A simple two-spindle based lathe system for the preparation of cylindrical samples intended for X-ray tomography is presented. The setup can operate at room temperature as well as under cryogenic conditions, allowing the preparation of samples down to 20 and 50 µm in diameter, respectively, within minutes. Case studies are presented involving the preparation of a brittle biomineral brachiopod shell and cryogenically fixed soft brain tissue, and their examination by means of ptychographic X-ray computed tomography reveals the preparation method to be mainly free from causing artefacts. Since this lathe system easily yields near-cylindrical samples ideal for tomography, a usage for a wide variety of otherwise challenging specimens is anticipated, in addition to potential use as a time- and cost-saving tool prior to focused ion-beam milling. Fast sample preparation becomes especially important in relation to shorter measurement times expected in next-generation synchrotron sources.