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Need advice on quick change tool post

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  • Need advice on quick change tool post

    Enco has a sale on two different kinds of quick change tools posts. One is a "piston" type and the other is a "wedge" type. My lathe is a SB 13". I would like to buy one or the other. Obviously, the cheaper "piston" type is more interesting because of the price, but if the other is significantly better, I need to know. Thanks in advance for opinions and suggestions.
    Vitَria, Brazil

  • #2
    I would get the "wedge type". I've heard it repeats better and is a more ridgid setup. I like the Aloris or Dorian. CDCO has plenty of holders cheap and they fit for me just fine. Although if I had it to all do over again, I would go with the KDK setup, nice low profile, but expensive.


    • #3
      I've got a couple of the Phase II wedge-type tool posts from Enco. They are very sturdy and repeatable, no complaints.

      Supposedly the piston type is not as good, but I have never tried it.


      • #4
        The piston type does not repeat quite as accurately, and might have a bit less holding power. For most home shop applications, you will probably not see the difference.

        I had a chicom piston type on my 13" Sheldon for several years, and replaced it with an Aloris wedge only because I picked up the Aloris cheaply. I have not seen any advantage to the wedge, and wouldn't hesitate buy a piston again.

        If the budget is a limiting factor, I would buy the piston and spend the extra money on additional toolholders.
        Last edited by JCHannum; 03-12-2009, 04:10 PM.
        Jim H.


        • #5
          While I cant say I have used both types and give any specifics, I have read dozens and dozens of comments in replies to this question as it comes up often on this and other forums.

          For the HSMer there is NO reason - that I have ever seen given - to get the more expensive wedge type. The often given 'plus' with the wedge is "repeatability" - well, do you plan on making a run of 500 widgets every few days ... unlikely.

          And, often, even the "pros" will say there is really negligible difference in the 2.

          As for the 13" size lathe, its on the edge between the 100 & 200 sizes. A 100 will work fine in about 90-95% of tool useage, but the 200 will cover them all. In my case, I had a 100 (piston type) on hand already and I go ahead and use it on my 13" with little to no problem, but since you are going to get one. go ahead and get the 200.

          Gonna take advantage of that free shipping, huh? I dont see how you can beat that deal -- phase ll stuff is really good, Encos price is the same or lower than the 'unknowns' on ebay, and you get the free ship -- hard to beat that!
          If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........


          • #6
            I am also well satisfied with my Phase II tool posts (now on the third).

            I've had 2 AX pistons, and was generally happy with them. The only thing I ever saw that seemed to indicate a weakness in the piston style was vibrating loose under heavy chatter that I was having a hard time eliminating, or heavy interrupted cuts.

            On my current lathe, I stepped up to a CXA wedge. It does seem more solid than the piston (allowing for the obviously beefier size), and I've yet to see it come loose for any reason.
            Master Floor Sweeper


            • #7
              CDCOTools has a sale on the basic QCTP holders for AXA and BXA sizes right now through 3/18. $9-12 each. All the lathes at the CC in the 12-13" range
              had BXA sizes, worked fine. My 12" has AXA, also works fine.

              BXA holds a 5/8" sized square bit and 1" boring bar, AXA 1/2" sq and 3/4" boring bar (in the boring bar holder, not what CDCO has on sale, though they
              do sell boring bar holders.)


              • #8
                I have a piston type and a wedge type...

                The piston one came with my smaller lathe (SB 10K) and I bought the wedge type to use with my larger lathe (SB 16").

                For me, I doubt in my home shop I will notice any difference between them. But, if the cost difference does not hurt too much, I would but the wedge type.

                I simply like the feeling that comes with pulling the tool holder in against a farily wide flat surface, as compared to pushing the tool holder out, causing it to stop against a rather narrower angled surface...

                Would I spend money to replace the piston type that I have on the smaller lathe with a wedge type? Not a chance...


                • #9
                  Please help me understand what AXA and BXA refers to. Are extra holders for the Enco models easy to find? Are they expensive or in the same $9 to $12 range?

                  I have never used anything so big as a 5/8th tool or a 1" boring bar in my life, but perhaps I take just little cuts. I can see the usefulness of a boring bar with more rigidity for sure.
                  Vitَria, Brazil


                  • #10
                    AXA and BXA are the Aloris size designations for the first two tool post sizes. The ENCO might be 100 and 200 or some such designation. The various toolholders interchange fairly well between manufacturers.

                    The BXA or 200 series is probably the best choice for a 13" lathe.
                    Jim H.


                    • #11
                      The A, B, C, D letter in the tool holder designation represents size. I am not sure of all the specifics...but the smallest AXA size, like I have on my 10k SB is much smaller than the CXA size that I bought for my larger lathe. Actually, the CXA size is a little small for the larger lathe, and requires a 1/2" spacer below it to raise it enough so that a 1/2" tool bit will be on center with the tool holder about fully lowered base unit (sorry for not calling out the parts properly). The next size up from the CXA is the CA, if my memory is correct.

                      My "guess" is that you would want to use either the CXA or BX (or is it BXA?) size tool post on a 13" lathe. If you error and get something too small, you can add a spacer like I need to do on my 16" SB, to raise the tool post up a bit.. From what I can see, the CA size would be what I need for a 16" lathe to avoid the need for a spacer...

                      If this does not make too much sense, I am sure that someone else will chime in with an explaination that is more helpful.


                      • #12
                        Yes, CA is next up from CXA, and DA is larger still. Also in the Aloris line, AX denotes a piston post, and AXA denotes a wedge.

                        I put a CXA on my 17" lathe. Yes, it took a 3/8" (I think?) spacer, and only fits (nominal) 3/4" tooling, but the tool blocks are readily available from sources like CDCO for good prices. CA blocks hold up to 1" tooling, and is physically beefier, but tooling is much harder to find and costs more (the cheap importers don't carry it, less appears on ebay, etc.).

                        I've debated myself on whether I made the right decision, but generally I'm happy with it. I've got something like 20 blocks now, including some actual Aloris blocks off ebay. The 3/4" tool hasn't been a big issue as I've found most everything I need in 3/4". However, some stuff, like my Top-Notch holder, happened along in the 1" variety. No big deal, just mill it down to 3/4". And it is quite happy to do a diameter reduction of more than a 1/2" on a 4"+ diameter steel (including 4140 and 4340) bar at 0.023+ feed. No problems with physical size were apparent. Just my experience...
                        Master Floor Sweeper