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** Tools Behind the Lathe **

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  • ** Tools Behind the Lathe **

    ** Tools Behind the Lathe **

    It kind of makes me nervous to reach across the lathe to grab a tool, but I've seen a number of shop layouts like this where all their tool holders are on a bracket or a shelf on the wall behind they lathe. Sure its not bad if you make 100% sure to stop the lathe every single time, but its really easy to get into a project and just swap tools on the QCTP without shutting down the spindle. Especially when you are doing a semi production part where time is money, or you know the process you are doing and you are trying to make proficient use of your time.

    I have a fairly small machine room and for now the wall behind my lathes are bare. The small 8.5x18 rest on a tool chest with all of its tools inside the drawers. It even has a few empty drawers for future tools, storage of extra measuring, tools, parts etc.

    The larger 14x40 sits on its own stand with a tool cart pushed back along the head stock. When I am using the 1440 I pull the tool cart out next to me so I can reach to the left and grab most tools I might need. Its fine if I am just standing in that one spot, but often I am bouncing around between machines and the assembly bench. Then the cart is in the way having to be pushed back and pulled out constantly. As a result I often find tools accumulating on top of the headstock of the lathe. If I could eliminate the cart the machine room would have much better flow. Even if I wasn't annoyed with myself about tools accumulating on the head stock it wouldn't hold all the tools I might need for a project.

    The answer some home shop machinist have come up with is to utilize the wall behind the lathe for tool racks, pegboard for misc tools and even cabinets. Like I said. The wall behind my two lathes in the machine room is blank, but I do have to admit that when I was using the bench lathes on benches out on the main shop floor there were pegboards full of misc tools and storage compartments behind them. I never did have an accident from reaching across the lathe. If I did you might be calling me stumpy. LOL. However, I did not put the main lathe tools on the pegboard. They were usually laying all over the bench next to the lathe. I wasn't reaching across the lathe to get a lathe tool usually.

    I am curious what other folks think about utilizing that wall space. Do you think its dangerous.

    This video of this guys shop shows what I am talking about.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  • #2
    My 13x30 sits away from the wall. The only practical way to clean the chip pan is from the back. I have added an angle, leg up, to the top of back splash. I hang my QCTP holders on it. Never reach for a tool when the lathe is running.

    If your lathe is fairly large, like mine, it would be an uncomfortable reach to the wall behind.


    • #3
      Use the space and turn the spindle off when you're reaching across. I keep loads of stuff on the wall behind my lathe.
      Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

      Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
      Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
      Monarch 10EE 1942


      • #4
        You answered your own question.

        It's not dangerous if the chuck isn't spinning and whatever means you have to get it spinning again can't be bumped on as you reach over.

        I have dozens of toolholders on the wall behind one of my lathes -- and simply don't reach over if the chuck is spinning. My on-off is at a conveniently placed but near-imppossible to bump VFD. There also an E-stop and a main power stop within easy reach.

        If I'm moving back and forth between a few different toolholders I simply keep them at the front, just to the right of the chip pan.


        • #5
          Behind tail stock and up is what South end used.


          • #6
            The rear splash guard sits about 7 inches from the wall. This was so that the jack I used to lift the lathe off the dollies would fit, and also allows me to remove the covers on the electrical boxes on the back of the lathe if necessary. Chip pan easily slides out to the front (and has drain into tank for coolant, but I tend to use oil with a brush instead). Its a decent size lather having a 14 inch swing and a 40 inch bed, but I can easily reach the wall directly behind the lathe, and upto about a foot and a half or so above the splash guard without leaning or stretching. The lathe is turned on off or reversed with a lever on the saddle. This could get bumped, but it is a lot of movement. If I use the foot brake the on off lever has to turned to the off position before it can be turned back on. I'm not sure I trust that though. I haven't really gotten in the habit of using the foot brake. Maybe I should.
            *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.


            • #7
              I made a wooden toolholder that goes across the ways to hold the tools I'm using at the time. It can go in front of or behind the tailstock, whichever is more convenient at the time.
              Kansas City area


              • #8
                You're absolutely correct, IMO. It will take just one lapse of attention and you will be wound up in your work.

                That said, if you can't resist the impulse to put stuff back there, only store the stuff that you would never access while the lathe is running. Some examples might include chucks, chuck cleaning tools or collets. Perhaps storing raw material there might be relatively safe.

                Letting tools accumulate on the top of the headstock creates the risk of a tool sliding off into the spinning chuck and being launched at whomever is nearby. I have a large, walled plastic box fitted to the top of the tailstock and small tools are placed inside the box where they can't slide away.
                Regards, Marv

                Home Shop Freeware - Tools for People Who Build Things

                Location: LA, CA, USA


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Toolguy View Post
                  I made a wooden toolholder that goes across the ways to hold the tools I'm using at the time. It can go in front of or behind the tailstock, whichever is more convenient at the time.
                  I use that too usually has about 12 drills a few readers drill chuck or center on it.
                  Get used to the footbrake, one day it may be the only thing you can reach...Plus it stops faster than flipping a switch.


                  • #10
                    Dangerous and awkward to reach over the lathe.

                    Appearance is Everything...


                    • #11
                      Worse yet, you could knock something off the shelf and ding up you bed ways.



                      • #12
                        I was not aware that al this sort of risky behaviour was common here.

                        Loose clothing is just as bad.

                        Worst of all is being distracted when the spindle on any machine is turning - not just mills. And the worst is distractions and speeding and using a machine or tool when you are tired or not concentrating on the job at hand.

                        If distraction regarding "time to go to finish" is a factor then you really do need to look closely at your shop practices.

                        Tempting fate is never a good idea.

                        I have NO tools on or behind any "wall" - they are on the bench the lathe or mill is on.
                        Last edited by oldtiffie; 07-22-2017, 10:42 PM.


                        • #13
                          Hey, Bob, are you from Portland, Oregon? Ever have a business dealing with compactors?

                          I have had, for many years, tool storage behind my machines. I never reach across a running machine. I never change tools on a running machine. I put whatever tooling is needed on the tray top of my lathe, or on a table protector on my mill. If one is a safety Nazi, then spend time worrying about all the possible ways of screwing up, and legislating rules to avoid any dangers. True safety has common sense rules, be aware of dangers, and deal with them by thinking, and developing safe work habits. In my own case, I had help from some masters, who had seen many things in their careers. Hopefully Forrest Addy will contribute to this thread. He spent his lifetime running all kinds of machinery, some highly dangerous. I last saw Forrest in '07 at a scraping school. he still had his fingers, toes, skills, and intellect.

                          On further reflection, I'll say that if you're absent minded, little common sense, and your shop looks like a landfill, maybe you should keep your tooling away from the back of machines. However, there are likely more pressing issues to be looked at, also.

                          So this is my opinion, and presented as such. I have re-proofed my flame resistant coveralls! Anyone presenting their opinion in a non offensive manner will receive due consideration

                          I cut it off twice; it's still too short
                          Oregon, USA


                          • #14
                            I reached across my tool cart to try to catch a falling fluorescent tube this morning and got too close to
                            a 3/4 2F milling cutter standing on end in a rack on the top shelf --tore a patch of skin about 3/8 by 5/8 off my forearm. Should have gone in to get it looked at but chickened out and just wrapped with gauze. At first the cutter turned as my arm brushed it and it left a few small holes every 3/4 of an inch down my arm. Then it jammed and tore out a chunk of skin, detached all but on one corner. I took a small scissors and cut off the flap before it flooded with blood and before it started throbbing. No way that flap would heal without more nerve and blood supply.

                            I am thinking about making a flip cover to keep that stuff from slicing me when I am not using them. Be careful out there!
                            Last edited by mikem; 07-22-2017, 11:35 PM.


                            • #15
                              I'm not a big fan of reaching across the lathe and don't want to wear our my switch either. I made a rack that is bolted to the wall right next to the lathe so all my holders are in arm's reach. I think a pic of it is in one of the Shop Made Tools issues, but you can also see it at about the 1:40 mark in my video on Quick Change Toolposts.
                              Stuart de Haro