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Machining metal on a woodworking lathe

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Project by poopiekat posted 02-02-2010 05:12 PM 6337 views 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Just thought I’d take a moment to show a detail of an upcoming project. I’ve experimented in the past with aluminum machining with the use of a router and solide carbide bits, and generally got good results. This week, I had a machining problem regarding a spindle with a non-standard size, and tried out this method of machining to correct it.
I had earlier purchased a self-centering scroll chuck and mounted it to my Delta/Beaver woodworking lathe. I then bought an X-Y vise fixture with dovetail ways, and adapted it to the lathe bed. A package of cheezy Taiwan cutting bits, and away we go! I once cut ring grooves on aluminum pistons this way, but never did cold steel before!
In the pictures you’ll see the lathe, self-centering chuck, X-Y feed, and a steel hub which I am re-boring from 1/2 inch to 14 MM, approximately .556”. This will be fitted to the input shaft of a 90-degree mitre gearbox.
Anyway, the machining went off without any problems at all! Frequent applications of cutting oil, and constant measuring with my digital caliper and I wound up with a nicely turned press-fit between the hub and shaft.
Stay tuned for an update, this is all part of my current project I’m building. That is, a scratch-built lathe fixture which will do decorative helical cuts, spiral turnings and barley twists on newell posts, furniture legs and pedestals. I’m collecting pics as I go. I will do a complete overview here, once it all comes together.
Who’d ever thought that metal machining on a woodworking lathe was possible? Thanks for reading! Update: I added 3 more pics, first a shot of the relic lathe from which I will use the tailstock and bed. Next, a picture of a miter gearbox with the non-standard shaft sizes. There is nothing I could buy to fit those shafts, hence this little machining project featured here. 5th pic is one of two extruded aluminum ways, which will provide linear motion for the router. the gearbox will convert rotary motion from the lathe spindle to lateral power for a chain-driven mount for the router. The 6th pic shows a rudimentary mock-up of how the router will sit on the rails, attached to the trolleys. These rails are from some sort of nordic-trak exerciser, gawwd I hate to throw stuff away!.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!





9 comments so far

View Raymondz's profile

Raymondz

64 posts in 2299 days


#1 posted 02-02-2010 05:33 PM

Interesting. Good luck with that.

-- - Ray

View Karson's profile

Karson

34886 posts in 3086 days


#2 posted 02-02-2010 05:58 PM

A great post. A lathe is a lathe. The speed would be what I consider as a constraint.

And of course the holding of the lathe chisels.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View DaddyZ's profile

DaddyZ

2414 posts in 1726 days


#3 posted 02-02-2010 06:21 PM

Karson’s Right(a lathe is a lathe) My Lathe started out life as a Metal Lathe Sold as a wood Lathe Also(1941/1942 Craftsman) I don’t have any of the Metal Lathe Attachments Maybe Someday

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3671 posts in 2420 days


#4 posted 02-02-2010 06:26 PM

Thanks, ray and Karson!
no, I would never attempt to hold a cutting tool by hand when machining metal. That’s why the firmly anchored toolholder with the X-Y travel is a definite must-do. But I have cleaned up nicked shafts with a hand-held mill file, but that would be it.
I’d estimate the rotating speed at approximately 550 on my lathe’s lowest setting. burning did not seem to be a problem, though I did take light cuts.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3671 posts in 2420 days


#5 posted 02-02-2010 06:38 PM

Thanks, DaddyZ!
A good scroll chuck isn’t hard to find, I got mine on eBay and I’m really happy with it. The seller had 22 hub choices, which made it easy to adapt. My X-Y Fixture is Harbor-Freight quality, but works fine. For a couple hundred dollars, you can upfit just about any WW lathe so you can create metal parts for machines you’re building or restoring. but… get that spur back on, and keep the wood spinning too!
Stay tuned….my helical fixture is about 33% finished…just trying to resolve some linear-motion issues now. This metal-working thing has enabled me to solve quite a few problems with resurrecting salvaged parts, including an ancient “Hobby Craft” orphan lathe which is donating the bed and tailstock to the project.
My project will somewhat resemble the “Legacy” mill, but with a far different fixturing/locating design.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Padre's profile

Padre

930 posts in 2175 days


#6 posted 02-02-2010 08:15 PM

PK….wowowow. That is incredible. The engineering and design alone is really cool, let alone figuring out how to make it all work and then do the machining. Great job.

-- Chip -----------http://www.penmanchip.com-----------------Micah 6:8

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112296 posts in 2263 days


#7 posted 02-03-2010 06:56 AM

seams weird to me

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3671 posts in 2420 days


#8 posted 02-03-2010 03:25 PM

True enough, Jim!
I know of others who have hybrid-ized their shop equipment to perform operations that are out of the norm for their intended use. I’m sure that you would have had the same reaction if you were living in the days when the first lathe was built. you might say, ’ a machine that runs on a springy tree-branch? Hah, never get off the ground’... But, suffice to say, there is a lot of gratification to be had in connecting together a lot of myriad components and making it do something that you otherwise would not be able to do. what I’m making really isn’t sophisticated, I’m just adapting linear motion to an existing lathe, something that screw-cutting metal lathes have done for 150 years or more. Since I’m not willing to part with a quarter-million dollars for a CNC-programmable unit, I’m happy to achieve similar results with my upfitted device.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Abbott's profile

Abbott

2570 posts in 1989 days


#9 posted 02-04-2010 03:46 AM

Interesting.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

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