Spur Stuck in Headstock of Older Mastercraft Lathe

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Forum topic by Shaun posted 03-24-2017 01:50 PM 6605 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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39 posts in 1711 days

03-24-2017 01:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe turning refurbishing

Hi everyone

This is my first post and I’m very new to woodturning, having taken only one class.

A friend gave me an older Mastercraft lathe they stopped making in 2008. The lathe itself seems great but the problem is the spur is stuck in the headstock’s Morse Taper.

There is no hole for a knock-out bar on the headstock.

Instead, the spindle has a nut on it that you’re supposed to turn against the spur until the spur pops off. However, the spur seems to be corroded other otherwise stuck in place. I’ve tried penetrating oil (PB Blaster). Having turned the nut up against the spur, I’ve tried hitting the wrench with a hammer. No luck.

The tailstock had the same problem but it does have a hole for a knock-out bar. Even so, I had to spray in several shots of PB Blaster and let it soak for 5 hours. It took several strikes with a hammer on a brass knock-out bar to get it out.

I do have the manual and have followed all of the instructions. I understand the principle of how it should work. It’s just that the spur is stuck. I’m guessing the spur went in when the lathe was new and has never been taken out since.

I’ve considered heating up the spindle with a propane torch but I don’t want to damage the threads or the bearings.

I’ve considered tearing the headstock apart to see if there is actually a hole in there somewhere so I can use a knock-out bar.

I’m trying to avoid damaging the Morse Taper, threads, spindle or bearings. Since I want to do predominantly bowl turning, I’ve debated cutting off the spur with a hack saw so I can put on my new scroll chuck but I might want to do some pen turning at some point. So… not the best idea.

The lathe is an older Mastercraft 37” lathe, model 55-4507-2. I’m not sure which company actually manufactured it but it was sold with the Mastercraft badge from 1994 to 2008.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Yours truly,

- Shaun

-- Shaun, Ontario, Total n00b at wood turning

20 replies so far

View eflanders's profile


339 posts in 3132 days

#1 posted 03-24-2017 02:19 PM

IME using heat should not do damage to the threads. Too much heat may affect the bearing but only if it changes to a orange/red color. Bearings are used to heat, but not the kind of heat that affects temper. Try a heat gun first as it will not get things too hot. The taper is likely rusted. Heat combined with some striking force will be needed to break apart the seized parts. Use a wood mallet to limit damaging parts. The force needed may (likely) damage the spur, so you may need to replace the spur. Why? It will likely have a ring of corrosion on it which will make it hard to remove if used again and it may get knocked out of round. You may also need to dress the female side of the taper with some very, very fine sandpaper 600 grit or better.

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


8798 posts in 3481 days

#2 posted 03-24-2017 02:59 PM

If it’s the same lathe as the one in this thread, then it looks almost identical to the old Craftsman lathes which were made by Emerson, like the 113.228xx and 113.238xx models. Not sure if the spindle was hollow, but it would be obvious at the pulley end if it was – and the method of spur removal described by you and the manual doesn’t give much hope either. You could try pulling the spindle just to make it easier to work on, and would give you a good excuse to replace the bearings :)

If you do pull it and plan on replacing the bearings, I’d throw the whole works in some evaporust and let it sit… that will free up rusted together parts most of the time, or make it a LOT easier to disassemble if it doesn’t. Not a good solution if you want to re-use the bearings though… so heat would be your best bet.


PS: Post some pictures!

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Roy Turbett's profile

Roy Turbett

177 posts in 4861 days

#3 posted 03-28-2017 03:38 AM

I picked up a couple of drill press removal wedges. They fit between the spur and the collar of the headstock and are available through McMaster.

View hairy's profile


3343 posts in 4814 days

#4 posted 03-28-2017 01:25 PM

If you can clamp vise grips onto the spur, hit the vise grips with a hammer, to rotate the spur.

-- there's someone in my head but it's not me...

View Underdog's profile


1779 posts in 3317 days

#5 posted 03-28-2017 01:44 PM

I picked up a couple of drill press removal wedges. They fit between the spur and the collar of the headstock and are available through McMaster.

- Roy Turbett

Does the MasterCraft spindle have the slot for these? If so this would be the preferred method of removal.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View HokieKen's profile


19814 posts in 2420 days

#6 posted 03-28-2017 01:53 PM

Morse taper won’t hold against much lateral force. Take a hammer and beat it. Not elegant but it works. The inside of a MT spindle is hardened. It’s unlikely you will damage it. As mentioned above, you won’t hurt anything with heat.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

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Leo Van Der Loo

56 posts in 2040 days

#7 posted 03-29-2017 07:05 PM

The model # you give is for the Tube lathe from CTC, the same as many with other name and color.

The manual for it shows that you can use a rod to remove the piece out of the spindle,

So either you have the wrong ## or you can use the rod.

Here is the manual for the tube lathe.

-- Have fun and take care

View Shaun's profile


39 posts in 1711 days

#8 posted 03-30-2017 08:09 PM

Thanks, everyone, for the replies. It is most appreciated. You guys have given me many great ideas to try. I’m tied up all of this weekend but am going to have a whole following weekend to work on it.

I like the idea of trying a heat gun first because it surely won’t do any damage. It’s very worth trying. And it’s good to know that heating with a torch wouldn’t damage the spindle or bearings as long as I wasn’t going crazy with it.

I’m not a machinist and am pretty new to any kind of machinery. How hard would it be to replace the bearings? And would they be a standard thing I could get?

Roy and Underdog
The wedge idea looks to be the most promising of all. I have a little bit of space between the end of the spindle and the back of the spur. Maybe just enough to use wedges like this.

The only trouble is I’m having trouble binding anyone who sells them for MT1. It looks like JT1 is a totally different size. I don’t know if it’s crazy but I think I could make a pair of these with my drill press and bench grinder.

I like the idea. If I can get the spur to rotate then it might loosen it up enough.

As long as it wouldn’t hurt the bearings, I’m happy to beat the tar out of it with a hammer. Good to know I’m not risking the taper.

I wish that were the case. Before I got the lathe, my friend sent me a picture and I found a manual for the very similar Craftsman that you list. It does show the ability to use a rod to knock out the headstock tool.

I was surprised when I got the lathe and the shaft was closed. In fact, it looks like the shaft itself was open but has been deliberately plugged by the manufacturer. The manual shows that you can use a knock-out rod on the tailstock but not the the headstock. The manual explicitly says that you are supposed to use the nut instead for the headstock.

While it is an extremely similar lathe and certainly made by the same company that made the Craftsman, it’s just different enough. This is one of the unfortunate differences. :-(

Now… maybe if I take apart the spindle I can find out what that thing is that’s blocking the shaft and remove it.

-- Shaun, Ontario, Total n00b at wood turning

View Shaun's profile


39 posts in 1711 days

#9 posted 03-30-2017 08:18 PM


I wonder if Canadian Tire Canada plugged the shaft to prevent someone from inserting something into the outboard Morse Taper.

With the inboard Morse Taper, you can remove the spur using the nut (assuming it isn’t rusted…). There’s a long threaded part on the spindle.

But the outboard Morse Taper has just enough room for a screw chuck or a scroll chuck. Maybe they were trying to prevent a user from getting something stuck outboard? Hard to say.

I think the first thing I might try is seeing if it’s something I can just remove.

-- Shaun, Ontario, Total n00b at wood turning

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4650 days

#10 posted 03-30-2017 08:25 PM

You say it looks like the manufacturer plugged the hole in the end of the shaft. Try to drill into it and see if it is plugged, if so dill out the plug and use the knocker rod.

View Shaun's profile


39 posts in 1711 days

#11 posted 03-31-2017 02:16 PM

Thanks, Papadan. I may take apart the spindle and see if the “plug” is serving any purpose (aside from making my life harder).

If it’s mild steel, drilling it out should be a rather easy fix.

-- Shaun, Ontario, Total n00b at wood turning

View BobBlarney's profile


85 posts in 2417 days

#12 posted 03-31-2017 02:47 PM

After satisfaction with the center has been obtained, it still might be a good idea to replace the headstock bearings. They’re probably a very common and inexpensive size and installing new ones shouldn’t be too difficult. I was able to find new USA-made bearings for my 1956 Yates table saw for about $10, and to install them, I placed the bearings in dry ice for an hour to shrink them, and then heated the arbor casting with a heatgun – the cold bearings slipped in easily with finger pressure.

-- Curator, Museum of Unfinished Projects

View Bobmedic's profile


383 posts in 4083 days

#13 posted 03-31-2017 03:48 PM

Try a pickle fork. They are used to separate ball joints on cars. It has a wedge that should drive the spur out. Probably pick one up at harbor freight fairly inexpensive.

View Shaun's profile


39 posts in 1711 days

#14 posted 04-03-2017 12:33 AM

The spur is out!

Thanks, everyone for the great ideas.

I hit the spur several times all the way around with a hammer. Then I locked in vice grips and pulled as hard as I could. First pull only turned about 1/8” but each pull gained more ground until it came loose. The taper and the spur are brown with rust from top to bottom.

As suggested, I’ll probably have to dress the taper before I can use it.

I had another look at the opposite side of the spindle. They didn’t just plug it – the actual hole itself is far less than 1/4”. It’s maybe 1/8”. It’s a different design from the Craftsman. They seem to have explicitly designed it to disallow a knockout rod. It’s a shame. Everything else about the lathe seems well thought out.

Thanks again to everyone for the great ideas.

-- Shaun, Ontario, Total n00b at wood turning

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4650 days

#15 posted 04-03-2017 01:14 AM

Drill it out to 1/4 -3/8 so you can use a knock out rod in the future.

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