Tailstock Alignment Trick
© Frank Ford 2006; Photos by FF

This is one of those cool quick tricks that may well be an oldtimer's technique.  I read about it recently on one of the Internet machining forums, and, before long, I forgot who contributed it.  So, let me present it as yet another idea I didn't have personally, but was at least smart enough to retain.  The problem -  how to realign the tailstock after you've set it over to cut a taper.

First, chuck up a piece of whatever stock you have lying around in whatever chuck is on the lathe.  Turn a short section nice and smooth to have a solid concentric reference:

Whatever you do, don't move that original chuck setting.

Now, with the tailstock roughly where it belongs, center drill the end of the stock you've just turned:


Part off a nice disc from the end of your work piece:



Debur the flat faces generated by parting, and hold the cut piece up against the end of the stock as  you tighten the tailstock up to hold the piece in place at the end of the bar:


Now, lock the tailstock down, and turn the tailstock adjustment screws as  you feel the alignment of the disc and the original stock bar:

Surprisingly accurate and quick, this neat little trick takes advantage of our ability to feel .001" or less descrepancy in the surface as the pieces are brought into alignment.

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