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.

Every tool was used

I’ve been very busy lately outside of the shop on coursework so I haven’t had a lot of time in the shop this week.  I’ve managed to get some time in the shop making 4 more brackets for my friend’s Audi S4 antics:

s4brackets

The brackets are made out of 1018 cold rolled steel.  What I really liked about this project is everyone of my powered machine tools (bandsaw, shaper, lathe, mill, belt sander, bench grinder!) was used.  The method went something like this:

  • Cut to size on the bandsaw
  • Face and machine to thickness on the shaper
  • Square up on the mill
  • Drill the holes and start tapping on the mill (finish up by hand)
  • Cut the large radius in the lathe using a face plate setup (I used a hacksaw first to remove most of the material!)
  • Cut the outside profile on the bandsaw
  • Add the profile radii on the belt sander
  • And of course, sharpening all the tools on the bench grinder and / or belt sander

It was the first job I really put my newly acquired 7″ Ammco Shaper to work.

ammcoshaper

The shaper worked great, and it was really nice to just let the little machine work away while I was drilling on the mill.  Would I trade my mill for a shaper?  No, probably not, but the little shaper is a pretty useful tool.  It did a very good job on finishing the 1018, which can be really gummy at times with poor chip control.  I used a 1/4 HSS turning tool with a small stepper over for roughing and finishing.  Roughing used a depth of cut of about .020″, which I though was fairly respectable given the 1/3 hp motor powering the little shaper.  I’ll be posting some more details on the HSS tool geometry I used soon.