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Using a lathe with a dead center

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
How difficult is it to use a dead center on a lathe? You see, I have a 30 year old lathe (still in the original box) that has a dead center. It has no name or serial numbers anywhere on the device. I brought it to a lathe guy and tried to update to a live center. He told me the existing threaded rod that the dead center rests in is not tapered so it won't accept a live center. I think that with the help of a machine shop I could probably replace the old threaded rod with a new one with a morse taper(?) Presently, though, I'd like to try spinning some wood before I make any further investment. Without knowing if I can do it or if I even enjoy it I can't see spending more $. So I think I'll try the dead center and see how it goes. Does anyone have any advice? Am I asking for trouble? I'm sure there is a reason why very few lathes still come with a dead center. I feel I have to try. Thanks
post #2 of 64
I think you use wax or some other lube on the center... Other than that, I got nothing...
post #3 of 64
I have learned to turn on a lathe with a dead center when I was still in high school. We used candle wax to lubricate the dead center. In that case, the dead center had a point and a kind of sharp edged cup around the point. So it was easy to shave off pieces of wax from a candle before mounting the work piece. Sometimes we had to add wax if we were working on a big workpiece that takes long to turn. It starts to scream and smoke if needs more wax. It's not as easy as ball bearing center, but it worked perfectly fine.

Frans.
post #4 of 64
I am such a newbie I feel awkward posting an answer to this, but I inherited my wife's grandfather's lathe. It's an old Craftsman with a dead center (well now I know what it's called ) . The dead end just has a pin that enters into the center of the stock. I have found trough trial and error that if I tighten it up too much it either won't spin or it burns. If it's too loose, it starts to wobble a little. But when I get it just right, snug but not pressed in super tight it works just fine. I used a little WD40 on is since I didn't know any better. I'll give the wax a try.

Alan
post #5 of 64
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your responses. Gilbey, you clearly know far more than I, I have never turned a thing! It's good to hear that my setup will work.

Another query, then: Am I supposed to make a dent in the stock where the dead center will contact the wood before I mount it in the lathe?
post #6 of 64
I have an old Dunlap with a dead center. Rub the wood good - left and right then up and down - on the end you are putting on the dead center with a candle and you should be all set. I usually have to tighten up slightly between roughing it round cutting the plug. Found stuff like WD40 bleeds into the wood more than i would like.

You can use that candle to lubricate the tool rest also. Just rub it a couple of times and your tools slide smoothly.
post #7 of 64
Yep, good call on the wax.....I'm gonna' try that tonight . The WD40 does tend to get into the wood.

Alan
post #8 of 64
Gentlemen;
Please make sure you have enough pressure on the drive spur or you will not hold the blank properly.

The reason that wax is used to lubricate the dead center/wood is; The wax is not able to absorb into the wood grain like oil/WD40/grease. Use the wax but besure you tighten the tail stock enough to hold the wood.

All ways wear a face shield and respiratory
post #9 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by GneissFish View Post
Thank you all for your responses. Gilbey, you clearly know far more than I, I have never turned a thing! It's good to hear that my setup will work.

Another query, then: Am I supposed to make a dent in the stock where the dead center will contact the wood before I mount it in the lathe?


Find the center on both ends and mark the center with a center punch. Give your center and drive spur someplace as reference.
post #10 of 64
I use a candle, every 3rd or 4th plug I hit the dead center with the candle, and the center is hot enough to melt the wax, works fine. It takes a bit of time to get used to the pressure, just remember to put safety at the top of your priority list.
post #11 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilbey View Post
I am such a newbie I feel awkward posting an answer to this, but I inherited my wife's grandfather's lathe. It's an old Craftsman with a dead center (well now I know what it's called ) . The dead end just has a pin that enters into the center of the stock. I have found trough trial and error that if I tighten it up too much it either won't spin or it burns. If it's too loose, it starts to wobble a little. But when I get it just right, snug but not pressed in super tight it works just fine. I used a little WD40 on is since I didn't know any better. I'll give the wax a try.

Alan


is this the lathe you have?
im trying to finde a live center for mine.
i just got it over the weekend and had to order some parts like the mortis and belt.
the parts list on this thing is so blury at seard that they had no clue what i was asking for so it was like a dead end.
if you have an idea on how i can get a hold of one please help me out.
post #12 of 64
Nope, sorry, mine is about 50 years old. It looks NOTHING like that modern marvel . But it works .

Good luck.

Alan
post #13 of 64
Smitt that dead center is usually sitting inside a tapered shaft
I'll bet yours is a MT1 ( morse taper 1)

I have a older craftsman lathe ( the kind with the tube mount like yours) and mine takes a MT1

so I went to sears and picked up a MT1 bearing center ( part no 925356)
that should slide in where your dead center came out of and you'll be all set

if you can't read your parts list, take your model number and go to the sears parts web site and you should be able to find the part number for your dead center ( and maybe the MT ? reference)
post #14 of 64
Adson, are you saying I can convert my dead center to a live center?

Alan
post #15 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gilbey View Post
Adson, are you saying I can convert my dead center to a live center?

Alan


Depends on what you have. Post some pics with different angles of your lathe.
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