Height Gauge Depth Arm

In the shop I have a 2 beam dial height gauge that I use a lot for measuring and general layout work.  As far as measuring equipment, it is my favourite tool to use, even though I would want a micrometer and a caliper before a height gauge.  Once you get one you’ll wonder how you got by without one.

Most height gauges come with a tool for measuring flat surfaces, and for scribing.  To get the most out of the gauge you need a depth arm – basically a pin in an arm, for measuring depths.  I needed one to measure up a motor face so I can get a 3 phase motor mounted on my lathe – one of those projects to complete a project sort of deals.  I decided to make one up instead of buying it:

I made most of the arm on the shaper and used a gift from Max over at the Joy of Precision to bore the hole for the pin.  The boring head Max made is the star of this show.  It is the perfect size for the mini mill.  It is one of the best designs for a small boring head I’ve seen, and used.  The adjusting dial is a tad small but once you get a feel for it adjusting it is easy.  It’s also great because you can bore small holes – saving you from buying a lot of reamers.

The pin was turned between centers and was within .0004″ over the length – something I was very happy with.  The deviation was in the centre of the pin.  The pin sprung between centres a bit when I was cutting – aside from using a traveling steady there isn’t much you can do here about that.  The beginning diameter and end diameter were essentially the same within .0001.  I probably didn’t need  that much precision but I wanted to dial in my tailstock anyway.  At the end of the pin you can screw in standard dial indicator ends using a #4-48 thread.

I made the screw out of brass because it looks nice, and doesn’t mar the pin.  I usually don’t turn that much brass so I was reminded how easy it is to work with.

Here is the drawing for the height gauge arm.  I will be sharing all the projects in Fusion at some point and I’ll post a link.

Height Gauge Arm (Revision 01)

If you are looking to get a height gauge, do yourself a favor and go a dial one instead of a digital one.  Even though the dial on mine is graduated to .001″, you can actually measure much closer in the home shop with it.  Notice I didn’t say in the shop – in a professional environment I get that you need hard numbers and ‘guessing’ at the measurement is very poor practice.  Verniers are also good but I find them slow – probably because I don’t have enough practice.

Home Shop Machinists Podcast – Episode 2 – Über Machinist

It’s been more than a month since our last episode where we said we would try to record an episode 2 times a month.  To make up for it we snagged Stefan Gotteswinter for an interview.  Thankfully he hung around long enough to answer our questions and didn’t seem to be too put off by our antics.  In this episode

  • Stefan is looking at Onshape.
  • Max geeks out over Wine for Linux (sorry) and thinks you can easily run Autodesk’s Fusion in Linux.
  • Max gets a Hemingway kit, the Trent Pinion Mill, and now he has to machine it!
  • Chinese machine tools really are not that good, but are great for home shop machinists!
  • Stefan suggests to think of most imported machine tools as casting kits.
  • How to get banned in less than 5 minutes on Practical Machinist.
  • Germans have a lot of home shop machinists, who mostly use CNC.  Germans and their tech!
  • Stefan uses carbide in the shop.  We’ll make him listen to our first episode again before we invite him back on.
  • Stefan would be happy on a desert island with a Deckel FP1… and all the accessories.  Who wouldn’t?
  • Max happens to think German is an eloquent language.
  • How could you interview a German and not ask about beer?

Plus a whole lot more.  We managed to trim 10 minutes off this time to get our 1 hour podcast down in 1 hour and 20 minutes!

You can listen to the episode directly here:

or you can download it directly.

Subscribe in iTunes (and please rate us!): https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/home-shop-machinists-podcast/id1180854521

Stefan’s website: http://gtwr.de/index.html.  and his Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/syyl

Onshape: https://www.onshape.com/

Max’s Hemingway kit: http://www.hemingwaykits.com/acatalog/Trent_Pinion_Mill.html

Max’s website: The Joy of Precision and also his Youtube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdMt_havo3BxZJscvRCOGcw

Justin’s Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4qMguQuG7N4CFwOP1jyo4A

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Home Shop Machinists Podcast – Episode 1

Max and I finally got around to recording our first episode of a brand new podcast!  In our first episode:

  • What’s happening in our shops (it’s getting cold!)
  • High Speed Steel – the Scottish man’s cutting tool of choice, and also most dutchmen
  • Quit spreading rumors about HSS bluing!
  • Don’t feed the monsters: quit buying those end mills in the wood box
  • Max’s tip: Do yourself a huge favor and buy a 3/8 HSS roughing end mill for your mini mill (a good quality one will last a long time!)
  • They are not Titanium drill bits!
  • Max untwists a drill
  • We talk for 1/2 hour longer than we planned.  Consider it punishment.

Youtube links:

Recommended Books:

L.H. Sparey’s Amateur’s Machinist.  On Amazon here.

Here is a picture of the TIN drill Max managed to untwist:

untwisted_drill

We’ll get better at this, we hope.  Please leave us feedback.

For now we are hosting it on my blog.  You can listen to the episode directly here:

or download it directly.

Subscribe in iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/home-shop-machinists-podcast/id1180854521

Be sure to check out and follow Max on his blog, The Joy of Precision and also his Youtube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdMt_havo3BxZJscvRCOGcw

My Youtube channel is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4qMguQuG7N4CFwOP1jyo4A

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.