Friday, February 3, 2017

Where Have You Been All My Life You Little Darlin'?

I think I'm in love again.

I have been out in the garage most of the day doing what my Dad used to call Piddle Fartin' Around.
Dinking around with this and that, putting some stuff away, going through and emptying out boxes of crap and fixing a few things here and there.

One of the items that has been on my list was to shorten up the handle on my vise that a buddy made me.
It's 1/2 stainless rod and threaded on both ends with bigger 1" solid rod ends on both ends for handles. It worked great but it was about 4" too long and it was like spinning a clothes rod out of a closet.

I mean it worked good when you wanted to clamp the shit out of something because there was leverage to spare but it was a real pain if you just wanted to stick something in it real quick to do something because you had a hell of a throw on it you had to whip around. It would catch on my coat and just generally was a nuisance.

So I cut it down with my little portable band saw and stuck it in the lathe so I could turn it down and rethread it.
I tried using the Harbor Freight cutting bits but they are pretty useless.
That meant grinding one of the HSS blanks, something I had never done to make a cutting bit.

A buddy at worked turned me on to the best tutorial a guy could ever want for that. The gentleman uses a hunk of 4X4 to show you what the thing actually looks like and how to grind each face.
It's an awesome video you can watch here.

My first attempt kinda sorta worked, for a short while.

I had too much of an edge on it and unbeknownst to me, the top of it chipped off after a few minutes and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why the damn thing wasn't cutting anymore.
Being the sometimes stupid and always stubborn bastard that I am, I kept trying and trying for quite a while before I finally got frustrated enough to pull the bit out and actually look at it.

My second attempt was a little better, it actually started cutting and making chips.

Oh boy was I stoked.
I had played with the thing but was practicing on a brass rod that was pretty soft.
Stainless steel can be a bit of a challenge but I have some pretty good cutting oil that I kept brushing on it and that helped tremendously.
Of course this is a little machine so that means you have to make little cuts too.
Lots and lots of little cuts.

I finally got the turning and feed speed set to the point it was working pretty good and just started making passes.

I was finally making nice, curly, spirals of stainless steel happiness.

Here is the obligatory crappy picture, one of these days I am going to go down and get a real cell phone.

As I was standing there watching it work it occurred to me that there must have been a hundred times in my life that I could have used this thing to make my life easier.

I have tried chucking pieces up in a drill press and using a file on them before because I didn't have a lathe.

It didn't escape my attention that I am about as green as green gets when it comes to using this thing and there is a steep learning curve staring me in the face but I am making progress and that is all that matters to me.

I see lots of practice and lots of money throwing in my future but I am just tickled to death with the thing.

I have already informed The Wifely Unit that she needs to start saving money for next Christmas

There is something else I really want now.


  1. you should try ordering from "MSC" lathe cutting tools or bar

    #800 645 7270 for a catalog

    even if you don't buy anything you will luv the catalog

    obey me!


    1. LOL!
      Ok! Ok!
      I already got one from The Little Machine Shop, they specialize in these little lathes and mills.
      I'll give this other outfit a shot, one can never have too many wish books I guess.

    2. I should not have gone to the Little Machine Shop website.

      Too many things that I really want!

      Bad man, bad man!


  2. Go to Micro Mark. I have one.
    Things you need to fix before you get pissed. is a great unit once you figure why the head drops once and awhile. cost me a lot, but fixed it.


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