On my recently acquired Reed & Prentice lathe is an old style tool holder
(lamp post style??) which really sucks.
But the alternative, get a modern stable setup, is a bewildering task. There
are many styles and a large swing in prices.
My lathe is a 12" and I could spend anywhere from about $100+ (Enco, piston
style) to a small fortune for a KDK holder and what I really need to get is
an education in the differences.
Can anybody here help me with this??
PS. I do not do production work, rather slow poke experimental tasks.
Another alternative: Learn to use the lantern style toolpost (in other
words, learn to grind tools for it). I have an old Logan which came with
(most of) a lantern post as well as a newer style tool holder. I got the
missing pieces and find that I use the lantern post almost exclusively. The
reason I prefer it is that I have much better control over the cut. The
newer style posts are, of course, superior if you want to run tools with
replacable carbide inserts. But the problem with them is that the cutting
forces tend to be a lot higher and the older machines tend not to have the
power or rigidity to get good results. I find that the only time I use
carbide is for cutting stainless, but I don't do that very often. I run
mostly aluminum and a carefully shaped tool in the highly adjustable lantern
post gives beautiful results with a minimum of profanity. Of course, you
have to have a good tool grinder. Mine is a cheapie, but I made a good tool
rest (normally set 7 degrees off from the centerline of the wheel) bought a
good "fine" wheel for it and keep the wheel dressed square. I'm the first
to admit I have a lot to learn about the art of grinding tools, but I find I
can make one that does what I want without a whole lot of effort.
1) carbide tools can be run in a lantern toolpost - the type with the
carbide tip brazed to the steel shank.
2) HSS can of course be run in a QC type as well.
3) the best way to use a lantern toolpost is to remove and discard
the 'tool holder' - the forged steel item that is typically used
with its shank in the lantern toolpost, and the HSS blank held in
the end with a square setscrew. Instead, use the largest tool which
will fit in the slot of the toolpost, right in the post without any
holder. It will need to be shimmed up to the correct height but
this can be done with other tool bits or with simiar-sized bits
The increase in rigidity and the reduction in tool overhang makes
a *big* difference.
I ordered the quick change tool post from HF and was pleasantly
surprised to find a nicely finished, precision tool, made in China. It
has made a new machine out of my ancient 10" Atlas. The old rocker
style toolholder was a real PITA. It also comes with a boring bar
holder and cutoff tool holder. This all for under $100!
Phase II AXA size would work fine.
Look back a few days and get the Free Shipping! code.
Keep the lantern style for the odd project that requires it. After 18
months with the Phase II I have yet to need the laneter style for anything.
BTW I've used the QC toolpost for a milling attachment on several
projects. Works OK in a pinch.
to buy and easy to make using standard tooling [no
dovetails] We make these as class projects. Custom toolholders
with special backrake or holders for odd size boring bars are
easy to make.
I've had good luck with the wedge type Phase-II toolpost. The wedge
posts are a bit more expensive than the piston type, and a bit more
rigid, all else being equal. Phase-II makes both types. The toolholders
are the same for either type. That said, many are happy with the piston
posts for occasional or lighter work.
For a 12" lathe you'd likely want the '200' series (aka; "BX' series) size.
You make the complete toolpost?
That serrated base looks like a non-novice undertaking.
I recently made a block-style toolpost for a 10" Atlas.
Design was loosely based on an old design for the Myford, described in a
Model Engineering reprint that is floating around the web in PDF format.
Cut a 2.5" cube with my HF bandsaw.
I used the lathe to bore and mill it.
Drill press to drill and tap some holes.
Came out real nice, cost almost nothing.
F. George McDuffee wrote:
May be true. The 12" is right on the line.
Depending on space between top of compound and CL of spindle, either may
work. Should be a simple measurement of existing AXA and BXA toolposts:
lowest toolbit height with largest (1/2" or 5/8") bit, and highest
height with smallest (1/4"?) bit. CL needs to be within that range. Right?
Sounds about right. The 12" should work with either the AXA or BXA
series. I suggested the BXA size on the theory that the largest that
will fit will give the best performance. Cost is little different. The
key factor is the tool height relative to the lathe axis height.
At home I have a Logan 10", and use the AXA series. I wouldn't want any
larger for THIS lathe, but the AXA works well, and is a big improvement
over the lantern style post. For larger tool bits I cut down some of the
toolholders (lowered the slot). It weakens the holder a bit, but I've
not found that to be a problem, they still work well.
At work I have a 14" Rockwell, and use the BXA size post. It MIGHT work
with one size larger, but the BXA meets all my needs on that size lathe.
The other consideration might be that you have a bigger hunk of steel
between you and the work. Might be access/visibility issues on some
jobs. I guess that's when you dig that lantern post outa the back of
We found the major PITA for machining is not angular positioning
but tool height. We don't normally use the base at all. We have
Emco lathes with a stud in the compound rather than a t slot. We
did however make up a base using a rectangular plate 3/16 thick
with a spot drilled holes at the right radius. These were
located using careful layout and a pin type locator. We get good
We just purchased a rotary table as part of our gear making
project [see thread on this about xmas time] and will try making
a serrated base.
Some of our students want to be gunsmiths and are interested in
fabricating a "armstong" slotter that they can use for cutting
the space for the extractor when rebarreling rifles. I have
located some pictures and plans for two english units. Anyone
made one of these? Any comments or suggestions?
As a follow-up to several emails that may be of interest ...
The KRF tool holders work very well for us. The plans are very
helpful, but are "perfection." Very useful tool holders can be
made from 1 X 2 hot rolled with a minimum of machining. It is
helpful to make up a few "blanks."
One custom item we made that is popular with the students is a
tool block that mounts a 5/8 jacobs type chuck using 1/2 X 20
setscrew into both the chuck and the block. This allows power
feed drilling/reaming. The centerline of the drill chuck and the
tool post should be in line to avoid any tendency to twist. [We
made two ...]
The 1_1/8 diameter tool post works well with no flexing or
chatter for us. 1_1/8 is as large a diameter at the standard 5C
collets will take. Water hardening drill rod from Enco seems to
be the best choice for the tool post.
The tool post hole can be bored on a lathe using a faceplate or 4
jaw, but a sharp 1_1/8 Silver and Demming drill is close enough.
The shanks of most tools such knurling tools, parting tools and
and carbide holders are soft [enough] that you can drill mounting
holes to allow these to be attached to a KRF style blank. Two
1/4 X 20 cap screws (with blue locktite) seem adequate. Again
not perfection, but very useful tooling at minimal cost as this
allows the utilization of donated large shank industrial tooling
and large carbide inserts. Negative rake carbide tooling will
work but power and speed are marginal with our lathes.
If you stick with the screw sizes shown on the prints, a single
"Smitty" hex key set will work for all the screws. If you use a
larger clamp screw [3/8 in place of 5/16] you will need two
There's actually not a lot of difference between the AXA and BXA sizes.
Every little bit of added rigidity is useful, however, so use the
largest size that will fit your late. The limiting factor is center
height, as we've been discussing. And, yes, there are times when the old
lantern post is still useful. I also find a bunch of the European style
block toolposts useful for larger sized and odd tool bits.
[ ... ]
[ ... ]
I agree with both choices -- as they match the ones which I made
for my 12x24" Clausing -- 200 series Phase-II (same as BXA size for
Aloris and some other brands, whose tool holders you can also use with
the Phase-II toolpost).
My considerations were:
1) The AXA/Series 200 size was at its maximum range on a 12" lathe
so I figured that the next size up would be under less stress
on heavy cuts.
2) The Design of the wedge style pulls the holder against the
flats on either side of the dovetail, producing a more rigid
lock-up than the piston style, which pushes the holder *away*
from the body of the toolpost, producing lock-up only on the
angled sides of the dovetail, allowing for a bit more flex.
I later discovered another reason for preferring the wedge
style. That is that the angle through which the locking lever swings on
a wedge style is limited, while it shifts about 90 degrees towards the
chuck when you shift from the turning (side) dovetail to the
boring/facing dovetail (side towards the length of the workpiece). And
when there is no tool holder on the toolpost, it is free to turn a full
360 degrees, which can bring the handle into contact with the spinning
chuck. At least one poster here in the past encountered this very
phenomenon, resulting in the plastic ball grip on the end of the locking
lever turning into shrapnel when hit by the chuck's jaws.
Note that once you have used the quick-change toolpost, you will
not want to go back to the lantern style for most things -- nor will you
want to go to a turret toolpost. The reason for this is that each tool
gets its own toolholder, which has an adjustment nut which can be
locked in position so every time you drop the tool holder onto the
toolpost and lock it, it will be at the same height. Even when you are
not in a hurry, you may be reluctant to change tools to a more
appropriate one if you have to stop the spindle and re-adjust the height
of the tool. (The same reasoning applies to a quick-change gearbox for
threading and turning when contrasted to a change gears style, where you
must get your hands rather messy changing the gear train to get the
proper feed rate. (You *will* have to change to get the proper pitch
for cutting threads, which may make you postpone learning to cut
With a lantern style, you have to tweak the height of the
cutting edge each time you replace it.
With a turret style toolpost, you have to place a stack of shims
under the tool's shank to bring the edge up to the proper height. This
is not too bad for a production run, where you load the turret with the
tools you need for that project, and rotate to bring up the next one as
you finish one part of the task. There, the time for the setup to
height can be swallowed in time saved in the actual production -- even
over a quick-change toolpost. But for the kind of work which you
suggest you will be doing, the quick-change toolpost will make life
easier and your time in the shop more productive, and thus probably more
The other style which you mentioned, the KDK -- if it is the one
which I am thinking of -- is *very* nice, but *very* expensive,
especially in this country. It allows you to drop on the tools at 15
degree increments, so if you like to cut with angled tools, this would
be the one for you. But the price may discourage you from getting
enough of the tool holders to cover all of your tools, so you lose time
swapping tools in tool holders and having to re-adjust the height.
This is where the Aloris/Phase-II style really wins. There are
lots of makers of the tool holders, and they interchange between the
different brands (except in some cases with piston-style posts, where
the depth of the dovetail is too great, since the piston *has* to press
on the bottom of the dovetail, so the depth of the dovetail is more
critical. With the wedge style, the dovetail on the toolpost increases
in width to lock the holder to the post.
I hope that this helps,
Jerry thanks for your note.
While in the end I will probably buy a modern type tool post you pointed out
a few things that I had not thought of, namely that this old Reed & Prentice
might not be tight enough by design to make heavier cut.
I also should keep in mind the importance of a correctly shaped and sharp
bit. Here it would be interesting to see what you consider a 'good' tool
And after all I might look at that old lamppost tool holder and try to find
the verastility you mention.
Yes, this was actually the main reason for me to consider an alternative to
the lamppost style.
As I said I do not do production work and I am not a trained machinist, I
sometimes 'design as I cut' and along with that goes a fair amount of
changing bits, a real pain with the old style holders and a source a great