"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Fanning the Coals

It’s no secret one of my lusts is machining in metal and wax. Actually, machining any material is fine with me. Wax became my favored material because it machines so well, especially with very small tool bits. Primarily, jewelry CNC carving for lost wax casting (LWC).

But I have also machined wax for LWC casting in brass, and that also works very well. I am not involved with casting large objects. At least not yet. But I don’t have an interest in doing large scale sand mold type casting. That’s a whole ‘nother sideline.

My light weight Taig equipment is perfect for machining wax. Taig tools also do an admirable job on small metal cutting as well. I have milled everything from stainless steel to cast iron. I have had no problems with brass, at least the types I have machined. Like most metals, there are many alloys. I choose the easy to machine.

I recently viewed a railroading model project (a hand-car)* made by an old friend Ed Hume. It got me re-considering my old lust for live steam engines and locomotives. They are machined directly from metal. That fanned the embers again and created a bit of remorse that my metal shop hasn’t been productive as was intended, except for the LWC silver work.

*Don’t know how long this link will last.

I designed my shop and machine equipment size specifically to create model train and model engine components. Not (what I consider) full size, or real life-size components. The term often used is “Model-Engineering” workshop.  

I recently dusted off one of the machines, the Proxxon PD400 mini-lathe and turned down some leaded steel stock into a mandrel and cap for my wax carving. That effort really felt good, experiencing those perfect cuts and… Continue reading

Tiny but Mighty Project

Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse

I haven’t posted here for some time. I have been busy doing a ton of work on other projects and the “machining of steel” part of my shop has been a bit idle. I have been machining wax so that counts for something.

But I made up for the slack a very tiny bit last night by machining a small locating pin for my wife’s sewing machine from a steel rod. Hardly worth mentioning actually, but like I said, its been a long time and no posts here.

What I started with was about a two inch length of 3/16 (0.1875) inch steel rod. The pin finished out at about 5/8 (0.625) inches long. The ends needed to be different diameters for half the length each. I took no measurements and just turned the pin to fit the existing holes. This was a repair/replacement for an existing plastic pin that broke. I replace one several years ago that is along side of this current one. The pins are used for locating a removable platform or deck around the sewing head. The steel pins are of course much more durable than the original.

The fat end of the pin is a press fit into the plastic platform base and the small end slides into a locating hole on the machine base.

OK, so the point is — this pin is not something you can just go somewhere and purchase, and it is far better than the existing plastic part it replaces. It is a better invention. (That’s my favorite new word, invention.)

It was super easy to make. The lathe (I used the PD400) is always set up. Total time even with finding the steel rod, was about 30 minutes. I also used the cutoff saw to cut… Continue reading

Design Study



I have the design of my Taig CNC mill to CNC lathe conversion further along. I have the few scraps of the non-Taig material in hand and I placed an order for all new Taig components I will be using. I had an eight year old spindle and a 3,000 rpm Dayton motor but I decided to design with current parts and slower motor so there would be no surprises if I put together a kit. I also have a new idea for the tool mount that will be much easier and probably cheaper to implement.

The CNC lathe conversion is ultra easy and low cost if you own the CNC mill. I will dare call it a quick change process. It consists of mounting the Taig lathe bed on the Mill table, removing the mill spindle and motor assembly in one piece, and clamping on the lathe tool holder on the Z axis.  I will be using a standard lathe 3/4 -16 spindle with a 1/5 hp mill 1750rpm motor to power the spindle with standard mill belt drive. I like the fact that the standard Taig tailstock can be used if required. There is plenty of working room above the lathe with the mill head removed.

Lathes should not be spinning at 10,000 rpm so the smaller mill motor will be a good choice rather than using the faster CNC mill motor, at least for the prototype. Of course testing is needed to prove this point, but it only makes good safety sense not to spin too fast.

Future development could be with a geared drive for slower rotation and an rpm reader to allow for thread cutting.

I decided to design and build this conversion mostly because it seems so easy to do. I don’t have… Continue reading

Taig CNC Lathe Ideas

criticalthinking2edThanks to the contribution by George Moorehead of Gig Harbor, Washington, I see an excellent platform for creating a Taig CNC lathe. My vision is to use mostly Taig components. It is a similar basic idea that other creators have embraced (like Tormach Duality Lathe)* when creating a CNC lathe machine. I am not thinking of the entire lathe, just the head as George has done.

*Tormach seems to be phasing this Duality lathe-on-bed (LOB) product out with preference to their new Slant Bed lathe. At least it is no longer prominent in their product offers. But for the Taig, the lathe head design on the mill table seems like a very practical way to achieve CNC lathe operation.

I have often studied the Taig micro lathe trying to imagineer how to make it a CNC lathe. Many folks have accomplished the task. But George and even Tormach with their new slant bed design have raised a good thinking outside of the box point that a CNC lathe doesn’t have to look like a converted conventional lathe. The head-on-bed (HOB) is a superior approach for Taig components. Of course this has been done by many others, so no originality is claimed or credited to anyone. The Taig factory could be doing it.

My point is any home machinist can do this and thanks to George for getting the juices flowing and blowing away my image of a converted Taig micro lathe.

I have all the major spare parts needed. Even an old style Taig CNC mill head (Non ER) and an A/C mill motor. I just need to design a few mounting plates. I can see that this would also make a great 4th axis with the proper stepper motor.

I am only discussing ideas here. As a dealer,… Continue reading

Seeing The Light

I am showing off my personal Taig Micro-lathe and some of the minor improvements I have made.  I haven’t done any super detailing but it seems everyone modifies their Taig Micro-lathe to the way they like it.

It is an older version and NOT exactly the same as the one being sold today. I wrote an article when I first obtained this lathe, so I won’t go into detailed coverage here. The biggest change is the carriage on the new lathes are extruded rather than cast, a much nicer looking detail improvement.

I like the motor on the left rather than behind the micro-lathe.  I don’t want swarf thrown all over it and there is the carriage clamp screw on the back side of the carriage I have to get to. The compound tool holder (not shown) sometimes has to stick out the back for angle cuts. Also the motor switch is far more accessible in this position.

I also like how easy it is to make accurate motor belt adjustments. Other owners can do it their own way. The motor base is a homemade copy of one shown in Nick Carter’s web site. I used to buy from Nick (including this lathe) until I became a Taig dealer myself. He is a good guy!

The motor is a Dayton 6XJ07. It was supposed to be TEFC (Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled) but the shaft end cover is open in this motor. I have checked… Continue reading

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