Southbend Lathe

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Guides and Manuals

Online guides

How to Run a Lathe - an old handbook with everything you need to know

Southbend -folder on the member google drive full of related documents

Changing the chuck

There are 3 chucks that we have: a 3-jaw, 4-jaw, and 6-jaw. There are internal and external jaws available for the 3-jaw and 4-jaw.

To change the chuck, you will need 2 things:

  • A scrap board to sit across the ways underneath the chuck
  • A 3ft or so 2x4 or similar piece of lumber

Follow these instructions to remove the chuck and thread the new one on:

  1. Lay the scrap board across the ways. This will prevent the chuck from falling once unthreaded and crashing against the ways, as well as give it a landing pad so you don't have to hold the weight for very long
  2. Open the jaws enough to grip the 2x4, and lock them down on it. For a 3 jaw, this will be awkward.
  3. Lock the back gears and lock the spindle to the pulleys, freezing the movement of the spindle.
  4. Attempt to loosen the chuck by applying force to the 2x4. Use swift and repeated movements to try to "walk" the threads loose.
  5. Once the chuck is loose, unthread it slowly until it is about off the threads, then prepare to gently lower it onto the scrap board
  6. Once chuck is completely off, clean and oil the threads on the spindle and inside the chuck. This will keep the surfaces clean and rust-free, which will help the chucks remove easily.
  7. Store the unused chuck under the lathe, covering it with a rag or plastic to keep it clean and prevent chips from getting in it.
  8. Take your new chuck and inspect the threads. Clean them with a rag and oil them.
  9. Thread the new chuck on. When it is close to being threaded all the way, take the chuck and spin it hard so when it gets to the end it locks it in.
  10. Disengage the back gearing or the locking pin for the pulleys so the spindle is no longer locked.
  11. You're all done!

Note: Do not use excessive force right away when removing the chuck. This method of removal has potential to damage the gearing in the lathe, so if there is a lot of trouble get some help before breaking the machine.

Changing the speeds

Moving the belt on the pulleys:

  1. Lift up the lid on the headstock behind the chuck. You should see a speed chart on the inside of the lid.
  2. Open the cabinet below the headstock where the motor is.
  3. Rotate the lever by the cabinet door clockwise until it is at the top of the rotation (or to put it another way: at 12 o' clock). This will raise the motor so it is no longer putting tension on the belt.
  4. You can now freely move the belt to the position you want. Make sure it is aligned top and bottom, do not try to run the belt diagonally.
  5. Once in position, rotate the handle counter-clockwise to lower the motor back down. Make sure it is all the way down. Check your belt again to make sure it's aligned well.
  6. Close up the cabinet, and close the lid. You're all done!

Going from Low to High:

  1. Disengage the back gearing using the lever towards the back of the headstock on the left side.
  2. Open the lid to the headstock, and the small cover on the side of the headstock near the chuck.
  3. Rotate the chuck until you see the locking pin come into view where you lifted the small cover.
  4. Grab the pin, and pull out and up. While doing that, rotate the pulleys until you feel the pin slide up and lock into the pulleys.
  5. Close the lids. You're all done! (Double-check that the chuck rotates with the pulleys as expected. If it is hard to turn, make sure the back gears are disengaged)

Going from High to Low:

  1. Open the lid to the headstock and the small cover on the side of the headstock near the chuck.
  2. Rotate the chuck until you see the locking pin come into view where you lifted the small cover.
  3. Grab the pin and pull it out and down. The chuck and pulleys should now be disengaged from each other.
  4. Engage the back gearing using the lever towards the back of the headstock on the left side.
  5. Close the lids. You're all done!

Aligning the tailstock

Using the powerfeed and gearbox

Using the halfnut and threading dial

General Tips and Safety

  • Do not reach over the headstock when turning on the lathe
  • Make sure work is secured before turning on the lathe
  • Ensure work and headstock will not collide with any part of the machine. Spin the headstock with the power off by hand to check this.
  • Use sharp tools! Dull tools

Stock materials

Important factors (machinability, hardness, material and cutter, maximum sizes)

Cold-rolled steel

Hot-rolled steel


Beginner Projects

Machinist's Hammer - a project by Tim Nummy



Spinning Top

Machinist Jack

Tool bits and accessories

What we have for insert tool holders

Where to buy

Helpful Videos

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Instructor Handbook

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Tool Manuals

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Fireball V90 CNC

Atomic CNC


Gipsy Danger

Laser Cutter


FlashForge Creator Pro

Gipsy Danger

Bridgeport Knee Mill

Southbend Lathe

Safety Quiz: Wood Shop

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