Posts Tagged ‘metal lathe’

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Often I run impromptu sessions in the garage. These times are usually highly satisfying for me as they usually occur when I have just cleaned the shop, everything is organized, and I have available to me the equipment and supplies. Often I spend the time, when I should be sleeping, laying awake brain CADing the next project. The spontaneous projects are great because I just start to wing it and make whatever I have work.

I have a couple of friends that work at the local Audi and Hyundai dealerships in town. The Audi friend is a service manager and the Hyundai friend is a partsman. I figured their desks may benefit from a customized, one off, business card holder.

I scrounged around the shop looking for automotive related parts that I have stashed in various corners. I collected a few components that would lend themselves well to some modifying and decided to build some unique card holders. Below are the pictures showing what I came up with off the top of my head.

 

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Sorry, no shots of the milling of the piston top. The first card holder consisted of a old BMW piston and an aftermarket rear spring lowering perch for a mk4 VW. The piston top was milled to fit business cards and then both the perch and piston were polished.

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The polished piston top was taped off and the bottom half was the glass media blasted.

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The Glacier White powder coating was fogged on and the assembly was baked.

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I plotted out Hyundai decals on some gloss black vinyl to add to the customized look.

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Done deal! Quick and easy.

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As you may know I am I big fan of retro and vintage styling. I keep the polishing down to a “not so gleaming” level as I think it looks better.

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The spring perch height was a little too tall so trimmed it down a bit. The base was cut on the lather in order to ensure it would press fit into the piston base. The jam nuts were left untouched.

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I think the style suits a parts persons desk.

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My next card holder took a little more machining. It started out with a rod of 6061 aluminum. I offset it in the lather chuck and drilled an off center hole straight through. I have a four jaw chuck that allows me to offset the stock properly however in this case I was lazy and the precision was not required so I opted to just toss a spacer into the 3 jaw. It works.

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Onto the mill where I used a ball nosed end mill to cut some slots through the narrow side.

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Next I moved onto a section of 1.000″ 6061 solid square bar where I dropped an end mill part way through it.

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Next I hogged out a section where the business cards would slide through.

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Onto the band saw where the milled bar was trimmed to length using a 45 degree angle.

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All the components would get bolted together so I drilled, and countersunk, the hole for the stainless steel fastener.

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Here are all the components that make up the card holder. The large valve is from an air cooled Porsche 911 and the the small valve was from my Honda CB160 cafe racer.

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The aluminum components received a brushed finish. I like it!

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Both valves received a polishing.

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An Audi rings decal was plotted and applied. Done deal!

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The small valve was secured with a set screw. The large valve was press fit into the aluminum rod and the secured using the stainless steel socket head cap screw.

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I hid a GG logo on the bottom of the 911 valve.

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One day I had an idea, went into the garage and built it. The End.

Not sure what more I can say about this post. I thought it would be cool to make more of an unconventional themed oil filled candle. I figured a spark plug lends itself well to a flame theme so I went for it. A day in the shop landed me a double scaled spark plug candle.

The entire plug was made from a single piece of 6061 aluminium and done to scale. The specs are as follows. Overall height 7.750”, spark plug maximum diameter 1.460”, oil chamber volume .68 cubic inches, 100% cotton wick, 99% pure paraffin(e) lamp oil, burn time approximately 2 hours.

So here we go…

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Project planning began by recreating a spark plug scaled 2:1 in a CAD program. This is what I referenced to for all the machining dimensions.

 

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The actual hands on portion of the project started off with a 6.5 inch section of 1.500″ 6061 aluminum.

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Using various cutters I was able to build the first have to my CAD specs. It is starting to look fairly authentic.

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Onto the milling machine where the wrench hex was milled into the plug.

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The first half worked out as planned, here’s hoping I don’t screw up the second half.

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The threaded section was spun down to spec before the threading began.

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A 2:1 scale of the threads turned out to be approximately 10 tpi. I re-geared the lathe for the proper pitch and set up the threading tooling before cutting.

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Time to drill out the oil chamber using a 9/16 inch drill bit to a depth of 2.800 inches.

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With the chamber drilled I machined in a shoulder to allow for the wick holder to rest on.

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The completed spark plug worked out great. Next step was to machine a mounting base, a wick holder and a ground electrode.

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With the wick holder complete I gave the spark plug a test drive. Turns out it actually works!

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To make the plug look more authentic a ground electrode was required. I came up with a few ideas before settling on using a .250″ stainless steel round bar. I trimmed .400″ of the round stock down to .120″.

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Next step was to get some heat into the round bar in order to give it a 90 degree bend in the vise.

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With the bend complete all that was required was trimming up of the electrode length to spec.

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In order to fit the ground electrode into the plug a .125″ hole was drilled to allow the stainless pin to rest into.

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Here are all the fabricated components including the base. I opted to keep the base super simple in order to not distract from the spark plug.

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And so this brings us to the part of the show which displays some of the completed shots.

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Very happy with how the hex turned out, as well as the rest of the machining.

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A few notes on the electrode. The spark plug gap is NOT to spec. It would not work out without smothering the flame therefore I opted for a visual pleasing gap which is a bit larger. Second thing to note is that different wicks and different oils burn differently. Some give off more carbon the others. In my case the flame has no visible black carbon however the bit that is present gets deposited on the stainless electrode. I like to think of it as a clean burning eco friendly oil candle. Third thing I decided on was to leave the finish of the electrode rough. I had contemplated polishing it but I thought the rough look gave the candle a bit more character.

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I have a lot of interest in simple, mechanical, things. Something that requires an energy source and that does not involve electricity or fossil fuels is always super cool to me. Water wheel fed saw mills, steam powered work shops, bicycles, yo-yos, fully manual lathes, a hand saw, and the list goes on.

This is what brings me onto my next project which is a slingshot. Now I have to mention that I am not a hunter and I typically have no desire to kill anything except the occasional mosquito. I really know very little about slingshots and I suspect there is an entire world surrounding these simple devices that I know nothing about. I just happen to think that the simplicity of a slingshot is pretty cool and the transfer of energy that it is designed to deal with is intriguing.

I have had an idea in my head for a very specific style slingshot for quite some time now. The design is fairly detailed and it will take some dedicated AutoCAD time to come up with a workable design. I had never built a slingshot so I thought that a practice run might serve me well and that way I will have a better idea of how to build my final design.

So over the last couple of weeks I milled away aluminium and spun it down to my desired sizes to finally come up with a practice version of a gordsgarage slingshot. I did not start with any specific design in my head. I built it as I went along and it turned into what it is simply by chance. The morphed design worked out well in the end and I am pleased to say the slingshot is actually functional. I have had multiple test firings with it and it appears to work as designed.

So as per usual the entire process is documented in picture format located below. There is one video included in case you are interested. I also included a picture gallery closer to the end. I had too many pictures to post so I condensed a bunch of the final shots into an album.

 

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The project started off by obtaining a slingshot band and some ammo. I have plenty of loose ball bearings kicking around but I figured I would go genuine.

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Onto the fabrication process. Like I said…I didn’t have a plan in place so this is how it all started. I knew that I wanted finger holes so I made the slingshot to specifically fit my hand.

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I measured the OC (on center) point of my fingers on my left hand as well as the diameter of my middle knuckles then I started to drill some holes in some 6061 aluminum.

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With the holes milled to fit my fingers I started to shave of extra aluminum.

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The final step in the finger holder was to mill a tab tab that would eventually slide into the handle assembly. Here one corner of the tab was cut, just needed to finish off the left side.

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I didn’t have a clear vision for the “yoke” of the slingshot but I had a general idea. Since I didn’t have any round aluminum stock large enough I decided to machine something out of .375 aluminum flat bar. I started with a 4″ x 4″ section and mounted it to a lathe arbor.

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I included this picture because it shows the 4″ diameter I am shooting for. 5 minutes on the lathe will bring it from 4 corners to pi.

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Getting closer to my final dimension. Makes me wonder if there is a mathematical term for a square with rounded corners.

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So with my 4″ circle compete I set things up on the milling machine to hog out a center, offset, hole with a hole saw.

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Back onto the lathe I switched out the 3 jaw chuck for the four jaw and dialed in the center hole. With a boring bar I cleaned up the previously cut hole to dimension.

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Now I am back onto the milling machine where I needed to position the part precisely in the chuck as the next step involves drilling symmetrical holes.

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I had a plan in my head that was BrainstormCAD’d at around 2:30 am on a sleepless night. It involved drilling a stepped hole in order to secure the slingshot band this way making the install look super clean. It is rather difficult to put into words so I will just mention that the design actually worked.

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Here is my progress so far. I post the picture to help illustrate the order in which things are done.

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As you can see from the previous picture the handle is nothing more then a 1.250″ chunk of aluminum stock. It is time to start working it over. I need to fit the finger holder into the handle. Instead of milling a slot out I figured I would remove a bunch of the excess material with a drill bit first. I don’t think people appreciate the cutting power of a drill bit enough. Perhaps now would be a good time to reflect on their abilities.

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With the holes drilled I then dropped in a .375″ end mill and hogged out the remaining material.

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Here I am able to test fit the finger holder and it just happens to slide in perfectly. Amazing what can happen when you use math.

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I needed to secure the finger holder to the handle so I set it up in the mill then drilled, and tapped, 5mm holes to accept stainless steel allen head bolts.

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I needed to flush mount the non-yoke into the handle. Since the handle had a .375″ slot machines to accept the non-yoke I need to mill off a flat section in order to close up the visual gap that would have been evident with a radius.

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I have some ideas in store for the base of the handle. As I plan to build multiple options I decided to drill, and tap, a 6mm hole into the bottom.

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The handle was looking rather plane being just round and smooth. I thought I would give it some grip by dropping in a .375″ ball nose endmill 60 degrees apart around the circumference.

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The ball nose machining gives the handle both a functional, and visually pleasing, aspect.

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With the 3 main components completed it was time to enter into finishing stage. I had contemplated anodizing certain components but in the end I thought that a brushed look suited the project. The finger holder was cleaned up using a die grinder and sanding wheel.

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Here are the 3 main components cleaned up with a brushed finish.

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With the main slingshot machined it was time to start on the handle bases. Like I mentioned earlier I installed a 6mm thread into the base of the handle in order to accommodate different bases. I had many ideas to build however I decided to limit myself to just three. Here is the start of the first base. It is a chunk of 2.50″ round aluminum that will eventually be turned into a 9 round ammunition holder.

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Onto the milling machine where 10 holes where drilled, 9 of which will accommodate the 3/8″ ammunition.

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Since I am planing to hold the ammunition in place with 1/8″ rare earth magnets I cross drilled the previously machined holes so that I could epoxy the magnets in place.

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With all the crucial angles machined I cleaned up the visuals on the lathe.

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Here I sat down at the sunny kitchen and epoxied all the 1/8″ rare earth magnets into place.

The video posted below shows the loading of the slingshot ammunition into the holder. The ammo can be loaded from either side and the magnets are plenty strong enough to keep them in place.

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The second interchangeable base would be nothing more the an over sized hook attachment to allow for a caribiner to hook onto. Started off with 1.250″ aluminum stock and trimmed the sides flat.

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Dropped a 5/8″ endmill through the middle to make room for a caribiner to clip onto.

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Moved onto the lathe to clean up all the visual lines. Gave it s tapered finish.

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Rough machining completed of the caribiner end.

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As another option for a base I decided to adapt a triple blade carbon arrow head onto the end. At first I was going to pass on this idea as the arrow heads are rather sharp but when I discovered I could buy protective pods to prevent any unwanted injury I figured I would go for it.

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This is the first, and second, stage machining of the arrow head adapter. The center hole was drilled and tapped to accept the threaded arrow head. The outer three holes were machined only for cosmetics.

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The arrow head adapter was tapered down on the lathe to give it a more stealth look.

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All the components of the slingshot received a brushed finish. The finishing touch was the glass bead blasted gordsgarage “GG” gear logo. I created a .900 inch diameter logo on the vinyl plotter, applied it to the handle, taped up the rest of the surrounding areas and then shipped it to the glass bead blast cabinet for some etching.

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Here are all the machined, and finished, components that make up the slingshot prior to assembly.

The following gallery displays the finished product. If you click on a picture you will be able to cycle through all the remaining pictures at a decent resolution. The gallery shows multiple combinations of the ends. The ammunition holder can be used on it’s own or coupled with other options. Check out all the pictures to get all the details!

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Awhile ago my daughter asked me if I would take her to a certain bath products store so that she would be able to purchase some bath soaps and lotions as a mother’s day gift. This year she showed some initiative in getting something organized for mother’s day so I wasn’t about to deny her some transportation in order for her to execute her plan. When we got to the store I browsed the shelves while my daughter spent all her time smelling every product and deciding what her mom would like the best.

As I enter any retail store I can not help but become obsessed, and fascinated, by the marketing that businesses implement in order to get their products sold. I find it interesting that the cost of a product can drastically increase based on how it is packaged and marketed. It sometimes seems like the substance of the product is irrelevant but if you can make it visually, and emotionally, appealing then people will want it and want to pay for it.

This brings me to my latest garage adventure. I always build things that I find interesting to me. I do not sell my products and certainly do not put any value on them. However I decided that I would take a relatively simple object that I have built in the past and enclose it in some custom packaging to give it a more finished appeal. I would use the marketing technique that we are bombarded by and use it to my advantage.

So this post is not so much about the item as it is the packaging. I won’t go into detail on the specifics since this post is packed full of pictures. There no excuse for you not to know how I did what I did. But I will mention this. I used a new finishing technique that I recently obtained. It is a black oxide finish used for steel. I originally bought the product so that I would have some way to protect the tooling that I sometimes build. More on this later in the post. The second thing I should mention is that this build includes, wait for it……….wood! Yes I know we are all here because we like shiny things. No need to worry or get your end mill in a tizzy, I am not converting. I had an idea and I thought that I would put Mother Nature’s finger print on the project.

The project revolves around building another bottle opener out out of a Porsche 991 GT3 spark plug. I recently obtained 6 of these plugs and therefore I am making a limited edition run of 6 openers, all slightly different. This one is 002/6. Here we go…

 

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So the project started off by cutting off a section of 7/8 cold rolled steel approximately 5 inches long

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Next the chunk got spun down to a .748″ diameter

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Moved onto the milling machine where each side had .130″ shaved off using a 5/8″ end mill.

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Rough milling of the head of the bottle opener

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Time to cut the slot for the business end of the opener. I use a 3/8″ end mill. I eyeball the angle and the depth.

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Chewing out the slot.

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Completed depth achieved. Those bottle caps don’t stand a chance!

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Carved a thumb rest in using a 3/4″ end mill.

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Jumped back onto the lathe where the opener received some cosmetic touches. I cut a couple of .040″ deep grooves spaced apart the same distance as the green lines on a Bosch spark plug.

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Here is the roughed up opener just before its tail will get chopped.

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With the excess material removed the opener head got drilled and threaded with a M12x1.0 tap.

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A little more chamfering and clean up and the machining is complete.

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Done deal, onto finishing stage.

So here we come to the part in the show where I use a black oxide finishing technique. There is a lot that can be said about this however Mr. Google already has it outlined so I will not go into specifics but I will highlight a few things. Black oxide finish is used for a number of reasons. It provides mild corrosion resistance, it gives the steel a certain appearance, and it minimizes light reflection. I started to use the black oxide for its corrosion resistance properties however in the case of this project I am using it strictly for aesthetic purposes, it gives a retro/vintage feel and look to the product.

Black oxide treatment is a chemical process that is typically done hot, around 285 degrees Fahrenheit. However there are other processes that use lower heat as well there are room temperature applications available. In my case I am using a room temperature black oxide kit that I purchased from Caswell Canada. You can visit their site if you want more information. The process is simple. I glass bead blast the part, dip it in the black oxide solution for approximately 30 seconds and then I drop it into a sealer. Because I am using this treatment solely for its appearance I skipped the sealing stage in order to keep the worn and retro black look. I included the following video to show just how quickly the process works.

 

 

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Finished with a black oxide treatment.

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This spark plug has approximately 15 km worth of combusted German petrol, Nitrogen, and Oxygen. Normally I’ll clean the plug however in this case I wanted to keep its authenticity so I opted to leave the sweet smell of carbon connected.

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Completed opener attached to the Porsche 991 GT3 spark plug.

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Onto the packaging. I wanted to try something new and decided to take a chance on machining a wood/metal case for the opener. I started of by machining a couple of aluminum arbors in order to clamp a chunk of mother natures fibers into the metal lathe.

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I am planning on using a hardwood for the case but wanted to ensure my method was going to work before attempting the final product. I chucked up a chunk of 2×4 and spun it down to a cylinder to confirm the success of the plan.

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I purchased a 3/4″ cove bit for a router and chucked it up into my ER32 1/4″ collet on the milling machine. The milling machine doesn’t turn the same number of RPMs a wood router does however the test cut on a scrap 2×4 proved to work

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With my R&D complete it was time to move on and build the case out of good wood. I made my way down to a local wood finishing supplier and dug my way through piles of hardwood. Where I feel perfectly comfortable going to a metal supplier and others don’t I felt awkward shopping for hardwood which I know nothing about. I had to Google FBM (foot, board measure) to figure out how to buy this stuff. Anyway…I found a section of Walnut with a beautiful grain that would work for the project.

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I rough cut the Walnut on my table saw and then moved onto the milling machine to clean all the edges, and dimensions, up. Normally I like to use the proper cutter, speed, and feed, for the proper application. In the case of my wood creation I decided to wing it and use my metal CCMT indexable cutters. Turns out they work great! They are not worthy of a finishing cut but that is what sandpaper is for.

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Once done on the milling machine I was now left with 2 identical sections of Walnut; 1″ thick by 2″ wide and approx. 7.50″ long.

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I needed to join them as one solid block so that I would be able to machine them down. Since the ends would eventually get cut off I used carpenters glue and stuck them together.

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With the 2 halves clamped into a block I needed to find the center. Most people would just “X” the end however I wanted to be as precise as possible. I squared the block up in the mill vise and then used the center finder to locate the middle.

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I dropped a 1/4″ endmill into both ends in order to locate the center line of the block.

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I love it when a plan comes together. Holes are perfectly centered and ready for the arbors.

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If you noticed in the previous picture of the arbors, they were both machined with a centering pin which was intended to drop into the center holes of the Walnut block. This way the arbor was sure to be centered. Both end arbors were then secured using #6 wood screws.

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The Walnut is chucked up in the lathe and ready to get spun down to size using, again, a steel CCMT metal cutter.

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I started of with a 2″ square section of wood which needs to get cut down to a 1.250″ cylinder. I learned fairly quick that the depth of cut can be greatly increase when shaving Walnut.

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Here I am half way through cutting and inspection of the process proves to be working. All 4 corners are cutting evenly indicating that the centering job of the wood on the lathe was fairly accurate.

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Here I have achieved my 1.250″ diameter. a bit of 320 grit sandpaper cleaned the finish up real pretty.

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I’m not going to get into detail here as what I am doing will become evident as you read on. I needed to trim the end diameters down to a small dimension. Using a part off blade worked perfect to complete the task.

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Here the completed rough machining has been accomplished.

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The end of the wood that were glued, and that the arbors were screwed into, have been cut off. The wood was then sanded, along the grain, by hand.

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Next step was to set up on the milling machine and pocket out a section for the bottle opener to sit in using a 3/4″ cove bit.

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As you will see later the case will stay closed using two 1/8″ rare earth magnets. Each wood half received a 1/8″ hole on 1 end to accept the magnet.

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Here are the two completed halves all sanded and ready to accept a finish.

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In order to give the Walnut a protective coating I brushed on a film of clear satin polyurethane. Once dried the finish was smooth sanded using 0000 steel wool.

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With the wood complete it was time to step back into my comfort zone a machine some steel end caps for the case. Here I am starting off with a section of 1.500″ cold rolled steel. It will first get spun down to a 1.250″ diameter.

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With the diameter reached I then hogged out the internals using a boring bar.

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Here are the 2 rough machined end caps.

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Onto the finishing stage. Both caps were glass bead blasted and then treated with the black oxide finish. Obviously the right cap is in its bead blasted state and the left cap has been treated just as the bottle opener head was.

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I wanted to add a personal touch so I opted to incorporate a logo. I cut out an end cap vinyl stencil on the vinyl plotter.

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Next it was centered, and applied, to one end cap. The rest of the cap was taped up to protect the black oxide finished from the bead blasting.

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1 minute in the glass bead blast cabinet and then the decal, and tape, removed revealed a gordsgarage logo. What I like about this technique is that there is no evidence of a depth difference between the black oxide finish and the bead blasting. The logo feels completely flush on the end cap.

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Time to jump back onto the wood section. The 1/8″ rare earth magnets, that I spoke of earlier, got epoxied into the ends of each half. I am hoping it is obvious what theses magnets are for. The idea is that they will keep the case “locked”. The magnets will attract themselves to the opposite half steel end caps. The 1/8″ size turned out to be the correct choice as they do the job of keeping the case closed but aren’t so strong that it makes opening the case feel like it’s sticking.

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The machined end caps also got epoxied onto the opposite ends of the magnets.

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And now there is nothing left to say. Mission accomplished. One 991 GT3 bottle opener with custom case is complete. What is ironic is that the case took 4 times as long to build as the opener.

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I am thrilled with the retro and vintage look of the case. It’s all about the packaging!

 

 

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I had an idea in my head for some time now but it lacked specifics. Usually I want to have some clear direction before moving into the shop for the execution however I have learned that sometimes good things can result from little planning. Since I didn’t have too much loose, if my idea went sideways, I thought I would just wing it and see what would come of it.

Often I wonder why things are made simple when they work just as well complicated and in the case of my next project I wanted to add an element of engineering to a rather basic item. I needed a shop clip board and wanted to build something that would reflect the environment it would be used in. I love seeing the internal mechanicals of machines and often wonder why people feel they need to cover them up.

In the case of my clipboard I wanted to build a more mechanical type spring mechanism as well as fabricate a more interesting shape for holding the paper. Unfortunately this post is not filled with fabricating pictures. Since I didn’t have a plan I didn’t know when to take pictures. In fact I wasn’t planning to post this project on the blog however it actually turned out ok so I thought I would share. The following pictures show the tail end of the project but it will give you an idea on how it was built.

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The entire clip board was built from 6061 aluminum. I machined everything you see in this picture except for the stainless steel fasteners, spring, and cable. The actual “board” was plasma cut from a sheet of aluminum. I realize it is hard to visualize how this all fits together, just keep scrolling.

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This is the board in mocked up stage to ensure that the spring tension would work. I’m not in love with the lever I built located on the right side of the pivot shaft however I’m going to go with it for now.

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So here I jump straight to the finishing stage. Everthing was either polished or powder coated. Ready for final assembly.

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Finished product! Looks kinda cool, a little bit chunky but still works for me. Next time around I’ll build more intricate.

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The exposed spring mechanism allows viewing of all the action.

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Rocker arm style paper clamps.

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Cable adjustment cap allows for spring tension calibration.

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The paper release lever lacks a bit of an interesting visual but still works, for now.

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Decided to decorate the back side with a unique GG decal. Cut out an old skool diving helmet on the vinyl plotter for no other reason other then it looked cool.

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I am never short on things to fill my time with and typically I need to implement time management strategies in order to accomplish the things that I consider to be important. One of the things that suffer is the time spent on the internet looking at other cool projects people are doing. There is soooo much stuff out there that people are doing that it actually frustrates me because it inspires new ideas, and projects, that I do not have the time to take on. I am always intrigued by the blogs, and sites, that show close up photos of the actual work that is being performed and not just the finished projects. I feel as though, over time, my blog has lacked the visuals that provide the raw metal and tools. This posting I wish to get back into, what I consider, to be the passion.

For those who need an update on what is going on in the garage these days I am building a plasma torch CNC table. Check out my previous posts to get up to speed if required. This blog entry is going to deal with the Z axis. As stated previously I am building the table “backwards” and starting from the tip of the torch.

The Z axis dose have some requirements. In my case I am designing a floating torch head. For those not familiar with this style I will briefly explain. In order for the CNC software to know the vertical position of the torch head the Z axis stepper motor needs to run the torch head down until it touches metal. There are numerous ways for the software to know when the touch occurs. In my case the torch is designed to touch the work piece and then it will start to float on the Z axis. In other words the torch head stops moving once it touches metal however the Z axis continues to travel downwards until a mechanical switch is triggered. Once this switch is triggered the software can then back the Z axis upwards to a pre-programmed dimension which will set the torch head at the proper starting height. The reason for the floating design is to prevent any damaged that may occur to the torch head while being set onto the work piece. Stepper motors have enough force to start breaking components of the table and torch. By only floating the head the weight the torch head, and support plate, is being exposed to the torch itself.

I did AutoCAD some basic starting points in order to machine my main support plate. After the initial fabrication of the plate took place I started to just wing it all. The following pictures show the process I used to create a mocked up version of my Z axis. Pleased to say I hooked it up to the power supply and PC and was able to run it through its vertical motions will no issues. So at this point the Z axis is tested and working. There is still much “clean up” to do on the parts including trimming of excess aluminum. I will do this at finishing stage.

The way I post most of my pictures, for other blog entries, is in sequential order. I start from the beginning of the project and finish at the end. I changed things slightly this time. Since there are multiple smaller parts that make up the entire Z axis I tried to start certain sections with the finished part. I am hoping that it may help those, who are interested, in following along with the pictures a little better. There are 43 pictures posted in this one, most of them machining shots. If you don’t understand what’s going on I encourage you to take comfort in the visuals of 6061 aluminum, spinning tools, and flying chips.

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This is the roughed out Z axis with a floating torch head. None of the finishing details have been addressed plus much of the hardware that holds it all together is not installed. The following pictures outline some of the processes I used to build it.

 

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My arms got a work out using my manually operated draw bar to swap my tooling in and out of the milling machine. Part of the purpose of building the CNC is to give me some more “mill time” to get better at using the tooling.

 

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I AutoCAD’d the basics and then eventually got to a point where I just started winging it. This is the backing plate getting drilled and tapped according to my CAD specs. The plate is the backbone of the entire drive which will be used to support the X bearings, the X drive, and the entire Z axis floating torch head assembly. It’s built from 6″ x .375″ 6061 aluminuim.

 

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The ball screw that drives the Z axis nees to be support by 2 sealed ball bearings. Using the boring head attachment I machined a press fit hole in some 6061.

 

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Holes were drilled and tapped in order to bolt the bearing flange onto the backing plate.

 

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Next came the pressing in of the ball bearing assemblies. A vise and a socket works just fine in order to squeeze the 2 parts together.

 

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I required a coupler in order to connect my stepper motor to the ball screw. This is the final, rough machined, product. Since my ball screw shaft size differed slightly from my stepper motor shaft size I made the coupler with 2 different bore sizes on each end. The following few pictures shows the machinig of the coupler.

 

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After spinning down some 6061 solid road of aluminum on the lathe and drilling my 2 different sized holes I moved onto the mill. First step was to mill pockets to accept the heads of the socket head pinch bolts.

 

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Next the coupler was drilled and tapped for 5mm stainless steel hardware.

 

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Final step was to make it into an actual coupler by running the slitting saw through one side.

 

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Here you can get an overview of how things are starting to fit together, The bearing supports are bolted to the backing plate and the stepper motor is installed and coupled to the ball screw.

 

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Moving along I needed to build the floating head portion as well a clamp to secure the plasma torch head . A strain relief for the plasma cable also needs to be integrated. Here is a shot of what the following pictures created.

 

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The Hypertherm Powermax 45 torch head has a 1 inch diameter to clamp to. I started with a block of 2″ x 2″ x 1.5″(?) 6061 and just started milling. First step was to bore out the hole to give a nice, clean, slide fit for the torch head.

 

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The plan was to make it a pinch style clamp. Holes were drilled and tapped for 2 pinch bolts. I performed step drilling and then only tapped the bottom half of the holes.

 

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In order to allow the clamp to bolt to the floating torch head backing plate more holes were drilled and tapped.

 

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I needed to build some flex into the clamping blocking in order to ensure the torch head will clamp securely. I milled off some of the side material in order to thin the block up and allow flex.

 

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Final step was to run a slitting saw through it. The slit seperated the drilled bolt holes from the tapped holes.

 

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Next step was to fabricate some sort of strain relief to support the torch cable. No plan here, just picked up a chunk of 6061 and started to remove metal.

 

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Started on the lathe by machining the center hole to the dimensions of the torch cable OD

 

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Figured I would pretty up the holder so before I removed the part from the lathe a ran a decorative groove into it with the part off blade.

 

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Onto the milling machine. The strain relief will be secured with four 5mm stainless steel socket head screws. I milled some pockets into the clamp to accept the screw heads.

 

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Next all four holes were drilled and tapped.

 

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Time to split the strain relief in half so that the torch cable can be secured in it.

 

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A shot of the rough machining completed so far.

 

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The strain relief needs to be mounted to a top plate and therefore one side of the strain relief needs to be shorter then the other. Milled off .375″ on the rear half.

 

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More holes were drilled, and tapped, in order to allow for mounting to the suppot plate.

 

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Top plate was drilled with the same radius in order to accpet the strain relief.

 

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I have a .250″ ball nose endmill that I never use for anything. I thought I would add some useless detail to the strain relief.

 

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This is the rough machined strain relief mounted to the top support plate. I may anodize it orange, along with the torch head clamp.

 

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The following set of pictures are mostly random shots of the machining used for the remainder of the z axis. This shot is the start of the coupling block that will get bolted directly to the ball screw. This coupler will then serve as a means to connect the linear bearings to the ball screw. This is a 2″ x 2″ chunk of 6061 getting milled to make everything square.

 

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Next I roughed out an opening with a 1″ drill bit.

 

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Holes were drilled and tapped to match the bolt pattern of the ball screw nut.

 

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The roughed 1″ hole got final machined to the dimensions of the ball screw nut.

 

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Finally the coupler was milled to dimemsion in order to allow it to operate on the same plane as the linear bearings.

 

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Random shot of the coupling plate. This plate gets bolted to the coupler shown in the previous 3 pictures and then is connected to the linear bearings.

 

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I machined some UHMW (Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) to act as a slider to support the floating head plate.

 

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Once I am sure everyting is operating to spec I plan to then start trimming off excess aluminum. Here the stepper motor support plate gets a rough trim to shave of some weight.

 

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Next it gets cleaned up on the belt sander. The corner radiuses do not require precision.

 

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The next 3 shots are showing the assembled components in rough form. The stepper motors I am using are dual shaft. The motor has a different diameter shaft on each end. Since I am only using 1 shaft I decided to machine up an aluminum disc to spin on the top shaft. I will probably anodize it and sandblast a logo into it yet.

 

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Here is the side view of the floating torch head. I realize it is hard to understand the mechanics of it without more shots, video, or getting your hands on it.

 

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This is the mechanical switch I mounted in order for the software to detect the starting position of the floating torch head.

 

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It was time to clean out the mill, lathe, and the floor.

 

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Here are all the components that make up the z-axis. So far this is all just rough machined. Sill have lots of clean up to do plus the finishing.

 

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The plasma table CNC build has officially gone into fabrication phase. I have sacrificed multiple, sleepless, nights coming up with a game plan and determining the best sequence to build the table in. I have opted not to use any existing plans but instead engineer the table my way. I have a “big picture” in mind however all the details that are required to ensure the concept will be completed are yet to be determined.

Most tables are typically started by building the main frame. Since there are so many unknowns as far as gantry sizes and, more importantly, X,Y,Z travel dimensions I decided I am going to start from the center of the universe. In this case I am going to build the entire table around the tip of the plasma torch. This would mean I begin with my Z axis.

Since part of the construction of the Z-axis involves its ability to move along the X-axis I needed to come up with a linear movement system. X and Y axis linear movement methods are obviously nothing new. There are multiple systems that a proven to work well. My favorite has always been the Dualvee Bearing design coupled with the Vee rails. It takes care of both the radial and axial movements all in one shot and it does it in a fairly compact set up.

Since the whole point of fabricating the CNC is to actual “fabricate” I wanted to avoid purchasing as many components as possible and instead build the items. Coming up with a simple linear motion system that I had the skills, and equipment, to build was tough. I didn’t want to clutter up the sliders with aluminum plates housing 8 bearings each just to keep things smooth and straight.

After much thought I took some inspiration from the Vee bearing design and opted to build my own version but without the Vee. My version would incorporate a radius bearing that would ride along a 4140 alloy rod. If the design works it will control the radial and axial loads just like a Vee bearing does.

Weight of the table is a huge factor and this will become evident why later on in the build. So after a bit of experimenting I came up with a system to accurately machine radius bearings out of aluminum. Aluminum is not exactly the first choice for bearing material however in my case the loads are not massive plus the ability to anodize aluminum will certainly add a layer of hardness. The following outlines the first steps in building the CNC table by starting with the axis bearings.

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People often ask for the plans of some of the things I build. I figured I would start by posting the intricate CAD drawings of the bearing assemblies. Here is all the information for the world to see.

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Here are the bearings in various stages of production. They are all machined from 2″ 6061 round bar. The outer finished dimensions are .750″ wide with a 1.975″ diameter.

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The blank is hogged out with a 1″ drill bit on the lathe.

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Next it gets bored out down to the .001″ to accept the press fit bearing.

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A custom fabricated arbor was required in order to perform the external machining using both the lathe and the milling machine. Here is the steel arbor I built to secure the aluminum blanks.

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The outside diameter gets lathed down to 1.975″ before it gets moved over to the milling machine.

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The rotary table was set up vertically and the blank gets secured in order to allow a .125″ deep cut using a .675″ endmill.

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This is the final machined bearing housing before it goes into finishing stage.

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All the bearing housing then got a 2 stage polishing in order to smooth things up.

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Here is the set of 8 ready to move on to the anodizing phase.

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In order to remove all of the cutting oil and polishing compounds the housings recieve a soaking in a heated solution of SP degreaser.

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After getting a good scrubbing in hot soapy water the units get rigged for hanging in the sulphuric acid anodizing bath.

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Everything gets hung and electrically connected ready for a 2 hour soaking.

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The power supply gets connected to the bearing housings and 4.50 amps at 15 volts is dialed in for 120 minutes.

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These are what the housings look like after they are anodized. The shiney, polished, aluminum turns to a dull light grey color.

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All the housings then recieve a dip in the heated orange dye tank. To keep the color consistant they are all timed for an 8 minute bath.

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Here are the housings fresh out of the dye tank.

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Time to press the bearings in. In order not to damage the finish on the housings I machined a couple of bushings that I used to keep the housing, and bearing, straight and protected while they get mated using the vise.

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Finished product. I will be curious to know how well the anodized surfaces will stand up to wear and tear. Having them colored orange will make it easy to determine the extent of wear they are suffering from.