Lathes and CNC machines are crucial in the manufacturing process. It's also important to make sure that these machines are leveled so as to minimize errors and mechanical damage during an application.
Prior to shaping a workpiece, you will need lathe leveling feet to help you create an even surface.
In this guide, we are laying down everything you will need to know about lathe leveling feet. You will also learn how to choose the right product for your lathe or CNC machine.
In this article we will take a closer look at:
1. What is Lathe Leveling?
2. Choosing the Right Leveling Feet for Your Lathe & CNC Machine
> Load Capacity
> Material & Size
> Vibration Control
> Base Type
3. Lathe Leveling Process
> Check & Calibrate the Machinist Level
> Adjust the Table or the Lathe
> Level the Surface in Multiple Directions
4. Lathe Leveling Video Overview
Leveling is an important part of the machining and tooling process. It ensures accuracy and prevents a workpiece from coming out imprecise. If the objective is to produce quality products with precise dimensions, you need to ensure that the equipment is leveled correctly.
Lathe leveling involves more than just using a simple carpenter’s level to check if the lathe doesn’t have deformities. It’s more about making sure that the workpiece and the machine are all on the same plane. On top of that, you also avoid twists which ensure stable support underneath the machine before mounting an object onto the lathe bed.
Machine leveling does the job of eliminating twists and other deformities. For this, a machinist uses a number of components. These include adjustable leveling feet, leveling pads, and footpads.
Whether or not the work requires a heavy-duty base, it’s important to choose the right type of machine feet for lathes, CNC machines, and even milling machines.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing leveling feet for lathes and CNC machines. Typically, your choice will depend on the type of application, load capacity, and material you are handling.
Before you go out looking for leveling tools, consider these factors:
How much does the workpiece weigh? What is the size of the machine? Since leveling feet serve as supports for certain equipment, you need to find ones that suit the load capacity you are working with.
Most machine mounts can withstand loads of up to 40 lbs, but you can find leveling tools that can carry anywhere between 600 to 4,000 lbs of static weight. For heavier applications, look towards stud mount leveling feet that feature a rigid base. If you are working on lighter materials, consider a lathe or workbench with casters. These will allow you to move the machine around the shop.
Leveling feet for lathes do not come in one-size-fits-all solutions. In other words, you need to find a suitable leveling solution that matches the work. When it comes to material, make sure to settle for a leveler that’s durable. Certain materials such as cast iron and stainless steel are particularly resistant to corrosion, heat, and regular wear and tear.
Apart from the material, you will also need to choose leveling feet that have the right dimensions. Choosing the right size for the base can help distribute weight evenly. Often, the size of the base is fixed, but some designs feature an adjustable leveler. This allows you to adjust the height of the machine. You just need to find leveling feet with the right hex size and adjusters.
When operating lathes and CNC machines, vibrations can affect the quality of the work. Not only that, but they can also accelerate wear and tear so, if you want to achieve greater precision and improve the longevity of your equipment, looking for anti-vibration leveling feet.
While most leveling feet can reduce a significant amount of vibration, you will need levelers that are designed specifically for minimizing vibration as well as shock and noise. Look towards leveling solutions that come with rubber pads. Apart from preventing skipping and movement during an application, rubber feet can absorb vibrations and reduce noise. They work well with CNC machines that usually generate strong vibrations.
For added vibration control, clamps and workholding tools can be utilized.
Lathe leveling feet are divided into two categories: stationary and swiveling. Stationary levelers are common in cabinetry, office equipment, and furniture. They can come in a variety of materials, such as plastic.
For high-stress applications, swivel base leveling feet allow for stable support. This type of base can be adjusted if the floor is not.
Regardless of the design or style of leveling feet you ordered, it’s important to go through each step in the process of leveling a lathe.
Here are the basic steps you will need to follow before mounting a workpiece and turning the handwheel:
Before everything else, you need to make sure your machinist’s level is properly calibrated. Check the measurements if they provide accurate values. Otherwise, you will need to calibrate the level again.
Next, you will want to adjust the machine’s feet to allow for optimal elevation during the task. You can adjust the elevation by loosening or tightening the bolts of each foot. In some cases, a shim will suffice
The last step is to ensure that the lathe is perfectly horizontal. To do this, place the machinist’s level on either the headstock or the tailstock. Next, rotate the lathe 90 degrees and adjust each side. As you do so, take measurements until you achieve a leveled surface.
If you are looking to move the machine, make sure to re-level it. Calibrate as needed to ensure that the lathe remains leveled.
The video below shows the basics of installing leveling feet and preparing a lathe for an application:
Leveling a lathe or CNC machine is an important step to machining applications. If your goal is to develop quality products that follow industry standards, purchasing rigid leveling feet is critical to the process.
At Reid Supply, we carry quality leveling solutions that can help achieve optimal precision. Browse our catalog and find the right products you prefer. We also provide workholding solutions such as toggle clamps, jigs, and fixtures.
Want to learn more about our leveling solutions? Check out our page for downloadable literature and get more information.