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  1. #1
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    Default Brand New To Machining

    This is my first post here, Iím an amateur fabricator with a desire to get things done using my own resources. Iíve been watching machinist videos for a long time and never actually got my hands on any actual machinery. Anyhow I finally pulled the trigger on something I could afford, this Le Blond lathe along with a Bridgeport J Head Mill. I got them both for $1500. (Yes I had him demo everything before I handed over the cash). Iíve been patiently waiting to expand the garage over at my dads house, and after a year we finally got the room expanded and brought in the machinery. Now Iím just waiting to have my buddy come over to upgrade our panel.

    The reason for this post is just to ask for some advice on what sort of beginners tooling I should invest in that you wish you would have had someone tell you about in the beginning. Along with common mistakes on setting up. I also have a friend who has a machine shop thatís all CNC units, luckily he has lots of scrap aluminum to practice on and some old vises, unfortunately he doesnít have any knowledge on running manual machinery.

    Iím hoping to get into crafting my own shotguns someday. (Oddly enough my last name translates to shotgun in Norwegian). For now Ill be using most of my time on the lathe turning spacers and odds and ends for making accessories or modifying or Class 10 buggy.

    Anyways Iím excited to be a part of the community and absorb as much knowledge as I can to hopefully become more a producer for this world and less of a consumer, as well as be that old timer who can pass on knowledge to some youngsters somewhere down the line.

    Thanks in advance.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails b464a81b-64f1-41a9-be95-51ea0414759c.jpg  

  2. #2
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    "what sort of beginners tooling..."

    A Hammer and a Chisel.

    A Rock and a Stick.

    Your hands, and mud?

    Your head and [thinking mind] is the best tool.

    John

  3. #3
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    Sounds like you got a decent deal if both machines are running. What tool holders did you get for the lathe? If just a rocker you should learn to use it as every now and then it might be what you need. Ideally a quick change tool post is the way to go, but even an import model can cost a few $$, the middle road option is a 4 sided tool holder and they can be had fairly cheap. Learn to grind HSS tool bits, for a small shop it really is the way to go, no breaking your last insert on a friday night start of the project, you can just resharpen and get back to work.

    Do a google search for "How to run a lathe", memorize it

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    Where in Kalifornia are you Ethan? If you are near Oxnard there is a great guy that has a used equipment and tooling business that I can recommend that could probably help you out. SMS Engineering I have no affiliation with him other than buying equipment and he is a good guy to work with. Welcome to the forum. Jim

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    When you say "fabricator" that tends to bring stick and mig welders, and grinding into my mind.............all those things need to be far away from lathes and mills, they don't mix well.
    There was a rather large fabrication shop close by, every machine tool was under a layer of grinding swarf.................and worthless junk.......some rather top drawer equipment when new.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnoder View Post
    Nice bits of info! Ethanhagle gets another Christmas in February!

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    We all started this trade at some point just like yours. It is a steep learning curve and you will soon know that tooling costs way more than the machines. That said, you did not say what your machines came with as included tooling. Johnoder is extremely knowledgeable and now has provided you what is needed for most tasks on your lathe. These .pdfs will be very useful to determine what came with your lathe and how to use them. You will find similar info on the internet for the Bridgeport. Google is your friend.

    For us to comply with your request, please include a list of every thing that came with your machines as a starting point.

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    Default welcome, and the learning curve...

    I suggest that "safe machining practice" is the best place to start your journey. Unfortunately I do not have a good reference to provide you with (perhaps someone else does?)
    The vintage machines lack the full enclosure of modern machines, so mistakes which are inconsequential on a modern lathe or mill can be dangerous on an old and open machine, so modern safety guides do not address all of the vintage modes of failure.

    I do not intend for this welcome to the community to be discouraging, as we can also hurt ourselves skiing, climbing, etc. Every activity has its risks. We just need to know what they are and take reasonable precautions so that we can enjoy metal-cutting for decades without injury to anything more precious than our tools and workpieces!

  12. #11
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    Ethan,
    Check the links page on my web site -Jeff's Old Iron Workshop - for links to several discount machinist tool suppliers.

    If you don't have the following for the LeBlond, I'd start with:
    • lubricants
    • 4 jaw chuck
    • solid or ball-bearing center for the tailstock
    • High-speed steel (HSS) tool blanks and holders
    • a couple of boring bars, holder(s) and tool blanks
    • center drills
    • bench grinder for sharpening tool bits

    For the Bridgeport:
    • a clamping or hold-down set to fit the T-slots
    • set of R8 end mill holders
    • R8 to Jacobs drill chuck arbor and chuck
    • decent set of drill bits
    • end mills in assorted sizes


    A copy of an old machine shop textbook might also be useful.

    Lastly, digital or cell phone camera. Invaluable for illustrating questions to this or other web sites and if you take something apart, for documenting how it goes back together.

    Jeff

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    I would suggest you make a thread in the general section as well...much more exposure there.

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    Regarding tooling - for my home machine shop, my strategy has been to determine the job first, and then tool-up for that job as required. Your general tooling and fixture needs will get addressed, because that's what you will end up using for most jobs.

    I'll second the notion that if you are focusing on old manual machines, you can't have too many old machine shop text and reference books.

    In addition, you may want to consider one of those "promotional" TE-CO clamp kits specifically for BP mills. It'll be the best $90.00 you spend and get you started for basic fixturing. Whatever you do, don't get Chicom clamp kits - they are epically beyond useless. You may also want to hawk CL for a used Kurt 6" vise. Again, the Chicom vises are a very poor substitute.

    Best of luck and most importantly, keep safe!

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    I would suggest you make a thread in the general section as well...much more exposure there.
    That's a good suggestion, as are the suggestions here that address your request re: tooling.

    As I am sure you know, time in the shop is what will teach you how to make metal behave. If you are on a budget, buy tooling as you need it, and keep an eye out for good quality used American before jumping on the import bargain stuff. When you can't be in the shop, read. A standard is South Bend's How to Run a Lathe. Another is Moltrecht:
    Amazon.com: Buying Choices: Machine Shop Practice, Vol. 1
    but be sure to get both volumes, 1 and 2. Vol. 1 goes on the nighttable, Vol. 2 in the bog.

    -Marty-

  16. #15
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    As a relative newbie myself, i can appreciate the challenge of not knowing where/how to get started. In addition to the great advice already shared, one lesson i learned is to really think about rigidity in any set-up you use. Simply put, try not to let anything stick out too much if you can help it. In the lathe, try to keep the work in the chuck as much as you can and try to keep the cutting tools as close to the tool holder as you can. Same basic idea on the mill. Keep the cutters as short and as close to the spindle as you can and try not to let the work stick out of the vice too much if at all possible.

    The other thing is to pick small projects that will help build skills. For example, an experienced machinist wouldn't think twice about grinding a cutting tool. To me, it's a mini-project to be thought through before i start and tested when done. Same basic idea when learning on the lathe. To me, experimenting with speeds, feeds and cutter geometry to get a good surface finish is a nice project. Same thing with turning an OD to an arbitrary dimension then try boring an ID to an arbitrary dimension. You get the idea. These basic operations build on each other and the skills will build up fast.

    Good luck and have fun.

  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm03 View Post
    Where in Kalifornia are you Ethan? If you are near Oxnard there is a great guy that has a used equipment and tooling business that I can recommend that could probably help you out. SMS Engineering I have no affiliation with him other than buying equipment and he is a good guy to work with. Welcome to the forum. Jim
    Hey Jim, Iím just down the road in Somis. If youíve ever heard of Hagle Lumber or the Hagle Christmas Tree Farm thatís my family and I.

    SMS is actually who I purchased the machinery through, small world. I couldnít believe the mountains of stuff he had piled up in there.

    I was actually meaning to swing back by there and pick his brain on this stuff, in the moment things were sort of rushed because I was on the clock in a company Semi truck and had to get back ASAP.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citxmech View Post

    In addition, you may want to consider one of those "promotional" TE-CO clamp kits specifically for BP mills. It'll be the best $90.00 you spend and get you started for basic fixturing. Whatever you do, don't get Chicom clamp kits - they are epically beyond useless.
    Bullshit. I've got 3 or 4 sets, I use them all the time (all M12) including on a decent HBM and a metal planer as well as on the Victoria U2 mill and on the glorified drill press AKA Bridgeport mill.

    Never stripped a stud, broken or bent any of the components.

    For some of the machines I did make the T nuts to fit the slots but that was because I wanted to standardise on one size of studs, flange nuts etc and M12 looked like the best reasonable compromise. Nice thing is, I can keep a couple lengths of high tensile allthread about the place and make custom sized studs in about 30 seconds with the angle grinder & bench linisher.

    PDW

  19. #18
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    Hey, if made in China clamps work for you, great. It's certainly cheap. FYI, my complaint is not that the steel is bad, it's more that the machining is crap. I recently ordered some Chicom T-Slot nuts via Amazon because I needed some extras in a hurry for a rush job. I sent them back because they were machined so poorly. I mean, look at the serrations on the attached pic for example (hope the pic sizes so you can see them).
    chinese-clamps-copy.jpg

    I can do better than that with a file by hand.That's not just cosmetic right there. I guarantee you that stuff won't hold as securely as properly machined steps.

    Working with precision is enough of a challenge, the last thing I want to do is fight my tools.

    When the Chicom set is $55.00 and a genuine TE-CO set is only $95.00 - I'll spend the extra $40.00 on the TE-CO stuff every time in a heartbeat. Buy once, cry once.

    Regarding vises, I've got three 8" vises right now, two Kurts and a Chicom that the seller of my mill threw in to sweeten the deal. The Chicom works, but it just doesn't live up to the Kurts. I can feel that the Kurt's clamp more securely and they are more accurate. Again, this is not just an aesthetic thing. It's sort of like comparing Snap-On wrenches to Craftsman wrenches. Yeah, they are stupid expensive, but I'll always reach for the Snap-On first (unless I'm going to cut, bend, or weld on it). My Chicom vise is now dedicated to drill press duty. It's fine for that.

    Now, are the Kurts worth $1k more than the Chicom each? Depends. A bunch of people obviously think so because I see a ton of them in working shops.

    Generally speaking, I find that as the quality goes up, the relative gains diminish while the price goes parabolic. The best bang for your buck, in my opinion, is going from the bargain price range to the next tier or two up - or, shopping around and buying top tier used equipment. For instance, I got my two 8" Kurts, for $400.00.

    Obviously, identifying your price/quality point is a personal choice based upon your personal circumstances, but I've never looked back and thought, "damn, I wish I bought the cheap tool instead!" I sure have regretted some forays into the bargain bin though. When I can get the good stuff for not much more than the cheap stuff, I call that a win/win.
    Last edited by Citxmech; 02-21-2020 at 12:20 PM.

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citxmech View Post
    When the Chicom set is $55.00 and a genuine TE-CO set is only $95.00 - I'll spend the extra $40.00 on the TE-CO stuff every time in a heartbeat. Buy once, cry once.

    Regarding vises, I've got three 8" vises right now, two Kurts and a Chicom that the seller of my mill threw in to sweeten the deal. The Chicom works, but it just doesn't live up to the Kurts. I can feel that the Kurt's clamp more securely and they are more accurate.
    That bit I agree with - the Chinese vises are *ok* as a rule but not great. However Kurt vises in Australia are such a ridiculous price that - shrug. I don't have one.

    One thing I did notice when I lived in the USA was that the lower level stuff was substantially worse than what we see here in Australia even though the country of origin is the same. I think part of the reason is, we have pretty strong consumer law concerning fitness for purpose. So the Chinese stuff can be a bit rough around the edges but it has to *work*. And the multiple between Chinese and USA/Euro stuff isn't $55 to $95, it's more like $90 to $500 for a clamp kit. I pay extra for better quality too (keyless drill chucks being a classic - I prefer the German made ones).

    PDW

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    4 jaw chuck is very handy, and a steady rest, good to practice/master threading and have a fish and thread gauge and a three wire set,learn how to go quickly from in-the-chuck to between-centers as that is the way to get some parts close to needed straight and center.. A decent bench grinder to practice grinding a HSS tool bit. CNC friend can make up a base for a steady of another brand as making to height and center is all that is needed.
    Perhaps 1 to 3" micrometer and a digital caliper, a flat plate and an indicator.
    Perhaps make a fun hobby project like a small steam engine as a practice project.

    Think about safety as most of us have gotten a finger stuck sanding a part before we learned how not to do that.
    Lathe Fundamentals 101: Lathe Safety - Making with Metal


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