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Thread: Tailstock alignment buttons

  1. #1
    Supporting Member mklotz's Avatar
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    mklotz's Tools

    Tailstock alignment buttons

    Proper alignment of the tailstock axis to the lathe spindle axis is essential to parallel turning on the lathe. Horizontal alignment is far more important than vertical and that is why most tailstocks are fitted with a mechanism for moving the axis horizontally but have no vertical adjustment.

    There are numerous ways to calibrate alignment but a simple and effective way is to use alignment buttons, which you can make yourself on the lathe. Let's discuss the tools and their use first and then I'll comment on how to construct them.

    The two buttons look like this...



    The larger diameter portions are precisely the same diameter.

    They have center holes on the smaller diameter ends like this...



    In use, the two buttons are mounted between centers using the center holes and the larger diameter parts face-to-face. Now, if the tailstock is misaligned the buttons won't quite align radially. A micrometer placed across the line where they join will show a reading larger than the diameter of the buttons.

    One adjusts the tailstock setover until the micrometer reading across the join line is the same as the large diameter. When this is true the tailstock is aligned.

    Now, how to make them...

    To ensure that the measurement buttons are the same diameter, make the buttons as one piece. Take a piece of stock and center in a 4jaw. Turn down one end and center drill. Reverse in the chuck and recenter, then turn down the other end and center drill. Turn the larger diameter center section.

    Cut the piece in half and face the cut ends and you've got your tool.

    BONUS HINT:

    Lots of folks, myself included, are reluctant to go through the hassle of chuck removal and center mounting to turn a piece between centers.

    Leave the 3jaw in place. Put a piece of steel in it and turn a 60 deg point on it by angling the compound rest. As long as you don't remove it and replace it, this center will be as accurate, perhaps more accurate, than the supplied headstock center.

    With the chuck jaws there, fabricating a dog to drive the workpiece gets easy. Many times I've drilled a hole in a waste area and inserted a pin long enough to bear on the chuck jaw.
    Last edited by mklotz; 07-08-2017 at 04:36 PM.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


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  3. #2
    Supporting Member Ed ke6bnl's Avatar
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    Ed ke6bnl's Tools
    great post and thanks for the detailed info on order of operation to make these button, for sure on my todo list.
    1950 F1 street rod
    1949 F1 stock V8 flathead
    1948 F6 350 chevy/rest stock, no dump bed
    1953 chevy 3100 AD for 85 S10 frame going for a 4BT cummins motor, NV4500
    1968 Baha Bug with 2.2 ecotec motor, king coil-overs,P/S
    2000 National Sea Breeze 5th wheel trailer
    1998.5 Dodge 2500 4x4 Cummins,

  4. #3
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    Thanks mklotz! We've added your Tailstock Alignment Buttons to our Measuring and Marking category,
    as well as to your builder page: mklotz's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:




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    Wmrra13 (05-07-2017)

  6. #4
    Supporting Member ncollar's Avatar
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    Marv
    We all need to keep up with you and your mastery of metal. Very nice idea and one more project.
    Thank you
    Nelson

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    Supporting Member mklotz's Avatar
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    mklotz's Tools
    Quote Originally Posted by ncollar View Post
    Marv
    We all need to keep up with you and your mastery of metal. Very nice idea and one more project.
    Thank you
    Nelson
    Thanks. I'll look forward to seeing pictures of your copy soon.
    ---
    Regards, Marv


    Home Shop Freeware
    http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz

  8. #6
    Supporting Member Ralphxyz's Avatar
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    Ralphxyz's Tools
    I'd like to see a video of them being used. Thanks for posting!!

    Ralph

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    great idea thanks

  10. #8
    zarembak's Avatar
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    How you guy's come up with all this good info I don't know. Keep it coming.

  11. #9
    zarembak's Avatar
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    I agree. A video would help a lot.

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    To make even more certain they are the exact same diameter, don't turn down both ends. Turn them out of a longer piece and then cut both off off it. Even if everything is done right there is a tiny chance of misalignment between the two end if turned around. Anytime you want EXACT concentricity between multiple parts, especially outside dimensions, make them ALL at one time, on the same piece of stock, THEN cut them out. Even a few tens out from a tighter chuck on one end can cause a difference in alignment. (Yes, home machinists hardly care about that much accuracy, but why settle for less when it is so easy to have NO differences?
    Paul Andreasen

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