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May 2009 Archive

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J. Dempsey  <webmaster> Rev. 7/98, 3/99, 5/2k, 6/2k, Friday, 04/06/01 16:43:25 GMT

Well I got my gage blocks. Each one is serial numbered and comes with a chart showing the deviation from actual size in millionths of an inch. the greatest deviation out of the whole set is two of them that are 36 millionths -. they wring together really nicely. i also later bought a used set of grade A starrett webber blocks but haven't recieved them yet....
- Tyler Murch - Monday, 05/04/09 20:26:35 EDT

Hope we don't convert to metric now lol !!!
- Tyler Murch - Monday, 05/04/09 22:39:54 EDT

Metric Measurements:
Once you are in precision measurements it doesn't really mater except for convenience. All measurements end up being long decimals. . .

In the machine shop business we have ALL been in the "metric" business for a long time. The first major manufacturer of ball bearings, Fafnir, produced only metric sized bearings. If you convert all those bastard dimensions you see in specs back to metric you will find either metric nominals or VERY close. So anyone repairing old equipment, making new to a blueprint or otherwise was working in metric even if they didn't know it.

We did a major Metric to English conversion of a French design for a company in the 1980's. The real sticklers were the pattern makers. We just converted and then rounded to the nearest fraction down to 64ths. The funny thing was that the product had just as many English parts (including fasteners) as metric.

Mixed English metric products are common all over the world but the country that handles them with the most complaints is the U.S.

About 8 years ago I walked in to my industrial supplier where I commonly bought Starrett tools and they had a small pair of micrometers on sale for $25. I jumped at the deal not looking close. . . I got them home THEN realized they were 0 to 25 mm. Looked just like 0 to 1"!!! I gave them to Kiwi as a gift and they now have a good home in New Zealand.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/05/09 10:42:27 EDT

Off Topic: I think the term "paramilitary" probably has a more negative meaning to most people now than it did prior to about 1950. If I recall My Dad talking about it, there was even a time when MOST people felt that participation in military service to their country was a GOOD thing. There are even some who still feel that way today.

If Baden Powel felt He was helping to train boys to serve their country [military or civilian], I find it hard to fault Him for it.
- Dave Boyer - Tuesday, 05/05/09 21:52:31 EDT

metric tools: Get used to it Tyler, we are slowly and quietly going over to metric.
At the shop whare I work we do a great deal of work for Kimberly Clark building paper making and web converting lines. KC is one of those companies that is big enough that they can dictate what kind of units a machine will be made in no matter what contry it ends up in.
We will routinenly make stuff in bothe SAE and Metric.
I have said it here befor, I used to have an old boss that would say, "English or Metric, who cares, as long as we get paid when the job is done!"
Just multiply your millimeter dimention by .03937 to get the SAE equivelant. Centimeters by .3937, Decimeters 3.937 and so on.
I would take it easy on buying things like gage blocks unless they have a certificate of tracability.
Some shops may not want you to have them in the building either. My company is ISO certified and part of that documentation states that all precision mesuring instruments must meet a calibration standard and be maintained to that standard through periodic inspection and yearly calibration.
Things like gage blocks must have a serial number and be sent out to a metrology lab for inspection and calibration. This is not cheep so, they only send out their own equipment and don't alow personaly owned gage block sets on the shop floor.
We can have things like non-certified spacer blocks, 1-2-3 blocks (buy lots of these) precision angle blocks (very handy) and they put a "for referance only" sticker on them. Get a good 6", 12", and 24" scale and a combination set. A 6" and a 12" dial or digital calipers, a precision protracter if you can aford it ( Fowler or Mititoyo) and be sure to get at least one 1"travle dial indicator with a magnetic base and a .0001 resolution finger indicator.
The indicator clamp on the mag base will usualy accomodate bothe types of indicators. I personaly recomend the 'Noga' brand mag bases with the universal arm. I have four of them and, even use one on my .00005 res. indicator for grinding, without a problem.
There is no end to the amount of money you can spend on machinists tools but you're going to have to learn some restraint or you will either end up with a bunch of stuff you don't use or put your self in the poor house.
My 2 cents...
- merl - Tuesday, 05/05/09 22:16:12 EDT

thanks for the info merl. a precision protractor like this ???

i just got one of the 657BZ starrett mag bases. what do you think about those? i have a mitu 1" travel dial ind, a smaller mitu dial ind, a starret test ind, a starrett last word, and a blake coaxial indicator. i found a long travel indicator (MF brand ????) at a yardsale but didnt get it because it was a bit sticky coming back out however now i wish i had gotten it because i probably could have fixed it.

of course the beauty of digital tools is all you have to do is press a button and you're in metric. dial indicators would work just the same in many applications regardless of whether you're working in metric or not as well i suppose
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 05/06/09 00:25:45 EDT

a rose by any other name: ....marc it woulda seemed this thread of convo was over.....are you unwilling to drop it ?i wasnt saying the scouts where a bad thing...i was just calling a spade a spade... i was in the cub/weblos??/and the scouts..and in many ways alot of what is taught can have direct miltary application/or pretraining for rotc ect ect.......not once did you hear me say that was a bad thing.... if you want drive this into the ground feel free to email me directly instead of taking up anymore time on this board... all hail the "homeland"
pete - Wednesday, 05/06/09 06:26:53 EDT

I can't stand it. Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. Pete's original comment was not an assertion that the Scouts are Like the Hitler Jugend. All he said was to the effect that "of course you can say positive things about the Scouts: hell, you can even find positive things about the Hitler Jugend". Which is exactly like saying the devil can quote scripture. No more, no less, and its a completely fair and objectively true statement. It's also far cry from saying the Scouts are no better than the Hitlerjugend. And sorry, Marc, but your denial just doesn't cut it: the Scouts fit your definition of "paramilitary" to the core. Its a lot more than "terminology", and its disingenuous to deny it. The entire Scout culture is in military "fashion". Organization in heirarchichal units, uniforms (which in my day were all military, with the exception of the neckerchief, and sea scouts looked just like US navy), salutes, command structure, marching and colors drills including rifle drill teams, formations, recitation of oaths, etc. Sure there's more than that, but the "military fashion" is a simple fact and its all thats required by the definition.
Peter Hirst - Wednesday, 05/06/09 07:32:11 EDT

One crappy Boy Scout: I dropped out of the Cubs and later, the Boy Scouts, never making it past 2nd Class. The "military" aspects were not emphasized too much in our groups, but I got interested in "Indian lore" via the Scouts. In St. Louis, in 1949, 200 of us Scouts were trained to do "Indian dances" at a large Boy Scout Circus. Some older Scouts helped me with the beadwork and leatherwork. I was 13 years old and even at that age, I knew that some of the dance steps and drum beats were bogus. However, the following year, four of the older scouts invited me to go with them to Oglala, South Dakota, ostensibly to dance with the "real Indians," in this case, the Lakota (Sioux). My parents thought I was too young for such a venture, but they finally relented when I got on my knees and begged to go. We only had one week for the trip, but it was enough to allow me to dance at a genuine powwow. After that, I was hooked in terms of interest and direction. The trip at that age, I liken to a rite of passage.

When I had time and money, I would go to the Western reservations and dance at powwows, usually with a buddy of like interest. For instance, we went to OK and NM in 1954. I went to NE, SD, and MT in 1957. This kind of activity continued right up to the present. My wife, Juanita, a Taos Pueblo Indian, and I will attend the Institute of American Indian Art powwow in Santa Fe, this coming Saturday. I have learned to sing powwow songs in order to better my danceability.

When the Scouting movement got started in the early 1900's, there was an emphasis on Indian woodslore, craftwork, camping, etc. That emphasis was continued in the BSA, but there was a group of men that was more interested in the Indian lore that the uniforms and regimentation. One was Ernest Thompson Seton, who helped found the BSA, but in 1915 dropped away from it. Others "leaders" and authors on Indian lore, dress, and dancing, were Julian Salomon, Bernard Mason, Ralph Hubbard, Ben Hunt, Norman Feder, and William Powers. Sometimes, these men were associated with the BSA, but not always.

I'm not the only non-Indian to have dressed and danced powwow style. We have been lumped and given the atrocious name, "Indian Hobbyists." We have been criticized by both Indians and non-Indians for doing what we do. I can only say that I have benefitted from my time spent at the powwows. I've made numerous friends on the reservations and have learned enough of Indian Ways to give me a fresh and different look at my own majority society.

Clyde Ellis of North Carolina is currently writing a book about the Indian dance/lore phenomenon among non-Indians.

Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/06/09 11:09:23 EDT

sticky indicators, ect...: Sometimes it is just a matter of a little "gunk" built up at the ends of the rack inside or at the guide bushings. Often a couple of drops of WD40 will do the trick. For a few bucks at a yard sale it may have been worth it. It could have been that someone had "crashed" the indicator and the collum or rod was bent slightly. Next time look for wear spots on the rod that might show this.
MF? could have been a Mahur-Federal (very expensive new) maybe a Massey Ferguson (a rare collectors item) Useing yard sale stuff at home is alright but remember that the parts you make for an employer may go in some critical assembly and they HAVE to be right. Blaming the failure of such a part on a "yard sale precision instrument" (an oxy-moron in its self) will not be acceptable.
What you can and what you should not buy at a yard sale or flea market is a matter of experience and it depends on wear you will use it.
All my stuff was purchased new and I only have a few peices that are not Brown & Sharpe. I got a 24" and a 12" hight gage from a co-worker but only because I knew him and knew they had been well taken care of.
Your "kit" gives a strong first impression.
Most machinists are snooty old know-it-alls and will have made thier judgment on you as soon as you walk in the door. Then you get to spend the rest of your time there either prooving them right or prooving them wrong.
Consider that if you come into a shop at a young age but with a big tool box full of a hodge podge of tools, what will the guys that you work with and your employer think?
They will always be wondering if your work is as hit and miss as your tools... and probably for no reson except that that is the way it has always been.
Better to come in hummble and let them take a shine to you because you want to learn and you readily take advise rather than like a carnival and when the show is over you got nothing else...
Learn the math, don't let your calculator do your thinking for you.
Having tried and used them all, I like the Noga mag base, with the universal arm, the best.
Just starting out you likely won't need a precision protractor but when you do, make sure it's a good one.
- merl - Wednesday, 05/06/09 11:31:25 EDT

Precision Tools - Dial Indicators:
As I mentioned at the top of this discussion you need to be careful about tools that you expect to use as an employee. Most places will not let your personal tools in other than things that do not require traceability.

On used dial indicators I've seen a lot that were worn, bent, sticky, pretty worthless. I prefer Starrett but have some nice odd ones.

The thing about dial indicators is they come in many configurations. Test indicators have +/- faces and travel indicators have continuous numbering. Some have secondary turn indicators some do not. Indicators come in various ranges of accuracy and travel. Starrett sells sets of three for general coverage.

There are also many setups where you need two identical indicators. Then there are the attachments. After using a hole attachment you will find them handy for many applications and hard to get to places. On a job where we supplied a precision alignment fixture, it had three indicators, one with a hole attachment and special large radius foot that I designed for it.

Some of the most important machinists tools are the little things, the adaptors and bushings to fit various chucks, soft jaws or shims, centers to fit collet chucks. . tools that are hand made. Then there are the hard to find files and riflers. . .

Then there are the tools many do not have like a jewelers saw and range of blades.

Something hard to keep on hand as they tend to get made into things is a simple set of blocks about 2" square for clamping and setting up work. 1", 1/2", 1/4", 3/16", squares of shim stock . . . in sets of four. They are more precise and secure than the toothed adjustable height clamping blocks and can be used in the welding shop as well as the machine shop.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/06/09 15:23:08 EDT

One of the items I try to buy from used machinist sales is unground high speed tool bits. They make great set up blocks etc, and can always be made into a usable tool.
ptree - Wednesday, 05/06/09 17:41:49 EDT

Can anyone tell me how many drops per minute are specified for a 3B nazel?
- Andrew - Wednesday, 05/06/09 19:58:04 EDT

Sorry, drops of oil from the oiler?
- Andrew - Wednesday, 05/06/09 19:59:03 EDT

Nazel Oiler: That's going to depend on the type of oiler, whether or not you're oiling the cylinder, air line, guides, compressing cylinder, etc. Most guys I know who have Nazels use the Manzel four to eight-port oilers and aren't cheap with the oil, either. They meter different ports according to the particular need, I believe.

Your best source of information for all things Nazel is Bob Bergman of Postville Blacksmith Shop, also known as Old World Anvils. Click on the link to contact Bob.

Rich Waugh

Bob Bergman
vicopper - Wednesday, 05/06/09 22:19:43 EDT

Thanks for the info Rich.
- Andrew - Wednesday, 05/06/09 23:19:17 EDT

metal?????: i live in northeast tn and i am having trouble finding metal to buy. round stock or square 1/4 up to 1/2 or 5/8. any help out there for me?
- Steve Bakken - Thursday, 05/07/09 21:13:25 EDT

Steve: I'm sure that Knoxville has steel suppliers, have you checked with them?
vicopper - Thursday, 05/07/09 23:49:49 EDT

indian hobbyists: hey frank its not as bad of a term as ive heard some natives skin is one of the terms i often hear around here...
pete - Friday, 05/08/09 06:25:02 EDT

Pete, How about this?: Indians call a totally acculturated Indian an apple; red on the outside and white on the inside.

Hobbyists (hobbs for short) are also called Wannabes.

The subject comes up also about the political correctness of using Native American or Indian. Urban Indians will often call themselves Native Americans. Rez (reservation) Indians will most often call themselves Indians.

Then you get into redneck organizations that give themselves names similar to "Native Sons of America," etc., and they all have pink skin.
Frank Turley - Friday, 05/08/09 08:15:41 EDT

Steve; Out here in NM I buy my new steel from a local business that uses it. (an old fashioned windmill construction and repair place). As they get a better deal buying steel the bigger the buy they are quite happy to retail me some at a much better rate than the local hardware store.

For strange stuff or a large order I would have to go about 100 miles to the city and buy from a steel supply company.

Thomas P - Friday, 05/08/09 11:53:43 EDT

Steel in NE Tennessee: Steve, where are you? I'm in Johnson City, but grew up outside Knoxville, and have a job that takes me all over the eastern end of the state.

For that matter, if you're in the tri-cities area the monthly meeting of our local forge group is Sunday May 10 (yes, it's Mothers' Day, but we met on Easter too...) from 1:30 to 4 PM at Rocky Mount State Historic Site. Come in the back gate, the front one will be locked, we'll be around the barn. You can't miss us, 20 to 30 large burly bearded (and some cleanshaven and no so large and burly) blacksmiths, plus assorted hangers-on and pets. We'll even sell you some steel!

If you're not close and/or you don't want to come over and play, try checking machine shops and welding companies. It won't be cheap, but they generally will sell you some steel. And it'll be less than half what Lowe's or Tractor Supply ask.

Of course I am assuming you meant steel, you just said "metal." If it's not steel, it'll be harder to find!
Alan-L - Friday, 05/08/09 12:44:59 EDT

Purchasing Steel: Like many things small suppliers are dwindling. Even in sizable towns you often have to go to the closest major city to find a wholesale steel service center. In NE Tennessee Bristol will be a likely place but you may have to go as far as Roanoke, VA (or someplace inbetween).

Once you have found a steel service center to deal with you need to know how to do business with them. Policies vary but most have minimums, cutting charges and as wholesalers prefer dealing via open accounts. A few have modernized and take credit cards rather than small open accounts.

Minimums can be $50 to $100. Steel normally comes in 20 foot lengths for hot roll and 12 foot lengths for cold finish. Unless you can haul these lengths there will be a cutting charge.

The trick about cutting charges is that most places will not cut stock unless it is prepaid or on open account. IF they take credit cards that might take care of it.

Note that most warehouses will make convenience cuts that are +/- 1" or more. If you need better than that then you may have to pay more.

Last, these folks expect to be doing business with professionals that know what they are talking about. See our FAQ on Steel Product Types to start. Ask for a quote for what you need but don't be a pest. Your $100 purchase is a nuisance order to these guys and you don't want to be a nag or pest.

Once you have proved yourself as an easy to get along with customer you can ask for favors.
- guru - Friday, 05/08/09 14:50:26 EDT

Scouts: Pete, I responded to a Scouting post a day after another Scouting related post. And only two days after you made your "last post". Excuse me for taking Sunday and Monday off.

Peter, your denial of my denial is way off. I totally disagree with your last statement. Take a look at the second part of the (not my) definition. I got it off the web, but Merriam-Webster has it similarly: "especially as a potential auxiliary military force". Did you even read that part? You certainly didn't take it into consideration. There just is no way that the Scouts have any intention of becoming an auxiliary military force. It's possible that BP had paramilitary in mind way back then. But today it's a carryover and in no way intended to mirror the military.

They have lots of good reasons to copy some military fashion - it makes a boy-run organization possible, for one thing - but it in no way is *all* that is required by the definition. I still feel that paramilitary implies some sort of military training. I'm pretty sure knowledge of the bowline is not going to help much in Afghanistan.

Now, unless people feel like calling me disingenuous again, I think I'll stop now.
- Marc - Friday, 05/08/09 15:03:07 EDT

Hey, Tying good knots is helpful in every field!
- guru - Friday, 05/08/09 16:38:47 EDT

I was never in the Scouts, but used the Bowline knot all the time as a parachute rigger in the skydiving world. Also several others. Knot knowledge is a good thing:)
ptree - Friday, 05/08/09 20:52:41 EDT

Knots: Hey, my earlier post disappeared! Anyway, my favorite knot is the tautline. It's come in real handy when I need to tie with an adjustable tight line. Tying canopies down, clotheslines, tying a trunk down,... Pretty practical.
- Marc - Friday, 05/08/09 22:17:53 EDT

Scotch hobble: On fractious horses, we used to tie onto a hind leg and lift it off the ground. The other end of the rope (large soft cotton) was a "horseman's bowline" around the horse's neck. It was a true bowline, but was tied in an unusual way so as not to upset the horse. Hard to explain with words, but a slip knot is made in the rope and the free end from around the neck is dropped through. The ensemble is shaken a tiny bit and pushed upward until it capsizes into the desired bowline.
Frank Turley - Friday, 05/08/09 22:37:44 EDT

One of my forging projects that hasn't yet gotten beyond the first attempt is an urban bowline. The rabbit comes up through the hole, goes around the tree, and gets hit by a truck. I need to work on my dualie tracks.
Mike BR - Saturday, 05/09/09 07:16:17 EDT

marc: let it go.....knots/survialskills/indiancraft(which is what the earlist rangers used..aka rogers rangers)..motivational training..are ALL core skills to ANY real miltary organzation.....once again im not saying its a bad thing....and not ONCE have you heard me say that that scouts are a "potential auxiliary miltary force" but what it truely provides is a cadre of pretrained persons....take it as you want .....what was said wasnt ment as disrespectful.... if you take it as such thats on you.... and yes knots rock!!!
pete - Saturday, 05/09/09 07:42:26 EDT

Knotty Books & Mini Anvils: Oh, the many happy hours I've spent with the Ashley Book of Knots. Now some of my jewelry-making friends are using it as a reference and an inspiration.

The other week, when I was coming back from Florida, I realized that (A) I was wearing a belt with a really big buckle, and (B) the particular trousers were just oversize enough that they'd be drooping all the way through the TSA checkpoint and I'd look like some silly punk kid who couldn't keep his trousers up. However, I pulled about 4' of 1/4" nylon from my luggage "possibles" pocket, tied a small bowline in one end, ran it through the belt loops, pulled the end through the eye (giving a snug 2/1 advantage) and finished it off with the taughtline hitch. No lie, I'd just invented the "hillbilly belt" while waiting in the TSA line. I was so proud that I showed it off to my assistant; and I used it again coming back from Denver yesterday.

Useful things, knots!

Speaking of Denver, I came across a whole slew of mini-anvils at an antique mall while I was out there. For $2.50 each I could hardly go wrong! They were marked "J DEERE 1937" which I regarded as bogus, since the booth had bins and bins of cast iron bricabrac and geegaws, and one still had the casting sand on it. One had the date slightly displaced from the other, but maybe the caster had 2 different originals that he used for masters. Anyway for two bucks and a half, they make good paperweights for my ever increasing piles of bureaucratic hooha at the office. ;-)

Thunderstorms have slid by on the banks of the lower Potomac. It rained every day while I was away, and the swamp is encroaching on our lands!
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Saturday, 05/09/09 19:21:40 EDT

Bruce; get a couple of fancy "toggle" buttons for the ends of your belt and walk onto the plane wearing a garrotte!

Thomas Powers - Sunday, 05/10/09 16:07:51 EDT

Marc: I remember during my scoutmaster days being able to tie the bowline with one hand. Very useful if you're dangling off a cliff and someone tosses you a rope. At least that's the story I told the boys.
- Marc - Monday, 05/11/09 09:31:16 EDT

Knots: We practiced tying them behind our backs and blindfolded. . . I used to know MANY knots splices, building forts, tree houses and other things with them. My last tree "house" was a big net made of hand made rope ranging in size from 1" down to 1/2" and 3/8". It would support a half dozen adults or as many kids as would fit. It took over a decade for it to finally rot away.

Today about the only knot tying I do is when rigging.
- guru - Monday, 05/11/09 09:56:53 EDT

When I took a mountaineering class in college we learned to tie the bowlin one handed with our good hand; then with our off hand and then one handed behind our backs with our good hand and then our bad hand.

It's the "rescue" knot and we had to have it down cold before we hit the slopes!

Thomas P - Monday, 05/11/09 10:13:37 EDT

Buying Steel: Just a quick thought. Don't pass up small yards.
I scored some steel for 30 cents a pound. I was chatting up one of the owners of a yard I hadn't visited before when I asked him what the story was with some small steel bar laying of to the side.
He said it was just surplus.
So a few minutes later after my order was loaded I asked him what the size was. He checked the size.
it was 5/8 by 3/16 x20'. When he realized that it was an odd size he gave me the price of 30 cents a pound. Since there is over a 100 pieces of it I'm stockin up on it. Just the right size for decorative iron.
- Charlotte - Monday, 05/11/09 10:34:02 EDT

Marc: Related to knots, lashings and pioneering were a lot of fun, too. That's tying big sticks together to make a hopefully stable structure.

Our town has a Christmas (now "Holiday") parade after Thanksgiving and people are invited to make floats. Our troop decided to make a pioneering tower. The thing was 6X6 and maybe 10-ft tall. The plan was to put it on my converted 6X8 snowmobile trailer and have kids hang on it.

Well, it got assembled and there it was, sitting on my trailer, wobbling around. I didn't feel comfortable at all, especially with me towing it with my Explorer. The weight was OK, but not the center of gravity. You don't notice wobbling on trash runs to the dump, but just try to stick something 10-ft tall on there.

So here I am, planning to cancel all this hard work when one of the dads says he's got an equipment flatbed doing nothing in his yard. He goes to get it and all goes well. Until the end of the parade when we couldn't fit it under some telephone wires in a park. I think we even one a prize for most creative or something.
- Marc - Monday, 05/11/09 11:22:22 EDT

Marc: I wouldn't call you disindenuous over your last remark. Just not logical. "Especially" means "especially", not "necessarily". yes, of course I considered that. The second part is not necessary to qualify as "paramilitary". It is paramilitary even without that, it is just more common with it. YOu may "feel" that some kind of specific military purpose is necessary, but your definition does not require it. "Military fashion" is enough. Simple enough for ya?
Peter Hirst - Monday, 05/11/09 20:12:11 EDT

I'm begining to regret asking for the opinions about the BSA.
Can we put an end to the sniping and bickering over the subject?
- merl - Monday, 05/11/09 21:35:33 EDT

yes : please
- pete - Tuesday, 05/12/09 04:25:29 EDT

Small Yards and Odd Iron: Small steel yards are far and few between and disappearing about the rate as coal yards. Encourage them as much as possible, give them as much business as you can. They are MUCH friendlier and easier to do business with than the big guys.

Odd rectangular iron is VERY handy and very difficult to find these days. Buy it all if you can. The caveat on odd steel is that when it runs out, you are OUT. Be careful about creating a product or using it for a large product unless you know you have enough.
- guru - Tuesday, 05/12/09 13:08:56 EDT

Coke crushing: I just saw one of the side bar adverts for a coal crushing mill. My system here is less fancy but it really works well. As I have mentioned before I get as much free coke as I can use here but it is hard and is in good sized chunks whereas I prefer it in pieces about the size of a walnut. We have a pile of old cast iron scrap radiators. The monsters you can hardly pick up. So I put one across two kerb stones from another pile of unwanted stuff. The coke goes on top of the radiator and just gets hit with a medium sized sledgehammer (too big would crack the radiator). The fins on the radiator help the process due to their shape and the spaces through the radiator screen the coke into exactly the size I need. It has made a previously difficult and messy chore into a simple task.
- philip in china - Tuesday, 05/12/09 18:51:11 EDT

Coke crushing: Good idea! How about making a frame to hang a matching radiator above the stationary one, set so the fins intermesh, hinged to be able to drop the upper on the lower? Fill with coke, drop, repeat... Just a thought, a rare occasion for me today!
Alan-L - Wednesday, 05/13/09 12:18:09 EDT

precision tools: this is a good page from an interesting site. read what they have to say about the current quality of new tools especially Starrett.
long island indicator service
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 05/13/09 21:33:45 EDT

Calipers: Interesting to note that the only ones they say are any good are the brands they sell. Hmmmmmm...
vicopper - Wednesday, 05/13/09 22:20:23 EDT

not necessarily, check the Etalon calipers
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 05/13/09 22:44:34 EDT

as well as Tesa and Brown & Sharpe on second look- they sell all three of these. Etalon, Tesa, and Brown and Sharpe. they say each of these have deteriorated in quality.
- Tyler Murch - Wednesday, 05/13/09 22:55:54 EDT

I'll agree that the Starrett's are not the best but are (or WERE) the best in general quality. All these tools have pros and cons. While Brown and Sharpe's are very good I do not like their feel and find them hard to use.

For years my personal dial calipers have been the Fowler Helios line. The tips of the jaws are hard enough that I have been using them to scribe lines for decades. . . They have a very firm feel and are not springy feeling like the B&S. However, they have an uncovered rack which means that if a single bit of grit gets into it you can spend hours clearing it.

As mentioned in the article the old plain vernier calipers while hard to read are the best. But the VERY best were made over 40 years ago. The Starrett hard chrome plated calipers were beautifully made and good for centuries of service. A friend has a six foot Starrett caliper that is a work of art. I've got a much older 40" pair that probably date from the 1930's that are very nice and plain. When you only need them once a year or so they will last forever.

When the good domestic manufacturers go off-shore to get a cheaper product, that is EXACTLY what they get. Make it here if you can.

I have little use for the electronic digital calipers and height gauges. I've seen too many sitting there spinning off numbers while not moving. . .
- guru - Wednesday, 05/13/09 23:41:31 EDT

I've got old (1950's - 60') Peacock and Scherr-Tumico tools that are also VERY good (prabably as good as any made). But I suspect from their age they were made in Japan at a time when they were trying to develop a reputation for high quality tools. So if you are looking at old tools it is hard to judge the source sometimes.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/13/09 23:48:46 EDT

precision tools: I have mentioned here befor the Starrett has what is called a "Gloabal Series" of measuing tools, read that as "made in China".
I have 95% B&S but, I wouldn't give you a bent nickle for the new B&S 12" caliper. I do like the 6" dial cal. and I have three of those. My first one that got damaged (never try to mesure a rotating shaft!) and one for work and one for home.
That's odd you don't like the feel of a BS caliper Guru, that is the whole reason I baught one to begin with is because they were smooth as silk compared to the Mitutoyo. There is a gib adjustment on the BS and they tend to get sticky if not cleaned reagularly. By the way, I use WD40 that has been setteld out and skim the oil only off the top. WD has teflon flakes and dirt in it but if you pour some in a wide mouth jar with a lid and let it sit for a couple of weeks, it will settle out then just dip the clear oil off the top.
Also, I beleive that Etalon, Tesa, BS and possibly Interapid are all one company. I could be wrong on that but, I know I have seen various name combinations on instruments over the last few years.
I don't know what the current statis of Scherr-Tumico is but, they always used to be stricktly made in the USA. I remember having huge sets of Scherr-Tumico OD micrometers and such in the military back in the 80's when they were required to buy American first.
A depressing and frustrating story about that.
I was on an inspection mission with a unit that went to Germany. When we got there I was on a team that went around inspecting records and physical property that was in preposition, long term storage (war stockage)
I arrived at one building to find pallets full of the individuale components for the Tank Turret Repair tool sets. Part of that kit is a 0-12" OD mic set and a 12-24" interchangable anvil OD mic set.
So I walk in the door to see a small mountain of Scherr-Tumico mic sets, as described above, spread across the floor!! ( I honestly had to fight back a gag reflex when I saw it) I threw my clip board down and shouted "What the H--- is going on here!?"
The civilion employee said "oh, the pile must have fell over" Do you relise that is probably over $300k worth of precision tooling on the floor(most of the wooden cases where open with the contents scaterd all over)I ask him. "oh, you can just pick them up"
I can now feel my hair stand up wich is a neet trick when it's only 1/16" long "I am not going to pick up anything, these instuments are ruined and this biulding is closed pending an investigation. You will be reseiving an unsaticfactory performance report as well." His turn to get upset. Something angry in German. Storm off to find my boss. Good luck pal. The sh-- is already rolling down hill and you're holding the wheel barrow.
I recall the actual dollar figure was closer to $500k and who knows what the govt. actualy paid at the hight of over spdending.
One of too many examples (ever see a 1986 model 1.5T Chevy diesel pick-up in storage with only 57 miles on it, in 1996!?)
BTW Guru, I have an 18" Vernier hight gage that reads in tenths(.0001) and a 6 and 8" vernier calipers. The 6" is nothing special but the 8" is a Starret Master Vernier that I found at an antique mall for $20. I beleive they are around $400. new.
I would need to get it re-certified to use at work so I just keep it happily at home...
- merl - Thursday, 05/14/09 10:15:46 EDT

It is sad when you can see the quality of the most important tools in industry dropping in quality. It is worse when you see highly sensitive tools being treated like a stack of hammers.
- guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 14:04:39 EDT

stack of hammers...: Because this building was full of the individual components of the tank turret repair set, there actualy was several palletes of hammers. They were still in the box, wraped in ferric paper and cosmoline. The biggest problem the guy had headed for him was that the building was not hermetically seald nor climate controled as he had been falsifying on his documentation and it looked for all the world like he had way more stuff in that building then he had signed for so I wonderd if there was some kind of black market operation going on. I got rotated back befor the investigation got started so I never got the whole story.
- merl - Thursday, 05/14/09 17:09:40 EDT

i was actually able to get a really good deal on ebay last night on a pair of etalon 6" dial calipers w/ the attatchment that essentially turns it into a depth gage. made in late 80's early 90's and still factory sealed inside the case. i emailed one of the guys from liis and they told me the quality was excellent at this period. this pair doesn't have thre really cool looking big horse logo on the dial though lol
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 05/14/09 18:11:35 EDT

Having worked for about 35 years with precision measuring instruments, I still have a love for L.S. Starret. I have in my own kit Brown and Sharpe, Starrett, Fowler, Scherr Tumico, Mititoyo, Mauser, and Gebr Ott. The last two are from my days in Germany.
We used maybe a thousand Fowler dial calibers at the valve shop, and our tool calibration guy was really expert at pickingbits from the open racks as well as removing and super glueing the racks back in:)

When we shut down the valve shop and it was moved to Texas and India, the idiots scrapped all the gages and hand tools. I saw tubs of thread ring and plug gages from 10-24 to 8"+ all tossed together. Tubs of micrometers etc. I then started to not be near as observant in looking thru the guys tool boxes as they were laidoff. Very sad that.
They got perhaps $0.03/# for all those gages.
ptree - Thursday, 05/14/09 18:20:55 EDT

tools: Roughly 30 years ago Etalon made Alina brand indicators, they were the top of the heap. I have Federal indicators & some Starrett Last Words, not bad either. In those days I believe Tessa made some products for Brown & Sharp.

My Starrett 6" dial caliper was $120 new [about 2X what a Mitutoyo cost] in '76 or '77, it was & still is the smoothest dial caliper I ever used.
- Dave Boyer - Thursday, 05/14/09 20:04:50 EDT

Micrometers: I have a nice-looking Starrett 1"-2" micrometer (with a slightly bent shaft) that I leave out on my welding bench with a couple of pieces of steel "clamped" in it. Drives machinists absolutely nuts when they walk in and see that.

My only good mike is a 0-1" Starrett that I hardly ever use. Most nearly all the work I do can be done to excess using nothing more than my old Scherr-Tumico 6" Vernier caliper. I have a couple of dial calipers, a no-name and a Mitutoyu that are both perfectly fine, but I just can't seem to get used to reading a dial as easily as I read a Vernier. I do like them for "over-under" comparative work because of the rotating bezels.

I have at least a half dozen of the plastic vernier calipers scattered throughout various tool boxes, truck boxes, glove compartments and desk drawers. They're nice to have around here because they won't rust, but I don't trust them closer than about .01". Still, they also read in fractions which is really handy sometimes. Talk about a nuisance to read, though - I am thoroughly comfortable with a regular decimal Vernier, but fractions to 1/128" get to be a pain in the butt to do the addition. I wish they'd just quit at 1/64", as that is plenty good enough for wood working, sizing fishing rod guides and sorting drill bits.
vicopper - Thursday, 05/14/09 20:23:19 EDT

Dial Calipers: Tyler
Sounds like a good deal on the Etalon. You will find the 6" Brown & Sharpe swiss made dial calipers to be very nice if you need to buy more.
Tyler I would suggest not get too caught up in trying to fill up the tool box for it's own sake.
Determine what you really need first, like what do you have to borrow the most often. Try and determine then what would be a real good quality choice and then go for it.
(Got a couple guys at work that have impressed themselves with a full tool box but all that Enco and Habba Flate stuff isn't giving us old timers the opinion that they think we are getting!
There is a place for cheaper tools, but don't sacrifice quality where it counts.
For example, cheap 1" travel indicators come in handy and you don't feel to bad if you crash one.
But a 'tenth' test indicator is a lot nicer to use if it is a compac or B&S or even Interapid if you can get a deal on one.
Dave Boyer and merl and a couple of others are giving you pretty good advice.
- Tom H - Thursday, 05/14/09 20:44:52 EDT

as far as my experience and time w/ experienced machinists go... of course currently i'm 19 just shy of 20. got a year and a half at one machine shop, just started working part time at another machine shop, and have recently (and will very much continue) started spending time at a man's shop who specializes in hobbing all kinds of gears- now THAT is a whole other field and this guy really knows his stuff. time spent there is invaluable. i've also got about a year in school for this stuff w/ about another year to go.
- Tyler Murch - Thursday, 05/14/09 21:39:13 EDT

Calipers, Mics and Indicators: After a good machinists square and dividers in order of most used or useful.

Dial Calipers (6" and up)
0-1 and 1-2 micrometers.
0-1" x .001" dial indicator with mag base (or test kit).
Set of gauge blocks.

Except for the blocks its pretty much a typical apprentice's set.

After that everything is pretty specialized or as-needed depending on the kind of shop or work you do.

For those that do lots of setup the little .015 LastWord test indicators and a full set of dial indicators is handy. The test sets with clamp, tool post holder and fittings are handy.

But its hard to predict what you need and trying to outfit a tool room can break you. My purchasing was pretty opportunistic (when I was in that tool buying mode).

Dividers, square and scale, and dial calipers get used just about every time I do anything in the shop and everything beyond that is extra.
- guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 21:46:55 EDT

Machinist's precision level: I'd add that to the list if you ever plan on setting up machine tools of any sort. Somehow it seems that lots of shops don't have one, for some reason.
vicopper - Thursday, 05/14/09 21:57:05 EDT

There are levels and there are levels. The one I pecked up is good to .001" per foot and has insulated plastic grips to lift it by. This is the kind you need to do a first class job setting up machine tools.

Level, while good is not the reason for such accuracy when setting up a machine, its twisting the frame when bolting down. You can easily twist a lathe significant fractions of an inch tightening bolts with a short hand wrench. . . The level gives you a reference point to prevent distorting the machine.

The last machines I installed were done with a 24" carpenter's level because that is what we had. . .
- guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 22:53:10 EDT

Tyler, if I were you I would hang on to the guy that does the gear hobbing for all you're worth. If you can learn to set up manual and cnc gear hobbing machines you will be a machining GOD! No kidding, I have rubbed elbows with some very talented guys but, they were all in awe of the few and far between guys that could set up the hobbs. I have cut bull gears and bevel gears on my shaper but I couldn't even begin to describe the set up involved for a manual gear hobber cutting a helical gear, forget about anything more involved then that...
Focus on that guy if you can and I bet he can teach you anything in the trade.
- merl - Thursday, 05/14/09 23:17:48 EDT

Gears: I second what Merl said. Gears are a REAL art. Its not just the machining and setup its the tech, the forms, the precision classes.

Machinery's Handbook has a lot of information and so do gear catalogs and other engineering references. Lots to know, lots to study. But well worth while.

The last gears I had made were made from a simple sketch I made applying what I had learned from designing and building machinery. The guys that made them in a local shop were tops. The gears were simple spur gears for the drive on my old Southbend lathe. But the main gear needed a proportionately large hole with a keyway and a light press fit. The fit I was given was hand scraped. . . fit PERFECT.
- guru - Thursday, 05/14/09 23:52:54 EDT

24" carpenters level. I have never seen a 24" carpenter. The people here in Sichuan are small but that takes some believing.

BTW on "made in China" the problem is that the likes of HF or Ace Hardware ask the question: "we want 1,000,000 screwdrivers (or calipers, or vices or whatever)- how cheap can you make them?" Wow- when you ask that question you get lousy quality. China can make quality, can make accurate tools etc. etc. You just won't pay for them!
philip in china - Friday, 05/15/09 10:39:49 EDT

Poor Quality:
Its a simple problem. Japan had it in the 60's. A reputation for making cheap junk. They just STOPPED making junk as a national policy. They still had the reputation in the 70's but by the 1980's Japan was known for the best everything.

Making and selling cheap products is like taking drugs. Makes you feel good in the short run but doesn't last long and wastes money.
- guru - Friday, 05/15/09 11:14:08 EDT

Starrett: I myself have always liked Starret. My mother purchased me a 6" new Starrett cailper when I was a apprentice. is still in mint condition as I treasured having a new measuring instrument. Mine is excellent quality and hard. When the shop I worked in replaced the 12" worn Mitoya calipers that have been reground in the past they bought Starret. They must have been soft. They were ruined in one month. The ends were fat and rounded not pointed and you could not measure in tight areas. This confirms they did make some newer junk. I always preferred the pointed surfaces of the Mitutoyo for getting into close places. They also made the carbide faces as well. I guess I didn't know the quality of precision tools today was such an issue. I have always used Starret, Brown & Sharp, Mitutoyo, Lufkin and J.C.Whitney?
Almost all of my machinist tools are 50 to 100yrs old. I have always calibrated them and checked them against standards. I just keep using the old stuff and treat it kindly. I always check things like inside mics against outside mics. I never just trust the reading they give me. I guess I have always double checked all my measurements and never had an issue with old precision tools other than the cleaning, lubing or minor repair of indicators. Everyones posts were eye opening to me. i did not know so many companies had consolidated and are producing lower quality tools. I will stick with my antique old faithful precision instruments. Go figure...I had no idea.
- Rustymetal - Friday, 05/15/09 14:20:45 EDT

Since my highest-precision metal working tool is a cheap Delta drill press, any measuring tool more precise than my thumb is probabaly overkill. But I still don't buy platic ones -- I figure they'd be magnetically attracted to hot steel.
Mike BR - Friday, 05/15/09 18:05:27 EDT

A drill press is as accurate as your layout and drilling technique. These start with good tools. hand layouts can achieve +/-.005" and a bolt pattern with standard clearances (1/64" to 1/16" depending on size) will easily match another part laid out by the same method.

Using standard layout and drilling methods you can make jigs for producing thousands of parts to the same tolerance as the layout. I've made decent fixtures using an old hand crank drill press.

Depending on the job simple dividers and a good steel rule is all you need.
- guru - Saturday, 05/16/09 01:48:24 EDT

I was exaggerating, of course, but if my dial caliper's off by a thousandth or so, it's not going to affect my work. On the other hand, I *have* measured the wavelength of light using a machinist's rule.
Mike BR - Saturday, 05/16/09 13:04:17 EDT

12" Starrett calipers: Rusty, the 12" starrett calipers have had the rounded points on them for a long time.
It used to be the standard profile for all calipers until either BS or Etalon came out with the "Swiss Style" 6"cal. that featured the new style tips and claimed one could now measeure an ID hole as small as .060 diameter. Well that claim sold a lot of calipers and the new look soon became the only way anyone could sell a dial calipers to the public.
As for the tips beeing soft I'm sure it says "Hardend Stainless" some ware on the frame and it is only the shape of the tips that prevent you from "scribing" with them.
I think most older machinists would agree that hand layout is a nearly dead and lost art.
At home I do it on everything because I have no digital readouts on any of my machines. It's all travle dials and 2" travle, dial indicators or counting the turns on the hand wheel dials.
At work, usualy in the time it would take to lay something out, you could make a set up touch off the part for zero and program the dimentions and hit them w/in .001
That doesn't mean that a person shouldn't bother to learn good lay out technique but, I can count the number of young machinists I know, that can do a good hand lay out, on one hand and have fingers left over...
It just seems to be one of those things that few people care about any more but, is still an essential part of the trade.
- merl - Saturday, 05/16/09 21:48:10 EDT

Layout Work: You are so right, Merl! When I was young and had ambitions of becoming a machinist one day, I worked for a guy that showed me a bit about layout work. That knowledge, while admittedly minimal, has stood me in very good stead for decades since.

In my tool chest there is always a can of meecham's layout dye and/or a bit of Prussian blue. And not just for practical joking either, though that is fun. :-)

I mostly dykem the piece and scribe my layout using a scale and squares, then check everything with dividers to find any repeated, multiplied errors. Then I punch and drill, cut, mill, or whatever. I'd like to have a small surface plate and a height gauge, but haven't gotten around to ever getting them, so I still use the scales and squares. Works for me, and I'm constantly thankful that someone took the time to teach me some basics of layout work. I wish I knew more about it, frankly.

I also wish I had DROs on my mill and lathe, but if I did they'd be fifty times more accurate than the tools, so why bother.

I actually did put a cheap Chinese DRO on the downfeed of my drill press. I know it seems silly, but the stupid thing has one of those quill stops that uses a rotating collar instead of a threaded shaft and I can't read the thing easily. The little $25 DRO was easier to install than it would have been to make/install a rod-type depth stop. I actually just stuck the DRO on with double-stick tape, since I don't need accuracy, just something I can read. (grin)
vicopper - Saturday, 05/16/09 23:03:16 EDT

The DRO on My Bridgeport copy died about a year ago, and I miss it. This machine is in good shape, so I can use the screws to dial off coordinates, but the DRO was fast & accurate.
- Dave Boyer - Sunday, 05/17/09 00:47:43 EDT

No one took me up on the light thing, but it was the truth and nothing but the truth. I might have fallen down a little on the "whole truth" bit, though.

It was a physics lab exercise described on the second page here: (Google went to Harvard, not me.)
Mike BR - Sunday, 05/17/09 07:49:57 EDT

Thats alright Mike BR, I used to measure flatness using wavelenghts of monochromatic light on a regular basis. Standard R&D lab stuff. :)
ptree - Sunday, 05/17/09 08:05:52 EDT

DRO's: I have many long sad stories about the DRO's on our mills. . .

Our first NEW mill had a popular US made system on it. The wires to several of the LED's on the Y-axis were broken as-delivered. I called the manufacturer about a warranty replacement and all he would do is talk about what COULD be wrong. I had checked it out and KNEW waht was wrong. . . We used it for about a year with one axis and finally replaced the system with a popular Japanese brand.

The replacement DRO had all the bells ans whistles making it more difficult to use due to long learning curve. But it worked well and improved our efficiency. A power surge (probably lightening) fried a chip. It was replaced and everything was cool. . . The part required replacing every year or so. THEN, the company, the largest provider of DRO's pulled out of the US market and parts became impossible to find. . .

Yet ANOTHER DRO was installed on the mill. It lasted quite a while. Then it went berserk displaying odd numbers. It was repaired by the manufacturer service center and did fine for a while. . . Then it started to display odd values again. But it was out of warranty AND yet another manufacturer was out of business. . .

At this time our shop was shut down except for minor jobs and personal work. But we DID have ocassional jobs come in. My Dad studied the thing and came up with a 5 digit constant to multiply the odd values by and used the DRO this way for many years. I would count turns and read the dials instead. . .

A bad habit of some of our shop help AND my Dad was to clean the mill with compressed air. This can blow grit past the seals on the DRO scales. One spec of grit and the scales are screwed up. . . SO, now we have two scales that also skip once in a while. . . on top of the bizzaro numbers. . .

DRO's are wonderful tools but can be rather delicate. They add accuracy and improved reliability. Many milling errors are the result of miscounting turns OR avoiding backlash and DRO's solve this. Many parts can be made without layout and efficiency is rapidly improved.

DRO's are great accessory tools but they ARE electronics and prone to short lives. . . Like PC's and digital cameras you you can almost not do without one in a modern shop. But they are an expense.
- guru - Sunday, 05/17/09 11:49:23 EDT

anyone have much experience with the starrett last word indicator? i just got one and the plastic lens is moving and interfering with the dial hand. also, what is the switch looking gizmo on the side?
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 05/17/09 20:10:28 EDT

Tyler, The switch is for changing the direction of travel on the arm.

If the hand is touching the crystal then there is something wrong but it should be repairable. Often folks use incompatible solvents to clean their tools and it damages the plastic parts, especially crystals, windows and lenses. Often this can cause the plastic to shrink and flatten. Replacement is required.

Occasionally folks remove the crystal and mess with the hand. They are easily bent AND easily adjusted.

If the indicator came in a boxed kit with all the arms snugs and clmaps then it may be worth while to scrap a bad indicator and put a new one in the set.

They are handy dandy little indicators but I have never been impressed with their overall quality. I prefer all the rest of the Starrett dial indicators but on this one I prefer the Brown and Sharpe.

A catalog (usually free for the asking) can answer many questions.

Speaking of Starrett. I have their Apprentices handbook and Machinists databook form 1915-1928 and will be putting them on-line sometime in the future.
- guru - Sunday, 05/17/09 20:37:41 EDT

ok now what about angle of contact point and how it influences the accuracy of the results on the dial?
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 05/17/09 21:19:34 EDT

this is regarding test indicators. i know that often times the contact point is set at an angle for greater accuracy.
- Tyler Murch - Sunday, 05/17/09 21:22:45 EDT

The contact point is rotated on a ratchet joint. It is rotation at the joint that is measured by the device. As long as the contact point is roughly parallel to the work surface then the error is ignored.

The difference between a test indicator used to find true centers and standard indicators is that test indicators are not used for measuring specific dimensions, only relative positioning.
- guru - Sunday, 05/17/09 22:03:24 EDT

angle of contact: Tyler, unless you are using a finger indicator that reads in sub-tenths (.00000) that contact angle won't realy make that much differance.
I have a .00005 resolution BS indicator at work that has the instructions for adding the constants for contact angel but, I couldn't quote them to you and, as I said, they are at work and I don't go back untill Friday.
I always try to use this particular indicator laid flat so as to avoid those complications.

Vicopper, it sounds like you are already doing about as much layout as one can with out a surface plate and hight gage, DRIVE ON! As far as your $25. DRO goes I've got you beat. Any time I need to make repetitve moves on the mill I get out the 1/2" masking tape and a pen. Lay a strip of tape on the stationary part of the tabble saddle and stick a inch long piece on the moving table then every time you count out the required number of turns to get were you need to be you put a pen mark on the saddle tape, then you know if you are a turn off or forgot to take the slack out of the screw...

DRO's Twenty years ago, any after market dro or one that was not built into the machine was not to be trusted. Even CNC's were not always trusted to produce the accuracy they were supposed to. How ever, I used to run a large Devlieg jig mill that was also used as a CMM ( cordinate measuring machine) When properly calibrated and fitted with an electronic touch probe it was good to .0002 over the entire work envelope (120"X54"X48") That DRO used glass scales that read the actual position of the table independently of what the screws might show.
And as far as the measuring tools you are using goes, don't sell your self short. I can pull a dimention from a part within .0005 with a pair of firm joint calipers. Any one can with practice.
- merl - Sunday, 05/17/09 22:24:44 EDT

DRO: Mine lasted a while, I put it on when the mill was new in '84, but the machine & DRO has seen little use in My home shop. The DRO is a Sargon, really basic unit. No new parts or service available now of course.
- Dave Boyer - Monday, 05/18/09 00:10:12 EDT

Starrett: So is Starrett stuff usually good? One of the students made a mistake last week and as a punishment was required to provide a pack of hacksaw blades. He has brought in yellow painted Starrett blades. I have only ever used UK made Eclipse in the past.
philip in china - Monday, 05/18/09 08:32:24 EDT

Sargon - : THAT's the brand that the maker would not back up and we gave up on. Its advantage was a big clear display and no frills (easy to use). I still have it in storage (I think).

All our DRO's were glass scales. These work over about an inch of space using a vernier type measurment system using etched lines on the scale and LEDs and LDD's? to read the shifting lines.

The resistant type devices that work like digital calipers are what I have seen act rather strangely rattling off numbers while nothing moved.

- guru - Monday, 05/18/09 09:24:06 EDT

Starrett saw blades:
These are actually made by someone else and packaged for Starrett but they are very good blades. However, in every blade line you can buy the wavy edged blades that are nearly useless to the expensive tool steel edged blades with set teeth that are rock hard.

I used to buy "all-hard" blades that were sold under a variety of names such a Nicholson and Starrett. Brittle as glass and would snap in an instant but they would cut faster than anything else. But not many people used them and my supply dried up.
- guru - Monday, 05/18/09 09:30:01 EDT

DRO's: I used mill with a NewAll dro on it not too long ago. These have a rod type spar that passes through the reader head. I liked it because it was easy to keep the spar clean with a paper towel but, I was concernd that it could get bent or dinged because of its location on the back side of the table.
Guru, I've seen dro displays do what you discribe, I'm not sure what causes it (static charge build up or magnetic) and I'm not sure how to fix it either except to send it in...
- merl - Monday, 05/18/09 09:54:45 EDT

I designed a system for a large saw that needed to measure up to 30 feet +/- .010" It used a rack and pinion and a simple counter/resolver with automatic backlash compensation and zeroing. The hard part was the stupid large scale display the customer wanted. There was also some error checking and a calibration system that anyone could run.

I don't know if I over priced or under priced the system but the client didn't go for it. I think the price was just under 10k back in the mid 1990's. Would have been a fun project.
- guru - Monday, 05/18/09 12:31:20 EDT

Induction Casting: I have been offered an induction casting machine that I can't use but is available for pretty much any reasonable offer. A Jalrus (sp?) Enterprises high frequency induction casting machine, probably from the mid 1980s. Op Manual included. 220v, 30 A, at full power melts 2 oz platinum in 30 seconds. Currently capable of 3/4 power, likely due to faulty vacuum tube (frequency control). Located on Cape Cod. Any interest? Parts? Induction forge conversion?
Peter Hirst - Monday, 05/18/09 19:21:52 EDT

Shop for Sale: A couple of weeks ago, my friend Siobhan advertised a blacksmith shop here. I know this property well, have had my eye on it since the early 70's. At one time it belonged to Bob Jordan, who built the house and barn. Property is small, about 1/2 acre, but is located one of the busiest tourist routes anywhere, Rt 6 in Eastham. Check it out on the map. Its near CC NAtional Seashore, ocean and bay beaches, 90 minutes from Boston and Providence. Includes 3 br 2 ba house, 28x 48 clear span barn, 16x24 main shop w/basic equipment, couple hundred sq ft of gallery, studio and office attached to shop. Not quite turn-key, but near enough. Grandfathered business license in a semi-rural residential district. I can't swing it myself but could go in w/ another smith or other craft. Enough space that 2 smiths could work all day without ever seeing each other. Potential for teaching facility, multi craft gallery, co-op. Local institution has much community support. Let me know of any interest.
Peter Hirst - Monday, 05/18/09 19:35:46 EDT

Peter Hirst, that high freq melter will have some value to production jewelers. The tube is probably still available. I needed 4 big tubes for a radio freq heater for transfer plastic injection molding about 7 years ago and for $250 a pop, got them in a week. There are also often solid state replacements that are near as senstive as tubes.
A high freq machine would not be real good for a forge.
ptree - Monday, 05/18/09 20:18:22 EDT

induction forges....: anyone building those thing small scale ???
- pete - Tuesday, 05/19/09 10:57:10 EDT

Reference to Blacksmith Shop, (above): Here's a link to Cape Cod National Seashore; this is a really nice neck of the woods from what my National Park Service friends tell me.

If I weren't bound by 350+ years in Southern Maryland, this would be a nice place to work and live. :-)
Cape Cod National Seashore
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Tuesday, 05/19/09 11:22:01 EDT

Induction Forges: The Kaynes were selling them for a while and then turned them back over to Grant Sarver. See the link to our NEWS below.
Induction Forge Product Release
- guru - Tuesday, 05/19/09 14:10:45 EDT

Right you are, Bruce. The property is about a mile from the main entrance and Visitor Center, and about 2 miles from the webcam at the site in your link. Surf's up.
Peter Hirst - Tuesday, 05/19/09 15:18:24 EDT

Beckett spring hammer: Nice hammer on ebay, see item no 220417326738
Beckett hammer
- Bob G - Wednesday, 05/20/09 04:33:46 EDT

Interesting article about Harriet Clark Fisher of Fisher anvil:
- Bernard Tappel - Wednesday, 05/20/09 13:10:00 EDT

induction forges: so how does one get up with grant ??? what are the price on these puppies???
pete - Thursday, 05/21/09 06:53:30 EDT

Around $4k to $5k depending on the setup.

Grant likes to hide out. Posts on the guru's page occasionally. Makes tools under the OffCenter brand.
- guru - Thursday, 05/21/09 10:46:59 EDT

Clinker breaker: The sketch of the clinker breaker could not have come at a better time! Yesterday we started redesigning the big forge and a breaker will be part of the new set up. We will also be lowering and deepening the fire pot, reengineering the ash dump and fitting an air gate. As the forge is brick it has involved quite a bit of demolition. I supervised construction nad so it was built to last! The funny part about the story is we had asked the school owner if we could have a brick forge and a couple of days later a building worker turned up with a barrow full of wet cement. Sean was totally occupied that day so I had to fab a fire pot etc. literally out of what was at hand whilst the builder was laying the bricks. For such a rushed job it has served us well.
philip in china - Thursday, 05/21/09 19:02:16 EDT

Harriet Clark Fisher: Bernard, Thanks for the link to the NY Times article. She wrote a book about that trip after her return. I've been lucky enough to actually read a copy of it and enjoyed it. It's an interesting look at attitudes and activities at the time seen through contemporary eyes. Steve G
- SGensh - Thursday, 05/21/09 19:38:44 EDT

Permanent forges can have the down side of being permanently wrong. . .

Many 20th century smiths put commercial firepots into their brick forges. The wise ones just set the firepot on a ledge so that it could be easily replaced.

The oldest brick and masonry forges were dead simple side blast arrangements. However, they were mostly used with charcoal which does not have the clinker problems of coal.
- guru - Thursday, 05/21/09 23:05:44 EDT

Working With Your Hands: If you can pull up the NY Times, this follows themes we've been bouncing around here.

Gotta go.

Have a good holiday, and remember those who fought for us.
NY Times
Bruce Blackistone - Friday, 05/22/09 14:35:43 EDT

Times article: Thanks for that link, Bruce. That was a very interesting article that our school boards would do well to read.
vicopper - Friday, 05/22/09 22:14:56 EDT

I think I talked to that guy about the "manual trades". I get a couple interviewers a year and its hard to remember who. One has called about three times. . sure would like to see his article.
- guru - Friday, 05/22/09 22:34:47 EDT

Jock: E-mail coming your way with the article text attached as a PDF.
vicopper - Saturday, 05/23/09 08:56:20 EDT

NEW eBook Hand Forging by Googerty:
A classic reference used by many smiths and authors on blacksmithing.

Will be on the eBook list shortly. More coming.
Hand Forging and Wrought-Iron Ornamental Work
- guru - Saturday, 05/23/09 14:12:30 EDT

Supreme Court Justice: Well folks, I think we dodged a bullet. Obama choose someone else instead of Michigan's current Governer, Jennifer Grandholm for Supreme Court Justice.. Much as I would have liked seeing her move on down the road and away from Michigan, the country would not have been well served. At least we will be done with her in a year and a half, whereas she could have been influencing the Court for decades! Whew!
Dave F. - Tuesday, 05/26/09 15:38:10 EDT

e-books: Guru, keep those great old books coming. I finely got our DSL hook up completed and I can now read the books at MY speed, not the 30-45 seconds it used to take to load each new page with dial-up!
- merl - Tuesday, 05/26/09 22:03:16 EDT

We have another (on locks) ready to launch and more in the works. The page size in graphic format is a little problematic as the text becomes smaller on the page. Our first book had 640 pixel wide pages. The second required 800 and the third needs 1040. The last one we have scanned is primarily fine engravings and these rapidly break down if reduced too much in size. There are things I can do to make lines bolder but this destroys the art of the engraving. In some case the fine lines are forced to grays which is OK sometimes but not in others.

There is a lot of study and creative decisions in getting these things on-line. So far every one has been different and I do not expect that issue to get better. An option is to reproduce the book as an HTML document (text with embedded graphics). File sizes are much smaller but the job requires a LOT of labor. Some of the professional OCR programs will automatically produce these files but my experience with automatic code generation says its almost easier to do from scratch with a rough template.

Frank recommended another book and it has been ordered (from Canada). It is another general smithing reference and I think that will finish the need for those, at least from what is available out of copyright. But if you have a really good one let me know. Note that we have a good book scanner that doesn't force flattening old books to get good scans. Loaned books could be returned in a week or so with about as much wear as one good read.

I've got some wonderful old catalogs but they run 450 and 600 pages. While scanning is "just a chore" with these they are almost worthless without good indexing. This requires many hours of hand edited code. One is a William Dixon Catalog from 1926 and another a tool and machinery catalog from 1900.

I've also got a bunch of odd things that have questionable copyrights or the ownership has (or maybe hasn't) slipped. Legal research on these can be expensive and I also cannot afford a lawsuit. So, all must be things that have positively fallen into the public domain. This is one reason books up to 1926 are now going for high prices. Lots of folks looking for things they can reprint.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 00:02:41 EDT

eBooks and Blacksmithing: Jock: This is truly a labor of love and we are all grateful for your efforts.

Some of these old techniques are totally unknown to some of us and some look utterly impractical; but worth a try. “Box Forging” (Chapter VIII), showing how to form a base for a candlestick, certainly seems to be the absolutely most difficult way to go about the job; with incredible amounts of upsetting and forging. Modern tools and methods provide us with several efficient alternatives, but it is interesting to know just how versatile and common these more difficult methods were.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Wednesday, 05/27/09 07:49:23 EDT

Techniques Old and New: Wow and criminetly,

An old-time Turley grad recently got a job with, and division of If you tune into Ex One, click on Technology. This outfit is a think tank of manufacturing and fabrication breakthroughs. After looking at their offerings, I felt like a walking anachronism.
Frank Turley - Wednesday, 05/27/09 08:36:25 EDT

Old Techniques:
I intend to add some comments on that process. I think some of the difference is the use of very low carbon steel or high grade wrought iron. On the other hand, in that era folks were a tougher breed for the most part.

At least on old locks it was more common to make a heavy box using plates carefully fitted and brazed together. In our other eBook, Work Metals, a similar lamp is made largely by forge brazing.

Throughout Googerty he refers to using "helpers" and recommends NOT to use a power hammer. While he IS correct that you learn better forging skills without a power hammer they are also a replacement for that "helper" that most of us do not have. A goof treadle hammer can also replace that striker for many jobs as well.

- guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 08:45:58 EDT

New Techniques:
We may be anachronisms but in many cases we can produce prototype parts faster than the draftsman can make that 3D CAD model. A combination of bending, forging and welding (using blacksmith's and modern techniques) can be pretty darn fast when done by an experienced hand that has a clear idea of the part to make or a simple sketch.

I've also known jewelers to make small original waxes and cast them in a few hours from start to finish.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 10:19:34 EDT

old techniques and knowlage: Guru and all, what excites me the most about these old books on line like this is the fact that they are being preserved and made available to those of us that just have that need to know how things are and were done. We all know that just bcause somthing is done the old way doesn't mean it's the best and just because something is old doesn't mean it's obsolete.
I thank you again for your evdevors Guru, and I look forward to a running editorial on the stuff.

I have another question for you Guru. With this DSL hook-up, I have an additional external modum and the line filters for the phones ect... probably the typical set up but, my question is, is my computor now on line all the time? The indicator lites on the DSL modum show that it is hooked up all the time.
I guess I don't like the thought of my computor on line all the time if that's the case. Is there any way around this?
- merl - Wednesday, 05/27/09 10:47:37 EDT

100% on line: Merl, Yes it is. The only real problem this presents is network hacking.

There are a ton of robotic hacking systems out there that probe EVERY static address on the internet including home and business PC's. If you do not have either a good firewall (I dislike them) OR good anti-viral software, you are wide open for network attack. In most cases if you have neither your PC becomes infected with one or a number of backdoor hacks and viruses within the first minutes of connection. . This is something the cable and phone services often do not warn people about.

While you can go to your status bar and turn off the connection it is often more difficult to turn it back on (depending on the specific OS). Most folks I know just stay connected. Even when I had a dial-up I stayed connected as long as the system would allow and then immediately reconnected.

Note that most of the network viruses are NOT like the old viruses of the past that were determined to simply wreck your PC. Most today are commercial spam-bot programs that make your PC a spam relay or are phisher programs looking for your bank account, credit card and other information INCLUDING the passwords to use them. The spam relay programs also report every email address you have ever accesses or will access back to the author. . . ALL bad bad stuff. Its no longer altruistic adventure driven "lets see if we can hack the world for fun" hackers but evil organized crime and theft ring hackers terrorizing the Internet.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 12:26:27 EDT

Yet another eBook, On the Construction of Locks and Keys :
By John Chubb of Chubb Locks, 1850. This is one of the primary resources of many books on locksmithing and the history of locks and keys.

One of several books on locksmithing we are going to setup.
On the Construction of Locks and Keys
- guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 13:32:34 EDT

internet hook-up: Thanks Guru, you're ever the ray of sunshine...
We have Norton running all the time, I have the Windows Task Manager on all the time to see if I can catch anything going on. I think the only sure way to stop the flow is to quick disconect the cable so I have the box sitting right on the desk. I guess if anything happens that I can't stop with the task manager I can still pull the plug (Yeah, Right...)
We also don't keep anything of any real value on the box but, who knows what crooks are looking for.
Thanks again for the e-books
- merl - Wednesday, 05/27/09 15:26:59 EDT

Well. . an infected computer is no fun. AND I can tell by my spam load when someone in our group or a customer has gotten infected by the spike in my spam load.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 21:32:49 EDT

infected computer...: I hope you will be a mate and, let me know if it's ever coming from me.
- merl - Wednesday, 05/27/09 23:27:34 EDT

It used to be you tell WHO but not with most of the newer programs. They go to a great deal of trouble to hide their tracks so they run as long as possible.

All you can do is have good current anti-virus software running.
- guru - Wednesday, 05/27/09 23:57:23 EDT

"good current anti-virus": Merl
Norton is not a very good virus program like all the other over advertised anti-virus programs. They miss more than 30% of viruses out there. They are predictable and easy to do write arounds to get by them. Then they act like a virus themselves. They take over your computer, zap the resources and make your system slow and act like it has a virus. You basically need to do some homework and find a "good anti-virus" program. I had to figure out how to approach all the viruses, spyware and addware on my own. I will let you seek out your solution as I did my own. It also is handy to have a good registry and operating system cleaner.
- Rustymetal - Thursday, 05/28/09 01:09:52 EDT

johnson model 133 gasforge for sale: i have a large johnson forge i want to part decent shape.... asking bout a 1/4 of what they go for for details please...if you need pics...please checkout blacksmiths depot or johnsongas...
peter - Thursday, 05/28/09 07:56:40 EDT

Merl: Rustymetal is correct in his assessment of Norton Anti-virus. A much better alternative, and a free one, is AVG Anti-Virus. You can find it at and download it for free. They also have a paid version that is even better, but the free one has kept me virus-free on my DSL for ten years now.

THere is more than one type of DSL, by the way. One type has a static IP address and the other has a "floating" IP address that changes each time you start the computer or log on to the server. My ISP is the latter kind, which is safer but a bit slower for some reason. That may be just a local issue, though.

I run Windows XP Pro and keep the Windows Firewall active and set at a medium level of security, AVG is always on and monitors all emails and web traffic in addition to running scans on a scheduled basis. I also have, as Rustymetal also recommended, both a registry editor/cleaner (Registry Medic), and a spambot and adware cleaner (AdAware, a free version). Once every month or two I run a diagnostic on the machine and clean the registry and clear out any adware cookies. As I sadi, I've been free of problems for ten years this way and I don't attribute that to mere luck. It is diligence and a couple of good programs to work with.
vicopper - Friday, 05/29/09 01:54:12 EDT

Rust Never Sleeps: I have been loaned a lovely little booklet called "Rust Never Sleeps; Recognizing Metals and Their Corrosion Products by Bart Ankersmit (et al) and published by Parks Canada; ISBN 978-0-662-48099-0; Cat No. R62-398/2008E.

It's only about 36 pages long but it contains some very good photographs and quick descriptions of all that can happen to various metals. It certainly makes a nice quick reference, especially for anybody in the artifact preservation business.

Don't know the price or availability (the copy may be pre-release); but I'll see what I can find out. I have to return it now.

(Covet, covet, covet...)
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Friday, 05/29/09 14:26:09 EDT

I have tried to search for it various ways yet can not seem to find plans for a picket sized tumbler. What kind of tank is best? What kind of gear reduction system? How can the vacuum hose attach? What size sprockets/chain? How do you hold the tank on the stand while it turns? The best & only one I have ever seen was at Doug Addlemanns shop in Bozeman but his son and I think he must have taken it with him when he went to meet his maker as it is just plain gone and we both need one. Not trying to build the Space Shuttle here just looking for that loud and shinny look. Any ideas out there ? Channeled plans acceptable if your lurking Doug.
- john cook - Friday, 05/29/09 22:32:55 EDT

computer security: I don't know what to say (Vic and Rusty) I have been useing Norton since '98 and never had a problem either. The previous computer ran on NT4.0 and never hickuped once in ten years. I still have it running off line for privet data storage and a couple of older cad programs. The new box runs on XP Pro with Noron running all the time and like you, I have weekly schedualed system sweeps. I have the fire wall set quite high wich does cause problems now and then. When I started up the DSL srevice some certain thing changed in the way Norton runs/works but, I'm not realy concerned about it (you know what they say about ignorance being bliss...)and I'm just not that computer savy anymore that I can keep up with much more than I am already doing but, I try.
Thankyou for the advice none the less.
- merl - Saturday, 05/30/09 01:16:53 EDT

Tumbler: There don't seem to be any plans out there John, but blacksmiths make their own tools without plans all the time. I made a tumbler using a scrapped 100# propane cylinder and it works just dandy. I put a stub of salvaged auto axle on each end and these ride in pillow blocks. The "foot" of the tank meets the tank bottom in such a way that where they meet creates a "V" shaped groove perfect for a v-belt drive. The thing is powered by a treadmill motor through a double jackshaft to arrive at a final speed of about 24 rpm to 48 rpm. The treadmill lmotor is a variable speed DC motor of 1-1/2 horsepower. I put four ribs of angle iron inside the tank, welded in with the edges down so each one is a triangular rib instead of a fin. The tank is then lined with the rubber belt from the same salvaged treadmill. A large door is cut in the side of the tank and held closed with forged latches similar to those on old iceboxes. It will tumble a dozen or more 1/2" square pickets or other pieces, using old punch press knockouts and some Black Beauty blasting media as a tumbling compound.

The 1-1/2 hp motor is just adequate, since it is double jackshafted to allow it to run in its upper ranges. A 2hp would be better, though. It takes a fair bit of power to get the load moving when it is all settled at the bottom of the drum.

Even with the rubber lining, the thing sounds like a cement mixert with a Volkswagen caught in its throat when it is running. It needs to be in a little soundproof dog house for my comfort.

There you have it, a set of "plans" so youcan build one.
vicopper - Saturday, 05/30/09 07:17:55 EDT

Merl: If things are working for you, that's all you need. They have probably improved Norton since the days when it came bundled with new computers and caused so many problems. The bottom line is, if it works then its good!
vicopper - Saturday, 05/30/09 07:19:38 EDT

Tumblers: As I noted on the guru's den as long as it doesn't go too fast they are fairly simple and there are all kinds of ingenious methods of making them work. more. . .
- guru - Saturday, 05/30/09 07:59:18 EDT

Tumblers and Vibratory finishers:
I've heard of them being made from large oil tanks hooked directly to a water wheel (naturally right RPM for tumbling). My Dad built one using car tires for the drum. It sat on powered rollers and had some guides to keep it from falling off. While the idea sounds great it is not so good in the realization.

We had a little 5" diameter tumbler built by a machine shop for tumbling small parts. It had a variable speed drive and ran about right. My brothers have tried to use it for tumbling rocks with no results. It has run for YEARS without doing much other than wearing a few corners. . . A friend has a commercial rock tumbler but cannot get beyond a natural creek bed type finish. . . She has tried lots of different abrasives. There is an ART to doing these things right. But the machinery is simple.

Old hot water heaters and various tanks make good tumblers. I've also seen them made from hardwood in an octagon with steel ends. In the old Sir Lancelot cartoons they had a hand cranked tumbler made of wood to derust maile using sand. It would work with LOTS of cranking but was not necessarily historic. I do know that common sand does a great job cleaning chain so it should work on maile.

For things with odd shapes that would get tangled or hung up (possibly those pickets) a vibratory finisher is a better solution. The larger ones are a rectangular tank mounted on springs or rubber hangers. Under the tank there is a motor with an out of balance counterweight. These are normally on their our bearings and shaft to keep from trashing the motor. The weights shake the tank and its contents. The tank is filled with pieces of finishing compound and parts are tossed in.

Due to the rotary motion of the weight the contents tend to circulate in a rolling motion. Parts tossed into the tank travel down, then boil up to the top and then down again. To retrieve parts you just wait until they boil up (about every 20 - 30 seconds).

To keep the abrasive medium clean a little soap and water is circulated through (much the same is used in a tumbler). Normally a pump and filter system is used.

In both cases the water carries of ground up metal. If you live somewhere where the sewer is monitored for heavy metals you can get in trouble dumping this effluent. It can also contaminate your local ground water (which is really bad for you if you have a well). But is bad in the long run no matter what.

You can generate a surprisingly large amount of metal dust with either a tumbler of vibratory finisher. You have the primary metal as the main part (steel, aluminum, zinc) and then tramp metals or alloying ingredients (lead, bismuth, cadmium, nickle, chrome). THEN, if you use it to remove paint (which these also do very well) you will have all the paint solids which also include lots of toxic heavy metals.

You should have a plan to dispose of the waste. A good filter and settling tank will remove 80% to 90% of the solids. These can be collected into a coffee or bean can, baked until dry then disposed of as solid waste. I use a 4 micron water filter on my grinder and it should work on finisher. A back flush system will increase filter life and dump solids into the trap. IF you are not using a recirculating system (tumblers usually don't) then you might want to build an independent filter/seperator system. In either case a sludge or sump pump that is designed to handle grit and solids should be used.

There is a nice long thread on CNCzone about DIY vibratory finishers. However, it is old enough that all the linked images are are long gone. The fellow built his finisher using one of those heavy blue poly-plastic drums cut in two long wise. This was mounted in a tubular framework and that spring supported on a heavy base. Seems it worked fairly well.

Good commercial vibratory finishers will descale and deburr a part in 20 minutes. You might be able to do a dozen more or less at one time. With loading and unloading time that could be a couple dozen an hour or 100 a day.

Tumblers and finishers are both noisy to the point of being a serious problem. Vibratory finishers are worse than tumblers due to the constant roar. They need to be well anchored and isolated in a sound deadening booth.

If you do production iron work, either by the piece or architectural work with many components one of these devices can easily pay for itself as well as improve the quality of your work.
- guru - Saturday, 05/30/09 20:06:34 EDT

Vibratory finishers: Vibratory finishers are very common in metal working factorys. we had several at the valve shop. We had rectangle types as well as the newer donut types. The donut types look like a donut on its side cut in half. These will circulate the parts and media around the circular donut and usually have a drop gate of fingers that lets the media through, but the parts walk up the gate and into a bin. The throughput on these can be thousands of parts an hour.
All use a soap and water rinse as the Guru notes, and he is exactly right on the disposal issues for the residues. In most cases the redisue is at least a "Special waste" and can be a "Hazardous Waste" Many of the comercial solutions are quite alkaline, to both aggresively clean and retard flash rusting.
All of the comercial machines use ceramic media. These come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and the media shape/size as well as vibration frequency/amplitude are the "Tuning" factors in setting these up for production. The newer donut style are usually not as loud as the older drum types and can often be placed in the shop without enclosure. Earplugs may be required but that is usually already required in these enviroments.
ptree - Sunday, 05/31/09 07:58:58 EDT

Eye safety on a personal note: Yesterday, I destroyed yet another safety glass lens. It was on my face. I was at another smiths shop at a meeting. I was forging a tomahawk from a hoof rasp. I was doing the first heat, tapering the end of the rasp, when somehow the rasp came out of my hand, and flew so fast the audiance could not see it, struck my right eye hitting the safety glass lens in the lower right portion, knocking the glasses upand allowing the rasp to then scratch the INSIDE of the sideshield and knocking them off my face. The rasp continued up and struck the left upper portion of my eye socket just where the eyebrow and nose meet. I have a rasp width bruise ther. NO OTHER BODY DAMAGE. Had I been forging with out safety glasses, I would have, I am sure, damaged my eye badly. The lens has a deep gouge about an inch long, in a polycarbonate lens.
I suspect, since the smith that owns the shop is much taller than I that I must have had the stock not level to the anvil top, and when I struck the stock it levered up. I have been smithing for many years and have never had this happen before.

I now have destroyed about 7 safety glass lens in 30 years of factory, lab and home work. AND I still have 2 functioning eyes.

Life is too short to spend any of it dead, injuried, or in jail. And any combination of those three really sucks.
Always wear your safety equipment!
Ptree the industrial safety guy, who has a fresh show and tell for the folks at the factory:(
ptree - Sunday, 05/31/09 08:09:01 EDT

Ptree I agree: Not as spectacular as yours but I was looking at the lenses of my shop glasses yesterday. All that damage, all those grinding sparks etc. etc. All would have been in my eyes had I not been wearing them. I really do need a newpair now just through wear and tear. I don't suppose anybody knows a way to get grinding spark damage off safety glasses do you?
philip in china - Sunday, 05/31/09 14:37:33 EDT

The sparks burn into the glass OR plastic. There is no repair.

I've gotten used to wearing some pretty scratched up miserable condition safety glasses for that reason. They do not stay pristine for long. . .
- guru - Sunday, 05/31/09 17:41:26 EDT

Pristine...I love it. I try to work through several pair. I get a new one when the last gets beyond hope and then move them all up a notch. Sadly I need a bit of prescription to do close work so the dollars add up. Eyeballs add up a lot more guys...wear the damn things; sweat drops and all.

- Bud Williams - Sunday, 05/31/09 18:24:52 EDT

Hot Iron to Head: Three students have had hot-iron-to-head accidents over the years, and all three were the result of ill-fitting tongs. Head wounds bleed a lot; they're pretty scary looking for that reason. One student got it in the eyelid, so we hauled him to the outdoor spigot and turned on the water full blast. We dabbed and soaked up some of the blood with clean towels and maxi pads. Don't laugh. Those pads are handy to have in the first aid kit. He was hauled to Emergency holding a maxi pad on the wound.

I now always lecture about parallel closure of flat tong and bolt tong jaws on the workpiece. If tongs don't fit, they can be made to fit in a few minutes by heating the jaws, rivet area, and a small portion of the reins. The jaws are squeezed around a sizer in the vise or closed around the sizer on the anvil. The reins usually need to be adjusted at the same time.
Frank Turley - Sunday, 05/31/09 19:00:43 EDT

Frank Turley. Maxi pads are indeed a good field expedient bood stopper. For a couple of dollars one can buy a very handy blood stopper called a "Blood Stopper. :) They have a nice thick pad, with a roller bandage behind and tails to tie around the area. The roller bandage puts pressure on the pad, which helps with the bleeding. It can also be unrolled if you need to go around the chest. I tend to keep a handful handy in the factory. Factory injurys in a metal working enviroment tend to be a bandaid or a bloodstopper issue:(

Tongs did not play a part in my case, I was holding the steel by hand. I had a good grip I thought. Apparently not. Totalled the lens, but not a drop of blood, and lucky for me I got hit by the cold end.
ptree - Sunday, 05/31/09 19:49:38 EDT

Bud Williams, If you only need prescription for close work, they make very nice safety glasses with cheater lens in the bottom, much like the drug store reading glasses. In fact go to the drug store and try till you find the right "Diopter" then you know what to order. I pay about $6.00 a pair for cheater safety glasses at the plant.
ptree - Sunday, 05/31/09 19:52:08 EDT

Loose steel:
Drill presses are also bad about snagging and throwing a bar at you. With any sizable drill, even if I can resist the torque I'll clamp it in a bolted down vise. For fast turn over two pieces of angle iron to float the work between also works and saves clamping time.
- guru - Sunday, 05/31/09 20:02:47 EDT

Bleeders: For those medium wounds, maxipads are great. The old-fashioned kind with the little tails are handiest for tying in place. The ones with the sticky tape have the sticky stuff on the wrong side for dressing wounds, unfortunately.

For the really big, life-threatening, bleeders, there is a proprietary product on the market called "Quik Clot", a hemostatic material in a pack you slam right on the wound. They will stop bleeding of a severed artery, even. Not cheap, but neither is a funeral. Some arteries, like the brachial and the femoral, will bleed so copiously that within two minutes the victim will ex-sanguinate. That's a polite way of saying "bleed to death." :-(
vicopper - Sunday, 05/31/09 20:23:11 EDT

Emergency First Aid: Because I work alone or at most with my two young kids, I consider the first line of safety to be simple fore thought. Befor I do anything I take at least a micro-second to think "what could happen while I do this?" Like ptree and many others here I have been making my living in the metal working industry for more than two decades and praise the Lord I don't have anything worse than one sevearly broken finger to show for it (and that happend at home while moving a mill into the basment). I ALWAYS stop and think first so, to me it doesn't take any more time to be safe.
I also feel that most first aid kits are not much good if only one person is in the shop. Most serious injuries need help to apply the first aid measures.
I keep a bi-fold paper towel dispencer full of the brown paper dairy towels, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a carton of wet-wipes in a clean place in the shop and, the towel dispencer down were the kids can reach it. I can always stick a finger in to the towel slot and pull out a wad of clean towels if needed.
I also always take my cell phone out with me.
Safety glasses are NOT OPTIONAL even my kids have youth size wrap a round glasses that they know must be worn at all times.
I have no desire to find out if I can make a living as a blind machinist or blacksmith....
- merl - Monday, 06/01/09 00:32:46 EDT

Merl, Hard to find safety glasses that actually fit the little ones isn't it:) I found with my little ones that the elastic glasses keepers helped alot to keep the glasses in place. I found a childs size pair at my safety supplier, with adjustable temples, and that keeper. He was impressed that I was getting them for my kids and gave them to me. They are a little scratched but I believe they are still in the box in the shop.
ptree - Monday, 06/01/09 06:56:09 EDT

Safety Glasses:

Scratches: I understand that sometimes toothpaste will reomove or reduce light scratches in plexiglass and other transparent plastics. My experiments with this method have shown mixed results, so it may depend upon the type of plastic and the type of toothpaste.

Safety: There was an incident in the BGOP a couple of years back (details a little fuzzy, now) in which someone working in one part of the shop with hammer and chisel on cold work spalled off a red-hot shard that flew across the shop and hit another member just below his unprotected eye. The point here is that anytime somebody in the shop is doing any operation that can propel pieces of whatever, it is wise that everyone take precautions; no matter how benign your own project may be.
Bruce Blackistone (Atli) - Monday, 06/01/09 08:01:20 EDT

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