Q: When ordering new lathe spindle and tailstock parts, they are listed as #1 taper or #2 Morse taper. Please advise what differences there are in these parts and how I am to know which I need for my lathe.
A: I’m not sure who Mr. Morse was and how he got to design the tapers, but that is water under the bridge. According to diracdelta.co.uk, an online science and engineering encyclopedia, a Morse taper is “A self-holding standard taper largely used on small cutting tools such as drills, end mills, and reamers, and on some machine spindles…” And, I can add, on lathes.
The difference between a #1 Morse taper and a #2 is basically the length and the “section” of the taper. Think of a long, tapered rod that starts at a point and gets larger in diameter the farther down the rod you go. You could cut a section out of any place along that rod and have the same taper. Both the #1 and 2 have the same taper per inch, but the #1 starts a bit closer to the “pointy end” of our imaginary rod.
The best way to know which type of taper you need is to consult your owner’s manual. The other way is to take the taper out of your lathe and measure it. A #1 will be 2-1⁄8" long, a #2 will be 2-9⁄16" long.