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Advice Lathe? Tap and dies? Dremel?

Discussion in 'Anything Airgun Related' started by tomsteebs, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. tomsteebs

    tomsteebs Donator

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    Hi,
    I come up with ideas of things to make constantly (im creative like that) usually I make things from normal tools. And quite often with neat good results. Ideally I want something to start making small things etc... Like gun accessories/parts. I can carve wood easily enough but it's time consuming.

    Is there any lathes that are small and easy to use following guides etc....

    How much would a tap/die set cost to thread my own steel rods etc.... For say bolt handles....

    Basically I've always thought about a 3d printer but that's all plastic :(
    So was wondering what it would take for me to get other tools to make similar small bits and bobs?
    As I look at parts and think I could design my own and make it cheaper.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  2. tom_mitchell

    tom_mitchell Well-Known Member

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    putting a thread on something is plenty easy enough... a basic tap and die set isn't expensive at all the problem is whether your manufacturing in bulk....

    as for a lathe I don't have experience with buying one have used them a few times but they have always been big expensive ones... never seen a cheap one...

    if you have a look on ebay there are lots of people who are manufacting air rifle parts themselves lots of custom muzzle brakes etc on there....

    me personally I love the anodized look and im wondering why this hasn't really happened in the air rifle world? I thought everyone would of had colour anodized triggers and trigger guards etc....
     
  3. terry1001

    terry1001 Major Poster

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    Taps and dies are fairly cheap and not difficult to use, the only issue might be getting the material to the correct size for threading - this is easy for a tapped hole but not so much for external threads. Hand tools such as the Dremel plus files, hacksaw and bench grinder and a drill press will enable you to tackle quite a few jobs.
    Machine tools, such as lathes and mills, are another level altogether. You probably could learn a bit about how to use them by watching youtube videos but, in my opinion, you really need some input and tuition from someone with training in their use - face to face and over the machines. Potentially these machines are very dangerous and demand respect. You could compare it with a 12 year old who can ride a cycle watching MotoGP on television and then trying to ride a sports bike at 150mph - he might manage it but the potential for disaster is huge.
    Small machines can be more difficult to use than larger versions as there will be some major compromises in the design and construction and you are quite limited by the size of parts of the lathe. Unfortunately it doesn't matter how big the machine you eventually buy is because you will always wish that you'd gone for a bigger one. There have been some incredible models built using tiny lathes so it can be done if you have the time, patience and knowledge but I don't consider them to be good tools for beginners.
    You could start on small projects with a few, good quality, hand tools which will also be useful for other work around the house and car although I tend to keep tools for working on guns completely separate and I don't ever lend them to people. You would probably need:
    bench vice with extra soft jaws
    hacksaw and various blades
    bench drill press with vice
    good set of high speed steel twist drill bits
    metric allen keys
    metric tap and die set, preferably high speed steel
    one or two small hammers
    good set of files in different sha[es and number of teeth including a set of needle files
    bench grinder maybe with a polishing wheel as well
    dremel and bits
    spanners, including a 10/12" adjustable.
    You will also need various oils and lubricants depending on what metals you want to work with for drilling and threading jobs. There are plenty of other useful tools as well but you can get those as you need them but always try and buy good quality things, they will work better and last much longer than the cheap type.
    There are people out in the Indian sub-continent who can, using hand tools, make rifles out of railway tracks so you can do almost anything if you have time and a bit of ingenuity. Have fun with it :up:
     
  4. ricky

    ricky Engaging Member

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    I have a tiny lathe that does me for most things, it literally is a table top one made by Taig/Peatol.
    I find as much fun moding and making attachments for the lathe as i do making other things on it, on the net its a bit of a cult thing for moding taigs.
    When you price a lathe be aware it can cost you as much in tooling as the cost of the lathe itself
     
  5. 1961nuffield

    1961nuffield Honorary Member

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    I have one of the small Clarks lathes, which is fine for making parts out of Delrin and brass, I have a boring bar and various other tools, its an od lathe but I've learnt a lot from it.
     
  6. thevoid

    thevoid Posting Addict

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    I got this 1950s granville off ebay last year for a grand sum of 107 quid, its built like a old rolls royce, superbly well made, for the money I expected to spend months fixing it up built but in reality it took half a day to get right, comes with a back gear for super slow but very high torque cutting
     

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  7. terry1001

    terry1001 Major Poster

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    Forgot to say you will also need a digital caliper for measuring, they're usually pretty accurate and versatile and don't cost much.
    Some more valid points been raised above, machine tooling can cost a fortune and for a start will probably be as much as the machine. As with owning an air rifle the urge to tune machine tools and to improve and modify them can become almost an obsession so beware of that!
    A lathe is the first machine to buy and with attachments you can carry out some milling operations on it. Secondhand lathes are a bit of a minefield unless you know your way around them quite well. Many are totally worn out and all but useless and really just a money pit. Of course you can be extremely lucky and get a machine in near perfect condition for next to nothing. A lot of them are well overpriced for what they are and it's quite often possible to get a better deal with a new machine. Nearly all the new stuff is made in China and there is an active on-line community for them, many are identical machines with a different paint scheme.
    I've had a few used lathes and mills and after a while I got fed up with having to compensate or work around wear which couldn't economically be dealt with and having to struggle with metric threads etc so I bought a new machine and now the jobs take less than half the time and the products are more accurate and consistent.
    It can easily become a hobby in its own right so you need to be prepared for that as well :D
     
  8. Biker_Bob

    Biker_Bob Active Member

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    Take the plunge - grab a lathe off Ebay or www.lathes.co.uk
    I bought a Southbend Heavy 10" for £500 and it's a beast. The saying goes you can use a big lathe for small jobs, but you can't use a small lathe for big jobs.
    DO NOT buy a modern chinese made one (Chester / Machine mart etc), get a decent older machine. My Southbend was made in 1946 and is still running like new.
    Importantly you should look for a quick change gearbox and backgear if you're intending on screwcutting. A lot of the modern small lathes have a minimum spindle speed of 200-300 RPM, you can't screwcut at that speed.
    There's plenty of information available and many good hobbyist lathe books, just give it a go.
    Important safety tips (follow these and you'll keep your body parts in tact):
    Never leave a chuck key in
    Wear eye protection
    Resist the urge to play with swarf as it's coming off
     
  9. stevemandm

    stevemandm Honorary Member

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    my advice if you go down the machine tool route, would be to enrol on a short turning course - this should ensure that you start safely and correctly.
    if after this, you still want to go down this route, pm me for more advice - trust me, i'm an apprentice trained turner
     
  10. tomsteebs

    tomsteebs Donator

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    I think sounds best, get tools to try and make what I want, and then once/if I reach my limit of things I can easily make then a lathe would be the next step?

    So as Terry has listed tools that would be good to have.

    What makes are good entry level? Draper?...mannesman?...
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  11. Biker_Bob

    Biker_Bob Active Member

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    Draper stuff's not bad. The Clark range at Machine Mart is OK too.
    You don't need to spend a fortune to get good kit these days.
     
  12. terry1001

    terry1001 Major Poster

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    The area where it's worth spending extra money is on stuff like twist drills, taps/dies, files, chisels. The cheap stuff often looks ok but will often turn out to be made of chocolate or something similar. Good tools which are looked after properly will last for ages.
    For stuff like spanners anything with a known brand name will be ok and there are sometimes decent offers at Aldi or LIdl but for screwdrivers and allen keys buy the best you can afford - you don't want to be ruining screws and bolts on expensive rifles. Presto cutting tools/drills are reliable and will last, Chinese ebay stuff is likely to be a completely different story.
     
  13. Happy Hippo

    Happy Hippo Engaging Member

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    One issue you need to consider if you do start buying machine tools is where you are going to put them.

    One of the advantage of smaller lathes is they can be shifted around a bit, but for accuracy they do need to be bolted down.

    They then become permanent fixtures.

    The other thing they really don't like is damp, as this causes them to rust!

    Mine are kept in my workshop with a thermostatic heating system that stops the temp getting below the dew point.

    The machines are also sheeted over when not in use for a little bit of additional protection.

    you have to be careful with any machine tools though!

    I took a chunk out of the top of my right index finger with a Myford ML10 lathe...............and it was switched off and unplugged!!

    I was refitting the change gears and as I tried to wriggle them back into place, they decided to go together a bit too quickly with my finger stuck between them!

    As Terry says, there are times when you can go cheap, and others when only the best will do.

    Aldi mini drills and their accessory packs are great value, but drills and small taps and dies need to be the best quality.

    The same goes for screwdrivers, although in my experience the damage to screw heads is frequently caused by using the wrong sized screwdriver.

    Regards

    Richard



    edit for spelling
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  14. tomsteebs

    tomsteebs Donator

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    i agree, i have bought cheap allen keys many times, i then payed for a decent set (not massively expensive) but i use them all the time and they are yet to show signs of bad quality. also i bought the screwdriver set from aldi last week and they seem to be working a screwdriver should ;) get the right size and then its down to the screw head to be quality. ;)

    but taps/dies/etc are a little unknown as i can see these being things that can be made cheap that work on a carrot, but anything harder and they deform etc...

    so;

    company's for tap/die sets to look out for are?

    presto (not finding many sets around)
    dormer?

    budget... (if it's fine for occasional use)

    draper?
    clarke?
    faithful?
    neilsen?
     
  15. Pidlar

    Pidlar Big Poster

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    My advice would be to shop at an engineers merchants rather than a supermarket for your tools.
    They will have a good range of tools with examples across the price range, but the difference being that the lower priced tools will still be worthy of doing a decent job time after time, rather than just once or twice.
    Regards Stu
     
  16. mattyts

    mattyts Donator

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    Join some proper engineering,turning and milling forums...UKWorkshop is a decent forum,i'm on there for wood turning but they cover every aspect.
     
  17. terry1001

    terry1001 Major Poster

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    Unfortunately there aren't many local engineers supply shops about these days but there are online options. For taps and dies you can get carbon steel or high speed steel ( which are much better and, of course, more expensive). Decent carbon steel versions are fine for infrequent use but if you have sizes which will be used often then HSS is the only sensible way to go.
    I get some stuff from a company called RDG Tools who have a web site and an ebay shop, they have an excellent range including stuff for hobby and professional use. There are lots of others out there as well. You can also look out for model engineering shows where bargains can often be found.
    It's a good idea to research everything as much as possible and you will get an idea of quality and durability, if it's name that you've never heard of be careful but don't dismiss it until you've actually seen the stuff. You can normally rely on established names like Presto and Dormer but have a browse on some dedicated forums to get more information.
     
  18. tomsteebs

    tomsteebs Donator

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    Will Google local ones
     
  19. Biker_Bob

    Biker_Bob Active Member

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    Have a browse around www.lathes.co.uk
    Everything you need to know is there.
     
  20. Biker_Bob

    Biker_Bob Active Member

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    ..in fact the 1st lathe in the for sale section is a Cardiff Major for £550 - that is all the lathe you'll ever need.
     

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