Retrofitting old homeowner lathe with a live end

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Forum topic by 1940LaSalle posted 03-26-2015 02:44 PM 1473 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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03-26-2015 02:44 PM

Here’s the situation: I have an operating older homeowner-quality lathe that came with a dead end on the tail stock. I want to convert that to a live end. As the attached pictures indicate, the existing tail stock is not sufficiently large enough in diameter to accommodate a Morse taper live end. However, those pictures also show that the tail stock has male threads that will accommodate a ½” capacity drill chuck.

My approach at the moment would be to install a drill chuck and get a cup center live end with a #1 Morse taper. I’ll grant that would be just about the maximum capacity of the chuck. I’m taking that approach since I have been unable to find a Morse taper / SAE thread adapter anywhere.

I don’t know if anyone else has had this sort of situation and how they’ve addressed it. Comments on the proposed approach, including alternative suggestions, are most welcome. Thanks.

3 replies so far

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1278 posts in 1693 days

#1 posted 03-26-2015 03:39 PM

Salle, I’ll say this for your post. Well done. The most illustrative I’ve seen so far. You should send this over to the woodturning forum. It might get you better responses.

How did you knock the dead center out of the quill if it is a straight shank?

I made 17 live centers in 2013. They were a piece of cake, but very labor intensive. Please don’t take the following statement as an insult, but it looks like it would cost you more than you lathe is worth. Save your money, and look for a lathe that has MT2, and parts are pretty easy to come by.

The dimensions shown for the dead center is 19/64 = .2969” and the bore on the quill is shown at .289”. The dead center dims are almost .007” bigger than the socket it’s supposed to go in to. Find someone near you that has a metal lathe. Tell them what you would like and give the quill to him/her so they can fit it properly and have it work.

Where are you located? I could do it for you just to say I did it. .............. Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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3 posts in 1122 days

#2 posted 03-26-2015 05:27 PM

Jerry, thanks. Didn’t know there was a woodturning forum; I put this here since a lathe is another species of power tool. (Would a moderator please move this as suggested? Thanks.)

Anyhow, to answer a few questions: I was able to remove the existing dead center with a small pair of channel lock pliers comparatively easily. I’ll take you up on your offer for the modification if you’re willing to come to the east coast near Philadelphia…:-)

Now, about my drill chuck proposal: I have a spare chuck sitting around doing absolutely nothing at the moment, so there’s no further investment there. I’m also very new to woodturning and would like to see how well I like it / how well I do before investing anything sizable, so I’m willing to chalk up costs incurred (e.g., for a live center purchased on eBay) to research and development. If all goes well, then before too long I can upgrade; if not…well, I’ve gained experience and would realize it’s not for me. That’s what’s driving this.

That’s what I forgot to mention the first post; sorry for the omission.

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6580 posts in 2162 days

#3 posted 03-26-2015 06:03 PM

That lathe was made by the American Machine & Tool company (AMT – Prefix 149) for Sears, and looks like what you have is their model 273 lathe (I think.. kind of hard to tell from just looking at the tailstock). The user manual and parts list can be found here: and according to the manual, there was a live center available (part number A432). There are a few members over at OWWM who have that lathe, and you can find some photos at the vintagemachinery site, so a few queries over there (and maybe a WTB ad in the BOYD section) might turn up an original center .. or at least perhaps a photo, measurements and/or ideas on how an alternative could be fabricated.


PS: The dead center is perfectly usable.. have you tried turning anything using it?

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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