"One Perfect Part at a Time"


A Model Shop Story

Maserati_T61_engine_bay_DoningtonI read a story many years ago about a small team of Italian craftsmen. I think it started as a single person but the team grew with demand. They made exact working miniatures of exotic European sports racing cars like the Maserati birdcage. The models are the size of a child’s pedal car, so they were fairly large, but nowhere near actual size. Not designed for riding within. Somewhere around a quarter actual size I assume.

As I remember they were quite exquisite, all real metal construction, completely finished, not kits. Also very expensive, like back in the day when say $10,000 or more each was a lot of money, much more than it is today. A rich man’s toy car. The design/manufacturing team made a good profit on these vehicles as a sought after collector item. I believe they had operational scale or scale-like engines too.

What made me pay attention was they claimed they had many years’ worth of back orders to fill so the business of building these cars looked very successful.

I don’t know if there are people who will spend like that today. I have to assume there are, if the product and subject is good and unusual. For the very rich, they know something like this is not likely to lose value and is far easier to own than the full size version.

I have thought of this story many times as I wonder what I could make in my small metal shop that will have such lasting value. Not so much that I would make it a business, but just knowing what I am investing time in making the best I can, will have continuing value as a finished object.

It is the justification I tell myself when I put a lot… Continue reading

Workshop Updates

I had to decide where to publish these new photos. It’s not really a new build or project so here we are in the blog. If you have been paying attention you may know I now have two (2) CNC Taig micro mills. The first mill is about ten years old. the new mill is less than a year old.

The original mill has mist cooling available and has a metal pan under the base. It is my primary metal milling machine but has machined far more than just metal. The new machine will be primarily used for dry milling. Mostly the carving of wax masters for lost wax casting. That does NOT rule out its use for anything else I want to machine.

Original Taig Mill

Original Taig Mill

This is the old warhorse. You name it, it has probably machined it. I put up a temporary chip barier on the left when the machine is active. You can see the mist/air nozzle mounted on the spindle. In the right hand corner is the set-up table I built and use for most of my projects.

Original Taig Mill with Smooth Stepper Controller

This is a different angle showing the new $80.00 refurbished computer I just bought. It under the monitor. The price included everything but the monitor. The 48Volt  CNC controller is homemade and contains the Smooth Stepper. This is an excellent combination.

New Taig Mill w/4th Axis

New Taig Mill w/4th Axis

This is my brand new Taig CNC mill. I just finished mounting it on this bench. The first mill started out here. The mill is set up for four axis milling. Of course set-ups can be changed at anytime. My intention is to use this mill and location for all my dry milling such as wax masters. With the new digital controller the Taig… Continue reading

Air Pressure Station

I posted a new article in The Hobbyist Work Shop titled Air Pressure Station. I made some aluminum brackets to mount an air pressure regulator and a companion filter. Pretty basic stuff but you may learn something new about the mounting design of these components. Shown here is what it looks like mounted in place.

The Hobbyist’s Machine Studio?

I have been wondering if I should call my workshop a “studio”. Sounds more “artsy” doesn’t it? Since I am not working like a production shop just making one thing over and over, maybe the new description is more accurate. However, it doesn’t seem as hard core and “man cave” sounding like “workshop” or “machine shop” so maybe I should leave it as is. Is there an image to protect?

I’m just funning of course as I don’t really have an image I am concerned about. I just do what I do because it is stuff I like to do. I don’t care what the place is called where I do it. If you want to know the truth, it is a garage. The Aussie’s (and probably others) call it a shed or shedding. Go figure, but I kind of like their term. Another example; I call the location of my ham radio station my “shack”, but it really isn’t.

As far as the number of projects, I do have more than one under way. I am guilty about jumping around between them because there are so many things I want to try and so many things I can do. I just don’t seem to have enough time to do everything one at a time. I have to have something else to do when the glue is drying or parts are on order.

So maybe I need to be more “studious” with my projects? That infers more attention to detail and higher quality, right? I am thinking a studio is where you are more studious with your work and therefore your work is of higher quality. A workshop is where you simply pound things together with a hammer until they fit – more caveman style.… Continue reading

Grizzly Disk Sander/Grinder Switch

Quite awhile back I purchased a Grizzly G7297 12″ disk sander/grinder. It is one of the most used power tools in the shop. Sometime I just have to grind something off flat or square and this is a fast and accurate way to do it.

The switch is apparently the weakest part in the machine. It stuck in the always on position. As you can see the points are badly burned. The concept was good as it is a double pole single throw (DPST) switch. Both power and ground are broken when switching off. But not good when they weld both sets of points to their mate.

My assumption is this is the same switch used for 220 volt A/C models.

The switch is mostly plastic and the toggle has a plastic part that can be pulled out to supposedly lock-out the switch from functioning. I never used that function and I hazard an assumption that almost no one else does either.

I saw no good reason to use an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) switch as a replacement. I could have ordered a DPST toggle but I had a 20 amp single pole on hand. My shop is wired correctly for 120VAC and the power cord has a safety ground so no real need for a double pole switch. I wired my switch to break the hot side.

I had to fabricate a plate to cove the huge square hole that was in the junction box cover for the original switch. Not much of a task for a machine shop.

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