tools via numerical control (moving the controls to follow points fed into the system on punched tape).  Today these servos are networked to computers to yield computerized numerical control (CNC) and are used in nearly every form of industrial machining and turning.

At J.F. Berns we are proud to be a part of such a rich history and we are committed to the manufacturing and continual improvement of high quality CNC Lathe and Bar Feeding accessories, as well as to implementing innovative solutions to increase your machining productivity. For more information or to get a quote, please contact us at 513-851-4600 or visit us on our website,


Blog Categories

  • General Interest
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    • 02/19/2019 - Lining Your Spindles for Bette
    • 01/22/2019 - Selecting the Right Bar Feeder
    • 12/18/2018 - Benefits of CNC manufacturing
    • 11/20/2018 - Lathe Machine Accessories and
    • 10/23/2018 - What is Chamfering and How Doe
    • 09/18/2018 - Why Gears Need to be Chamfered
    • 08/21/2018 - How to Assess What Bar Feeder
    • 07/24/2018 - Increase Your CNC Machining Pr
    • 06/19/2018 - Machines You Would Need for Me
    • 05/22/2018 - Quality Parts: 5 Benefits to y
    • 04/17/2018 - 3 Type of Metal Fabrication To
    • 03/16/2018 - Learning about Lathing Machine
    • 02/16/2018 - Why CNC Machining is Important
    • 01/26/2018 - Step By Step Guide For Easy Sp
    • 08/15/2017 - Fully Automatic Chamfering Mac
    • 07/05/2017 - Chamfering: Manual vs. Automat
    • 05/23/2017 - The Mother of Machine Tools –
    • 04/17/2017 - The Mother of Machine Tools –
    • 12/17/2016 - DIY Spindle Liners
    • 11/05/2016 - Spindle Liners: Steel or Ureth
    • 07/23/2016 - Quick-Change Workholding Syste
    • 06/23/2016 - The Best Spindle Liners
    • 05/12/2016 - Apps for CNC Machining
    • 03/15/2016 - T-Rex Spindle Crushes Industry
    • 10/13/2015 - From Hand Tool to Simple Machi
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    • 04/24/2015 - What’s In A Name: The Definiti
    • 03/17/2015 - A Brief History of Geometric L
    • 02/10/2015 - 3-D: Not Just for Printers Any
    • 01/20/2015 - Ornamental Turning
    • 12/09/2014 - Informative Machinist Blogs
    • 11/20/2014 - The Ins and Outs of Being a Ma
    • 10/23/2014 - Bow Lathes Before Power
    • 09/10/2014 - World Record: The World’s Larg
    • 08/18/2014 - Lathes: Not Just for Heavy Ind
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    • 05/25/2014 - The History of Lathing: Ancien
    • 04/02/2014 - Useful Apps for Machinists and
    • 03/18/2014 - The Basics of Spindle Liners
  • Historical Turning

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Hi Jack, Thank you for getting back with me so quickly. Your customer service is #1! Thank you for your help in this,

Jodi / Municipal Tool



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