"One Perfect Part at a Time"


Fanning the Coals

It’s no secret one of my lusts is machining in metal and wax. Actually, machining any material is fine with me. Wax became my favored material because it machines so well, especially with very small tool bits. Primarily, jewelry CNC carving for lost wax casting (LWC).

But I have also machined wax for LWC casting in brass, and that also works very well. I am not involved with casting large objects. At least not yet. But I don’t have an interest in doing large scale sand mold type casting. That’s a whole ‘nother sideline.

My light weight Taig equipment is perfect for machining wax. Taig tools also do an admirable job on small metal cutting as well. I have milled everything from stainless steel to cast iron. I have had no problems with brass, at least the types I have machined. Like most metals, there are many alloys. I choose the easy to machine.

I recently viewed a railroading model project (a hand-car)* made by an old friend Ed Hume. It got me re-considering my old lust for live steam engines and locomotives. They are machined directly from metal. That fanned the embers again and created a bit of remorse that my metal shop hasn’t been productive as was intended, except for the LWC silver work.

*Don’t know how long this link will last.

I designed my shop and machine equipment size specifically to create model train and model engine components. Not (what I consider) full size, or real life-size components. The term often used is “Model-Engineering” workshop.  

I recently dusted off one of the machines, the Proxxon PD400 mini-lathe and turned down some leaded steel stock into a mandrel and cap for my wax carving. That effort really felt good, experiencing those perfect cuts and… 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.

The Cutting Edge

I viewed a series of videos called Knifemaking Tuesday’s sponsored by Tormach. The hyperlink in the previous line will take you to the video location in the Tormach website.

The video series is a non professional production but it is an engaging story about a couple of Canadian knife makers, John Grimsmo and his brother Eric Grimsmo. It picks up their story when they first start using the Tormach machine.

John and Eric are a couple of entrepreneurs starting a production knife making business in I assume John’s garage. (I haven’t seen the videos from before Tormach sponsoring.)

The investment they made for all their recent upgrades indicates they must have deep pockets somewhere or the previous knives they sold before using the Tormach tools must have been VERY expensive and profitable. There is a lot of talk about what they are spending on development of the new production system and design run but zilch about profits, then perhaps that is not our business… so to speak. 🙂

Tormach sponsors this YouTube “Channel TV” program because it showcases the Tormach PCNC 1100 machine and a lot of their accessories, except the ATC (Automatic Tool Changer).

This is definitely more an amateur reality TV garage workshop sit-comedy of errors than a typical Tormach training series. There is way too much goofing around and trial and error mistakes for calling it training, but I did learn a bunch about amateurs trying to become serious professional knife makers. I also gathered a bunch of new information about using CNC for knife making. The knife products do look good by the week 26 video.

The video work, even with as low a production effort as seen here, takes a lot of time and effort from the actual work of knife making.… Continue reading

Look Fast

Not always this clean.Here is a picture seldom seen in a workshop. A totally empty workbench!

After expending too many hours revising the THMS website, I got into the mood to get out in the shop and really start detailing the place. Several hours earlier before this picture was taken, this bench looked nothing like this. I am in a “put away” “tidy up” mood.

Actually I just put a new coat of polyurethane  on the top since I had it so cleared off. I do that occasionally. The surface gets rubbed and scrapped off when I am working on things on the bench. You can see some old stain marks and where the X3 took a chunk out of the leading edge in “The Great Wreck”.

The red vice has swapped ends (some time ago). the original location was on the right side but then I built the Taig CNC mill bench. Both benches are extremely stable. The dark main bench is free standing and the CNC bench (light grey) is built in.

When I get a work in progress back on this bench, it will seem more like a workshop. Empty benches (like beaches) attract all sorts of non project flotsam and jetsam* if left in this present barren state too long. (*Yeah, I am a US Navy vet. I love nautical terms.)

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