This is a project that has been on the to do list for quite awhile now. I’ve been needing a slitting saw setup since day one and have managed to put it off by using the bandsaw or hacksaw for most of my work. It was time to make a proper slitting saw arbor.
Most of the “low end” slitting saw arbors you can buy are terrible. The spring loaded ones that can utilize multiple arbor sizes are particularly bad. I wanted a simple design for a 1″ diameter arbor size so I machined up one in less than an evening. I utilized a 3/4″ straight shank so I could use it in the milling machine or lathe. If you were running very thick saws, or horizontal milling cutters (not the greatest idea in a cantilever R8 setup?) you probably would want a keyway in the design in which case I would probably make the shank taper integral to the design.
But this one is for thin slitting saws and as such no keyway is required and being held in collet is my preferred setup.
There is nothing complicated about this at all. But to save you some time sketching or drawing here are the drawings I used: Body – Rev 01 and Cap – Rev 01. I didn’t add a flat on the arbor for removing and replacing the saws at the bench – I might do that at a later time if I find I need it. If so I’ll update the drawings.
It’s been a cold winter. In an effort to help moderate the temperature in my shop I decided to add another piece of equipment. The extra mass will help smooth out large temperature swings. What machine did I drag home this time? That’s a bit of a long story because I found out later that the machine I brought home wasn’t exactly the machine it was advertised as.
The machine is branded as a Torcam (not Tormach!) ~ 24″ x ~ 24″ x ~ 3″ (X / Y / Z) Router table. It is constructed out of aluminum extrusions and utilizes linear rails and ball screws. This was the main reason I decided to purchase the machine. Once I saw the linear rails and ball screws (and how little the machine had been used) I was sold. After loading the machine into the Sienna, (yes we did break down and buy a minivan for our family and it has been once of the best loathed decisions we ever made!) I snapped a quick picture of my purchase:
The machine did not come with a control which didn’t bother me one bit. I had full intentions of fitting a more up to date modern control anyway. The very very reasonable price I purchased the machine for left plenty of funds to put together a new motion controller.
But I was curious the whole time about this Torcam company. I had never heard of Torcam before and I didn’t do any research regarding the company beforehand. After some digging on the internet I found out that Torcam was a machine tool distributor company out of Ontario Canada who built and sold CNC machines for the educational market. It seems they rebranded machines for sale and it is doubtful that they actually designed and built full machines but I could be completely wrong. It appears the were a going concern in the 1990s to early 2000s and then they disappeared. Given the timeframe of business operations (just before the internet exploded) and what appears to be a limited market for product, very little information is easily found about Torcam and their machines today.
This machine appeared to be very well designed and assembled with care. But who actually made the machine? As soon as I purchased the machine I posted a picture on Instagram and Stefan Gotteswinter immediately commented “ISEL?”. ISEL is a German CNC machine builder who also sells various motion components. ISEL has been in business for a very long time and according to Stefan builds good components and machines for the price. I think most in the industry agree that ISEL stuff is built to a price point and does the job very well.
The machine does look suspiciously German and like something ISEL would manufacture so I decided to find out. After taking a few covers off I noticed this:
It was confirmed. This machine was made with ISEL components and I also now had an approximate date of manufacture. All the components say made in West Germany. That gives you a good idea when this machine was made: early 1990s. I suspect Torcam started importing these machines and selling them. I don’t know what control they shipped with it (did they make their own?) but the hardware was ISEL made.
I made a video and posted it on Youtube (see below). Shortly after posting John commented on the video: “What you have is a Techno Isel router table. Originally released in the late 80’s and early 90’s I can with what was called a machine 100 MS cos controller. Back in the day a new on would be about $ 8000 or so. I have the same machine from the 80’s it ran model and prototype production 24-7 for about two years. I mothballed it for some while then had a new controller built and I still use it today. I made a mount for. 3 h.p. Ryobi router when I first got it in 1987 and it still works like a charm. I run V carve desktop and Mach 3 on it making sings and doing woodwork. My table is 52 by 52 . By the way the stepper can get warm but they seem to convey the heat well. Never any problems running it for 10 to 12 hour runs. Just stay inside the feeds and speeds. The ball screws are a big plus but keep them clean. Like yours mine had no goers on the x and y rails.” Thanks John!!!!
The first step in getting the machine working was building a stand. I took a Saturday morning and put together a quick wood stand. I would have liked to have a welded or concrete stand for it but the weather didn’t permit me working outside so I settled for wood. Maybe in the future I might make a more substantial stand.
I also took some time to make up some leveling feet that would screw onto the legs of the stand:
Once the stand was built it was time to decide upon the motion controller. I looked at a few options like the Centroid Acorn and Mach 4 but I decided upon LinuxCNC. Lot’s of folks are scare of Linux but let me tell you that this was a very straight forward process to get going. I used the Mesa5i25 and 7i76 LinuxCNC plug and go kit. It was pricey but is a proper motion control interface that utilizes a FPGA in the 5i25. If you purchase the plug and go kit it has the proper firmware flashed on it already that saves you from having to re-flash the Mesa board. Even that though isn’t as hard as it sounds!
For motors and drives I used some stuff sitting around in the shop for a few years. I purchased 3 motors and drives used a number of years back. The motors were 60BYGH303-13 425 ounce inch dual shaft steppers that were almost a drop replacement for the small steppers that the machine came with. The drives were knock offs of knock offs drives. Very little information is available for the CW230 stepper driver but I did some comparing and it appears that they are copies of the Keling KL4030 drive which seems to be based on an older Leadshine or Gecko drive. I set them up to run at 36 volts (using a linear power supply which will probably burn out) and used 1/8 micro stepping – the highest you probably should go. I built up a panel and put all the bits inside. Here you can see it in progress:
Setting up LinuxCNC was a simple as wiring up the Mesa interface board, installing LinuxCNC on an older computer and running the configuration wizard. You need to be careful to enter the information into the wizard properly. I entered everything carefully and once done I ran LinuxCNC and moved the table around. I used stock drive timings for the KL4030 that were directly out of the wizard.
I wired up the homing switches and tried to tidy up the wiring as best I could with some cable chain and wire loom. Now I need to mount a spindle and start cutting out parts! I may spend some more time tuning the drives and getting the system dialed in but so far I’m very pleased. I’m hoping to post some more information regarding setting up LinuxCNC soon so stay tuned!
Over 6 months ago now I finally finished a pair of yo-yos I made for family friends who gave us a wagon for our kids. The wagon was a very well made wagon and I wanted to make a special gift for the family in return. I remembered how much I enjoyed yo-yos when I was a kid so I decided to make up one for each of their 2 girls.
The design is very straightforward. Essentially it is 2 aluminum halves with a tool steel axle. I chose to make the bearing / bushing out of some Teflon I had in the shop. You could easily modify the design to use the very common rolling element bearings that so many yo-yos utilize these days. The trickiest part of the design is sizing the o-ring that sits in each of the halves. The size and cross sectional area of the o-ring used determines how easily (if at all) the yo-you will return to your hand. If you remove the o-ring completely the yo-yo may never return to your hand and probably will require what is called a “binding” trick which causes the yo-yo to recoil its string. Since I wanted these yo-yos to be easy to use for beginners I sized the o-ring so the yo-yo will return with a easy flick of the wrist.
The project made heavy use of the 5C collet chuck that I previously reviewed. The chuck worked out very well and the soft 5C collets that I used made the job much easier and quicker than it would have taken using the old 4 jaw standby.
I chose to press in 12 pieces of brass on the outer rim for added mass where it is needed most. Besides making up 48 pieces of brass for 2 yo-yos the process was very easy. After the brass was pressed in I cut the outside radii with a custom form tool I made up in the shop. I also made a video of making the form tool. You can watch that video here:
Besides the custom form tool for the radii, there were a number of other tools I ground up to make this yo-yo. The project once again highlights the basic home shop need of being able to grind high speed steel tools. If I had to purchase all the cutting tools I needed for this project the cost would have been significant.
I also did a full build video of the process. Many thanks to Megan for recording music for the introduction.
If you are interested in the drawings you can download them here:
In this episode learn that Pretzel sticks are universal and one of the snacks that perhaps we home shop machinists can use to break down modern day barriers. Or maybe join Max and have some good old fashion Americana Ritz crackers and join the 3 of us talk about CAD – a subject that we could did talk about for hours.
No the podcast is not dead! After a very large pause (for various reasons – a story for another day) the podcast is back with an episode recorded way back in September. Nevertheless the conversation is timeless and just as applicable today as it was when it was recorded. In this episode John Saunders, the man who went from a humble machine shop apartment in New York City to a full fledged machine shop in Ohio, joins us and talks shop. Some of the things we talk about include:
It’s been a long time since we have posted an episode and that has been my (Justin’s) fault. I won’t go into the details but I wanted to let everyone know that the podcast will continue in the near future. In the meantime I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy 2019 home shop machinists style. Stay tuned!
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, so I sneaked out like a mouse.
The drill bits were placed in their index with care,
In hopes that new tooling soon would be there.
The machine tools were cleaned, and oiled in their place,
While visions of a Moore jig borer brought a smile to my face.
And while my family was inside and all snug in their beds,
I was working to finish some Christmas gifts for them instead.
When out in the shop there arose such a chatter,
I sprang from my band saw to see what was the matter.
Away to the lathe I flew like a flash,
Hitting the big red stop, it ended with a crash.
Some light on the now freshly wrecked homemade tool
Meant no new gifts would be delivered this yule.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Fiat Panda, and a very tall Stefan Gotteswinter.
With a little old wrench used lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he would show me his sharpening trick.
More rapid than lightening I took out the workpiece,
And I sharpened the tool to finish the gift for my niece.
“Now Hardinge, now Wrong Fu, now Deckel, and Myford!
On Linley, on Schaublin, on Monarch and Boxford,
To the Deckel clone!, to the sharpening stone!
No need to dress the CBN cone!
And then, in a twinkling, I heard “this will not do”
Stefan was examining my grinder through and through.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Out of the Panda came Stefan with Biax scraper inbound.
He was soon covered in Canode from his head to his foot,
His clothes were all blue and yellow, including his boots.
The efficient German worked diligently through,
To turn my Deckel clone into something much more true.
A wink of his eye and a scrape by his hand,
Soon gave me to know I would have nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, except for Youtube,
And educated the masses so they were no longer noobs.
Soon the Deckel was done, everything adjusted up right,
Then Stefan Gotteswinter fled back into the night.
And as he started off in his Panda to journey back home,
He rolled down his window and gestured towards the Deckel clone.
2 episodes in one month! We can’t believe it either. Don’t worry though we didn’t cut on quantity to get it out – this episode is still over 2 hours. We won’t talk about the quality. Max, Stefan and Justin give shop updates (it has been about 4 months since Stefan has been on – that’s long enough for Stefan to build an entire Saturn V rocket in his basement). After that we talk about making money in the home $hop – when your hobby turns into a business. And no we aren’t the Business of Machining Podcast. In between the weirdness:
Stefan is busy making telescope parts for the Hubble Space telescope a local company requiring telescope parts.
Stefan is on the lookout for a new lathe. He would like a Hardinge HLV (don’t we all!).
Justin and Max suggest looking at the Taiwanese clones like Cyclematic or Feeler
Stefan broke down and bought a face mill with carbide inserts: