Monday, April 18, 2016

Window For Play House

Building a small window for my children's play house

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

We've wanted to install a carpet in the upper level of the play house. However, since the window was just an open hole, on a windy and rainy day it would blow the rain into the upper level so before installing a carpet I'd have to be able to close the upstairs window.

I was thinking about a couple of different ways of doing it and ended up deciding against the traditional way (opening horizontally) because the chances of the window being left open was pretty big. I decided to put the hinges at the top so that the window could be pushed out and up but that it would naturally close again without having to remember to close it.

The frame was a 1-1/2" piece of fence board (3/4" thick) with a groove cut on the table saw for the lexan and cut at an angle on the mitre saw. Once it was all cut to size, I used a rubber mallet to gently tap the lexan into the groove of the frame pieces, used some polyurethane glue in the mitred corners and finally put two 1-1/2" staples in each corner.

After screwing the two hinges (I cut two 4" pieces off a 6' lengh of piano hinge) to the frame, all I had to do is screw the window to the play house window frame and it was ready for the carpet

The piece of lexan
The 1-1/2" strips of 3/4" fence boards
The frame pieces cut up and grooved
Marking out the final size of the window
The window dry-fitted
Close-up of the grooves
The finished window
After the window was installed
Another view
Table saw
Chop saw
Cordless drill

17" x 21" piece of 3/16" lexan
8' of 1-1/2" fence boards
Two 4" pieces of piano hinge
Four #6 x 3/4" wood screws
Four #6 x 1-1/2" wood screws


2 hrs

Not sure, probably $50 bucks

It works great

Cam Lock For My Emco Maximat V10 Metal Lathe Tail Stock

In the meantime I made another one of these for a gentleman in town who saw mine and asked me to do one for his lathe as well. Here's the link: How to Make a DIY Cam Lock for a Lathe Tail Stock

Replacing the regular nut and bolt tail stock locking mechanism with a quick-lock cam lock

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

One of the projects that I've had towards the top of my "to-do" list was a quick-lock tail stock cam lock mechanism because 1/3rd of a turn of the wrench was usually not enough to lock/unlock the tail stock so I'd have to fiddle with the wrench and do two (sometimes even 3) 1/3rd turns to lock the tail stock.

I've done some research and found a bunch of different ways to do a quick-lock, but decided to just start it and adapt it along the way. I did have to make a few small adjustments and the only thing I do NOT like about it is that I wasn't paying attention when drilling the hole for the lever so instead of locking it from about 2 o'clock to 11 o'clock it is now more like 4 o'clock to 1 o'clock. Its probably a minor issue but if it turns out to be a pain in the butt I'll have to re-do the cam portion of the locking mechanism.

The other challenge was that this is the first time I've worked with stainless steel and boy is that stuff hard. Turning, milling and drilling wasn't a problem but threading it turned out to be quite tough. I had to go slow and steady and after some coaxing I did get it done.


The old way of locking the tail stock with a nut and bolt
A view of the locked tail stock
Starting the support bushing
Drilling out the support bushing
Boring the support bushing to size
Another view
Turning down the threaded inside bushing
The two bushings
The two bushings put together
Using the wiggler to find the edge of the support bushing
Drilling the support bushing
Drilling the threaded inside bushing
Tapping the threaded inside bushing
Turning down the cam rod
Another view
Center punching (marking) the spot to drill through the tail stock
The tail stock drilled
The back of the drilled tail stock
The snap ring on the cam
Close-up of the snap ring groove
Marking out the other end of the cam
Another view
Indicating the tapered end of the cam
Leveling the cam locking lever
Another view
Drilling the cam
Another view
Turning the cam lever knob
Drilling the cam lever knob
Turning a radius at the end of the cam lever knob
Finishing up the knob
Another view
Another view
The finished parts
The assembled parts
The assembled bushings
A zoomed out view of the finished tail stock quick lock
Metal lathe and accessories
Tap & Die set
Drill press
Cordless drill
Table saw
Angle grinder
Bench top grinder
Snap ring pliers
Metal scribe

2" of 1-1/4" mild steel
2" of 7/8" steel (4140)
4" of 3/4" stainless steel
4" of 1/2" stainless steel
2" of 1" teflon
Blue Dykem layout fluid
One 1/2" snap ring
One 3/8" snap ring


3 hrs


It works great.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Threading Die for Bagpipe Mouth Piece

Building a 9/16" by 30 TPI threading die for a local bag pipe shop

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):

A local bag pipe shop owner called me a couple of days ago asking if I could make him a custom die so he can thread some stock delrin with a 9/16" by 30 TPI male thread. After some research I found that a 30 TPI is a virtually non-existent pitch so there was no dies available that I could find.

I did find a matching tap but it was over $80 bucks. When I planned out how to make this die I figured if I can thread a piece of O1 tool steel to the proper size, I could mill some relief angles to make the cutting edges, harden and sharpen it and then use this custom tap to cut the inside threads of a piece of 4140 steel. Once that was tapped I would heat, quench and temper the final die so that's what I set out to do.

Unfortunately, after several hours when I had finally completed the tap I used my belt sander to cut some relief angle into the tap just to realize when I was done that I had done so at the wrong side and essentially dulled the tap beyond any use.

After I got over the disappointment, I figured I could use the Threading Insert Tool Holder that I had used to make the Milling Head Ejector Nut and skip the tap altogether.

After cutting off a 1/2" piece of 4140 on my fixed Metal Band Saw, I chucked it up, faced both sides, drilled and bored it to size and then used my 39 Tooth Gear to enable my lathe to cut 30 TPI threads.

After the bored piece was tapered on one side to make it easier to start the tap I cut the internal threads which actually worked out quite well.

Once the threads were cut, I mounted my DIY Dividing Head, set my mill to the horizontal position and drilled 6 equally spaced relief holes.

All I had to do now was heat the die with my Propane Burner, quench and temper the die, then do a final sharpening of the cutting edges as well as some cosmetic clean up and engrave the size and TPI values on the die.

The bag pipe piece the final threaded piece should fit into
Another view of the piece with the female thread
A piece of delrin
The 1/2" piece of 4140 I cut up to make the die out of
A 3" piece of 3/4" O1 tool steel to make the tap out of
The chart showing how to enable a 30 TPI thread on my lathe
Facing the O1 tool steel
After the O1 tool steel was threaded and tapered
Setting up my dividing head
Cutting some relief into the tap
The finished cutting end of the tap
Turning the shank down to 1/2"
The finished tap
Another view
Heating the tap
The glowing red hot tap
Quenching the tap in some old motor oil
A layer of oil smoke in my shop. I thought it looked kind of cool
The hardened tap
Drilling the die blank
Mounting it on an arbor to turn the outside to a bit under 1"
Boring the die
Another view
Threading the inside of the die
Using the tap to clean up the inside thread
Another view
Drilling some recesses to hold the die in the die holder with the set screws
The die mounted in the die holder on the tap in the vise
Another view
After the relief holes were cut; I did not have enough material along the insides and the cutting edges were too wide
Another view of the (first version) finished die
Another view
Turning the delrin to 9/16"
The new (first version) die in the holder
Close-up of the delrin turned to 9/16"
The inferior threads left with the first version die
Threading the second version die blank
The threaded die
Fitting a test piece on the die
Getting ready to drill the relief holes
Closeup of the setup
Testing how 8 relief holes would work out. I ended up deciding against it
Six relief holes looked better so I went with that
Cutting the first relief hole
After all the holes were cut
The finished, non-hardened (second version) die
Getting ready to heat the die
The glowing die just before quenching it
The hardened die
After I cleaned it up on the belt sander
Engraving the die size with a diamond tipped dremel bit
The completed 9/16" - 30 TPI die

Lathe and accessories
Threading Insert Tool Holder
Metal Band Saw
39 Tooth Gear
DIY Dividing Head
Propane Burner
Belt sander
Tap & die set

3" of 3/4" O1 tool steel
Two 1/2" pieces of 1-1/4" metal (4140)


7 hrs


It works and looks really nice. I'm amazed how many uses for my lathe I have discovered since I got it last summer.