Lathes, specifically metalworking lathes, are designed to machine relatively hard materials, specifically metal. These machines are categorized as cutting tools because they remove excess material in order to reach desired measurements and specifications.
Lathes remove material by using sharp tools that shave away at the work piece. The work piece is rotating between the tailstock and headstock which are horizontally aligned. The tooling used to remove material is attatched to the tool post which can move on the Y-axis (forward and backward) on the cross slide. The tooling travels on the X-axis (left and right) of the lathe bed as well.
Metals are prone to heating up when being worked with friction alone. Because of this, many metal lathes have a coolant supply line which applys a liquid coolant to the tooling and point of contact.