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....



  1. Some damn good advice and info there. Damn you did score on those old center finders, them things are just cool and the collet holder is a beauty!
    I have watched most of the youtube channels you listed until my eyes bled, some of the tool suppliers you listed are going to be opened up in new tabs here shortly. I did score big on Ebay one time by buying "used machine tools,lot".
    Some old machinist dude had passed away and his kin apparently just swept everything laying loose on his work bench that they couldn't identify or didn't think was worth messing with into a box. I picked it up for about $25 plus shipping and it had a small gold mine in it when I dug through it.

    I hit some of those links and had to go get a paper towel to catch the drool.
    Since I am pretty much just starting out at this and it's just a hobby, I have been scouring for stuff.
    If you want cheap inserts you need to go check that out, I am dead serious.
    They have them for ten bucks and under if you know what you are looking for.
    I scored some 3mm carbide 4 flute cutters that fit into my Dremel for a couple bucks apiece and I wish I had some of those 25 years ago now.
    Best thing for flattening the tops of jagged, broken off bolts so that you can center punch them I have ever seen in my life. Especially when they break off recessed in a hole.

    1. I've got some Banggood stuff in the shop. I want to test out some collets I got, but time keeps on slipping into the future....