This paper presents the effect of experimentally evaluated nonlinearities in a machine joint on the overall machine tool dynamic performance using frequency response functions and stability lobe diagrams. Typical machine joints are very stiff and have weak nonlinearities. The experimental evaluation of the nonlinear joint parameters of a commercial translational guide has been discussed in Dhupia, 2007, J. Vibr. Control, accepted. Those results are used in the current paper to represent the connection between the column and the spindle of an idealized column-spindle machine structure. The goal is to isolate and understand the effects of such joints on the machine tool dynamic performance. The nonlinear receptance coupling approach is used to evaluate the frequency response function, which is then used to evaluate the stability lobe diagrams for an idealized machine structure. Despite the weak nonlinearities in the joint, significant shifts in the natural frequency and amplitudes at resonance can be observed at different forcing amplitudes. These changes in the structural dynamics, in turn, can lead to significant changes in the location of chatter stability lobes with respect to spindle speed. These variations in frequency response function and stability lobe diagram of machine tools due to nonlinearities in the structure are qualitatively verified by conducting impact hammer tests at different force amplitudes on a machine tool.