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Precision Level??

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Kroll

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Guys in my quest to get my 11" setup the best it can be I guess cost money.Which having one I can use it for other things that I need something to be spot on.So my goal is to get the lathe level,align the head stock then the tail stock.So first thing is finding a level that does not cost a weeks pay,so went shopping on ebay and there is some no name brands that runs around 90.00 which claims to be within .0002. Yea I would love to have one of those 600.00 levels but I don't think the price on those is going to drop.Guys looking for suggestions and links or pics to what you use without taking out bank loan.:)
 

ttabbal

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I used one of the Chinese levels to dial in my lathe. It worked fine for that. I got it close with the level, then used the 2 collar test to dial it in the rest of the way. If you are just leveling, you can do it with just the 2 collar. The precision level helps speed things up, but if you are looking to save a few bucks it can be skipped.

Do you have any reason to think that the headstock is out? I'd leave it alone unless you have a good reason. Tailstock you have to adjust a little when setting up if you need more than a couple thou. At least I seem to.
 

Kroll

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Thanks,yea I had to take lathe apart because it was really train wreck.Which I will never buy lathe thinking "I can fix that" type mine set
 
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ttabbal

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Ah, yeah, that will make the headstock need alignment. :)
 

benmychree

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A precision level with .0005 P.F. calibration is close enough for nearly any purpose, having one more sensitive than that is a PITA in terms of waiting for the bubble to settle down. One possibility is to get a Starrett level with .005 vial and replace the vial with the more sensitive one, and scraping the base (machined) to a more refined flatness.
 

Shootymacshootface

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Just buy a good quality level from the hardware store. You will double check your adjustments by taking test cuts anyway.
 

vocatexas

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Keep an eye on Craig's list. I found a Starrett level in the Victoria listings a few months ago for $40. They show up fairly regularly in the Houston and Victoria listings under 'machinists tools'.
 

richl

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A good carpenters level will go for around 40.00, this machinist level from grizzly ( chines) goes for around 90.00 https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-Master-Machinist-s-Level-8-x-0005-Per-10-/H2682
Those battery levels are around the 35.00 area.
I have each of the above ( my carpenters level is close the the machinist level cost)
Pick your poision. I use the digital finder alot more than the other 2, but I always use the machinist level on my machines
 

mikey

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Kroll, go buy one of those $90.00 machinist levels on ebay or Amazon. They are typically in the range of 0.0005"/ft or something like that. Good enough for getting you pretty close to level since you will final tune your level with a 2-collar test anyway.

Lathes move over time and you need to check the level periodically. Just bite the bullet and buy one.
 

Asbestos

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You can test the level to see if it is out more than they say. just get a reading flip it 180 and see if the reading is the same as the first. I cheat and use masking tape to mark the edge of the bubble. (I have a strong suspicion that everyone knows this trick so accept my apologies )
The best solution I have is to find someone to borrow one from.
 

richl

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Watch "Starrett 98 Series level calibration procedure" on YouTube
A good video on adjusting a precision level.
 

stupoty

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You can test the level to see if it is out more than they say. just get a reading flip it 180 and see if the reading is the same as the first. I cheat and use masking tape to mark the edge of the bubble. (I have a strong suspicion that everyone knows this trick so accept my apologies )
The best solution I have is to find someone to borrow one from.
It's one of them things that is obvious once you have been told :) all them small tips can help out people.

Stu
 

mikey

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Watch "Starrett 98 Series level calibration procedure" on YouTube
A good video on adjusting a precision level.
This video is okay but it is misleading in that the surface you are leveling on must also be level or you will end up chasing your tail trying to get it right. The proper way to calibrate a precision level is to use an adjustable surface. It doesn't have to be a surface plate but it should be flat and have three adjustable feet. You should also have a mechanical means of returning the level to exact same spot when you flip it 180 degrees.

A piece of plywood (3/4" thick Melamine ply works well) with three screws on the border 120 degrees apart is good. You can use threaded inserts of some kind and use screws for adjustment. A small framing square or even three nails is fine to assure the level is referenced to the exact same spot. Then follow the procedure in the attached document.

My personal level is sensitive to 0.02mm/M, or just under 0.0003"/foot. This is sensitive enough to require 20-30 seconds for the bubble to settle. Without the adjustable table it can take hours to calibrate this thing properly. Using the table, it takes minutes.
 

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stupoty

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This video is okay but it is misleading in that the surface you are leveling on must also be level or you will end up chasing your tail trying to get it right. The proper way to calibrate a precision level is to use an adjustable surface. It doesn't have to be a surface plate but it should be flat and have three adjustable feet. You should also have a mechanical means of returning the level to exact same spot when you flip it 180 degrees.

A piece of plywood (3/4" thick Melamine ply works well) with three screws on the border 120 degrees apart is good. You can use threaded inserts of some kind and use screws for adjustment. A small framing square or even three nails is fine to assure the level is referenced to the exact same spot. Then follow the procedure in the attached document.

My personal level is sensitive to 0.02mm/M, or just under 0.0003"/foot. This is sensitive enough to require 20-30 seconds for the bubble to settle. Without the adjustable table it can take hours to calibrate this thing properly. Using the table, it takes minutes.

He doesn't explain the fact that in one direction on an uneven surface their will be a totaly level surface (I don't think I did either ;) )

Thats why I like the liptons video on it. at 6 mins in he explains the flat plane thingy.


Stu
 

mikey

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Yeah, I know that there is a line that is level somewhere on a plane but when you try to calibrate a precision level that is extremely sensitive it can take a very long time to find it and then adjust the level. I don't know this for a fact but I would guess that calibration services that certify precision levels use a leveling table for the speed and accuracy it confers. Having used a leveling table for about 10 years now, I would not want to do without it.
 

stupoty

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Yeah, I know that there is a line that is level somewhere on a plane but when you try to calibrate a precision level that is extremely sensitive it can take a very long time to find it and then adjust the level. I don't know this for a fact but I would guess that calibration services that certify precision levels use a leveling table for the speed and accuracy it confers. Having used a leveling table for about 10 years now, I would not want to do without it.

I think your totally correct that a calibration lab would use some sort of calibrated flat surface or other equipment. Just thought tom explained the method for calibration without any specialised equipment better.

Stu
 

mikey

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You're right, Stu, Tom did a great job. I am just pointing out that there is a simple way to make the job faster and easier for those of us who use very sensitive levels. I did it Tom's way for years. I just choose not to do that any more.
 

BenW

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I ended up taking a slightly different approach compared to others here. About a year or so ago I was not ready to level my lathe, but I was browsing ebay or something and found what was advertised as a precision spirit level vial (only the vial) for like 7$ and figured it was worth a try. I believe it was supposed to be 2 or 4 arcseconds per division.
I had removed the headstock for cleaning which in hindsight was not very necessary, but I figured I wanted to learn how to align it anyways. Now that I've got the lathe on a sturdy base and reassembled I used the vial to take out bed twist as best I could . I have absolutely no way of verifying it's accuracy but I'd say It's pretty darn sensitive. The lathe stand is bolted to a concrete floor and the difference in reading when I stood next to the lathe as opposed to a metre away was about one division.
The original plan was to make some sort of quick holder for the vial but I ended up setting it on a vise on top of the crossslide. I then used feeler-gages under one end of the vise to zero the vial and the weight kept the setup sturdy. I proceeded to move the carriage back and forth to read the two ends of the bed, making sure to let the bubble settle, always stand in the same spot, and take multiple readings to make sure the values repeat properly.
With the bed level I then used rollie's dad's method to align the headstock.
This setup is obviously not as convenient and probably not as accurate as a real level, but for 7$ I think it worked very well. The actual accuracy of the vial doesn't really matter since I only cared about the readings being the same from end to end.

Sent from my LYA-L29 using Tapatalk
 

RJSakowski

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I ended up taking a slightly different approach compared to others here. About a year or so ago I was not ready to level my lathe, but I was browsing ebay or something and found what was advertised as a precision spirit level vial (only the vial) for like 7$ and figured it was worth a try. I believe it was supposed to be 2 or 4 arcseconds per division.
I had removed the headstock for cleaning which in hindsight was not very necessary, but I figured I wanted to learn how to align it anyways. Now that I've got the lathe on a sturdy base and reassembled I used the vial to take out bed twist as best I could . I have absolutely no way of verifying it's accuracy but I'd say It's pretty darn sensitive. The lathe stand is bolted to a concrete floor and the difference in reading when I stood next to the lathe as opposed to a metre away was about one division.
It is fairly easy to determine the sensitivity of your level vial. Fix it to a beam and adjust the beam for a level reading. Now place a shim under one end of the beam so that you shift the bubble by one division and using care not to disturb the position of the beam. The sensitivity of the level vial is the thickness of the shim divided by the length of the beam.

A 4 arc-sec./div vial would would have a sensitivity of .00023"/ft and a .0007" shim would move the bubble by one division with a 3 ft. beam..
 

RJSakowski

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For comparison's sake,

A Starrett 199 master precision level has a sensitivity of .0005"/ft./division or approximately 10 sec./div
A Starrett 98 series level has a sensitivity of .005"/ft./div. or approximately 86 sec./div.
A Starrett 132 series precision bench level has a sensitivity of .080"/ft./div. or 19 min./div.
A typical carpenter's/mason's level has a sensitivity of approximately 1/8"/ft./div. for an 1/8" bubble movement similar movement to the sensitive levels above) or 36 min./ div.
The digital levels like the iGaging Angle Cube read to .05º but the literature states a repeatability of .1º and an accuracy of +/- .2º. Based on my experience with my Angle Cube, I would have to put the repeatability at more like .5º or 30 minutes.
Another option which has been used is a plumb bob. Assuming a length of 3 ft. and the ability to locate the end of the bob to within 1/16" of an inch, this would give a readability of 6 minutes.

Note that the sensitivity specifcations are for a bubble movement of one division or about 1/8". A movement of 1/4th that is easily detectable.
 

Kroll

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Guys I went cheap on ya'll but others also like this level along with the price.I would have loved to have a Starrett but wife and I want to eat this month so I just could not do both.I believe this level will do just fine and as you can see it was well pack.So off to watch more Youtubes and set it on lathe to see how bad its out.Thanks guys for all the replys and all the suggestions.Level.jpgL2.jpg
 

WarrenP

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Looks like the same one I have from Grizzly. It's not bad... I think getting it calibrating is a bit strange. Seems like it changes calibration sometimes, unless its me but the starrett I have seems easier to calibrate.
 
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