Last Updated on September 21, 2021 by Charles Wilson
You’re probably here because you’re thinking about upgrading your current one to a good quality quick-change tool post (QCTP) on the market. But you may not know which is the best one and the right size for your lathe.
Although the specifications that the manufacturer give iron ranges and it’s seemingly an easy decision to make based on the information they gave you.
For example, the manufacturer will spec that an AXA sized tool post will fit a lathe with a swing from 6” to 12”. A BXA tool post will fit a lathe with a swing of 10” to 15”.
This article will also address a couple of key measurements that you can then use to compare to the tool post you’re going to purchase. We can then determine whether or not it will fit the lathe, okay?
Disclaimer: As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases. This means no extra cost to you. I will only promote products that give the best values.
Understanding Tool Post, Tool Holder & Cutting Tools
So, let’s just try to clear some things up before we continue on.
A quick change tool post does not cut anything by itself. You need to put a tool holder in there or a carbide insert tool holder in there or some other types of cutting tool into that and then mount that on.
In order to make your quick change tool post effective and to be able to change things quickly, you need a lot of quick-change tool holders. These quick-change tool holders are what is actually going to hold your variety of tooling such as the carbide insert tool holders your parting tools your braised carbide tooling.
Whatever you end up purchasing, you’re going to mount these tooling into your quick change tool holder, so you can quickly swap them on and off of your quick change tool post.
This quick change tool post comes in a variety of different sizes like- OXA, AXA, BXA, CXA. You’re going to want to make sure that that is sized appropriately for your lathe.
Hopefully, that clears it all up. The three of these pieces go together like a jigsaw puzzle and you need all of them in there to make it work.
Once you have selected a tool post size, you need to make sure that all of the tool holders you purchase match.
So, if you have a CXA tool post, you can only purchase CXA sized quick-change tool holders. That’s the dovetail size and everything else that’s going to fit.
After that, a lot of this tooling comes in what’s called BXA or CXA sizing (I’m talking about the size of the shank). But really all you need to make sure of is any tooling that you buy is going to fit in the T-slot that you have in your quick change tool holders.
So if I have a three quarter inch slot in there, I can use any tooling that is three-quarters of an inch or less. I can even purchase a quick change tool holder that can come up to a one-inch slot if I wanted to buy an oversized tool to put in there.
Wedge vs Piston QCTP: What are the types and styles?
There are two types of tool posts you might see. One is called Wedge and the other one is called Piston.
The wedge type does hold the tool holder better and is worth the extra money. Piston does work okay but there are times when under heavy load you will see the holder bend down especially if the tool point of contact is below the centre of the piston.
Unless you are doing heavy work, there isn’t much difference between them, especially for the home machinist. And even for heavy work you usually hogging material to the finished size. The quality of the QC build is probably more important than the locking mechanism.
Wedge type tool post has a better grip on tool holder than the Piston types tool post.
However, Piston type tool posts are fairly low cost than the Wedge type. It’s a kind of “get what you paid for” tool.
If you are operating less heavy-duty works, so you have a great option to spend just what you need. The Piston type will serve you great at a relatively cheaper price.
You can save some money on the table.
Best Quick Change Tool Posts
You can definitely buy the tool post or holders separately, but I will be reviewing the sets that include different holders here. As there are two types of tool posts out there so I will be addressing both in this post.
Let’s start with the Wedge type.
Best Wedge type Quick Change Tool Post:
These types of tool posts are ideal for mini size metal lathes typically up to 9” bed swings. The tool post and holder numbers for OXA styles are counted as below-
- No. 250-001: Turning and Tool Holder
- No. 250-002: Tool Holder for Boring, Turning and Facing
- No. 250-004: Boring Bar Tool Holder
- No. 250-007: Universal Parting Blade Tool Holder
- No. 10: Knurling, Facing & Turning Tool Holder
Let’s check a few of the best options you can find on Amazon.
1. LLDSIMEX wedge type Quick Change Tool Post: OXA style
So, this one is manufactured by a company named LLDSIMEX. And among all the other OXA tools, they seem to maintain consistency about making their tool.
This 0XA Wedge Type Quick Change Tool Post features a quick-change design for easy tool changing while in the middle of your project. This reduces downtime by saving precious time and gives you a competitive edge in your work.
The product is engineered to eliminate problems with shims, which lead to inaccuracies and wasted steel while cutting on different lathes. The positive rigidity and the addition of rigid inner settings provide an unparalleled advantage over competitors’ products that do not offer this level of precision engineering.
You can use this with any model between a 6” to 9” swing mini-lathe tool holder, making it highly versatile! It will perfect your work without sacrificing accuracy each time you use it!
2. All Industrial wedge type tool post set: AXA style
If you are using a lathe with a swing between 9 to 12 inches, then go for an AXA.
Now you may be thinking is what if my lathe is 9 inches that also goes for OXA. Then you are recommended to go for AXA. If your lathe is a 12” swing, then go for BXA. I hope you got the idea.
Now coming to this tool post. All Industrial is a USA tool supply company and they are very good for metal lathe consumables.
This particular one is a set of 6 pieces of tools including the holders. You can easily install them on an engine, bench, or turret lathe and perform a wide range of operations.
The set will contain 1 piece of each below and the numbers are-
- This is the main tool post: 0250-0111
- Style 1 is for boring and facing: 0250-0101
- Also for boring turning and facing: 0250-0102
- This is for heavy duty boring: 0250-0104
- For universal parting blades: 0250-0107
- Specially for knurling. Also good for facing and turning: 0250-0110:
The body is full steel made. At 160 dollars, I think this is a very good deal as an Aloris tool post would cost you at least a hundred bucks more.
See what the other users have said after using.
3. Accusize wedge type quick change tool post: BXA style
This one is also an All Industrial tool.
BXA is ideal for lathe swing 10” – 15”. So you can say it’s kind of for professional metal turners as it’s to handle relatively big swing lathes like Shop Fox M1112.
Again, it’s a 6 piece set with all the cutting tool holders. The styles of BXA tools are numbered as-
- 250-201 is for Turning and Facing
- 250-202 for Boring turning and Facing
- Style 4 (250-204) is for Boring and heavy duty passes
- 207 is counted as the Universal parting blade
- And last comes style 10 which is 250-210. It’s for Knurling Facing and turning.
You may also see the XL size of style 1 and the main tool post in an 8 pcs set which would cost some extra.
BXA tools are promised to give give you their maximum rigidity for a chatter-free performance while operating the lathe.
You can check the All Industrial BXA Wedge type tool post. It’s best among what the others are offering.
4. All Industrial wedge type tool post: CXA style
CXA style is for handling lathe swings in between 13” to up to 18” over the bed.
Now, again if your lathe is like 12 inches, then you probably should go for CXA instead of BXA to get that extra advantage of tool holder capacity.
Accusize is a well-known tool maker brand inside Canada. You can certainly go to their website and buy directly from them or you can also buy from the Amazon USA store. Whatever is convenient for you.
You will get eight pieces of tools in total with this set including two XL size tool holders. That means you are going past that $250 range now. This will cost you 400 bucks but will definitely treat your premium.
The measurements numbers for CXA style tool posts are given below- (though you can find them on the product description, but still)
- Wedge Style Quick Change Tool Post, #0250-0333
- You’ll get 1 piece of number #0250-0301 for Turning & Facing Holder
- 2 pieces of XL Oversize Turning & Facing Holder which is number #0250-0301T
- 1 piece #0250-0302 that is for Boring Turing & Facing Holder,
- For Boring, Heavy-duty Holder- #0250-0304
- 1 x Style 7: Universal Parting Blade Holder, #0250-0307
- 1 x Style 10: Knurling, Facing & Turning Holder, #0250-0310
All the tools are interchangeable with Phase 2, Dorian, Aloris and Yuasa tool posts.
Now let’s check a few Piston type tool posts as well.
Best Piston type quick change tool posts
It’s time to talk about some of the best options if you are willing to buy piston-type tool posts and tool holders for your lathe.
5. All Industrial quick change tool posts: AXA style
This set is very well made and a bit costly among Piston tool posts. The Wedge type that I mentioned earlier is quite the same range.
Now coming to the point. I have already talked about the Types. There are no differences between the types. It’s now about the styles.
It’s so decent for its price that you can say that this piston type tool post set is a clone of Aloris.
But there is one concern about the T-slot of this one that it’s kinda oversized for most 10 to 12 inches lathes. So, you might need to take a help of a milling machine to set this.
Compare with the Wedge style I recommended, then make your decision.
But if you ask me, I’d have gone with the Wedge while I have the option.
6. Generic piston type tool post set: BXA style
Although there is one from the Shars, comparing the price, I believe you will be very happy with the quality and overall build of the tool holder of this tool post. It is super handy and very easy to use.
The BXA is rated for a 10″ to 15” lathe, and it will accept any 3/4 inches boring bars.
Quick Tips: You can enlarge the hole in the bottom of the BXA unit so that it would fit down over the original stud. Then cut off a 5/8″ bolt, drill and tap the cut end to match the metric thread on the stud.
The bolt, with a large flat washer, goes down through the BXA post and screws down onto the original stud, holding everything nice and tight.
And if you should ever want or need to, you can change back over to the original equipment that came with the machine.
Best of luck.
7. Shars 300 piston type tool post: CXA Style
You may have all heard about Shars as they are pioneers at what they do.
This is a set of six pieces of tools including five tool holders. The parts numbers are the same for Wedge and Piston, so I’m not mentioning it again.
CXA can accommodate high dimensions between 1.125 inches to 2.125 inches no matter the type. There is one hassle to it that you need to machine the base plate to fit the T-slot on compound rest.
Her is the tool bit capacity:
- Tool bit capacity: ½ – ¾” for CXA 310, 302 & 301
- Boring bar Shank size: ¾” for CXA 302 and 1” for 304
- Blade Height ¾” of CXA 307 which is for universal parting
- Dovetail Dimension: H- 0.55”, Length 1- 2.202” & Length 2- 1.681”
How to decide which size you need?
So, the first consideration is the height from the top of your compound to the centerline. It depends on the length of the swing of the lathe you’re using. See what a lathe swing is and how to measure it here.
If you cannot find it or it is not specified, you can measure or calculate it.
You only need to measure the centre height of the lathe. It is the measurement taken from the lathe bed to the centerline of the spindle. Check my article about lathe swing here, this will help.
After measuring, now select the quick-change tool post based on the column of the lathe swing that I have attached in the picture. Now, match your QCTP type with the lathe swing range.
Note: Suppose you have a 13” swing that falls both into BXA and CXA. Go for the Larger QCTP. Choose the CXA.
Okay so now with the tool post-installed you need to angle in order that you can get an appreciation of where the tool bit falls in relation to centre lines. So, install a 3/8” size bit high-speed steel in order to get in order that you can see what’s going on here.
And if you drop it down to its lowest point, you would have quite a bit of room to go up. So that was a consideration for me.
Will the tool post drop low enough given that it’s a larger sized tool post in order to accommodate your centerline? Obviously, it will.
Differences between the AXA, BXA and CXA Style
From the manufacturer’s website, we can see the difference between AXA and BXA and CXA.
For width, there are 2-1/2”, 3” and 3-1/2”. That’s that width.
We can also see that the height is 2-1/4”, 2-3/4” or 3”. So, only a quarter inch higher for the CXA.
The diameter of the through rod that holds it onto your compound is 9/16” for an AXA, 5/8” for a BXA and ¾ for CXA.
And that might be a consideration for your lathe depending on the size of the through rod in your compound rest. And here it clearly indicates that the AXA goes from 6 to 12, BXA from 10 to 15 and CXA from 13 to 18.
Now, if you measure everything as I mentioned, you could be pretty happy with the particular tool post on your lathe because I think it’ll match proportionately.
So that’s what I have to say and show you. And you may see many of these examples of this type of quick change tool post on Amazon, that’s where I purchased mine.
Almost every serious machinist tend to change or upgrade their tool post at some point in their turning journey. For most people who are getting into lathe work, quick change tool posts are very popular right now.
With a quick change tool post, you have the ability to have a tool that is set up with all the adjustments for you.
As long as you don’t move your QCTP from your compound, you’ll be able to repeatedly take a tool off, put another one to perform machining operation, and repeat this. The tool will be back in the same place where it was during your last operation.
So yes, it’s way too convenient for machinists nowadays. This will give you great repeatability and this is why they’re called Quick Change Tool Post.
I hope this short guide will help you choose among the best tool posts out there even with a tighter budget. So, best of luck and see you in the next post.
Turn Big, Turn Safe. Welcome to the turning!