“LATHE, a very useful tool for the turning of wood, ivory, metals and other materials. The invention of the lathe is very ancient; Diodorus Siculus says, the first who used it was a Grandson of Daedalus, named Talus. Pliny ascribes it to Theodore of Samos; and mentions one Thericles, who rendered himself very famous by his dexterity in managing the lathe. With this instrument the ancients turned all kinds of vases, many whereof they enriched with figures and ornaments in basso relieve. .

The Greek and Latin authors make frequent mention of the lathe; and Cicero calls the workmen who used it vascularii*. It was a proverb among the ancients, to say a thing was formed in the lathe, to express its delicacy and justness.

The lathe is composed of two wooden cheeks or sides, parallel to the horizon, having a groove or opening between; perpendicular to these are two other pieces called puppets, made to slide between the cheeks, and to be fixed down at any point at pleasure. These have two fixed points, between which the piece to be turned is sustained; the piece is turned round, backwards and forwards by means of a string* put round it, and fastened above to the end of a pliable pole, and underneath to a treadle or board moved with the foot. There is also a rest which bears up the tool, and keeps it steady.

As it is the use and application of this instrument that makes the greatest part of the art of turning, we refer the particular description thereof, as well as the manner of applying it in various works, to that head.”

*Although ‘vascularii’ translates as ‘goldsmiths’