View Full Version : Dividing Head vs Rotary Table .. ARRRGGG!!!!

07-12-2010, 01:46 PM
I think I need both. Got that ZX45 on it's way here.

I'm having trouble figuring it all out. The dividing head makes great divided circle work. Many uses for it. But it seems like it won't do *rotary table* work. Or will it? The BS-O or BS-1 seems fine. But the BS-2 does spirals. Ugh .. so much to choose from!!!!!!!!

Then again, I see that several rotary tables have indexing abilities ("plates" .... some have up to 24 divisions, but most seem to have 12 as the max). But I don't get the whole "plate" deal. I can't work out in my head where the index plate would fit on to a rotary table.

I also need an angle table. Something that will allow the cockeyed mounting of a part.

So .. is there about a 6 inch rotary thingy that does angle table, that does dividing head, and that does rotary table all in one?

Some dividing heads say that the adaptor plate for the 3 jaw must be drilled and tapped to make it fit a chuck. Is this a super hard thing to do?

I'm so confused!!!!!!! I have a little over a grand to monkey with on this.

I know I need other stuff to go with it, but I want to do the heavy-lifting money part of this thing now. I have about $1500 to take care of the rest of my big-dollar tooling stuff. The three *biggies* are a modular DRO, a dividing head and a rotary table.

Geez ... n00bs and their money ... what is a monkey to do?

Bc ..

EDIT: 6 inch range will do fine I think. So about 6 inch tables, and about a 5 or 6 inch chuck. I'd like to keep the spacers under 100 pounds too if possible. My 12x24 lathe has MT3 talistock stuff if that's any consideration here too. 0 to 90 degree work angles are fine too as far as the angle table issues go. Tango Yankee!

07-12-2010, 02:02 PM
Id stop worrying about it.

You can get a set of plates for your rotary table that allow you to index positions, and you put them on the handle.. so its geared down 40:1 or 90:1, And the plates have all kinds of prime numbers all over em, so you can basicly do a billion diffrent divisions. Usally something like 1~100 devisions and lots of non prime numbers after that. 'Devider arms' make finding the next hole in the seqence much easyer and efficent.

I still havent even USED my rotary table. Im sure I will some day, just hasent come up.

Buy a horzontal/vertical rotary table, And buy one of the better brands. .some of those cheap ones are pertty crappy. I got a phase II and it looks very impressive and seems well built with nice features.
Then it can be placed in both oritentations without need to buy an angle plate. For your size mill you are best off with a 6" id bet. Maybe an 8" but thats likey a bit heavy/oversized. Don't buy a 10" you will reget it.

You don't need an angle table yet either. First off, usally you can just mount the part on an angle in the vise, or tilt the head, clamp it down on an angled part, whatever.

Second, you could MAKE an angle table if the need arrises.
And you could use a rotary table with angle plates or whatever mounted to it if needed.

Personaly id work on just buying some of the basic tooling like cheap parallels and a REALLY good vise (Kurt or glacern), some chinese endmills (That way you won't feel so bad if you burn a few out or drop em accidently, get better endmills later), HSS blanks and indexable tooling for the lathe (Some cheap indexable tooling right now, you won't know what you need or why you need it untill you have played around and discover what your actualy doing)

What on earth is a BS-0/1/2 anyway?

PS: No rotary table will be doing spirals unless its linked to the X or Y axis of your mill (or has its own X or Y axis). Some have a large geartrain option to facilitate this.. but how often do you really need to make spirals? And linking it up isent exactly easy. since you'll need to mount a geartrain to your mill and likey some shafts and such.

Try not to get too wraped up in the 'must haves' when you havent even figured out what your doing yet. Lots of operations you think require something may actualy be done a totaly diffrent and often easyer way. Or may not be that desireable to do.

07-12-2010, 02:29 PM
I suggest a H/V rotary table first. You can contrive to do dividing on a rotary table, especially if the rotary table accepts index plates, but you can't do rotary table machining (i.e. rotate the part while machining) with a dividing head. The times you actually NEED a dividing head will likely be few and far between, though it might be more convenient on occasion.

07-12-2010, 02:41 PM
Why can't you use a semi universal dividing head with a faceplate on it in lieu of the chuck?

07-12-2010, 02:44 PM
But I don't get the whole "plate" deal. I can't work out in my head where the index plate would fit on to a rotary table
Those dividing plates mount on the backside of the indexer, beneath the cover. Yes, the cover has to be removed to install them.
I'm in the market for an idexer/rotary table as well.
This one seems to have all the features I need.
Rotary Table with Chuck (http://grizzlyindustrial.com/products/Horizontal-Vertical-Rotary-Indexing-Table-with-Chuck/H7506)
The chuck and faceplate are both removable.
Horizontal & vertical, with indexing plates
Read the instruction manual. It's in PDF format, but full of operating info.

07-12-2010, 02:47 PM
Here's another good deal going on right now.
However, you'll need to buy a chuck and make a backplate for it.
Rotary Table with Tailstock (http://www.grizzly.com/products/6-Rotary-Table-w-Div-Plates/H7527)

07-12-2010, 05:39 PM
Ok .. I'm back. Got all wound up with the lathe and mill arriving!

Ok, jsyk, I've already bought a bunch of *starter tooling*. Such as cheapie chinese HSS stuff for the lathe and a 6 inch bench tool grinder (a smoking deal at our local HF. Got it on sale plus an extra 30% off for being a member). I've found Harbor Freight to be ok if you don't mind buying "kit machines". They always need some fitting up, some adjusting, so tweaking here and there. Going into it with that frame of mind gets you some good deals there. Like buying from a swap meet but with a warranty.

So I already bought a bunch of tooling to learn with. Went the HSS route with a grinder as well, plus a cheapo set of collets/endmills (don't want to go frying a new hi-buck endmill whilst learning to ride). Boring bars, a nice set of $30 parallels, 3 vises (spent less than $20 each on two of them, the 3rd was about $100 .. a Shars). Got the rest and following rest as well. A QC tool post (we have a need for that) which I'll install soon. Not sure if I need to mill a t-nut for that yet or not. 12x24 lathe .. hard telling with this Chino stuff though).

Later I'll add the modular tool holders for a few of the tools that will go on the QC post. We'll be making stainless stell knobs for guitars straight away, so I'll set up 3 or 4 holders for that process alone. Etc ... Is *wedge* necessary or is *piston* ok? Seems like the price is so close that wedge would be the obvious choice.

GREAT advice from all of you on the rotary table. I'll opt for a nice rotary over the dividing head. Perhaps a 6 inch with a 5 inch chuck. It would be nice if I could get it in MT3. That would match the tailstock on the lathe.

So .. not scooping up a bunch of pretty nonsense ... not yet anyhow. I just want to get the financial heavy lifting done while I had this little handful of it to use for this project. It's easier to buy QC toolholders one a a time (or so) later on then it is to spring for a $750 rotary table with the fixin's. Even though I don't need it tomorrow, we certainly do have plans drawn for things that will require rotary services.

So that's great! I'll look at a the items you guys have linked, and that will leave me a bit for a DRO setup. ;)

Dang this is fun!

BTW ... BS-0 and BS-1 = semi-universal (0 being smaller than the 1) and the BS-2 is fully universal. The BS-2 comes with 12 gears that somehow enable you to create sprials (obviously with some trickery going on with the machine tool as well).


07-12-2010, 05:58 PM
I'm going to stand way back here. :D

07-12-2010, 06:03 PM
I'm going to stand way back here. :D
Ok ... I'll take the bait ...

Why are you distancing yourself?

Not a rotary table fan? Not a Chino Machino fan? Opposing opinion that is SO 180-out that mentioning it is like being in favor of Harley clones?


07-12-2010, 06:12 PM
Ok ... I'll take the bait ...

Why are you distancing yourself?

Because there is something wrong.

07-12-2010, 06:29 PM
Because there is something wrong.
Oooo ..kay ..... what might that be?

07-12-2010, 06:53 PM
Oooo ..kay ..... what might that be?

You have confused your original question.

07-12-2010, 07:34 PM
You have confused your original question.
Ok ... I'm not sure what you're talking about, but if it is going to have an affect on how I spend close to a grand I would certainly appreciate us getting around to whatever it is that I screwed up.

I haven't re-read my original Q just yet, but I kinda thought my point was which one will get me further .. a dividing head or a rotary table. A few folks have pointed out a few things that have directed me in the area of the rotary table.

So I guess I've missed something. Ok, still willing to play along ... :)

07-12-2010, 07:44 PM
Just re-read it. Yup .. you're right .. I have my original question confused (what exactly does that statement mean anyway? I mean, how is a question NOT confused?). In fact, I think I even said I was confused in the post. The whole reason I posted this is because I'm confused! So .... um .. great observation? :D

So I gotta say Confucious :) ... my question about my question is confused with your statement about my confused question. And again, if you are aware of something that may affect the expendature of $500 to $1k it would be nice if this were decyphered for me. :cool:

(for the record ... I am not used to only having FOUR images per post available to me .. it's tough to convey context at times ...)

07-12-2010, 08:11 PM
Here's what I did. Got a good rotary table that works standing up or laying down. Crank the handle to use as a rotary table for milling while turning. Disengage the worm screw and turn the table directly by hand for indexing, using the degree scale and pointer for positions, use table locks to hold position.
For example - degrees for a hex: 0, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300.
Later, got a height adjustable tailstock and a 4 jaw chuck with a scroll so the jaws all move together. Put the chuck on the rotary table, can hold round or square parts. If you're going to do a lot of indexing, get something with indexing plates. Good luck on your new venture!:)

07-12-2010, 08:30 PM
My opinion on the "standing way back" is that your post reads like an overexcited newbie on a tooling safari! :) When you're getting your first machine/mill/whatever, it may feel like you need everything. In reality, you don't. Unless you are doing A TON of gears, you'll likely never use many of the things you mention. There are also many, many ways to do things that don't need operation-specific tools. Take Bolt Circle Diameters, for instance. A rotary table makes it very, very convenient; but the same can be accomplished with careful X,Y interpolation on just your mill's table movement. The same kind of "other options" have already come up regarding a tilting angle plate.

Slow down, buddy! :) You're underestimating your new mill as well as your ability to problem solve.

Just my 2 It's okay---I've been there, done that.

07-12-2010, 08:54 PM
In agreement with Arthur. Let us know what it is you intend to do with your tools and what your experience level is.

07-12-2010, 10:24 PM
Ah, I see.


Well, we're venturing into New Old Stock on the ideas we have in mind. My wife is going to use it for some small wrist worn jewelry, a sortof "line" that she's been drawing up for a while. Faceted, divided circles type stuff. Rotary table territory it would seem. I'll be using it as the tool that it is. 3 axis cutting.

*Gear cutting other than cosmetic is going to be for inhouse tooling only. That is a blind prediction.

*Making toothed belt pulleys etc for some hot rod projects. Anything and everything on a Harley or air cooled VW. Friggin ET AL! in the go-fast world.

*Welding jigs. Some will be longer than others, for motor mounts, rear axle bearing housings, that type of thing.

*And of course anything I will dream up for my guitar pedal business. Along with that are parts for Vintage Hammonds (I have a 1964 A102 and a 1955 M3, as well as a 1965 Leslie 251) and stainless stell guitar hardware.

*Logo'd emblems The logo for our electronics shop is a circled face ... like a smiley face but with a .. uh .. different expression. We call him Farny. It's this face in the pic ...


It wouldn't take too much to spec out this logo so that you could easily keep it in perspective no matter the size. (Rotary table?) I mean I did that logo using the CAD program I use when I design all my pc boards so it was made with a circle and four straight lines.

*Other pieces that will have designs milled into them that use circles. Kinda of like the Olympic symbol. Not too hard on a rotary table ... uh .. right?

Other jewelry and such that is faceted, like the bezel on this stanless steel watch ...



*The bolt circle and filler hole for a high pressure high volume gas tank cap. The kind that look like they belong on a fighter jet with the bolt circle and flip-up cap.

*Switch safety covers of my own design. I currently use these NOS MilSpec units that are *meh .. okay*. I'd rather use the ones I came up with (mill all the way).

*Any/All design work we discover possible with the tools laid out in front of us. I'm very curious to find out what I will come up with when I go endmilling on a pre-powdercoated aluminum plate. A black plate with machined aluminum engravings of ????? designs with circles/curves/divisions of whatever sort on them. This type of thing will lend itself well with my pedal lineup.

*Multi-faceted solid stock stuff. (Rotary/dividing head).

*Later on ... (insert dramatic reverb here please) DUN Dun duh .... 4th Axis.

In many cases the main idea is to let the limited technology of manual 3 axis cutting to lead the designs. It's precisely that philosophy that led me to go NON-CNC in the first place. I didn't wish to become a great desktop publisher that sides as a greeting card designer when the cnc stuff gets slow. I'm more interested in creating THEN marketing, not marketing then creating for market.

Experience: Not much. Welder/metal fabricator most of my life. Owned/operated a repair center for 15 years (closed Jun 2009 health issues) for generators, weldors, power tools, air tools, hydraulics. Used to living in a world of precision. No college. No vocational schools. Just lots of racing experience (cars, bikes, BMX, quads, stock cars ...). Took 2 years of machine shop in a VERY well outfitted shop in the 1970s. We had 12 lathes, 4 mills, 2 surface grinders, 2 forges, and ????. Great teacher too. I made a plumb-bob and a c-clamp. Most of my experience involves adding metal, not removing it. Thats about it. Oh .. almost forgot. Built an airplane too. 2 seater trike. Been involved in metal fabrication most of my life, even when I was in the military (USAF Nuclear Security) and on the police department in LA (Los Angeles, not Lower Alabama). I worked in Titan II ICBM silos for a few years in the USAF, so a lot of my influences come straight from the cold war era. I'm 50, if that matters.

My brother Jeff (he's disabled and lives with us) worked in the Rocket Motor Skirt shop and the engine balance/deburr shop at Lockheed in the early 90s. He also worked at Electrovert as an apprentice machinst. So we're not completely blind here. Just a bit of *can't see* going on.

The 3 of us are disabled, but we draw no support from Uncle Sugar. We are doing everything we can to support ourselves and these machines are the enablers we will use to do that with. Simply put.

My Haste: Yup .. in a pretty big hurry. I have nearly no time left to devote to getting the project rolling. I gotta get the press and a few other things into service and get back to the pedal building. We've licked the stamping issue (the thing that steered me to these machines in the first place) so I can get to work toot sweet as soon as the press lands (tomorrow am). I have already finished welding (oxy/acet) the fixtures for the basic process, but I will use the mill to build up the semi-auto process to get the lettering done a bit faster and with less operator skill. This way my wife or my brother can also do the pedal tops if I'm unable too (health issues). So anyhow I have been a a big hurry to get just the heavy spending done and get the ball rolling so I can get back to work asap. The basic system was the main thing. Get it choosen, decided upon, find a vendor, get it all coming, select the expensive tooling while trying to cover furture heavy expenses if possible. Crash! Burn! Bang Clang Stumble! Geez. HAAA!!HAA!

Whew. Windy bastid I am!

There it is. Intentions and experience.

07-13-2010, 12:32 AM
Ii had the same basic questions a couple months ago.

I also want to get started on a *lot* of projects and want to cover as much as I can so I don't have to keep stopping and ordering what I need.(I will be making a lot of gears).

This is now my rotary table: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370372023627

And I after getting it I turned my attention to a dividing head. After a lot of back and forth, someone mentioned that the Vertex dividing heads I was looking at are too big for my mini Mill/Drill. (And I really need to make some bevel and helical gears). :(

SHARS does have a smaller one, but it is a BSO.

BTW. Here's a Chinese import rotary table with an MT3 center hole: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230373697887 So I know they exist.

Darren Harris
Staten Island, New York.

07-13-2010, 09:22 AM
Good luck with all your new machines and tooling Farndurk.
You'll have no troubles learning how to use them I would expect.

You may want to keep cnc in mind though for the future. Many of us are equally at home with manual machining and cnc machining.
CNC machining for the HSM crowd is not exactly like you envisioned "Mikey from OCC pushing a button" and a part gets cut.:D
Many HSM guys have even built custom cnc machines from scratch let alone converted manual machines.
It's apples to oranges comparing manual machining to cnc, but for the HSM guy they do blend niceley.