April 19, 2022

Lathe Headstock Guide

For the lathe to turn parallel parts, the spindle axis must be parallel to the bed of the lathe. That is determined by the construction of the lathe when manufactured. It has to be adjusted unless the taper socket on the spindle is perfect. 

It becomes possible to fit this socket with a test bar with a taper. Whether the headstock is aligned or not, it shows zero runouts if touched with a dti. If it does not, then the socket may be damaged. You can also clean it up with a tapered reamer. 

There are two methods that you can use for your test. You can use a test bar in the tapered socket in the spindle. Fit a test bar into the socket in the spindle and bang in with a soft-headed mallet. 

Set up a DTI against the far end of the test bar. Use your hand to rotate the spindle. The change in the reading on the DTI should not be more than 0.01mm in 100mm. That tests that the axis of the test bar is coaxial with the axis of the spindle. 

If it is not, either the test bar is faulty, or the taper socket in the spindle might be spoiled. Try the other method. Most lathes do not use the taper more than holding a center for turning between centers. A center can always be fitted to the spindle, banged in, and tested with a dti.

If the center is not perfect, use a carbide cutter for turning. That produces a surface that is concentric with the axis of the spindle. If the center needs to be machined like this, it cannot be relied on being accurate again once removed from the spindle.

Headstock lathe definition

A headstock is a bearing or pedestal for a revolving or moving part of a lathe that holds the revolving spindle and its attachments. The power tool supports and drives a revolving part. 

The headstock is cast iron (Merriam-webster.com). It is on the end of the bed. Once clamped to the end, the headstock provides the rotational power for the lathe’s operations. It contains the bearings used by the lathe to rotate the workpiece against the tool bit.

What does lathe headstock do?

In the lathe machine, use a three-jaw or four-jaw chuck. That part of the lathe machine holds the workpiece. It is attached to the spindle of the headstock. It rotates with the spindle and also rotates the workpiece.

The Headstock is where the gears and bearings are housed. A cast-iron box encapsulates these to accept bearings for the gear shafts to run on pins. Sometimes, there are pulley wheels to drive the shaft or gearing, changed to alter thread runs.

Lathe headstock spindle

On a lathe, the spindle is the heart of the headstock. In rotating-cutter woodworking machinery, the spindle is the part on which shaped milling cutters are for cutting features into moldings and similar millwork.

The headstock spindle lock holds the spindle tight when attachments need removal from the lathe. That is used when a faceplate needs removal with a pair of long pliers or a chuck needs to be pried off with a chuck key (Collinsdictionary.com).

Wood lathe headstock

A homemade wood lathe headstock is from round bar stock, pillow bearings, and a pulley. The headstock is to the left as you stand in front of the lathe. The headstock is where the power provided by the motor is applied to the wood.

The wood lathe headstock spindle

On a wood lathe, the spindle is the heart of the headstock. In rotating-cutter woodworking machinery, the spindle is the part on which shaped milling cutters are for cutting features into moldings and similar millwork.

Once clamped to the end, the headstock provides the rotational power for the lathe’s operations. It contains the bearings used by the lathe to rotate the workpiece against the tool bit.

Wood lathe headstock parts

  • Gears
  • Spindles
  • Chucks
  • Gear speed control levers
  • Feed controllers

Lathe headstock assembly

The lathe headstock includes the spindle and all the pieces in the headstock casting, the High/Low shifter, all parts on the spindle, and all parts on the intermediate shaft. Sometimes it does not include the pulley.

Lathe headstock centre

A lathe center is a tool grounded to a point to position a workpiece on an axis. The use of a center is to produce concentric work. They have an included angle of 60°, but in heavy machining situations, it uses 75°. That allows the workpiece to be transferred between machining operations without losing accuracy. 

A part may be turned in a lathe, sent off for hardening and tempering, and then ground between centers in a cylindrical grinder. There is the preservation of concentricity between the turning and grinding operations for quality work.

When turning between centers, a steady can support longer workpieces where the cutting forces would deflect the work, reducing the finish and accuracy of the workpiece. A center lathe has applications anywhere with a centered workpiece. 

Insert a center into a matching hole drilled by a center drill. The term between centers refers to any machining operation where the job needs to use centers. That is not limited to lathe usage since it includes setups in dividing heads, cylindrical grinders, tools, and cutter grinders.

Metal lathe headstock

A metal lathe is a large class of lathes designed for hard materials. They were for machining metals, but they became versatile with plastics and other materials. They are in a range of applications and a range of materials. 

In machining, they are called lathes or referred to by more-specific subtype names such as toolroom lathe and turret lathe. These rigid machine tools remove material from a rotating workpiece via the movements of various cutting tools, such as tool bits and drill bits.

Difference between headstock and tailstock in lathe machine

A tailstock has a Dead Centre, while the headstock has a Live Centre. A Tailstock is useful when the workpiece is long and slender. Failing to use a tailstock can cause chatter, where the workpiece bends while being cut.

How to check lathe headstock bearings

If you have a ball or roller bearings, preload affects the lathe behavior and will show up in the finish. Preload can be checked with an indicator on the spindle nose end while pushing or pulling the spindle axially in or out. Check for any play radially by pulling up or down on the spindle nose while indicating that.

David D. Hughes
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