Special homemade tools
At the moment I'm attempting to make some more TEE slot scrapers for the Tool and Cutter grinder. I've previously made them for my drill press table and milling machine Tee slots. All are of different dimensions. I have some offcut strips of 2mm stainless sheet that I use for this.
I also use the SS sheet to make packing shims for lathe tools. Once I made a special open-ended ring (flare nut) spanner for tightening the nuts on the compression fittings for PVC irrigation pipe. Fittings from different manufacturers had different dimensioned nuts and so my tool was double-ended to suit both types.
My question is do you make these things and leave them with the machine for whoever comes along or do the objects go into your tool box for your exclusive use?
Would the average machinist's toolbox have more homemade tools in it than bought ones?
I've made a couple recently for servicing power steering on my forklift, loosening the endcaps as it is not practical to remove the entire cylinder, and then compressing the u-cups in an orderly fashion so they'll slip onto the chromed part of the rod without a fight...or worse...damaged seal.
Originally Posted by Damien W
However, these can't stay on the machine, likely they will end up in a cabinet or drawer, used on the arbor press for driving seals or bearings, or get cut up or remachined smaller for something else later on as I don't expect to have to do this same job again for a number of years. Probably the largest battle is to label or tag things so I'd recall in a few years what they were originally intended for.
Regarding bought vs. made tools, probably 98% purchased hand tools and 2% special tools if I look thru my drawers.
i do made alot of shop made tooling
since we make bearings , i have to turn alot of little (simple) fixtures to help hold them on the mill for slotting/drilling after turning (crit. 0.0005 tol everywhere, don't want to bend them now)...
i once make an AL. collect to hold these SS peices we made to so we could turn them again....they were long and awkward, so i made a multi dia collect that was chucked with softjaws.....ran about 500 peices through it on one of the CNC lathes with no more than a thou runout after the job was done...that lives in my toolbox as a keepsake
i've make a beautiful set of vee blocks and clamps in school (also 2 sets of parallels, a toolmakers vee block, 4 jack stands, step blocks, morse#4 center drill holder, a small vise, and 2 work stops from CNC school.) i've also made a nice lil 6inch dia lapping block, a 4 inch hardened bench block, a tapping block (with about 30 reamed holes in it), a 8 inch by 6 ground peive of 4140 with aobut 100 tapped holes in it i use as a sub plate for little precision peices i do on the mill or grinder.....i've also made test dial holders, edgefinders, small brazed boring bars, hand ground alot of hss tools for plastics and brazed carbide form tools and finishing tools...afew d-bits as well..,...i took two (mine and my partners) cat 40 turning fixture from CNC school and turned them into a tooling clamp fixture (for installing pull studs, tightening endmills, removing, etc)....theres prob. afew more i;ve forgetting
i don't think besides the collet, that any shop made tooling made on shop time lives in my tool box, i've also made around 15 go-no-go 3A thread plug gages, i typically send them off to our customers QA people after the job so they can inspect them, put their stamps on them and returm them....2 have come back with ISO calibration stickers!...its a little specialty of mine.....just unharden 4140.....the customer one relies on me to make them if they're in a jam.
I've made many specialist tools for working on motorbikes. The germans were fond
of ship-in-a-bottle construction and so I wind up having to make tools like this
to work on the bikes.
Some of them are special fixtures for repairing carbs, others are special pullers or
clamps for working on cranks. Also a special fixture for repairing damaged
exhaust stud threads, damaged gearbox covers, and so on.
I have the bottom of one toolbox devoted to special items like that. I always
put the function for each one, taped to it. On some rare occasions I will make a
tool, and then when done got to put it away.
Yep, there's another one just like it in the drawer.
Sorta like finding that day old cup of coffee in the microwave....
Haha, we must've gone to the same school. I have all those things (though you made more 'jack stands' - screw jacks? - than I do) right on my desk!
Originally Posted by tattooed_machinist
My most recent special tools were some keyhole surgical instruments. No humans or animals were harmed, but I would have liked to harm one animal. I should explain...
I have a church organ I haven't had time to play for some time, I need the room, and when I eventually put it up for sale I was embarassed when a group of notes around middle C on the main manual didn't work.
It took the best part of half a day to disassemble to the point where I could even see where the problem was, and I was mystified to see that a bunch of push rods had simply vanished. There was nowhere they could have gone.
Another couple of hours and I could get a clearer view - I now saw that the wooden push rods looked like a forest where a beaver has been working, and a few in the middle had been felled completely. Evidently a louse of a mouse had established a house in the deepest recesses of the instrument.
To repair properly would have required removing many hundreds of parts, so I drew up a substitute, after-market push rod out of acetal with a snap-on nylon collet cap, and made some arms-length tools to reach through a crevice and assemble them on site. I also had to make the smallest boring tool I've ever seen, to bore the tapered holes in the collets. Starting with a 3mm allen key and grinding the cranked section, the result was plenty hard enough for boring nylon.
Now the organ's been on TradeMe (local auction site) and I've had zero bids.
But I've already used one of the special tools for several other jobs !
(I did ruin a solid carbide end mill making it - the starting point was a very very long pair of commercial bent needle-nose pliers)
2 angle plates,2 grinding vises,5 V-blocks, many parallels, 1-2-3 blocks and other sizes,
sine plate and sine bars,and a host of fixtures for grinding small very close work. I like
small work so I put much effort into doing it well. This way they want to give me the kind of work I like. I feel it is up to the worker to show the ambition and ability if he wants
something. If you want to get the good work you must produce the good work.
Last edited by Old Bill; 05-04-2008 at 08:10 PM.
Shop built tooling for 25 ton hyd. ram - to R&R king pins in '30 Packard. That is 5/8" ASTM A193 B7 allthread holding things together.
When I had a real job, every tool I made I considered mine. I spent many lunchtimes building my own stuff, as well as many hours after work doing this. I would let the other guys in the shop borrow my stuff, and believe me, they knew that they had to treat my tools as well as or better than they treated their own tools.
Now that I have my own shop, I never make what I can buy.
The biggest exception to this rule is when Iím working on a vehicle late at night or on a Sunday and find I need a special tool to remove something. Iím to the point that I can hardly imagine working on a car without a machine shop in the same building.
I still make a lot of specialty stuff that I canít buy.
Thereís this one type of clamp I use and it seems like every year Iím making about 20-30 of them, and I just realized the other day that I need about 100 more
Most recent tool I made -- for tighting up the nut that holds my kitchen faucet onto the granite countertop. There's a fairly tight counterbore in the granite, so I pop this tool onto a nice long ľ" extension with a ratchet, and voila!
While shutting the shop down, and cleaning out cabinets and my toolboxes, I have found dozens of special tools, that I made through the years. Quite a few custom-made attachments for slide hammers, to remove damaged parts. Little jigs to hold thin parts in the heat-treat furnace, all kinds of quick and dirty things to get the job done and get the molds back in the machine.
Sorting through all of those tools brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad...
I just junked out about 500 pounds of special tools for cars and machines I no longer own. The best was a transmission alignment tool for a 1978 Chevy Monza because I had to replace the clutch in it three times. It was a big old aluminum gadget with four bolts that allowed me to align the tranny without a jack.
Of course, I figured out why the clutch always went out, it was a bad cable design that frayed and acted like I was "riding the clutch", so I invented a tool to fix that, BUT not before the cable frayed a couple of times and I invented a "hand clutch pedal" in a garage about 900 miles away from home (and the only parts dealer that could get me the cable in a day's time without my waiting around a strange town for three days otherwise).
My favorite tools though are my 48 inch long 1 1/4 drill bit (for deburring some 40 inch tubes I had to cut slots in for a tar burner - made 200 tubes), a weather vane alignment and seating device for a weather vane I put on a steeple 80 feet off the ground in 1996 and my 3 1/2 inch wrench that weighs in at 30 lbs. I had to make for a very old elevator.
YUP, that big jack stand is useless....think i've used it twice over the last year..i made near the end of my eltt coarse 4 little jack stands out of 4340 hex stock i got from ken....turned a taper on one end, drilled and tapped through, and parted off.
Originally Posted by Commodus
Yup, odd tools for specific uses - bikes and cars, giant metric hex wrenches (I'm not about to spend $40+ on a 33mm box wrench for one use!) pullers, etc.
Two of my favorite shop made tools are allen-driver handles (you can buy straight shank allen keys from ENCO and others) for the real small sizes, and what amounts to a spring-tempered seal pick, but it had a very specific shape to help install the rubber airbox boots on my carbs. Both have nice knurled handles, and the allen driver handles have a half-round pocket in the back for your finger.
Another very satisfying pastime for me is repairing and upgrading my POS lathe. Last piece was a bearing carrier that dramatically reduced the end-play in the lead screw.
I started getting serious about machining about five years ago, and now that I have the ability, one of my favorite activities is making special tools. Seems I have an endless list of them, so whenever I get the urge I go at it. My latest was a little hand tapper for #4 and smaller taps:
The handle drops onto a 1/4" hex shaft:
I can remove the handle for "power tapping" with a regular cordless screwdriver:
Gryphon Stringed Instruments
My Home Shop Pages
Since coming across your website I started putting more thought into my non-dedicated special tools with the result that I enjoy making them more, they are much easier to use, and a lot more fun all round.
You're a genuine inspiration !