Learn machining from an old school metal master

Keith Fenner

In the depths of YouTube there are still some jewels to be found. [Keith Fenner] is one of them. [Keith] owns Turn Wright Machine Works in Cape Cod, MA. From his small shop, He works on everything from sailboats to heavy equipment.

[Keith] describes himself as “An artist, and a jobber, 36 years in the trade”. We think he could add teacher to that list, as we’ve learned quite a bit about machining from his Youtube channel.

One of the interesting things about [Keith] is his delivery on camera. He makes the viewer feel like an apprentice machinist working alongside him. Rather than carefully setup shots with graphics, [Keith] narrates as he works paying jobs. He also has no problem showing us his mistakes - and recovery from them, as well as his victories.

The main tools at Turn Wright are the lathe and mill, but [Keith] isn’t old fashioned by any means. He has a complete PlasmaCAM setup and isn’t afraid to do a little computer work.

Most of [Keith's] projects are broken up into several videos. One of our favorites is “So you broke it off in your hole”. In this series [Keith] shows what it takes to get a broken screw extractor (or EZ Out) out of a large diesel turbo. Get a feeling for what [Keith] has to offer with his “Day in the LIfe” video after the break.

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Machining an Orrery

machining-an-orrery

What in the heck is an Orrery? If you’re looking at the image above we’re sure you’ve already figured it out (kudos to the big brains that knew the word). For those that don’t get it, an Orrery is a mechanical device that represents the movements of planets and moons. We never thought of building one ourselves. After seeing the machining process for what’s shown above we’re not sure if we’re excited, or scared off by all the work that went into it.

You might want to bust out the Chromecast and hit the sofa for this one. There are dozens of YouTube videos showing the build. From cutting sheet stock into round slugs, to making teeth, teeth, teeth, and more teeth it’s not just the gears that go into this one. You’re also going to needs the orbs themselves.

We have fond (perhaps scary) memories of the first time we saw an Orrery as a part of the set in The Dark Crystal.

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Altering automotive window motors for use in your projects

automotive-window-motor-for-your-projects

We agree with [Mário Saleiro] that the motors from a car’s power windows make for a fantastic high-torque solution to your next project. If you have a you-pick junkyard in your town they’ll be dirt cheap after you put in a bit of time to find and removing the parts from the yard. But you’ll probably want to add a few extra steps to get them ready, and he’s done a great job of documenting how he augmented them with wheels and rotary encoders.

One aspect of the project which really struck home with us was his machine-shop-101 style tricks to mate the axle of the motor with the wheel. He has a process which ensures you will find the exact center of a cylinder as you work. This starts by lining up a bench vice on his drill press. He then inserts a drill bit upside down in the drill chuck, lowers it and clamps the vice on the bit. After loosening the chuck he ends up with the bit pointing up at the exact center of the chuck. Next he chucks up a piece of threaded rod, drilling a perfectly centered hole by lowering it into the drill bit while the drill press is rotating. The image above shows him using this machined part as a guide to continue the hole into the motor’s axle. Click through the link above to learn the rest of the tricks he uses.

Heavy metal computer case desk

heavy-metal-computer-case-desk

This desk is also a computer case. From this view it may not seem like much, but the build log has hundreds of images which could be called metal fabrication porn. The desk surface is made of wood, but all of the other parts were crafted from stainless steel.

The three components that weren’t fabricated by [Paslis] are the pair of legs and the column supporting the screens. These pieces are actually lifting columns that allow you to adjust desk and screen height at the touch of a button. The build starts off with a sub-surface to house the computer guts. After careful cutting, bending, welding, and polishing this comes out looking like the work surface in a commercial kitchen. After attaching the lifting legs to that assembly a foot for the desk takes shape from square pipe which is then skinned with stainless steel to match the finished look of the sub-surface. After spending countless hours on brackets, trim pieces, grills, and wood accents he sent everything off for painting before the final assembly.

Certainly this is in a different realm than the case desk from yesterday. But a mere mortal can pull that off while this is surely the work of an experienced tradesman.

[Thanks Andreas]

The wedding band: milling titanium and wrapping it in palladium

You’ve got to admit that custom milling your own wedding band is pretty hard-core. In this case [Jeremy Swerdlow] is making it for his friend, but that doesn’t diminish the fun of the project. After the break you can watch him mill a titanium ring and wrap it with a palladium inlay.

To solder palladium to titanium [Jeremy] would need special equipment, so he found another way to mate the dissimilar metals. He milled a dovetail groove in the center of the titanium band. To do that, he had to make a special cutting tool that was just the right size. Once had milled the ring’s rough dimensions, he had to fabricate a custom mandrel to hold the ring for the rest of the job. The dovetail was then filled with a palladium strip using a combination of heat and hammering. The two ends are soldered together using palladium solder. The ring in the middle shows this solder joint. To the right is a ring after the inlay is milled flush but before the final polishing which will bring out the best qualities of both metals.

If you don’t have the machine shop skills to pull this off you could always try your hand at 3d printed rings.

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Adding digital readout to a non-CNC mill

In the quest to add a digital readout to his mill, [Yuriy] has done a lot of homework. He’s sourced a trio of very capable scales, researched what kind of hardware his DRO should be based on, and even built a very cool display using seven-segment LEDs. After nearly a year of work, [Yuriy] finally hit upon something that works well: an Arduino and an Android tablet, perfectly matched for one of the prettiest machine shop displays we’ve ever seen.

[Yuriy] based his build off a trio of digital scales he bought from Grizzly. These scales bolt on to the frame of his mill and send data to their own display. An Arduino was used to pull the data off these scales and sent via Bluetooth to a Nexus 7 Android tablet.

Considering a DRO solely based on an Arduino and a character LCD would look a little chintzy – and the fact Arduinos can’t do floating point arithmetic – we’re really impressed with [Yuriy]‘s very elegant solution.

Thanks [Lee] for sending this one in.

Milling a motorcycle engine

Real motorcycle enthusiasts design and mill their own engines. Well, perhaps that’s an overstatement. Certainly it takes to more obsession than enthusiasm to go to these lengths. But this gentleman’s modifications started out simple enough, and managed to make it to the most extreme of hardware fabrications.

The used bike came with a modified camshaft that seemed like a botched job. As he got further into tuning up engine performance the prospect of just replacing the entire thing with his own design started to grow. Using a manually operated milling machine he cut his own molds for the new cylinder head out of wood and sent them off to be forged out of aluminum. They come back in rough shape but he just “filed the cast without mercy” and machined the tolerances to his specifications. Apparently the first test ride had him a bit nervous — he also milled his own brakes for the bike. But after a few times around the block he gained confidence with his work.

[Thanks Carlos]

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