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Lathes for miniature work
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I realized this morning that we have mentioned lathes in all kinds of threads but not one specifically devoted to the subject, so I thought having a discussion on the different lathes with their adaptations and accesories would be a good idea. Easy for all of us and new comers to the forum to find in the future.

So I will start of by saying that I own the Sherline short bed lathe in the metric version and love using it. My first introduction to metal lathe work was in Bill Robertson's brass bed class in Castine in 2012, a wonderful class that I will never forget. We used a Taig lathe adapted to use Sherline collets and with a dial indicator mounted to the headstock for accurate measurements lenghtwise on the work piece. What I didn't like on the Taig was drilling with the tailstock, we had to drill a gazalion holes in brass bearings and other pieces, the lever on the tailstock eventually really hurt my hand, I remember having this red sore spot, I think women are at a disadvantage here having less hand strength than men...well I do in any case.

Last year in Tune we used the Taig again but this time with the Taig collets and no dial indicator, since Tune doesn't have a tool pool like Castine arrangements were made for those students like me who came from far to borrow a lathe. I will say here is that in my opinion the Sherline collet adaptation on the Taig is far better than using the Taig collets, my pieces on the wine cradle wasn't as smooth as I wanted them, I found there was chattering on it, so I left my pieces in one piece and came and finished them at home before I cut them off to the right sizes.

Since I came home from the wine cradle class I have been doing quite a lot of brass turning on my Sherline. The things I like about it...I guess first will be that it is in metric, since South Africa changed over to metric just before I started school that is all that I ever learned (my poor mom...never thought about it before, I guess helping us with homework must have been a challenge). I do prefer using the wheel on the tailstock for drilling holes in brass, did a lot of that in the last few days, I also like the wheel on the end of the lathe bed that makes for accurate measurements lenghtwise...I certainly missed the dail indicator on the borrowed lathes in Tune last year, we had to measure every little step with a caliper.

In a nutshell...I have used the Taig lathe only twice and my Sherline a lot more, I guess one gets used to working with what you have too. One other reason for me choosing the Sherline was that they are available here for sale with all the accesories etc, the Taig has to be imported specially.

Looking forward to more input on this subject that I hope will help people with choosing a lathe and for those of you who just bought the Taig recently...I trust that all your questions about which collets and other accesories to use with your Taig will be answered.

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Thanks for starting this thread, Elga. I have had a Carbatec for many years and love it for basic wood turning. I just got a Taig from Pete Boorum (the deluxe Bill R set-up

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Let me try to make things clear between Taig and Sherline spindles....

They both use 3/4-16 thread however Taig's is longer than the Sherline, so if you screwed a Sherline chuck on the Taig spindle it would bottom out at the back of the jaws, this means the chuck won't be true. That is why a spacer is needed, it makes the part of the Taig threads sticking past the spacer the same as the Sherline. Now the reason we use Sherline chucks is they are much better, smaller and have smaller jaws that Don't catch your fingers.

But if you really don't want catch your fingers, use collets! Both Taig and Sherline offer two or three different kinds of collets! Taig, there own and ER-16 and WW, Sherline, morse #1 and WW....... More later, I'm going to dinner at Tune!

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I meant to include a word on the adaptations Pete made. I don't think he's made any changes to the lathe itself, he's just put it together. It comes from Taig as a sort of kit without a motor that needs to be set up. Pete included a different collet adaptor for the Sherline ww collets since the Sherline collet adaptor doesn't fit. He also included a spacer, just a piece of brass tubing, that allows the Sherline chuck to be used with the Taig. The pictures show the two collet adaptors resting on the lathe bed. The black one on the right is the Sherline adaptor that does not fit on the Taig. The one on the left is the replacement adaptor, which screws onto the spindle and holds the collet.

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Hi Bill, we were both posting at the same time. Thanks for the clarification.

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As a resource, Nick Carter maintains an unbelievable website with hundreds of tips/articles/links etc. on Taig usage and modifications.  It includes links to some user sites as well, and you will recognize the names of some of our Artisans and Fellows in the links.

 

http://www.cartertools.com/

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Missy, in reference to your experience facing off a brass rod, may I suggest review of this video?

 

www.taigtools.com/videos.html

 

Select "Beginners Guide to tool bits" - Jon Herzog has a Youtube video discussing the adjustment of your bit, and this was very helpful to me when I watched it.

 

Wouldn't it be great to have an adjustable height tool post?

 

Bill R adjusted my tool post with the piece of paper "trick".

 

I think after we all do this 50 times we won't even remember that we had to think about what we were doing and it will become second nature.

 

Tamra

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"Wouldn't it be great to have an adjustable height tool post?"

 

Sherline has a rocker tool holder so that the tool cutting height can be adjusted.

 

Years ago Bill R put me onto using two 1/8 lathe tools bits stacked up. the advantage of this is that there is less tool to sharpen and one can get tighter into the machining.  I had problems keeping the two tools stacked. Especially when I tightened the clamping screws down.   To solve this I machined a holding fixture to contain both tools.  The groove is slightly oversize to make getting the tools in and the groove is slightly shallower than the total height of the tools when stacked. This allows for holding the tools firm when clamped in place.

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Bill, I am interested in the rocker aluminum circular bottom part, and guessing that this is where the adjustable height comes in to "play" in photo one?  (I'm struggling for words here.... so sorry. )

 

Do I understand properly? 

 

You milled an aluminum holder for your tool post so you can stack 1/8" cutting bits... very cool, and I think I understand how to do this with an overhead mill.

 

I wonder if the tool posts are all interchangeable too.  I was browsing inventories for our little lathes at littlemachineshop.com and A2Zcnc...it seems that there are a lot of re-engineered items for lathes.

 

Tamra

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Tamra,

 

The rocker is steel and is part of the holder that can be purchased from Sherline.  The Sherline tool posts are shorter than Taig. You could probably make a spacer and use the taig bolt to adapt it to Taig.

 

You could check out Nick carter http://www.cartertools.com to see if such a thing is available.  If I remember correctly, many years ago ( at the PRIME show here in Eugene)  he did  make one.

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What a great website... and as Chris indicated earlier, I see our Niels Jalling and Rob Tukham links too...

 

Wow, book, software and tool reviews.  What more can I ask for?

 

Tamra

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Back to a few things about collets.... The Taig and the ER16 along with Sherline's morse #1 collets are of a design type mainly meant for holding tooling, they are similar to the collets you would have on a router. The Taig and ER16 both take two wrenches on the front of the spindle to loosen, this can be a pain when trying to handle little parts. The morse #1 collet works from a draw bolt through to the spindle.

The WW collets which are by far the most preferred..... Here are some of the reasons... They come in a lot of sizes, like 1/10 of a millimeter which is about every .004", they are hollow as is the drawbar so you can put stock up to 3/16" clear through the spindle. They open and close without tools like wrenches or tommy bars. You can tighten them with one hand while holding tiny and delicate parts with the other. There are also other accessories like Sherline's pot chucks that are very useful having the WW mount.

Now one side note here about Taig, if you read the Taig price list you'll see they offer a WW spindle.... I don't like it, yes it works but just as with the Sherline lathe it puts the collet face less than a inch from the front of the headstock. Why does this matter..... Two reasons, one it can, depending on your lighting keep the work in shadow making it hard to see. The other is since I turn with gravers so much of the time the extra length with Pete's collet adaptor gives you place to put your fingers, I use both hands to hold the graver, that is two thumbs and 8 fingers that got to go right next to the work and the more room the better.

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Thank you for the explanation about the different collets Bill, I learned something new today.

I must say...I didn't like the Taig wrenches at all when we used them last year in Tune.

And fortunately I have good lighting and small hands so I haven't found the closeness of the collet head to the headstock a problem on my Sherline :-)

A question I have, a retired couple in our local club bought a Sherline a few weeks ago, the supplier here sold them the mill's collets saying it doesn't matter...somehow I think it does though, why if it didn't matter would the company bother to make two sets of different collets for the lathe and mill...I told them to take it back, they told me afterwards that the importer here said that the collet set he sold them was at an older price and quoted them a ridiculous price for the WW collet set and so they decided to keep the mill collet set...I question the wisdom of this decision.

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Okay I went and read a bit on Sherline's website, because I felt I was missing something, I see the milling collets are the morse #1 collets, I guess I misunderstood and thought the two different sets were either for the mill or the lathe...but I think...choosing the collets would then be more depended on whether you want to put a work piece or a tool bit into the collet. I still think the WW collets would be the better set for my friends though.

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Another to keep in mind, the headstock of the Taig is quite a bit bigger than that of the Sherline so the closeness of the collet face is a bigger issue on the Taig.

You have the collet thing correct about the morse #1 and the WW collets.

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Thank you Bill, this info has cleared things up regarding the collets.

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I am making a new tool post holder for my Taig for 1/8" tools.  I am replicating the Taig standard tool post design but modifying the slot for the 1/8" tool.   (Yes, I know various people sell after-market quick-change tool posts for the Taig but I am also using this as a learning experience on a Bridgeport mill). 

 

I need some dimensional help.   I am trying to determine the correct distance to the centerline of the turning stock (preferably from the top of the cross slide).  I have taken the calipers to my (one and only) Taig tool post and I measure the distance from the bottom of the tool post to the bottom of the tool slot to be 0.994".    I don't know if this was an intentional dimension or if the part was originally dimensioned at 1.000" +0/-.005 (or similar). 

 

I always have to shim up my 1/4" tools with a couple slips of paper but of course the tools are not perfectly 0.250" either. 

 

Does anyone either know the correct dimension, or would someone be willing to take calipers to their tool post(s)? 

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I am making a new tool post holder for my Taig for 1/8" tools.  I am replicating the Taig standard tool post design but modifying the slot for the 1/8" tool.   (Yes, I know various people sell after-market quick-change tool posts for the Taig but I am also using this as a learning experience on a Bridgeport mill). 

 

I need some dimensional help.   I am trying to determine the correct distance to the centerline of the turning stock (preferably from the top of the cross slide).  I have taken the calipers to my (one and only) Taig tool post and I measure the distance from the bottom of the tool post to the bottom of the tool slot to be 0.994".    I don't know if this was an intentional dimension or if the part was originally dimensioned at 1.000" +0/-.005 (or similar). 

 

I always have to shim up my 1/4" tools with a couple slips of paper but of course the tools are not perfectly 0.250" either. 

 

Does anyone either know the correct dimension, or would someone be willing to take calipers to their tool post(s)? 

Why don't you call or write Taig Tools and ask them? They are the only people who have the engineering drawings showing their dimensional  tolerances.

Here is their contact information.

sales@TaigTools.com

PHONE - 480.895.6978

Office Hours - 8:00am-4:30pm PST

 

The issue with asking people to take measurements is they might not get it right since you are only talking about a few thousandths. You don't know the precision tolerance of their measuring tools or their eyeballs. You don't know if there is variance in their setup caused by debris between surfaces, etc. Getting a really accurate measurement of distance between such surfaces in thousandths of a inch requires a setup using a good quality height gauge where you measure one surface and then the other and use that difference. Calipers will give you a decent ball park figure but not to the tolerance you are looking for.

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Make your tool post but do not cut the slot for the tool. Clamp the new post in your lathe as if using it.  Put a dead center in the spindle and scribe a line, run the saddle up to the center until it slightly pressed in it.  Move cross slide so that the center scribes a line on the side of the new post.This will give you the correct center height. If you do not have a center for the head stock then use the center in that tail stock and scribe a line from that one.

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BIll, that's a very good suggestion.  Thanks.

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Along the lines of Bill's post with his 1/8" tool adapter/holder, I milled a completely new tool post to hold 1/8" tools at the proper height on my Taig lathe.  There is also a shoulder inside the tool holding slot that keeps the tool in position (but you can't see it because there is a tool in there).  I used a (manual) Bridgeport mill.  The tool post isn't pretty but it's perfectly functional and I like not having to stack the two 1/8" tools together..

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Wonderful! So fun to  figure out and make solutions to problems, great work, enjoy!

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Chris, that is a wonderful tool post... congratulations!  So what is next with the bridgeport?  A file rest?  I'm looking forward to your next mini turning adventure.  I'll have to stack my tool 1/8" tool bits.

 

I was thinking yesterday, that it would be great if we could figure out how to grind a tool bit to make a rosette cutter.... wouldn't that be cool?

 

 

Tamra

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Question 1:  I've been perusing Taig's website.  Taig has a back tool post part #1171.  Is there a need for this when I am working in 1/12th scale?  If I have a 1/2" piece of brass that I machined down to .312 or 5/16" in the WW collet,  I can't imagine the need for this back tool post for a 1/2" part.  If am working on a 3" diameter part to create a new fixture, then yes, I think I understand two tool posts, but is there any other reason to purchase a back tool post?  Using two tool posts lessens the time to face a piece or part off a piece,  but I think it would also require exacting ability to set this up properly....

Question 2:  I was working on a tiny key for my spice chest.  This is the first time I have experienced this,  so I really want a rocker tool post for the taig lathe.  (I started with 1/4" brass and machined it down to 1/8" diameter.)    I have two 1/8" tool bits stacked in the tool post... and I now see the tool bit is above the center.   The 1/4" brass is in a ww collet with the ww collet adapter.  We made tiny little screws at GS, so I really do not know what I am doing differently then what we did at GS in 2015 - oh except I've slept bit since 2015...

Gosh this is annoying... so the options that I can think of with my existing tooling on hand is to change the height of my tool bit to hit the center, are: 

1) regrind a different size, like a 3/16" tool bit to hit the center of my tiny little turning

2) After I replace the two 1/8" stacked bits with the 3/16" bit, I may need  to shim it.   So this is the purpose of a height gauge?  I have to find the measurement to the center of my 1/8" diameter piece... 

Are these options reasonable?

I'm just a little annoyed so I'm contemplating turning it back on and using files!

Off to You Tube to learn how to set the height of a tool bit!

Thanks -

 

 

 

 

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If you have the WW Collet Adapter for your Sherline or Taig lathe, collets are on sale for 20% off through the end of June 2017 at www.sherline.com. 

(Unfortunately, not applicable to dealers) 

So if your turning is just a little small, and you don't want to spring your collets, this is the opportunity to add a few more options or a backup.

While I haven't made a decision about which size collets to add, I will measure with my calipers to see which collets I need to purchase.  

I wonder what the most common collet size we would use...Is it 5/16" or 1/4"?  I'm definitely purchasing the next +/- mm option from 5/16"! 

 

 

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