Leveling the lathe: How important it is to level my lathe?
Leveling the lathe is an absolutely necessary procedure no matter what type of lathe you own. Even with the most accurate and well-made machines you will not be able to produce accurate work if it’s not properly leveled. The weight of the lathe or the force from the bolts that we use to secure the lathe will cause the bed to be twisted, throwing the headstock and tailstock out of alignment due to the uneven surface of the floor or the bench.
How to level my lathe
A precision level is a tool that will make your life a lot easier but it’s not absolutely necessary for the job. By leveling the lathe approximately with a good quality level and by taking some cuts on a bar of steel and making some measurements with the micrometer we can determine on which side our bed is seating low or high and we can correct any leveling issues.
This is a trial and error method and probable it will take some time to build a clear sense of what is actually happening, especially if you are a newbie. So if you can afford a precision level is the best way to go and if you think that this is too much of an expense for just leveling the lathe once, think again. A lot of factors can throw the lathe out of level and this is especially true for the bench lathes. Lathe leveling must be checked periodically and readjustments must be made if necessary.
The Lathe Bench
The lathe bench must be substantially constructed as possible. If you use wood for the bench top, choose the thicker and harder wood is possible. I’m using four adjustable think metal legs on my bench. Two of those are seating exactly under the lathe legs to prevent the wood from bending under the lathe weight over the time. My bench top is mounted on the wall also. Bolt the bench legs to the floor if possible. Level your bench before place the lathe on it.