Tool Post Lock Nut and Handle

I decided to start the New Year off by making some small productivity improvements in the shop.  One of the things I find myself constantly doing is reaching for a wrench to tighten the tool post, and also the tailstock (more on this soon!).  I decided to make a tool post lock nut and handle.

From this point on I’m going to try to make drawings for all the projects that I do in Autodesk Fusion.  I’ll also share the CAD data in Fusion once I get that setup.  Below are the drawings for each of the parts:

  1. Tool Post Nut Arm
  2. Tool Post Nut

In the video I talk a little about the taps I primarily purchase and use in the shop.  YG’s spiral flute bottoming machine tap is my go to tap.  The quality on these taps is exceptional, and work well in many materials that you find in the home shop.  They are designed for tapping blind holes, but work equally well in through holes so to keep costs down I try to just purchase these.  Avoid the cheap import sets for thread cutting.  Usually these sets are made from high carbon steel (not high speed steel), and they generally do a poor job in the shop.

If anyone says you can’t tap properly by hand using machine taps, they probably aren’t using good machine taps, or need more practice I guess.  I find that the YG machine taps are easier to use and start than standard hand taps and do a much better job on the thread.  Let them pick out the broken hand tap.

Table Saw Screw

I found some time between exams, work, and recovering from a nasty cold to make a new table saw adjusting screw for a friend of mine.  It saved his table saw from the dump as he couldn’t get any parts for it anymore.  Can you image?  Trash a table saw because of one screw?  I made a quick video of it:

Max and I are working on the next podcast, I’ve been working on few improvements for my lathe and I have a VFD (variable frequency drive) project for the lathe that will be coming up next before I begin wrTie full time.

 

 

 

 

wrTie

Great ideas begin in the simplest forms.  A sketch on a napkin.  A doodle on a scrap piece of paper.  A few words to solidify the idea that has been formed in the mind.  And the sketch or doodle, the short sentence or scribble, all start with a pencil.  That’s why I’ve thought a fitting project for 2017 is WrTie, a titanium mechanical pencil.

This project symbolizes my desire to do things different.  WrTIe will be a product designed to last a lifetime and pass onto your kids (like that pocket watch you received from your grandfather), a project that challenges design and manufacturing skills, and my desire to be an inspiration for everyone working in their garage.  And that’s where great ideas start.

The real question is can a small shop with manual machines and one man design, prototype, and manufacturer something so simple … yet so complicated?  This is a product made with a material that is difficult to manufacturer with even the best equipment.  And I’ve never machined titanium.  Not even once.

What will follow over the year is a series showing my progress on designing, prototyping and manufacturing a mechanical pencil made from titanium.  There will be product tear downs, unique designs, tiny o-rings, CAD software, research, guesswork, calculated risks, material investigation, tool design and selection, deep hole drilling, tiny machining, the help of friends, many failures, frustrations, lessons from craft beer, and I hope in the end success.

I haven’t written or designed anything.  This is not scripted.  This isn’t a Kickstarter campaign.  Through the power of video you will be coming along for the journey, every step of the way, watching ever failure, and every success.  I want to learn and do something productive, and I hope you do as well.

And in the end if it all works, I hope to have something special that I can use every day.  The drawings, the lessons learned, the tricks discovered, will all be here.

To show your support, I ask you to subscribe.  I will start in early 2017.

Now I need to get this VFD put on my lathe.

Terrible Design 101

Recently I had to fix a toy for the new addition in the family.  It was a car seat toy.  The toy is suppose to play a song when you push the dog’s nose.  We’ve had this toy for a few years and all it needed was a new battery.  I made a short video going through what I needed to do to change the battery.

I hate tamper proof screws.  The only point to them is to either sell more tools, or force people to throw stuff out.  They don’t keep people out.  People who want to get in will get in, and people who don’t want to will not.  And keeping people out of products so they can’t change batteries doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.  Then there is the problem of end of life.  How many people would just chuck this item into the garbage?

End users or consumers should always be able to remove and replace batteries without the need for specialty tools so they can remove the batteries before they dispose of the device, or prolong the life of the device.  Why is this such a big deal?  Devices with non removable batteries cannot be automatically processed by waste recycling facilities (because these facilities grind up the entire device – which would cause major issues with batteries).  This forces these types of devices to be shipped overseas where low cost labour disassembles them.  Often kids are doing this work, and the waste is not disposed of properly.

Apple is one major manufacturer that insists on fully enclosed non removable batteries.  This is terrible, but it helps their agenda: sell more devices or sell more over priced service.  Numerous reasons are given for built in batteries in small electronic devices, but in reality they don’t have any merit.  I have a inexpensive ($100) Android phone with a removable battery and it works great.  And if the battery needs to be replaced, I don’t even need any tools to replace it.   And when the device fails I can remove the battery and send them to appropriate recycling facilities, instead of across the globe.

We really have to stop designing for the dump and quickest assembly, and start designing for service and longevity.

Concrete Bench for the Lathe

For my latest project, I made a concrete bench out of standard precast concrete blocks that are easily sourced.  I filled them up with cement and steel reinforcement, grouted a piece of granite countertop on (to give a nice flat surface), and anchored my import lathe to it using sleeve anchors.  I made a video of it here:

I also made a video of a quick analysis I did of the stiffness and damping properties of concrete and found concrete to be a great material to make a lathe bench out of:

It turned out well.  I originally was going to build a steel bench out of 2×2 tubing to move the lathe to as the wood bench gave significant grief when trying to get the twist out of the bed.  I then started thinking outside of the traditional box, and thought, hey what about concrete.

Now my lathe is pretty short – if you had a longer lathe you might want to support the granite countertop more with perhaps some steel bolted between the 2 supports.

I plan on making some shelves for below the lathe yet in between the 2 blocks.  It was a fun project, and I learned a fair bit about cement and concrete in my reading.  If you want to improve the damping even more, there are many studies on adding rubber pieces to the cement.  You can also add steel wool to significantly improve the strength.  Simple standard concrete alone though has the damping properties of cast iron.

Yes I can’t really move it, and I thought a lot about this, but I really don’t move my machines that often anyway.

The performance of the lathe is significantly improved, it is like day and night really.  I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference.  Some slight shimming maybe required yet to get the last small amount of taper out (or it could be another issue – I haven’t investigated any further yet as the taper at this point is way better than the .003″ over 3 inches I was getting before).

Here is a picture of the bench itself:

concretebench

And with the lathe (I previously made a drip pan the lathe is sitting on):

latheonbench

It didn’t take that long to do – not significantly longer than any other bench construction method.  Plus I didn’t’ have to deal with steel distortion and residual stresses due to welding – something that can be a significant issue.