Which mandrel fits my lathe?

This is a question that is commonly asked, that on the surface looks pretty confusing... but in reality its as simple as matching up the mounting style to that of the lathe.

There are so many different lathes out there, and it's impossible to keep up to date with what each lathe is equipped with.  But fortunately its pretty easy to figure out what you have.  And once you have decided on what style of mandrel you want and know the mounting specs of your lathe, all thats left to do is decide.  Yeah, we know... easier said than done.

For some info on choosing which operational style of mandrel might be best for you, check out our article "Choosing a Mandrel".

There are two ways to mount the mandrels we carry to a standard wood lathe.  1.) Using the Morse Taper socket inside the spindle with a draw bar, and 2.) Using a Collet Chuck in conjunction with a straight shanked mandrel which attaches to your lathe via the threads on the outside diameter of your spindle.

All Straight Shank Mandrels (listed as "Straight Shanks" and may have "-SS" in the part number) require a Collet Chuck and a collet that is the same size as the shank of the mandrel.  If the mandrel has a Morse Taper shank, it will be specified in the description (-1MT, -2MT etc...) and can NOT be used with a Collet Chuck.  These shanks are mutually exclusive - you can not mount a straight shank in a MT socket and you can not mount a MT shank in a collet chuck.

The first place you should look for spindle specifications is your Owners Manual.  It should tell you.  If you dont have a manual, spend some time on google with your lathe's model number, and you should be able to come up with something.  If neither yeild any results, you may have to settle in with a caliper, micrometer, bore guage and or thread gauge and start measuring what you have to be able to identify it.  If you don't have that kind of equipment available it may pay off to make a visit to the various call making forums out there and see if anyone has familiarity with your specific lathe.  The two most popular forums that we are aware of are the THO Call making forum and Customcalls.com forum and of course the variety of Facebook pages.

If you intend to use the Morse Taper socket in your lathe's spindle, the following link should help you identify the socket by measurements.  But remember, if it is an odd-ball lathe... it could be another style of taper or even a straight socket, so be sure to measure carefully.  A list of the dimensions for Morse Tapers can be found HERE.

If you plan on using a collet chuck (what we consider to be the most versatile way to go, and generally in the long run, it is the cheaper way to go) you will need to identify the threads on the outside of your spindle.  Most lathes with a Morse Taper socket also have a threaded OD as well for mounting items such as a face plate.  Generally speaking, if a spindle has a #2 Morse Taper, it will have a 1" - 8tpi threaded OD.  If you have a lathe with a #1 Morse Taper, there are a few different threads that have come out on those.  We have seen #1 MT spindles with 1" - 8tpi, 3/4" - 10tpi, and 3/4" - 16tpi.  The most common seems to be 3/4" - 16tpi - but you need to check to be sure!  If you dont have a caliper for measuring the OD and thread count (hint TPI = threads per inch) you can also get and estimate based on the best means you have, and go to the hardware store, and pick up a hex nut in all the thread sizes close to your measurements and check which thread you have that way.

Once you know the specs... its a piece of cake from there...  If youre lathe has a #2MT and 1" - 8tpi threads, you would need either a #2MT shank mandrel OR you would need a 1" - 8tpi threaded collet chuck.  If you have a #1MT and 3/4"-16tpi spindle, you would need a #1MT shanked mandrel or a 3/4"-16tpi collet chuck.

If you are going with a collet chuck, all of our mandrels come with a 5/8" shank, so for our mandrels, you will only need the 5/8" collet, but having the range of collets that come with the Collet Chuck Kit can sure come in handy...  say for example if you want to make a cheap version of a 1/4" blind mandrel (tip: there is a tutorial on this on the THO fourm).  But ultimately, choosing which is the best way to go is only something you can decide.  Just like the most common mandrel choice is an expanding mandrel... those that later get a collet chuck after not having had one, often wish they had gotten one sooner.


Happy turning!

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