Amateur Machinists' Tools, Techniques and Materials

Archive for the ‘Techniques’ Category

File this one under safety not-so-safe

Posted by hammerscale on January 6, 2016



It’s bad enough having a chuck key get flung across the room, but now add some sound and fury to the equation.

At least use dental floss or some other breakaway type of line when doing the above.


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Chatter pattern

Posted by hammerscale on September 29, 2015

The outer part of the circle exhibits a pleasing pattern in this piece of steel. Produced when the cutting tool encountered some chatter, due to a little too fast a feed rate.


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Chris Fix

Posted by hammerscale on July 11, 2015

Really well made videos that address common problems/fixes for vehicles.

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Cross Feed Screw problems

Posted by hammerscale on March 27, 2015

Following quote is from a relatively recent thread on the Home Shop Machinist forum. The subject matter is the quite frequent “crashing cutoff blade” theme, which comes up a couple times a year.

Your problem may very well be directly related to any play you have in your cross slide screw and has nothing to speed, lubricants or rake angels of your cutting tool.
Most of my parting tools have a positive rake as Dian shows in his above picture, helps to curl the chip and gives a nice sharp edge.
I replaced the cross slide screw and nut on my Clausing for this very reason. It had .080 play in it, I had the same problem your having……. every time I went to part something regardless of material, speeds, feed rate, cutting oils etc. I always crunched the parting tool. I was so afraid to part anything I just quit doing it. The reason was the play in the screw. As the parting tool, especially a positive rake was fed in it would want to pull it’s self into the cut and with .080 of play in the screw it would just dig it’s self in and break. I tried negative rake tools which didn’t work well and still would crunch, neutral rake cut a little better but would also be pulled in and crunch setting the tool height made no difference either.
Once I replaced that screw and nut I never had that problem again. I can part any material at any speed with or without cutting oil and even use the power in feed and it works perfectly, haven’t crunched a parting tool since then, not even my .060 ones.


For the complete thread, please follow this link

I can well believe the above is the issue in many problems related to lathe operations. My crossfeed screw has a great deal of play (haven’t measured it, yet) and I’m sure is well past due for a replacement for both screw and nut.

That will be the subject of a future blog post.

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Basement Shop Guy

Posted by hammerscale on February 26, 2015

Another Youtube channel I enjoy. Brad offers down-to-earth advice, tips, and projects with videos that are well crafted and fast moving.

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This tactic works for cleaning up

Posted by hammerscale on February 25, 2015

I find the following routine works for keeping a shop tidy, or even de-cluttering a messy shop.

First, on entering the shop is to put 10 things back where they belong. Ten little things – example: 2 wrenches, 3 screwdrivers and 5 pieces of sandpaper are ten things.

Second, clean a small area of the shop. Example: table saw top has stuff on it, clean it up; or a drawer is messy, spend a couple minutes cleaning and sorting.

Last, third, after the day is done, again put 10 items back where they belong.

Repeat this every time you go in the shop. After a short time you’ll find it harder and harder to locate those first ten items, and you’ll have large flat surfaces empty of clutter. Cleaning small areas will then become more an issue of re-arranging and organizing. And having everything in it’s place is a huge boost to speed and efficiency, as opposed to spending 20 minutes looking for that particular tool you knew you were using only yesterday !

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Soak it ! Soak it ! Soak it !

Posted by hammerscale on January 26, 2015

I often receive phone calls from clients, or potential clients, if I have any replacement spindles for their drill press.

Why ? Because they’ve been pounding on it forever trying to remove the chuck ( just as they were advised to do on the internet ) and now the spindle is bent.
My advise in these situations is that they would have been better off calling me before grabbing the nearest baby sledge hammer. Just a solvent soak, married with some patience, can eliminate the need for brute force
in most of these cases.

I’m amazed at how effective just soaking stubborn parts in solvent works. By soak, I mean immersed for a week, or better, two weeks. Using the solvent of your choice. There’s a lot of nonsense in the web concerning what product is better – Kroil, PB blaster, WD40, even the latest concoction composed of acetone and auto trans fluid. I find it doesn’t matter what, but rather how long.

Example; I recently encountered a Morse taper cup center stuck in a wood lathe quill. Pound, pound, pound,…… no go, of course. After a heavy spray in the threaded hole of the quill I set it aside. A few days later, I took a look and solvent was weeping thru the Morse taper at the end of the quill. Three quick raps with a pin punch and the Morse taper shot right out.

I typically use odorless mineral spirits, or whatever is in a spray can if I need to flood a hole or opening. Immerse the part(s) and let it soak. Try it after a few days. If you don’t feel something move after just a few strikes of the hammer, …. STOP ! and let it soak some more. Effective with stuck drill chucks, threads, bearings, etc., etc.

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Caswell Plating

Posted by hammerscale on July 28, 2014

Caswell Plating offers an extensive line of plating, anodizing and other surface treatments for metals and plastics. Here’s a few pieces plated with their electro-less nickel plating system.


The company is in Canada (their USA distribution center is right over the border in upstate NY) and there sometimes is a loss in the translation of English in the instruction book. For instance, they refer to “SP” cleaner/degreaser for prep prior to immersion in the plating solution.

Here’s the sequence I use for cleaning parts:

1 – Degrease parts in mineral spirits, for gross removal of cutting oil and metal particles.

2 – Degrease again in a clean bath of a fast drying solvent such as Naphtha or acetone, to remove the heavy oily film left by mineral spirits .

3 – Immediately before immersion in plating bath, degrease again in a solution of TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) and almost boiling water (distilled water)
TSP is what I believe they refer to as “SP Degreaser”. If you can’t find it locally, you can order if from McMaster-Carr, etc. You will be impressed by the amount of still-clinging metal fragments released in this step.

4 – (optional) clean off any residue with a quick rinse bath in clean, hot, distilled water.

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Taking pleasure in measure

Posted by hammerscale on February 13, 2014

Some measuring credos and observations on machining tolerances.

1: Measure with a micrometer, not a caliper.

2: The machining feed and speed should be the same. (in other words, dont take a measurement off a roughing cut.)

3: Make sure the micrometer is zeroed correctly. Use a known standard, or for a 0 to 1 inch micrometer, bring the anvil to a close.

4: Use the same feel and pressure when taking a measurement. It’s your fingers, get a consistent feel for how the mic closes.

5: Make sure both work piece and micrometer anvils are clean. Use your finger tips to feel for grit, contrary to pop opinion (a.k.a. old man foolishness) you do not need to clean the micro with a folded hundred dollar bill or any other nonsense, your finger tips are fine. The human finger can detect inconsistencies smaller than 1/10,000 of an inch.

6: Take multiple readings. With round work travel slowly across the diameter of the work piece. Gently wiggle the micrometer as you take a reading to fight any tendency of the anvil faces to skew instead of lay flat

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Welding video

Posted by hammerscale on December 27, 2013

A good intro into the basic theory of the smoky art;

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