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Wish List and Future Big Projects

The best hobbies are impossible to "finish". There is always something more you'd like to beg, buy, borrow, build, or steal! Here is a list of projects and products I'd like to someday add to my shop. These are the "big" projects, meaning they are more ambitious, harder to do, and will take longer. There is also a page of smaller projects and a page for Engine Projects.

High Resolution 3D Printer

High Resolution 3D Printer

Now that's High Resolution!

At some point, I want to put together a 3D printer. While the FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printers are cheap and cool, I'm captivated by the High Resolution 3D Printers. They work by using a DLP projector to shine light on a resin that is cured by the light. The results are amazing as one look at the Eiffel tower shows. They're not incredibly difficult to build, although they are much less common than the FFF/Reprap style printers. Also, the resin is a tad on the expensive side.

I've created a High Resolution 3D Printer Idea Notebook to gather ideas and notes about them.

Custom Mauser Rifle


It's my plan in the relatively near future to build a pair of custom Mauser actioned rifles. A friend of the family got interested in doing this, and we decided to all work together. I'm going to build two and give one to my son. In fact, I'm hoping he'll help out. I haven't gotten far, so the project is still on the Wish List page. However, I did try my hand at designing a gun stock for the rifles in Rhino 3D:

Collet Chuck Made from Automatic Transmission Planetary Gear Set


From the category of Amazing Stuff, I present this 5C collet chuck that a fellow from Practical Machinist named "j king" made. It uses a planetary gearset from a transmission to gear down the handwheel in a compact way and tighten the thread on the collet. The handwheel is nicer than the keyed 5C chuck I've got (and which I still need to make a backplate for!). Other detail notes: there is an O-ring to keep the handwheel from rattling, and there is a sleeve pressed into the small gear. Since the transmission gears are hardened, the sleeve was necessary to allow threading for the 5C collet. It is brazed into place. The workmanship and sheer beauty of it is amazing:

The component parts. Note there is a gear barely visible in the righthand part, and the little gear in the middle is threaded for the 5C collet...

Here is a better view of the gear mounted in the chuck...

The D1-3 backplate, also a beauty...

Handwheel looks CNC'd, but was done manually...

Threaded for the 5C collet...

Thrust bearing inside to keep from over tightening...

Here it is assembled and ready for use...

Looks like he's using that thing on a Monarch 10EE lathe, another really nice piece of work.

I purchased a gearset on eBay and am awaiting a time to get my own chuck made.



Texas Smoker


This is more of a big fabrication project than a machining project, but it is metal and it is near and dear to my heart:

Texas Smoker

Check out my project page for the Texas Smoker...

High Speed NMTB 30 Spindle for the IH Mill

As part of Industrial Hobbies going out of business sale, I had the opportunity to purchase a #30 taper spindle that fits the mill for $65. The recommended angular contact bearings to go with the spindle were another $100 from McMaster-Carr. I like the idea of the #30 taper for a variety of reasons including:

- Greater Rigidity than R8

- Faster tool changes due to better ejection and less fooling around to line up the drive pin of the R8. The #30 taper uses a couple of big dogs to drive the toolholder that are real easy to see and line up compared to the hidden and fairly small drive pin of an R8.

- Greater potential to create an automatic toolchanger for the mill. A #30 taper and a powered drawbar can act as a toolchanger under CNC control if you simply provide a tray of tools in fixed positions on the table.

Perhaps the biggest reason, however, was my desire to convert my mill spindle to run at higher speeds using a belt drive. Out of the box it maxes out at 1600 rpm. With a bigger motor, you can run it to 3200 rpm. That's still pretty slow when you're trying to cut aluminum. My copy of ME Pro wants to see 3900 rpm on a 1/2" end mill with aluminum, and this jumps to 9200 rpm with a 1/8" end mill that I might use for fine profiling. I don't even want to talk about what's need to do engraving!

Given how slowly most of my projects proceed, I decided that buying one of these spindles from IH and building a whole new belt driven mill head around it was likely to be a better approach than trying to modify the gear head. Taking the latter course would very likely leave me stranded without a working mill for a long time, with much assembly/disassembly back and forthing until I got it right. Building a separate head just requires me to build a box that is rigid and allows me to properly mount the spindle bearings and the motor, with a timing belt from one to the other. I would dispense with a quill altogether as this head is intended for CNC use and dropping the quill would allow me to make everything that much more rigid and accurate as well as simpler. At least that's the theory!

Comparison of a #30 taper holder and an R8...



Antikythera Mechanism

I've always had a great interest in Astronomy, and I read with great interest recent articles about the Antikythera Mechanism, which was apparently an ancient orrery or simulator of motions of the heavenly bodies. The machine, which was constructed circa 80 BC, could represent the motions of most heavenly bodies known in its time using a clockwork consisting of 37 gears. Such a device seems far more intriguing to me than simply making a clock.

Here is one fairly fanciful 3D representation of a modern equivalent to the Antikythera Mechanism:

Lathe Shaper Attachment

Cutting keyways is painful if your only approach is racking the cross slide back and forth by hand. It would be awesome to build a shaper attachment that fits a QCTP for doing lightweight keyway cutting under power. Here is a pneumatic unit one fellow (Evan Williams from HSM board) is designing for the purpose:

And here is his hand powered slotter:

I did order a "left-handed Veeblefetzer" off the web that I think could serve as a component for a shaper attachment:

The left-handed Veeblefetzer...

I'm thinking I'll build a manual shaper attachment first, and worry about a power unit later.

Here is a clever design for a slotter that just moves the compound on its dovetail:

The round "faceplate" is being used as a dividing head to allow broaching an internal gear on a Wankel motor project...

Dividing head is indexed via the pin that is on the follower rest mounts...

Related Links: They used to make these!


4th CNC Axis for the Mill

As I write this, I do not yet have my mill converted to CNC, but the ambition quickly gets ahead of the means to deliver. The photo shows the components of a stepper motor conversion of a rotary table. Lots of clever ideas there:

The cylinder has a "tophat flange" that catches on a groove cut in the square NEMA plate for the motor. In effect, the motor's flange sandwiches the square flange with the cylinder bringing it all together neatly. The other clever move was to machine the shaft adapter so it can serve as one half of an Oldham-style coupler. This was a really nicely done conversion.

Toolpost Grinder

There have been several times when I've wished for a toolpost grinder to finish a shaft just right and to close tolerances. I debate whether to buy a used Dumore or Themac on eBay or try to fabricate one as a project. Simple ones are really easy to make and just involve lashing a suitable Dremel or hand grinder to the post in some way. More complex versions involve fabricating a spindle and replicating the style of the commercial TP grinders. I am really tempted to work on a spindle for one. It would be a good warmup should I ever choose to make a more ambitious spindle, perhaps for a lathe or a mill.

Toolpost Grinder Project Page (Just More Ideas and Pictures for Now)!

Router-based TP Grinder: A Bit Heavier Duty!

Restore a Surface Grinder

In the fullness of time, I'd like to restore Blanch, my baby Blanchard-style surface grinder to full operating condition.


Souping Up a Drill Press

The lowly drill press is a handy gadget, but mine could use some help. Here is a whole page of ideas for souping it up.


Check out G-Wizard, our time-saving software for Machinists...

Smaller Projects

Engine Projects

Featured Articles

Step-By-Step Guide to Making CNC Parts

CNC Router Cutter Types

Why Use a Single Flute Endmill?

Step and Servo Motor Sizing

The Truth About Tool Deflection

10 TIps for Router Aluminum Cutting

2 Tools for Calculating Cut Depth and Stepover

CNC Machine Hourly Rate Calculator

Special Purpose CNC Calculators

Feeds and Speeds Guide

CNC Cutter Guide

Feeds and Speeds By Material

G-Code Tutorial

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