These are projects that will make your workshop more productive.

Workshop Project Wish List

Turned File Handles and Rack

I came across these beautiful turned file handles on the Lathemaster Yahoo Group. A fellow named Marv Stovall did them. I thought they were really nice, and immediately wanted a set for myself. This will make a good project to try my CNC Lathe on when I get done converting it.

At the same time, I’d love some kind of rack to make it easy to organize the files. You need a collection of different styles, shapes, and sizes, and it’s hard to keep them all neat. According to Guy Lautard, he knows a guy that keeps his in pipes filled with heavy cutting oil. I have found that the heavy oil works as good or better than chalk to keep files from loading up, and it would surely protect them.

BTW, I like Nicholson files. For filing on the lathe, there’s nothing like their lathe pattern file either. makes for some really smooth work.

In the meanwhile, I bought a box of cheap wooden handles off eBay for my files, which are way better than nothing.

Lathe QCTP Toolholder Rack

So many great ideas I started an Idea Notebook page for this one. Here is a typical sample from the Lathe Tooling Organization page:

Bearing Greaser

Here’s a neat little bearing greaser Bogstandard showed over on the HMEM boards:

Zerk for grease gun is on top. Just use the hand gun, not a pneumatic or there is a danger of bending the shield!

I had an idea for some fixtures to help with preloading bearings. Perhaps a multi-purpose fixture could be created, I’ll have to ponder that.

Bench Tapping Fixture

A bench tapping fixture…

This little gadget would be handy to have around for precision tapping a hole straight up and down and would not be hard to make. I’m saving it for an early CNC project once my machines are converted.

Tool and Cutter Grinders

Here’s a big roundup of ideas for creating a DIY Tool and Cutter Grinder. They range from accessories for the ubiquitous Harbor Freight tool grinder to single lip cutters to fancy manual cutters and on to building a DIY CNC Tool Grinder.

Sheet Metal Fabrication Tools

In fact, the whole sheet metal tool arsenal would be handy to have at hand. An English wheel, slip rolls, etc., etc.. I did come across some photos of this beautiful pan and box brake, which was built based on an article in “Projects in Metal.” I ordered their book so that I would have these plans available when I’m ready to jump in. The article in the book is excellent, and there are a number of other projects to covet there as well (like the precision cutter grinder and tilting table for milling). Order “Metalworking, Book Two, The Best of Projects in Metal.” This particular brake was designed by Glenn Wilson.

Very nice, eh?

There’s a fellow on one of the boards who has an interesting wrinkle on this stuff. He’s built a hydraulic press with a tubing bending attachment that is CNC controlled. Basically, you enter an angle, step on the pedal, and the machine bends the tubing to that angle. You could imagine that the electronics involved must be simple. A PIC controller, an encoder for shaft position (to measure how many degrees we have gone), and some sort of solenoid valve for the hydraulic cylinder. It’s interesting to consider whether some of these other bending tools could be so equipped in order to make it easy to produce repeatable operations to a particular design spec. I’d have to think it is very possible. The same fellow suggests that the expensive part in all of this is the hydraulic pump, and that if one were to build such tools one should use quick disconnects to share that pump with several machines and thereby lower the overall costs. Good idea!

Update: I have now purchased a 45 ton air-over-hydraullic press, so I’ll likely look to make a press brake attachment.

One more possibility is to build an electromagnetic sheet metal brake, similar to a MagnaBrake. Check out my page for ideas.

Machinery Dollys

An alternative to the Gantry Crane would be a machinery dolly system like this one. Slide the toe under and jack it up and you are ready to move. I could envision making it so that one could attach a platform between two dollies as well. Those pictured are very similar to a product called “Rol-A-Lift” that one could buy or rent if you didn’t want to invest in making a dolly system.

Heat Treating Oven

I have been interested in heat treating metals for a long time, and finally sat down to do a little web research on how to build a heat treat furnace. Industrial PID controllers are readily available on eBay cheap, and the rest of the materials required are not expensive either. Here is one example of a shop made oven:

Shopmade Heat Treat Oven…

It’s also possible to convert a ceramic kiln to this purpose. The ovens are typically lined with fire brick, although I have also heard of some people using thermal ceramic fiber blocks from a company called Vesuvius, and also a material that comes in board form called “Marinite“. Other useful materials to know about include high temp sodium silicate firebrick cement and refractory mortar (found by yours truly while reading about pizza ovens).

Links about making your own furnace:

The Shopmade Heat Treat Oven Pictured Above: A nice project with lots of photos. Not much on pix, but some good tips and techniques. For example, there is a high temperature mortar/calk available at Home Depot to seal the bricks that is good to 2000 degrees. You want a “K” type thermocouple for this kind of project.

HSM Thread on Materials: OhioDeere has built some commercial heat treating ovens and has some sage remarks there as well.


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