Tailstock Swing Under $75

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Project by Owlcroft posted 05-08-2014 04:41 PM 6868 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was visiting a friend to get some wood for turning from a couple trees that had come down in a recent ice storm. While I was there he showed me his shop. One of the things that really caught my eye was a Tailstock Swing he used to move his tailstock out of the way when he was turning bowls. I had not seen one before so I had him show me how it worked. Long story short it immediately became a must have addition for my lathe.

I did some research on the net and figured out there were two types. Those that swing the tailstock to the side (most common) and those that swing it down at a 45 degree angle. I check with a couple other members of the club and sure enough there were those with both types. After trying both types I decided I wanted one that swing down. Next I took a look online to see how much it was going to cost. Long story short, I quickly decided the cost was more than I wanted to pay. So I decided to build my own.

First step was to figure what I needed to make one. I have had no experience working with metal so my 1st thought was to make everything out of wood with a heavy duty ball bearing hinge. After some thought, and considering the weight of the tailstock, I decided the plates had to be aluminum plate. I did some research on the net and decided I needed 3/8” 6061 aluminum plate for the hinged parts and 2” aluminum plate for the bed extension. I have a lot of scrape red oak form other projects so I decided to make the base of the swing out of laminated red oak.

Next I made a pattern for the hinged parts out of 1/2” plywood and an old hinge to be sure it would work. Good thing I did. My 1st pattern swing the tailstock out of the way at a 45 degree angle. It did not swing free of my 18” extension on the end of my lathe. Easy fix, I tossed that one and made another at a 60 degree angle. It worked perfectly.

Now I was set to cut the aluminum plate on my bandsaw and mount the hinges. Once I cut the plate drilled the mounting holes for the lathe and hinge I assembled the swing and mounted it to the lathe. It worked perfectly.

To build the base I made three laminated Oak sections. one for each side and one for the middle. Once the glue dried I used my planer to resize them so that when the fit together there was no need to have to cut out the center section. Once the glue dried I slanted bottom of the base to reduce the weight and give it some style.

Next I mounted the base to the swing and installed the draw catch that holds it in place. Now all I needed to do was cut the 2” rails that would hold the tailstock in place as it swing out of the way. Mounting them was a piece of cake, all I had to do was clamp them in place and mount them with wood screws.

I could not be happier with the results. I have a custom made Tailstock Swing that works perfectly on my lathe for under $75. Well worth the 2 or 3 days it took to build it.

-- Owlcroft

10 comments so far

View gridlockd's profile


158 posts in 3188 days

#1 posted 05-08-2014 04:54 PM

very cool! great idea

-- Gridlockd

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2398 days

#2 posted 05-08-2014 07:18 PM

Wait, you’ve got a $50 bajillion Powermatic lathe and don’t want to pay for a tailstock swingout? Penny wise and pound foolish?

Actually, this is just me expressing my envy at your $50 bajillion Powermatic lathe.

View Owlcroft's profile


63 posts in 3917 days

#3 posted 05-08-2014 10:02 PM

Had a good laugh when I read the bajizillian dollar lathe comment. Truth is I am retired on a fixed income so saving money where I can is necessary. I am also an avid Craig’s list advocate where I found that lathe for significantly less than the bajillion dollars they want for a new one. Can’t always judge a book by its cover.

-- Owlcroft

View Paul Lajoie's profile

Paul Lajoie

137 posts in 3908 days

#4 posted 05-08-2014 10:58 PM

Nice lathe addition!! On an even nicer lathe, Powermatic is one of my dream lathes and you found it on Craigslist? some people have all the luck.


View steve_in_ohio's profile


1195 posts in 2414 days

#5 posted 05-09-2014 12:46 AM

great idea, simple and effective

-- steve, simple and effective

View mbg's profile


17 posts in 4181 days

#6 posted 01-08-2015 05:30 PM

Owlcroft – my 3520b is about a year old and I need one of these badly. Very nice job! Do you have any mord details of the build?



View Owlcroft's profile


63 posts in 3917 days

#7 posted 01-09-2015 07:23 AM

What more do you need? Once you make the pattern the rest is a matter of tracing the pattern onto the aluminum plate and cutting it out on the band saw. The aluminum plate should be available at a local supplier. I got mine from “Metal by the Foot” in Kansas City KS. The hinge you can pick up at any builder supply or on Amazon. The blade I used on my band saw was a Carbon Tool Steel Blade, 1/4” 0,0025” 10 Raker blade I got from Grizzly. Cut the Aluminum plate like butter. Grizzly part number G5181.

This was the 1st shop-made jig I made out of aluminum. Was a little intimidating at first. Just take your time on the template. Once it works properly (bottom picture on the left above) you can trace them onto the aluminum plate and cut the pieces you need on the band saw. I used my Ridgid Oscillating Edge/Belt Spindle Sander from Home Depot to smooth the edges of the aluminum Plate. Another must have piece of equipment in my shop.

-- Owlcroft

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 2398 days

#8 posted 01-11-2015 10:50 PM

Now I am very envious of your Craig’s List win. I have been looking at lathes on Craig’s List for many months, and the only ones I see are the oldest, rustiest looking hobbyist’s lathes known to man. I don’t think I’ve seen a single one that doesn’t have a reeves drive for speed variability. Oh, wait, I’ve seen plenty, those that require you to manually open them up to change the pulleys!

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2811 days

#9 posted 01-11-2015 11:13 PM

Wow. VERY cool! Color me impressed!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Owlcroft's profile


63 posts in 3917 days

#10 posted 01-12-2015 05:52 PM

I must live in a great area for Graig’s list and PM Laths. Right after I got the one I have a 3520B, with the bed extension and several other accessories came available just across the border in SC. Not only did it have all the accessories, but is was only a year old and included all the turning tools and several chucks. The guy had plans to really get into turning only to find he was not interested after a couple tries. Sold the whole setup for 4K lathe, accessories, tools, chucks, and more. If I had not already got the one I have I would have hocked the family jewels to get a deal like that.

-- Owlcroft

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