From past posts I see that most people feel the wedge type quick
change toolpost s better that the piston & that Aloris is the best
brand. I'm trying to keep costs down. I will not be using it much.
I mostly cut aluminum. The following are piston type. Are they worth
buying or am I wasting my money & will end up buying a nice US made
Are there any others that I should consider?
The Phase II brand toolposts and holders are acceptable quality, not as good
as Aloris but useable. You can get pretty good deals on complete sets at
and sometimes they put them on sale. I would go for the
wedge over the piston type. I wouldn't go any cheaper than the Phase II
brand. Somebody on the forum can probably also give you a free shipping code
The wedge type IS better but it's up to you whether it's worth the extra
money. A few months ago the differences were discussed and I drew an image
to show the difference. At first I didn't quite have it right so someone
more familiar with the wedge type explained my error and I corrected the
image. Here's a link:
As someone else mentioned Phase II is a decent "cheaper" brand and Enco
nearly always has them on sale. They have the piston type in the size you
want for $119.95 while the wedge type is $199.95. Here's a link to the page
in the sale catalog.
As someone else mentioned they often offer free shipping on orders over $50
and as usual someone has posted the code here in the newsgroup. To save you
the trouble of searching for it I found it:
"Check out great new tools at the lowest prices from Enco this
September. Plus, when you order $50 or more in merchandise
through September 30, you'll qualify for Free UPS Shipping*.
Just apply promo code 94FSNR at check out when you order online.
When ordering by phone at 1-800-USE-ENCO, give promo code
94FSNR to your friendly sales associate as you complete your order.
Happy turning! :-)
"Even if you are on the right track, you'll
get run over if you just sit there."
- Will Rogers (1879-1935).
Thanks Keith for the excellent illustration.
This is the sort of thing that makes this group interesting. To say
nothing of the personalities of the "usual suspects".
Instructor, Machine Tool Department
H.H. Ellis Regional Technical School
Danielson, CT 06239
860 774 8511 x1811
I agree that the Phase-II brand is a quite useful one. I have a
BXA size (Series 200 in Phase-II's nomenclature) on my 12" Clausing, and
find it to be quite rigid enough. However -- I would suggest that you
order some US-made setscrews and replace the tool-holding setscrews in
the Phase-II holders. I really don't want to find out how difficult it
is to drill out one of those setscrews after the hex socket splits out
with a tool in there.
And the Phase-II wedge style toolpost quite happily uses some
Aloris toolholders (including some of the more esoteric types which
Phase-II does not yet make).
Aside from the rigidity consideration with the piston style,
there is another to keep in mind. The Wedge style has a limited travel
for the locking lever -- from near parallel to the tailstock to pointing
a bit past straight out towards the headstock end. The piston style,
with no toolholder in place, will swing a full 360 degrees, and I have
read of at least one occasion in which the handle of the toolpost swung
far enough towards the headstock so the black plastic handle on the end
of the lever got hit by the jaws of the chuck -- and shattered.
I didn't see a mention of what size lathe you are using this on,
but with aluminum, the main problem with give would be when using a
boring bar. More rigidity will reduce the tendancy to chatter and to
make an undesirable finish. The same (even worse) could occur on
For external turning and threading, the piston style is probably
adequate -- I just don't *like* them. :-)
The original Aloris post was invented as a piston type by Tony Sirola. Guess
what Sirola spells backwards? He went to the wedge type because there was less
distortion of the tool holder when it was locked up with different pressures.
The piston pushes away from the main block and distorts the toolholder a small
but measurable amount. The claim of repeating to .0002 was made with wedge
type tool holders. As far as rigid unless you are making huge interrupted cuts
no difference. For home use I would get the cheapest brand available and
figure on replacing the screws that hold the tool bits. The rest is just a big
dovetail cut in steel. IMHO
Are there any others that I should consider?
Not in that price range.
With an Aloris or Dorian you get a heat treated and ground post (and holders)
which will likely last forever.
At three times the cost.
It's a good idea to temper any bias towards wedge type with a little
thought about the type of turning you do and what the capacities of your
lathe are. I have a piston type on my SB-9", and it seems more rigid
than the compound it's mounted on. Can't see how a wedge type would be a
big advantage in my case. Of course, others will disagree with my POV.
The BIG difference is the upgrade from the old style toolholder to the
side loader dovetail type. Setups are waayyyy easier and more repeatable
whether it's a wedge type or piston type.
One type you should check out is the Omnipost, made by the KRF Company
of St. Joseph, Missouri. Their website is
They sell plans for their holders as well as complete sets and
components such as the indexing base for people that lack the
equipment to make their own. (While handy, the indexing base is not
The neat thing about these holders is the very minimal tooling
required to make, avoiding expensive items such as dovetail form
cutters. The only machine tool required is a lathe (w/ 4 jaw chuck or
face-plate), although a drillpress is helpful. The holders are so
simple to make that 0 degree rake holders are a required project in
our beginning machining class. You can customize the holders to
include features not available (or only at great expense) on other QC
holders such as built in lathe tool back rake, odd size boring bars,
drill chucks, M/T tool holders, and the capability to directly clamp a
large carbide insert into the holder w/o a carbide holder at what ever
rake you want. [some of our custom holders worked better than others
We are using [or have used] these on Clausing 5200 and EMCO V-10 [10
inch swing -- 24 inched b/c]lathes with outstanding results. The KRF
Omnipost QCTH system is very rigid and chatter free, easy/cheap to
construct, repeats good enough for all of our projects, and is almost
as fast to use as the Aloris type, which is of little concern in a
If you have an Asian [metric] machine, it is trivial to use metric
spec fastenters so you need only one set of wrenches around your
We use 1-1/8 drill rod for the center post, and both hot and cold
rolled steel for the holders with complete success. Aluminum should
also work for most of the holders but may not be as durable. Let me
know if you would like some hints on how we make these.
This is a much more plausible argument in favor of the
wedge type toolpost than nonsense about rigidity, which has
been repeated so many times it's become RCM dogma. When
this came up a few years ago, I ran the numbers on the
difference in stiffness and the tiny advantage the wedge
has in this regard is completely overwhelmed by the
elasticity of a toolbit with normal stickout, and even
further by that of the lathe itself.
A real advantage the wedge may have is that the action of
the wedge tends to pull the holder down and back and
probably is more likely to seat the holder the same way
each time it's mounted. The wedge type also has more
mechanical advantage and clamps the toolholder in a more
stable orientation, so it's less likely to slip. But these
are issues of repeatability, not rigidity.
I have both a wedge type Aloris BXA and piston type
Armstrong and have tried both on my Monarch 10EE. I've
never been able to tell the difference between them.
I agree. I have a Phase-II 'wedge' type on my 10" Logan and find it
completely satisfactory. Aside from rigidity, the 'wedge' should give
better tool location repeatability. The cost difference on the wedge
type is NOT great if you watch for sales.
Yet, many seem to find the piston type acceptable for lighter duty
purposes, and certainly superior to 'lantern' style posts. Any
differences with the 'wedge' type seem to appear mainly in high
precisison and heavy duty applications.
Either one should serve the average hobby purposes.
The main difference between the piston and wedge types are that the wedge
type offer more repeatability and some added rigidity. If your work is very
high precision, then you would lean to (and pay for) a wedge type. If
you're a hobbyist with occasional usage, then piston should be okay. I've
got a piston type on my 12" clausing and it has never given me trouble.
Aloris is the top brand and one of the most expensive. If you were
in heavy production, especially on hard steels, Aloris would be the one.
I've been told by experts that the cheaper ones from grizzly and others
just don't last very long in a production /commercial environment. You're
cutting mostly aluminum, so the wear issue shouldn't be that big a deal.
You must consider Phase II -- as a very good option. Slightly better
than Grizzly, but also slightly more expensive. Forget the harbor fright
.. The only that's worth while about that is a source of very cheap tool
holders -- throw the post away. But you'll have to replace all the set
screws -- they are usually made out of old coat-hanger wire or some
equivalently high quality steel.
Don't make my mistake. Buy the B or 200 size tool post. The A/100
(which I bought) is about as small as you want on a 12" .. The B size tool
post costs a little more, but then you will be pleasantly surprized that
tool holders (aloris, even) are much more available and much cheaper for B
size than for A size. The B looks huge on a 12" lathe -- but it isn't . I
keep swearing to shift over to one.
Buy the cheaper (Grizzly or Phase II) to start. You can add to it
with Aloris holders as you go .. I find them at flea markets and used tool
places. If you later find that you have repeatability or rigidity problems,
you can buy the Aloris. All your holders will fit.
Saving money on a toolpost can haunt you. I bought the HF piston 100
series-size a couple of years ago, and it's one of those "it looks like"..
say the item.
This piece was problematic from the beginning, and nearly every time I've
used it.. I can't believe that some users on lathe groups actually praise
these, I guess it goes to show ya how much cheap prices are appreciated by
This set is so crappy that I can't imagine a cheaper quality version. The
best feature is that it doesn't (hasn't) come loose during operation, if
that's any kind of an endorsement.
Made in India, blue box.. with 3/4" boring adapter, drill chuck &
shank/arbor, cut-off adapter and several tool holders.
I've heard all good compliments about the Phase II units. Enco puts 'em on
sale for about $90 for the 100 series as 5 piece set, I think.
I've heard that Enco may substitute generic parts in the set, from one guy.
[ ... ]
O.K. -- After viewing the web page (again), I find myself
wondering about how you get the repeatablility, as the tool holder can
go onto the post at *any* angle.
I see the index plate at the bottom, but if the height of the
holder is adjustable, that has to lift it clear of the index plate,
*unless* the height adjustment screw is pointed, and is used as the
index pin as well as the height adjustment.
Is this how it works? If so -- I see it at least needing a bit
of extra care when installing a toolholder to make sure that you get
the right index notch -- or everything is wrong.
And since I use my machine (at least sometimes) as a
semi-production machine (with a bed turret, and the quick-change
toolpost working with a turret bed stop), so I find the repeatability to
Rigidity should be pretty good, as long as the clamp bolt
Those look interesting -- in particular, the threading one,
which appears to have a lever for withdrawing the tool form engagement
with the thread being cut in the workpiece without having to disturb the
calibrated feed settings. *That* feature I would love to have. :-)
: Don't make my mistake. Buy the B or 200 size tool post. The A/100
:(which I bought) is about as small as you want on a 12" .. The B size tool
:post costs a little more, but then you will be pleasantly surprized that
:tool holders (aloris, even) are much more available and much cheaper for B
:size than for A size. The B looks huge on a 12" lathe -- but it isn't . I
:keep swearing to shift over to one.
If your lathe is smaller than 12", check the dimensions of the
toolholders carefully. With the B (200) size you may find that the
bottom of the toolholder hits the compound while the cutting edge of the
tool is still above center.
Don, you are correct in that the height adjustment screw is a cone
point set screw and is fits into one of the base slots. So the holder
does not go in at "any" angle, but rather into one of the discreet
slots (48 I think).
I use this tool post on my Atlas 618 and with a number of different
operations. I find it not hard at all to see that the tool holder gets
into the right slot. 7.5 degrees is very noticable. On the other hand,
I also find myself having to change the compound angle a lot as well,
so that also comes into play. But I very seldom have found myself
having to adjust the tool post itself on the compound. The only time
is when I've had a threading tool and have to align it perfectly to
the work when the tool holder can't be adjusted to that position on
As for rigidity, the the clamping bolt is plenty tight. On my machine,
it's probably the most rigid component.
I have a friend who's used the same thing on a 10" SB and 10" Atlas
with no problems at all. Can't speak for larger machines.
One type you should check out is the Omnipost, made by the KRF Company of St.
Joseph, Missouri ...
The ultimate in indexable posts is probably the Aloris BXA-I.
Indexable in 15 degree increments, like the KRF, but it is a wedge type post
with four usable sides (two opposing sides if using BXA holders, all four sides
if using BXA-I holders), whereas the KRF as only one usable side.
About $1,100 for a starter set.
I agree that a platform which isn't very stiff, such as most 9" and some 10"
machines, can effectively use a piston type, as the post is stiffer then the
However, a very stiff platform, such as a Monarch 10EE, can very well use the
greater stiffness (not to mention the reset to millionths feature) of the wedge
My 10" Logan 820 has a Phase II piston type. Works well and is priced right.
My 10EEs have Aloris BXA-Is. I would have purchased BXAs, but I got a deal on a
pair of BXA-Is that I couldn't refuse.
My 9" Hardinge TL has a KDK, a long gone brand which once had a complete range
of proprietary posts.