April 30, 2022

Morse Taper 1 vs Morse Taper 2

A Morse taper is a taper that is one of a standard series used in the shank of tools to fit a matching taper in the mandrel of a machine tool. An MT1 and MT2 have the same taper per inch, but the length of the Morse Taper is different. You can take the taper out of your lathe and measure it. To know which taper you need for your lathe, consult your manual.

As the length and the section differ, think of a long, tapered rod that starts at a point and gets larger in diameter the farther down the rod you go. You could cut a section out of any place along that rod and have the same taper.

Morse taper

Features and characteristics 

Clamping system

Morse is a self-holding taper, meaning the male and female wedge together and bind to each other to the extent that drilling can be resisted without a drawbar. A drawbar is a clamping system for tool holders on machine tools. 

Hold the machine taper by the drawbar and apply force to the spindle when spinning at low speeds. When idle, the tool stays in the spindle due to the drawbar. If a tool change is needed, it is out with a wedge.

Dust system

Take great care when handling Morse tapers as they are sensitive to nicks, dents, chips, and dirt. When aligning the male conical taper with the female socket, if there are any imperfections, the pieces will not locate accurately nor hold reliably, leading to wobble and chatter of the workpiece. 

Taper shanks can easily be wiped clean. However, sockets are better clean with a specialized taper cleaning tool. They are inserted, twisted, and then removed since they are deep. The Morse system fits into adjustable adapters, angle heads, quick-change tapping collets, and multi-spindle machines where the spindles are close together (Hoffmann-group.com).


Most lathes use the same MT in both the headstock and tailstock. However, some lathes will use one size of MT in the headstock and another size MT for the tailstock, so check both to get the right MT size accessories you need for your lathe.

Measure the tapered shank at the large end. Because of the tapering shank, a measurement will vary when using calipers. That depends on where you measure along the taper shank. Measure the large diameter of the tapered shank. Your measurement should reveal the actual Morse Taper of the shank.

The Morse taper is a method for keeping tooling in place with a high degree of holding power while allowing easy removal. There are lathes with other sizes of Morse Tapers, but sizes 1, 2, and 3 are the standard sizes for woodworking lathes. Machining and industrial lathes can also have larger sizes. 


It takes a simple knock-out bar that applies a quick blow to the end of the spur driveshaft or live center. It allows it to come free. Morse tapers are also on the shanks of drill chucks used in lathes and drill presses. 

Keep the socket and any Morse taper tooling spindle clean and in good condition. Keep them free of wood debris, gummy pitch, rust, and tarnish. Make any rough patches, dents, or burrs you see or feel smooth. There is no need to lubricate or wax a Morse taper unless for storage. 

If you intend to keep them longer, chances are lower than they will get rust. Keep mating surfaces clean and smooth. If you drop a drive center or tail center on a concrete floor, inspect the shank immediately for dings, dents, and peen overs and dress them out before inserting them back into the lathe’s socket. If not, you could have a hard time removing the damaged center. It may be the rough spots on a solid connection of the tapered shank to the socket.

If you are in a humid environment, store drive and tail centers out of their respective sockets of the lathe. Any surface rust on the mating surfaces forming in periods of inactivity can make a drive or tail center challenging to remove.

How to identify morse taper size

The taper angle of the Morse taper varies with size but is 1.49°. They come in eight sizes identified by whole numbers between 0 and 7, and one used half-size, 4-1/2. The designation is abbreviated as MT, followed by a digit.

Morse Tapers (MT) may be identified by measuring the large or small diameter, the length, or the taper per inch. On the female MT in a machine spindle, it is difficult to measure the small diameter, the length, or the taper since it is inside the spindle. Measuring only the largest diameter of the hole at the face of the spindle is all you need to find the correct MT size.

The gage diameter identifies Shanks. Since the shank is accessible, you can measure the small diameter, length, and taper per inch. Once you measure your Morse Taper, use a chart to determine the correct MT size to ensure you have the correct arbors and holders, adapters, and drill chuck arbors.

Morse taper ratio

The taper ratio of morse taper is at 1:10. Its included angle is available at 3° or 5/8 inch/foot. Morse taper is in lathe machines, nose spindles, drill shanks, and arbors. Apply the tip and root measurements of the wing to the formula: taper ratio = C tip / C root.

Morse taper dimensions

Correct use of Morse tapers with understanding their dimensions. Ensure machine shop tools provide secure and safe tool holding.

        Morse taper 1 dimensions

Morse Taper 1 is 0.369 on the small end up to 0.475 over a 2 9/16” taper length.

        Morse taper 2 dimensions

Morse Taper 2 is 0.572 on the small end up to 0.700 over a 3 1/8” taper length. Number 2 Morse taper is the most common size used with woodworking lathes.

Morse taper 1 live center

It comes with an interchangeable center that you can also use on your metal lathe. There is no burning at the end of the work you are turning on your lathe. 

David D. Hughes

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