Lathe tailstock slipping

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Forum topic by Jeremymcon posted 05-08-2020 06:54 PM 424 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jeremymcon's profile


414 posts in 1482 days

05-08-2020 06:54 PM

I just bought a harbor freight wood lathe, and I like the machine, except for the fact that when I try to tighten a workpiece between centers, the tail stock will slip backward as I turn the tightening screw. Is there a way to make it hold better?

I thought about maybe adding some adhesive sandpaper or rubber to the square washer that tightens on the bottom of the lathe bed, but I wonder there are better solutions out there?

9 replies so far

View WoodenDreams's profile


1091 posts in 713 days

#1 posted 05-08-2020 07:15 PM

adjustment nut is under the tailstock I believe,

View MrUnix's profile


8152 posts in 3001 days

#2 posted 05-08-2020 07:19 PM

I’m a bit confused with your description “Square washer that tightens on the bottom of the lathe bed”. IIRC, it should be a thick circular washer with a raised collar in the middle that fits between the rails, not square. I have the Jet 1236, which is what the HF 34706 is a clone of, and its parts listing also shows a circular one – as does the smaller HF mini wood lathe #65345. What lathe do you have? Maybe they changed the design without changing the parts diagrams.

Regardless – it should not move when locked in place – unless you are really going gorilla on the quill handwheel and exerting way too much force. I would first look to see if there is a problem with the tailstock lock. Something simple like a casting/machining defect that prevents it from fully locking. Disassemble the tailstock so you can check, clean and lube things up to make sure nothing is unusual, bent or broken.

adjustment nut is under the tailstock I believe
- WoodenDreams

Ah yes, forgot about that – it should be a nylock or similar. If it’s not snug, the tailstock won’t lock down tight. I just assumed that had already been addressed since it is so obvious, but that is a bad habit of mine :)


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

View HokieKen's profile


14499 posts in 1940 days

#3 posted 05-08-2020 07:53 PM

I had the small HF lathe and had the exact same problem. On mine, it was and issue of that washer just doesn’t have enough surface area to hold the TS against slipping IMO. In addition to lack of surface contact, the bed was machined such that I couldn’t tighten up the bottom adjusting nut enough to hold the TS firm because then it wouldn’t slide the full length of the bed because of the taper in the bed thickness.

Long story short, put some 120 sandpaper on the face that contacts the bottom of the bed and you’ll be good to go ;-)

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Jeremymcon's profile


414 posts in 1482 days

#4 posted 05-09-2020 12:36 AM

Thanks Ken! Good to hear that works. I’ll have to take it apart see if there is anything else obvious, but I’ll try the sandpaper anyway, probably.

View OSU55's profile


2649 posts in 2791 days

#5 posted 05-09-2020 12:54 PM

I had that lathe for 6 years, review here. Deburring the bottom of the bed rails helps the banjo and tailstock clamp, allows a closer fit of the clamp blocks to reduce lever travel while allowing them to slide. I made a lever extension for the tailstock, turned on the lathe, that slipped over the lever, to gain leverage.

View Woodknack's profile


13438 posts in 3182 days

#6 posted 05-09-2020 05:42 PM

I had a old Craftsman lathe with a tailstock slipping issue and deburring the bottom of the lathe bed as suggested by osu55, and also polishing the lathe bad and the bottom of the tailstock helped a lot. But I still would stop and make sure it was tight every several minutes or so.

-- Rick M,

View Jeremymcon's profile


414 posts in 1482 days

#7 posted 05-10-2020 04:39 PM

Osu 55 – I was thinking about making a handle extension to get a little more leverage. I’ll have to start with deburring, and I’ll probably go ahead and do the sandpaper thing too. I turned a little lidded box in it last night, and when I really cranked down on the handle it was tight enough to drill with a 2” forstner but and not move the tailstock.

View Jeremymcon's profile


414 posts in 1482 days

#8 posted 05-10-2020 04:40 PM

Oh! And it is a square washer thingy.

View OSU55's profile


2649 posts in 2791 days

#9 posted 05-11-2020 02:24 PM

I found that cranking very hard on the lever worked, which is why I made the extension. Sandpaper can work but can create free sliding issues.

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