I’ve been collecting these for some time to put into an article like this, so here goes!

Use a 1-2-3 Block as a Small Parts Rack

I did a team build on a little steam engine and had to make a bunch of connecting rods.  BTW, team builds are great fun.  Each person makes enough of one part so everyone gets the part.  It’s neat for hobbyists because they can focus on the one part and see a little of what it takes to mass produce some parts instead of just doing a one off.  Anyway, I needed a quick way to organize the parts as I moved them along through the construction process so I stuck a 1-2-3 block in a little tupperware container and it was perfect:

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A Handy Vise for Small Parts

It’s called a “Forster Swiv-o-ling” vise, and it’s a gadget every machinist should have. It’s basically a machinist’s parallel clamp set up as a vice. Very convenient for fiddling with small parts. Gunsmiths use them, and I got mine from Midway.  It was very handy during the making of these tiny little steam engine connecting rods to do a little fine work with a file deburring them.

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Use a Bearing to Make a Speed Handle

Did this for a collet chuck key on my old manual lathe, simple but effective:

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I knurled the key handle to keep the bearing from moving around.  A couple of drops of LocTite added to the knurling, and it’s solid.  I’m sure you can find many other handy uses for a cheap bearing, but this one came out really nice for me.

Machining Hockey Pucks is Fun!

I have found hockey pucks to be easy to machine and handy for various uses such as this set of leveling feet I made for a project:

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I bought a box of used ones from eBay very cheaply.  Now I’ve got a decent grade of rubber I can machine for various projects.

Kant-Twist Carriage Stop/Vise Stop

I use the little Kant-Twist clamps constantly around the shop.  They’re handy for all sorts of things, even a carriage stop on a small manual lathe:

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Or as a quick improvised vise stop:

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I got to where I think very carefully before I remove a part from a vise, and if I think there’s any chance I will want to put it back, I slap a Kant-Twist on so I can put it back exactly where it came from.  Quick and easy!

 

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