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Details for Lathe and Turning Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic


Set up, operate, or tend lathe and turning machines to turn, bore, thread, form, or face metal or plastic materials, such as wire, rod, or bar stock.


  • Start lath or turning machines and observe operations to ensure that specifications are met.
  • Adjust machine controls and change tool settings in order to keep dimensions within specified tolerances.
  • Crank machines through cycles, stopping to adjust tool positions and machine controls to ensure specified timing, clearances, and tolerances.
  • Inspect sample workpieces to verify conformance with specifications, using instruments such as gauges, micrometers, and dial indicators.
  • Install holding fixtures, cams, gears, and stops to control stock and tool movement, using hand tools, power tools, and measuring instruments.
  • Lift metal stock or workpieces manually or using hoists, and position and secure them in machines, using fasteners and hand tools.
  • Move controls to set cutting speeds and depths and feed rates, and to position tools in relation to workpieces.
  • Move toolholders manually or by turning handwheels, or engage automatic feeding mechanisms to feed tools to and along workpieces.
  • Position, secure, and align cutting tools in toolholders on machines, using hand tools, and verify their positions with measuring instruments.
  • Select cutting tools and tooling instructions, according to written specifications or knowledge of metal properties and shop mathematics.
  • Study blueprints, layouts or charts, and job orders for information on specifications and tooling instructions, and to determine material requirements and operational sequences.
  • Turn valve handles to direct the flow of coolant onto work areas or to coat disks with spinning compounds.
  • Compute unspecified dimensions and machine settings, using knowledge of metal properties and shop mathematics.
  • Mount attachments, such as relieving or tracing attachments, to perform operations such as duplicating contours of templates or trimming workpieces.
  • Replace worn tools, and sharpen dull cutting tools and dies using bench grinders or cutter-grinding machines.


  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.


  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.


Related Careers

  • Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic
  • Extruding, Forming, Pressing, and Compacting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders
  • Furnace, Kiln, Oven, Drier, and Kettle Operators and Tenders
  • Grinding, Lapping, Polishing, and Buffing Machine Tool Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic
  • Milling and Planing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic
  • Printing Machine Operators
  • Semiconductor Processors
  • Sheet Metal Workers
  • Tool and Die Makers
Wages for this career
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