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How to tool up for under 100$

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
Thinking about the men who have acquired an engine lathe; and one or more of the following machines : milling machine, radial drill, shaper, Horizontal Boring Mill, surface grinder, etc.; and whom do not have extensive experience in making tooling for manual machines. Those that want to see their machinery working, and do not have the fortune to spend on "off the shelf" tooling. The one man shop.. probably doing one of a kind work; repair jobs, fabrications and unusual configurations. Keep in mind that most of your special tooling may be used only one time; or rarely. Therefore you need to keep it simple; if it takes a little longer to do the job than a 400" speed CNC, it is totally irrelevant, because you might only make just a few passes with your special tooling, and that job will be done. Same with the cutting tool material, a cheap general purpose grade that wouldn't be a start for CNC, will in most cases do just fine..

My background and where I'm coming from..

In 1957, I put on as an apprentice in a medium sized Tool and Die Job Shop - whom had a Govt contract for experimental rocket motor parts. Cost plus.. And all employees cleared for secret work. Govt tolerances were 2 tenths or less. Woe to the person who scrapped anything! The shop tolerance was .0001, and the lead men had their own tolerances of 80 millionths or less. Before long, I was put on lapping parallel surfaces. Not knowing any better, I was striving for 5 millionths or less; and had a "bear" of a time getting it below 60 millionths. We used a "shadow graph" measuring mach with a special "test-type" indicator. The mach had a narrow rectangular screen with large 5 millionths graduations. "Then", I thought everybody did this kind of work; and "now" I know that we were using sub-standard equipment for machining.

In 1962, I moved up the ladder, and put on as an apprentice with a master journeyman mach-tool re-builder. He was then about 40, and looking back, I have seen none better. He was immaculate in work habits and insisted on spotless conditions tho we ourselves got quite dirty. Two crews of 6 men each, were employed to rebuild a 500 man shop; and the equipment had been worked hard, 24/5, 6 and 7. Everything was under 25 years. Before long, he pronounced me as a top scraper; but I could not master small bores and shafts which the old-timers then did routinely. Also, I was inept at artistic decoration; which he assigned to an inept scraper. Before long, I noticed the shop manager was getting highly pissed off when he looked at the decorative scraping. He considered it as a useless waste of purpose. Wasn't long before we stopped doing it. The other team was sloppy and nasty with their work; and after a major disaster with a nice recent Bullard VTL; were all fired. We then had all the work, and that instilled in me the love of looking at a piece of machinery that had been restored to better than new condition.

Through the years, I have "jumped around" at different jobs; an exceeding lot - easily finding employment in places that did very difficult work and extreme tolerances; and this is why I sometimes refer to myself as the "rogue journeyman". I did manage to pick up at least a few - new and better ways of doing things at virtually every place I was in; and since I liked to make a lot of my own tooling, was almost invariably asked by management to "help out" and make shop tooling plus jigs and fixtures. This is where I'm coming from; what is described below was admired in most places I've been in. Also, I was a very heavy recycler before it was PC.

There are many on this forum that can offer improvements to mine and much additional items. I warmly invite them to do so; thinking especially of Tyrone and Sammy but also too many others to list. We will all benefit and be better for it. My sketches were made with the MS Paint program.

cap bolt.jpg
Made a set of 6 in different configurations and lengths - covering everything from a 1" hogger to a 6" flycutter. Used them in a 75 man shop and the mill men were constantly borrowing them. They ran smooth in the mach, pretty finish, little need for sharpening, and nearly indestructible. I like to orient the tool so that it throws the chips away from me (backwards from the picture). While welding these, the heads got red-hot and I threw them into a bucket of ashes overnight. The bolts were surplus and the lathe bits were worn. Total time was ~2 1/2 hrs and total cost - a little welding rod and electricity. I would not buy bolts for my self; if I couldn't get them almost free, then I would try another alternative.

Boring bars.jpg
I learned a major lesson from G&L who made their in-house boring tools from soft metal. They will greatly out-perform expensive hardened and ground tools. My sources for tooling stock are : a local scrap yard that will sell back metal; say - for ~15% over the buying price. Previously scrapped parts, from either mistakes or left-over repair work; or auction sales. Never from Steel suppliers. Like to make these in sets of ~12 for my own self. Short ones ~14" long not counting the length for the holding end. Longer ~26" plus same for the end. Two sizes, ~.900 dia to work out a 1" drilled bore, and ~2" for larger bores, and the holding ends in at least 4 different configurations - a. 3 flat-sided for lathe tool-holders, b. Morse taper for either the tail-stock or milling machines using it, c. a 1" dia. round end to fit Cincinnati tool holders, with .0005 clearance and two flats drilled for the holding screws. You can locate the positions by squirting blueing in the threaded holes. I do not like to mill flats for screws on diameters, preferring to start the flat with an old center-drill ground into a small two-fluted end-mill, and the clearance circle bottomed with an old stub drill ground likewise as a two-flute end-mill - all in the hand drill-press. d. a HBM taper to fit your spindle. This is the tricky one because you have to coordinate the locking key with the knock-out drift. Remember, nothing needs to be precise on these; you are not making them to sell as a business; only for in-house use - except the threads for the tool holding screws -they need to be tight. If they work loose, you are looking at a major disaster. I use a shim on top of the tool bit for the screws to work into; except if you plan on a lot of tool-steel bit work, then I grind off the cup-point tips to a slightly convex point and tighten directly on the tool-steel bit. Three screws for the .900 size and 4 for the ~2" dia bar. Generally, I could make a set of about 12 in one configuration in a day. The HBM taper needs to be made to fit that particular machine.

Large Face Miller.jpg
These are especially useful for accurately facing large areas on fabrications. Often, there is distortion due to welding heat, along with varying hardness in the metal, also due to welding. This tool works well in the 12" to 24" range. The tool-bit is oriented side-ways to the cut; and cocked out at an angle to give ~1/4" or so clearance from the holding bars. The tool is a bit big for a Bridgeport size; but will work well in a #2 horizontal or bigger. I make them out of 1" plate; cut out with a torch. You may find a 1 1/2" end off a 16" bar, but that is iffy. The procedure I use to make them is as follows : 1. lay out a circle with trammels of the size you want and poss a bit bigger. Allow 1/8" extra for the cutting torch. Cut it out. Grind off the scale on both faces, and bevel with a heavy grinder. 2. Weld your holding system blank to one face. 3. Hold the stub in the lathe chuck and turn the OD and skin the front face. 4. Turn the part around and turn your stub blank to finish for your holding system. 5. Cut your tool-bit holding bars longer than you need; and tap for the allen-screws. 6. Lay out on the face for your tool holding bars and weld them in. It is better to err on the side of bigger, you can always shim under the tool-bit; but it will be hard to mill off the the seat-bar if it is welded above center. * I don't think any cheap tool is designed for fab-plate scale; it is best to grind it off first with the heavy hand-grinder; blue, use a straight-edge to determine the hollows, and set the below depth as your roughing cut. Then you might take a .015 finish pass. This tool will in most cases cut flat over the hardened spots. For really large dia cuts for the HBM, I make the tool out of a 2" square by 6' bar with a roughing tool on one end and a finishing tool on the other, with the finishing tool set inside the radius of the roughing. If you need a bigger pass, I guess you should go with a 3" bar and a crane to put it in the spindle :)

Large Vee Blocks.jpg
As I'm getting somewhat tired at this state, for now I'd like to wind up with large V-blocks. And I'm wondering how we are coming on our 100$ budget. Hope that you have found a neighbor that has a large yard of scrap; and he want's to give it to you if you just haul it off. Through the years, I've seen many good men try to make larger V-blocks. Invariably they are inaccurate. I'm sure many of you can make accurate V-blocks; but for those that haven't mastered the technique yet, I'd like to offer my input, and turn it into a simple job; that will be accurate to a couple of "tenths" in all directions.. 1. Determine your need according to the size of your available equipment. What diameter will "max out" your equipment? 2. Remembering that the larger the diameter, the flatter the angle, try to come up with a compromise that in this exception would favor a smaller size dia. A 12" wide V-block can hold quite a large dia, so it's best to do the math, and come up with an angle and width more on the conservative side for your projected need. Once you have determined the best angle, figure at least 1" of metal below the cutter-clearance pocket in the center of the picture. Figure at least 1" for the top flats that could be clamped on. All this will give you the total width, height, and angle. A 24" wide by 2" thick, short V-block is a hefty chunk to tote; and a 4" thick 12" wide is a whole lot heavier. For everything larger than 6" dia to 6' dia, I've never found the necessity for anything thicker than 2". So, for your first job, you might consider the 2" thick option. We're now ready to start the work. 3. Lay out the V-blocks on 2" plate, cut them out with the torch, grind off the scale and slag. 4. Mill the faces parallel off the table. All the milling except the angles and tool relief of the center of the angles should be done with the parts laying flat on the machine table. 5. Mill the base. 6. Set up a semi-precision location guide-block 90 degrees to the cutter, locate the bottoms on this, and mill sides "A". This guide-block will be your master reference point. 7. Locate another stop that will let you clean up sides "B". 8. change the stop to clean up the top clamping surface. 9. Put the V-blocks in a vice or whatever, and cut out the tool clearance pocket in the center. You're now almost home. 10. Set the head and cutter angle and rough mill the angle for side "A". 11. Flip the parts and rough mill the angle for side "B". 12. Without changing anything but raising the part a few more thousandths into the cutter for the finish cut; finish mill the angles for side "B". Then flip the parts and do the final cut for the angles on side "A". While working I chamfer all the sharp edges and put a small radius on the edges of the chamfer with a medium emery. This helps in seating the part precisely. If you have been scrupulous in cleanliness and care, you should have two V-blocks the same in all dimensions to within a couple of 10ths. It works for me :)

If there's further interest, I'll submit more; Geo :smoking: :)
 

Panza

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 23, 2005
Location
Lillehammer, Norway
Thanks for taking the time to write the description.
On the flycutter : Which size toolbits do you use ? And how do you get clearance when using a HSS square toolbit ?
 

toolsteel

Titanium
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Location
NW Wisconsin (BFE)
"Also, I was a very heavy recycler before it was PC"......

Reminds me of when my daughter was about 12, She was telling me how proud she was that I was recycling aluminum, and keeping the heat low...occasionally drying the laundry outside on a clothes line....etc....all the touchy feely environmental stuff.......I didnt have the heart to tell the poor thing...."your Dad doesnt give 2 farts about any of it......he is a cheap SOB....he gets $ for the aluminum and saves money keeping the heat down in the winter and occasionally drying clothes outside"...lol "I didnt buy a new alternator for my truck from the junk yard to save a dolphin......I did it to save some cash ...."
 

gusmadison

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 2, 2005
Location
central Illinois
Great post Sir! Thanks for taking the time to write all of that out and the illustrations. I enjoyed your observations about the finer points and details you shared. Keep posting anything you would like to pass on to the rest of us.
Gus
 

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
Great post SIR ! I looked at your profile , says Temp in FLA. Should you ever come up to these beautiful NC Mtns , I would love for you to stop by AppTool for a visit . Ed

Hi Ed, thanks for the invitation :) We might be distant kin, I have distant relatives in Davidson County. NC is my second choice to live in after Louisiana. I've been wanting to relocate for some time.

Best wishes, George
 

toolmaker76

Aluminum
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Location
Lexington, IN USA
+1 on the thanks, great thread and info!

When I worked as a toolmaker in a factory, I use to recycle by what I called "junkyard engineering." Always stuff being changed or replaced and the old stuff was thrown into scrap steel. Prime pickins' if you needed to come up with something in a hurry and found a piece of steel that was relatively close.

Had a couple of fixtures that I needed to build in a hurry, needed to make a slot to hold a tube (about 3" diameter), and the steel that held the tube had to be relatively sturdy. A good amount of work to do that in a solid piece of (new) steel, which was going to be welded to a riser.

Happened to find a couple large round pieces in the scrap hopper that had the ID close to what I needed, had some tapped holes in the side that didn't interfere with what I was doing so I just ignored them. Bored them out to the correct size on the lathe, sawed out tube size slots in the center, then finish milled the sides of the slots. Short work compared to starting new.

Had to tap a hole in the side for what I was doing- it was for a 5/8-11 set screw with a spring pin. Tap the pin just above the center of where the tube sits, when the tube is pressed into place, the spring pin holds it until it needs to be removed. I guess that's my hint. It wasn't strong enough to hold the tube for machining, but it did hold it in place for what production needed to do to it. Just a matter of snapping the tube in or out.

While I was on vacation more of those fixtures were ordered, so mine were copied.... complete with the tapped holes in the side that I had ignored!
 

Limy Sami

Diamond
Joined
Jan 7, 2007
Location
Norfolk, UK
Thanks for the post:)

I have and still regularly use some wonderful ''lash ups'' - some folk have been know to ask ''WT? do you call that?'' I always answer 'A money maker.'
 

alskdjfhg

Diamond
Joined
Feb 20, 2013
Location
Houston TX
Nice thread George, I'll have to come back and read it again in more detail when I've got more time.

The V-block stuff sounds like a new one to me.

And I for one definitely have "further interest".
 

toolsteel

Titanium
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Location
NW Wisconsin (BFE)
Nice info....Reminds me of how much I learned by just hanging around some of the right older guys when I was fresh out of tech school. It was pretty amazing listening to a few of the old toolmakers and millwrights talk about such things as this while playing cribbage on lunch break.
 

D Dubeau

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Location
Ontario, Canada
Nice info....Reminds me of how much I learned by just hanging around some of the right older guys when I was fresh out of tech school. It was pretty amazing listening to a few of the old toolmakers and millwrights talk about such things as this while playing cribbage on lunch break.

If one has the ability to turn the mouth off, and the ears on it's amazing what can be learned just by listening to the oldtimers.
 

ewlsey

Diamond
Joined
Jul 14, 2009
Location
Peoria, IL
If one has the ability to turn the mouth off, and the ears on it's amazing what can be learned just by listening to the oldtimers.

It's also amazing the amount of pure 100% bull shit.

The V block info is good. The rest seems pretty dodgy. All you need is one brazed carbide tool to go flying across the shop and into your coworker because your soft steel, welded, whatchamacallit twisted up like a pretzel. In an instant your "cheap" tooling starts to get pretty expensive.

If I caught one of my guys running welded up tools without give me warning, they'd be on the short list. Modern tooling is so cheap and offers so much performance that I can't see trying to replicate it.

Maybe this would be more appropriate on a home shop forum.
 

CalG

Diamond
Joined
Dec 30, 2008
Location
Vt USA
reading for comprehension

It's also amazing the amount of pure 100% bull shit.

The V block info is good. The rest seems pretty dodgy. All you need is one brazed carbide tool to go flying across the shop and into your coworker because your soft steel, welded, whatchamacallit twisted up like a pretzel. In an instant your "cheap" tooling starts to get pretty expensive.

If I caught one of my guys running welded up tools without give me warning, they'd be on the short list. Modern tooling is so cheap and offers so much performance that I can't see trying to replicate it.

Maybe this would be more appropriate on a home shop forum.

exlsey,

did you read the introductory paragrah made by the OP to this thread?
you might go back again to gain a sense of perspective and context.

You are absolutely right, but at times, one just wants to get the job at hand done.
 

toolsteel

Titanium
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Location
NW Wisconsin (BFE)
It seemed to me more a lesson in trouble shooting and finding solutions. One needs to find little nuggets of information where you can. I personally do not foresee a need for much of what was presented in my current situation........I have no guarantee that my current situation will be my permenant situation.
 

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
It's also amazing the amount of pure 100% bull shit.

The V block info is good. The rest seems pretty dodgy. All you need is one brazed carbide tool to go flying across the shop and into your coworker because your soft steel, welded, whatchamacallit twisted up like a pretzel. In an instant your "cheap" tooling starts to get pretty expensive.

If I caught one of my guys running welded up tools without give me warning, they'd be on the short list. Modern tooling is so cheap and offers so much performance that I can't see trying to replicate it.

Maybe this would be more appropriate on a home shop forum.

I've seen a lot of negativism in most of your posts.. But I admit you do have an excellent point on safe practices. Before I started the thread, I intended to offer a cautionary warning to those whom might not be good welders. I admit, that I was in neglect for forgetting to do so. I guess I let my mind reminisce too much and forgot that what used to be a given - the journeyman in the big professional shops were also top welders and were very safety conscious; if they didn't they probably got killed eventually.

I myself am a top welder. Not because I think I am. Because a number of big respected businesses have proclaimed it publicly. I have never had a welded tool come loose; and put those tools I posted, to the torture test before I ran them around others - just to be safe, because that was a new trial for me running welded small tools at extreme speed - well over 1000 rpm. I don't know how many mill-men used them, and there was never a sign of failure.

But to those who are not sure of your welding ability; I suggest you put your self to the bend test. Pick out a scrap 1/8" plate ~2" wide and 6-8" long and scribe 2 deep lines about in the middle 1" apart. Saw the part in 2 and weld it back together again. Grind the weld flush, then stick it in the big vice and take the sledgehammer to it bending it over 90 degrees with the bend radius on your weld between the scribed lines. When you take a look at the bend in good light and under a good magnifying glass, and can find no small cracks - then - you are probably a good welder. And probably better than a whole lot out there earning their living at it. :smoking:
 
Used to make brazed tooling and still do make some multiple wing slotters & such brazed for woodworking.

I tend to have a misguided sense of cheapness and make a lot of my own tooling.

But I really fail to see how welding a lathe tool to a bolt shank is an improvement over holding it in a flycutter. Besides making it a little harder to sharpen. And this day and age, if all you want to use is a single point tool, it is probably still more productive to cut a seat for your preferred style of insert so the tool body life is independent of the cutting edge life.

Having the facility to make a tool when needed ASAP is invaluable and all sorts may come in useful at some times.

Heck, I'm so cheap I've made my own insert (APKT) face mills. But making brazed fly cutters is too expensive over time for me. :)

Let's not go overboard. It annoys the grown-ups.

Amen! :)

smt
 

G&L4nahalf

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Location
Temporarily Florida
Dear Bill,

On 09-19-2014, 12:51 PM #16 , you wrote :
It isn't the specific tooling that matters the most in G&L4nahalf's post.

It isn't even the money.

It is the 'can do' or 'find a way' attitude. The creative thinking. The problem solving 'in house' with what we have, not what we WISH we have.... that eventually builds industries. And entire nations. Or did.


Because I have found your comments to be astute, discerning, and thought out; I have taken several days to mull over an appropriate response to your comments; and also, at the same time, address all the criticisms in this thread to what I have offered as a help to the one-man start-up shop on a restricted budget. We are on the Antique Forum...

You have only part of a finger on only part of the pulse..

An illustration : About 40 years ago, outside Houston Texas, a group of ~10 young men were sitting after finishing their lunch, at a picnic-style lunch-table outside; across from a 120'+ by ~20'dia tower in a petrol-chemical complex. Conspicuous on the side of the tower was a rickety small hand ladder going to the top; and that was nearly dangling in a few spots because the anchor bolts had worked loose. It had no stops before almost the top, and no allowances for a safety-belt. They had been told to meet there for work assignment after lunch. ~10 min after lunch was over, a foreman strolled up, looked the group over, and said he needed several volunteers to go "up". Promptly ten stood up. After a quick scrutiny, he picked the few, and sent the rest off elsewhere for their work assignments. He then remarked, "haveta be careful pickin - lotta times they'll git up bout 75' n freeze up". Continuing after a short pause - "generally let m be for bout 45 min.... fore I go up for him...

Translation : To the young men born and bred for at least several generations in Texas, this is considered a "rite-of-passage" whereby he earns his self-respect and learns his limitations. So that he is prepared to enter the business world of Texas. Honor - Texas style. The "steel" that forms the real back-bone of Texas business. The young men in the illustration knew what they were in to.. None wanted to be less than the others.. Until they found out the hard way.. Then, they would have to live with it.. But they kept their honor by being willing to go up.. The foreman mentioned was not callous or criminal.. On the contrary - he knew that they would eat their lunch on that table tho he had not told them specifically to do so. They then had almost an hour to look it over and surmise that some were going to be asked to go "up"; and decide if they were willing to do it for their self "honor". Other "spins" can be put on this situation, but mine is accurate.. Finally, the foreman had the most "honor" of all.. he would have to go up and get a completely terrified and nearly petrified young-man; and bring him down inside the foreman's arms and body, making it triple-dangerous for that foreman. He waited 45 min to go up, because he knew by then, the young man would be nearly exausted from a stranglehold on the ladder, and not irrationally struggle and probably bring them both down,, for the final,, time.. The next time the readers go by a 13 story building, look up and try to visualize this situation.. And by the way, going "up" to get inside a small room at the top of that tower for maintenance on the chemical process, was routine at that place. An extra long extension-ladder fire-truck is not an option. Not in Texas.

So, HONOR is my motivator. He is a harsh task-master. He is not kind nor pleasant, he does not give joy nor jubilation. He does not let me exalt nor feel good. He does not coddle, pamper or pussy. Even when I satisfy him, I still am unhappy. He makes me get up in the middle of night to help an employer or customer, that has called and said he is down. And honor will not let me stop until the job is done, possibly missing 2 nights sleep. Honor will not let me charge the customer extra because he is vulnerable. Honor will not let me try to sneak something by, nor lie cheat or steal. It causes me to loose money because I find out after I have started that I am not sure on a job, and put extra into it, just to make sure. Honor makes me help the destitute, without judgement on why they are in that position. It makes me take on charity cases without time to evaluate if they are "worthy".

I get no reward from honor. It is a gross insult to me for people to think I am looking for their pitiful profuse thanks as reward. Even when my back is to the wall, and I am down on my knees facing imminent disaster, and someone with honor reaches out to help, it does not make me feel good.. instead, it chokes me up and brings tears to my eyes. Even that hurts me. Likewise when I find out my customer is carrying me even tho other under-bidders have been to them.

So keep in mind you critics that challenge my honor by your "100% bull-shit" per an immature-rash-inexperienced commentor that can't read properly, and then doesn't understand what he reads - and insinuates that I am reckless or a fool, and am offering an untried or untested, or discussion of "brazed" when it is no-where to be found in my presentation; and even "annoy the adults", when most adults I know would have taken my comment at face value and checked into it.. keep in mind that to the extent you have reached up in honor, that will be the extent of your worth.

To the respectful and honorable I give thanks and am most appreciative and welcome elaborative comments, suggested improvements and all other positive contributions.

And to the man "starting up" I offer my hand..

yours in service, geo.
 








 
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