Having recently become interested in hobby machining I have been doing some reading around rotary tables and how they are used and operated.  This has lead to great confusion on my part due to the language that is used and I have struggled to work out exactly what each term relates to.  Therefore I have constructed this list of terms and their meanings in the hope that it will help anyone interested in getting involved in machining better understand the area of rotary tables.


The worm, also referred to as the hand crank, is used to position manually operated rotary tables.  The part consists of two elements; the worm wheel and the worm screw.  Through turning the hand crank the operator serves to turn the worm wheel, which then drives the worm screw backwards or forwards via meshing teeth.

Faceplate diameter

Rotary tables are circular in design and thus the faceplate diameter simply refers to the size of the circular face on which the piece to be shaped is attached.  Any object that is greater in size than the faceplate diameter cannot be worked on and a larger rotary table will be required.

Clamp torque

Rotary tables come fitted with clamps which are used to hold the piece being shaped in place.  Clamp torque refers to the level of pressure that can be exerted to hold the piece in place.

Allowable wheel torque

The phrase allowable wheel torque relates to a measurement that is taken whilst the table is operating at one revolution per minute.  The maximum level of torque that the table can operate under at this speed must comply to specific standards.

Maximum loads

There are two kinds of maximum loads in relation to rotary tables.  The first is the axial load; the amount of weight that the table can handle when the load is pressed against it.  The second is the radial load; the maximum amount of weight the rotary table can cope with while it is running.

Indexing cycle time

The term indexing cycle refers to how long it takes for rotary tables to slip into the proper position for a specific measurement.



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