Aligning the Central Machinery #34706 headstock / tailstock centers.

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 04-26-2011 03:19 AM 6418 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have gotten several requests for this, so here goes nothin’...

FWIW, I am noticing some light surface rust creeping up on the controls and such. Might be time for some decent paint on this thing…

Those of us that have this lathe, and most likely the other Jet JWL 1236 clones probably started out going nuts trying to figure out why the headstock just won’t seem to line up with the tailstock. It’s not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the HF version, it’s the nature of this beast…

To start out, this machine ships with the head stock spun sideways, and typically bad HF documentation, meaning you need to look it up on your own…

Start out with the lathe assembled and centers installed.

The big adjsuter nut, knob thingamajig, whatever they call those things, is what you loosen up to adjust by swiveling the head stock… Loosen this adjuster….

Now slide the tailstock as close as you can to the headstock without getting in the way, and lock it down.

Next rotate the headstock until the points of the spur center are just before (counter clockwise) from the live center as seen from above.

Tighten the adjuster thingy. I wish I could remember what they are called, but you get the idea I hope… NOTICE that as you tighten, the adjuster pulls the spur center down and counter clockwise.

Repeat process until the centers line up tip to tip.

It takes a little fiddling with the headstock, but once you get the hang of it, you can repeatedly line the head / tail stocks up very quickly and accurately…

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3 comments so far

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4187 posts in 3220 days

#1 posted 04-26-2011 04:32 PM

Hmmm… what ever it takes I guess. Using entry level tools is not always easy, but I have been doing it as well for years…....but you gotta know the tricks.

Trying to get a DIYer shop together here in La Conner. I have a workbench consisting of an unfinished slab solid door resting on two saw horses. I am going to put up some pegboard today, after I finish building furniture…....

.........IKEA furniture. It serves the purpose until some special order furniture comes in, at least it is better than using cardboard boxes like we are now, and then will get used in secondary bedrooms, etc.

I have a Rigid Fuego circular saw and a cheap Buck Brothers hand saw representing the only strictly woodworking tools of note, although I plan to make a basic woodworking shop here eventually. I have three Bosch 12 v tools, two drivers, and one drill. They are very convenient, and as reviewed, quite powerful. I will put some cabinets, used or new under the door, cover it with 1/2” plywood, and edge it with something or other, probably later this year. I was doing some woodwork at the BORG yesterday, had them cut the pegboard up, and I bought some rectangular cross section molding pieces to cobble together to support the pegboard. I will try to make it work so that no holes are covered by the supports ala Dave Owen. Just glue and screw the two moldings together.

This reminds me of doing woodwork in Taiwan in the late 60’s when I was in the Navy. I had a few very simple hand tools, and my only power tool was a GE combo tool, all used the same handle and motor. Sander, drill, saber saw. All metal, survived for years. I built a vanity around a sink, with a flip top to store diapers and things so that we had a place to change diapers on my newborn son. Primitive tools, but the vanity was enameled, had a tile top, and was made of 1/2 ” ply as I recall. Really did the job, and looked good.

Slowly relaxing. Takes over a week for me to totally unwind. Back to building heirloom IKEA furniture…........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3347 days

#2 posted 04-26-2011 04:39 PM

Do you access this from below, or from the side, where the head lock lever is?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View dbhost's profile


5736 posts in 3288 days

#3 posted 04-26-2011 04:49 PM


I know the HF models are considered entry level, and don’t have a problem with that. As you probably know, the design, if not the actual castings etc, are the same as the Jet JWL-1236, and there are a TON of clones out there from Grizzly, Central Machinery, Craftex, and a couple of Canadian and Australian brands. All more or less the same machine as the Jet they are derived from. And all including the Jet share the quirky head setup. The issue isn’t the quality of the lathe, but rather the rotating head stock itself. They are just a pain to set up. But it is a feature, and selling point for a LOT of turners. If I wanted to turn bigger bowls / platters, I would do FAR more outboard turning than I do which is none. I set my lathe up, and left the headstock where it belongs…

Where I had trouble, and where most folks seem to have trouble is that the headstock tends to rotate clockwise as the lockdown nut thingamajig gets tightened down. Sufficient fiddling with it, and leading it, like a hunter leads a duck with his shotgun, gets it dialed in pretty quickly…

This is NOT something I would tolerate from a fixed head lathe… I was actually going to initially return my lathe because I couldn’t figure out how to get the centers lined up, HF even approved it, but one of the guys from the local turning club showed me the trick on a Jet at the Woodworking show, and I was ready to go…

Loved the story about the Taiwan woodworking. Almost wondering if you were Navy, my Dad was in Taiwan, Japan, and unfortunately Vietnam in the 60’s doing the Navy thing… And doing what woodworking he could while on base. A LOT of our furniture that I remember from growing up came from that time. I remember as a kid seeing my Dad’s shop. Smaller than mine, with a 1960s vintage Craftsman table saw, and a Shopsmith Mark V with a ton of accessories. Dust collection back then was a broom and dust pan…

As I build my skills, and build more projects, I am gaining confidence that I can reproduce the efforts of my Dad, and provide for my family, what my parents decided to sell, which is heirloom quality furniture to hand down through the generations… (Yes, I am a bit annoyed that I didn’t get any of my parents furniture, but the sold it to folks outside of the family…)

Notably, I particularly miss one piece, a “cobblers bench” that my Dad built the year my Mom was pregnant with me, we used it for a coffee table until my late teen years. A crying shame it didn’t stay with us…

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