As The Lathe Turns #69: Making Tools - Part 1

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Blog entry by William posted 01-28-2014 02:33 AM 3122 reads 1 time favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 68: Tool Addiction Part 69 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 70: Making Tools - Part 2 »

This post is about making tools. It will be several parts to it. With cold fronts moving through the area, I simply am not able to get out to the shop to do as much as I’d like.

First, this is what I’ve been using to insert tubes into pens that I make. It is the nozzle that comes with certain tubes, such as automotive silicone. It has worked well, but I’ve been wanting something better. Mostly, I just wanted something with a handle to make it easier to hold.
I seen this tool in the Penn State catalogue. If you read my blog regularly though, you know I hate buying a tool, no matter what the cost, if I can make it myself.

So I chucked a piece of half inch steel rod in my chuck on the lathe. Some time with a file, and I had a tool that seems to work well on all the tubes I had available on hand to check it on.
Then I used a piece of cocobola I had to make a nice handle for it.

Some of you may remember the Oland style tools I made a while back. Well, I have gotten a few questions in my email from time to time about them. There are several articles online that I’ve been directing people to. Well I was recently contacted by a far away friend who wants some of these tools but does not have a fully equipped shop in order to make them. This helps me out because I can help a friend and, since I did not take photos while making my set, can take lots of photos to be able to show people how I made mine.
So if you’re interested in making some of these, follow along in the next few installments while I make a set for my friend.

First thing is to cut some steel rod to length. The length is a matter of preference. There are a couple of factors to consider. Take your favorite tool. Measure the length of the over all tool. Then measure the shaft length that sticks out of that tool. Now, through trial and error, or simply an educated guess, figure out how far into a handle you can drill a hole the proper size for your shafts. Add the shaft length to that depth, and you have your overall shaft length.
I’ll need three shafts. My set is a four piece set. I have an idea though to turn the two forty five degree tools into one single tool. I will get to that in a later installment. If it works, great. If not, I’ll have to cut the end off and make another one. For now though, I just need three shafts.
The shafts I cut are fourteen inches long. I may have to shorten these a bit later for my handle to make them so I know my friend will be happy. For now though, I’d rather have them long than short. I can remove some length later, but I won’t be able to add any.
Let me stop right there and say this. Every step you see me do with making these tools are only the way that I do it. There are endless ways you could do the exact things I am going to do and still get the job done.
To cut the shafts to length, I simply clamp a five eighths thick cold rolled steel rod into a vise. Then I used a hacksaw and tape measure and went at it.

I’m starting with the ninety degree tool, because it is easiest to drill the hole. It simple goes through the side.
The first thing I have to do is make a jig to hold the rod. It is simply a block of wood cut on the table saw to allow the rod to lie in. They make drill press vices that would make this jig unnecessary. My drill press vise stays set up to drill pen blanks though. It is quicker to me just to cut a temporary jig.

The next thing I’ll need is oil. Anytime you cut metal with a drill bit, you need oil. You can drill it without oil, but you’ll burn up your bit quickly.
They actually make special cutting oils for drilling. I’ve used other oils though through the years. Anything that keeps the bit lubricated and cooled will work. My preference is Marvel Mystery Oil. Why? Because I’ve used it a lot in the past and it works.
I have an old small bottle that had 3-In-One oil in it that I keep refilling with the Marvel Oil.

The next thing I use is a center punch. I suggest always making a divit with a center punch when drilling through anything that is not flat, such as this rod. If you don’t, there is a good chance your bit will “walk” when you start drilling. This can cause your bit to break.
When drilling, keep your hole filled with oil. Just back your bit out often and put a few drops down the hole. Drill slowly. Using this method, I usually wind up somehow breaking my smaller bits, like this quarter inch I’m using here, before I dull a bit.

Easy does it and you get a quarter inch hole.
There’s still more to do to this, and all the shafts I’ll be drilling today. I’m just trying to get my quarter inch holes done today though. The more will come later. So I’ll clean the oil off of it and set this shaft aside for now.

Next up is the forty five degree tool.
This one is a little harder to drill. It is harder simply because the hole is drill at forty five degrees. The bit will have a tendency to skate down the shaft before cutting. It has to go further through the metal to make the hole all the way through. Then it has to come through the other side. This sometimes causes issues as the bit is free on one side of the cutting area while still grabbing on the other side of it.
All these issues can be overcome though.
The first thing I do is clamp the shaft in the vise. I use an angle grinder to flatten a small area at a forty five degree angle. It doesn’t have to be a lot of material removed, only enough to give the bit enough flat surface to start on so it doesn’t skate down the shaft. Once it starts, the hole itself will keep it going the direction it needs to go.

Then I have to get creative at the drill press in order to drill it.
Again, you can use a drill press vise for this operation if you have one. I just added forty five degree blocks under the temporary jig I made before. Then I use a C-clamp to hold the shaft to the jig so it doesn’t try to slide downward as I’m drilling.

Always expect the unexpected.
Remember what I said earlier about the bit grabbing on one side and not the other as it exits the forty five degree hole? Well sometimes it may grab enough to snap the bit right off like this one did.
So I had to make a hardware store run for a new bit before continuing. I picked up three bits though. I keep extra bits around for common sizes such as this quarter inch. The one I snapped off just happened to be the last one I had on hand at the time.
Next up is the straight bit tool. I have been thinking about this one for several days now. The one I have is from another source. I did not make it. So I had to figure out a way to drill it. My drill press would drill it. I really did not wish though to remove my cabinet that is attached to my table that holds bits and such. It would simply be too much of a pain.
So I called a local machine shop. I figured it may just be easier for me to carry it somewhere and get them to drill a simple hole for me.
So I called them, explained what I wanted, and asked for a ball park figure on what it would cost me.
Forty to sixty dollars.
What!? To drill a one inch deep hole in a shaft?
Yes sir. We have to crank up a highly specialized machine to perform that operation.
Specialized machine? It’s a hole.
Yes sir. It’s a hole in the end of a shaft though. The only way we have to do that is a horizontal boring machine.
Ok. Well thank you anyway, but I can’t afford that.
So I hung up the phone a little frustrated. What in the world is a horizontal boring machine? And what is so specialized about it that it costs that much to drill a hole?
So I went online to find out what this highly specialized machine called a horizontal boring machine was. Guess what I found?
It looked like a fancy metal lathe.

I don’t have a horizontal boring machine, or even a not so fancy metal lathe. I do have a lathe though. I also have a drill chuck insert for my tail stock. Then I have a chuck to hold the shaft at the headstock end. I figured I could make a go of this.
The problem I ran into was that a five eighths rod will not go all the way through my headstock spindle. So I had to just chuck it into the chuck, leaving a lot overhanging the bed. This left so much unsupported weight out there that it was just too much wobble to be drilled successfully.

So do you remember the steady rests I made a while back?
What to do with too much unsupported shaft? Set the steady rest close to the chuck end. Then slide it outwards and support the rod.
Now we are cooking with grease.

Everything was going nicely. About halfway through the one inch deep hole though, I started noticing a lot of smoke from my bit every time I’d retract it to clear the shavings. So I decided it was time to take a coffee break and allow my bit to cool completely before continuing.

All went well from there and I got the hole bored, and without a horizontal boring machine.
I hope to run to town in the morning to pick up the set screws I forgot to get today. Then I will drill and tap holes for those.
So if you’re interested, stay tuned. I will continue posting the progress as I get it done. This, I hope, will answer any questions anyone has. At the very least it will give me somewhere to direct people people when they do have questions.


18 comments so far

View KTMM (Krunkthemadman)'s profile

KTMM (Krunkthemadman)

1055 posts in 3222 days

#1 posted 01-28-2014 02:41 AM

William the toolmaker. That looks great…

-- Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Vince Lombardi

View wooded's profile


365 posts in 2300 days

#2 posted 01-28-2014 02:59 AM

Nice presentation William. Thanks! ;-j

-- Joe in Pueblo West, Colo.

View lightcs1776's profile


4212 posts in 1682 days

#3 posted 01-28-2014 03:08 AM

William, that is excellent information. I really don’t get all the different tools yet, but can’t see spending a bundle on something I could make. Will any lathe work for the pen tool or does it require a certain quality lathe? Also, if you’ll forgive my ignorance, what are these particular tools used for on the lathe?

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2703 days

#4 posted 01-28-2014 03:11 AM

Nice write up!!!
I get the “machining” part of this build, so far!
What I don’t know, amongst a myriad of other things is, what do you use these tools for, when turning wood???
Yup, a newbie question!

I will definitely be following along as you progress through this tool manufacturing manifest!!!

Carry on….

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View lightcs1776's profile


4212 posts in 1682 days

#5 posted 01-28-2014 03:13 AM

Funny, Randy. I asked the same question on his blog. It was a great and informative write up.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#6 posted 01-28-2014 03:33 AM

Thank you all for your comments.

As to what these tools are for, they are for turning. Specifically, turning bowls and other hollow vessels.
The name Oland came from the guy who was known as the creator of these type tools, Knud Oland. They are meant to be tools that one can make on their own with simple tools you find around the shop. Usually, it is simply a handle, with a shaft, and some way to attach a high speed or hard steele bit. These bits can be interchanged with other bits that are used on the lathe.
I like them a lot for hollowing deep bowls. They do great at getting way over the tool rest without as much chatter or catch as a traditional gouge or scraper. Don’t let the small size of the bits fools you though (1/4”). The little I have used these type tools, they throw some shavings!
As I go through this demonstrative series, I will also show how the bits are held in, and how I make the bits. The bits though are a whole topic in and of itself. They can be made of pretty much anything you wish to try. Since they are quickly made and interchangeable, you don’t lose much time or material by experimenting with anything. I’ve seen bits made from old drill bits, old files, nails heated and shaped into ring type tools, and all sorts of things. The possibilities are endless, and it is designed not to cost a bundle.


View lightcs1776's profile


4212 posts in 1682 days

#7 posted 01-28-2014 03:36 AM

Thanks for the explanation. I think I will be making these in the future.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#8 posted 01-28-2014 03:38 AM

If you look towards the bottom of this article, there are links to some videos of the Oland tool in action.


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3332 days

#9 posted 01-28-2014 04:10 AM

im glad to see your busy with this, yea its cold out brother, today was great 65…tomorrow will be in the high 20’s and maybe snow and then come saturday we will be back in the 60 with rain…im glad this cold stuff will be done …im ready for some good ole warm air….i always enjoy learning …and you always do a good job at teaching, hey i did do a little mechanic work today, got a new fuel line in my chainsaw, now it run great, was a bit now im a pro…lol…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#10 posted 01-28-2014 04:53 AM

Thanks Grizz.

I wish sometimes I still had a gas powered chain saw. I had one, but would throw my back out trying to crank it. So I wound up getting a little electric one for what small tasks I may use one for. So far it has done what I needed it to, but I do sometimes miss the power of a gas powered one.


View Doe's profile


1404 posts in 2858 days

#11 posted 01-28-2014 09:52 AM

That is fascinating. I’m really shocked at the $40-60 though. I’m looking forward to the next part.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#12 posted 01-28-2014 11:27 AM

Thank you doe.
That price shocked me too.
I think the guy on the other end of the phone was purposely overpricing just so he wouldn’t have to mess with such a small task.
That’s ok though. It gave me the incentive to figure out a way to do it myself.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#13 posted 01-28-2014 11:29 AM

Oh, and I learned that my lathe doubles as a highly specialized piece of equipment called a horizontal boring machine.


View zoraxx's profile


4 posts in 1607 days

#14 posted 01-29-2014 12:49 AM

very nice

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2718 days

#15 posted 01-29-2014 01:30 AM

William, I’m all about shop made tools and yours are always well thought out. One thought: I use “tap and die cutting oil when drilling steel and it has made a big difference in the number of bits I break or “cook”. I’m sure you have that drill slowed down as much as you can?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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