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cutting a square end on a round shaft?

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jon hill 313/06/2022 10:02:02
128 forum posts
24 photos

I am in the process of making an additional chuck key when I realised I didnt know how to cut the square end.... I initially thought a rotary table might do the job on the myford speed 10 or proxon miller, however that still leaves the problem of holding the work to the rotary table?

I am sure there are many ways to do this and any and all suggestions are welcome especially with the tools that I have.

noel shelley13/06/2022 10:15:06
1444 forum posts
23 photos

A good file, a vice and some skill ! If you use the right size bar then there will be not to much metal to remove. KISS. Noel.

ega13/06/2022 10:37:25
2566 forum posts
203 photos

Square Stevenson's block from Arc?

Jon Lawes13/06/2022 10:42:27
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993 forum posts

Second vote for the Stevensons block, it does mean collets too, but those are a very useful addition to the workshop. I got my square and hex stevensons blocks plus collets from Arc too.

mgnbuk13/06/2022 10:44:24
1207 forum posts
72 photos

I cut a replacement chuck key square on a Boxford shaper before I got a milling machine, using a set square of the table against the first cut flat to set up for the next one. Repeated until all four flats completed. Shaft was sat on a parallel in the vice. Calculated the depth of cut from the O/D, measured progress on the first flat & zeroed the tool slide at the finished size & cut the remaining 3 flats to the same setting - finished square was a nice snug fit in the chuck jaw recesses.

Might not be absolutely dead-on square, but the chuck doesn't complain & I'm still using the key with no noticable difference in fit after several years.

Nigel B.

Hopper13/06/2022 10:44:58
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6690 forum posts
347 photos

Hold an end mill cutter in the three jaw chuck of the lathe. Clamp the job in or to the toolpost and mill the first flat on it. Use a try square to rotate the job 180 degrees and mill the second flat. Then rotate it by 90 degrees by using either a steel ruler across the flats, or one of those magnetic digital levels. Then repeat to 180 to do the 4th flat.

Of course if you have a vertical slide, you just clamp the job to a T slot and use the same principles.

dscn0296.jpg

No it does not give the sort of accuracy for cutting gears but plenty good enough for squares and hexagons for spanners etc. I do it all the time that way. And yes the three jaw lathe chuck will hold a milling cutter without it winding in. Been doing it for years without a mishap. (famous last words!!)

In your case, clamping to the toolpost should do the job.

SillyOldDuffer13/06/2022 10:51:59
Moderator
8896 forum posts
1998 photos

The easiest way is to fit a chuck to the rotary table. It centres jobs like your chuck key on the table's axis, making it straightforward to cut the four faces of the square with a milling machine. Might be possible to attach your lathe's chuck, but chucks for rotary tables usually have four bolts passing through the chuck's body so they can be undone from the front. The bolts engage with T-nuts in the rotary table's slots. If you haven't got a suitable chuck, welcome to the wonderful world of model engineering, in which there's always some new accessory wanted!

Rotary tables shine when other than right angles are needed, otherwise not essential because other methods produce right angles. I made my chuck keys by gripping the shaft in an vice on the milling table with the end sticking out enough to receive the end of the milling cutter. After the first flat was cut, I turned the shaft 90 degrees in the vice and used a set-square against the face to get it exactly* vertical. Then cut the second and other faces in the same way.

If you don't have a machine vice, the shaft can be clamped directly to the milling table. It's a little more bother adjusting it compared with a vice.

*exactly needs some qualification. A casually used set-square will get close enough to 90 degrees for most purposes, but on this job the short face length and fiddling with the shaft in the vice limits accuracy. The vice problem is much reduced if it already has a V-slot jaw, or V blocks are used, to keep the shaft horizontal. Good news, chuck keys don't need to be anything like accurately square! I wouldn't risk it, but I'm sure our more accomplished brethren could eyeball a good enough square end on a chuck key, not just with a milling machine, but by hand filing it in a bench vice.

Work-holding, especially of odd shapes, is a skill in it's own right.

Dave

Hopper13/06/2022 10:53:53
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6690 forum posts
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Have a look about the 8 minute mark.
Andrew Johnston13/06/2022 10:56:45
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6672 forum posts
701 photos

Turn down the end of the bar to the required diagonal dimension, minus a few tens of thou. Then file the flats. Since the starting diameter is slightly smaller than theoretically correct, a small chamfer should be left on each corner. Keeping the chamfers the same size, and parallel, will ensure that the flats are just that, flat and parallel to the opposite face. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

Andrew

Jon Lawes13/06/2022 11:14:51
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993 forum posts

I'm a bit nervous of holding Milling cutters in a 3 Jaw for some of the methods mentioned above, but I'm quite timid with some things.

Hopper13/06/2022 11:33:47
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6690 forum posts
347 photos
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 13/06/2022 10:56:45:

Turn down the end of the bar to the required diagonal dimension, minus a few tens of thou. Then file the flats. Since the starting diameter is slightly smaller than theoretically correct, a small chamfer should be left on each corner. Keeping the chamfers the same size, and parallel, will ensure that the flats are just that, flat and parallel to the opposite face. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

Andrew

Filing rollers that you fitted to the lathe toolpost while holding the job in the lathe chuck so you could file down to a set level and nice and straight used to be a popular home workshop item but seem to have gone out of fashion these days, maybe due to the availability of cheap milling cutters and even milling machines for the home shop.

Andrew Johnston13/06/2022 11:44:38
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6672 forum posts
701 photos
Posted by Hopper on 13/06/2022 11:33:47:
Filing rollers that you fitted to the lathe toolpost while holding the job in the lathe chuck...

That opens another can of worms. Should the rollers be hardened or left soft? Same applies to filing buttons, hard or soft?

Andrew

Roger Woollett13/06/2022 11:56:01
136 forum posts
6 photos

I have clamped the work direct to the milling machine table using the tee slot. Use a sqaure when rotating to the next face.

tslot2.jpgtslot1.jpg

Hopper13/06/2022 12:14:01
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6690 forum posts
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Posted by Andrew Johnston on 13/06/2022 11:44:38:
Posted by Hopper on 13/06/2022 11:33:47:
Filing rollers that you fitted to the lathe toolpost while holding the job in the lathe chuck...

That opens another can of worms. Should the rollers be hardened or left soft? Same applies to filing buttons, hard or soft?

Andrew

I use hardened silver steel filing buttons. No tempering. No noticeable damage to any files if used sensibly.

And LH Sparey calls for hardened rollers on filing jigs, which is good enough for me. Hard to imagine rolling action doing any damage to a file.

Nicholas Wheeler 113/06/2022 12:14:54
958 forum posts
88 photos

if you're going to file it in the lathe, then you could use the jaws of a four-jaw chuck to provide the indexing.

But a chuck doesn't need much precision of either the square or concentricity to the stock, so mark out and file in the vice. Or mill to the lines by eye. It's not worth lots of setup time for such a simple job.

blowlamp13/06/2022 12:22:52
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1655 forum posts
106 photos

If you've got a milling machine, then clamp the bar upright in the vise and machine the four sides. Use a ball-nose tool if you want a radiused corner.

Martin.

Hopper13/06/2022 12:23:53
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6690 forum posts
347 photos
Posted by Jon Lawes on 13/06/2022 11:14:51:

I'm a bit nervous of holding Milling cutters in a 3 Jaw for some of the methods mentioned above, but I'm quite timid with some things.

Never had one move yet (Famous last words!) ranging from 1" diameter in the 3-jaw down to 1/8" diameter set to run dead true in the four jaw. Both chucks ancient Myford fittings. Ditto on my even more ancient Drummond. I think if we were taking deep cuts at high feeds in industry, it would be a different matter. But the lathe and vertical slide are so comparatively flexible that you have to take shallow cuts at fine feed anyway so I have never had a problem with the legendary cutter being pulled out. Mind you, I do have a firm hand with the chuck key.

1" Cutter on 1" steel plate. Luvly.

dscn0593.jpg

Edited By Hopper on 13/06/2022 12:27:17

Ramon Wilson13/06/2022 14:18:23
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1401 forum posts
448 photos
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 13/06/2022 11:44:38:
Posted by Hopper on 13/06/2022 11:33:47:
Filing rollers that you fitted to the lathe toolpost while holding the job in the lathe chuck...

That opens another can of worms. Should the rollers be hardened or left soft? Same applies to filing buttons, hard or soft?

Andrew

'If they are hard then they should not roll as the file touches but need to be free to roll if left soft'

. Well that's what I was told when first starting out by an old school, full size and model engineer (served his apprenticeship at Garretts of Leiston when they were still making traction engines)

Always worked for me Andrew

Tug

SillyOldDuffer13/06/2022 15:16:34
Moderator
8896 forum posts
1998 photos
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 13/06/2022 10:56:45:

Turn down the end of the bar to the required diagonal dimension, minus a few tens of thou. Then file the flats. Since the starting diameter is slightly smaller than theoretically correct, a small chamfer should be left on each corner. Keeping the chamfers the same size, and parallel, will ensure that the flats are just that, flat and parallel to the opposite face. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

Andrew

Like it, fiendish!

The diagonal is is square root of twice the flat and 'a few tenths' is about 0.01mm.

So, for an 8mm square,

diagonal = sqrt( 2 * 8 * 8 ) or 11.31mm

So the shaft would be turned to 11.30mm or a little less

Or for Imperial Fanboys, a 3/8" square,

diagonal = sqrt( 2 * 3/8 * 3/8)

diagonal = sqrt( 18/64 )

diagonal = sqrt( 9/32 )

diagonal = sqrt(9) / sqrt(32)

sadly, because I don't know how to calculate sqrt(32) as a fraction,

diagonal = 3 / 5.66 = 0.53", less a few tenths, say 0.5295 inches.

Dave

Andrew Johnston13/06/2022 15:51:45
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6672 forum posts
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A few tens of thou, not a few tenths. smile

Andrew

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