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Feedback Sought - Beginner's Series

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Neil Wyatt07/07/2017 20:39:34
13410 forum posts
576 photos
68 articles

It's some time since the 'Setting Up a Workshop' special was published.

Like the previous 'anniversary special' it sold out quite quickly, despite being aimed at new entrants to the hobby rather than established hobbyists/readers.

It is unlikely to be reprinted, which means a source of useful advice to new recruits is now unavailable. I also get a lot of feedback that we ought to have some more dedicated content for beginners in MEW.

I think that it could be beneficial to beginners to run an ongoing series in MEW by reprinting the most useful of these introductory articles.

Bearing in mind that the articles in the special are virtually all just two pages long, and that most of them will be unfamiliar to regular readers I don't think this would detract from the magazine.

But I would just like to flag this up here to check that such a feature would not offend regular subscribers.

What do people think?


Ralph H07/07/2017 20:51:00
74 forum posts

Sounds like a great idea

Antony Powell07/07/2017 20:55:36
146 forum posts
19 photos

Sounds good to me

Edited By Antony Powell on 07/07/2017 20:55:48

Frances IoM07/07/2017 20:56:42
472 forum posts
21 photos
the two W H Smiths I frequent (200+ miles apart) still have many copies of original on sale.
Republishing as a series in MEW seems the topsy turvy approach as those induced to buy MEW will now see what they have previously bought whereas those who didn't buy the 'beginners' guide will not I think give much attention to it 2nd time around - however if you are short of articles ...
SillyOldDuffer07/07/2017 21:10:15
2793 forum posts
563 photos

Wouldn't worry me.

Neil Wyatt07/07/2017 21:22:52
13410 forum posts
576 photos
68 articles
Posted by Frances IoM on 07/07/2017 20:56:42:
however if you are short of articles ...

I confess I am short of articles aimed at beginners.

Two pagers also really help me lay out the magazine!


ASF07/07/2017 22:35:47
122 forum posts
11 photos

We keep being told that there is nothing really new in engineering except the electronic control side.

Isnt there enough books and old magazines out in the public domain to satisfy a beginner already?

A website like this could host all the files from `setting up a workshop` and prevent printing the same old same old.

I understand that not everyone has the same skills etc but youtube has free hosting for videos if the magazine wanted to show correct procedures etc.


V8Eng08/07/2017 01:06:22
1091 forum posts
15 photos

Well I think it's good idea, new people seem to come along all the time.

Just an idea - how about a free 1st issue copy to Wiglaf & Mum?


P.S. I am a Subscriber who won't be offended, it has to be said that I do have very thick skin though.


Edited By V8Eng on 08/07/2017 01:13:01

Mike Poole08/07/2017 01:54:19
1309 forum posts
38 photos

I think a beginners section should be a regular part of the magazine. MEW is a relative newcomer compared to ME but I am sure that ME has covered the same ground over and over again in its long history. Not everybody is going to track down and buy a complete set of issues so a rolling set of beginners articles spread over a good number of years would always be of use to someone. I am sure we were all beginners once so articles aimed at the beginner would encourage new people to the hobby rather than put them off with articles that are for the more advanced practitioners. When I first started reading ME as a schoolboy much of it was beyond me but many of the more basic short articles grabbed my interest and now 50 years later and retired I have a hobby I love.


Iain Downs08/07/2017 07:55:24
340 forum posts
126 photos

One of the challenges with being a novice at this - particularly attempting to do stuff in a self taught way is the amount of time and effort rediscovering little tricks and techniques which are second nature to those who've been doing it a while. Or of course have engineered for a living.

I don't particularly want an article on how to pick a lathe, for example. There are dozens of books on that and tens of thousands of (argumentative!) posts in this very forum.

How to troubleshoot a poor finish is something I'm still learning. Until recently I've been grinding lathe tools somewhat haphazardly without realising how it was affecting my work.

Holding work on a mill is a continual challenge. Each new work item seems to need a different approach (Mr. Hall says this at the very start of his book on Milling and he is not wrong!).

Even drilling accurate holes. There was a whole set of posts recently about whether to use a pilot drill or not. To my embarassment, I've recently realised I can drill my pilot holes at full speed on my little mill and it goes MUCH faster.

I'm getting better at centre punching in more or less the right place, though I'm not sure why - what to the experts do?

A challenge for all appears to be parting off.

So, yes, I'm solidly in favour of beginners articles!


XD 35108/07/2017 08:00:22
849 forum posts
37 photos

+1 for what Mike said !

The only thing i would add to that is a beginner may be a 15 yr old , a 60 yr old or anything in between so whats the difference ?

The 15 yr old will have limited funds and will be limited to a space that has been granted by a parent which could be in a garage , a basement , under a stair well or even under a carport .

I have seen many articles aimed at the beginner and many like to breeze over this subject so they can get to the " what lathe to buy " section then onto what first project to make leaving that kid thinking that they need a proper shed with a big lathe and a million different hand tools to get started and very deep pockets to fund it all .

While the older beginner may have the funds and the workspace sorted and is ready to buy a lathe i think it is important that any beginner series starts with a place to work as all the tools in the world are of no use unless you have somewhere to use them !

I think it was a book by Bob loader ( could be wrong ) where he had his workshop set up under the stairs in his house and the lathe ( unimat i believe ) could be easily set up outside for alfresco machining ! Just goes to show where there is a will there is a way !


James Alford08/07/2017 09:25:25
318 forum posts
68 photos

Whatever topics or style is chosen for these articles, please avoid such phrases as "this is a simple job and will only take a few minutes". I have read a number of articles and guides like this in the past and find it incredibly frustrating when I am still struggling to do the "simple" tasks several hours later.

To be honest, it was one of the things that contributed to me giving up model engineering when I first started some years ago. I simply concluded that I was not any good. These days, with sites such as this one, it is easier to realise that my frustrations were, or are, not unique.


John Pace08/07/2017 09:27:32
100 forum posts
96 photos

Seeing this brings even more relevance to David Clark's recent thread " Model Engineers Workshop
Lost The Plot:"

It seems from Neil's later post ,
" I confess I am short of articles aimed at beginners.
Two pagers also really help me lay out the magazine!" that part of this is to fill up some pages.

As a long time subscriber to MEW i can remember some of the articles from the era when
Peter Rawlinson used to write in this magazine some really excellent works,the last
type of similar construction article seen in this mag was the stepperhead lathe and that
was when David Clark was editor ,i doubt if it was submitted now that it would be seen.

As ASF posted "Isnt there enough books and old magazines out in the public domain
to satisfy a beginner already?"

I would say there is more than enough ,the last thing that needs to be seen is some rehashed articles
as page fillers.
The clue is on the front of the magazine "Model Engineers' Workshop"
perhaps it would be a good idea to have some more substantial articles to appear in this
magazine again.


Michael Cox 108/07/2017 09:28:50
475 forum posts
27 photos

I would have thought that "Setting up a workshop" would make a good title for a small book on the subject in the Workshop Practice series. This series seems to be reprinted when stocks run low so it would always be available for new comers. It would probably need to be revised occasionally to reflect advances in machinery and new techniques but this would only be necessary at say 5 yearly intervals.


Andrew Johnston08/07/2017 10:22:01
3780 forum posts
454 photos
Posted by Iain Downs on 08/07/2017 07:55:24:

I'm getting better at centre punching in more or less the right place, though I'm not sure why - what to the experts do?

I think this comment exemplifies the problem of writing for beginners - it often just ends up rehashing stuff that is 50+ years out of date. To answer Ian's question I very rarely use a centre punch. Marking out and centre punching simply isn't needed most of the time, at least for me. Exceptions are sheetmetal work where I am going to cut/file/drill by hand and on castings where I want to pick up on a centre when setting up on a faceplate or the mill table.

I didn't buy the "Setting up a Workshop" special, although I did skim it in a newsagents while killing time before visiting the dentist. I wasn't overly impressed, far too generic. I don't think it needs to be rehashed in MEW.

Articles trying to cover topics such as setting up a workshop or buying a lathe tend to be far too generic to be useful, as every individual has different circumstances. However, Ian's idea of short articles on a particular technique or tool, such as reamers or taps, would be useful.

Must get my finger out and write the article(s) on surface finish that I promised our esteemed editor for his consideration. All the metal (every type of steel known to the steel stockholder) is bought and is sitting under the bench in neat ~1m lengths. I just need to find time to start machining and collating the results. Apart from surface finish the idea of the article(s) was to compare and contrast HSS tooling, tangential tools and carbide inserts.


Neil Wyatt08/07/2017 10:46:23
13410 forum posts
576 photos
68 articles

I will introduce a new series for beginners, strictly limited to two pages.

It won't have a single author, but I will draw some less generic content, suitably amended, from the special.

Each one needs to cover a simple topic in enough detail to properly explain it to a beginner. If it needs to be more than two pages it is covering too much ground, reduce the scope.

If anyone wants to write me such a short beginners' article, please email me to 'claim' a topic first, a bit pointless if I get 20 articles on parting off or mill clamping.

  • Much stricter rules on length and pictures/photos.
  • Aim for 5 or 6 pictures and approximately 1500 words.
  • You can swap two pictures for one figure approximately a quarter to one third of a page in size.

I am please to receive longer beginners' articles as well as more advanced ones (I don't think anyone can complain that recent issues haven't had some quite advanced/theoretical content).


In reply to John Pace: "Two pagers also really help me lay out the magazine!" that part of this is to fill up some pages."

No it isn't to just fill up pages, although yes I do want to fill up some more pages with good beginner content. I now have a good stock of articles in hand. By 'help with layout' I mean that without short articles it is very hard to get a good balance without splitting articles over several issues. A mix of long and short produces a magazine that is a much better read for people who don't buy every issue and more varied for regular readers.

Matthew Reed08/07/2017 11:54:48
41 forum posts

I think this is an excellent idea, Ian,

Like many people, I'm quite experienced in some areas, and a total numpty in others. I can turn a bullet for repairing a trombone slide using my home made slide hammer, to very fine tolerances, by eye/feel, but it still takes me 30 mins plus to set up square bar in a 4 jaw!

The books available are ok, but mostly lack depth, or are focussed on an old school, big lathe way of thinking. I love Harold Hall's writing, but it can feel a bit like a substitute for evening classes- which I don't have time for, even if they were still available.

I would also say that it is important to get articles reviewed or edited by real beginners. Instructions written by people who know how to do it are often unhelpful to those who don't. For example, ' a piece of 3/8 from the scrap bin and make a mandrel' is an instruction I saw that stuck as deeply unhelpful (this wasn't in MEW, btw).

JasonB08/07/2017 13:13:38
12675 forum posts
1147 photos
Posted by Iain Downs on 08/07/2017 07:55:24:

I'm getting better at centre punching in more or less the right place, though I'm not sure why - what to the experts do?


Like Andrew I don't punch much or do anywhere near as much layout as I used to before I got a mill and DRO.

To answer the punching question is quiet simple, don't start with a ctr punch. Use a dot punch first which is a more pointed version approx 60deg included angle on the end rather than the blunter 90deg of a ctr punch. Being more pointed you can feel it locate into your scribed line, see what you are doing better and if the first light tap still results in an out of position mark then the punch can be tilted and hit again to bring the mark to where you want it. Once happy use this mark for putting your dividers in if marking circles otherwise make it larger with a ctr punch if for drilling a hole.

Another option is an optical ctr punch, making one of those could be covered in two pages and would be a good simple turning excersise.


mechman4808/07/2017 16:01:15
1942 forum posts
363 photos

Go for it Neil, nothing harmed & much to gain for the newbie.


jimmy b08/07/2017 16:29:51
360 forum posts
21 photos
I'd be happy to see it. I enjoyed the special magazine. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of basics

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