Metal lathes are capable machines that played a large role in the industrial revolution, and an incredible tool to have at your disposal. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be used to have a little fun, as demonstrated by [Oleg Pevtsov] who made a bidirectional bolt as a machining exercise just because he could.
Both videos after the break are in Russian, but the video and auto generated subtitles are enough to get the main points across. The bolt is an M42 size with a 40 mm pitch, with grooves cut in both directions to allow left-handed and right-handed nuts to be threaded. The large pitch means that instead of a single continuous groove like a normal bolt, ten separate grooves need to be cut for each threading direction to cover the bolt surface. Since this was all machined on a manual lathe, a dial indicator was required to maintain accurate spacing. It took [Oleg] four painstaking attempts to get it right, but the end result looks very good. Instead of a fixed cutter, he used a trimming router mounted on a custom clamp.
[Oleg] also machined three different brass nuts to go on the bolt with a fixed cutter. First left-hand and right hand threaded nuts were made, followed by a bidirectional nut. Due to the large pitch and careful machining, all three nuts will spin down the bolt under the force of gravity alone. Although the bidirectional nut doesn’t move as smoothly as the other two, it can change rotation and translation direction at random.
While this is a one-of-a-kind fidget toy, have any of our readers seen a bidirectional bolt or lead screw in the wild? We can imagine that the ability to move two nuts in opposite directions on a single lead screw might have some practical applications.
It’s possible to make incredible parts on a manual lathe. A handbuilt V10 engine and a pneumatic hexacopter model are just two examples of what’s possible with enough skill, knowledge, and patience. Sadly it is a fading form of craftsmanship, rendered mostly obsolete outside of hobby projects by CNC machines.