New lathe, centers do not align vertically

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Forum topic by TPOK posted 01-03-2017 07:02 PM 6083 views 0 times favorited 47 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1424 days

01-03-2017 07:02 PM

First post. Just joined and need help already :(

Just took delivery of a Laguna 1836. Set up was easy, if a bit heavy.

Then checked center alignment for the tail and head stock. Put the supplied drive center in the head stock, live center in the tail stock. Horizontally, peaches. Vertically, the tail stock is visibly higher than the head stock.

I contacted Laguna CS. Was told the tolerance is .020, but that if I wanted to be more precice, I could remove take an orbital sander to the bottom of the tail stock and remove enough material to align the centers to my satisfaction.

More investigation:

I grabbed a couple of drill driver bit holders and mounted them in a lathe chuck and a drill chuck.

The two drivers are .055 different in diameter. They line up perfectly on top. Mic to .055 difference at the bottom. So .0275 out of alignment, give or take. Out of what seems to me to be a rather generous tolerance of .020.

So, question(s) to the learned members of this forum:

How big a deal is this? Jeez, my old Jet 1014 has perfect vertical alignment.

Sand the bottom of the tail stock? Any of you ever had to do that? I think a machine shop is more likely.


Thanks, in advance.


47 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10788 posts in 4564 days

#1 posted 01-03-2017 07:19 PM

Shim the headstock.

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4658 days

#2 posted 01-03-2017 07:28 PM

I would send Laguna your measurement of being out by .055
Along with a measurement from the bed to the center on your head stock… (or your tail stock) so that they can either send you one that is ‘properly shorter’ or have you machine the tail stock base and send them the bill.
I think sanding .055 of cast iron is not a reasonable request for buying a new 2500 dollar piece of equipment.

there are workarounds for everything… e.g. maybe it is simpler to shim the headstock, if you don’t intend to move it around to do outboard turning of large bowls. But For a new piece of equipment I would ask them to fix it.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View TPOK's profile


5 posts in 1424 days

#3 posted 01-03-2017 07:47 PM


I thought about shimming the headstock, but I want to be able to move it. I have the bed extension on order that allow turning stock beyond 18” in diameter. Although I could shim the headstock temporarily to make a really good determination of how much to remove from the tailstock. Hadn’t thought about that till now.

I’m not a machinist, or a mechanic, by any measure. What material would I use to shim the headstock? Where would I get it? Sorry if these are dumb questions.


Agreed on the sanding. It would actually be .0275, but there is no way I’d keep that flat with a sander. Just seems an unreasonable request all around.

Thanks for the replies, gentlemen.

View OSB's profile


147 posts in 1442 days

#4 posted 01-03-2017 08:04 PM

Get a test indicator and a good face plate to see exactly how far it is off and make sure the tailstock moves in parallel to the headstock axis.

To shim the headstock, you can buy steel shim stock, steel feeler gauges or cut up tin cans to make shims.

On a metal lathe my target tolerance would be 0.0005” or less and unless my lathe ways were warped or bowed somehow I would shim until I get there.

Sanding the tailstock is never the answer on a metal lathe, if it is out too far to shim you solve that by surface grinding and scraping.

View TPOK's profile


5 posts in 1424 days

#5 posted 01-03-2017 09:37 PM


Thanks for the reply. What sort of “test indicator” are you referring to? Forgive my newbness.

Also, how would I determine that the tailstock is moving in parallel with the headstock axis.


View brtech's profile


1068 posts in 3838 days

#6 posted 01-03-2017 11:00 PM

Test Indicator = Dial Test Indicator = Dial Indicator.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2923 days

#7 posted 01-03-2017 11:16 PM

When ever I have needed thin shims, I usually buy a few of these cheap feeler gauges at the auto parts house or WalMart. Buying several gives you a range of thicknesses and you’ll have pairs of the same thickness.

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

View GlenintheNorth's profile


246 posts in 1452 days

#8 posted 01-03-2017 11:31 PM

I would go back to Laguna and tell them their tailstock is .0075 out of tolerance. If you ever turn between centers that will be unacceptable.

Of course, I come from metal-land on this stuff, but make them pay shipping until you get one that can be used. Else, I’d send it back. .020” is dare I say a retarded tolerance on that. And then to MISS it…

-- MFia-made man. But that doesn't mean I don't dig my 45. Minneapolis/St. Paul, burbs.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1614 posts in 4481 days

#9 posted 01-03-2017 11:58 PM

I contacted Laguna CS. Was told the tolerance is .020, but that if I wanted to be more precice, I could remove take an orbital sander to the bottom of the tail stock and remove enough material to align the centers to my satisfaction.

New? tolerance should be right on, every other brand is.

I think Laguna should send you a new tailstock or return shipping labels.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View OSB's profile


147 posts in 1442 days

#10 posted 01-04-2017 12:20 AM

Test Indicator = Dial Test Indicator = Dial Indicator.

- brtech

Not really, I just bought a digital “dial indicator”, it has a measurement range of 0.500” and a resolution of 0.0005”. A test indicator is a much more sensitive device with a measurement range of about 0.020” and a resolution around 0.00005”.

There are some electronic test indicators that can resolve microns but that is pretty exotic.

If you want to really nail the setup you need to measure it to a high degree of precision.

Testing to see if your lathe bed is parallel to your headstock axis is pretty easy on a metal lathe, you just turn a test cylinder and measure for taper. On a wood lathe and hand held tooling, I’m not sure how I would do it. Maybe you could clamp a bar to the headstock, attach the test indicator to the end of the bar and use that to indicate on a drill rod or plug gauge held in the tailstock. If you can spin the headstock 360° without the needle moving much, the tailstock is concentric. If you can get a good result with the tailstock at both ends of the lathe bed, you should be good.

View Wildwood's profile


2908 posts in 3050 days

#11 posted 01-04-2017 01:51 PM

Pretty sure lathe instructions tell you how to level your lathe along & across the lathe ways (bed). Simple answer to your problem is take out of level until to get points to line up. There is play a lot of in this style cast iron lathe. Also those mass produced OEM centers not always running true right of the box!

Once get heads/tailstock aligned does not mean that is going to true as move the tailstock back from the headstock.

When first got my Jet 1642 head/tail stock tad out of alignment using OEM centers. Inserted my favorite two prong & aftermarket live center everything aligned! Also found if removed the cone from live center lathe also in alignment. After running lathe few months and installing the cone back on my OEM live center everything was aligned.

Another Jet 1642 owner was told by factory rep to take his lathe out of level to fix his alignment issues. It worked for him!

-- Bill

View Underdog's profile


1557 posts in 2951 days

#12 posted 01-04-2017 03:43 PM

New? tolerance should be right on, every other brand is.

- Tim Dahn

NOPE. Tolerances are about the same for Jet too.
My Jet 1642 centers didn’t line up even after getting TWO replacement tailstocks. Never did get it to line up perfectly. Finally gave up and filed down the best one til I got it sorta close.

But yeah, I hate those SLOPPY tolerances.

Did you know you are supposed to adjust the legs to get the centers to line up from front to back? Basically you’re just twisting the bed….

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View moke's profile


1630 posts in 3692 days

#13 posted 01-04-2017 05:02 PM

Glad you joined here welcome….
I have the very same lathe….how disheartening…I had the good fortune of not having any issues. A long time ago I bought a Rikon that was not co-planar. I bought it specifically for mounting a Beall Buff, so it really didn’t matte all that mucr, but it did to me….I shimmed it but that is a PITA! Occasionally I use it to mentor another person and the shims move and come out…etc…shimming is not the answer in this case for a high end lathe.

I posted when I got the lathe… .....and one of the posters had some issues with the tailstock and subsequent issues with Customer Service. He called management… was RAMI….starting on Post #24. Maybe PM him and ask who he tallked to. This is not a 300.00 Rikon like I had the issues with. This is a direct competitor to the big dogs like Power Matic and Robust. If they want to play they need to pony up and produce the same product….

As wildwood said, (He has always given me good advice) move it around a little..move the headstock down the ways and try the co-planar then…try different things. Also who is to say which peice is out of tolerance the Head or the tail stock? Good Luck, I will be interested to find out how you fix this… to mention it is not a good idea to have this posted to how ever many thousand woodworkers that are on here that are potential customers that their customer service told you to basically pound sand…...Maybe the Laguan exec needs to know that?
Just my .02


-- Mike

View PineSucks's profile


283 posts in 1943 days

#14 posted 01-04-2017 05:26 PM

Wow. So 0.02” is their tolerance? That is just sloppy.

Reminds me of the who had a brand spankin new Jeep that was burning oil. He called the dealership and learned that the specs for acceptable oil burn is 1qt per 1,000 miles. The recommended oil change interval for new Jeeps is every 6,000 miles. They take 5.5 quarts of 5w20 at oil time. That is some seriously sloppy math right there. Simply put, it’s within their tolerance for there to be no oil in the Jeep at oil change time.

View restored's profile


55 posts in 3008 days

#15 posted 01-04-2017 06:06 PM

I’m sorry to hear you have this issue right out of the box. Always looking to upgrade my Powermatic 90, I keep an eye out for the new and used models that hit the market. I recall a few years back a few others who purchased the larger Luguana lathes had the same issue, and got nowhere with customer service. I would have thought like with the development of improved VSD’s etc. that lathe producers/ makers have seen a growing market, and with that to compete with the big boys, as Rami stated, A perfect product which is brand new is the only way to do so. Realizing nothing is perfect, this isn’t where you want a problem with one of the little things. The tolerance seems to be be only a excuse for poor workmanship. Not professing to be a expert of any kind, and have only been turning for 5 to 6 years, from a lifetime in the shop, I quickly learned the same fundamentals apply to turning as to building. Shimming is not the answer, co-planer wise. Once again like Rami mentioned which is the culprit. I almost pulled the trigger buying the same machine in Hartford Ct. last week on my way home from NC. The floor model was marked down 600.00. I’m glad it was raining, and we were driving into a northeaster, and time was a issue. They did not have centers in either end, and while they were rounding up a couple, my wife informed me that NH wanted all off the roads by 6 PM. I realize I could have gotten lucky. I would follow most members advice, you just purchased, do everything you can to send back. I wouldn’t even accept a tail stock. A new lathe yes, with clear understanding, that the tolerance for this is a close to perfect as possible. In writing. I’m sure this can happen to any company but service after the fact is so important. Good luck, Restored

-- KRT

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