What Is a Lathe Reamer?

Collage of different lathe reamers.

Lathes are one of the most versatile machines used in the manufacturing industry. Among other things, manufacturing companies use them for metalworking, woodworking, finishing and even glassworking. Not all lathes feature a single-bladed cutting tool, however. Some use a special type of cutting tool known as a reamer. So, what is a lathe reamer exactly?

Overview of Lathe Reamers

A reamer is a type of cutting tool used in lathes that’s designed to enlarge an existing hole in a workpiece and/or remove scrap material from inside the hole. If you’re familiar with turning process, you probably know that most lathes use a single-bladed cutting tool for turning. The cutting tool is fixed in a stationary position, whereas the workpiece itself rotates against the single-bladed cutting tool. As the workpiece rotates, the cutting tool selectively scrapes off material to achieve a new size and shape. A reamer, on the other hand, is a cutting tool that’s designed for enlarging an existing hole rather than cutting or scraping material.

How Lathe Reamers Work

Although there are different types of reamers (see below), most use the same basic principle to enlarge an existing hole in a workpiece. They consist of a long cylindrical bit with helical or parallel edges wrapping around the exterior surface. When a reamer enters an existing hole, it’s able to remove excess material. As the excess material is removed, the hole in the workpiece becomes wider and larger.

Of course, the effectiveness of a reamer relies heavily on its size, shape and design. If a reamer is being used to remove material from an existing hole in a workpiece — as opposed to enlarging the hole — it will feature deeper grooves. The deep grooves allow the reamer to grab and remove material from the hole.

The Different Types of Lathe Reamers

All lathe reamers are designed to enlarge an existing hole in a workpiece or remove scrap material. However, there are different types of reamers, each of which has a unique design. A straight reamer, for example, featured a tapered entry point. Straight reamers are generally used to make small enlargements in an existing hole. A machine reamer, on the other hand, is characterized by a small lead in. This allows machine reamers to maintain their position without veering off in an unwanted direction during operation.

Other common types of lathe reamers include tapered reamers, combination reamers, rose reamers, shell reamers and hand reamers.

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