"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Big Lift

Is this a "Bench Press"?

I had to laugh at myself this week end. As usual I was pushing myself too hard and for too long in all the heat. Texas is having a very long spell of 105 degree weather. The high temperature must have made me wacky.

I know my PN has sapped most of the strength I used to have in stamina and ability to dead lift and carry things. Put the PN and the hot weather together and it doesn’t make for a good combination.

So my problem is how do I know my limits until I test them? I push hard enough to find those edges.

I have a small mini-lathe (a metal cutting machine tool) for which I sell conversion gears to buyers all over the world. I stored the machine on a bottom shelf of one of my work benches. It is made of cast iron and steel and weighs about 75-80 pounds.

Let’s say I used to be able to pick it up and move it. Well not any longer. That is now a limit I shouldn’t exceed. But I had to test that fact to be sure.

I was pretty sure this wasn’t a good idea but I didn’t let that stop me. I pulled the lathe out onto the floor off the shelf. Then I got what I thought was a good grasp and tried to do a power lift with my legs. I know my back is not good so I was looking out for it. Well, the legs are no darn good either.

I did not hurt myself other than my pride. I got the machine about a quarter the way up and my legs decided to quit. I sort of rolled back against the bench then off… Continue reading

Where is it made?

I received an email from a person who had been viewing my ecommerce web site. He asked me where (what country) a certain product I sell was made. The product is sold from Germany but the first thing I replied was, “with today’s world economy, he should have asked where the product was assembled.”

I didn’t know the answer so I gave this person the toll free number of the distributor in the USA and also the email for the same. I also made a remark (maybe unfairly, sorry) that it is far easier to dial a free number and ask, than to read three mindless guys posting pure speculation in a forum like somehow the answer was a secret and none of them had a telephone.

At least my guy wrote to me (a dealer) to ask. I wasn’t chiding him. It’s OK to ask the horse for the answer and hear it directly from its mouth… Ha!

That is as far as my response went, but it did set me off to thinking. Asking where (what country) something is made is a fair question. It is interesting information. I use that kind of information to influence or create an image of quality or sometimes lack of quality. It’s a common marketing ploy.

Today it is more smoke and mirrors than helpful decision making information. Leaving politics out, we are truly in a world economy. Many things are much better made and lower cost because of this fact. Even the American (Made in the USA) slogan where some people here in the USA demand 100% USA parts, seldom get it. The bauxite used to make the aluminum I machined on my Asian lathe to create the Made in Texas, USA component might have been imported from Canada.  Yeah,… Continue reading

A Visit to My Personal Machine Shop

I keep judging my shop’s quality. I consider, “Is this as professional as it should be? What are the right tools for me?” I feel it is so much a personal decision; I will never see or believe an answer from anywhere but within my own desires. If I am doing machining just for the challenge and personal pleasure to myself, no one else can tell me what’s right for me. One thing a personal machine shop is… is that it is personal. So be it… it is then a personal machine shop.

Is there a difference between a hobbyist’s machine shop and a personal machine shop? I think it is mostly just a difference in title, but that little change in thought from hobby to personal does make some subtle change in impression. To me it removes the vision of play and non serious application of time. It sounds a bit more “professional”. Maybe even to the imagined ability of producing professional grade work. The roles and actions have not changed at all. It is just word crafting to create subtle changes in how some people relate words to meaning. It is the basis of how “political correctness” works.  What’s the difference between garbage man and sanitary engineer?

I have never had a hobby where quality wasn’t important. Many hobbyists find a way to maintain the very highest standards and output from the skills and equipment they have and can afford. Hobby machinists for example, can generally produce with a far better standard than is needed for professional work. Even with “hobbyist” machines.

I feel describing my shop as a “personal machine shop” can be an image enhancement to the non hobby person. The same reason the personal computer (PC) is now seen as a professional tool. The… Continue reading

Hotter Than Hades

Triple Aces!

I just spent the Father’s Day week end wanting to start a project in the workshop. I say wanting because nothing quite got started that I would call a machining project. The old road to Hades is paved with good intentions.

There were a lot of other things that got done though. Even with the intensely hot (100+F) Texas temperature I did get some shop cleanup work accomplished. I did think I was in Hades while I was working in all the heat. Ha! This is my annual rant about the Texas heat.

I envy but do not quite covet those folks who work in conditioned spaces. I know what it cost to maintain the temperature differential of 20 to 30 degrees. I think if I had a full time shop (not just a weekend warrior) I could justify maintaining the space temperature at a more human bearable setting.

However, the problem with intermittent cooling of a garage workshop with steel and iron tooling is the temperature variation with adjustments and calibrations constantly changing. Worse is the cooled down shop suddenly exposed, through opening a double garage overhead door, to the inrush of very hot and humid outdoor air. Instant condensation and rust on all cold metal surfaces. All the built up expensive cool air will simply dump down the driveway.

My tools have very minimal surface rust as their surfaces never get below the dew point of the outside air. So moisture in the air doesn’t condense. I take a cold Dr. Pepper to the shop in the summer and the can immediately begins to sweat. It is well below the dew point of the air.

I never set a cold beverage can on a metal tool surface or directly on the workbench. I don’t enjoy cleaning… Continue reading

Shars Preminum ER16 Collet Holder

I just received this R8 to ER16 premium collet holder from Shars Tool Company in St Charles, IL. It is brand new and rated at 0.0001″ runout at the face. What that means is that this collet adapter should be able to run at well over 10,000 RPM without problem.

When you spin that fast and faster, things like balancing the collet nut become necessary. You can see that has been done on this adapter. I will never get close to that rpm on the X3 mill but it is nice to know it is that good.

I have some projects that need machined with small end mills. The manual Taig mill with an ER16 spindle would be perfect. My Taig mill is set up as CNC and although it could be controlled manually, I like to use the X3 with the DRO for manual milling. Higher RPM would be nicer on the X3 for small bits, but I can live with 2000 RPM and slow feeds.

The adapter looks like is was made from stainless steel but it is nickel plated to avoid corrosion from cooling fluids.

Price range $50 – $60. On Ebay I bought at the lower price.

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