Big Jigs and Lean Flow

I have some new designs and ideas I want to experiment with.  One of them requires a way to hold small sections of rod (pen endcaps) horizontally and vertically.  So I invested the time with the manual mill and cranked out this beauty!

The center bolts are what will index into the CNC bed.  The alignment will be taken care of with dowel pins resting against the machined outside surfaces and the side bolts apply clamping pressure.  I even machined a small pocket in the center of the double jaws and installed a spring, makes loading and unloading parts MUCH easier.

Here it is mocked up with my everyday carry pen.  In actual use there will be rods in all sections.  Its main use right now will be holding endcaps for engraving but I have some other idea for it in the coming weeks.

Secondly I've been spending far to many hours reading about lean manufacturing and the pitfalls of batch production.  Slowly I've been taking steps to help optimize my work flow and it starts with my most heavily used area, the lathe bench.

I pulled everything out of my under bench drawer, put away anything that wasn't needed for lathe work and slowly started finding positions for everything else.  Here you can see the start of my organization.  Still need to hollow out space for a few more tools but its coming along.

The little coil bound book is a must for me!  Normally I like fancy pants notebooks to write in but in an area where hot chips and oil abound sometimes an el cheapo pad of paper is the ticket.  The lead hammer was passed down from my grandfather, it wasn't seeing much use in the garage but has a nice home with the lathe and mill.  A plastic dead blow is great for seating parts in the vise but a wood hammer feels much better in the hand...might even turn up a brass end for it one of these days.

MK1 Engravings

This was my 2nd or 3rd attempt at building my own engraving cutter.  In the past I had tried using various grind geometries with less then stellar results.  This was the 1st time I used a pyramid style 3 face grind (on an old carbide endmill shaft) and achieved great results!

The brass cap pictured is only 3/8 diameter with the engravings being cut 0.007" deep.  I was so happy with the results I was able to attain with my newly made engraving tool I added the option of custom engravings on all MK1 orders!

Here you can see the 3 sided cutter.  To get the best results during the grinding process I placed the carbide blank into my taig lathe headstock.  I then attached my rotary tool to the carriage and used the spindle indexing plate to rotate the blank 120 degrees between cuts.  I just eyeballed the other angle to look proper and locked the carriage for all cuts.  Cuts were taken with a diamond disk which slices carbide remarkable well (even when using my ultra cheap diamond coated disks).  From there it went straight into the CNC mill, no further stone work or anything.

Here you can see the engravings after the pen was cleaned and polished.  For the size of this cutter and the space on the MK1 endcap 2-3 letters is about the maximum to strike a nice balance between depth of cut and readability.  

Thus far I have only cut engravings into soft metals (brass, copper, aluminum, etc) but I would like to try some cuts in steel...while the CNC isn't designed to mill steel I think I could get away engraving it.  Best of all is when I nuke the cutting edges I simple chuck it back into the lathe and bring it right back to new. 

MK2 Prototypes

Dark and off focused images, tooling marks,  what gives?  Well these are the first looks at the prototype for the MK2 pen I've been working on...not an official launch, but a taste of whats to come.  Normally I keep my prototypes to myself but I am so excited about this pen I can't wait to show it off!

I've built 4 of these prototype so far, each slightly different from the other.  There are many things I'm trying for the first time with this design so I needed some functioning pens to provide some real world testing.  Over the coming weeks I'll be releasing a few of these beta units into the wild to get some feedback (from people other then myself), but overall I am very VERY happy with how this design as turned out.

Please stay tuned for updates on the official launch.  I will be offering a discounted price to people who pre-order and will update the store with a select number of spots.  It has been my goal to produce a proper bolt action pen, something just as rugged as the MK1 while showcasing some finer design elements.  I think I've nailed it with this unit and I can't wait for its official launch! 

New Design Laptop

The time has come to finally update my computer.  While not a machining blog post I'm sure most of the nerdy readers will still enjoy knowing what I use to crank out designs.

I ended up going with an ASUS laptop packing an i7-6700HQ CPU, a GeForce 960M graphics card and the all important 16 gigs of DDR4 ram.  While this is by no means the extreme level of laptop computing its more then powerful enough for my purposes.

This means I will also have to jump video editing programs (most of my video edits are currently done on OSX), but clocking out at nearly 8 times faster then my previous machine I think I'll manage with the switch.

Next post should be back to our regularly scheduled topics :).

 

DIY Boring Bar

Here I go over the newest shop made tool I've added to my collection.  Enjoy!

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I recently had to clean up the inside of some fairly large diameter holes. The best way to accomplish this would be with a boring bar, but a boring bar I did not have...till now. 

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I used a small section of steel rod turned down to size and milled/cross drilled to accept a HSS cutter (broken drill bit). I shaped the cutter on the belt sander and didn't even bother moving to the oil stone before cutting. I needed this tool to true up the inside bore on a customers project.  Here you can see the before and after shots of this operation (rough hole was cut via cnc).  

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Adjusting the diameter is easier then I assumed it would be seeing as there is no "fine adjust". A few light taps to the back of the cutter with a loosened off set screw lets you bump to size easily. 

The hardest part of this whole project was indicating off the rough hole to find exact centre and switching out tools.  The actual cutting was easy as pie and left a beautiful surface finish!