lathe DRO --need advice

greets all am looking for advice re: buying / installing a DRO on my lathe.

i have a DRO (X&Y) on a 9"x42" bridgeport. to be honest, i couldnt imagine having to work without it.

naturally, this leads me to wonder: would it be just as helpful on the lathe?

i'm leaning towards 'yes' but am wondering if all i REALLY need is a digital scale on the cross-slide.

maybe someone could give me the pros/cons of spending money on a real 2axis lathe DRO or just taking a small step with a digital scale. (by digital scale i mean those digital caliper-looking devices with remote display)


1) i rarely do anything very long on my lathe. when i do, i typically mark off with a pencil .. rough it in, then finish up with direct readings from my compound and crossslide dials. rarely (if ever) do i use the saddle wheel/dial to make a cut. (even under powerfeed, i turn upto my pencil marks, then finish up 'manually') -- this, to me, seems to obviate the needs for a long scale watching the saddle.

2) anytime the compound isn't @ 0degrees, a DRO won't give (immediately) useful information. (inncorrect?)

this all leads me to think that a DRO would be of most use on the crossslide ... to keep an eye on the axial cuts (diameter/radius).

if this is the case, wouldn't a simple digital scale do? or, a single axis DRO (if they exist)?

either way, i think i'd like to add the extra functionality to my lathe. suggestions on good deals / where-to-buy in the UK also appreciated.

sorry so longwinded,


ps.. only 'problem' i forsee with a digital scale is having to pushy the itsybitsy button to set my zero.

Reply to
Loading thread data ...

I looked into this recently.. A cheap scale instead of a DRO was an attractive thought but : ( 1 ) I could not find a scale that was proofed against coolant. ( 2 ) it would have had to be mounted in a spot that made it difficult to see or would have exposed it to risk of getting hit, or both.

I am just getting an old DRO, an RSF Elektronic DRO Z2000, with only one scale and no manual, any lead to a supplier of RSF parts or help with a copy of the manual would be appreciated.

-- Jonathan

Barnes's theorem; for every foolproof device there is a fool greater than the proof.

To reply remove AT

Reply to
Jonathan Barnes

The only advantage I can see of a DRO on the cross slide is the ease of being able to zero the measurement and work from that datum ....... and eliminating the backlash reading........ the back lash in the slide will still be there but will be "seen".

Modern (younger?) machinist may also argue that a digital number is more easily read than an analogue dial and therefore mistakes are less prone to happen.

As an analogy mill DRO's offer a benefit in setting out dimensions from any given datum. The same could be said for cross slide and apron on a lathe. But then the fittings on a lathe are by no means convenient.

So my conclusion is ..... not worth the hassle.

Reply to
Alan Marshall

As someone who has DRO (mine came from

formatting link
fitted to a lathe I totally disagree. Because I don't yet have a mill I have to do my milling with a vertical slide on the lathe, consequently I bought the 3-axis unit. It is the type that uses detachable sensors that can easily be transferred to the mill when I get it. Like the original poster, I cannot contemplate going back to using the m/c (lathe in my case) without DRO. I can take a cut, measure the diameter, set the DRO and it then tells me diameter at each cut. Cutting internal threads in blind holes is no longer the chore it was, as is parting off to a length, etc. - yes, I know you can do these things without a DRO, but the device certainly makes the job easier.

A friend who used to do turning on my lathe has just aquired his own lathe - his first major purchse was a DRO like mine. Nuff said?

-- Regards, Gary Wooding

(Change feet to foot to reply)

Reply to

I accept you viewpoint when using the lathe for milling. As for turning, if you can accommodate the installation needs and the various overhangs of the "cheap" variety of readouts that's fine but the "wire" type are rather more expensive and perhaps not an investment if anyone is uncertain of their usefulness.

As ever "horses for courses" ...... no right or wrong solutions ..... just different ones.



Reply to
Alan Marshall


When I replaced my lathe 3 years ago I decided that I really must get into at least the 20th centuary if not the 21st, so I bought a metric machine. Within days of using it I decided a dro that lets me switch imperial / metric units was a must. Now there is no way I'd go back to dial reading - it makes an absolute joy of many operations. Simple example - turning a 50mm bar down to several stepped diameters in both metric & imperial units say 45 mm, 1.000", 20 mm:

a/ Skim the bar with a clean up cut and measure the result - set it into the dro in metric units

b/ reduce to 45 mm

c/ hit the imperial button & reduce to 1.000"

d/ hit the metric button & reduce to 20mm

And while doing this all the shoulder positions are set using the Z axis. Obviously it could all be done using the dials but nothing like as easily.

FWIW I chose the Newall DROs as the ball tubes are totally sealed against swarf & coolant and am very happy with them. I put the BW Electronics wire ones on my Bridgeport and they are good value for money but obviously not as good as the Newalls (but what do you expect for 1/3rd the price?)

Andrew Mawson Bromley, Kent

Reply to
Andrew Mawson

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.