Operating a Manual Lathe in this day and age of CNC machining and its numerous convenient varieties may look like a scene from a Neanderthal flashback. But considering that even used manual lathes are selling decently well alongside the CNC counterparts, Manual lathes can still be considered worth employing.
A major point of concern that we will be discussing in this article is the part deflection that occurs when the workpiece is often too large to be handled by the Manual lathe. Its improper orientation can cause havoc on the general tool life as well as throw the end product out of shape.
Operating a Manual lathe is hard and challenging in itself and when coupled that with a workpiece that is just 3 or 4 times the diameter away from the chuck, it results in Chatter, which causes the end product to look ugly and render it unusable.
To keep this Part deflection at bay, Manual lathes come equipped with sturdy Tailstocks and steady Rests, sometimes both for added convenience.
- Tailstock Support
Manual lathes tend to use a carrier to handle or feed the workpiece while the shafts are turned between centers. Alternately, the operator could firmly chuck one end of the piece and use a tailstock and the center to support the other end.
Make sure to keep an eye on the Spindle speeds. Spindles that operate with higher speeds should use a revolving center and the workpiece simply needs a bit of pressure to keep it from deflecting. For slower speeds, grease the part well and use a dead center.
- Steady Rest Support
Rests are a standard with every Manual lathe, but their quality differs from lathe to lathe. Some of the newer models come equipped with additional adjustable prong-like or finger-like extensions that firmly hold the workpiece preventing it from deflecting.
In any case, apply liberal amounts of grease when using the lathe and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the piece when not needed.
For even longer workpieces, you may have to use the Tailstock and Rest in tandem.
If you do find yourself in a pinch without any steady rest or not enough tailstock length to accommodate the workpiece, simply grab a broomstick or even a chunk of brass to apply the required pressure to the piece just a little ahead of the cutting tool. Maintain personal safety and do not, in any case, use your fingers to hold down the workpiece.
If you are looking to invest in a Manual lathe but need it only for intermittent use, then you could consider browsing through some used manual lathes for sale. When purchased from a reputed dealer even a used manual lathe is re-purposed to perform better than new.
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