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Video: How to make a Tailstock Dial Indicator Stop for your Lathe

My lathe’s tailstock has a lot of backlash (.006), a short throw (1.500), and sixty graduations (a number that has never made any sense to me). I’ve always found it difficult to drill to accurate depths.

For example, 0.875 divided by .060 equals how many rotations of the tailstock handle? It’s ridiculous to me that I need to do math (even simple math) just to drill a hole to a depth of 0.875. If my tailstock had 100 graduations things would be a lot easier … but it doesn’t. It has 60.

60? Really?

Now, about the backlash. I know what you’re thinking. Who cares about backlash in a tailstock? Apparently I do. My psychiatrist and I are working on that …

And yes I realize that 99.9% of the time the depth of a hole isn’t a critical dimension – but I’d still wanted more control and accuracy out of my tailstock.

At least, that was the case. But no longer! With the exception of the short throw all the other issues with my tailstock were resolved with one simple stop that you can easily make in an evening.

This project is very simple. The only thing that I can see tripping someone up is remembering to create thread relief for the cap screw. When you drill and tap for the 1/4-20 cap screw, you’ll want to also drill a .250 thread relief  to the halfway point (where the slitting saw will eventually cut) so that the dial stop is only threaded on one of the two sides. If you thread both sides the two sides won’t draw together when you tighten the cap screw.

I didn’t draw up plans because of the simplicity of the project and because each person will need to scale the project up or down to fit the size of their lathe. I did, however, make a build video. Let me know what you think!

If you make your own please post pictures on the forum.

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About Tyler

Tyler is a hobby machinist and 3D printing aficionado. He teaches computer programming and web development at Highline College near Seattle. Tyler founded Projects In Metal in 2008 because he was frustrated by the lack of free plans available for hobby machinists.