Lathe indexing & Spindle Lock


Active User
Jan 22, 2014
I originally planned on mounting the football in the rotary table and tail stock on the mill table to make the seams in the football with my ball cutter, but I've since changed my plans. I decided that it would be much easier and a more accurate set up to use the lathe but the problem was I didn't have any way to index the part. I checked out my lathe spindle and it looked like it would be a fairly easy mod to make a degree wheel for the lathe and drill the divisions in the mill on my rotary table. I would make a pawl or pin device to secure the index wheel and mount it on the lathe. I sized and downloaded a degree wheel that I found online to apply to the disk for reference. I laid out a piece of .065” 5052 aluminum sheet metal and was ready to cut it out.


The following day I was researching the topic of indexing on lathes and found that they were more popular during the wars for making gears and things and that’s why a lot of older machinery came with it. Also, they quit making the newer machines with a means to index because of the popularity of rotary tables and mills. I then found a web post where someone commented about a possible easy way to do it if your lathe has an external bull gear (spindle), which my Grizzly G0602 has. If the gear has an amount of teeth that is divisible by 360* (mine has 40T.) and can provide the degrees that you need (I need 90*’s) then all you have to do is make a pawl to engage it. WOW, great idea!

So I found a couple of existing holes for the backing plate, made a cardboard template and cut a rough pawl out of a piece of ½” aluminum on my band saw. I cleaned it up in the mill, drilled a bolt hole and milled a slotted hole for adjustment. I stamped my spindle gear spacer with some identifying marks and voila, it’s done!

Not only does this provide me with 8 popular angle divisions that I needed, but it is also doubles as a spindle lock for changing the chuck and tapping.

40T/360* = 9* increments for every 5T
Possible combinations: 45, 90, 135, 180, 225, 270, 315, 0/360.

I may still make the degree wheel for more combinations in the future but for now, this will serve my purpose.

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Feb 7, 2013
Thank you for a great idea. I have a Bolton lathe that has the same gear count that this would work great on. A+


Rest In Peace
Sep 24, 2010
Slicker than glass!!! Great idea to work with what ya got too. Keep us posted on your progress so some of the other can duplicate it too.

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