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Forum topic by PurpLev posted 02-23-2012 03:41 AM 6578 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8652 posts in 4705 days

02-23-2012 03:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: machining woodworking parts machine tools

After a recent post it seems like there are other folks around here that do metalwork and machining as well. I think it would be interesting to see what everyone is doing on the ‘dark side of the force’.

What are you guys machining? does it tie in to your woodworking work? if so how? what are you using to machine your parts/projects? what are you working on right now?!?

Show us your work space, show us your work pieces, tell is about it!

I’ll start:

Grizzly Mill, and an Enco lathe that I was using until now which is being replaced by a Clausing lathe:

Workbench wagon vise wheel handle (adapting a machine handwheel to fit a LV vise screw):

Frame saw clips/handles:

Cylindrical square (to check squares for squareness, and to align parts square to mill table):

Lathe tailstock lock handle:

Lathe quick dialing-in Jig and rigid compound slide base:

End-Mills chucks for quick release using 3/4” R-8 collet:

What do you got?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

15 replies so far

View Karson's profile


35271 posts in 5457 days

#1 posted 02-23-2012 04:33 AM

Nice stuff Sharon.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Dez's profile


1172 posts in 5134 days

#2 posted 02-23-2012 04:35 AM

Since when is metal working the “dark side of the force”?? I have regularly worked metal AND wood for projects I’ve done, since the very beginning!
More power to you and those that do!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 3992 days

#3 posted 02-23-2012 04:44 AM

I have a metal lathe. I don’t use it often but it comes in handy every now and then.

View Dez's profile


1172 posts in 5134 days

#4 posted 02-23-2012 06:01 AM

And to think that I have always had to do that kind of stuff by hand with a hacksaw and a file!

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4055 days

#5 posted 02-23-2012 06:04 AM

Still learning but here is a few things I have done so far. Some pics kinda suck before I started using a better camera. Some are too big to show full pic. Just open in another window if you want to see the whole thing. Sorry but I would have to download them, adjust size, upload them again.

Several sets of bow saw hardware (No pics, just copied my set from Grammercy)

An extra set of tool holders. Just ordered the stock to make a few more. You can’t have too many:

A swing up tool holder for threading (was before I added the set screws and depth adjuster) Lots of fun. First time working in steel. Works great. Based on one from MadModder. Makes threading a breeze:

Lead screw and nut for CNC router. (I am going to change the nut to a different type) made from stock Acme threaded rod and skate bearings. Have several sizes to make CNC router with 2’x4’x10” (or so) work envelope. Have to make the bearing carriages next. Will take pics and post when I start putting it together. Soon I hope. I might get some time to work on it during spring break.

Collet holder adapter for my rotary table. Pay no attention to the evil electronic stuff in background. The stepper motors are for something else. The ones for the CNC router are larger:

Still unfinished marking knife—first time turning steel freehand with gouges. Didn’t have a long enough tool rest so it came out lumpy. Since then I picked up a collet holder for my wood lathe. Have not made another yet.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View ellen35's profile


2749 posts in 4489 days

#6 posted 02-23-2012 11:56 AM

I’ve seen your shop, Sharon… where do you put this stuff???

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 4939 days

#7 posted 02-23-2012 01:15 PM

Oh my. I could only wish to have such a capacity.
That is a really nice spread. Thanks for the inspiration.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4705 days

#8 posted 02-23-2012 02:29 PM

Thanks for the comments.

Dez since this is lumberjocks, metal working is the dark side, of course if you asked the same think on practicalmachinist it might be reversed. besides, the dark side of the force is the pathway to many abilities even if some consider it to be unnatural. And yes, producing quality work with a a hack saw and a file, much like woodworking is an art that should be preserved.

nice work David. looking forward to seeing that CNC build in progress.

Ellen this is of course in the bedroom.

come on – lets see some more inspirations and projects

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View mafe's profile


13109 posts in 4146 days

#9 posted 02-24-2012 02:02 PM

Wauuu Sharon, lovely tools, it looks like a real dream set.

Here is my little metal world.
A Emco unimat 3 mill and lathe.

Not been using it a lot, but hope to find time and perhaps take some classes.

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4055 days

#10 posted 02-25-2012 04:00 PM


There is no difference between making things with metal and with wood other than the depth of cut you can take, the speed that you cut, and lubricating the cutting tool. The process is exactly the same. Square up the stock, mark the piece and cut. You use a higher angle on the cutting tools depending on the metal. The nature of the material makes it where you can be a bit more exact with the measurements because it is more stable. Haven’t seen as many of them but they even have hand planes for metal. The one difference that you can use is that metals are malleable so you can cold work them a bit and they can be softened and melted for other processes

Those little Unimat combos are lovely little tools for small scale work. You would have a hard time finding better in that size range. When you did, they wouldn’t be very much better and would cost more than 10x as much.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4705 days

#11 posted 02-25-2012 05:45 PM

Mads, those are fantastic machines, just saw a few of those from the place I picked up my lathe from. like David said, for small work I don’t think you can find any better. If you are interested, I have some good lesson material for lathe and mill at hand, PM me.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View mafe's profile


13109 posts in 4146 days

#12 posted 02-26-2012 04:39 PM

Hi guys.
David, thank you, I think I will invest a new motor with speed control, then I guess I will have a good setup. I was lucky the lathe came with a lot of tools and rests so I will have plenty to play with.
Sharon, thank you also, I will pm you, will be really interested in some written help, and how to.
Best thoughts, Mads

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4438 days

#13 posted 02-26-2012 04:41 PM

I have a Sherline CNC mini mill and their mini lathe on a Sears Craftsman workbench in my home office. They’re both run from a little Shuttle XPC under the bench through ’s install of Ubuntu, which comes bundled with and set up for the EMC2 (Enhanced Machine Controller 2) software that does the actual running of the steppers through Sherline’s control box:

I’m lazy, so while I’ve had these both since 2006, I’ve done very little with them. It’s quite a bit of work getting them coded and set up for running a part. That said, I have done some things.

I’ve made things for the mill, like this sacrificial plate, which features counter-bored holes in the corner for mounting it on risers to the table, and a plethora of tapped holes for the machine screws I tend to use. This is great for milling right through parts a bit without damaging my table. It also works as a backer – like using sacrificial backers in woodworking – to make exit holes cleaner with little to know burring. I bought one bar of aluminum and cut a bunch of plates from it, so if this one gets too thin after surfacing it and milling on it too many times, I can clamp in another plate and run the same program to make a new one.

I machined this hose adapter to hook my shop vac to the manifold I made for the back of the mill (full photo set collection):

The manifold is an aluminum square tube capped on one end, machine screwed into the back of the mill’s vertical column block, and fitted with several Loc-Line hoses tapped into it with the largest tap I’ve ever bought:

I cut these little things to adapt my wiggler’s ball probe to my dial test indicator (full photo set):

I scored a dovetail in the ends so they could clamp on the dial test indicator on the one end, and the ball probe on the other:

They let me hold the dial test indicator in the wiggler’s ball-and-socket collet in the mill’s spindle for testing things like alignment and flatness of parts:

Some years back I got a great deal on a Yamaha DGX-620 “Portable Grand” 88-key weighted keyboard. I have always wanted a full-sized digital keyboard with a computer so I could compose and mix music, and so I could play music found online, and use software to train me to be a better player. I had an idea in my head that I named “The Piano Hutch,” and I set about building it. It feels very amateurish to me now – the first big project I did in my then-fledgling shop – but I still love it. (full photo set collection)

The basic design is this – just a backboard to slide behind the keyboard to hold the computer monitor, a shelf on top for the tiny Shuttle XPC computer, a tray for cords, some boxes for sheet music storage, and not much else:

I got an Ergotron LX arm for its flat panel display:

Now I could put the monitor wherever I wanted!

You can see that I’m able to play regular sheet music as well as any found online:

It’s a calming place to relax and play some music, but as you can see, it was missing a place for the mouse:

Anyway, finally back to machining, I came up with this design (full photo set):

I could make the top on my shop tools, but I wanted to take advantage of the mill’s abilities for cutting out the mounting brackets:

I used the lathe to turn precise-length UHMWPE spacers to level the brackets on the shelf, using business cards first to shim until level, then taking a calipers reading of the card stack:

It worked. The brackets were a snug, level fit on the front of the cord tray:

My friend asked me a few Halloweens back to make him a small circular saw blade out of aluminum. He gave me a precise diameter, thickness, and ID of the hole for mounting purposes. I turned a small plate to thickness on the lathe first – he had asked for 0.12” thickness (full photo set collection):

I didn’t know what he was making, but I set about finding an appropriate saw blade image online, making some vector art (trace a tooth profile, copy/rotate around center, connect paths), and I was able to use my sacrificial plate for mounting and cutting:

I was also able to use my new vacuum hose adapter. Having a shop vac and adjustable Loc-Line nozzles keeps the mess in my office down to nearly nothing. This is in the middle of cutting, and there’s no aluminum mess anywhere. I also get a much cleaner cut, because the bit isn’t pulling its own, hard aluminum dust back into its cuts:

It’s quite a little blade:

I found a bolt that could tap itself into the hole perfectly, so I used that as a chuck to put it back on the lathe so I could sand it as it spun to give it more of a spun steel look:

Here’s the final piece I gave to my friend:

It turned out that my friend needed it for the end of his arm. He went as a Borg from Star Trek:

He had an electric toothbrush motor and switch in there, so he could hold his arm up and spin the blade convincingly. These are flash photos, which reveal a bit too much, but in the nighttime light of the party, it looked amazing:

So those are some things I’ve made. There have been others, but as I said, I haven’t done nearly as much with it as I expected I would when I bought it. I’ve probably used it as much for woodworking as I have for metal work. For example, in my heart cutting board project here on LJ’s, near the top are two videos of me using the fly cutter on the mill to plane 132 blocks to exact, identical thicknesses, as my woodshop tools weren’t making precise enough cuts.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4705 days

#14 posted 02-26-2012 05:33 PM

oh wow, nice to see you around Gary. haven’t seen you posting in a while. still at Dis?

thats a sweet setup and some really nice clean parts. love it.

Mads will reply to PM.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4438 days

#15 posted 02-26-2012 05:45 PM

Yep! Still with them, and having a great time. As a random coincidence, I’m just about to head off to Disneyland now with my brother, who’s visiting from the other coast. Nice post, btw!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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