You can often choose the best lathe belt by considering several important facts prior to shopping for the belt, such as the type and size of your lathe. The type of lathe — metal or wood — can also make a difference in the best belt to choose. The type of materials that the lathe belt is constructed of can vary greatly and can often be the difference between a good belt and the best belt for the lathe. You may wish to choose a brand-specific belt for your lathe, as generic belts are seldom of the same quality as the lathe manufacturer's own brand of belt.
The common lathe belt is manufactured in a flat design and configuration. This allows the belt to be easily slid from one level or sprocket to another to change the operational speed of the lathe. Lathe drive sprockets are usually flat, stepped drums that provide a smooth and flat surface for the lathe belt to operate on. While a pure rubber belt may be less expensive, it is rarely the best belt for the lathe. The best belts are commonly made of a reinforced rubber material that will resist fraying and stretching.
Belts with Kevlar® reinforcement are typically considered the best by several lathe manufacturers. This type of lathe belt will provide long-lasting durability while allowing frequent speed changes and prolonged heavy use without stretching. If you are searching for a metal lathe belt, you will usually want to choose an oil-resistant belt since oil is a very common product in metal turning. With lesser-quality belts, a small amount of oil can result in sever belt slippage and erratic turning speeds stemming from the slipping belt. You will often be best satisfied with an original-type, manufacturers' belt when replacing a metal lathe belt.
A wood lathe is not as sensitive to the type of belt used as a metal lathe. The common wood lathe uses a V-type belt and can often be operated with a very low-priced and low-quality belt in place of the original belt. Still, when searching for the best lathe belt available for your lathe, you may wish to consider a fiber-reinforced type belt. This type of belt will commonly withstand many speed changes and prolonged operation at high speed without showing any signs of wear. This style of belt appears to have a thin cloth or fiber-lined covering on the rubber belt and will typically outlast a plain, rubber belt on a lathe.