Is a tailstock necessary when using a CNC lathe to machine a workpiece? The answer depends on the length of the piece. You can get by machining short-length pieces without a tailstock. However, a tailstock is vital to the CNC machining process to ensure accurately machining long, slender pieces — such as a rifle barrel […]
Tailstocks are used to secure and support the free end of a workpiece while it is being machined. Tailstocks are a necessity when machining long, slender pieces, but they’re also useful for shorter length pieces as well. How do you know if you need one? Most manufacturers recommend a tailstock if the piece you are working on exceeds a 3:1 length-to-diameter ratio. The higher this ratio, the higher the risk of flaws in the finished piece.
In addition to being used to hold a workpiece in place, tailstocks are also used to drill out the centers of workpieces. A cutting tool, like a drill, tapper, or reamer, contained within the tailstock is used to create a hole of precise depth, shape, and diameter. However, unlike drilling holes with a drill press or milling machine, the cutting tool within the tailstock remains stationary while the workpiece is rotated.
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