Indexing Wheel for lathe

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Project by Tony posted 03-17-2010 07:37 PM 24044 views 29 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A very quick and cheap little project. My lathe does not have an indexing system, because it is a really cheap and nasty lathe. This little projects has two main components; 1. a piece of MDF and 2. a horizontal toggle clamp.

start with a square of MDF, find the centre and mark it (DO NOT DRILL IT OUT YET), next mark out the index holes you want, this one has 32 (11.25° increments), 1, 2, 4, 8 & 16 increments are also possible with equal spacings . Drill out the index holes ( the size depends upon the tip of the rubber pad), then drill out the centre hole, I used a forstner bit close (slightly smaller) than the diameter of the spindle thread.

I then threaded on the MDF to the spindle (the steel thread cuts into the MDF really easily) – I then screwed on the chuck to lock the MDF into place. I then turned the square plate into a perfect circle and softened the edges.

Next come the fitting of the toggle clamp, this must be positioned so then when it is engaged, the soft rubber tip engages the holes centrally – A little shimming with a Ply wood block fixed to the housing of the pulley assembly.

That is it – I have used the lathe with the indexing wheel attached, whilst turning at high speeds without any problems. When using the indexing wheel, I always remove the power from the motor, to avoid any accidents.

You can make any number of wheels with the required increments for your project – I hope you like it.

Update: About a year ago I said I would post the project I made with this jig, well better late than never I suppose, also find attached e few photographs here of the legs.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

15 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5555 days

#1 posted 03-17-2010 07:45 PM

Very nice jig, Tony.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Chase's profile


448 posts in 4364 days

#2 posted 03-17-2010 08:02 PM

Took me some searching to realize what one would do with an indexing wheel. After a bit of looking the light bulb has come on. Fabulous idea, I like it!

-- Every neighborhood has an eccentric neighbor. I wondered for years "who was ours?" Then I realized it was me.

View poopiekat's profile (online now)


5031 posts in 5072 days

#3 posted 03-17-2010 08:06 PM

What sort of projects are you making with this jig? I like MDF, I used Lexan polycarbonate for an indexing wheel against a stationary Lexan reference point on a recent project, but MDF would have been a good choice too. I’ve never tried threading MDF, that’s an interesting idea! Good work!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View PaulfromVictor's profile


232 posts in 4683 days

#4 posted 03-17-2010 08:10 PM

Nice solution. Well done. I recommend numbering or referencing degrees at each hole. I brain lapse on stuff that I haven’t dummy proofed. I would find myself missing by one hole from not paying attention.

View Raymond's profile


683 posts in 5064 days

#5 posted 03-17-2010 08:22 PM

Great idea, I’ve got to make one of these tonight.

-- Ray

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5637 days

#6 posted 03-17-2010 09:43 PM

Good thinking Tony, nice project.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Swede's profile


191 posts in 4356 days

#7 posted 03-17-2010 09:56 PM

Nicely done.
What do you use the indexing wheel for?
I have looked at some Jet Mini Lathe’s that have indexing avaliablity but no clue what they are used for.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View Tony's profile


997 posts in 5367 days

#8 posted 03-17-2010 10:33 PM

An index wheel fixes the lathe headstock in one position, it also enables you to rotate the headstock (by hand) a fixed number of degrees (defined by the holes in the wheel) and again hold the headstock in that position whilst you work on an object mounted in a chuck or held between centres.

An example of this would be carving or routing the flutes on a Sheraton leg, I’ll post a project tomorrow.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View Dusty56's profile


11868 posts in 5025 days

#9 posted 03-17-2010 11:26 PM

You’re always coming up with great ideas , Tony : ) Nice job on this jig.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Swede's profile


191 posts in 4356 days

#10 posted 03-17-2010 11:49 PM

Thanks Tony I will look for your project.

-- Swede -- time to make some sawdust

View Les Casteel's profile

Les Casteel

160 posts in 4396 days

#11 posted 03-17-2010 11:59 PM

Simple, easy to use, effective, cheap….the components of a good jig. Thanks for sharing!

-- Les, Missouri,

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 4632 days

#12 posted 03-18-2010 02:18 AM

This is great, very ingenious and seems easy to make.
I’m keeping this one…


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5188 days

#13 posted 10-03-2011 01:55 AM

Thanks Tony, Just what I need. My lathe does have indexing but 24 pin.
I have a project that will only take a max of 16 holes, so your idea suits well.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5738 days

#14 posted 10-19-2011 04:38 AM


You didn’t say what you used to make the index mark. What we have used in the toy workshop for a drilling jig. We use a saw blade and use the tips of the blades to give the points. A 40 tooth blade would give 8, 16, 24, 32 and 40 along with 2’s 4’s, 5’s 10’s etc. a 60 tool blade has additional possibilities.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Tony's profile


997 posts in 5367 days

#15 posted 10-19-2011 08:45 AM

Just good old fashioned trigonometry, compass, pencil, ruler, bradall/punch and a sharp drill. lets face it – does not have that accurate.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

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