External turning can be broken down into a number of basic operations. "Straight turning" reduces the work to a specified diameter equally along the work’s axis. "Taper turning" produces a taper along the axis of the work piece. Tapers are produced by either offsetting the Tail Stock from center line or by using a taper attachment. Some short, steep tapers can be obtained by using the compound rest alone.
Contour turning or profiling uses a single-point cutting tool to reproduce a surface contour from a template. Forming uses a cutting tool ground with the form or geometry of the desired shape. This forming tool is advanced perpendicular to the axis of the work to reproduce its shape on the work piece. Other external lathe operations include "chamfering" to remove sharp edges, "grooving" to produce recesses and shoulders, "facing" to finish the ends of a work piece, "parting" to cut off finished pieces from the stock, and "thread chasing" with tools to produce the desired thread form.
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