2-Axes Taig Micro Lathe Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Conversion
Last updated on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 04:41:34 PM Mountain US Time Zone


CNC Micro Lathe, X-axis Lead Screw, Z-axis Lead Screw,
Stepper Motors, Spindle Motor Pulleys, Tachometer,
Spindle Index, Limit Switches, E-stop, QCTP,
CNC Threading Movie,
Machine Work Light

CNC Mill
System Schematic
Mach Support Forum
Mach3 Configuration

Machinist Calculator
Mach3Turn Manual

Mach3 Threading Setup Manual
Surface Feet/Minute (SFM) Chart 1
SFM 2   SFM 3

CNC Micro Lathe

Taig Micro Lathe converted to CNC.
Photo shows cutting first taper without a compound.

Since the CNC mill's computer, breakout board,
stepper motor controller & MPG were already in-place,
it was very cost-effective to convert the Taig Micro
Lathe to CNC by installing different lead screws,

designing brackets for the stepper motors &
adding limit switches.
The stepper motor
control panel was easily redesigned & rewired
to provide switchable X & Z axes outputs.

Back to baseline lathe configuration.
Mounted on a 1/8" aluminum plate.

X-axis Lead Screw

Three, 6-32 screws hold the motor mounting plate.
The stepper is held on with four, 10-32 cap-head bolts.

The motor has a 1.5" diameter lip that fits into & centers
on the NEMA 23 dimensioned motor bracket hole.

Initial bracket design using 1/4" aluminum plate.
A transfer punch aided alignment.

Exploded view of the zero-backlash spline-shaft
coupler with fabricated 1/4-20 LH lead screw adapter.

Zero-backlash shaft coupler assembled.
A second, simpler adapter was also made.

The main bracket is held underneath the carriage by
OEM bolts that guide the brass gib. The original 4-40

threads were enlarged to 8-32 for increased strength.
Do not over clamp these bolts as it will affect the gib.

Changed the coupler to use a simple shaft size adapter
(cylinder) with a hole for the set screw to past through.

Note the flats on the lead screw so a 3/16" open-ended
wrench can be used to hold it from turning when

tightening/loosening the lock nut on the other end where
the bronze radial/thrust bearings are located.

Since the stepper motors do not have thrust bearings,
it is best to isolate them from those forces.

Along the lead-screw axis the plastic coupler has a
small 1mm gap
so it is impossible to transfer thrust
 forces though this is quite unlikely as the front thrust
bearing has all but eliminated any movement.

The same precaution is taken for the
Z-axis lead screw coupler, too.

Radial & thrust bearings are made out of oil-impregnated
sintered bronze (OISB). It threads into the original location.

The lead screw was made of 
1/4-20 SS LH threaded rod.
OEM geometry was replicated but to tighter tolerances.

Note, oil-impregnated bronze is soft & can crush/distort.

Exploded view of thrust-bearing assembly.
The left & right ends of the body act as thrust-bearing surfaces.

The body (0.711" OAL) has a 5/16-24 NF thread &
0.462" length that are the same as the OEM part.

Machined & cut a 0.42" long 6-32
thread on the lead-screw end.

The unthreaded shaft is 0.82" long.
The shaft is 1.24" OAL x 0.14125" diameter.

The lead screw is machined square/flat & bears
directly against the (right) side of the thrust bearing.

The black-colored steel
collar is a retained OEM part.

A 0.32" diameter x 0.128" thick OISB thrust
washer is on the (left) side of the bearing.

Locknut is adjusted until there is no play or binding.

A nylon acorn nut locks the first
nut & covers the sharp threads.

Added a spring to further reduce any backlash at the lead-screw nut.
The adjustable left bracket uses a T-nut, washer, nut & 10-32 bolt.
The spring does not affect the bracket geometry.

Added a second inner spring.

Added an upper stiffening bracket for the X-axis stepper motor.
The left edge is chamfered to clear the cam.

The part bolts to the carriage & the limit switch housing.
It has two notches that engage the mating parts' edges.

The two right bolts had to clear
the cam channel located just above.
They screw into tapped blind holes.

Another view of the engaged bracket notch.

Z-axis Lead Screw

Precision reaming a 1/4" hole in a block to accept
the two, oil-impregnated bronze lead-screw nuts.

Bronze oil-impregnated bearing material
threaded for the 1/4-20 RH precision lead screw.

Outside diameter of the lead screw
nuts machined to 0.750" & cut apart.

Extra material was left to make the
hex nut for wrench adjustments.

Exploded view of the lead screw nut housing
as well as the bottom of the motor bracket screws.

Note the square groove in the lead-screw nuts &
the half-dog point
set screws that engage them.

The lead screw bearing block is held to the underside
of the motor bracket using four, 10-32 cap-head bolts.

The backlash is removed by adjusting one nut
against the other. The hex nut is 11/16".

The small hole, in-between the two right bolts,
allows access to the 6-32 cap-head bracket bolt.

Two more similar set screws were added on the top
to add strength & hold the settings, better.

The Z-axis lead screw nut housing is
tucked-up as close to the lathe bed, as possible.

The spacer aligned the lead screw & motor axes.
Not the strongest setup so a stiffening bracket
was added for greatly increased strength.

Stepper Motors

The larger stepper motor is for the carriage & the
medium-sized motor is for the cross slide; both are 3A.

The eight motor leads are wired into the six-pin,
Molex socket. The 7' long cables use 18 gauge wire.

Lead-screw brackets with 5/8" OD, 1/2" ID radial
ball & oil-impregnated bronze thrust bearings.

The radial bearings are held in with green, penetrating
Loctite. This model of bearing (deep groove)

is specified to handle both radial & thrust forces but it
did not seem robust enough for the application,

so the bronze thrust washers were added to the design.

Lead-screw bracket detail. The bronze
washers have a shallow, 0.38" OD

counterbore to give the radial bearing's
hub clearance during rotation.

A 1/2" hole through the bench top allows the motor
connector & cable to completely be hidden underneath.

End of the lead-screw spline-style
shaft coupler with one side removed.

A bronze washer (hidden) acts as a leftward
thrust (carriage moves right) bearing surface.

Z-axis lead-screw motor fits into a close-tolerance,
1.5" counterbore hole for the NEMA 23 mount.

Spindle Motor Pulleys
The motor bracket extends to both the left & right to
hold the addition of a
three-pulley system for slower
speeds & a spindle tachometer pickup
under the spindle pulley, respectively.

Jackshaft or Countershaft

A compact jackshaft (or countershaft)
3rd pulley system for 178 RPM; handy for CNC threading.

Rotated the lead-screw bracket 180 deg to allow better
access to the lock-down bolts with a ball hex wrench.

For under the screw heads, made a steel spacer bar;
much better than washers which distorted over the slot.

The stepper motor is in full contact with the metal
top plate providing additional, effective heat dissipation.

When the spindle motor is tilted forward,
it now rests against a rubber bumper.

All parts clear each other when the spindle motor
is tilted forward to change the belt on the pulleys.

Radial/thrust bearing & bracket mounted
at the other end of the lead screw.

The precision
1/2-20 lead screw is a spare part
leftover from the
Taig Micro Mill CNC conversion project.

A bronze, oil-impregnated washer acts as a rightward
thrust (carriage moves left) bearing surface.

Changed the sub-plate to 1/8" steel
so the threads would be stronger.
Its mounting bolts pass through the bench top.

For under the screw heads, made a steel spacer bar;
much better than washers which distorted over the slot.

Added another oil-impregnated bronze thrust
washer with locking collar for additional strength.

Radiused the bracket corners.


QRB1114 NIR EO tachometer pick-up circuit.
Since it was originally designed for the ShumaTech

DRO-350, it required a tachometer/buffer circuit
buffer circuit to achieve reliable Mach3 readings.

This circuit has now been replaced with the
NTE 3100 photon-coupled interrupter module sensor
for the CNC lathe spindle but is still being used
for the CNC mill spindle tachometer pick-up circuit.

The QRB1114 is secured using a tapered pin that rests
in a shallow channel cut with a 1/8" ball-nose end mill.

Made a slot to the rear to allow the pick-up
to slide in & out for ease of installation.

The tachometer pick-up senses the dark set
screw passing by. The set screw was painted black.

The Teflon-coated, two-conductor wire is routed under
the bench along with the stepper & limit switch cables.

Mill & lathe tachometer inputs to Mach3 are switched
analogous to the
stepper motor output switching circuit.
Direction of the micro-switch level points to which
mini-stereo input jack is connected to the
breakout board.
Only the tachometer signal (white) & 5VDC (red) are switched.
The two grounds are tied together at the board.

This switched sensor approach has been changed to
accommodate a slotted-disk type index for the lathe.

The switch is no longer necessary as the mill & lathe
tachometers now use separate input channels.

Spindle Index

The reflective tachometer sufficed for RPM indication
but l wanted more precision for
CNC threading.
The 4-jaw chuck & the CNC rotary table were mounted
onto the Taig mill bed for manual control via Mach3.

To fabricate & mount a slotted disk, first a 1/2"-3/8"
stepped arbor was made to hold the Taig pulley in the 4-jaw.

A removable, 5/8" steel peg is shown in place.

The pulley shown being trammed
true in the 4-jaw chuck.

A 5/8" peg centers the 0.0625" thick aluminum plate & 1/2" deep,
#43 holes are drilled every 90 degrees. Tapping & installing a 4-40
screw after each hole helped make the setup increasingly rigid.

The 5/8" center peg is removed
in-between each 4-40 tapping.

With the center peg & 4 screws in place, a 3.5"
diameter disk is milled using a series of deeper cuts.

The indexing notch was milled to a size as calculated
using these formulae from Mach3's documentation.

This square-edged, 0.25" deep by 0.32" wide slot is
slightly oversized for the maximum speed of 8200 RPM.

Mach3 no longer supports multi-slot timing.

alpha (slot angle) = 0.0012 x N (maximum spindle RPM)
W (slot width) = 0.0088 x alpha x D (disk diameter)

Note: If D is in inches (or mm) then W is in inches (or mm).

The center has a countersink to
clear the spindle hub properly.

Slotted disk fully mounted onto the pulley.


Aluminum anti-seizing compound was applied
before installing the heat-expanded pulley.

For one slot, set the indexing parameters of LPT1 & the pin input #.
This CNC setup uses LPT1 pin 15 input for the lathe & LPT1
pin 11 input for the mill. See the
system schematic.

Subsequently, the pulley was centered in a
4-jaw chuck on the 9x20 lathe & small variations

in the front/back/edge surfaces of the disk were removed.
The disk runout is now minimized. All edges were carefully deburred
to reduce the chances of cuts while it is rotating at high speed.

A large hole through the mounting plate allows the
mini-stereo jack & wire to be fed through the bench top.

The Z-axis stepper motor bracket had to have several
areas opened-up for the tachometer pick-up wire.

The NTE 3100 photon-coupled interrupter module
bracket allows access for the wire to slip into place.

Note the vertical adjustment capability afforded by
the slotted bracket with two 4-40 screws with SS washers.

A shallow recess is milled into the top to keep the
module from turning after prolong exposure to vibration.

A threaded hole allows a 4-40 screw with
a SS washer to hold the module in place.

Brackets installed. Upper holes of the L-brackets are
slotted to allow final motor & lead screw axial alignment.

For the final lead-screw alignment, the cross slide is
moved all the way down to the right bearing bracket

which is then tightened. The cross slide is then moved to
the far left to self-align the parts before final bracket

 tightening. This method is also used to align all
axes of the mill & lathe DRO scales/brackets.

Stepper motor re-installed.

The module bracket was moved to a position that allowed
the disk to be slid into place through the large notch.

To center the disk in the slot, the spindle
was adjusted along the dove-tail bed.

The module bracket was then
adjusted up to the correct position.

Slotted bracket bolt holes (middle) allowed the final
alignment of the stepper motor shaft to the lead screw.

The E-O sensor module is connected to an
index pulse board & interfaced
with the system breakout board.

Limit Switches

X-axis limit switch mechanism. A 1/4" brass rod forms
a cam against a micro-switch held inside the bracket.

The rod slides in a precision-reamed hole; very close fit.
A round cam actuator is easier to make as it has
no precise orientation with respect to the switch.

The limit switch housing also acts
as a massive stiffening bracket.

Detail of the brass rod cam.
Note the two cams are at the front & back.

The cam attaches into the
cross slide's right-side T-slot.

A pin holds the rod to the cross slide.
There is a little play to prevent any binding.
Virtually no swarf can get into the switch mechanism
during normal operations as the rod keeps the hole blocked

unless the cam is completely plunged in under
only the largest inward (-X) carriage excursion

 which might happen under special operating
conditions e.g., using a rear cutoff tool post.

A pocket was milled into the bottom of the bracket.
The micro-switch is held by a sub-plate. The two plastic
switch mounting holes were tapped to 3-48 as was the plate.

The top of the switch mounts against the bottom of the milled pocket.

Only the hump on the switch lever projects through
an elongated, 1/4" hole perpendicular to the cam guide.

 0.050" travel is needed to open the normally closed switch.
Teflon-coated wire is used for the connections.

The side of the pocket was relieved to make
room for the 0.0625" thick switch plate.

The Z-axis limit switches are mounted underneath
the motor bracket to protect them from swarf.

The 2-conductor Molex receptacle edge sits
in a small pocket & is captured by a clamp.

This connector allows the stepper motor & limit
circuits to be separated from the bracket.

Molex receptacle captured by the clamp.

The three NC switches are serially connected to
the Molex receptacle using Teflon-insulated wire.

Made the receptacle clamp smaller & moved the limit
switches further under the bracket for more protection.

Adjustable, brass, Z-axis limit-switch stops.

The brass stops clamp onto an L-bracket.

A 6-32 thumb screw secures the stop at any
point on the rail. The slot is a close fit to the rail.

All limit stop edges were radiused.

A precision steel scale was attached using thin,
double-sided tape. First degrease all contact
surfaces with isopropyl alcohol (

Limit switch cable connected to breakout board circuit.

Limit switches & stepper motor cables are
sheathed & then routed
under the bench.


The one lathe E-stop switch is wired in series with the
two mill E-stop switches. The three
lathe limit switches
are wired in series with the five mill limit switches. All 12
lathe & mill switches (including the pendant) must be

NC for operation of either machine. The length of the
bench now has 5 E-stops (including the keyboard ESC).


The Quick Change Tool Post (QCTP) placement on the
Taig cross slide needs to be repeatable thus locating

dowels were installed to align the base. The pilot hole is
shown being drilled 7/64" before reaming to 1/8".

Before drilling, the T-nut & QCTP base were aligned by
placing on a
surface plate & using a surface gauge.

The 1/8" dowels align the QCTP base & the steel
T-slot nut to the blind holes in the cross slide.

Note the alignment holes in the QCTP base.
They can be easily removed if the QCTP needs to be rotated.

All pieces assembled & locked onto the cross slide.

The Taig CNC lathe making a test finishing cut.

Mach3 Mill also contains Mach3 Turn to control your CNC lathe motion.

Surface Feet/Minute (SFM) Chart 1   SFM 2   SFM 3   Machinist Calculator

Lathe making a 0.3" OD hemispherical cut.
The rod is held using the Taig ER-16 collet adapter.

CNC Threading Movie

Two movies showing a Taig CNC lathe
threading a 3/8-16 aluminum bolt.

In Mach3, the spindle must be turned on (yellow
LED illuminated) for the program to read the spindle
rotation. Spindle speed averaging is also recommended.
See the
Mach3 threading setup manual.

3/8-16 threads in nylon.

Machine Work Light

An upgraded task/machine work light (USA)
for the CNC micro-lathe setup.

It uses up to a 100W (maximum) halogen
or incandescent lamp. Magnetic base.

Double-walled shade with a finned aluminum heat
sink keep it cool to the touch & extends switch life.

The lamp's durable, excellent head can be
directed more effectively than the previous light.

Replaced the magnetic base with a 1/4-20 tapped,
1/4" thick aluminum base plate for high rigidity.

CNC Micro Lathe, X-axis Lead Screw, Z-axis Lead Screw,
Stepper Motors, Spindle Motor Pulleys, Tachometer,
Spindle Index, Limit Switches, E-stop, QCTP,
CNC Threading Movie,
Machine Work Light