Machining and Metalworking at Home

Updated March 01, 2016. This site is provided primarily as a reference for those persons interested in home shop machining and metalworking. Many files deal with metal lathes, milling machines, and metal shapers. There are also more general subjects dealing with drilling, metal cutting, threading, metal types, rust removal, finishes, lubricants, etc. that will be of practical interest to every metalworker (or woodworker) and machine owner. Some general files will be useful to nearly everyone out there. Also be sure to read the safety warning on this page.

In the General section here is an updated version in 2016 of the ACME Digital Photography Primer, which has lots of helpful tips on camera equipment and software selection, and their use -- for those trying to get better results for their pictures, either to put on the web or as a hobby. This file was entirely written by yours truly, who loves digital photography. If you find the ACME file information is useful, please drop me a quick email to say so. I'd like to know my time spent on improving this file is doing you some good.

Amateur and professional machinists have taken advantage of the Internet to share tips and advice through newsgroups (aka user groups), many of which are machine specific. The message data has piled up in each news/user group's archives, with literally thousands of earlier messages.

It is extremely difficult for a newcomer to wade through all prior questions and answers and tips. A general electronic search of the archives on a subject will likely return too many messages. A very narrow search may not find the needed information, perhaps because the answer needed was buried in a message with a totally different title or discussion subject.

To make refinding interesting data easier for me, I saved some discussions on my computer in simple text files broken down by subject. (Note the "some discussions" -- chosen items were the ones I found most interesting or useful, and I have pruned out much repetitious quoting and redundant messages.) Eighty subject files are made available here, providing some user members' answers to many common and uncommon metalworking questions. I salute all those who have helped others by participating in the metal groups, whether or not their messages were incorporated into these particular files.

Table of Contents

Tips for File Use General Metalworking and Other Useful Files
Metal Lathe Files News/User Groups
Milling Machine Files Major Metal Links
Metal Shaper Files Safety Warning

Tips for File Use

When looking for information in these subject files, please remember the following:

Image of Craftsman 6 Inch Metal Lathe

Metal Lathe Files

Particular emphasis on the brands Atlas (aka Craftsman, or Acorn in the U.K.), Sherline, and Taig (Peatol in the U.K.) along with new files on the Myford metal lathe. In the files here you will also find lathe operational, repair, and modification information that will be useful to any lathe owner.

Atlas 618 Gems -- 532KB 01 Jan 2016 Sherline Lathe Quirks or Tips -- 343KB 01 Sep 2015
Atlas Backing Plates for Chucks -- 138KB 01 May 2014 Sherline Mods General (Lathe and Mill) -- 454KB 01 Oct 2015
Atlas Belts and Pulleys -- 189KB 01 Apr 2015 Sherline to/from Taig Adapters -- 121KB 01 Oct 2015
Atlas Chucks General -- 197KB 01 Dec 2015 Taig Chucks -- 116KB 01 Apr 2015
Atlas Lathe Milling -- 171KB 01 Oct 2015 Taig Lathe Tips -- 446KB 01 Mar 2015
Atlas Motors and Switches -- 169KB 01 Mar 2016 Taig Modifications General -- 466KB 01 Jan 2016
Atlas Parts General -- 601KB 01 Mar 2016 Taper Methods -- 168KB 01 Oct 2015
Atlas Repair or Fitting -- 1442KB 01 Feb 2016 Thread Dial and Half-Nuts -- 152KB 01 Feb 2016
Ball Turning -- 100KB 01 Feb 2016 Threading (Lathe and Otherwise) -- 1071KB 01 Mar 2016
Collets For Lathe or Mill -- 352KB 01 Jan 2016 Toolholders for the Lathe -- 405KB 01 Sep 2015
Knurling on the Lathe -- 124KB 01 Feb 2016 Toolholders for Sherline or Taig -- 95KB 01 Aug 2014
Lathe Comparisons -- 732KB 01 Mar 2016 Turning Brass -- 91KB 01 Apr 2013
Myford Lathe Gems -- 1581KB 01 Mar 2016 Turning Pens -- 193KB 01 Mar 2016
Myford Lathe Lubrication -- 403KB 01 Mar 2016 Turning Tips for Metal -- 752KB 01 Feb 2016
Parting Off -- 280KB 01 Aug 2015 Turning Wood on the Metal Lathe -- 154KB 01 Dec 2015
Sherline Chucks -- 218KB 01 Feb 2015 .

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Image of Sherline 5400 Mill

Milling Machine Files

Particular emphasis on Sherline and Taig models, but much general milling information is also presented that will be useful to owners of similar size or larger mills. Sherline and Taig mill users should also read the entries about both brands in the Metal Lathe Files section above.

Click the Sherline mill's image here to show the X, Y, and Z axes for any milling machine.

Milling Machine Comparisons -- 340KB 01 Nov 2015 Sherline Mill Quirks or Tips -- 526KB 01 Nov 2014
Milling Tips -- 380KB 01 Feb 2016 Taig Mill Tips -- 404KB 01 Apr 2015
Sherline Mill Backlash -- 329KB 01 Sep 2015 .

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Image of Delta Metal Shaper

Metal Shaper Files

Much information here is useful for any brand of small (or even large) metal shaper. The AMMCO and Delta produced versions have the same basic design. The Atlas (aka Craftsman or Acorn) shaper also has a file here.

AMMCO Metal Shaper -- 375KB 01 Feb 2016 Metal Shaper General -- 393KB 01 Mar 2016
AMMCO Metal Shaper Disassembly -- 45KB 01 Oct 2012 Metal Shaper History and Stories -- 266KB 01 Feb 2013
Atlas Metal Shaper -- 227KB 01 Feb 2016 Metal Shaper Modifications General -- 143KB 01 Jul 2014
Metal Shaper Bits and Toolholders -- 228KB 01 Mar 2016 Metal Shaper Repair General -- 376KB 01 Mar 2016
Metal Shaper Comparisons -- 141KB 01 Sep 2015 Metal Shaper Operating Tips -- 413KB 01 Oct 2015

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General Metalworking and Other Useful Information

* ACME Digital Photography Primer -- 105KB 02 Jan 2016 Indicating and Measuring -- 440KB 01 Jun 2015
Adhesives -- 191KB 01 Mar 2015 Lapping and Reaming -- 158KB 01 Jun 2015
Bearings and Bushings -- 280KB 01 Jan 2016 Layout Marking or Printing -- 152KB 01 Sep 2013
Boring -- 273KB 01 Jul 2015 Lubricants General -- 473KB 01 Mar 2016
Broaching -- 69KB 01 Mar 2015 Machine General -- 265KB 01 Nov 2015
Casting Metal -- 183KB 01 Jul 2015 Metal Publications -- 289KB 01 Dec 2015
Chucks General -- 419KB 01 Mar 2016 Metal Types and Tips -- 424KB 01 Jun 2015
Cleaning Tips -- 150KB 01 Jul 2015 Plastic Machining Tips -- 238KB 01 Mar 2016
CNC General Information -- 16KB 01 Jan 2014 Projects in Metal-- 516KB 01 Mar 2016
Cut or Saw Metal -- 191KB 01 May 2014 Rebuilding Machinery -- 173KB 01 Apr 2015
Cutters, Bits, and Arbors -- 556KB 01 Oct 2015 Rotary Tables and Indexers -- 201KB 01 Oct 2015
Drilling Tips -- 461KB 01 Mar 2016 Rust Removal -- 214KB 01 Mar 2016
Finish for Tools -- 232KB 01 Mar 2016 Safety - Some Issues -- 101KB 01 Oct 2015
Finishing and Polishing -- 178KB 01 Nov 2014 Simple Metal Forming -- 155KB 01 Feb 2016
Gears General -- 432KB 01 Feb 2016 Soldering -- 162KB 01 Sep 2014
Heat Treating -- 338KB 01 Dec 2015 Workholding General -- 368KB 01 Mar 2015
Home Shop Business -- 144KB 01 Mar 2016 Workshop Tips -- 515KB 01 Feb 2016

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News/User Groups (Also Archives and FAQ's)

The Yahoo site hosts many metal-oriented user groups. Go to their main site and sign up (free) for the ones you want. I strongly suggest you use the Digest choice to receive e-mail. This way one e-mail digest per group usually arrives daily containing up to 25 compacted messages, but ads and attachments and viruses have been stripped out. Much easier to read. Especially if a group's messages get busy to the point of needing more than one digest per day. When you want to look at a group's files or photos, just sign in to Yahoo, visit the group's individual area, and then browse through group files there. In 2013 Yahoo completely reworked the format of their newsgroups, resulting in a great deal of confusion and difficulty to search the archives. I'm glad I saved stuff I really needed. You should become an information packrat too. (Besides metalworking, there are hundreds of groups dealing with hobbies and subjects the whole family can enjoy.)

Yahoo Groups. You will want to check out: atlas_craftsman, atlas618lathe, Metal_Shapers, myfordlathes, SherlineCNC [which supports manual machines too], taigtools, AA_109Lathe_Users_Group, Atlasshaperandmillingmachineusersgroup, and others such as gingery_machines (where folks have made their own lathes, mills, ...), CAD_CAM_EDM_DRO, beginnerswkshp, and Prints_and_Plans. Find other groups here by a search within the main site for group names involving phrases like "metal lathe".

There is an excellent general metalworking news group at Google called rec.crafts.metalworking

The Metal Shaper FAQ is now on the NEMES (New England Model Engineering Society) site along with many interesting articles including the NEMES Gazette's Metal Shaper Columns.

The OldTools Archive site has information on old hand tools, including repair and restoration, that will be of keen interest to woodworkers and metalworkers alike. (Who here doesn't Luuuv tools???) An e-mail list can be joined, whereupon you gain the honorific title of Galoot. Sure is catchy on a business card.

Major Metal Links and Some Excellent Private Sites

Rather than try to list the hundreds of ever-changing metal links on the Internet, I'm going to list just a very few key sites including some that maintain big lists of metal links. All the following sites are well worth visiting on their own considerable merits (even if you do not use their particular machinery, yet). And a few helpful sites were added just to show the potential of this hobby. There are some really great people behind these sites working hard to expand the knowledge available to the home machinist as well as professional metalworkers.

Sherline's Lathe and Mill Home Page also has a bonanza of metalworking tips and projects and linked contributors' sites that will keep you printing for a very long time. They are far more than a machine tool sales company. First class help and encouragement for the newcomer.

John Bentley aka The Engineman where another master craftsman has some incredible completed and ongoing projects (not just engines) that should inspire everyone. Many modifications and tips for improving the Taig lathe. Crystal clear photos and machining explanations provide information that will save you lots of time and grief in this hobby no matter what your current skill level or machines available.

Nick Carter's Taig Lathe and Mill site where you will spend hours rummaging through the incredible tips and detailed help and the contributors' linked pages. Buy more printer paper. More first class help for the newcomer.

Tony Jeffree's Model Engineering Pages where you will see how an innovative master craftsman and fine writer has developed some wonderful modifications and projects for the Taig/Peatol machines, elevating them to an ever more capable level. (You could adapt many ideas here to other machines.)

Guy Lautard's home site where this deservedly famous author provides a wealth of information and resources to machinists, gunsmiths, metalworkers, clockmakers, and anyone who loves tools and good stories. His Machinist's Bedside Reader books are immensely entertaining and a how-to treasure.

Peter McBride, Goldsmith / Jeweller, whose site is a goldmine of information on metalworking and fine woodworking and restoring antique tools. Also, you will be amazed by the skills and techniques involved in his truly hand-made custom jewellery. Enjoy.

Pat McGuirk's invaluable (huge!) list of links. Spend a month here. So they run out of trees to make printer paper; they'll grow more :-)

Micro-Machine Shop where you will find incredibly detailed photos and how-to's for modifications to Taig machines -- as well as mill drill and 9 X 20 lathe information, and many extremely useful workshop tips. Wow!

Rick Sparber's Machining is a site with a great many useful projects, as well as tips for improving machines and our machining practices. Very detailed diagrams and clear photos and explanations.

David Triezenberg's North Branch Reels (and Machining Tips) is an incredible resource towards beautiful and functional projects. The tips and machining and finishing procedures are applicable to many other projects. Fascinating site with great pictures.

Dean Williams' Projects site where he provides detailed articles on making accessories for Taig lathes, and has an excellent section on refurbishing a Craftsman 109 (AA109). Now there is a section with help for an Atlas 618 lathe. A very useful site with many projects and techniques adaptable by the owner of any small lathe or mill.

Paul Beebe, Knifesmith, who started as a professional blacksmith and then mastered knifemaking skills, producing carving knives and other tools for Lee Valley Tools; subsequently his custom knifemaking expanded and I can personally attest to the fine design and quality and finish and function of these gems; he also provides online how-to tips and tutorials. Got a dream knife in mind? Talk to Paul.

Jody Collier's Welding Tips And Tricks where you can view over 100 free videos with lessons and projects for tig, mig, and stick welding. An invaluable resource for absolute beginners and even professional welders. Sign up there for his newsletter and be reminded of all new content, typically another video every week. Fascinating stuff. And you will soon realize how welding skills could be useful in your workshop.

Tom Skoropad's Modelling Resources Page which primarily targets aircraft flying models -- but has dozens of links that are interesting and/or useful to woodworkers, metalworkers, and other crafts or hobbies.

Miles Stair's End Times Report has much practical information on self reliant living with subjects like gardening, tool care, alternative energy, and many other topics that may be useful to you today. Nature has frequently devastated large areas where more individual preparedness should have reduced losses.

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BEWARE: DO NOT ASSUME that any subject matter or procedure or process is safe or correct or appropriate just because it was mentioned in a news/user group or was included in these files or on this site or on any other web site or was published in a magazine or book or video.
Working with metals and machinery and chemicals and electrical equipment is inherently dangerous. Wear safety devices and clothing as appropriate. Remove watches, rings, and jewellery -- and secure or remove loose clothing -- before operating any machine.
Read, understand and follow the latest operating procedures and safety instructions provided by the manufacturer of your machine or tool or product. If you do not have those most recent official instructions, acquire a copy through the manufacturer before operating or using their product. Where the company no longer exists, use the appropriate news or user group to locate an official copy. Be careful -- original instructions may not meet current safety standards. Updated safety information and operating instructions may also be available through a local club, a local professional in the trade, a local business, or an appropriate government agency. In every case, use your common sense before beginning or taking the next step; and do not proceed if you have any questions or doubts about any procedure, or the safety of any procedure. Follow all laws and codes, and employ certified or licenced professionals as required by those laws or codes. Hazardous tasks beyond your competence or expertise should also be contracted to professionals. Let's be really careful out there.
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Machinist Musing: "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." -- Mark Twain

Site Creation. This private site was created using a highly featured text editor NoteTab Light (freeware and actually very simple to use) from Fookes Software that allows simultaneous search and replace across multiple text files. Help in polishing the site to XHTML standards came from reading an excellent book by Elizabeth Castro called HTML FOR THE WORLD WIDE WEB. And you didn't have to watch flashing ads and dancing penguins.

As mentioned above in Tips for File Use, if you have more questions about particular messages or subjects provided in these files, first make a responsible effort by searching appropriate user groups' archives and FAQs. Still no luck? Then post your question to the appropriate News/User Groups for the benefit of everyone. (I cannot answer them here.)

Disclaimer and Privacy Policy. There is no commercial relationship between myself and any site or product mentioned. My Machining and Metalworking at Home site is private and has no cookies and gathers no personal information from your visits. A counter was added in Oct 2003 so I could see how much the site is really being used. If you write to me, remember to replace "x~xx" with "@"; your correspondence will be kept totally confidential unless you wish to share it. Enjoy your hobbies and take care. Steve -- Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Site Updating. Metalworking text files here are updated monthly if they contain new information. As of 2009 (when I stopped keeping track), just over 2000 hours had been expended. Updated files will not necessarily change much as many discussion topics have been thoroughly covered before. You have the option to save the files of interest to you, and then to update them to suit yourself with information you receive from the user groups' e-mail, or any other source. That way you will always have customized, current information -- keeping only the info that you really need for your personal reference use.

Machinist Winter 2016 Ramblings: Yes [again]still working on my resolution to find more time this year for my hobbies. And remember to have fun, safely.

Inquiring intelligent minds affirm that Pluto really is a planet.

Copyright © 2003-2016 Steve Bachanek. This site is copyrighted and no content may be reproduced by any means, including electronic, without written permission except for strictly personal use.

Last updated March 01, 2016 .... original website was created on March 2, 2003 .... and relocated to this new permanent web address in early 2006 where it has been updated monthly with new information.

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