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Some Help for Positioning the Cross Slide

by Don Wiederhold


If you don’t have a digital readout on your lathe, it is easy to go too far when moving the cross slide by reference to the dial only. Here is a little tip for avoiding overshoots when making a recessed facing cut.

First, I bore the recess in the normal manner, but leave .010” on the depth. Once I reach the diameter of the bore I want, I zero the cross feed dial. I then place a magnet up tight against the cross slide (Photo 1).

Next, I move the cross slide back to the center of the part and position the tool to the finished depth. Now the recess can be faced (Photo 2), and by watching the magnet you can easily see when you are approaching your zero on the dial. When close, slow down and pay attention to the dial. Once at zero, stop the machine and then back the tool off your machined surfaces.

No, the magnet won’t stop the cross slide from being fed past the stopping point, but it does give a clear visual indication of when you are approaching the end position and eliminates the need to count turns of the dial. It’s a lot easier than setting a hard-stop for every cut and I find that it is all I need to eliminate overruns.


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