Thursday, April 23, 2015

Visible Mean Of Support

I finished up the pedestals, that support the lathe, today. They are made of 3/4 inch particle board. I was going to use MDF, but the other stuff is cheaper and once it's painted it will look just as good. Both of them are identical. I went ahead and primed them and the guard. I then put on two coats of the same red paint that I used on my router table and my planer/spindle sander cart. The right side will have a shelf for storage, the left will house the motor. Next, I have to build the motor mount system and hang the doors. I also went ahead and cut the threads on the left end of the spindle. It's really beginning to look like a machine now.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Making Headway

I've just about finished the headstock. It was made up from eight pieces of oak laminated together. I deviated a bit from the plans in the book. I decided to thread both ends of the spindle. The left end has yet to be threaded. I have to wait until I'm in final mockup, so I can determine the length of the threads. The reason for this is, if I ever want to turn a large bowl or platter, that exceeds the capacity over the ways, I can put a faceplate on the other end and set up a portable tool rest. Since the threads are right handed, I'll have to lock the faceplate onto the spindle with a set screw so it doesn't spin itself off. I did find that I cut the spindle a tad short and didn't allow enough for the threads. To get the additional length, that I need, I recessed both of the flange bearings into the headstock. It gives it a more custom look, which I like. At the same time as was doing this, I glued the ways to each other with the laminated plywood spacers in between. Everything came out nice and even with no ugly gaps. Next, I think I'll make the pedestals that serve as the base for the machine. It's cut from one sheet of MDF or particle board. I'll do the tailstock last. I blew the budget on the headstock lumber. It took ten feet of  3/4 x 8 red oak. It ran 55 bucks. I will need a similar amount for the tailstock. All that will remain, after that, is some electrical cord, a V belt, a quart of red paint and some assorted hardware

En Garde

I though I'd make something cheap, so I made a belt guard for the lathe. It's made from scrap plywood and some Masonite that I had in the shop. I didn't follow the plans in the book for this part since I would have had to buy some more material. Still trying to do this on a budget and still end up with an attractive machine.  I laminated some plywood squares together  and cut out the upper and lower curved portions on the band saw. I notched each piece at the ends of the legs to recess the Masonite sides into. The inside was brought up flush with some 1/2 inch plywood strips. Another piece of Masonite was cut and glued to the assembly to form the front of the guard. I used my trim router to cut it flush with the sides. A hole was drilled so the spindle will stick through. Once everything it sanded smooth and even, I'll fill the plywood edge grain with plastic body filler. I cut a little sheet metal clip to hold it onto the headstock. Once the machine is mounted to the pedestals, I'll make up some sort of clip to hold it at the bottom .

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Today I made up the lathe bed. It is made of laminated 3/4 inch oak plywood. I went with the oak because I want it to match my router table and my planer/spindle sander table. So, the lathe itself will be finished in the golden oak oil and the stand will be red. The plans call for the exposed edges of the plywood to serve as the ways. I want a more finished, furniture look so I made these pieces to cover the edges. They overhang the front and back of each way 1/2 inch. The inside overhang will serve a purpose later on. As I began to count the expenditures and future purchases, I realize that my 100/150 dollar estimate may be a tad optimistic. I need about 80 bucks worth of hardwood for the head and tailstocks and a sheet of MDF for the stand. Still, I think 2 bills will cover the whole thing. Money is pretty tight right now so I will have to set it aside for a while until we catch up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lost And Foundry

The lathe project requires a three step, cone pulley with a one inch bore. They run about fifty bucks. No way am I going to shell out half a hun for a lousy pulley. I decided to make my own. I made a pattern from plywood, rammed it up in the flask and lit the furnace. I knew, right away, that my chances for a good part were slim so I allowed myself one failure. It is a large casting and I needed to melt a full crucible of aluminum. The lid on my furnace fell apart when I was making the water pump for the bike. I thought I could just use a piece of steel as a lid. Not so. I need a lid that holds the heat in in order to get a full melt. I tried some bricks and It seemed to work. I had a full load of alloy, ready to pour, or so I thought. As I poured it, I realized that it wasn't going to go well. It wasn't fluid enough. The casting was useless. So, I initiated Plan B. Since this is a low stress deal, I decided to make a wooden pulley. I planed a piece of maple to 5/8 inch and cut out four circles, 6, 5, 4, and 3 inches. I glued them together and, after it dried, I bored the center out to 1 3/8. I had a piece of 1 3/8 DOM tubing that I bored to 1 inch ID on the metal lathe. I pressed it into the wooden pulley. Using the tailstock spindle as an arbor, I chucked it and the pulley into the lathe. Using both the crossfeed and the wood lathe chisels, I whittled the blank pulley into a pretty good looking finished part. I then drilled through the wood and the steel core and tapped it for a set screw to keep the two parts together and to secure it to the headstock spindle. So far, I have a total expenditure of 50 bucks in the project. I think I will be able to come in at hundred bucks total cost, certainly no more than 150. I have several good motors to choose from as well as two or three of the smaller cone pulleys. Tomorrow, I'll pick up a sheet of plywood for the lathe bed

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Where The Humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa Go Swimming By

One of the grand daughters asked if I would make her a ukulele. Well, you can't say no, so I shifted into luthier mode. I have a stash of cigar boxes, so I grabbed this one and got to work. I borrowed a uke from a friend so I could get all of the critical measurements without having to do any tricky math or buying a fancy instrument makers rulers. I laminated some maple and walnut for the neck. Once it was dry, I shaped it with the band saw, a rasp, the belt sander and a cabinet scraper. I made the bridge from another piece of walnut. Those are staples that the strings rest on. I didn't want to lose the cool plastic Punch Cigar logo when I cut the sound hole so I cut a quarter moon shaped hole. After looking at it I thought, "What a happy looking uke." So I added the goofy teeth and eyeballs for a whimsical look. I like it, Hope she does, too. I then shot three or four coats of clear over the whole thing. Once all the parts that I ordered from the luthier supply arrived, I could finish it. I installed the frets and the tuners. I strung it up until the strings made a nice plinking sound. Again, I possess no musical skills at all, so I will have to take it to a friend and get him to tune it and pluck out a tune. I think it will be just fine. Of course, A fine instrument needs a case. I cut some red oak down to 1/4 inch, made four sides and finger jointed them into a box. I cut some grooves for a sliding lid. The handle was whittled out of another hunk of oak and fastened to the box with walnut hingey thingeys that I cut on the bandsaw. I connected them together with brazing rod pins. The inside was covered with some really pretty blue felt that I got at the fabric store. I found a cool picture of a girl, on the beach, playing a uke. I printed it and transferred it to the lid with some Liquitex gel. I sprayed the whole thing with clear lacquer and then made a little frame for the picture with some cardboard and a piece of fabric that I found in Wifey's sewing room. That's it. All there is left to do is to package it up and ship it to her in Kansas. I'm very pleased with the way the entire project turned out

Thursday, April 2, 2015

There Is A Season, Turn, Turn, Turn

I have my little hobby lathe that I use to make small projects like pens, knobs and other lightweight things. I've always wanted a larger machine for bowls, table legs and larger projects. So here goes, another moderately large build. The plans come from a book of homebuilt tools that I bought some time ago. The entire thing shouldn't cost me much more than a hundred bucks. The majority is built from one sheet of plywood, one sheet of particle board and a few lengths of hardwood. I went to the metal supply last week and picked up a length of one inch round cold rolled steel. I lopped off a hunk of it and centered it up in the four jaw chuck. This is new territory for me. I have never attempted to cut threads on a lathe. I watched a few You Tube videos and figured, "I can do that." After setting up the change gears, dialing in the tool bit location and setting the compound angle I hit the feed handle and made a light, scratch cut. It looked good, a quick measurement showed that I had the correct eight threads per inch that I wanted. After a dozen, or so, passes I had a nice set of threads. They aren't real smooth where the tool cut. I suspect by bit was not sharp enough, but they are concentric and the chucks and face plates fit very nice. No slop or excessive tightness. I'm pleased. The next problem involved drilling a 3/8 hole all the way through the new spindle. It is a bit more than a foot long. I checked around for extra long bits and found the too expensive for the Po' Boy. I have a 7/16 X 12 inch bit. After looking at the plans, I figured that would work just fine. I drilled as far as I could with the long bit. Before I took the piece out to finish drilling from the other end, I had to address another, potential problem. The threaded end needs a number two Morse taper to accept various tapered accessories. I don't have a boring bar small enough to cut inside of a 7/16 hole. As I went through all of the tooling that I have, fate smiled down on me. I have a number two Morse taper reamer. I drilled out the first three inches of the spindle to 9/16 and reamed the hole until I reached the desired depth. The whole tapering process took about five minutes. It was just a matter of  removing the spindle, turning it end for end, re centering it in the chuck with a dial indicator and finish drilling the through hole. I also had to make the tailstock spindle. It was, pretty much, a repeat of the first, except it has six inches of threads. Same taper, same through hole. I'll pick up a sheet of plywood, later this week or next, and begin the main body of the machine