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Lathe tooling

Chester Craftsman

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Colin Bennett 112/01/2022 13:39:51
19 forum posts

As some of you may have read in my other topic I am about to pull the trigger on buying a Chester Craftsman.

This is my first time using a lathe again in nearly 30 years. Therefore I am looking for some advice regarding which accessories to buy and where.

-Face plate can be ordered directly from Chester.

-A Quick change tool post is available from Chester but I am not sure if I am better off buying it somewhere else. Below is the list of QCTP’s that Chester supply.

T1 63.5mm 94.5mm 57.15mm 14.29mm 2kg
T2 76.2mm 117.46mm 69.85mm 15.88mm 4kg
T3 82.55mm 130.18mm 76.2mm 19.05mm 6kg
T4 123.85mm 158.75mm 92.06mm 22.26mm 8kg

-I will also need some HSS lathe tools but not sure what size. 6mm, 8mm, 10mm or 12mm? Chester sells these as well but there is probably better quality out there?

-A live centre (mt3) is also on the list

-Last but not least some boring bars.

Any recommendations for any of the above or if there is something I haven’t thought about then please let me know.

Thank you.

Thor 🇳🇴13/01/2022 10:32:21
1598 forum posts
45 photos

Hi Colin,

The Craftsman is a larger lathe than mine, but I use either 6mm square tool-bits or 8mm on my lathe. It takes less time to grind a 6mm tool-bit than a 12mm. I also use lathe tools with carbide inserts, they make it possible to machine the hard scale that may be on castings or black steel, the HSS tools can then be used for finishing cuts. I assume you have a drill chuck that suits the lathe tailstock and centre drills, a Dial Indicator is also very handy when centring work in a four-jaw independent chuck.


Rik Shaw13/01/2022 11:54:23
1480 forum posts
398 photos

I have a Warco BH6000G which I believe is much the same as yours. I use a T1 QCTP which will take tools up to about 16mm high. I do not use smaller indexable tools simply because top quality inserts are more easily available on Ebay for the bigger tooling, sometimes at bargain prices. Not so generally for the smaller holders. I have 24 QCTP tool holders and I could still do with more.

Along with the 3 and four jaw chucks I also use an ER chuck and collets and a 5C collet chuck with collets (starts to get expensive no?)

Tooling list for your lathe? You have had a lathe before so you know that the list can be long or short depending on the depth of your pockets. If you are contemplating turning between centres you'll need a dead centre - 3 or 4 MT and a 5 - 3 or 4 MT adaptor because you cannot fit a full length 5MT taper in this lathes spindle. You'll also want a drive dog. I use my faceplate instead of a catch plate.

Have fun!



Edited By Rik Shaw on 13/01/2022 11:59:25

Howard Lewis13/01/2022 12:35:10
6005 forum posts
14 photos

Do you NEED a QCTP?

In an article, in MEW, supposedly extolling the virtues of QCTPs it was said that changing tools is no quicker than a 4 way.. And how many of us are on piecework, and time pressured?

And, a QCTP is slightly less rigid than a 4 way toolpost., ,because of the increased overhang from the pivot stud.

In my Book rigidity is next to Godliness!

Admittedly, it would be difficult to mount 4 tools, rather than 3 in a 4 way.

To set up a QCTP and holders for all my possible lathe tools would set me back at least £250, and give the problem of finding somewhere to store the unused holders.

So that explains my obvious bias!

I got over this, and a lot of parting problems, by making a 4 way Rear toolpost, for my BL12-24 (Craftsman look alike ).

So that gives me 6 tools available for use.

In the Front :

Carbide tipped Rougher using the 100 degree corner, Diamond Tangential for finishing, with 12mm shanks and a 8 mm shank carbide tipped boring bar.

In the Rear,

Front chamfer,, Back chamfer (Both 1/4 HSS ) and parting a 3/32 x 3/4 HSS, many years old..,

These suffice for most jobs except Radius turning or screwcutting; neither of which are frequent operations.

A lot of the threads that I use are less than 1/2" or 12 mm so Taps and Dies are used for these wherever possible, in Tailstock mounted Sliding holders.

If a lot of shims would be needed, I milled some pieces of square bar so that minimal, or no, shims are required.



David Colwill13/01/2022 14:56:06
774 forum posts
40 photos

The toolposts listed look to be Dickson clones. Whilst they work well, making extra holders is not straight forward.

I use an Aloris clone Arc Euro model 200 or 222. These take 16mm tooling and will fit your lathe. The holders are (I believe ) cheaper and certainly easier to make.

Whilst I agree that QCTP's are not always quicker to go from tool to tool, they do make life easier if using a DRO (and you have enough holders).

I wouldn't be without mine!



SillyOldDuffer13/01/2022 15:13:30
8469 forum posts
1885 photos

For the much same reasons as Howard, I haven't wasted my dosh on a QCTP either! Tempting though it is, I can't denounce them as outright gimmicks because they're definitely valuable in certain circumstances. But I fear trading precious rigidity in hope of reducing tool change times is a bad bargain.

I'd rather spend the money on something useful, and the list is almost endless. DTI with stand, DRO, micrometer, digital caliper, tap and die holders. a range of carbide insert holders, box of shims, or a tangential tool holder. Consumables like metal stocks, way oil, cutting fluids, and emery paper. And I bet you'll soon want a milling machine!

It's possible most Quick Change Tool Posts bought for amateur lathes are boy-racer bling! Seemed like a good idea at the time, and not criticised robustly thereafter because they work reasonably well. Only way to find out is to have our workshops inspected by a Time and Motion expert and an Accountant. Faced with their hard-nosed critical analysis I doubt many owners could justify buying a QCTP. But hey, it's a hobby: if owning a QCTP makes you happy, go for it. Don't forget to buy plenty of holders for it: a QCTP will only 2 or 3 plug-in tools to hand is daft.

Re 'quality HSS', I've no reason to think the type sold by Chester is particularly inferior. Give it a try.

Live centres are a good thing, but I'm not sold on faceplates because I've never used mine! Better to spend the money on a rear tool-post.

The main disadvantage of buying a lathe with a full set of goodies is several of them are likely to end up gathering dust in a cupboard. Money wasted, shock horror! Alternatively, using a lathe for 6 months reveals reliably what's really needed. The downside of buying piecemeal is the risk of continually wasting time having to order missing accessories. Much depends on what the machine is used for. The delay is less of a problem now stuff ordered on online arrives so quickly.

Loads of interesting decisions ahead. Have fun!


larry phelan 113/01/2022 16:12:02
1169 forum posts
15 photos

Hi Colin,

Glad to see you are getting there [wherever that is ]

A You dont need a Q C T P, the one which comes with the lathe is perfectly good enough, I have been using mine for the last 20 years or so.

B A Dial indicator I would consider to be a "must have"

C I use blank HSS tool bits from1/8" to 1/2" ,no problem.

D As others have advised, no need to spend money on stuff you might never use, buy a few pieces of HSS steel, 1/2" or 3/8" and grind your own tools [not difficult, since even I can do it ]

E A good chuck to use in the tailstock is about all you will need, forget all about the hype, you dont need it.

larry phelan 113/01/2022 16:15:56
1169 forum posts
15 photos

Forgot to add that boring bars are so easy to make, that except in the smaller sizes, I dont understand why anyone buys them.

Howard Lewis13/01/2022 19:40:01
6005 forum posts
14 photos

Glad that S O D, Larry and I are singing off the same hymn sheet.

My ML7 was quite satisfactory (apart from the 2MT spindle bore ) with a 4 way, and since 2003 I have lived quite happily with two four way Toolposts, (Font and Rear ) Actually, the Rear Toolpost was made some time later.

QCTP are / were used in industry where time is money, and the large amount of capital invested in a machine,, overheads, and an operator of some level of skill, has to be recouped, profitably..

As hobby machinists, time is not money, otherwise we would all be buying expensive industrial CNC machines and keeping our hands clean, getting RSI at a keyboard, to make a living..

A machine with gold plated Handwheels won't deliver any greater precision than one with chromium plated steel ones.

The question has to be "Will the money be better spent on something else which will deliver a greater and more necessary benefit?" DTIs and Magnetic Bases, Taps and Dies immediately spring to mind.

But, we spend our money on what makes us happy!.


Colin Bennett 113/01/2022 21:12:48
19 forum posts

Many thanks everybody for your replies so far.

I will respond in more detail in the next couple of days, work is a bit hectic at the moment and I hardly spent any time at home. In the meantime, rest assured that I am not ignoring you and the time you have taken to reply is greatly appreciated.

Edited By Colin Bennett 1 on 13/01/2022 21:13:36

Chris Mate13/01/2022 21:52:44
136 forum posts
32 photos

Before I bought a QCTP I had a slotted wooden tray and place each toolholder with it's shims in one slot, so I sorted the shims once.
For a set of 10mm insert toolholders which are all perfectly the same height, I made a separate toolpost with a fixed groove calibrated to the height, so no shims or moving parts.
The QCTP came with 4 holders, but that is not enough, I need to buy more, maybe at least another 3.

Y C Lui14/01/2022 14:47:49
45 forum posts
25 photos

I have bought or made a number of accessories / tools for my Emco compact 8 and I found the followings to be the most useful :

1) DRO. I made one from digital caliper for the radial direction. It's permanantely fixed to the carriage. It helps A LOT to improve the precision. With care, the error in the final diameter the workpiece is not measurable with a 0.01 mm resolution caliper. Recently I made a holder for mounting a digital caliper to measure the X-axis movement.Will likely switch to a optical scale later.

2) Carbide tools. They are cheap today and come in a wide variety of geometries and types. Molded, grounded, for steel, for aluminium .... so I don't bother to grind and center HSS tools anymore.

3) Carriage stop. An essential safety device when you need to get the tool very close to the jaws of the chuck.

4) Tap and die holders going onto the tail stock.

QCTP ? Quite appealing to me at the beginning but after thinking it over, I finally decided that they are not needed for my use.


Edited By Y C Lui on 14/01/2022 14:53:27

JasonB14/01/2022 15:02:37
22560 forum posts
2634 photos
1 articles

I don't think I would want to go back to using a single or 4-way post.

Can't see the comment that they are as quick to change tools as one 1/4 turn does my QCTP, a 4-way would be between 2 or 4 screws and if the shank of the tool is not the same then each will require several turns of the clamping screw.

Also it is not just the repeatable height of a QCTP that is it's sole advantage you can swap tools and they go back in the same place usually to with in a thou so if you are making a couple of parts that need two or more tools you can set your handwheels for the first, change tools and then when you go to make the next just use the handwheel readings rather than having to measure again as the tool is unlikely to go back into a holder in the same position twice without a QCTP. Indexing 4-ways accepted.

Though time may not be an issue for the retired who have all day to potter about in the shed those that work and have family commitments may not get as much workshop time as they would like so would rather be cutting metal than adjusting tools.

I have a holder for all each of my commonly used tools and two that get used for "odd" ones and find that works well for me.

My QCTP is also smaller than the supplied 4-way so I can get in closer when using tailstock support without excess tool stick out and if needed I have extended holders so can get it really close which would not be possible with the 4-way.

Colin Bennett 115/01/2022 16:13:32
19 forum posts

Thank you for all your answers and advise.

The reason for buying the face plate with the machine is because the face plate for this machine is difficult to find. Only Chester sell them (that I know of) and I don’t want to be in a position were I need a face plate but can’t get them anymore. Yes, it may be wasted money as at the moment I have no need for it.

After reading all your opinions I have decided to hold fire on a QTCP and have a play with the machine first. As I mentioned before I don’t do mass production so a little but of time changing tools is no real problem.

I understand that a QCTP works easier with a DRO as the tools are always in the same position. To be honest, I am not sure how much I will be using the DRO. My initial plan was to buy a Warco GH1236 without DRO but on the Craftsman it comes as standard.

On cutting tools it seems that carbide is recommended. I will have a look for a good set.

A carriage stop hadn’t crossed my mind but with me being a complete novice it is probably a worthwhile investment.

I already have a DTI, just need to buy a magnetic base.

Can anybody recommend a good place for shims and what sizes would be best to buy?

Next week I will have a look for all suggested items and get back to you.

Have a good weekend and once again, thank you very much!

JasonB15/01/2022 16:20:25
22560 forum posts
2634 photos
1 articles

Recent thread on wasting your money buying shims

I don't use a DRO on the lathe

Howard Lewis15/01/2022 17:11:20
6005 forum posts
14 photos

The Craftsman is a generic Taiwanese lathe design, so appears in different packages / guises under different names.

There was a thread highlighting this, some time ago on this Forum.

So things like Faceplates or Steadies, may be available, supposedly for a different machine, but will fit quite properly.

(A bit like many parts from a Riley Elf, or Wolsey Hornet fitting an Austin Mini! )

When I needed one, the pinion for Saddle traverse, on my lathe, was available from more than one importer,.

In fact, I made one for half the cost of a "genuine" spare, and out of superior material!.

As an instance, many seem to find that the manuals for Grizzly machines are superior to the ones, written in Chinglish, for their machine.


If you can find them, biscuit tins are often made from 0.010" t(o.25 mm ) tinned steel. Sardine, or Herring tins ditto.

Or you can buy the genuine article in a large variety of thicknesses from Stubbs, but expect to pay Industry prices for a larger quantity than you will need for a long time!

Rather than use a LOT of shims, I mill a solid steel packer, and use as few shims as possible for fine adjustment of height..


Steve Neighbour15/01/2022 17:15:06
116 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Colin,

Like you, I invested in a new Lathe in the spring of 2020, it is a Warco WM250 (it arrived in August that year) and I am very pleased with it, it is really plenty accurate enough for anything I'm ever likely to make.

Like you I deliberated for ages on what tooling and accessories to buy, but I (now wisely) held off for quite a while to see what I would really need once I had used the machine for a good few months.

I have so far accumulated a QCTP tool holder and numerous holders, they seem to speed things up a bit when carrying out numerous operations.

Dial guage(s) only go for good quality digital and linear (Mitutoyo are probably the best, but beware of cheap fakes)

A couple of quality 25-50 and 50-75mm micrometer's (the best you can afford)

Carriage stop (I made one as shown on Journeyman's workshop site)

Numerous HSS tooling (8 & 10mm) . .I have recently bought an indexable set and now use both types

Boring bar, different sizes 'set'

Tail Stock Jacobs chuck (MT2)

Knurling tool

Homemade die holder for the tailstock

I have also just made a 'between centres boring bar' from a Hemmingway kit (made a cast iron cylinder 'sleeve' and it is way more accurate than normal boring)

Things on my 'wish list' are a decent collet chuck and back plate and a rear tool post, but not much else tbh

I probably spend more on my model making 'hobby' than the wife spends on clothes and hairdressing combined, but I won't tell if you don't wink 2


Steve Neighbour15/01/2022 17:21:32
116 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Howard Lewis on 15/01/2022 17:11:20:

The Craftsman is a generic Taiwanese lathe design, so appears in different packages / guises under different names.

There was a thread highlighting this, some time ago on this Forum.

So things like Faceplates or Steadies, may be available, supposedly for a different machine, but will fit quite properly.

Are they not Chinese ? I was sure 'most' modern generic Lathes originate from the Weiss factory in Shengen province - but I'm happy to stand corrected.

It is certainly true there is little difference between Chester, Amadale, Warco, Grizley, Precision Mathews and several others etc (apart from the colours) and certainly most accessories can be interchanged

Howard Lewis15/01/2022 17:34:13
6005 forum posts
14 photos

The thread about the lathes said Taiwanese, but more than one Chinese factory produces lathes to more or less the same design. (Sieg, Real Bull, Weiss etc).

There may be minor differences, key widths for instance or the position of the Thread Indicator Dial, or Saddle Handwheel, but the basic design is very much the same.

Quite often the complete package/ specification is determined by the Importer, as to what "extras" are included, or on the "Options" list, to arrive at a competitive selling price. Warranty - ditto.


Y C Lui15/01/2022 18:13:52
45 forum posts
25 photos

Shims ? I don't have any because I use carbide inserts only. The bottom of each tool bar is milled to make the tip of the insert line up with the center of rotation of the spindle. If the tool bar is too thin, a steel plate will need be epoxied to the bottom before machining. Once done, there is no need for any re-centering in future use. Just mount the tool and start cutting. Here are some of my tool bars ( bottoms facing up ) :

centering tool bars

Edited By Y C Lui on 15/01/2022 18:40:41

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