Looking for minilathe help

Looking for minilathe help

Drew
Drew

July 3rd, 2012, 3:01 pm #1

Years ago I bought a minilathe with full intentions of combining it with my minimill and workoing on doing some serious custom projects. Sadly my ambitions have always been slightly larger than my skills, most significantly my skill at grinding my own tooling. Does anyone know where you can buy minilathe sized tooling right off the shelf? Specifically o-ring groovers (internal and external) and some really basic cutting blades preferably with replaceable tips. Every time I try to buy some the shank size is just too big and ends up being above center if it fits in the tool holder at all.
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secretweaponevan
secretweaponevan

July 3rd, 2012, 11:17 pm #2

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Deus Machina
Deus Machina

July 4th, 2012, 1:21 am #3

Years ago I bought a minilathe with full intentions of combining it with my minimill and workoing on doing some serious custom projects. Sadly my ambitions have always been slightly larger than my skills, most significantly my skill at grinding my own tooling. Does anyone know where you can buy minilathe sized tooling right off the shelf? Specifically o-ring groovers (internal and external) and some really basic cutting blades preferably with replaceable tips. Every time I try to buy some the shank size is just too big and ends up being above center if it fits in the tool holder at all.
I took to grinding my own. 5/16" HSS blanks are inexpensive, and a well-made HSS tool cuts better than most carbides. I actually bought carbide insert holders, went back to HSS, and now only use carbide when I work on the steels I hate most.

My advice is to buy or make a quick-change toolpost, a bunch of holders, and use 1/4" HSS bits for everything. I do that now, and I've moved to a machine that will handle 1/2" tooling.

I still have the plans for the style I made. $50 for the material and tooling (when I bought it) and a weekend got me the post and a few holders, and was made completely on the mini-mill.

I can hardly function without a QCTP now.
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Doc Nickel
Doc Nickel

July 4th, 2012, 12:33 pm #4

Years ago I bought a minilathe with full intentions of combining it with my minimill and workoing on doing some serious custom projects. Sadly my ambitions have always been slightly larger than my skills, most significantly my skill at grinding my own tooling. Does anyone know where you can buy minilathe sized tooling right off the shelf? Specifically o-ring groovers (internal and external) and some really basic cutting blades preferably with replaceable tips. Every time I try to buy some the shank size is just too big and ends up being above center if it fits in the tool holder at all.
As the others noted, Littlemachineshop.com does indeed sell preground tool sets, and assuming the grind quality is okay (I haven't seen any in person) they'd probably make a good starting sample.

However, lathe tools are like drill bits- the actual cutting edge is a very tiny part of the whole tool, and once it gets dull, you either need to be able to sharpen them, or you'll have to toss the whole thing.

There's several books and even a few online tutorials on lathe tool grinding, I suggest partaking in them, as the ability to sharpen and tweak a lathe tool is vital to getting the best use out of the machine.

1/4" and 5/16" lathe tool blanks are cheap- a few bucks will get you a dozen sticks or more from any import dealer. A bench grinder too, can be had cheap- I've got a Ryobi that cost me all of $40 on sale, that I use exclusively just for sharpening TIG tungstens.

The stock wheels are barely adequate for grinding lathe tools, but if you keep a wheel dresser (another $20 or so) on hand and have some patience, they'll work fine for a year or two, then you can replace 'em with some Nortons or Camels.

Yes, it takes a little more skill to make an O-ring grooving tool, but a quick tip here is to use a Dremel with a cut-off wheel to remove the bulk of the tool, then use the bench grinder to fine-tune the cutting faces.

Get the LMS bit set, then buy some blanks and practice grinding the blanks into copies of the production grinds. And like everything else, keep practicing.

Doc.
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Drew
Drew

July 4th, 2012, 2:20 pm #5

I'll give hand grinding a try again, I have a half dozen HSS blanks laying around from the last time I tried. Maybe I'll place a mix and match order of blanks and bits to keep me rolling in the short term but getting more practice in the long term. I'll keep you updated with how it goes.
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secretweaponevan
secretweaponevan

July 5th, 2012, 9:37 pm #6

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Drew
Drew

July 7th, 2012, 4:35 am #7

See title, I will read and let you know how it goes
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