I did a bit more work on the chuck backplate last night – still no drilling, but I made it so that the plate fits perfectly over the spindle on the lathe. Looks like we’ll be able to do the drilling tonight, so it’s almost done…

posted February 28, 2002 – 7:11 am

Big news: my knitting machine came! Ok, so it’s not big news, but it’s fun nonetheless. The vintage 1975 Mattel knitting machine I bought on EBay arrived in the mail yesterday in perfect condition. It’s actually pretty amazing – they managed to make it entirely out of molded plastic parts and make the instructions easy enough so that any monkey could follow them. Having read some web pages since placing the bid, I feared that it wasn’t actually a knitting machine, but something close (that it did some bastardized form of knitting) – thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the truth! It knits!

posted February 26, 2002 – 7:04 am

This week is super-busy for me, so it looks like I’ll have to wait ’til at least next week to finish the adapter plate for the new chuck. Lots of dance rehearsals & other miscellaneous goings-on taking up the evenings and for the weekend, skiing at Killington.

In two weeks, I’m headed to Toronto for a swing dance workshop – know any good restaurants up there?

posted February 25, 2002 – 8:03 am

Last night, Mike and I got about halfway through making the adapter plate for the 4 jaw chuck. We used the big lathe at work (a South Bend 9×40?), so cutting the aluminum plate was like cutting butter. I got a little over-enthusiastic (exactly 3 thousandths of an inch too enthusiastic, to be exact) with one of the cuts, so when you mounted the 4 jaw chuck on that shoulder, it wiggled just the littlest bit. Mike showed me an awesome trick to fix it – we went around that shoulder with a prick punch and put tiny little holes in the metal, which pushed enough of it up that the chuck fit perfectly. We’ll have to attach it semi-permanently with Locktite so the holes don’t collapse, but it saved a hour and half’s worth of work & $10 in aluminum.

So what’s left to do is set it up on the mill and drill the holes for the various screws – really it shouldn’t be too hard since the machine has digital readouts (DRO’s) that make finding the precise location of holes very easy. I did a drawing in SolidWorks so I could print out the exact coordinates of the holes. Almost there…

posted February 22, 2002 – 8:52 am

Well, the 4 jaw chuck arrived yesterday – it’s huge! It’s a bit thicker than expected – it’s a cylinder 4″ in diameter and almost 3″ thick. It’s mostly steel, so it weighs almost 10 pounds. It came packed in styrofoam and machine oil (unlike the lathe that was covered in sticky packing grease). I ordered a 4 1/2″ diameter round aluminum plate (an inch thick, give or take) from Online Metals to make the backplate. It’s slated to arrive on Monday, and Mike’s gonna help me with the machining.

Our choreography for the North Atlantic Dance Championships is coming along well. If you’ve got a good name for our dance group, send me email (nothing too cheesy, please – we’re all too good at coming up with those kinds of names ourselves).

posted February 14, 2002 – 11:36 am

Last night’s turning experiments with aluminum on the lathe went much better than before, primarily because I tightened up the gibs on the cross-slide (thanks, again, go to Walter). Turns out they should be just a bit tighter than you think to ensure there’s no play. I thought they were tight, but when I brought a toolbit up to the workpiece, it would deflect a few thousandths of an inch and end up bouncing a little bit. The finish I was left with was uneven and almost pitted. Last night’s cuts, however, were smooth and even. Woohoo!

My 4 jaw chuck is coming in the mail today (at least that’s what the UPS site says) – thanks Mom & Dad for the early birthday present! It looks like I’ll need to make an adaptor plate. The folks at work have offered to help, and it seems like a really good project to get better acquainted with the (big, nice) milling machine at work.

I lost my hat, but I guess it’s a good excuse to make myself one. Look for pictures soon (hopefully really soon since it’s been pretty cold of late).

posted February 13, 2002 – 8:50 am

Some highlights from the weekend:

  • A trip to CostCo. Can you say oversized packages of chocolate chip cookies? Yum.
  • A party at my friend Stan’s house involving beer and 78’s from the early eighties.
  • Craft Day! Need I say more?
  • Some more chip-making on the lathe – I’m getting better, I just need more free time, that’s all.
posted February 11, 2002 – 9:46 am

Is it bad that this article speaks to me? Probably.

I often feel pretty bad that I’m so unmotivated at work, but that doesn’t really change the facts. It’s nice to see someone write about it – in fact, there’s a whole slew of users who posted in response to the article that they were wondering if it was a “normal” thing. Me? I had pretty much figured out that this was how most software got written, and have been trying to figure out a good way to get around it for years. It’s a bit like the proverb that says “you only use 10% of your brain” and what would happen if people could figure out how to use even another 10%? What would happen if software (and other work, too) was twice as effecient?

[ Ok, the smartass answer is we’d have twice as much crappy software. Better we should all spend twice as much time thinking ahead and planning and then the stuff we came up with wouldn’t be so crappy. ]

posted February 8, 2002 – 7:33 am

Mmm… I want one of these. Yep, I’m becoming a lathe dork. Deal.

Check out my brother’s awesome gear simulator.

posted February 6, 2002 – 8:44 am

It’s official – I’m carless! I feel liberated & much less of a poluter than before. Also, I’m happy to be done dealing with the showing & negotiating, etc. involved in selling the car. All in all, I’d recommend it to everyone (I wish!).

I haven’t had time to play with the lathe since I got the recommendations from Walter, but maybe tonight I’ll have a chance.

posted February 4, 2002 – 12:14 pm

The car is almost sold – it seems like these things are never as cut and dry as you’d like (at least not as much as I’d like). Unfortunately, the concept of a bank check (and why it’s necessary) seems to evade some people.

I added a page on Craft Day. If you’re interested in getting on the invite list for craft day, send me an email. Look for pictures and updates after next weekend.

An update on the lathe woes from a few days ago: Walter, the resident machinist & expert at work, said there are a few tips for turning steel on a smaller lathe:

  • Go slower! The speed should be quite low (maybe 100 RPM or so) and the feed should be pretty much as slow as possible.
  • Use a sharper toolbit. ‘Nuff said.
  • Only take off a few thousandths at a time (more than 0.010″ at a time is too much).
  • Tighten all the gibs & make sure there’s as little of the toolbit hanging beyond the holder as possible – this will significantly reduce chatter.

Guess I’ve got stuff to try this weekend.

posted February 1, 2002 – 7:47 am
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