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Arkwright Scholarship

Lathe Practice - total beginner

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Simon Williams 315/08/2019 22:39:42
510 forum posts
80 photos

My nephew has been awarded an Arkwright Scholarship.

His father, realising that his son has had little or no experience in workshop practice (though he's totally buff with an Arduino) has asked me to show him the fundamentals of cutting metal. And welding it back together again.

I'm totally OK with that, except that I would like to give him a lathe-work exercise that meant something and wasn't going to be bunged in bin 13 in a year's time.

When I did something similar (a long long time ago) I was given a drawing of a simple spindle, with diameters and shoulders and lengths, and had no end of fun showing I could do it better than anyone else in the class. I was that sort of teenager, Sorry!

My confreres made a plumb bob to take home. I could do this, and it's the best suggestion I've got so far. But my nephew knows about things like angles and pendulums (pendula?) and will have written the software for a digital angle gauge before I can say vernier protractor.

Any suggestions for a "take home friendly" example piece I can set him? I want to be able to spend not more than a day on this, and then spend the second day morning with a mig welder and in the afternoon we're going to "do" metrology.

It's taken me 60 years to get here, and digest it into 2 days???? What Are The Young Coming To?

Ideas please?

Rgds to all


JA15/08/2019 23:36:06
935 forum posts
51 photos

Obviously your nephew is bright and unlikely to see the inside of a workshop for most of his life.

I think back to my early life. The company I did my apprenticeship with had all their engineering apprentices making oil cans etc. However if an apprentice turned up with a model to build the instructors became interested.

I would suggest a simple Stuart steam engine. He will learn a lot. However he is unlikely to finish it before finding other priorities in life. At this point he should put it in a box with the drawings and notes. Later in life he will have time, and hopefully the inclination, to finish the engine.


Michael Gilligan16/08/2019 00:04:11
15853 forum posts
693 photos
Posted by JA on 15/08/2019 23:36:06:

[ ... ]

I would suggest a simple Stuart steam engine. He will learn a lot. However he is unlikely to finish it ...


... in one day

[see opening post]


Michael Gilligan16/08/2019 00:17:22
15853 forum posts
693 photos

How about a ball-turning exercise ... to upgrade one of those cheap 'third hand' gadgets ?



Edited By Michael Gilligan on 16/08/2019 00:22:09

Jeff Dayman16/08/2019 02:26:24
1827 forum posts
45 photos

Centre punch to start with? (w hardened / ground tip)

Gasket hammer (small ballpein hammer) with welded-on head?

Cold chisel? (w hardened / ground tip)

Screw plate? (the old kind, with lots of threaded holes, but maybe metric ones these days - very handy for cleaning up threads / thread sizing / shortening screws for all manner of projects)

Small vise? (milling ops, screw cutting, tapping, basic fitting - and usable for life if made well)

Keats style V blocks for lathe use? (welded up from angle iron, drilled etc.)

Finger plate w various clamps? Cheap as chips, million styles, handy for many ops. Could do some welded bits for it too.

John Haine16/08/2019 07:10:59
3158 forum posts
171 photos

Uphill roller?


Bazyle16/08/2019 08:25:09
5284 forum posts
201 photos

Toasting fork handle in brass with screwed hole in end, screwcut the end of the shaft. Then on second day weld the prongs on the shaft after forging the points. Even a computer nerd will like making toast and sausages on the firepit you can quickly dig in the garden.

Nick Clarke 316/08/2019 08:27:22
807 forum posts
28 photos

As he is into electronics what about spending the time in making and assembling something he might use for that?

here are a couple of PCB holders that could give you some inspiration. (images from google, all rights acknowledged)

You may need to simplify things, but he might use something that fits in with his other interests perhaps?

pcb holder 2.jpg

pcb holder 1.jpg

Michael Gilligan16/08/2019 08:33:23
15853 forum posts
693 photos

We're thinking along the same lines, Nick yes

'though I was concentrating on lathe-work


not done it yet16/08/2019 10:52:18
4728 forum posts
16 photos
Posted by Jeff Dayman on 16/08/2019 02:26:24:

Centre punch to start with? (w hardened / ground tip)


That was the one of the early college class projects.

Have to consider order of operations as well as actually machining it - and includes hardening and tempering.

It's something that can easily be 3D printed, but would not too well on anything much harder than butter!

pgk pgk16/08/2019 11:48:19
1839 forum posts
288 photos

For lathe work I'd suggest that making something that involves grinding a cutting tool makes the point about clearance as well as using indexable stuff since that's where the real world is. The end result either has to be useful or pretty enough to have bragging rights so my suggestions would be : canon barrel or turners cube or one of those impossible bolt puzzles. the last one is simple enough but you have turning to a shoulder, internal/external threading and knurling and drilling. And something he can take to school


Simon Williams 316/08/2019 21:16:46
510 forum posts
80 photos

My thanks to all of you who took the time to answer, as ever some excellent ideas have come out of this. I am looking forward to the experience of having a willing and eager apprentice albeit only for a couple of days. I may even sweep the floor before we start.

Although the suggestion isn't directly connected to those ideas detailed above, this exercise has broadened my mind and I think I can find him something to do related to his interest in competitive archery. Either that or possibly following the suggestion above about some kind of third hand or PCB manipulation gadget. We shall see.

So thanks again for all the expertise and suggestions.

Regards to all


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