Beware the spindle thread

So anyway, I have finally succumbed to the yearning for a variable speed lathe and have gone ahead and bought one. I’d used the Jet 1015VS at a hands-on session at the local club, and it’s a joy. Instead of having to stop the lathe, open two little doors, release the tensioner and physically move a belt from one set of pulleys to another, you just turn a knob while the lathe is running. I hadn’t realised before how often I actually want to adjust the speed. Typically the workpiece is unbalanced when it first goes on, so you start at a low speed but once it’s round you want it faster.

But there was a downside. These things often don’t run perfectly smoothly (unlike the lathe itself, which is quiet and polite as long as I don’t turn it on when the index pin is engaged). Something that didn’t occur to me to check was the spindle thread. On the one at the club, the thread is the same as my old lathe so it fits my chucks. Yes, you guessed it, the thread on the new one is different. Why, I don’t know. OK, it’s metric, perhaps that’s why. The thing is, on the display model (and the way it comes out of the box) you can’t see the thread because it’s covered by a faceplate. Perhaps they do that deliberately, I don’t know. But (and tell me if this is unreasonable) it would have been helpful if the sales staff had pointed it out. I know it was in the specs, and I should have looked, but even so.

So I find myself with a lovely new lathe that won’t fit my chucks. What to do?

Well, for the moment I’m using an adaptor, which cost me another 28 quid (and two days, because they initially sent me the wrong one and I had to go to the store to sort it out) and reduces the capacity of the lathe by about two inches, if you want the tailstock up with the chuck. Well, on the old lathe, the 1014, I’d always fitted the chuck to muscle-tight, so I did this on the adapter too. It flashed across my mind while the thing was turning nicely that it might be worth standing out of the way when I stop it, and i was right. The chuck went on turning and took itself, and the workpiece, right off the lathe and on to the floor. One more piece of firewood but otherwise no harm done, thank goodness.

It’s always the first few days with a new thing that are the most dangerous.

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