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Indexing plate vs dividing head

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Suzuki4evr

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#1
This might be a dumb question, but can you use an indexing plate to do the job of a dividing head or what is the main difference. I am asking because I do not have either of them nor have I ever used any of these. All the clever people please advise me.
 

tjb

Terry
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#2
Can't help you on this one, but I'm sure interested in the answers. I also have never used either, but there have been times when I wish I had one or the other. Just not sure which. Hopefully, we'll get an education.

Regards,
Terry
 

Bob Korves

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#3
An indexing 'head' (you said plate-?) often called a (super) spacer, divides 360 degrees into common and equal divisions (2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 16, 24 might be common). Those are the only choices you get. It will make those divisions quickly and hold them rigidly. They are often used for production work, but can certainly be used for one off jobs. You will need the masking plates to be able to avoid indexing where you do not want to go.

A dividing head is used mostly for making larger numbers of divisions on things like gears, sprockets, and such, and quite accurately. In general, the setups are not as rigid and take more time to prepare, but there are exceptions. They are fairly slow to set up, but can be relatively quick to change out parts. It is possible to set a dividing head up for just doing one interval, but I would be looking for another way to get there.

Neither of those options is very useful for laying out single odd angles, like 139 degrees. A rotary table does that job much more quickly and easily. Note that there exist rotary tables with included or optional dividing plates, which can do a lot of useful things in a home shop, but are not so great for most production work unless you are clever and make quick change work setups for swapping out parts.
 

Bob Korves

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#4
Another useful tool is the spin indexer, AKA "spindex", which will let you quickly set angles at one degree intervals, and uses 5C collets to hold the work. The import ones are quite inexpensive and will do work accurate enough for most anything that stays in the Earth's atmosphere.

Super spacer with masking plates:
1516132701845.png

Indexing head and tail stock:
1516132806084.png

Rotary table:
1516132955046.png

Rotary table with dividing plates:
1516133039688.png

Spin indexer and tail stock:
1516132865763.png
 

Bob Korves

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Last but not least, the cheapest, quickest, and easiest tooling for quick indexing, collet blocks. They are available for R8 or ER collets, and are used by far the most in my home shop and many others as well:

1516133355133.png

In use:
1516133423070.png
 

Dave Paine

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#6
I have seen the term indexing plate mentioned mostly with wood lathes. Many wood lathes have an integral index feature, but a fixed or limited number of locations. My wood lathe has 24 fixed index locations so 15 deg apart.

If I needed increments of e.g., 20 deg I would need to purchase an index plate like this one, which fits behind the wood lathe chuck.

This item is from Alisam Engineering.

Alisam Engineering Large Indexing Plate

1516134369365.png

A machining You Tube person, Steve Jordan, made a custom back plate with 24 holes and a pin to engage to enable using as index feature.

Steve Jordan index back plate for chuck



I would also need to purchase or make a bracket and pin. The bracket would attach to the wood lathe bed and the pin would mount on the bracket and be used to engage in a hole in the index plate.
 

Suzuki4evr

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#7
Another useful tool is the spin indexer, AKA "spindex", which will let you quickly set angles at one degree intervals, and uses 5C collets to hold the work. The import ones are quite inexpensive and will do work accurate enough for most anything that stays in the Earth's atmosphere.

Super spacer with masking plates:
View attachment 254693

Indexing head and tail stock:
View attachment 254694

Rotary table:
View attachment 254696

Rotary table with dividing plates:
View attachment 254697

Spin indexer and tail stock:
View attachment 254695
Thank you Bob,you gave me alot of new information. These tools does not come cheap though. A lot of times I make plates with equal spaced holes,usually 8 holes,but I want to start making gears and shafts with splines and so on. I want to make a set of gears for my lathe so I can do other tipes of thread. What would you recommend for what I want to do and that is not to costly? Thanks for all the pics

Michael.
 

tjb

Terry
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#8
Thanks for the info, Bob.

I just recently made a round knob for a bracket I had made earlier. I made an arm for the bracket that would swing, and I needed an easy way to lock it down without having to go find a wrench every time I moved it. The knob is about 2" in diameter with a 5/16" threaded hole in the center. I produced a whole lot of aluminum shavings trying to figure out the best way to make it and finally came up with this method:

1. Mounted a piece of 1 1/2" aluminum in my 12" rotary table that had already been centered on my mill. The aluminum stock was a piece of scrap that had sufficient 'wings' which I could use to clamp onto the rotary table.
2. Drilled and tapped the 5/16" center hole.
3. Used a 1/2" course roughing end mill to mill the circle about 1/8" over the final diameter. I milled to about an 1/8" shy of going through the entire 1 1/2" stock.
4. Removed the 'wings' and chucked the part in my lathe using the threaded hole to mount onto a make-shift arbor. The rough section where the 'wings' were removed was toward the BACK of the chuck.
5. Milled a shoulder about 3/4" deep and 7/8" in diameter.
6. Went back to the rotary table and mounted and centered a 3-jaw chuck on it.
7. Mounted the part in a hex collet block with a 7/8" 5C collet; then mounted the whole contraption onto the chuck.
8. Used a finishing end mill to clean up the shoulder.
9. Now comes the fun part: mounted a 1/4" finishing end mill and moved the table in 1/8" from the shoulder.
10. Milled a 'half-hole' every 30 degrees, resulting in a 12-point 'serrated' knob. (I'm sure there's a more technical term for this, but I don't have a clue what that might be.)
11. Took the knob back to the lathe, rounded over the edge and, using the compound slide, milled a slight taper on the face of the knob.
12. Still have some sanding and polishing to do, but it turned out pretty nicely. (See the pix below.)

Now for a question: That was a lot of work!!! The entire time I was making this part, I found myself declaring there has got to be an easier way to do this. How would you go about making such a part? Which, if any, of the tools you described could have eliminated some steps and streamlined the process?

Long winded, I know, but hopefully it's understandable.

Regards,
Terry

IMG_1301.JPG IMG_1302.JPG IMG_1303.JPG
 

Bob Korves

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#9
Thank you Bob,you gave me alot of new information. These tools does not come cheap though. A lot of times I make plates with equal spaced holes,usually 8 holes,but I want to start making gears and shafts with splines and so on. I want to make a set of gears for my lathe so I can do other tipes of thread. What would you recommend for what I want to do and that is not to costly? Thanks for all the pics

Michael.
For what you want to do, a dividing head with centers, chuck, and tail stock would be the correct tooling. There are no easy ways to get there without spending some money. I have seen a few machinists who have made their own dividing heads and indexing plates, but that is a bit over the top. If you can design your gears and splines with divisions only measured in whole degrees, then a spin indexer could do the job. Mine cost under $50 US, and collets would also be needed. You could do without a tail stock or build one.
 

Bob Korves

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#10
Thanks for the info, Bob.

I just recently made a round knob for a bracket I had made earlier. I made an arm for the bracket that would swing, and I needed an easy way to lock it down without having to go find a wrench every time I moved it. The knob is about 2" in diameter with a 5/16" threaded hole in the center. I produced a whole lot of aluminum shavings trying to figure out the best way to make it and finally came up with this method:

1. Mounted a piece of 1 1/2" aluminum in my 12" rotary table that had already been centered on my mill. The aluminum stock was a piece of scrap that had sufficient 'wings' which I could use to clamp onto the rotary table.
2. Drilled and tapped the 5/16" center hole.
3. Used a 1/2" course roughing end mill to mill the circle about 1/8" over the final diameter. I milled to about an 1/8" shy of going through the entire 1 1/2" stock.
4. Removed the 'wings' and chucked the part in my lathe using the threaded hole to mount onto a make-shift arbor. The rough section where the 'wings' were removed was toward the BACK of the chuck.
5. Milled a shoulder about 3/4" deep and 7/8" in diameter.
6. Went back to the rotary table and mounted and centered a 3-jaw chuck on it.
7. Mounted the part in a hex collet block with a 7/8" 5C collet; then mounted the whole contraption onto the chuck.
8. Used a finishing end mill to clean up the shoulder.
9. Now comes the fun part: mounted a 1/4" finishing end mill and moved the table in 1/8" from the shoulder.
10. Milled a 'half-hole' every 30 degrees, resulting in a 12-point 'serrated' knob. (I'm sure there's a more technical term for this, but I don't have a clue what that might be.)
11. Took the knob back to the lathe, rounded over the edge and, using the compound slide, milled a slight taper on the face of the knob.
12. Still have some sanding and polishing to do, but it turned out pretty nicely. (See the pix below.)

Now for a question: That was a lot of work!!! The entire time I was making this part, I found myself declaring there has got to be an easier way to do this. How would you go about making such a part? Which, if any, of the tools you described could have eliminated some steps and streamlined the process?

Long winded, I know, but hopefully it's understandable.

Regards,
Terry

View attachment 254705 View attachment 254706 View attachment 254707
Well, if you could have started from round stock, then the whole thing could have done pretty quickly on the lathe, in one setup, other than the notches in the O.D. Then the notches could have been done easily in a chuck mounted on the rotary table, or in a spindex.
 

tjb

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#11
Well, if you could have started from round stock, then the whole thing could have done pretty quickly on the lathe, in one setup, other than the notches in the O.D. Then the notches could have been done easily in a chuck mounted on the rotary table, or in a spindex.
Yes, I wish I could have started with round stock, but I didn't have anything big enough. In retrospect, it might have been more time-efficient to have driven the 60 miles to MacMaster-Carr and bought a piece of round stock.

I bought my rotary table from a guy I met recently. It is very accurate, and I've used it on several occasions with good results. What I'd like an education on is given the material I was using, is there a more efficient way to accomplish what I did? What tool (if any) that you listed could have streamlined THAT process? Other than the rotary table and the collet block, I've never used any of those, so they're a mystery to me.

Any wise counsel would be much appreciated.

Regards,
Terry
 

tjb

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#12
Well, if you could have started from round stock, then the whole thing could have done pretty quickly on the lathe, in one setup, other than the notches in the O.D. Then the notches could have been done easily in a chuck mounted on the rotary table, or in a spindex.
Quick follow up to my just-posted reply:
If you had to make this part in your shop with the same material I used but with your tooling, how would you have done it?

Regards,
Terry
 

Bob Korves

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#13
Quick follow up to my just-posted reply:
If you had to make this part in your shop with the same material I used but with your tooling, how would you have done it?

Regards,
Terry
I really do not know what I would have done differently besides starting with more suitable stock in the beginning. I would not have driven the 60 miles, but would have waited for it to be delivered.
 

tjb

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#14
I really do not know what I would have done differently besides starting with more suitable stock in the beginning. I would not have driven the 60 miles, but would have waited for it to be delivered.
Actually, that would be 120 miles. It's 60 one way. It sounds like my most fundamental 'rookie error' was trying to think of a nifty way to use a piece of scrap without throwing it out. I must disagree with you in one respect, however: I can think of a distinct advantage to the round trip drive. It would have significantly eliminated the state of agitation I contracted from plowing through this project. Now that it's over, I'm glad I did it, but no way will I do it that way again. Live and learn.

Thanks for reviewing my approach. It was helpful.

Regards,
Terry
 

Bob Korves

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Actually, that would be 120 miles. It's 60 one way. It sounds like my most fundamental 'rookie error' was trying to think of a nifty way to use a piece of scrap without throwing it out. I must disagree with you in one respect, however: I can think of a distinct advantage to the round trip drive. It would have significantly eliminated the state of agitation I contracted from plowing through this project. Now that it's over, I'm glad I did it, but no way will I do it that way again. Live and learn.

Thanks for reviewing my approach. It was helpful.

Regards,
Terry
I guess what i meant to say is that I would have simply waited until I got more suitable stock. It did not sound like you were in a huge rush to get this project done because it was holding something else up where you needed it. I would never throw away a piece of leftover material bigger than chips...
 

tjb

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#16
I guess what i meant to say is that I would have simply waited until I got more suitable stock. It did not sound like you were in a huge rush to get this project done because it was holding something else up where you needed it. I would never throw away a piece of leftover material bigger than chips...
Yeah, but see, you're a seasoned machinist. I'm like a kid with a new toy!

Regards

P.S.: What do you have against chips?
 

Bob Korves

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#17
Yeah, but see, you're a seasoned machinist. I'm like a kid with a new toy!
I have way less hands on experience than you might guess, but I have been around this kind of work a lot for a long time and I am also a voracious reader with a good but worsening memory...
 

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#18
Always beneficial to take a road trip, especially unplanned. Mike
 

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#20
I have numerous methods for dividing a circle into a specified number of divisions. My first still gets used from time to time. You can find it here:
https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/quick-and-dirty-dividing-head.3075/

I used a 36-tooth sprocket, with a clamp system that lets me move it in 5 degree increments. Changing the sprocket would allow different spacings.
 

tjb

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#21
I have numerous methods for dividing a circle into a specified number of divisions. My first still gets used from time to time. You can find it here:
https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/quick-and-dirty-dividing-head.3075/

I used a 36-tooth sprocket, with a clamp system that lets me move it in 5 degree increments. Changing the sprocket would allow different spacings.
That's a nice setup, Mike. You say in you post you have 'numerous methods'. Anything else posted?
Also, I'm curious about why it's on a tilt table. I suspect a unique application. Can you share what you made with that setup?

Thanks for resurrecting that post. Very helpful.

Regards,
Terry
 

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#22
I recently built a couple of gyroscopes and used my center drill on my lathe and my indexing wheel to do it.
Thread on the center drill (I call it that cause it is usually used for a cross hole and it drills on center with no set up, it can drill off center by using a different shim) https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/center-drill-for-lathe.10466/#post-272736
For the gyroscope wheel it is turned parallel to the spindle and the cross slide used to set it off center and then the index wheel used for hole spacing. A link to the thread on the index wheel for my spindle is in the center drill thread but I can't get it to work.
 

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#23
I added the tilt table because milling flats or drilling holes can be done either vertically or horizontally, as well as at various angles.

My other methods are the usual suspects - collet blocks, spindexer, shop-made and factory-built rotary tables. The shop-built RT can be used vertically or horizontally. The factory one can be adjusted to any angle .
 
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#24
This might be a dumb question, but can you use an indexing plate to do the job of a dividing head or what is the main difference. I am asking because I do not have either of them nor have I ever used any of these. All the clever people please advise me.
I'm one of those machinists that made their own dividing head from scratch. It was cheap but took a lot of hours. I tend to think the best thing for you might be to buy a rotary table with the dividing plates setup. Then you would have two useful pieces of equipment. A rotary table and a dividing head.
 

Suzuki4evr

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#25
I'm one of those machinists that made their own dividing head from scratch. It was cheap but took a lot of hours. I tend to think the best thing for you might be to buy a rotary table with the dividing plates setup. Then you would have two useful pieces of equipment. A rotary table and a dividing head.
Hi Mark glad to hear from you.I was thinking of that after all Bob's suggestions,but these are very expensive round here. I would pay around R6 000 for that,converted to $ it amounts to about $480. And that is alot money to me to just dish out. I will start saving. Don't know how long it will take,but that is how it is. I like you dividing head plan, but time is an issue, because of my work load. As you know I work from home for my bread and butter. But I will figure it out somehow. Thanks. How is you injuries healing?
 

Aaron_W

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#26
Last but not least, the cheapest, quickest, and easiest tooling for quick indexing, collet blocks. They are available for R8 or ER collets, and are used by far the most in my home shop and many others as well:

View attachment 254698

In use:
View attachment 254699

Hi Bob, could you elaborate a bit on how these work. It looks like you just stick your part in and turn the collet in the vise recreating the shape of the collet on the part, If that is basically all there is too it, how much adjustment do you get, like one collet for 3/8, one for 1/2" etc or is there some room for adjustment. Only round stock?

First time seeing these and already giving me some ideas.
 
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Hi Mark glad to hear from you.I was thinking of that after all Bob's suggestions,but these are very expensive round here. I would pay around R6 000 for that,converted to $ it amounts to about $480. And that is alot money to me to just dish out. I will start saving. Don't know how long it will take,but that is how it is. I like you dividing head plan, but time is an issue, because of my work load. As you know I work from home for my bread and butter. But I will figure it out somehow. Thanks. How is you injuries healing?
Thanks for asking. I am doing better and will be back in the shop in a few days. I wish you were closer. I have an extra dividing head I would give you but don't know how I can get it to you. I'm afraid the shipping might be expensive but I dont know. PM me if you are interested.
 

Suzuki4evr

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#28
Thanks for asking. I am doing better and will be back in the shop in a few days. I wish you were closer. I have an extra dividing head I would give you but don't know how I can get it to you. I'm afraid the shipping might be expensive but I dont know. PM me if you are interested.
Defanitly interested. How much would you want for it. I just do know how to go about it and never done this before. I am asking a stupid question now,I know I am going to kick myself but what does PM mean:eek::D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
 

Dave Paine

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#29
PM means Private Message. Click on "Inbox" then "Start Conversation" then select the member name.

International shipping from the US is expensive. I do not know how the rates are determined, but it is the same expensive rate whether shipping to Canada, China, or South Africa, etc.

Select a country, then follow the prompts to get an estimate of the shipping costs.

USPS postage calculator

USPS has some flat rate boxes. If you are lucky a flat rate box may be less expensive than your own box.

I recently looked at sending a small quilting item to the UK. Item costs about $6. It only weighs a couple of ounces. Cost to ship to the US was something like $15 so it is still sitting here at the moment.
 

Bob Korves

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Hi Bob, could you elaborate a bit on how these work. It looks like you just stick your part in and turn the collet in the vise recreating the shape of the collet on the part, If that is basically all there is too it, how much adjustment do you get, like one collet for 3/8, one for 1/2" etc or is there some room for adjustment. Only round stock?

First time seeing these and already giving me some ideas.
You got it Aaron. It recreates the geometry of the collet block on the part. There are all kinds of 5C collets. Beyond round fractional inch sizes in 64ths increments, there are also metric, square, hex, emergency (machinable), and expansion collets. I have probably forgotten some styles, but you get the idea, you are only restrained by your imagination. ER collet blocks are also available, which cover the in between sizes. So there is a way to to fit the work in the block if you want to. Still, the blocks are usually chosen because they are quick and easy. If the setup gets much beyond that, then it pays to think about the trade offs of using other tooling. I should mention that when using the hex block, the flat sides of the block should be against the vise jaws and the sharp corners vertical for holding the block firmly.. It is easy to miss that while indexing, so double check each time or you will get a twelfth division increment at the wrong height. I almost did that once. Work that is larger than the collet size can also be machined if it has a shank to fit the collet. Oversize work should probably be easier to machine material, like aluminum or plastic, or it might slip with torque applied. For lengthwise repeatability, a vise stop can be used. I usually just use a pocket ruler as a stop across the ends of the jaws and slide the block up to it. Cheap, quick, and useful tooling, easy to use...
 
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