"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Projects Not Quite on the Bench

I am getting enthused with my many design sketches for the next CNC machine. It has been hard for me to scale back on size with my design schemes. It all relates to my own advice that I must have a product I want to produce and size the machine to accomplish the task. What I really must do is to keep it within a size constraint that will fit into my residential shop area. It still looks like ~ 25 x 25 or so working area with larger overall dimensions.

There have been lessons learned on the first machine I built both good and bad, which in a way makes the bad discoveries a good learning experience. Boy is it ever true; the bigger you want to go the much more it is going to cost!

On the first machine I found out how critical perfect alignment is for a machine just to be able to move. I am planning for that on the new design. Linear slides do not tolerate poor alignments and deflection.

It is too soon to release my machine design thoughts. I don’t have all the details worked out as I like to design/build. I am considering doing some drawings this time. It will be a more serious design than the first machine and that may gather interest from other hobbyists. I am definitely aiming at the hobbyist user (me) but the design will be able do serious work. A small machine shop is definitely required to build this one. I plan to make some of the more costly parts. (Mmm… maybe a kit design?)

I am currently working on the new CNC controller and I will grab some pix of that as it goes together. Electrically it will be very… Continue reading

Late January Ramblin’

Dan in shopTexas weather is going crazy as usual. It is 32 degrees (F) and raining one day then 62 and sun the next which was yesterday. This morning it is 35 and semi cloudy. I know they say this in every place I have lived but, “If you don’t like the weather. just wait a day…” 🙂

Outside Christmas deco was taken down (finally) yesterday. When packing it looked like I cornered the market on outdoor extension cords. I use over 35 to run all the circuits on the computer controlled light system. The weather was perfect and my back feeling good enough to tackle the task. Ten more months and counting… too long to just leave them up.

The online store is doing OK. Gears are starting to sell very well. I recently sold a Proxxon lathe and have two folks at present wanting to know when I can get the next one. The one I own is for sale but to ship it would double the freight cost as I already paid to get it to me. Shipping it again would not be for free. I may just pay the tax on it and keep it for myself. It is a great little lathe and actually the same size Kozo uses to build his 3/4 scale locos. His is an Emco with the attached mill, no longer available.

My shop is a mess at the moment. I have several projects to work on and Christmas piled all around me. We will fix most of the pile problem today with a trip to storage. Here in the Dallas, Texas area, basements are unknown. Shop space is at a premium and usually must be shared. I am actually willing (dreaming) to move the shop to a rental space… Continue reading

See and Seeing

I have committed myself to taking a fresh start and doing some more CNC work. The reason being is I have discovered some projects I want to do that will provide new products for The Hobbyist Machine Store. They will be best produced through CNC repeatability. The store has proven to me that I must produce my own product. Exclusivity is the key to success. My products may be similar to others but will never be the same.

I am doing some minor rebuild on the original homebuilt CNC gantry style engraver shown here, primarily a solid mount for the Dremel tool I already own. I am also considering making a mount for the Proxxon Professional Rotary Tool IB/E (NO 38 481). The working area of the engraver machine is 5.5″ x 6.0″ so the small hand engravers are a good match. My first projects will fit this small machine very well.

I have also ordered the basic parts for a second CNC power supply / controller. It will be set up to operate this little gantry machine. I will post that project in the THMS web site. I will use the same components as my first controller but in a different case and layout. I don’t like to mess too much with success.

Then, a new design is to build a larger gantry CNC machine that will be able to use more powerful spindle drives such as high speed routers. Table working area will be at least 12″ x 24″ and may approach the 24″ x 36″ range as anything bigger than this gets out of the reliable range for stepper drives. Extremely fast rapids are not required and I don’t want the expense of designing a servo system. Anticipated first project (product) is much smaller than the larger… Continue reading


Now I am into purchasing brick, insulated firebrick that is. This is the kind of firebrick folks use to build kilns. That’s a place where pots go to get hard baked. Jeeze! First Dan’s dropping acid now he’s smoking pots. Pay attention. I only bought the insulating firebrick!

I do silver brazing. I am in the need to build a brazing and soldering hearth. Forget the kiln and pots, maybe later. The insulating firebrick will let me hold the heat in one place and keep me from burning down my shop (I hope). My silver brazing is getting scaled up to making bigger pieces.

I plan to have some insulating firebrick leftover to sell. Anyone need some?

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