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  1. #1
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    Nov 2017
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    205

    Want to build a cnc lathe. Options for headstock/spindle?

    A year ago I designed and built my cnc mill which came out great. Using it for making large rc helicopter parts. I've been able to mill most of my round parts, but obviously it's not optimal and a lathe would make things so much easier and open up a lot of possibilities.
    I'm pretty confident with the whole build other than spindle/headstock. Ill use hiwin linear bearings, ballscrews, and steppers. Probably combination of quick change and gang tooling, no plans for turret. Mostly small aluminum parts, max diameter around 2 inch, with the exception of some delrin gear blanks up to 5 inch. So doesn't need to be a big powerful lathe, but would like to hold very good tolerances.
    The headstock and spindle is where I get lost. I don't have access to a lathe so buying this stuff premade would be optimal. What options should I consider? I've seen some guys mention using the guts of a 5c indexer as a spindle. I think I could possibly design and mill my own headstock out of multiple thick aluminum plates with the bearing pockets just interpolated on my mill. I also have a nice rotary axis that could be layed flat for milling nice round bearing pockets in the headstock plates. The spindle itself at the very least I will need premade. I Would like the option of using 5c collets as well as smaller 3 and 4 jaw setups.
    So what should I consider for options? Find a spindle and build a headstock around it? Or just look for a complete used headstock/spindle assembly? Any recommendations would be great.

  2. #2
    he1957
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    Re: Want to build a cnc lathe. Options for headstock/spindle?

    How about a small milling machine headstock (or machine) re-purposed? There are many small lathes available from either second-hand or e-bay. There are quite a vew conversion kits out there from which you could assemble some designs if you want to DIY.


    Cheers,

    HarryE.
    ===

  3. #3
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    Nov 2017
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    205
    Quote Originally Posted by he1957 View Post
    How about a small milling machine headstock (or machine) re-purposed? There are many small lathes available from either second-hand or e-bay. There are quite a vew conversion kits out there from which you could assemble some designs if you want to DIY.


    Cheers,

    HarryE.
    ===
    After posting my thread, I clicked on a couple of the links at the bottom that it referenced. Little machine shop has some options for a mini lathe headstock for only 150 bucks. I'm sure this would work, but I'm willing to spend more than that if it means better precision. Also noticed SJH's build thread so I'm gonna read through that. He did basically what I'm looking to do.

    If anyone has experience with the headstock/spindle assembly from little machine shop, I'm curious what kind of precision I could expect with it when turning 7075 aluminum. One example of parts I need to turn are blade grips which are 25mm diameter with a 19mm bore that goes about 50mm deep which needs to have a nice fit for 19mm bearings. Assuming my machine is rigid and precise, would this headstock assembly be a problem for hitting repeatable bore tolerances within a few tenths? Also there weren't many details about it for what chucks into it.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2011
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    632

    Re: Want to build a cnc lathe. Options for headstock/spindle?

    If you were looking at the 7x lathe headstock, that will probably be a bit on the small side if you're looking to do 5" turning occasionally. As far as what fits it, LMS has chucks with backplate adapters (just look in the 7x lathe section, they're all basically the same there.) The spindle face is only about 3" (might be exactly 3" or a 'metric' 3" of 75 or 80mm, don't remember.) Spindle bore is only about 3/4" as well.
    Not sure about concentricity and all that, but I think the stock bearings are just deep groove, but may be able to be upgraded to AC (only 1 in front and 1 in back though.)

  5. #5
    Registered
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    Sep 2005
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    1054

    Re: Want to build a cnc lathe. Options for headstock/spindle?

    I built cnc lathe from an old OKK manual lathe. Cost almost nothing, never use the manual lathe. I built with 1800 oz in on Z and 425 oz in on X, ESS mach3. It works but I can not make thread yet. I have to purchase lathe pulse spindle. I use mach3 wizard, xy working. Bigger lathe than 7X is easier to install ballscrews 2010 and 1204. You have enough room for them. No need modification.

    Click image for larger version. 

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