About Time There’s a Sherline & Taig Headstock Alternative
by Jeff Harrison
From hobby guys to watchmakers, everybody in mini machining knows Sherline and Taig. While they are good little machines, there are always those things that bothered me. For one, why can’t we get different collet sizes? Take a look at the Sherline lathe. You can get MT1, ER16 or 3C with a tiny through-hole in the spindle. For the really small stuff, that’s fine. Or even the WW collet system for very tiny stock. But, if you have anything bigger than the ER16 or 3C will handle, then you’re out of luck. Not that long ago I came across a company called GlockCNC.com. I say I came across it, but it was actually recommended by a watchmaker I know. He loves their products. Anyway, they offer ER25 up to ER50 collet size spindles. The smart thing they did was change the headstock and bearings too. Frankly, the bearings in the Sherline and Taig, mill or lathe, are pretty wimpy compared to the GlockCNC bearings. After all, if you’re looking to chuck bigger parts and use a bigger spindle arbor, you need bigger bearings. Here’s the thing though, not only did they have the foresight to use bigger bearings, but also offer better bearings.
The stock bearings for Taig or Sherline are probably ABEC1 or at best, ABEC3. GlockCNC uses ABEC5 deep groove bearings as a standard. They offer ABEC7 and even the crazy precise ABEC9. Both can be had in deep groove or angular contact. Personally, I prefer angular contact. It’s what you get in any super precision spindles that operate in commercial settings. Here is why I like the use of biggering bearings with higher accuracy. When you apply a load to bearings, it will deform the balls to some degree. If you’re going to use a more meaty spindle, you will have more rotating mass. Plus rotating mass of the cutter for a mill or stock for a lathe. The tiny bearings with tiny balls in them will deform to a greater degree than bearings with larger balls. This means under load, you can achieve better accuracy.
Obviously, these bigger bearings require a larger headstock. Which these guys have made and made it well. Take a look at the side flanges for mounting. The offer a ton more rigidity than the Sherline mounting pin. For the Taig, it does require an adapter plate, which initially I didn’t like the idea. But then I watched a video about it. It’s actually quite smart. You see, the Taig mill uses a dovetail system and it’s pretty weak looking. The GlockCNC adapter will move the lateral loads to the entire Z axis carriage far far better than the stock dovetail system. So, it makes perfect sense.
There you have it…my take on excellent Sherline and Taig upgrades.
Check these guys out at: https://glockcnc.com/
Here’s the video about the headstock and the Taig adapter: