Important update about metal lathes

Hi. The below email was recently sent to all lathe users and is posted here for people’s info.

Dear lathe user,

We have some important updates about the metal lathes in the space. Since we started the current training programme last summer, there have been some changes to the machine and the guidance we give to users, so please read the following carefully.

1. Do not attempt to adjust the lathe! 🚫

Over the past few weeks, the metal team has had to re-adjust the Myford lathe several times to make it both accurate and safe. It appears that somebody has been making adjustments without permission. This has happened despite repeated requests via Telegram to stop.

For the final time, we are asking you not to make any adjustments to the Myford lathe.

👍 The following is OK:

  • Changing tooling in the toolpost and tailstock
  • Changing chucks and other workholding methods
  • Lubricating the machine as appropriate
  • Changing lathe speed via the belt

👎 The following is not OK:

  • Adjusting any grub screw on the lathe, especially those related to sliding parts
  • Adjusting the lathe’s feet in any way
  • Loosening any moving part so that is slides more easily
  • Dismantling any part of the lathe

The team is having to spend way too much time correcting people’s mistakes.

As always, if you have any questions please reach out to us on Telegram. We have seen some fantastic work done on the Myford in the past 12 months – especially from novice users. It would be a shame if we had to place restrictions on the machine.

2. New lubricators 💦

We now have lever-operated lubricators instead of the older type with twisting knobs. When the lever is flat, they’re off. When it’s pointing up, they’re on. Think of it like a soldier standing to attention to turn it on. When the soldier is lying down, it’s off duty.


💥 We remind you that these lubricators MUST BE TURNED ON before use and tuned off once you’re finished.

3. Simpler lubrication schedule 📆

It is now easier to lubricate the lathe. Apply one “pump” of H32 oil to each lubrication spot using the silver gun. The lubrication spots all have a red cap on them. Then apply a small amount of slideway oil from the green can to the main bedways, the cross slide, and the top slide as you have been shown. This is all included on a new poster above the lathe.

4. Belt tension 🔩

We have fitted a new red spindle belt. When you have finished with the lathe, please push the lever away from you to slacken the belt so it does not stretch over time.

5. New signage 📝

All the critical points in this email have been included in new signage around the lathe. This is hopefully more concise and clear than the previous material. There should be no excuse for poor practice, since the most crucial information is written in front of you!

6. Padlock 🔒

We have fitted locks to some of the more high-risk tools in the space, including the lathes. You will find the code on the tool page. Do not share this code with anyone – we will change it periodically. Please do not forget to replace the lock after using the machine.

7. New wrench for changing chucks 🔧

Jim has 3D-printed a really useful wrench for holding onto the gears when changing the chuck. This means you no longer have to engage the back gear when doing so. This video (full credit to Epoch Custom for the design and video) gives a great overview of how it works.

As always, please fire any questions our way on Telegram. That’s the quickest way to get a response. The forum is also great, but runs at a slower pace.

Happy (and safe) making!

The Metalwork Team

On behalf of

Manchester Hackspace

Manchester Hackspace is a not for profit community run maker space on the edge of Ancoats, Central Manchester. Anyone is welcome to become a member and make use of the space and its wide variety of tools.

Woodwork. Metalwork. Arts. Crafts. 3D Printing. Laser Cutting. Electronics.

Wellington House, Pollard St E, Manchester M40 7FS


Under section 1 can we add it is okay to change gears or has this been ruled out under the loosen/dismantle lines?


Great question – changing gears is OK for screwcutting, etc, as long as users follow the manual exactly. It’s a more advanced operation, so we don’t cover it in training.

As long as people act methodically, it shouldn’t be an issue.

1 Like

Agreed, fine feed and screw cutting is a little more advanced, but a worthwhile learning excercise as your skills progress.

It’s about common sense really, gears, chucks, tools, etc, would be changed almost hourly in a busy machine shop, but, things like the adjustment points would barely get moved at all in 3 months, if not longer, unless something had gone horribly wrong.

That’s all we’re asking for with this, if it doesn’t seem right, speak up, it’s so much easier to fix things if it can be narrowed down to a particular fault, less is more, rather than having to spend hours checking everything to set them all back where they need to be.

The Myford has a few “quirks” that aren’t common with bigger lathes, the tool needs to be set slightly above dead centre when cutting harder materials as it twists downwards, to some extent by a considerable margin.
The gears shouldn’t be set tight against one another either, feed one or two strips of blue paper towel roll between the gears when clamping together, remove, then load with moly grease.

There’s loads more, happy to walk people through, if I can get more time available to teach folk, and less fixing errors introduced by incorrect maintenance.