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By Don Wiederhold

Lathe Tool Bit Height

Here is a quick way to set up your tool to the centerline of your lathe.

I use a 1/2” diameter drill blank that I ground a notch in. I took my time with it and ground exactly halfway through, leaving the final thickness 1/4” (Photo 1).

To use this for setting tool height, place the notched piece into the lathe’s chuck, with the lathe in a high speed or neutral. Now, bring the tool up under the flat on the blank. As you raise the tool, rock the chuck back and forth a bit until the tool is in solid contact with the blank and the chuck can’t be rocked (Photo 2).

Lathe Tool Bit Height2

Now you can tighten the jam nut on the toolholder and you are ready to start turning.

In the past, I have bought 1/2” diameter cutter blanks with a notch just like I made, and I originally planned to just purchase one. Unfortunately, I could no longer find a source for anything larger than 1/4” diameter and I felt that would be too small.

I hope this tip helps someone out. It’s a simple one, but really helps to speed things up when setting new tools.

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