Metal Lathe 101ish

  • Starting a thread for simpler projects than the @Chainmaildave’s planned punch and die set.

    I’ve ordered 10 tungsten carbide loose ball bearings (4mm) for making brass spinning tops. Maybe not as pretty as @Krankin’s ruby bearing, but it should actually have lower friction. Which seems insane. Those should arrive in late February.

    I picked up a Wasserman ink cartridge at Staples. I’m going to build a prototype of a brass pen around it. I already have suitable bar stock for that. I’ve got some knurling wheels, but need to build a fixture for them. I’m currently pulling dimensions from but I’ll measure the actual refill soon and see where I can go from there. I’ve got some drawings started, but will have to figure out how I want to make the pen retractable. Something simple and sturdy would be nice.

    I know @kile is interested in doing a lumber marking knife. I think I’d be tempted to use this blade in a machined handle: Though we could certainly go hardcore and make a blade from scratch.

    I’d also love to make up some hex broaches and do some very well made precision screwdriver kits. Something inspired by this kit maybe:

    Feel free to pitch your simple ideas here. I’m looking to do some of the following simple operations:

    • Turning to size
    • Facing to length
    • Drilling and boring a hole
    • Taper turning
    • Threading
    • Press Fitted parts
    • Knurling

  • I’d love to spend some time on it with ya. I know we made the window knob a while back but it would be awesome to go through it with the intent of learning how it works rather than making a part!

  • @pierre I dont have any suggestions since I am very new to lathe, but I would love to participate in your workshop when you organize it. All those projects sound very interesting.

  • It’ll be more one on one than we’ve been doing… If you want to learn to drive, you probably need to put your hands on the wheel.

  • Member

    I’d be willing to learn another tool. And I am always happy to bring in the top for reference.

  • I think I’m going to source some bismuth shot, and cast the outer part of the top wheel out of that. It is a low melting point metal that they’ve replaced lead shot in shotguns with because it is not nearly as toxic. It has similar density though, and the more mass you can get to the outside of the wheel, the longer your spin time should be. If I can get it to machine nicely, it’ll turn a beautiful metallic purple rainbow with a little heat.

  • Classroom

    @pierre bismuth is GORGEOUS, this is a fantastic idea.

    Look how beautiful vapour deposited crystals are:

  • It also lets me work a little bit of fairly safe metal casting into the project. Which is awesome.

  • I havent used a since high school. So it would be nice to touch up on it.

  • What kind of lathe do you have? Scorpion has a decent small lathe, and you would be more than welcome to run the workshop up here.


  • Member

    @pierre. what is the hardness of bismuth? I’m worried it will dent and lose its weight balance.

  • It is pretty soft stuff, which makes bringing it up to a nice finish more of a polishing operation than a cutting one… I’m thinking we make a brass shell, fill it with bismuth then add strategic cutouts and color oxidising to show off the result. I’ll try to draw something up.

  • @BrianB I have a little Sherline lathe at the space. It is a very well made machine, but sized for toolmakers, model and watch builders… I’m tempted to take you up on your generous offer for a later 102 course where people who’ve already made some things on the little machine can try something more ambitious… The other advantage is that if we crash the lathe (these things sometimes happen in the learning process, my machine tools have more than one apprentice mark…) we are not taking your production gear offline until we can get it fixed. I don’t like the risk of a problem in someone’s work place.

  • I now have some Tungsten Carbide 4mm bearing balls. I’m going to bang out a prototype spinning top with one, and we can see about setting up a couple of workshops around them once I get something reasonable made.

    Much Excite.

  • Design Lab

    @pierre can we set a date and basic info for this? I would love love love to post a tasty ad for this (even though its booked) with a good image showing what you intend to do.

    Thurs April 13th or 20th is open, as is the evening of Tuesday, March 21st.

  • Ok. Let’s do Thursday April 13th. Start around 6PM. I’ll try to get a prototype made, and some drawings. Then we can bang one out during that session. I’m currently trying to find a local source for some bismuth to cast the wheel.

  • Design Lab

    I posted it on the calendar with minimal details - is there an image we can use as a placeholder on an ad?

    0_1488330986917_Lathe 101.jpg

  • I could find no local sources for Bismuth, so I have a pound of it coming online. I may prototype one the old fashioned way with lead, but Ashley definitely wants one with rainbow starbursts by localized heating and cooling of the Bismuth shell.

  • Pierre,

    I am not familiar with the metal lathe at Makerspace, but I did work on a metal lathe back in the day. would love to have a look at what you are up to when you are up to it.


  • @Nicholas supplier was good and fast. A pound of Bismuth is now in my possession. Time to draw up some patterns to laser cut and cast the wheels.

  • I’d definitely be in for the lathe workshop! Haven’t used one since high school and I’d love to give it another go. Thinking it might just be better to do the monthly membership at this rate… lol

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