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Using PVC Pipe as a Stop for Facing Operations

by Dave Arens

Not long ago, I had a large number of narrow, tubular parts I needed to face. It was important that the face was perpendicular to the axis of the part. Unfortunately, the parts were too narrow to allow the face of the chuck to be used as the back stop to ensure a perpendicular face. Another problem I had was the diameter of the parts varied a little.

My solution to this problem was to take a piece of schedule 40 PVC pipe that measured a little larger in diameter than the part and face it off so it could be clamped in the chuck and used as a backstop.

To allow for the difference in diameter between the PVC and the part, I cut a section out of the pipe about 1/2” wide for the entire length of the PVC. This slot allowed the PVC to be collapsed by the chuck without breaking. When the chuck was opened to place a new part to be faced in, the PVC expanded to the diameter of the chuck opening, yet was still firmly held in place by the chuck. Each of the parts that needed to be faced could now be placed in the chuck against the PVC stop, ensuring a perpendicular face. The width of the section removed from the PVC could be varied, but 1/2” was sufficient for the job at hand.

Since finding this technique worked, I’ve used it several times on different sized parts. If you don’t have some old pipe lying around, the cost of the PVC is insignificant and it comes in many sizes.

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