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15 – The tailstock (part 1 – the sliding base)

The tailstock will slide along the rails of the lathe bed. This way you can accommodate different sizes of wood between the centres. I used some more scrap alu angle to make fixing runners. I got a bit carried away and decided to attach a leadscrew to my tailstock base – this just allows you to move the base along the lathe bed by turning a screw (or peace of threaded rod in this case. My plan was that I could make this movable base a multi purpose item – being capable of carrying a tailstock, but also a tool that could be accurately moved across the work piece, in the style of a metal lathe, but for wood.

Here I made three mistakes – 1) attempting to make a monster leadscrew-nut from perspex, which obligingly snapped my extra long self-fabricated tap; and 2) using a leadscrew that was only 6mm diameter. to much flex mean a lot of faf, making sure it was always under tension from both ends (it can pull well – but does a bad job of pushing). 3) It was relativity pointless complication, which introduced more bits that might go wrong. It works ok now, but was quite challenging, and required some borrowing of tools. Whatever you plan to do, the tailstock base will want to be a snug fit to the lathe bed, with little or no play in the joints. Mine is a VERY snug fit and was nearly impossible to push up and down the rails by hand – which is partly why I wanted the lead screw.

Two bolts holding together the angled runners




Cut to size and file off any sharp edges, or protrusions.


The two fasteners bolted to the side piece of the base, and on the runner. I have drawn black lines in here so you can see more clearly how the angle pieces fit.
Runner will bolt to steel lathe bed
This is where things started getting a bit silly. I cut a peace of perspex that I would bolt under the base (here you can see the holes drilled and tapped ready). Intention is to have a tapped hole running along the whole length (!) which would form a kind of nut for the leadscrew.  A meter long 6mm diameter threaded rod forms the leadscrew. (This is what I had in my scraps box – in retrospect I should have used something thicker – and with a courser thread so it wasn’t so slow).
Ok, like i said, I was being stupid here, I had to enlist my dad’s help, borrowing his mini a lathe to make a 5mm hole all the way through the perspex.  Foolishness! I had to turn it round part way through, and the drill bit was only just long enough to go half way.
Of course my standard M6 tap was only about 30mm long and to make a full length thread would require one more like 300mm. So I ground my own one from some scrap M6 studding. This basically involved filing the tip and using my friends dremel with a small cutting disk to make two channels (making cutting edges), and then heat treating it.
After a good few boo boos we have the sliding base – it now moves when the leadscrew is turned – one revolution = 1mm travel.
This is an old battery drill someone was throwing – the motor and gearbox worked fine and should be good to drive the leadscrew (as I have no aspirations for computer control the simple forwards and back with variable speed is enough). Here I have taken the chuck off, drilled and tapped the centre hole to an M6 clockwise thread.
The plan is to house the drill inside with the rest of the electronics – which required some re-jigging of bits to make room, and this hole for the shaft.
I have added a new transformer , arranged to put out the 16V needed. The is the original trigger control switch is used. I Had to move the main speed control board to make room for the motor and drill gear box.  Just about fits…
At the other end a trimmed up bit of scrap hardwood is fixed up to tension and centre the leadscrew.
The transformer (left) had a switch that could isolate it from the 240V supply, this LED is wired up to show when it is active (I didn’t want it left on when not in use).  I mounted the drill speed control thus, thinking that I could activate it with a push button I could add to the perspex lid.
Motor drive bolted in and attached to the leadscrew. Some locktite helps keep the leadscrew fixed.
Few! Motorised travel achieved. Quite cool but relatively pointless – I don’t recommend.
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