Friday, December 16, 2011


Were having a 5' piece of steel ground for a frame table. This is one of 10 machines that will be doing the work, and its on the small side!

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  1. I was wondering why you didn't buy a platen table (there are a couple right now for sale on egay for about 1500 bucks and then get that reground? And why steel and not cast iron, no warping from welding heat? Love the frame jig so far, looks like it's gonna be a piece all on its own, and I know its going to be mighty accurate. Also, what lathe's do you like? I've been looking at buying one and there are so many out there. Ron.

  2. The original idea was to use a large t-slot table off a horizontal mill. I had one down the street but someone claimed it first. Platen tables are just too big in the shop where space in limited and highly valued for new machines. I used the large piece of steel because thats what I had on hand one I lost the opportunity to buy the mill table. I dont want to be hawking CL all day in hopes of finding a table or something similar, I wanna get it done and move on. To counter act sag or warping the piece was first stress relieved and then ground flat. I built the stand so that it was extremely rigid and would support 75-80% of the tables length so this makes a nice sturdy and true work surface. We are into the whole thing for $250 so far and thats cool with me as I don't really plan on making 10+ frames/year for sale.

    Names to note: Monarch, LeBlond, okuma, Mori Seki, Hardinge, Pratt & Whitney, Victor, Rivett, the list goes on. Ebay is a great place to get ideas, try searches like: "tool room lathe," "engine lathe," "gear head lathe." I wouldnt buy off ebay however, prices are jacked up and you don't know what your getting, see the machine in person, run it through all it's speeds/feeds, take an indicator and check it out. Stay away from bad noises; wining, grinding etc. Don't be scared about a little backlash in the feeds, this can usually be adjusted.

    Names to stay away from: South Bend, usually clapped out under powered slow machines. Atlas Craftsman, same deal. Anything made in Taiwan! The price might be tempting but with time and persistence you will be able to find a nice machine for an equally nice price. Also tooling tooling tooling! The more it comes with the better. If you think you are not going to need it than when you do you will be kicking yourself in the ass for not. Lathes like the Okuma with an A1 style spindle make chuck changes both painless and brainless, It take me about a minute and a half to switch chucks so I do it often.

    Where to look-CL is great but don't jump on the first thing you see unless its stellar, persistence pays off. Machine shops. Call local shops. They usually have something and means of loading it on your rig which is a bonus. It took my brother and I 6hrs to manually move the 4k lb Okuma out of its resting spot onto our trailer, Then aprox. 5min to get it unloaded and into position in the shop thanks to our forklift.

    Finally: Dont be affraid of 3ph. Any good machine is going to be 3ph. We only have 1ph at the shop but thanks to a phase converter we now have 6 pieces of 3ph machinery largest being 10hp running. Not to get off topic but if you plan on getting more than one machine wire them in parallel so that when the converter is on its powering all machines. Ours is wired like this and all 6 can be running at the same time. The benefit is if you have hard starting machine like 10hp lathe you can start the other machines first, then start the lathe, works like a dream. The other 3ph motors act as idler motors and essentially boost the HP rating of the PH converter.
    Hope this helps!

  3. Leo, thanks for the reply. That is a lot of information. I have to say, for the newby like me there is so much stuff to get your head around, it's fun but it can be overwhelming. I'm currently putting in an attic, rewiring and lining the garage, this is all a 'hobby' for me so everything seems to take a long time. I really liked you're "it's what I had" statement as I feel that sometimes I get overly invested in getting the 'best' tools rather than going with what I have got, and perhaps using it more creatively. I am really looking forward to you're posts with the finished frame table and subsequent frames built. Nice one, Ron.