If you live with someone engaged in the home-shop machining hobby, and you are responsible for any domestic duties involving clothing, you have no doubt found swarf in the laundry. Just the other day, I shook out one of my husband’s sweaters he had worn in the shop, and a cute metal corkscrew resembling a tiny clock spring (no, my husband’s chips don’t always come off in perfect “9’s”) bounced on to the floor. Our children thought it was cool. We then examined a knit sweater that had been worn in the shop and noted several metal chips embedded in the weaves. The next 15 minutes were spent scouring the house for magnets to see if we could pick-up the sweater. It didn’t work, but the exercise ranked higher than our children’s 1 hour allotted TV time for the day.
I could start to nag at my husband for all the chips he is tracking in to the house via socks, sweaters and hair, but have thought better of it. I have observed that the machining hobby has provided an interesting (and even productive) outlet for my husband’s creative energies and stress, while also providing many learning opportunities for our children, and even myself.
The video documentation of this hobby and its results via YouTube has also provided interesting learning opportunities for our family. Its cute to watch the children excitedly bring other family members and friends to the computer screen to show them what Daddy is working on in the shop right now. Our son has even started making his own videos with his V-Tech video camera of his Lego constructions. This has been a great lesson to my husband and I to never underestimate the impact you’re having on those little eyes watching you.
Yes, it would be nice if I could park my car in the garage and Band-Aids weren’t a standard weekly grocery item. But for all its benefits, I guess I’ll put up with the swarf in the laundry.
Megan is the wife of Justin. She has the pleasure and the pain of dealing with a manufacturing gearhead on a daily basis.
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.
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!
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.
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:
- Tool Post Nut Arm
- 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.
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.
Last Friday evening I received an urgent request for some shoulder bolt type screws. A job was in the works, and the screws on hand wouldn’t work. I needed to make up 3 screws. So after getting the kids to bed I headed out into the shop and went to work.
I made a video showing how I made them up:
I used a die to cut the threads. A lathe purist perhaps would have single pointed them, but I didn’t have time and it was getting late. I delivered them early Saturday morning, and I was told they did the job well. I did lose a bit of sleep that night, but it was fun to do and I was glad to help out someone else get another job done that couldn’t wait for another solution.