The Shop => Tools => Topic started by: arnoldb on January 24, 2011, 02:43:43 PM

Title: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: arnoldb on January 24, 2011, 02:43:43 PM
I have a couple of days off, and actually wanted to carry on with my experimental locomotive today, but there's going to be a lot of small bits that will need holding down for the next machining operations, so I decided to detour a little and make a tooling plate that will make life easier.  Besides, I also wanted to give the milling cutters I received from Richon Tools a go.

I dug a well-weathered bit of 65 x 12mm mild steel flat bar from my scrap:
Did say "well weathered"  ::) - I have used bits of this in the past, and while it machines fairly easily, it is a right bummer to try and get any kind of even half-decent finish on.

There is no way I was going to introduce new toolbits to that lot; there is all kinds of crud embedded in that rust, so I first brought out the flycutter with a right-hand turning tungsten tipped lathe tool in it, and started by cleaning off both long edges of the workpiece:

Then started facing off the rust and crud from one face; nothing very accurate here; I merely aligned things by eye and had at it with a couple of 0.5mm deep passes.  This is after the first pass:
There was some funny crud amongst that rust... Left a constant shower of sparks going.  And HOT chips; I was doing a silly dance in between brushing those off   :lol:  But then, I was cranking along at about 6mm per second; I've found my mill has no complaints when getting pushed along a bit.

Then I tried the 12mm carbide mill I got...  Decided I'd be bold and go for it.  With the cleaned workpiece face against the fixed jaw, and the mill running at its max 1200rpm, I took out a 5mm wide x 4mm deep edge cut in one pass.  Started with a slowish feed rate, and increased it; that carbide mill just took away metal happily at up to 6mm per second   :):
Left some nice golden-coloured and equally sized chips...  I think it could be pushed even harder...  I LIKE it   :ddb:

With the milling spindle left locked in the same setting, I removed the workpiece, de-burred the slight burr raised (visible in the previous photo), flipped the piece end over end, and milled the other edge off as well.  The carbide mill's cutting flutes  are a bit short, which is a pity, so I swapped it for one of the new 16mm HSS 4-flute end mills, slowed the mill down - it is HSS after all - and faced the ends.  I took two photos, and neither was in focus where they needed to be  ::) - so a bit of a fuzzy pic:
That end mill left a really nice finish   :ddb:

With the workpiece clamped on the steps and tapped down on top of the mill vise, I started facing off the top with the flycutter.  After a couple of passes with the tungsten cutter:

And a finishing pass with the HSS flycutting tool - I left some finger prints on there "testing" the surface:
There's still some cutting marks visible - as you'll see more clearly in further photos.  If this was aluminium or brass, I'd be looking at my ugly mug on that surface; like I said earlier in the post, this steel is horrible to get a good finish on.

When I removed the workpiece from the vise, I was careful to mark the left side, and after de-burring, I stamped an "L" on the left side:
This is for a reason.  Because the plate was just clamped on the top of the vise - where it's normal usage position will be, the movable vise jaw will have lifted a tiny amount (no matter how good quality your vise is!).  It was machined square to the spindle on top with this slight lift in play.  If one rotates the plate, and mount it in the vise with the original "left side" on the right, the error from lifting is in fact doubled, and the tool plate will be higher by double the vise movable jaw lift at the side of the movable jaw.  There are other factors that also come into play, such as how hard the tool plate is clamped, how much wear occurs on the vise and so on, but IMHO the lift in the vise jaw is the main player.  It will never be 100% accurate on re-clamping, but for 98% of my work it will go back accurately enough if oriented correctly.  For the other 2% requiring the optimum accuracy, there are other ways to address the issue.  Incidentally, I measured the difference on the front and back sides, and my vise lifts by about 0.02mm at that width.

Then I clamped the workpiece back in the mill vise, and drilled a grid of 5mm holes in it.  Didn't bother with spotting the holes first; I just chucked the 5mm drill bit in the collet chuck with about 15mm of it sticking out to allow for some clearance but to keep it "stiff" and poked the holes:
I don't know how many will be convenient in future; that's a lesson of learning on the job.  For now, I just used convenient spacing - 30mm apart in X (10 turns of my mill's x handle) and 20mm apart in Y.  I set the mill dials to zero on the top left hole - that was my reference and co-ordinate drilled from there, counting turns.

The drilling was followed by a good dose of counter-sink in each hole:

Then on to a new process for me...  I have not tapped under power on my mill yet.  ::) - well, I haven't even had it for a year!   :lol:  It has a "tapping" function, which cuts power when the quill indicator reaches maximum depth, and prevents forward rotation to be switched on, but does allow reverse to be turned on.  This has actually annoyed me in the past, as on many occasions I would have liked to adjust the quill indicator to use it as a stop to repetitively drill down to an exact depth without the spindle stopping.  Today, some of that frustration was alleviated   :D - I'll re-wire the mill later on to allow me to switch the feature on and off though - but for today it was just great   :ddb:

Before embarking on this power threading learning curve, I sat down and thought it through.  I have not seen any detailed write-ups on the process, but then, neither have I searched for any. 
I decided to treat it exactly like I do hand-tapping.  Go through the entire set of taps, cleaning the tap and squirting some cutting fluid on it before each hole.  For the machine part, mill at the slowest (80 RPM), and a light one-finger down-feed on the quill handles; that should let me feel when the tap "takes", with the down-feed kept on while the tap is doing it's business.  When the machine stops, lighten the one-finger feed, to allow the quill to pull up, but not at full strength.

I was concerned about the second and third taps not "taking" properly and cross threading - that didn't happen; they picked up the previous tap's thread just fine - I could feel when that happened quite distinctly on the feeding "finger".  Needless to say, things worked a treat and saved me a lot of wrist-twisting  :) :

There was one brown-pant moment though...  When I changed from the first to the second tap, I left the tap sticking out a bit longer than the first and forgot to adjust the cut-off...  Nearly ran the tap shank into the hole before I realised and hit the E-Stop.  Didn't forget to change for the last tap though  :lol:

The result of about 4 1/2 hours work in total from a bit of rusty metal:
Not pretty - No surface grinding or scraping, but a bit of tooling that will come in very handy in coming weeks   :ddb: :nrocks:

 :beer: Arnold
Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: Bogstandard on January 24, 2011, 02:54:58 PM
You're really making good use of all that scrap Arnold.

All you need is that third eye to show you what is really inside a cruddy lump of metal, and it looks like you've got one.
I have used, and still do use metal that looks a lot worse than you have shown. I have found that with all the weathering, the grain structure is much finer than new material, especially old cast iron.

Your project is absolutely spot on and well done.

Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: mklotz on January 24, 2011, 03:03:30 PM

Nice work.  Tooling plates are very handy indeed.  I often regard them as bolt-on-reference-surfaces.

Since you've taken the trouble to mark it so it can be returned to the position in which it was machined, you may want to consider drilling and tapping holes into one end and one side of the plate so that you can mount low removable fences/stops as an aid in aligning parts while you clamp them.
Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: foozer on January 24, 2011, 03:06:51 PM
When I made a little plate similar I spaced the holes to match up with the holes in my 1-2-3 blocks just in case I wanted to both one of them down to the plate.

Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: Rob.Wilson on January 24, 2011, 03:46:46 PM
Nice going Arnold  :thumbup: :dremel:

Good to see your not sitting about all day  :whip: :whip: :D

Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: Brass_Machine on January 24, 2011, 11:21:54 PM
That came out looking nice Arnold. Would have never expected it looking at the starting piece.


Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: sbwhart on January 25, 2011, 01:39:22 AM
A handy dandy bit of Kit you've made for youself Arnold.  :clap:

I like the use of the tipped lathe tool for your flycutter that ones filed away.  :thumbup:

Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: arnoldb on January 26, 2011, 11:30:56 AM
Thanks Gents  :beer:

John, the third eye is still in training...  Normally I just cheat and use a junior hacksaw with a cheap carbon steel blade to try and saw into a bit of mystery steel; if it cuts then it will most likely machine, but if it takes the teeth off the saw I leave it alone.

Marv, you hit it spot on.  In fact, when I finished it I thought "Marv would have said to add fences to it".  Really!.  I nearly did it then, but just could not face more mill cranking for the day.  I'll definitely add some though.  And an X power feed for my mill is rising very rapidly to the top of my tuit list as well.

Good idea Robert  :thumbup: - I don't have 1-2-3 blocks yet, but will definitely keep that in mind for future tooling.

 :lol: Rob, I wish I got more done...  I had the best intentions of spending quality time in the shop, but it went haywire a bit  :palm:

Thanks Eric.  I'm surprised myself - a while ago I would not even have attempted something like this.  I'm slowly getting to grips with what's possible if one tries a bit though!

Stew, I got tired of sharpening the HSS cutter when trying to get rid of crud and mill scale off workpieces.  I had that carbide cutter lying around; I tried it on my lathe with mediocre results, but it works quite well in the flycutter, so it's not gone to waste.  I did grind some more clearance on it though.

Regards, Arnold
Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: Dean W on January 26, 2011, 11:47:24 PM
... I had the best intentions of spending quality time in the shop, but it went haywire a bit 
Goodness man!  It looks to me like the time in the shop was well spent on this piece.  Surly that is "quality time".
I like the way that turned out, Arnold.  Liked the bit on tapping with your mill, too.  Good post!

Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: Brass_Machine on January 26, 2011, 11:59:14 PM
Thanks Eric.  I'm surprised myself - a while ago I would not even have attempted something like this.  I'm slowly getting to grips with what's possible if one tries a bit though!

Looking at the final piece, I wouldn't think you were surprised. However, I am relieved to read it... It inspires others (me) to try it as well.

Again, nice job!

Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: Stilldrillin on January 27, 2011, 04:23:56 AM
Very nicely done, and shown Arnold!  :clap: :clap:

Some great ideas/ prompts for future reference......  :thumbup:

David D
Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: arnoldb on January 28, 2011, 12:36:42 PM
Thanks Dean - I was wishing for a bit more quality time...  Maybe I mustn't get greedy though.  I like the power tapping - but I'm not going to go below 5mm with that; it's a bit disconcerting not physically feeling how much torque that tap is taking. 

Eric, thank you.  I'll admit to "not entirely surprised" - but "not entirely satisfied" either.  I'm still pretty new to all this machining, and I'm pushing myself to learn something new each time I switch on a machine or pick up a tool.  It's great to know that my own learning posts are inspirational - I consider that the ultimate tribute to the many mentors I've found here on MadModder and HMEM, and the thanks go to them for selflessly sharing their knowledge with anybody who is willing to embrace it.

Thanks David  :beer:

Kind regards, Arnold
Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: arnoldb on February 13, 2011, 02:49:24 PM
With some designer's block on my Experimental Engine today, I opted for some good old-fashioned chip-making.

The tooling plate is great to use, but I've had some issues clamping things to it; mostly because I don't have "clamping things"  :lol:
Normally, I use any old thing to cobble together a solution, but it gets annoying having to dig and scratch to find suitable bits 'n bobs, so I made up some clamping bits...

A bit of 10mm thick x 60mm wide x about 80mm long hot-rolled flat bar was lying around volunteered.

I just squared up all the edges and started carving an angle on it:
That's a 16mm HSS 4-flute end mill I bought from Richon Tools; and it does a very respectable job of just taking out chips - Thanks for the pointer Bogs !

With the angle milled off, I poked some 5mm holes in the plate - spaced 12mm apart:

The holes were then power tapped M6, and some more 5mm holes drilled:
Drilling goes quicker than milling  :D

And slots milled out to 6mm:

Then off to the band saw:

And a bit of exercise with my friend the file to get rid of the saw marks - here nearly done:

Heat 'em up and dunk in oil, and the ugly but functional result:
 :doh: I forgot all about Rob Wilson's way of just heating them in the oven for a nice finish - I'm going to get some  :poke:  :lol:

It would be useful to have "elephant's foot" adjusters in use, so I played with a bit of 12mm aluminium:
The first three knurls are not up to scratch; don't know what I was doing while making them  :palm:

I then ran a 5mm drill right through the lot, and then section-by-section tapped each bit to about 3/4 way down with the 6mm plug tap before parting off.  That left a nice tight thread to jam bits of 6mm high-tensile threaded rod into.  No loctite required; the rod jams solidly in the aluminium.

A mock-up of in use; the outer two elephant foot adjusters are in their proper place.  The ones closer to the center can only be used like this for laying out purposes or holding down something for operations where there's not going to be a lot of force involved.  For machining, I'll be using M6 cap screws or high tensile threaded rod and nuts instead:

So, not pretty, and far from a full clamping kit, but useful bits none-the-less and I got to make chips without busting my brains  :lol:

Regards, Arnold
Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: Dean W on February 13, 2011, 04:22:48 PM
Nice clamps, Arnold.  I'd never heard the term "Elephant's foot" for knurled finger screws.  Seems appropriate.  : )
Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: CallMeAl on February 13, 2011, 11:00:55 PM
Very nice job. Making tooling to make projects in not wasted time.  I haven't had the nerve to try power taping on my mill, but if I had an occasion to make something like this I would have to brave it!

Title: Re: Quick 'n Dirty tooling plate
Post by: arnoldb on February 15, 2011, 12:08:03 PM
Thanks Dean :-)  I must admit that I used the term "elephant foot" loosely here; a proper one has a little ball joint with a swiveling foot below the knurled bit - like found on a traditional Myford toolpost holder; it allows the tool clamp support to be adjusted at an angle; I'll try and remember to take a photo of it.  For the clamp height adjusters, I just want the section below the knurl big enough to float over the holes in the tooling plate; If left thin, then they try and drop into the screw holes...

Kenneth, thank you, but this really was a quick and dirty job for me - to get some useful bits of tooling at a whim.  When I actually set out on shop-day to make tooling, I usually try and do a better job; especially on more complicated bits.  Two years ago I'd have been over the moon on getting results like shown here and it would have taken me days to do; now they are barely acceptable - bordering on mediocre - by the standards I set myself, even if done in just a couple of hours.  And even if I go all-out and really try my level best to make a bit of tooling like my rotary table here (, it's to make something that will get used.

Thanks Al.  I actually like making tooling, and have quite a collection of home-brew tools now.  I've mentioned somewhere else that I learned just as much, if not more, from making tooling as I did on making model engines and other small projects.  As to power tapping, it took me nearly a year to get around to it; I first wanted to get comfortable with my mill and how it "feels".  As far as home shop mills go, it falls on the bigger, heavier side, and most of my work is on itty bitty bits, where its difficult to get a feel for it.  With the "big" M6 threads, I didn't have any problem feeling what it was doing, but I'm not about to go below M5 with it.  I don't thinks it's so much a thing of "nerves" as getting a feel for what one's machine is capable of and comfortable with trying it out on the limits - both one's own and the machine's.

Kind regards, Arnold