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1-800miner
11-20-2016, 08:50 AM
How tall are you? How tall is your lathe? Does your back hurt?

brian Rupnow
11-20-2016, 08:57 AM
I am 5 foot seven tall. My lathe is 44" from floor to center of chuck. My back does not hurt.---Brian

ammcoman2
11-20-2016, 09:00 AM
The setting that works for me is to have the cross slide handle at elbow height. Back has never complained.

Edit: I should add that these measurements are for a 7" and an 11" swing lathe. My Taig lathe should be higher because I have to bend over while using it.

Geoff

kendall
11-20-2016, 09:09 AM
I'm same as Brian, 5'7, Not sure about spindle height,but above waist, I can reach the hand wheels without bending over. Back doesn't hurt. Bending over is the number one reason my back starts hurting, so try to design or set things up so I don't have to

Weston Bye
11-20-2016, 09:31 AM
Reverse the order.
3. My back hurts all the time - my spine is fusing from a particular variety of arthritis.

2a. My Little Machine Shop 5100 lathe is set on the bench such that the spindle is 44" above the floor.
2b. My Sherline lathe is set on a riser on the bench such that the spindle is 48" above the floor.
I do most of my close work on smaller details on the Sherline and the extra height suits my trifocals better and I don't have to bend over so much.

1. I used to be 5'11-3/4". I am now 5'10" - see #3 above...

None of this matters much as most of my projects employ CNC mill work more than lathe work, but I may increase the height of both lathes as time goes on and my spine continues to fuse.

softtail
11-20-2016, 09:48 AM
6' 2" and my Boxford and Nichols are way too low. Been meaning to raise them up (maybe that was you who I saw made a nice Nichols base a while back). Putting padding over concrete really helps.. concrete is a back killer.

sasquatch
11-20-2016, 10:15 AM
I'm 5-11, and my center height is also 44 inches. (I too get back ache lots, especially walking on any concrete floor, which i don't have.) Working on the concrete in my sons garage business does me in .

platypus2020
11-20-2016, 10:33 AM
5' 8" and the centerline of the chuck is about 46", yes my back hurts.

probably more due to mill work than lathe work, until I did the jig crane, lifting the 10" and 12" rotary tables and chucks up on the mill tables, was killing my back.

MikeL46
11-20-2016, 10:42 AM
5'10" Lathe center 43" No pain

My back used to hurt, but I've been doing exercises before I get out of bed. 50 reps. Lay flat on my back. Stretch each leg (pull knee up to my stomach). Then push the small of my back into the bed, relax, repeat 50 times. After ~3 months I noticed an improvement. After a year I can't imagine not doing the exercises.

Mike

loose nut
11-20-2016, 10:47 AM
If your back/legs etc. hurt then you need something to stand on that cushions you. IE: rubber mats

rws
11-20-2016, 11:08 AM
I'm 6-2 and my lathe is at 46".

KiddZimaHater
11-20-2016, 11:24 AM
I'm 6'3" , and my lathe's chuck center is 47".
I still find myself stooping over, and getting a stiff back from time to time.

Frank Ford
11-20-2016, 11:28 AM
5'-6" standing at 36" bench every day, lathe center is 48" - arthritic pain in most joints - never back pain.

Weston Bye
11-20-2016, 11:58 AM
If your back/legs etc. hurt then you need something to stand on that cushions you. IE: rubber mats

Here is what I use:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0803/Weston/DSC03034_zpscsu42xrf.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Weston/media/DSC03034_zpscsu42xrf.jpg.html)
From McMaster-Carr, #6999T411, $47.02
I take one of these mats with me when I am exhibiting at NAMES or Cabin Fever - and try to remember to stand on it whenever possible - makes a difference.

Also note the carpet; when we replaced the carpet over the middle of the hardwood floor in the living room, I found that the old one would fit in the shop. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't hold chips or swarf and swept easily with an ordinary broom. Would obviously not be a good choice for greasy/oily environment...

Stradbash
11-20-2016, 01:03 PM
6'4"
53.75" (spindle center)
No!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

polaraligned
11-20-2016, 02:51 PM
6'-4" with shoes. My 1660 lathe is 42.5". Not too bad, but a few inches higher, like my 1440 would be better.

Nice looking shop Weston, I would never be brave enough to have carpet in mine.

Paul Alciatore
11-20-2016, 02:54 PM
I am 6' tall.

My lathe center line is 46" above the floor.

My back has hurt since my early 20s. I am 72 now. So I don't think the first two numbers will do you any good. Besides, I always sit on a stool while working at the lathe or mill or workbench. The Wal-Mart stools I use have backs and they help my back a lot. I also like to prop my feet up on their foot rails.

I really think that being able to rock back in the stool so my back is straightened out whenever I pause to think helps my back ache a lot. I have a fairly standard office style chair here in my office and have added a cushion to the back. I can sit here for hours with no problems from my back.

If you are at home, get a stool with a back. If you are at work, get a prescription that says you need one for your back problems so the shop buys it. It does not have to be expensive, I think the ones I have were only about $20 or so and they have lasted for years.

Paul Alciatore
11-20-2016, 03:02 PM
PS: On that stool thing, DON'T get a tall stool. For back problems, SHORTER is better. You want to be reaching UP, not bending down.

PStechPaul
11-20-2016, 06:17 PM
5'10" Lathe center 43" No pain

My back used to hurt, but I've been doing exercises before I get out of bed. 50 reps. Lay flat on my back. Stretch each leg (pull knee up to my stomach). Then push the small of my back into the bed, relax, repeat 50 times. After ~3 months I noticed an improvement. After a year I can't imagine not doing the exercises.

Mike

I fully agree with the back exercises helping. I've had back problems since 1983, due to congenital spinal stenosis and bulging/degenerating discs mostly lumbar but also cervical spine.

I haven't used my lathe (or mill or other machines) very much at all since I had my 2-3 level discectomy and lumbar spinal fusion surgery in June. Not because of back pain, but just doing other things. I have my 9x20 lathe mounted on a 2x12 on a metal machine stand which I think is 32", so probably about 40" floor to spindle. I was down to about 5'-8-1/2", from 5'-10-1/2" peak about 40 years ago, before my surgeries, which may have added back as much as an inch. According to my weight, I should be about 6'-9" :rolleyes:

My lathe tool stand looks like this one:

http://ep.yimg.com/ay/toolsplus/htc-htt-31-tool-table-500-lbs-capacity-2.jpg

Actually, this is my lathe mounted on the stand:

http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/tools/Lathe_1172_800p.jpg

I no longer have significant back pain, as a result of successful surgery and staying somewhat active. I get some pain from cutting firewood and loading and tending the woodstove (where I am fully bent over), but activities where I am somewhat straighter, like splitting logs with a maul, and shoveling snow, do not bother me much. Standing more than a half-hour or so is still a problem, but getting better as my abdominal and back muscles strengthen. :cool:

BCRider
11-20-2016, 06:35 PM
I just went through all this myself. Previously my lathe was on some tin boxes that were the suggested stands for that model. It was woefully short for my 6' 1" height. I lifted it and put the way too short boxes up on some blocks made up of three layers of laminated 2x6's laid flat and criss crossed for strength and stability. It was still too short at around 42 to 43". It took longer but I still got stiff and sore. Or if not stiff and sore at least I was bending over a lot more than needed just to operate the controls.

In preparation for building the new filled concrete block pedestals I did a bunch of research on spindle height and finally gave in to the idea that it should be up at around 48" for my height. As it happened the final height was actually 49". But I got given a nice thick mat to insulate my feet and let the swarf fall down between the cords of this mat. So it came back to 48.25"

At first it seems ridiculously high. But I've gotten used to it and love it. Actually my back loved it immediately. It just took my brain a few days to catch up and stop saying "TOO HIGH! TOO HIGH!". I can see what is going on without needing to hunch over the machine. And while it initially felt a little odd to reach over the tool post to take a measurement again it was a small price to pay for the ease of reaching all the controls without needing to lean over and to see what is going on at the cutting tools without needing to lean over.

Trying to find some "common ground" for picking a height to match a user's height I notice that if I stand up straight and put my palm on the top surface of the compound rest that my forearm is dead level. I suspect this could well be a good common factor for setting the height of the lathe for any given user height.

EDIT- Reading through a few more of the replies I find that a lot of you are running at heights that I would find too low even when taking your own heights into consideration

1-800miner
11-20-2016, 08:07 PM
A few years ago I rebuilt a butchers block and called the local meat cutters with the same questions.
They all said 42 and taller.

I know the rule of thumb for setting an anvil is to let your arm hang down, make a fist. Your knuckles should rub the anvil.

Arcane
11-20-2016, 08:13 PM
I'm 5' 10" and the spindle center line of my 9" SB is 45" above the surface of the rubber mat I stand on when operating it. My back used to hurt but having a cancerous kidney removed back in 2009 put an end to that! :D

fjk
11-21-2016, 06:14 AM
First, this is all personal preference, personal geometry, and personal physiology. getting info as to what others do is a good start, but you may/will adjust to fit. Eg, when I first started getting into having a home worksshop I made a work bench, did it to the specs int the plans that I found. Hated it. Eventually I realized it was too high so I chopped 4" off the legs ... best shop project ever.


Second, I'm 5'11", don't know spindle height, bench-top is 36", lathe is a 7x12 so the spindle is at least 3.5" above that ... so the 44" that others have mentioned is a good guess. My back does not hurt any more when I use the lathe than when I do something else :-/

Third, an oriental rug in a shop is entirely too cool...


Frank

Black Forest
11-21-2016, 08:11 AM
A few years ago I rebuilt a butchers block and called the local meat cutters with the same questions.
They all said 42 and taller.

I know the rule of thumb for setting an anvil is to let your arm hang down, make a fist. Your knuckles should rub the anvil.

Well if I did that I would have to dig a hole and put the anvil in a hole. Me being an Ape and all!

How about some pictures of the progress you are making on your shop?

mars-red
11-21-2016, 09:12 AM
5' 10", lathe centerline is 43" above the floor, my back does not hurt.

I tend to have neck and shoulder problems though. My physio and chiro say my neck and shoulder muscles are where I gather my stress, so I don't chalk that up to workshop activities. It gets noticeably worse when I'm driving on very long car journeys.

Earlier this year I threw out my back, it's the first time I've had a real back problem. I'm getting close to 40 and that was my wake up call that I'm not in my 20s anymore, lol. Despite abusing my back pretty well in my younger days (lifting large paper rolls onto slitting machines, among other things), I don't have a problem with back pain.