"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Taig Wrench CNC

I shot a video this weekend showing a Taig spindle wrench being milled on my Taig CNC mill.

For best viewing go to YouTube and view in HD full screen 720p. WOW! I used my Sony Alpha NEX-5 With it’s HD wide screen video ability. The raw full HD footage is spectacular but I had to edit down to 720P for YouTube. Here it is much less than that (around 360p). I don’t like the handheld movement and focus changes but it was easier than working around the tripod. I need to use the tripod… 🙂

Here are some stills. I had enough aluminum to make 9 wrenches on this run.

This wrench was actually one of my first projects with the Taig mill many years ago. I was using different software and controller but the results are the same. I also put a label on the handles of the original wrenches. I may do something similar on these new ones.


This size wrench is just the right size and the soft aluminum (compared to steel) prevents damage to the spindle and collet nut. My originals show a little wear but are still going strong.

Enjoy the video for now!

Update 5/3/15

Today I just cut 6 more of these wrenches. I checked out the proper feeds and speeds in CNC Cookbook GWizzard and got each cut time down to 6 minutes, 40 seconds. Now running 19 IPM feed at 10600 RPM, plunge 10 IPM and DOC is .0377 or seven round trips. Big chips and a beautiful cut.

Smoothstepper a Champion Again!

Once a real smoothie, then a stumble bum, now a VERY smooth stepper again. One tiny software update can change what became a chunk of lead back into pure gold. I don’t know what made the step controller a forgetful POS but I very pleased it has found its feet again.

I suspect it may have been Microsoft fooling around with the USB ports. It is always easy (fun?) to poke at a large and favorite target like MS. But perhaps it could be whomever wrote the USB driver code for Smoothstepper, left out an unneeded (at the time) refresh timer that was in the USB spec for critical devices all along.

It doesn’t matter. There is a fix and seems to be working perfectly. I am extremely impressed again with the very smooth operation. I just finished a six (6) hour run of continuous spiral micro machining of a round dome shape with lettering. That requires all three axis working very hard. I used three tools which means two tool changes with Z axis reset. It went flawlessly! Yes, my trust in the software and Smoothstepper is back.

Lesson Learned: When a new problem appears, I must think about what was just changed. A software update? If I can do a restore, I could see if the problem disappears. Always check web sites for bug reports. I may not be the only one with the problem. I never believe solutions I read from other users. They may be correct but there is a LOT of bad advice in forums. I look for official sources. They don’t respond first or very often. I look for official software updates.

Stumbling Warp9TD Smoothstepper

Update 10/1/12 (see below)

If you have been reading me for awhile, you know I purchased a USB Warp9 TD Smoothstepper for my Taig CNC mill controller. The link in the sentence above is to the last time I posted on the Smoothstepper.

It has been running wonderfully well until my last project. I was doing several roughing tool changes then a long three hour run with a 0.005″ ball end mill. When I was stopping the spindle motor for a tool change I was getting a glitch that would give me an E-Stop in MACH3. I would also get communication errors with the Smoothstepper saying MACH3 hadn’t “talked” to it for awhile on the USB port so it would go into a lock up state. Very frustrating as it required a Smoothstepper power off reboot and trying to salvage the run somewhere in the middle of the program.

Thoughts of ripping out the Smoothstepper and going back to parallel port did cross my mind. But I am more analytic than that. What had changed?

I remember reading one of the issues with the USB version and why Warp9 TD is producing the LAN version is noise issues on the USB line. The USB interface was never designed to survive interference as well as a LAN interface that in typical applications may run hundreds of feet through noisy environments. So I looked where I had routed my USB cable.

I had recently neaten-upped my cabling and run the USB along with a lot of power wiring along the side of my computer and in parallel with my power surge protector strip. I am a control systems expert and I know better. My USB cable has no industrial strength shielding. Yes, there are some USB… Continue reading

Rhino Crazy

I have spent the last couple of weeks deciding what I was going to do to upgrade my CAD/CAM software. Not the software I use for Over Head Routing. I have one of the best for my purposes and cost restraints in the form of Vectric  Aspire.  I use it a lot and always find new things I can make or design using it. Aspire is not going to go away for something better in its class for a long time.

As the title suggests my struggle has been what do I do with my aging (over six years old) McNeel’s Rhinoceros and its CAM plugin, MecSoft’s RhinoCAM. I use this combination to do the things that Aspire was never designed to do in CAD/CAM, A few example projects are the stepper motor heat sinks on HB2, a complicated replacement gun part in aluminum, and the detailed A3 locomotive driver wheels I machined from stainless steel.

Rhino really rocks in the drawing department. Well, that is what it is, a 3D drawing program. I started with Version 3 and somewhere along the line I upgraded to version 4. It’s been in Version 4 for quite some time, but there have been updates on a regular basis. Version 3 was fun but when V4 arrived, I knew it was a real pro users program. I am now running the Beta for version 5 and it is another major leap.

Rhino sells for around $1000 new and about half that for upgrades. So I have probably $1500 invested in Rhino over 6 – 8 years. I don’t know where V5 upgrade will be priced, but I will be there.

MecSoft RhinoCAM is a special edition of Visual Mill that runs inside Rhino as a plug in. It is NOT a… Continue reading

The Cutting Edge

I viewed a series of videos called Knifemaking Tuesday’s sponsored by Tormach. The hyperlink in the previous line will take you to the video location in the Tormach website.

The video series is a non professional production but it is an engaging story about a couple of Canadian knife makers, John Grimsmo and his brother Eric Grimsmo. It picks up their story when they first start using the Tormach machine.

John and Eric are a couple of entrepreneurs starting a production knife making business in I assume John’s garage. (I haven’t seen the videos from before Tormach sponsoring.)

The investment they made for all their recent upgrades indicates they must have deep pockets somewhere or the previous knives they sold before using the Tormach tools must have been VERY expensive and profitable. There is a lot of talk about what they are spending on development of the new production system and design run but zilch about profits, then perhaps that is not our business… so to speak. 🙂

Tormach sponsors this YouTube “Channel TV” program because it showcases the Tormach PCNC 1100 machine and a lot of their accessories, except the ATC (Automatic Tool Changer).

This is definitely more an amateur reality TV garage workshop sit-comedy of errors than a typical Tormach training series. There is way too much goofing around and trial and error mistakes for calling it training, but I did learn a bunch about amateurs trying to become serious professional knife makers. I also gathered a bunch of new information about using CNC for knife making. The knife products do look good by the week 26 video.

The video work, even with as low a production effort as seen here, takes a lot of time and effort from the actual work of knife making.… Continue reading

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