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Machine Leveling Procedure: What It Is and How To Do It

In any machine-based industry, it is crucial to check if your equipment is properly set up and level. A machine leveling procedure is a process that helps ensure your machines are optimized for production. Without this procedure in place, you risk damaging your machine assets.

From lathes to CNC machines, a machine leveling procedure is crucial. It improves efficiency, reduces downtime, and prevents costly errors.

However, leveling involves more than just aligning certain objects together. Let’s take an in-depth look at what machine leveling is all about before we dive into the best practices.

In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. What is Machine Leveling?
2. Why is Machine Leveling Important?
3. Machine Leveling Procedure  
    > Check the precision level for accuracy before leveling the machine
    > Move the machine so that all axes are at the center of their stroke
    > Place at least two levels on the machine if possible
    > Move the axes to the positive stroke and then to the minus end stroke
Check levels of the table and ensure accuracy

4. Final Tips for Leveling a Machine
5. CNC Machine Leveling Video
6. Summary

What Is Machine Leveling?

Keeping everything level is crucial when you are working on machines. In particular, leveling is used on machine tables, rails, and bases.

Accuracy is everything if you are designing products that follow a specific profile. For example, with a machine leveling process, you make sure that all components are precisely aligned and straightened out.

This process occurs during the installation or adjustment of a machine. To achieve optimal geometric relationships, machine tooling operators have standards to follow. To do this, they check alignments using three axes: x-axis, y-axis, and z-axis. 

Moreover, operators use a number of tools and approaches to check for alignments and correct errors. This will involve aligning work surfaces with spindles and axes. Through proper alignment, there is little or no room for error in the production of machine parts.

Why Is Machine Leveling Important?

Construction and land development make use of leveling. Developers will need to locate elevations so they can level them out before construction.

Leveling is also crucial to check if floors, ceilings, and other surfaces are perfectly horizontal. Skipping the leveling procedure results in poor-quality work, leading to crooked surfaces that are highly vulnerable to earthquake damage.

Machine leveling also uses the same principle. If you are in the business of metalworking, machining, or tooling, precision has an important role to play.

At a machining center, a workpiece needs to be shaped, milled, or ground to fit the application it is used for. For this, every component needs to be in spec so they can perform as intended.  When it comes to leveling workpieces, workholding tools are often used.

Machine leveling is also important for preventing damage during an application. An end mill, for instance, will need to be properly perpendicular to the work surface. Otherwise, the work may not turn out accurately, and the machine may get damaged.

Leveling is crucial to manufacturing high-quality machine parts. It is used on automation systems and additive manufacturing facilities. It optimizes CNC machining tools and tooling equipment. All in all, machine leveling involves compliance with quality standards.

Machine Leveling Procedure

Now that you know the basics of machine leveling, it’s time we look at the specific steps to take in the process. Here is an overview of how machining tools are leveled for optimal performance and quality:

Check the precision level for accuracy before leveling the machine

Prior to leveling a machine, you need to calibrate the precision level (or machinist level) first. To do this, place the level on a different machine.

Let it stay there for about five minutes before checking if the bubble is aligned with the center. Flip it over 180 degrees and check again. If the bubble is off-centered, repeat the process.

After that, check the machine if it is at a height above the coolant pans and conveyors. Don’t sit the machine too far above the pains. To ensure stability and prevent excessive coolant splashing, sit the machine low using leveling screws.

Move the machine so that all axes are at the center of their stroke

You need to make sure the machine is perfectly balanced. Move it and position the axes at the center of their stroke. This allows for optimal weight distribution and flatness while leveling.

Place at least two levels on the machine if possible

Next, you will need to place levels on the ways or linear guides. If possible, use two levels. Place one parallel to the ways and another perpendicular to them.

At this point, you may need to adjust the jackscrews to bring out the levels. Different manufacturers provide different instructions for adjusting, so take time to learn the leveling tools you are using. 

Move the axes to the positive stroke and then to the minus end stroke

During leveling, move the axes to the positive stroke. After that, move the jack bolts and make sure they are the same as the levels were at the center.

From there, bring the axis back to the minus end stroke and adjust accordingly. As you do so, the levels should go back to the starting point.

Check levels of the table and ensure accuracy

Once you are done leveling, check for accuracy using a square. If you are satisfied with the result, touch down all the supports below the magazine, electrical cabinets, and pallet changer.

Final Tips for Leveling a Machine

If you look at it closely, the machine leveling procedure is a straightforward process. It only requires experience and the proper tools to get the job done.

To ensure optimal leveling, calibration using a precision level is crucial. This is to ensure that the level is accurate and prevent unwanted errors during the machining process.

In addition, it’s important to place the machine at a short distance from the ground. It may not be stable when it’s positioned high up. At an elevation, the coolant creates spills as it drops to the pans. To be safe, keep the machine as low as possible. This will also make it easier to manipulate the machine.

It is often best to use two machinist levels instead of one. Place one parallel to the guides and another perpendicular to the guides. Don’t forget to adjust the jack screws if you think the machine needs additional leveling. 

To make the job easier for you, you can use leveling feet to stabilize the machine. This is ideal if you are installing the machine on uneven ground. For applications involving shaft alignment, you may need a quality slotted leveling shim.


The machine leveling procedure is a vital part of machining applications. It takes time to learn and master.  Then again, it’s worth the challenge if it means producing quality work.

Want to learn more about machine leveling and other concepts? Check out our collection of guides, handbooks, white papers, and other resources. You may find our downloadable guides helpful for making the right choice.