Tips and Tricks

A collection of quick tips, tricks and quickly made tools I use in my workshop.


A quick way to have fine and slow feed on the crosslide feed handle. Forget all the fantastic mechanical contrivances, just cable tie a spanner to the handle. Moving the end of a long handle slowly is much easier than moving a short handle slowly, and as a bonus you get a very regular feed rate since controlling the speed of the long end is much easier than on a short handle, and you don't have to swap hands on the way round.

In the picture I am milling a 10mm wide slot in a toolpost block for a friend.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:36.

Here is the end result of this fine feed on the crossslide while milling a 10mm slot in this chunk of BMS. I will now design and make a new handle that incorporates a removable/adjustable long lever, and a new graduation dial. I'm a bit tired of the fixed dial that is standard on the ML7, and plan to make a zeroable dial of larger diameter.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:36.

This is a rather unique tool I've ground to this shape overtime. The blank is 6x6mm. One end is ground for threading. The end shown here is an all purpose sort of thing as it can face and turn AND bore up to about 15mm deep. It is rather thin so one needs to go gently on the feedrates, but it is a very useful tool to have at hand for that quick boring job. It can even trepan in plastics.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:37.

Top view. You can see that I have had to grind away the leading edge of the shank as I have sharpened and changed the cutting edges for various jobs.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:37.

Back side grind.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:38.

The little dichroic tungsten lamp I use for the photography. It is 50 watts at 12 volts and is very bright. The power supply is an old PC power supply which can supply 8 amps at 12 volts so should be able to handle 2 of these lamps. The handle is an aluminum tube I just screwed to the ceramic lamp holder for quick holder that has now been in use for years.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:38.

I put this thing together in a previous house where I had this worktable in the lounge. I screwed the PSU to the bottom of the table to keep it out of the way of little fingers (eldest daughter, now 13, was much younger back then).

A feature of PC PSU's is that they will not switch on unless there is sufficient current draw on the 5 volt line. 'Sufficient' being about 1 amp. I created a high wattage resistor network for this, but turn on was not reliable so I added the 12 volt car brake light. This draws enough to make turn on secure, and can obviosuly take the heat ok. You'll see the resistors in front of the air intake grill to provide a bit of airflow for cooling.

I aim to add a second lamp to this rig soon, which will be mounted as atask light for the lathe. I think I'll go for 20 watts though, 50 is a bit bright and creates too much contrast.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:39.

Need a demagnetizer? Spend no money if you have an old Wahl (or any other make) hair clipper in the bottom drawer. Open the case and remove the springs and armature mechanism. Leave the power switch in place. Carefully saw away the casing so that the switch and wiring safety is preserved, and you can access the face of the electromagnet. When powered by AC this produces a strong alternating magnetic field.

To use: power on, then bring the object to be demagnetized closer to it slowly until it can be laid against the plastic surround. Move it around so all areas are expsosed to the maximum field, then slowly withdraw it to about 12 inches away before turning the power off. If you switch the power off while the object is close to the device, it may become EVEN MORE magnetized.


Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:40.

You can see inside the case is the armature with the coil on it.

I thought today I should cut a little more casing away and glue a thin sheet of plastic over the armature so that swarf cannot get inside the device.

I have demagnetized my 5 inch 3-jaw chuck with this thing, and countless twist drills, screw drivers, files and the like. Very useful, and free, I have another 2 or 3 clippers in a box as spares as my wife used to clip dogs.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:40.

A few months ago I needed to do a fair bit of angle grinding to clean up some scaled steel. I never use the angle grinder inside the workshop so I had to go outside as usual. However, I just could not face bending over to work on the steps (which I used to do) so quickly welded up this stand for the vice.

The wheel rim is my brother-in-laws 'potjie' stand that I slightly modified with a hammer to take the short bolts I had handy. The vertical pipe is 3/4" square tube. I just cut off 2 pieces and welded them on each end after drilling at suitabel spacing for the wheel bolt holes one end, and for the vice the other end.

It worked fine for the purpose but the bottom attachment needs a T piece to attach into one more hole in the rim to prevent it wobbling when force it applied from the side of the vice.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:41.

A bit closer in to the vice attachment. I took this photo after setting it up to modify a 2 flute end mill with the 1mm cutting disk in the angle grinder. The vice normally lives bolted to the workbench, but the 3 carriage screws are quick to loosen.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:41.

A tip from my father-in-law

When you *have* to MIG weld out in the blowing wind, to save the gas from being blown away.. put a cardboard box around the weld area. Works fine for me...

The box should not be too small or too big, obviously.. :-)

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:42.

Since I use M6 fasteners a lot, I have a lot of places a 10mm spanner fits. Now and then, a socket is more handy than a ring spanner, so I modified a cheap 10mm socket by drilling a hole in the side. This was tapped M6 and a bit of studding fitted. I used it like that for a few months before fitting the ball end.

The ball end is a commputer mouse ball with the rubber covering stripped off. They are soft and work like BMS. Drilled and tapped M6 it makes a perfect ball end very quickly. I am now saving all old mouse balls for future projects.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:35.

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Last modified: February 20 2013 07:52:54.