Com'on guys, that was a trick question. Of course it can :)
I use my vintage 9 inch 1924 Craftsman Wood Lathe (Model #101-06242) to turn brass, aluminum, mild steel, slightly hardened steel, and O1 tool steel, on a regular basis. However, I must admit that hardened steel and tool steel are a real bear, and the bits wear fast when turning these types of steel, in addition to occasional chipping. As long as the bits are sharp, I can get a pretty decent finish, with the exception of occasional tool chatter.
Here are some photos of my latest lathe project. It is a housing for a 405nm Blue-Ray laser diode and optics, with provisions for manual focusing. I will be using this assembly for this project forums.parallax.com/discussion/166498/discussion-laser-direct-imaging-of-pcbs-and-the-propeller
This assembly was particularly interesting, because it was the first time that I did any actual boring with the lathe.
In case you are interested, here is a link to a photo of an old Model #101-06242: vintagemachinery.org/photoindex/images/10388-A.jpg
Although there is a photo of the holder assembled, I still have to drill two more holes, mount the laser diode, and install the optics. I guess I better get busy, because I would really like to test it sometime later today. Oh, and please excuse the over-sized set screw, because that was all I had on hand, at the time.