Head to Tail Alignment...

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Forum topic by ScrubPlane posted 07-12-2013 03:53 PM 1101 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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190 posts in 2220 days

07-12-2013 03:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe turning

All…Just how close to absolute perfect alignment does the head and tail need to be? I can get the horizontal adjustment dead-on but the vertical I can get any closer than 1/16-3/32. Is that the proverbial close-enough for woodworking or should I continue fine tuning until it is also dead-on?

My problem is I’m more or less out of ideas on how much closer I can actually get them aligned.

7 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3673 days

#1 posted 07-12-2013 04:05 PM

the vertical doesnt have to be dead on, but 1/16 seems a bit excessive. I would try to at least bring it to under 1/64.

for the vertical you would most likely have to shim the tailstock

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3688 days

#2 posted 07-12-2013 05:08 PM

ScrubPlane—If your lathe is new or still under warranty, I would ask the manufacturer/vendor for help. They need to be a lot closer to ‘dead-on’ than you have been able to get it.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2160 days

#3 posted 07-12-2013 07:41 PM

Since do not know how old or new or what lathe talking about have a some questions. I can adjust my headstock if need too, but always check with tailstock locked down.

Have you cleaned both head/tailstock morse tapers before checking?

Are you sure problem is not with either drive center or live center in head/tailstock? The aluminum cone on my live center was a bit off, removed it and re-check everything was fine. Have no problem using my other live centers.

If lathe bolted down are bolts/lag screws tighten down evenly? A twisted bed can also effect alignment. It is more important for ways to be level across the bed than along the bed in many cases so simply adding a washer(s) on one side of the ways may do the trick.

Some people with same 1642 lathe as mine had alignment problem after leveling their lathe. Tech rep at Jet told them bed is twisted try un-leveling and call back. That solved their problem.

Once you move the tailstock backwards along ways really have no way to check alignment accurately. Some folks have suggested sticking a lasers pointer in tailstock morse taper. So far not heard of anyone doing that yet.

-- Bill

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2099 days

#4 posted 07-12-2013 09:42 PM

this question comes up surprisingly often. with a metal lathe which is built to guide off the bed you will be forced to turn a taper if the centers do not correspond. even on a metal lathe misalignment in the vertical plane results in a very small amount of taper. of course in the horizontal plane the difference is double the offset of the centers.I am assuming that you are asking about a lathe for turning wood. There are a couple instances where you MAY be able to discern the effects caused by a misalignment between tail stock and headstock centers. The most obvious is when you are drilling an extremely deep hole. you may be able to measure the difference if you carefully set up to find it. The second is turning something with a very high ratio of width to depth such as a platter between centers. in the first case most of the time people drill to set the depth of an area that they will be turning out with the tools anyway so the end result is it doesn’t make a difference. In the second case the platter will run at an angle corresponding to the angle of misalignment between the centers but once reversed to finish the opposite where the tail stock is not used the axis returns to relying on the headstock axis anyway. When you turn wood with chisels you do not guide off the bed or the centers. Some get really stuck on the machine. I have seen centers off way over an eighth of an inch and used for years by the operator that makes wonderful things. I have also heard the stories from those who need to find something to blame because they are unsure about their abilities. Enjoy yourself make wonderful things while others are obsessing over a chipped paint job on their 6000 dollar machine.

View ScrubPlane's profile


190 posts in 2220 days

#5 posted 07-12-2013 11:16 PM

Thanks to all who took the time to respond. Not sure where I erred previously…nor exactly sure how I succeeded this time, but the lathe (a Nova DVR BTW) is now perfectly aligned.

Thank you to all who took the time to respond…John

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3985 days

#6 posted 07-12-2013 11:24 PM

Just an “after-the-question” answer, I saw a device with double Morse 2 tapers that would do just what you asked.
One end in the head stock, other in the tail stock. Seemed like a no-brainer to me.
Put it in the head/tail and adjust each for a solid set.
It was in the Packard catalog.


View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2160 days

#7 posted 07-13-2013 11:59 AM

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