Turning Archive 2005

Simple Jet add-on safety switch

GaryG in MD
>I know that this is passé for many members, but it might be interesting to some new people.

When I got my Jet 1236, I immediately found it awkward to use the standard power "off" switch in the case of a catch or other problem requiring quick action. The switch is on the left side, and I am right handed and work mostly on the right (tailstock) side. If anything untoward happens, I would have to reach back across the spinning piece to access the hard-to-push switch. That was both dangerous and too slow.

I know that better lathes have a moveable switch panel which is handy for things like hollowing, and I decided to put a switch on the right side. My simple, inexpensive solution is pictured below. A $5 power tap (surge suppressor not needed) is glued to the outside of the bed with contact cement. The location is far enough back (to the right) to be away from faceplate or hollowing work. A scrap-metal handle is glued to the power switch. “Off” is away from the lathe. I used an old piece of antenna with a spade lug on it. I covered that with a piece of rubber tubing, with the tubing extending out several inches beyond the end of the metal, as a bounce suppressor. The unused sockets are covered with masking tape to keep the shavings out. The cables on both ends are tied up neatly and secured with long twist ties.

The location is perfect for a quick swipe of the hand if needed, and the lathe stops immediately. I have found it to be very effective, if rarely used. It is also handy for power control when using a drill bit in a Jacob’s chuck in the headstock and holding the workpiece at the tailstock. Other than that, I make a point of using only the standard switch for normal operation so as not to have any careless startup surprises.

I think every lathe should have a switch on the right side. If yours doesn’t, it’s easy to add one.


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