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Member postings for Bob Stevenson

Here is a list of all the postings Bob Stevenson has made in our forums. Click on a thread name to jump to the thread.

Thread: Seeking advice on suitable lathe
08/09/2019 21:42:41

if I was going to do this work I don't think a lathe would be my first choice of main kit.....Stainless and damascus are now quite pricey materials and there will be lot of wastage with a lthe. Also, using a lathe will more or less preclude any kind of assymetrical design, for example; any projection from the circumferance will be impossible on a normal lathe....


With all of this in mind it might be better to consider a basic forging set-up as the main fabrication technique...this would allow much more economic use of materials, better control of the shaping process and freer design considerations over details proud of the ring surface. A small forge such as a riveters forge or similar along with the all important small anvil and hammers would probably take up less space than a lathe and is likely to be cheaper to buy as well.


I was recently looking at/admiring the tiny electric forge used by a travelling farrier...the forge is just big enough to take a horse shoe and i would think it wold be ideal for a jewller working in ferous.    You can work two or three rings at the same time by replacing them in the forge fro next heat while working the next ring.    You could also use the same forge to silver solder additional parts etc.

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 08/09/2019 21:57:55

Thread: Any one used a digital microscope for micro turning on a lathe
06/09/2019 10:30:22

The standard way of making bespoke watch parts is screw a loupe in your eye socket, take the graver in your hand and wrap yourself around the lathe..........

Personally, I have faired better with USB microscope than with Zeiss medical stereoscope.

Thread: Help choosing a Chinese lathe please
03/09/2019 21:48:28

I don't want this to come over as 'knocking' the mini-lathe which I used for 10 years to very good effect. I did not actually buy my mini-lathe myself (the story has been recounted here before) but I do know for a fact that when it was bought in 2007 it was a fiver under £300, which was then as now a fantastic buy. However,, when i needed a faceplate it was £15 and my 4-jaw was a further £60. I grew to like my mini-lathe a lot and really came to enjoy getting good work out of it,...but it was 'quirky' and needed both considerable fettling and a lot of nursing in use. Quite a lot of it's bits and pieces were a touch clunky and it was obviously a cheap lathe made and sold down to a price.


the mini-lathe(s) have now got much more expensive with some useful improvements but it's still the same old friend underneath and prices have zoomed upwards. If you can get a good price and are prepared to become an enthusiast then, I would say; go for it! Me personally, i just wanted to move on and make clocks. Since this involved making up a lot of new kit I decided to do this on a much better lathe, and have never looked back!


Specifically, the WM180 is nearly twice the weight, has a bed twice the width, has taper bearings already fitted, has excellent tailstock (no spanner needed) which does not flex when using larger drill bits, much beefier slides with smoother action and thicker gibs, much more comfortable handwheels, better auto feed, steel cogs (fwiw), properly machined bed feet with only two fixing bolts (an advantage), properly designed toolpost which does not need alteration (unlike mini-lathe which needs 6mm off the top slide) to get optimum tool height, stable posture at all speeds, well designed safety interlocks (mini-lathe had chuck guard wired around spindle from new!!)........Then there's the two excellent chucks, steadies, decent tool kit (fwiw) decent paintwork that's easy to wipe clean, numerous plated parts......



..........Cons; Much heavier which can be a problem when you want to move it as it's just too heavy for me to move on my own but that's not often...still fiddly to remove chucks,.....won't run without headstock cover in saddle slots (like mini-lathe)...............Warco 'swamp green' colour which I'm not thrilled by but, then again, I'm not too bothered.

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 03/09/2019 21:55:21

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 03/09/2019 22:12:51

03/09/2019 18:09:25

At risk of wading into this and scraping knuckles with the sneering group, i would just point out that the chinese mini-lathe is getting a touch expensive now for what it is. I did use one (conquest) for 10 years but have changed to the WM180 which is a little more expensive but MUCH better designed and comes equipped (unlike mini-lathe) with two good chucks, two steadies and excellent thick face-plate. It is, in short, a vastly better lathe for the same basic spec of 3 1/2 inch x 12 inches between centres, and not much more dosh when you tot up the chucks and steadies, which you will need sooner rather than later.


.........The WM180 is much better made and when you add the price of the missing chucks to mini-lathe the prices are amazingly close!

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 03/09/2019 18:14:54

Thread: Aldi type bench drill
31/08/2019 20:02:59

31/08/2019 19:42:58

Larry, this spare parts exloded view any use?

There have been two versions of the Aldi Chinese pillar drill, both similar but this is like the first model with rack and pinion table's extremely similar to the Aldi item.

Thread: Tool post project
28/08/2019 18:44:16

Interesting, especially since I currently making a tool system for my little WM180....

Presumably, when the centre post is released so are th two rods..(?)...this could be inconvenient

Also, what is the arrangement for adjusting tool height?

Lastly, what if any, ar the advantages over the 'plain and simple' Norton design?

Thread: Trouble Cutting Silver steel
27/08/2019 10:03:00

Chris/Dave.......just be a touch careful about leaving your clock pivots 'glass hard' untempered. it's not just wear that is there to catch ignorance. In the glass-hard state a small pivot is incredibly delicate and snapped off in a moment by very low loads. Personally, I will not make that mistake again and always temper to 'straw' so that there is some lee-way.

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 27/08/2019 10:04:51

25/08/2019 13:33:53

Great idea to only have 1/8'' sticking out of the chuck!........................................................But wait, how do you machine the other inch and an eigth?

25/08/2019 13:07:00

Being a clock maker you have, of course, made yourself some female centres.....

....Put metal in 3-jaw with enough showing to turn a nice point......Extend workpiece to required distance, place point in female centre held in tailstock, machine workpiece to satisfation, finish the ends ....Done.

Thread: Threaded Norman Toolpost
10/08/2019 22:50:11

....Still trying to get my tired old brain around the locking pin mechanism.......what anchors the ends of the thread? end is obviously a hex socket normal head, but does the other end have to thread into the block?


..........A bit cheeky of me, but could you post a rough cross section please?


looking at your photos, left and right, the tail end of thread looks like it threads into a washer larger in diameter than the pin sections.....Is this right?.......what stops that washer from revolving with the thread?

Edited By Bob Stevenson on 10/08/2019 22:53:55

Thread: Serious question, What is a Mini Lathe?
08/08/2019 08:53:39

Barrie,.......Thanks for gentlemanly reply!

.....We all see a different 'Big picture' and getting to realise that is actually the 'Biggest Picture' to see!


07/08/2019 23:30:55

Oh Barrie!...ho'hum!........of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I'm tempted to think that you never will see while you are keeping your eyes so tightly shut!

As mentioned above, I owned and used a mini-lathe for 10 years,......but I did not buy or choose it and, like you, was quite 'sniffy' about Chinese products. And then a very close friend died suddenly. For some inexplicable reason the grief came out as a disinclination to make things (after a lifetime of doing so) ....So, some kind friends of my wife aquired a mini-lathe and it appeared in the dining room one day to my great surprise and considerable annoyance. After some very unpleasant words She persuaded me to "At least make some little thing that I can show them for their kind gesture"......Thus, i became a mini-lathe 'toyer' and, by increments, a night time turner of little things and then a clock maker......

The Chinese mini-lathe is very basic, not very well designed and, frankly, a bit crude....the VW Beetle of lathes, but then, that's part of it's value and interest. It's NOT for engineers and people who appreciate the finest machine tools. It's for people who, for various reasons, are'nt going to have a Myford in the kitchen table and are not really interested in having a lathe at all!...they just want to make stuff for a minimal outlay of money and space.

I eventually moved on to another small lathe which is vastly better than a 'mini-lathe' in just about every way. But, ti was the mini-lathe that jerked me out of the groove, and for that I'm (now) grateful....

You have your own reasons for keeping your eyes tight shut, but, please, don't be a pompous ass!

05/08/2019 23:35:46

There is no difference in how a mini lathe works....bu there is a hell of alot of difference in how many mini-lathe users view the comparison with the 'lathey crap' and the people who spout it.......

I used a chinese mini-lathe for 10 years and was told several times that what I wanted/needed was a Myford/boxford/cowells/etc.....what these experts did'nt know was that I also had a colchester Master in the workshop but the mini-lathe was my house lateh for relaxing late at night when i made my clock bits.......

.........And I would'nt be too confident that you are well insulated from the nasty mini-lathes influence either.......the mini-lathe has had a MASSIVE impact on the model engineering hobby and has afected the products that suppliers carry along with attitudes to home machining in general.. Without the mini-lathe our world (actually YOUR world as I only make clocks) would be much reduced and you would be complaining even more.........

05/08/2019 23:08:38

The chinese mini-lathe is a great thing and we should all salute it's legacy which has arguably affected all on this site in one way or another. The mini-lathe offered a lathe facility to anyone with a corner table and the very idea cut thru all the 'lathey crap' which makes lathe use difficult for the uninitiated.

The first mini-lathe that I saw was in the workshop of a maker of brass musical instruments and he got the idea from the workshop of an artisan making suits of armour for films.......he was using it to make the pivots in the armour.

05/08/2019 22:43:12

I think that the term 'Mini-lathe' was originally coined to describe the Chinese mini-lathe, which was developed in 3 different Chinese factories from, I think. a Russian design.....the essential idea of this was a medium sized lathe somehow reduced in size.

So, while headstock and tailstock would accept relatively large tooling and decent sized chucks etc., the overall length kept the thing 'mini sized' a Smart car, ie., two ordinary size seats and normal steering wheel and windscreen giving the illusion of driving in a a normal car...which actually does not exist if you are unlucky enough to crash!

The original Chinese Mini-lathes had MT3/MT2 tapers and 4 inch(?) 3 jaw chuck with reasonable centre height....but would only accept workpieces less than 8 inches long. All for an apparently bargain price.

Thread: Size of groove for O rings
05/08/2019 17:32:00

it depends on what this is for, but when I was making piston heads for air rifles using white engineering plastic to basically copy the BSA items I kept the 'O' rings so that there was one third above the side surface of the piston...and that the 'O' ring was a nice fit in the bore with a little compression. They worked very well n the event although there was, as I remember, some R&D in getting the ring compression just right for maximum speed with minimal air loss.

Thread: Adjustable 3-jaw chuck designs
05/08/2019 17:28:00

Thanks so much for these excellent replies!

...........I did toy with the idea of aquiring another 3 jaw an dskiming out the register for the 'copper mallet' method but the WM180 has chuck fitting which is the Chinese 'bolts for little fingers' method of fixing and I'm not keen to open up the bolt holes in the spindle plate. The chucks are puposely tight on the register enough that i have to use a brass plate against the headstock to 'jack' the chucks off using the fixing nuts as jacks......

05/08/2019 15:10:06

Can anyone remember if there are any published designs for making or adapting adjustable 3 jaws similar to the old 'grip-tru'....I have vague hopes of adapting a Chinese cheapy but can't find any drawings online (probably looking in the wrong byte!) One can still buy adjustable (for run-out) modern chucks but they appear to be eye wateringly expensive.

I do have quite nice 3 & 4 jaws which came with my WM180 but a bugger to change and I just want to knock out my clock bits with a touch of centreing to keep things good......and yes, I do know about ER collets!

........It saddens me to say that I'm not really interested in replies from the 'sneering group', so they need not bother!

Thread: Armchair Engineering?
29/07/2019 12:29:20

Select a long(ish) beefy screwdriver and slide it between the plastic pan and the cusion and see if you can lever enough gap to shine a torch to see what holds the two together......

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