"One Perfect Part at a Time"

micro machine

Take Your Best Shot

Taig Derringer (NOT!)There is a HUGE amount of BS on the internet forums about proper size CNC hobbyist machines. Internet opinion forums and blogs, because they are unregulated, have become impossible for a newbie to determine fact from reading someone’s personal agenda. Don’t trust anything you read including what I have to say. Just take what you read for what it may be worth to you.

Every brand, design, size and cost of a machine has it reasons. Unfortunately, what amounts to urban legend has driven the uninformed hobbyist to believe there is always better quality available for a lower cost; the best for the less. This is while some bloggers preach that only bigger is better.

There are products designed primarily for a low cost reason. There are products that are produced primarily for a quality reason. Then there are products produced that look at both those factors and are made and sized to do a particular job and do it without failure with the correct level of quality.

Many hobbyists are restrained by budget. Therein lays the problem. There are poorly designed machines sold at very low hobbyist prices because it is a well defined market with newbie’s that have limited money to spend.  I have written about it for many years. Some hobbyist choose price over quality and undersize the machine capabilities (because of price) for the purpose (work) they want the machine to perform.

First step is to clearly understand your intentions of use.

I personally own several sizes of hobby grade machines. They are excellent for my purpose and how I use them. I know their limitations and don’t kid myself into thinking those limitations don’t exist.

I have (and sell) Taig machine tools. I have many-many hundreds of hours of operation on my Taig CNC milling… Continue reading

Taig Lathe Add

There are some clamping moves that are repeated many times while making a series of parts on the Taig Lathe. Taig uses hex head 10-32 screws to lock the carriage gib and also clamp the tailstock and sliding center bar. It becomes a chore after a while picking up the correct hex wrench and fitting it to the screw head to make adjustments.

I have seen many examples where micro-lathe owners make a set of SS ball handle 10-32 screws and bend them about 80 degrees to act like a L handle. They look fabulous but you have to get the bend in the correct position.

What I show here are some store bought adjustable 10-32 threaded handles. They do the same job as the homemade handles except the handle position is adjustable. That’s much better in my book. Not quite as pretty as the homemade but a little more functional.

I purchased these at McMaster-Carr, Part Numbers 6271K11, 6271K19 and 6271K65. Pick the size you want. I bought all three sizes. I used the 9/16 length on the carriage. This is not a through hole so it shouldn’t bottom against the body. It works fine as is but could be a bit shorter. (grind down)

Having Fun in a Micro Machine Shop

I have been writing about small machine tools lately. I have said there is as much and actually more fun in making things with micro machine tools as the larger type. The Taig micro-mill and micro-lathe are a great example of the small size tools to which I refer. The Sherline products are just as capable and have a much larger product line. My preference is the Taig as the base hardware. I am not going to argue over tools. I own what I like, but know it is not a good over bad choice between either of those brands.

I currently sit on the edge between micro-machining and mini-machining (Proxxon PD400), owning and using both size ranges. For me, I am in the perfect fit with these options as (within reason) it is better to be a bit larger than you need in a machine than to push a small machine beyond its inherent limitations. But small micro-machines are totally capable when used properly.

I am well aware I am not the best micro machinist living on the block. I have seen some outstanding work produced on these tools and I know the time it takes to get to those levels of perfection. My honest excuse is I just don’t spend the time at this point to reach ultimate perfection, but I try to do my best for the time involved.

In micro machining, all the same moves are required as in making a big part. The touch and feel are a bit different but the level of fun and enjoyment of the work is in my opinion very much the same. A few big points of difference are the cost of materials and the working room and electrical power required.

Micro machining usually falls into the model making… Continue reading

Working Small

Looking back years ago when I was in high school (early 1960’s) I can now realize I was infected with a drug addiction that made me want to make things. Mostly small things because all I had were a few hand tools I could buy from the “pusher” at the hobby shop. The reason could have been the pusher’s store was directly across the street from the high school.

My addiction disease started well before high school but once I was so close to my source, I became totally hooked. I also became serious first name friends with the shop owner that lasted more than 25 years and we only disconnected because I moved 1600 miles away in a career change.

Fast forward. So looking back in my teenage years I got interested in model building and hand tools that would assist that interest. One piece of pure unobtainium drug paraphernalia back then and used for “scratch building” wonderful things like HO steam locomotives was call a Unimat lathe and mill. Today I am a dealer for the Taig Tools line of very similar and actually better performing drugs um… tools. It’s funny how far I have come 50 years full circle in my addiction.

I have completed some huge construction projects in my working career, but I still love making small things I dreamed about making more than 50 years ago. Working small fulfills a fantasy about being able to create on a small and manageable level, things that in real world dimensions, a single person cannot do alone for a number of scalable reasons. Reasons are such as material, cost, quantity, time and available space.

I have constructed experimental full size aircraft and flown them. Yea, for me! But I have constructed far more model aircraft with… Continue reading

Miniature Machining in Wax

I occasionally struggle deciding where I should post the project I am working on. I try to keep this blog on track by sticking to subjects regarding machining. Then there are projects that involve machining but include a lot of other skills as well.

I started a web site and blog for those non-machining projects called The Hobbyist Workshop (THWs). It is linked in the sidebar in this blog. The dilemma is where to post.

Here is a link to the recent machining I did last weekend and posted in THWs.  Making a Medallion. It is pure machining but the next step is rubber mold making and casting in pewter. The new mold looks great buy the way. I hope it works as good as it looks.

I have made quite a few attempts at this project and blogged on it several times and even made a video (below) of an earlier attempt, but it is not ready for a major article. The machining is fine. It’s the mold making. I call it a learning experience. I am getting a lot of practice time.

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