A New Start(er) for the Myford

My Myford ML7 lathe came with the motor and a plug for a light hardwired into a metal electrical box with standard household switches. It was also mounted out of sight around the side of the stand. For machine tools, this is not the best arrangement since one could easily (and often) turn on the lathe when aiming for the light or vice versa. There was also nothing like an emergency stop. I could stop the spindle with the lath clutch but not the motor and drive belt. A less likely danger would be for the lathe to restart after a power failure if I forgot to turn it off after the power went.

The proper solution for all of this is a magnetic motor starter made for the purpose. I bought a relatively inexpensive one from a local supplier and searched the internet for wiring instructions. The instructions intended for wiring one from scratch were intimidating to say the least. I set it aside for later.

After an somewhat related household DIY success (replaced the contactor in our A/C unit), I was inspired to have another look. Fortunately, this time I found simple instructions that covered the basic connections I needed to make. I figured I was most of the way there!

Getting the box wired was easily accomplished and the test run produced no release of magic blue smoke or other disasters. Getting the wires properly secured to the box and the box mounted to the stand turned into a real project. Admittedly, some of this was because I didn’t want to move the lathe or remove the previously installed drawer unit to improve access. This resulted in drilling and tapping mounting holes while sitting underneath the workbench, an activity many model railroaders are familiar with.

After a bunch of fiddling, fitting, fettling and faffing around, I finally got it all done to my satisfaction. I now have a prominent big red button to stop the lathe just like the milling machine has. Hopefully I will never need it on an emergency basis.

Drawer Deployment

Today all the recommended waiting periods for the assorted finishes on my newly built lathe storage drawers expired. This made it easy to find the motivation to get into the shop early. I find the prospect of doing a bit of tidying up when I have proper places to put things motivating. The demotivator is having to clean up and having no place for the stuff to go.

Here is a partial before shot of the shelf above the lathe. This has been the primary and only dedicated lathe stuff repository. It is nominally organized but piled deep enough that I can lose things I just set down.

I have a basic organizational scheme in mind in order from the top:

  • less frequently used small stuff I don’t put on the pending splash guard rack.
  • major accessories. The reason I went with 100 lb drawer slides.
  • lathe tooling, infrequently used accessories
  • rarely used metrology tools.

Not all was light and roses, however. In a mildly irritating oversight, my gauge block set case is about a half inch too long to fit in the rarely used measuring stuff. With foresight, it could have gone into the bottom of the metrology drawer. Bother.

Finally, the after shot of the shelf. I haven’t touched any of it but a bit of shuffling and it can be much more useful than it was. Instances of enraging small widget loss should be greatly reduced.

Infrastructure Week Conclusion

The drawers for under the lathe are done. I am moderately happy with how they function and very happy with how they look, at least when closed. The handles are brushed aluminum not the white plastic they appear in the photo.

The final stage is the hardest, waiting another three days or so for various finishes to cure/harden/dry so that I don’t scrape things off with the first lathe chuck I bung into a drawer.

Now, back to the regular projects.

Making Multiples

I have been beavering away in a push to get my lathe tool drawer project finished or at least complete to the point of needing finish applied. After one minor setback (back of carcass cut too narrow) and two extra trips to the hardware store (finishing nails and supplied screws for handles too short), I have reached to point where everything needs to be sanded.

False front drawer construction hides a host of sins but that is not my point for this post. Like many modellers, I am used to making things by the each. Make one switch frog, build a car, install one decoder, and so on. From my reading of Kozo Hiraoka’s lived steam locomotive construction book, it is clear that he gives a lot of thought to making multiples of the same part. The very first thing described is the locomotive tender truck construction with two trucks requiring a total of eight wheels. He lays out a way to do the first setup on a part, remove that part, put in the next one until all eight are first step complete and then on to the next step. Definitely more efficient. The symmetry of a steam locomotive being what it is, many of the remaining parts come in at least pairs if not more so more techniques are described.

I had cause to think on this outlook as applied to woodworking because my four drawer cabinet has a total of 29 wood parts of only 11 different types (one drawer is an odd height so not the minimum 9). I used one commercially made fixture, my Kreg K5 pocket hole jig, to drill some 50 pocket holes. Coming up with a way to regularize hole placement on panel edges paid off in reduced measuring and increased neatness. All I did is mark out where to put the panel ends with painters tape and away I went.

Investing in an adapter for the dust collection attachment so my shop vac would pull all of the sawdust away as I went sped things up as well. Pocket hole drilling produces a surprising amount of sawdust per hole and you either have to keep clearing it manually or have some way of sucking it up.

The final step of the construction process was drilling the holes for the handles. This was one place where getting things misaligned could make a mess of otherwise nice looking wood drawer fronts. And, unlike any dodgy joints in the drawers, I will have to look at them all the time. It made investing in another technique that Kozo uses, the drilling template, very attractive. My template was simple but is meant I laid out, drilled and test fitted the holes in an expendable piece of scrap instead of my nice drawer fronts. I then needed only to mark the centerlines of the drawer fronts and off I went.

While I have digital readouts on both my machine tools, I don’t have on on my hand drill so this worked well and I got excellent results with much greater speed than if I laid out each pair of holes individually.

I just need to find a place far away from my machine tools and train layout to do the sanding and then apply various finishes. I am looking forward to using the extra storage to organize my cluttered lathe tool shelf.

Learning the Rudiments of 3D Printing

I have been working on improving the organization and storage of my machine tooling and have decided to use that as pretext to learn a bit about 3D printing. Uncharacteristically avoiding leaping into yet another manufacturing technology, I took a class and am using the printing facilities at one of the Toronto Public Library system’s “Digital Innovation Hubs”. Only basic PLA fused deposition printing is available but that is more than good enough for learning.

Pictured is my design for a bracket that Ican hang one of my lathe’s quick change tool holders on. I have seven of those so far with a strong likelihood of more. They currently sit on a shelf and I keep picking them up one by one to find the one I want. With this bracket, I can hang them all in an orientation where I can see the tools they are holding.

I started out with a different design downloaded from Thingiverse but that proved unsatisfactory due to an overly tight fit and not being the orientation I wanted. This led me to bashing through the basic TinkerCAD tuturials and creating my own design. My design also minimizes print time since the TPL standard printing time slot is 2 hours. There is an all day option but that presents other challenges.

Perhaps I will one of the new resin printers eventually but the library option is working for storage widgets, at least.