Sunday, May 6, 2018

Out of Order!

This is a bit out of order, but it needs to be said:  Be Patient.  Take it easy!


When I look for tools, I save my searches in EBAY.  I look for sales in Amazon or MSC.  My rule of thumb is to know what a new tool costs and never pay over 20% of that new price.  Less is better.  If I find a suspect "good deal", and I don't know what it would cost new, I dig out the phone and look it up. 

Some things need to be purchased new, but I can't justify paying the retail price.  I have to buy it cheaper.  It's a quest, or a quirk, not sure which.

The Getting Place:

Whenever someone asks, "Where did you get that?", the answer is always, "At the gittin' place!".  And that can be anywhere.  The best place I ever found for deals was the Knippa Tool Trader.  Sadly, it's gone.  And I missed the auction, too.  Dang it!

I have several pawn shops I paw through.  I've gotten to know a few workers and they know what I'm looking for.  They are used to, "what's your bottom dollar?"  "Can you go any lower?"  I've also just waited them out, if they can't move on the price.  The longest I've waited was 8 months for a set of Starrett precision levels.  6 months for a brand new metric Mitituyo micrometer (9.99!!!!!!)  Not all pawn shops will have what you are looking for.  As you frequent them, you'll learn what they get in.  (And messy, dark pawn shops seem to have more stuff at better prices)  You may need to have hand cleaner and paper towels in the vehicle!  That's a win!

Ebay's buy it now/make an offer is a beauty.  I'm not shy in asking for a deal, and the number of them I've gotten surprises me.  I got the itch for some antique center finders, and waited 18 months to find them in a lot.  A Brown and Sharpe and a Starrett.  Patience is required. 

2 Starretts and NO Brown and Sharpe!

I need that tool to finish this job:

This is where your research comes in handy.  I have several sellers spotted that sell inexpensive tools.  Carbidenow, colletking, Discountmachine to name a few.  As you look around, you'll develop your own list. 
CAUTION:  There are sellers on EBAY that will order their part from AMAZON and charge you a couple bucks more than AMAZON would.  I didn't know that, but I've gotten hit with that a couple times.  So, check both sites when you need the tool.  Saving money allows me to buy MOAR!!


There are lots of forums for machinists.  Some are better than others, and some are downright rough rides.  There are guys that will bust you for not knowing the difference between Whitworth and SAE.  Or mistyping a known spec.  1/4 x 21....  If I need to ask someone a question, I'll usually ask it in the vintage/old machinery part of the forum.  Those guys are a bit more patient with me than the younger guys.   Lots to learn and then to practice.  (search: home shop machinist, practical machinist, hobby machinist, etc.)

Youtube has been my goto for learning.  Left side of this blog is my study hall.  I use older machines, so the NYC CNC channel is for entertainment and education on running a shop, not instruction in running a 75 year old tool.  Man they do some cool stuff!

Making Parts:

I finished up the rough machining of the hex block for the 4 C collets this week.  As I neared the finished bore size, I took it really slow:  .005 passes till the collet was a good fit.  It's easy to go too fast and ruin a part, so take it slowly.  Moving slowly and accurately is the key.  I think that's what makes a craftsman.  You only move as fast as you accurately can.  As you become more familiar with your tools, material, and as skill increases, you can move quicker.  Mr. Pete will say it's a 30 minute job, and it'll take me 4 hours.  But that's okay.  Slow and steady will build the skill.

Speed kills:
I can see the reason insert tooling has taken over HSS tool bits.  HSS is good, but you can move more material in the same time with inserts.  Speeds are faster, feeds as well.  But if you haven't built the eye-hand coordination to stop or start where you need to, better to study and learn on HSS than crash with insert tooling. 

Side note:

Front of tool, cutting edge on the right.
I ground my first boring tool for the hex block.  It is basically a left hand turning tool.  3/16 inch HSS ground on typical grinder, cut off with dremel and a lot of water to keep temper.  I was really shocked at how well it cut.  After roughing it out on the grinder, I spent a little time honing the curved edge.  I've seen Adam (Abom79) do that, as well as watching the Oxtoolco series on chip management and cutting tool edge forming.  It works!  It really does.  I put in more clearance than needed, but it worked a treat!

Hopefully, this is a bit of info to make you think.  Give you some ideas on sourcing and the time it takes to make good decisions.  I really want to help out, so let me know if it's of any benefit to you.  Thanks in advance....


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Large Tools


Turning threads, reducing diameters, squaring stock (yes you can), the queen of the shop is the lathe.  The one tool that can reproduce itself.  It is the workhorse of machines.

Assuming you have a place for your tools, where will you find them?

I have been fortunate to find some good used equipment on here in the US.  My first lathe was a Logan model 200.  Judging by the serial number, it was produced sometime in 1945.  The old owner used it to build a manufacturing line for some really neat live bait fish hooks.  He passed away over 12 years ago at the age of 92.

I was cruising through CL on my lunch hour, and found this listing.  By the time I got there, 4 other people had contacted them and were prepared to buy the lathe.  These things do go fast.  It was under power and was in really nice shape.  I managed to buy a small 4x6 horizontal bandsaw, Sears 1950's vintage drill press and some other parts and pieces with it.


Logan still makes parts or has parts.  You can find them here:

When you find something on CL, be prepared to jump on it quickly.  But make sure you can test or look at it before paying.  I learned a hard lesson on my next lathe.  1943 LeBlond 13 inch Round head.  It was clapped out, and it wasn't under power.  It has seen a hard life.  It still turns well, and makes decent parts, but the bed is worn with a pronounced dip that results in tapered parts.  Especially up near the head.

It's still a decent lathe, but you have to know it's limitations, and work around them.  This lathe was worth maybe half what I paid for it.  I got some original tooling with it, and have found the rest of the parts I wanted for it on Ebay.   Since I haven't been a machinist for my whole life, I'm bound to make mistakes.  But I think of it as tuition.  I'm learning a new skill set, and it's gonna cost something.  If I take a college course, it'll be about the same as what I'm spending for these tools, and I get to keep them!

It's important to think about what size parts you will be making or working on.  There isn't any use buying a massive lathe if you plan on marking tiny parts.

My third lathe was another one I didn't get to test.  HGR ( Hurry, Grab, Run!!  is a company that buys all kinds of equipment and sells to anyone.  It is a Clausing 13 inch lathe.  It had a lot of issues.  I got a decent price on it, but it still is in pieces as I work on it.  It'll be nice once it's running, but that is still a ways off.  If you want to just get a new lathe and go for it, those are available.  For me, I need to watch the outlay on equipment (budget!!)  And I'm willing to work on my tools to make them function correctly.  I learn how they work and how they've been used.

Another location I can recommend is Small Tools ( This man is a class act.  They know their business well.

Craigslist is a good place to find used equipment.  Have the money in hand, and beware.

HGR sells used equipment that has not been inspected or cleaned. It is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).

Small Tools Inc. is an equipment reseller that services their equipment before you buy.  Good folks to trade with.

This is pretty much an overview of what I've done.  As time progresses, we'll dig in a lot deeper.

Next up will be milling machines and then, the rest of the tooling needed to make up the shop.

Thanks for stopping by.

AR in South Texas

The LeBlond uses 4 C collets, so why not make a 4C collet block?  I don't think they sell these anywhere.