I’ve got a small Sherline lathe, and one of the best upgrades I made so far was to buy this A2Z quick change tool post, which is also available for metal lathes of all sizes. Instead of the stock tool holder, this one takes its place, and I can swap tooling with great ease and speed.
The A2Z quick change tool post comes as a package that includes the tool post, (2) turning tool holders, (1) boring bar holder, and (1) parting tool holder. There are some other package offers that included additional tool holders, and you can also buy more holders separately.
Update 3/21/17: A2Z seems to have gone out of business.
Tool Holder Options
- 1/4″ – 1/2″ square tool holder
- 3/8″ boring bar holder
- 1/2″ boring bar holder
- 1/2″ x 0.040″ cut off blade holder
- Blank (machinable) holder for custom tooling
- Specialty Little Machine Shop knurling tool holder
Each holder has a simple height adjustment, so that you don’t have to waste time readjusting your frequently used tooling. Adjust the height once and you only have to check it periodically. I have found that the height adjustment does not change unintentionally over time.
Once the tool post is installed, the quick change holders are attached via the dovetail mechanism, where a turn of the lever applies locking pressure. Rotate the lever counterclockwise to unlock the tool holders from the post.
I had a problem with the length of the mounting screw that came with my quick change post, but Little Machine Shop, where I order a lot of my small lathe tooling and accessories from, sent me a quick replacement. I ended up using a tool-free lock-down knob instead of the hex fastener, which is also made by A2Z.
Starter packages are available for $100. I ordered from both Little Machine Shop and A2Z directly in the past, with great experiences from both.
A2Z makes these quick change tool posts in the USA.
The audio could be better, but here’s an intro video from A2Z:
There are a number of other brands that make quick change tool posts for metal lathes, but I believe the A2Z is the only option for my Sherline lathe. They also make one for Taig, micro, mini, and larger-sized lathes.
If I had a larger lathe, I probably would have went with a Phase II tool post or similar, without ever even learning about A2Z. There is a pretty big pricing difference when comparing A2Z’s quick change tool post with other brands’ quick change tool post starter sets, whether imported (such as Phase II) or USA-made (such as Aloris).
Although the A2Z quick change tool post is said to be suitable for all of the sizes of lathes they sell starter mounting kits for, I can’t say how suitable it would be for use with larger machines.
If I bought a 7″ lathe, I’d give the A2Z quick change tool post a try before considering something else. But for larger, say a 9″ lathe? I’d look more towards a 100 series or AXA quick change tool post set, such as by the Phase II or Aloris brands I mentioned.
I suppose that if you have more than one size of small lathe, say a Sherline or Taig and a 7″ mini lathe, you should be able to use the same tool holders on different machines equipped with A2Z’s tool post. The only catch I could think of is that you would have to ensure that the reference height of the tool post is the same for all machines.