5C Collet Chuck

A few months ago I purchased one of the popular import 5C collet chucks for my home shop.  I’ve been investigating different ways to employ a proper collet setup in the home shop for awhile.  At first I was considering going the ER collet route and purchasing, or making, an ER collet backplate for my lathe due to the large grip range of ER collets and that they are very plentiful.  From a manufacturing engineering standpoint ER collets are not considered proper work holding collet, being designed specifically for tooling, but they actually do a good job in the home shop for work holding provided you are aware of the short comings:

  1. ER collets are generally not available in square or hexagon.  This isn’t as big of deal as it may seem – many folks use ER collets and simply grip on the the edges of non round stock.
  2. ER collets require more grip length than almost all work holding collets.  This is probably the biggest downfall to using ER collets in the home shop.  Holding onto a very short part in an ER collet in most cases is asking for trouble.  Even more sketchy would be holding onto just the edges of short square or hexagonal parts in an ER collet.
  3. ER collets require relatively high tightening torques.  This isn’t a big deal with the smaller sizes, but once you get into the larger sizes (greater than ER20) it becomes a pain.  For example ER32 is recommended to be torqued at 100 foot pounds!
  4. No emergency or soft collets available.  I suppose you could make up some soft ER collets fairly quickly though.
  5. No ER pot chucks, clutch collets, step collets, oversize collets, or whatever you want to call them.

Most of the above reasons are relativity minor when comparing ER to standard work holding collets.  Many of the above downfalls of ER collets are offset, especially when you are starting out, by the fact that you can use ER collets and collet chucks for both work holding and tool holding.  ER collets also have a very large grip range – meaning you need fewer collets to cover a range of sizes.  This can save money on tooling, which can be a big deal in the home shop and was precisely why I was seriously considering using ER as I already had a some collets in the shop.  When you consider you can purchase the ER collet backplates for less than $100 or make them easily in your home shop it’s a logical choice.

But I decided to go with a standard work holding collet, mainly for reasons 2 and 5.    I chose 5C as it is by far the most popular work holding collet available.  There is a plentiful used market and new collets are inexpensive.  Soft and clutch collets are inexpensive and I can get them next day from a local tooling supplier.

There are a few options for the actual collet chuck.  Import ones are available from numerous suppliers for below $200 and this is the route I went.  I actually ordered it off Amazon Canada.    If you are looking for something of higher reputation (note generally most of the import one are actually decent) you can purchase a standard accuracy Bison ones for around $500 with a stated .0008″ TIR.  A super precision one is available for $900 with a stated .0004″ TIR.

My import 5C collet chuck has less than .0008″ TIR, which is less than the stated accuracy of the standard Bison one at less than half the cost.  It is very well finished and so far works exceptionally well.  I have ordered inexpensive $12 emergency collets for it, and also I have been using it with a custom bored 3″ pot chuck recently for a repetitive job.  With careful loading I was indicating less than .0005″ runout on this job.

A few weeks ago now I also made a video of the chuck, including some of the mounting of it on the 2 lathes in the shop.  I recommend people to get a standard backplate one and either make up your own backplate or buy one.  By mounting the chuck on a backplate it gives you an interface to adjust the TIR to zero – if the mounting system is directly manufactured into the chuck your options are probably limited to regrinding the taper in situ to improve accuracy of the chuck.

If you are a more of your make your own tools type Andy Lofquist over at Metal Lathe Accessories has an interesting 5C collet chuck kit that you can machine yourself.

 

Cross Slide Screw Support

A few weeks ago I finished a project that I had on my mind for a number of months.  There was a lot of play in the cross slide feed screw on my import bench lathe.  This showed up as backlash in the feed screw – when you grabbed the toolpost and applied force in alternate directions you could see the entire cross slide move back and forth.  Some of it was from backlash in the feed nut itself, but most of it was between the feed dial and the support casting itself.

I tried tightening up the nuts themselves tor reduce the amount of clearance – but then it bound and you couldn’t turn the feedscrew at all.  This wasn’t the best design from the get go.

The first thing I did was modeled the entire assembly up in Fusion to get a clear picture of what was going on – and to give a good starting point for the modification: The nuts aren’t shown on the end of the feedscrew but you can see where the assembly is constrained for axial movement – at the right side on a shoulder machined into the feedscrew itself and on the left side the inner bushing of the dial.  These are just 2 plain bearing surfaces – and they weren’t machined the best to begin with.  No wonder it wasn’t the best!

I thought about doing what Stefan Gotteswinter did.  If this was my main lathe I would copy what Stefan did as it is the best solution by far.  Angular contact bearings are the way to go in this situation.  Since I’m keeping this lathe around primarily for cutting metric threads (the Standard Modern now in the shop doesn’t have a metric transposition gear) I decided to scale back the project and see if I could just stuff a deep groove axial bearing and a roller thrust washer into the space without having to modify the leadscrew, or make up a new dial.

Below is what I came up with:

I incorporated a deep groove ball bearing (6900-2RS) and a 10mm needle style thrust washer on the opposite side.  This required a new housing and the old cast iron bearing support to be shortened up.  The new housing was doweled to the cast iron block for location.  2 counter bored cap screws hold the entire assembly together.  The cross slide screw required minimal rework – a shoulder had to be turned for the bearing to sit against.  I also turned down the shoulder on the screw that previously was a bearing support.

The ball bearing is preloaded using the existing nuts.  Care needs to be taken not to overload the ball bearing as deep groove ball bearings aren’t primarily designed for axial load.  In retrospect I should have flipped the positioning of the deep groove ball bearing and thrust washer around when thinking about cutting forces as the cutting tool pushes away from the work piece.  If I have problems I can always make a new bearing housing.

The cross slide now is super smooth with no backlash due to the support.  There is a bit of backlash in the screw, but I don’t get too bothered by that on a manual machine.  It is significant improvement with not too much effort or time required.

I made a video of the entire project as well:

 

 

Tailstock Die (and tap) Holder

A few months ago I decided I had enough with using my traditional die holder in the lathe and set out to make a proper sliding die holder.  It is a very good beginner project that is straightforward to make and also is one that is exceptionally useful.

I started out with a design in Fusion.  The design consists of 3 manufactured parts, a body, an arbor, and a handle for extra leverage.  The body is designed to hold 1″ dies – a size that I have standardized on in my shop due to primarily expensive.  As die sizes climb the prices move up exponentially and due to that I generally single point large threads.  If you have larger dies the design is very easy to modify to accommodate larger dies.

 

Traditionally most people don’t use a sliding die holder to hold taps.  I’ve always started taps in the lathe using the tailstock.  If the tap is small enough I am brave enough to power tap – being sure to leave the tap a little loose to make sure when it bottoms out it slips to avoid broken taps.  I had the thought to incorporate an inexpensive ER collet chuck into the design to facilitate holding taps.  In this design the ER16 collect chuck stub is held in the end opposite to the die holder with a couple of set screws.

Besides being a pleasure to use with dies, it also works exceptionally well for small taps.  I don’t use the handle when I power tap with it – the handle is really only used for dies.  Now when you are tapping blind holes you can simply let go of the body and the entire body spins.  You can also feel when the tap reaches the bottom of the hole as the amount of force required to hold the body quickly climbs – at this point you simply let go, allow the body to spin and shut the lathe off.

Standard ER collets do a very good job of holding taps in the home shop.  You can get ER collets with an internal square that engages the tap drive but I’ve found it unnecessary for home shop work.  They are also more expensive and harder to find online – most industrial tool supply places can get them.

If you would like to build one yourself I made up a full set of drawings for the shop, and I’ll also provide 3D CAD in the zip file (iges and step):

Handle – (Rev 01), Body – (Rev 01), Arbor – (Rev 01), CAD – (Rev 01)

I also made a video the project:

 

Shop Made Quick Change Toolpost

A few weeks ago now I finished a quick change toolpost for the Schaublin.

The design is based on Andy Lofquist’s MLA-23 toolpost.  Andy is the man behind the wonderful Metal Lathe Accessories kits (http://www.statecollegecentral.com/metallathe/).  While I’ve never ordered any kits from Andy, I’m told that they are very high quality and are exceptionally thought out.

After quickly considering a Tripan toolpost and changing my mind after I saw the prices on those I ordered a set of drawings for the MLA-23 toolpost.  The original design is for 9″-12″ swing lathes.  The Schaublin is an 8″ swing lathe.  After drawing up the original toolpost in Fusion and drawing up the Schaublin cross slide it was evident that it was too big.  I decided to design a scaled down version, making some changes along the way.

The largest change is in the dovetail size and the shape of the body itself.  I wanted something that would match the Schaublin’s size, but also look, so I manufactured the body out of round material instead of square.  The toolpost is optimized for 1/4″ HSS tools, but 5/16″ will fit.

The internal workings are that of the MLA-23 toolpost.  The design is exceptionally rigid and works very well.  It is also a wonderfully simple in design.  Part of the reason I really like this design is for its simplicity.  I believe the best design is one that doesn’t allow you to take anything away.  This design, in my opinion, is one of those designs.

Some people don’t like that the toolpost doesn’t repeat in angle position – that is once you loosen the locking handle you completely loose the rotational position of the toolpost.  This is a downfall of the design if you truly need rotational position repeatability.  When I work in the shop I’m constantly moving the toolpost around to allow for tool clearance.  So much so that I made a handle for my Aloris clone on my 10×18 lathe a number of months ago.  I do have provisions in the design to allow for graduations on the base to allow for visual rotational positioning.  We’ll see if I add it.

The build was interesting and fun.  I learned a number of things along the way including how to cut dovetails on the shaper.  It took a bit of time, but it reaffirmed the very useful nature of having a shaper in the shop.  Instead of waiting for a dovetail cutter I could grind up a simple tool and cut nice dovetails, at any angle, and get a super finish.  I’m told you can build the entire toolpost with a lathe, but there is a fair bit of milling work so even a mini mill would be a huge help.

Since the design borrows heavily from Andy’s design I don’t want to release drawings.  What I’m planning on doing is forwarding a set of drawings to Andy to include with his prints if he is interested.  So if you want to build the smaller version, which is a perfect size for the mini lathe, send me an email and I’ll try to get you a set of drawings.

I made a build video of the entire toolpost in montage style format as well.

 

DIY Swarf ‘Cyclone’ Separator

I spent 30 minutes on a Friday evening making up something that has been on my project list for awhile.  I made a swarf separator to go in front of the vacuum.  Often these are called dust cyclones, or particulate cyclones, or separators of some sort.  I made a video of how I constructed it (which took longer than actually making the separator):

The design is very simple.  The pail itself was  from someone with a pool – it was used to hold bromine (I love re-purposing stuff!).  I’ve been saving the pail for this for awhile because it has a nice tight fitting lid.  I cut 2 holes in the top for some 1 1/2″ threaded ABS couplings and a 1 1/2″ to 1 1/4″ bushing found at a local hardware store.  One coupling was male threaded and the other was female threaded.  The 1 7/8 Ridgid vacuum hose fit well onto these couplings after I turned them to fit.  A long 1 1/2″ ABS elbow was used to direct the dirty suction flow along the side of the container.  The ‘clean’ air comes out the centre and into the vacuum.

I immediately tried it by cleaning up the lathe.  It worked very well for metal chips.  I’m not sure how well this design would work with saw dust – something I’m bound to try out at some point.  I don’t do that much work with wood, and when I do it generally is general construction – which usually happens outdoors.

I was considering purchasing a Dust Deputy – a purchased cyclone attachment for standard vacuums.  They are $60 for just the cyclone (still requires a pail with a lid) or $135 for a cyclone, pail, lid and hose.  Lee Valley also has their Veritas cyclone lids for larger containers for about $50, but I prefer the 5 gallon pail size.

I have about $30 into the project including the hose (the most expensive part of the project), which isn’t too bad at all.  Now I won’t fill expensive vacuum bags up with metal chips anymore, and I can keep the vacuum bag for filtration of fine particulate like grinding dust.

I didn’t make drawings for this project because I thought it was very simple.  If you really would like something, send me an email and I’ll try to do something up.

 

 

 

Lathe Drawbar

I needed to be able to bore some holes using the lathe as a mill / drill press for a number of upcoming projects.  My 10×18 lathe has a MT4 spindle taper.  MT4 is a bit of an odd ball taper for a lathe.  It’s not quite big enough to accommodate the 5C taper or the R8 taper – both of which plentiful amounts of inexpensive new and used tooling is available.  The X2 mini mill I have uses the MT3 taper – so naturally it made a lot of sense then to make up an adapter to go from MT4 to MT3, as well as a drawbar and associated hardware to go along with it.

Here is a video of the project:

The threaded drawbar itself was made out of some mystery metal in the shop.  It was interesting stuff with a really hard outer layer that through hot chips all over my arm when I was turning it.  It almost made me want a lathe with a carriage wheel on the right side of the lathe.  The drawbar was turned between centres to within .001″ over 10″ – something I was happy with.  It highlighted my need for a travel steady – I’ll have to add that to the project this.

The MT4 – MT3 bushing / adapter was made out of an inexpensive MT4 – MT3 adapter that would be commonly used in a drill press.  I cut the tang off with an angle grinder and cleaned it up on the belt sander.  I was thinking about making it up entirely, but I wanted a hardened bushing.

Here is the drawing for the project:

Lathe Drawbar Rev 01

The video marks my tenth video that I’ve done, and it also incorporates some significant changes in how I put them together.  Going forward I hope to continue to improve the quality as I learn.

The titanium pencil project is also still very much a going concern – I hope start some tear downs over the next few weeks to start the project off.  Many of the projects I’ve been working on in the shop are laying groundwork for the build.  So in short – stay tuned!

 

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.