Monday, December 06, 2010

Lathe Stand Part 3 – The Actual Structure

When last we left our intrepid hero…

I’m sure I was doing something.


(I need to get some better CAD software, but even with SketchUp you have to love how easy it is to manipulate your drawings.  I remember playing with a _really early version of AutoCAD in the early 80’s in my dad’s engineering consulting office on weekends, the PC AT with a HDD and 3 color screen… was just incredible.  I was 10 or 12 at the time)

OK, so with the adjustable feet made, casters bought… I could figure out the remaining dimensions and actually build the thing.

Guess what?  I found the 2 bolts that I lost in the last installment.  They were under the hood of a car that I haven’t driven for roughly 10 months… HOW DID THEY GET THERE???  Damned Dwarves…

Lets get started.

First thing I did is measured out the 3” box section pieces for the uprights/legs, threw them on my 4x6 bandsaw and cut out the vertical pieces.  While I was at it I also cut out the 2” box crosspieces. 

I set the legs on end, lined up the base plates, pulled out my trusty Hobart Handler MIG and ran some beads in the space that I left for them:


Next I set the pieces for the front and back down on the flattest clear part of the floor, measured the difference between the bottoms of the legs and the bottom rail to get the spacing right for the caster mounts and then once I got the diagonals to match I zapped them together.  To do the second side I set all the parts on top of the welded first side and used it as a pattern.  Once I got it tacked I flipped it over to check how square they were:


They lined up dead on (yea, they look a little off in the picture, I tripped over the setup getting the camera).

Next I flipped them onto their tops and assembled the whole deal upside down.  I set the ends on some straight 1” box to get them off the floor so any uneven spots in the concrete didn’t lift a piece off in the middle of it’s span, then clamped, bungeed, tacked (and used a few select words)… pretty much did anything necessary to hold things lined up till I got everything tacked:


You might notice that in this picture and the one before it some of the joints are tacked, some have multiple tacks, some have a partial bead and some have a full bead down one side of the joint.  This is more than just a random “this is where I stopped and shot the picture” thing. 

For those of you that don’t know, when you heat metal and let it cool, the spot that you heated shrinks.  When you run a weld bead, the area that you weld shrinks and pulls itself tighter.  I was wondering how to keep something like this perfectly square while you’re welding it and I decided I was going to use the shrinkage to my advantage.  As I added each tack I measured diagonals and would add more weld where I needed things to pull tight.  The thing is that as you get more pieces tacked together the whole structure gets stiffer so it takes more tacks or a bigger bead to get the same motion as you go.

FWIW, it seems like it worked well, every dimension I checked was within 1/16” or less of dead on once I got all the beads run.  I was quite happy with that for this size structure and not having a dead flat surface to work on.

Here is the basic structure welded and turned upright.  The only tube joints that weren’t fully welded were the top joints.  This was done on purpose because I wanted a flat surface to attach the top to.  I didn’t want the top resting on just a few high spots where the welds are.


This shot was the idiot check: before going any further making sure that the chip tray looks like it lines up about where I want it to.  Notice that the base is _slightly_ smaller than the width of the chip tray, that is because the top will end up with 3/4” banding around it and will overhang about that much:


This is where I decided to deviate from the original plan. 

Well, not exactly. 

I had this thought from the very beginning but this was the point where I decided that it was necessary, and I could finally see clearly how things were lining up, so I didn’t put it in the drawings and even if I did try to I wasn’t sure what the right answer was till this point.

The debate was if a top made of 2 thicknesses of 3/4” sheet goods (plywood, mdf or particle board…) would bend under the weight of the lathe and if it would be a sturdy enough surface to attach it to. 

What I decided was that I needed supports that would line up under the lathe’s feet, so while I had the chip tray centered up on the stand I marked the centerline of the lathe bolt down points on the crosspieces so I knew where I needed to add support.

I wanted something that would give me access to the back side (box tube crushes when you try to tighten a bolt through it so I only wanted a single layer), would be stiff enough and thick enough to tap.  I ended up going through my pile of steel and decided on some 2x2” angle that I thought was supposed to be 1/4” thick when I bought it but it ended up very close to 3/8” thick.  I cut to pieces to size, cleaned them up, tacked them in place and then flipped the whole thing over to weld it from underneath (again, no high spots to get in the way of the top laying as flat as possible).

Time to get started on the caster mounts:


The caster mounts were just some simple pieces of angle.  Since I intended to use swivel casters on the tailstock end and non swivel ones on the headstock end and they required different size mounts, I made one set of mounts out of 1” angle, and the swivel end ones out of 1-1/2” angle since they had a wider bolt pattern.

In the picture above you can see that I clamped them and then used the fine adjustment tool sitting on the end to tap them into position, then I set the casters on there to make sure everything clears and lines up like expected.  Finally below you can see where I welded it all together:


WOOOHOOO… this thing is starting to look like something.  An upside down something, but like something…

Here the caster pads are drilled and tapped and I spent some time cleaning up the surface rust using a combination of wire wheels on an angle grinder, some 3M scotch bright and a phosphoric acid based metal prep called “Right Stuff De-Ruster Metal Conditioner and Rust Preventer”:


Comment on the Right Stuff. 

I’ve used it before a few times, and have been generally happy with it, but have to an extent ignored the directions before now.  It recommends brushing it on, leaving it and then painting over it, not fussing with it before painting.  Specifically recommending that the sticky surface that it leaves will actually help protect the steel and help the paint adhere.

Previously, I’ve basically stopped and sanded before, after, during… any time I had a rough spot.  If it looked like anything besides smooth steel it got sanded, sort of the sand and wipe down every step of the way approach and usually wipe down with something like a paint prep grease/wax/oil remover if there was any chance that I got some on it or got a hand print on it.  The Right Stuff has taken care of any surface/flash rust and I never had any issues with sanding afterwards.RightStuff

So this time I followed the directions.  After the initial clean up I put it on (used a combination of a chip brush and a but of scotch brite dipped in it) and after it dried I painted right over the surface it left.

Well, that was a mistake.  It dried with a bunch of brush marks and runs and the first coat of paint looked AWFUL.  Like as in it looked like I let a blind monkey paint it by splashing it on with a mop and a bucket.  I kept hoping all sorts of things were going to happen, none of them did.  After letting it sit over night, giving it a good hard look and deciding that I’m not going to be able to stand leaving it that way no matter how many coats of paint I put on it I ended up sanding down most of it till it was smooth.

I put it up on stands for painting and put the first coat on with it upside down to make sure all the bottom surfaces were well coated, and the second with it right side up.  For anyone wondering, that is grey Rust-Oleum Hammered:


Yep, the hockey puck feet are installed, and wrapped in plastic bags so that the thing can be supported by something that does not get painted.

Here you can see one of the casters bolted in.  Before anyone says it, I know that that flange is probably a bit thin to hold those threads, but I didn’t seem to be having any problems with them and figured if I did it would be easy enough to add a nut on the back side.


Oh, and the Grade 8, cadmium plated, washer head hardware is totally excessive (and I had to drill the mounting holes on the casters oversize to fit the bolts), but I have something on the order of 30# or more of these 3/8” bolts left over from a tape robot/server room decommissioning that I was involved with making those cheaper than standard 5/16” bolts and washers

So, what do you think?


One last thing to do and the stand’s structure is done.  Drilling and tapping the top cross members for the lathe hold down bolts:


Another idiot check to make sure that everything lines up:


Next installment – The Top. 

Stay tuned, subscribe, tell your friends, pop some popcorn or grab a beer and hang out a while.

Smell Like A Monster

Sorry, it made me laugh, what more can I really say?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Lathe Stand Part 2 – Adjustable Feet and Casters

stand_feetI know that there is someone out there that is wondering: Why start with the feet???

Well, normally I would agree - just build it a little shorter than you need, stick something on there and you’re good.  The problem here was that:

  1. These things are going to support a lot of weight, they have to be sturdy.  Heck, the lathe is right round 400# all the steel going into the stand is going to probably end up a couple of hundred pounds, and eventually I hope to add a chest with tooling to I that will easily go 500-1000lbs
  2. I want casters that are strong enough to not be an issue and the feet to be adjustable so they can get out of the way and still lift the stand off the casters for use.  After I worked everything out I came to the conclusion that I actually needed everything to end up in a 1/8” or so range.  I really didn’t want the feet being more than 3/16” off the ground with them screwed all the way up since I was worried about rigidity with it lifted excessively (the feet “unscrewed”) and if I need more clearance it’s easy enough to completely unscrew and remove the feet.
  3. I didn’t know what (size, shape and function wise) I was going to end up with for the feet since I was using things that I have never tried doing this with before.
  4. Of course, if you’ve been paying attention,you’ll expect that whatever I ended up making will support the full weight of this thing plus a baby elephant on each corner.

OK, so the easy part- the casters.  I looked around online, the big box stores, and Harbor Freight (generally they have a good selection of decent casters), but no one seemed to have just exactly what I was looking for at a price that I was willing to pay (my “cheap gene” gets in the way of me doing a lot of sensible things, in this case I probably wasted more time and money trying to find something that I liked for a decent price than the difference between some of the expensive stuff and what I got), and almost nothing had the load rating that I was looking for.

Finally, I was at one of the bigger local Ace Hardwares in the area (Kendal’s in Clarksville, MD… good place, one of the bigger selections in the area, but a little out of the way and usually more expensive than other places so it’s not always the first place that I look) and found some nice, reasonably wide 3” steel casters rated at 1000# each.


As you can see, while I was there I went digging through the hardware section and found that they had up to 1” in bolts… perfect, I’ll use those for the feet.  I came home with some 2” long, 1” bolts and some matching nuts.

Now, if I was normal I would have just welded the nuts to the bottom of the legs, put the bolts in them and had adjustable feet.

Oh, to be normal… wait, I am normal, the rest of you are broken...  Damned dwarves! (I don’t exactly know what the dwarves did this time but it had to be their fault somehow)

So what did I do?  Do you even have to ask (let me guess, some of you reading this consider yourself “normal,” huh?)?

Well, first I lost 2 sets of bolts and nuts.  How do you lose a couple of pounds of shiny steel?  How do you loose 2 out of the 4 if they’re all in the same bag?  I don’t know.  I did it.  I’m talented.

I got some more at the hardware store, grabbed some washers also.  I took a good look at them and decided “these are going to be some ugly feet.  I have a lathe.  We have the technology, we can make them stronger, and faster…”  Wait, no that was something else, as my brother keeps saying, with the tools that I own by now my house should be capable of time travel.

So I stuck the bolts in the lath, faced the heads and then cut a shoulder in each one that matched the ID of the washers (they were all slightly different, but of course I took the time to match each one exactly).  At that point I also decided that just leaving the nuts looking like nuts would look tacky.  I turned the corners off of it, and then turned a shoulder down that would press into the bottom plate that will get welded into the bottom of the legs:


Yea, that thing on the left started out as a nut before I stuck it in the lathe.

To puck or not to puck… what’s the deal with the hockey puck in the picture?  Well at some point one of the forums or lists suggested that hard rubber, regulation hockey pucks make nice feet for equipment.  They’re hard enough to make steady feet for heavy stuff, but still deaden vibrations some.  At this point I was debating if I was going to add hockey pucks to the feet.  And how to attach them???

So this is how the parts fit together, like I said, they were machined to fit together:


Do I add a hockey puck?


Oh, if you’re wondering why I left the hex on the head end of the bolts if I didn’t on the nut?  I figured when it’s all together, if something gets jammed up having a hex to put a wrench on might help.  Ah, you see? I’m always thinking…

Up next, the plates for the ends of the legs. 

I measured the exact outside and inside dimensions of the 3” box tube that I bought, and decided that the plates should be smaller than the outside, but _just barely_ larger than the inside, so there is room to put a nice bead around them without needing much cleanup or sticking out (you’ll see in a later installment), but so there is still a mechanical register to make sure they’re perfectly flat with the end of the box tube and are supported even without the weld. 

So I threw some 1/4” plate on the 4x6 bandsaw and cut out some blanks, but after cutting them out I figured that I was going to use a boring bar on the mill to size the holes for the threaded nuts anyway, I might as well finish them there also.  I stacked them in the mill vise and milled them within .005” of square… because I could.  Sorry, no pictures of the sawing or machining – I was busy sawing and machining.

Funny how that works.

Anyway, this is how it all fit together:



Sorry, but in the next few shots a lot of things happened at once (again, no pictures of the actual welding and machining, I was welding and machining at the time.  I guess I need to hire a photographer to document things better.  I’m also not a big fan of getting dust, oil and swarf on/in the camera, so unless I’m going to stop and wash my hands… it’s unlikely you’re going to get _actual_ action shots).

I decided to puck them.

I assembled all the pieces, ran a bead on the back side of both the leg plate and the washer, cucked both pieces up on the lathe and faced them, cutting the welds flush with the surface.  I also turned the outside edges of the washers down so they were all the same diameter. 

Finally, I chucked up the hockey pucks and cut a pocket in the top of each one a few thousandths smaller in diameter and a few thousandths deeper than the washers.  They literally press onto the ends of the feet and actually take quite a bit of force to put on, I have no intention of using any glue or anything.



BTW, if you’re wondering about cutting the rubber pucks on the lathe, I ran one of the cheap 1/4” brazed carbide lathe tools from harbor freight a few quick passes over a diamond hone and they sliced off the rubber in big, long ribbons.

Finally, a quick shot of the useful adjustment range for these things:


Yea, they’ll go a big further, but I’m sure of their strength in this range.

OK, after all that I know how tall the legs of the stand need to be, and how big a difference I need between the caster mounting surface and the bottom of the legs.

Tune in next time for something that is starting to look a lot like, well, a lathe stand.  Same bat time, same bat station…

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lathe Stand Part 1 – Introduction

This is another one of those “Yea, I’m getting to it” kinds of posts… actually, the whole project is a “Yea, I’m getting to it” kind of project, I guess for me it’s sometimes hard to get to making stuff for my tools, I really just want to use them.


Along those lines, I got a Grizzly G0602, 10x22 metal working lathe almost exactly a year ago now and I’m more than a bit embarrassed that I’ve taken the packing off, cleaned the packing grease off of it and been using it still mounted to the pallet sitting on a furniture dolly for most of the year:


(I will not show you a current picture of it, just imagine the same picture but surround it with a stack of tooling, boxes and a big pile of swarf and you’ve got it)

After completely and utterly overanalyzing the situation, and then spending some time looking at assorted tool carts, workbenches, and (gasp) even lathe stands I came to the conclusion that nothing was quite right.  I decided that it needed something special.  Or maybe it’s that I’m just too anal retentive to deal with plenty of stuff that would have worked just fine and started yet another project:

  • Height: I’m 6’4” and am prone to back issues, I didn’t want to be hunched over this thing.  Most lathe stands are in the area of 29” tall (damned dwarves…), most work benches and carts are around 34” tall (it’s a conspiracy, the dwarves have taken over).  After asking around I found all sorts of rules of thumb about what works well for a work surface and after pulling out the tape measure, calipers, calculator, and consulting the 2 psychics and the dog I came to the conclusion that I needed something around an inch or 2 over 40”.  Since my adjustable height workbench ended up at 39.75” tall and I’m quite happy working at that on things clamped in the big vice or on a small anvil, both of which roughly simulated the raised work height of the lathe, that became the magic number.  So I’m shooting for 39.75” tall.
  • Overall size: I’m short on shop space (yea, I know, who isn’t), so anything bigger than it has to be is a no go.  Along those lines, I figured that keeping it around 48” wide would give just enough room to put the chip tray on it and allow me to use standard size sheet goods for the top (ended up not making a difference, you’ll see later).  Depth- well, had to be deeper than the chip tray for stability, to give room to open the side cover (which swings back) and eventually I’d like to put a tool cabinet inside and that generally means more than 16”.
  • Structure: I’ve built some nice, sturdy setups out of wood, but there is something to be said for heavy, welded steel.  Nothing to come loose, wiggle, squeak, groan, grunt….  I liked the idea of 3” box uprights and 2” box crosspieces, it just looked right in SketchUp.  I started wanting 1/8” wall, but when I got to the steel yard it turned out that heavier wall was cheaper.
  • Casters?  The machining world says it’s not a good idea to have mobile machining equipment, you’re just asking to knock it out of whack.  My garage says that you need to be able to move this thing because you just don’t have the room.
  • Adjustable feet?  Again, seems to be a conflict here.  Many swear by leveling the machine before you use it.

The end result: the stand is going to be 47” wide, 19” deep, and 38-1/4” tall, with a top that ended up getting made of some left over laminate counter top material from remodeling our kitchen glued to a piece of 3/4” MDF, making it 1-1/2” thick with the dimensions of the top of the stand +3/4” maple banding making it 48-1/2” x 20-1/2”.

WRT the feet, of course I took the most complicated approach, and made/mounted adjustable, vibration isolating feet on the ends of the legs and casters inboard, in a fashion so that the feet can be adjusted to lift the stand off the casters and level it, or you can screw them in (or entirely remove them) and wheel the stand around on steel casters, kind of like they use on engine stands.


The next few installments will have build details and pictures.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What To Do With Leftover Turkey

Thanksgiving 2010 001

It happens to all of us this time of year, you make that 20some pound bird, people eat till they can’t breathe much less get up from under the table, you pack goodie bags to send home with everyone, the dog has eaten enough that she’s in a tryptophan coma and just sitting there, farting and burping (we won’t mention the rest of your “guests”) and no matter how good your turkey turned out (and let me tell you, when you get the grill thing working right you won’t do it any other way) you can’t imagine another turkey dinner for the next few days.

So, what do you do???

Well here’s a recipe that my wife found a few years back on Epicurious for Turkey and Noodles with Peanut Sauce that will have you lusting after that left over turkey as much or more than the original dinner.  YES, I’M NOT KIDDING, IT’S THAT GOOD.

Just because I can’t promise that it will stay up forever at that link I’m going to reprint a copy here (and if you’re going to do it, follow the directions, don’t be one of those “well, I didn’t use this, and substituted that, and well, I wouldn’t make this recipe again, it was weird.”  the one recommendation is that if you’re not in to spicy food take out some of the red pepper flakes, it’s as good mild as spicy):

Turkey and Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Yield: Makes 6 servings

Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 30 min (the prep takes all the time, it’s a piece of cake once you gather the turkey…)


  • 1 lb linguine
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb shredded cooked turkey or chicken (4 cups)
  • 4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallion greens


    Cook noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then rinse noodles in a colander under cold water. Drain well.

    While noodles are boiling, cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden. Whisk in broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger and simmer, whisking, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice.

    Toss together turkey, celery, scallions, noodles, sauce, and (if necessary) some reserved cooking water to thin. Serve immediately.

    Read More

  • Friday, November 05, 2010

    Gotta Love Harbor Freight

    OK, before you assume it, I’m not all about cheap tools… AAMOF, I find cheap tools very frustrating, BUT, there are times that they are appropriate, there are times that I’m willing to put some time in to get just what I want (and what difference if I paid a buck for it at HF or $20 someplace else if I’m starting with similar junk before I modify it), and there are times that you can get the same thing for cheap.

    So here’s the same thing for cheap:


    Last week I was replacing the cords on a couple of Belkin metal housing surge protectors and found that they were riveted together… I started looking for my rivet gun and realized that I only had a few rivets and no real selection to speak of.  I wanted more for “stock” so next time I have some choices. 

    Tonight I was at Harbor Freight (what I was looking for will turn up here as a project later on) and went through their “assortment” aisle looking for an assortment of rivets.  I looked at the 100 piece assortments for $1.99-$3.00, the 500 piece for around $10, None of those seemed that badly priced, but I remembered that they had a couple of 1000 piece assortments on the clearance section.  It was hard to tell what the price was, if it was originally $12.xx or if that was the clearance price.  Either way, I didn’t need 1000, but if it was less than $13 it seemed to be the deal to go with, so I grabbed one.

    FWIW, the same set is available all over the place online but apparently HF doesn’t list it anymore, the cheapest that Amazon lists them at right now is $29, it’s:

    Rivet assortment includes:
    250 piece: 1/8" x 1/4"
    250 piece: 1/8" x 5/16"
    250 piece: 1/8" x 3/8"
    250 piece: 1/8" x 5/8" rivets

    Anyway, I get to the checkout and he scans the bar code… $.17.  Yep.  That’s right.  Seventeen whole cents.  Ok, $.18 after tax.

    They had 2 on the shelf, they BOTH came home.

    Now, what do I do with 2000 rivets?

    Winking smile

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Press Brake (finally)


    This has been a long, LONG time coming, I originally posted this the week of June 16-21, 2006 (yes, 4 years ago) on the Shop Floor Talk forums ( and since the server that I hosted the pictures on went away I’ve promised people on and off for years that I’d put it all back together with the original pictures so they can see what I did. That said, I finally sat and did it, and actually I fixed the pictures to work correctly in the original post and am putting up a slightly edited version here.

    A second thing to note is that since this was originally a forum post there was some conversation that I’m going to attempt to clean up here, which might make things disjointed since in some locations I posted pictures to answer questions. Also, this was 7 days of posts to the forum adding a little bit as the work progressed, so most of this was written not knowing how this will finally turn out which results in some vagueness in the beginning/middle.

    If you want to see the original post it is here as long as they don’t move it.

    I started putting together a pan/box press brake type thing (is there such a thing? There will be soon, the point being that the blade that does the bending can be replaced with one that is different lengths if I need to bend into a box or pan shape with sides).  The flat plate here is going to be the base and I’ll have some 1.5” angle welded to one side for sharp bends in sheet metal and some round stuff (probably heavy wall tube actually with round stock in the middle 6” to reinforce the center when bending heavy stuff, I don’t have enough solid round stock sitting around for more then a few inches and this is going to be a “no buck” project) welded to the other side for use with radius dies, bigger bends…
    The holes in the plate were punched by the “previous owner” (a local welding shop that occasionally lets me dig through his scrap pile, I showed up and asked if he had a small scrap of ½” big enough to cut a turbo flange out of and he gave me 2 22x12” plates like this off of his scrap pile. The base plate is 22x8 (the width between the posts on my press is just over 22", maximizing my bending capacity for sheet metal), and you can see that the punched holes bent the corners a little bit, I straightened those in the press later on.
    The shoe is actually only 18” wide (I’ll take care of that later, I have a plan) because that is what was left of that side of the plate after cutting out that turbo flange and working my way around another row of holes. The part that fits over the foot of the press is a chunk of 1-3/4” roll bar tubing salvaged from a roll bar pulled out of a race car, the slots in the side were cut on my little 4x6 band saw and welded with my little HH135. Oh, I cut all the ½” plate with my Rigid angle grinder and taking my time only used up 2 cutting wheels.
    Not bad for a small 110V welder, huh:
    FWIW, I checked after I fit everything up (it actually fit tight enough that you could tap it into place and didn’t have to hold it) and after I got it welded and I got no measurable bit of the tube being out of line with the plate, and only about .002” offset to one side…
    I’d say that is way more accurate then it needs to be.
    There is a problem here that someone might be able to help me with, those dark spots near the weld are real, they are actually dark sooty spots. What was happening was that running the welder full bore with a lot of wire feed was necessary to get nice welds on the heavy stuff, but as I was doing it the wire would actually melt the tip and would quit feeding, where I would get one of those dark sooty spots, get pissed off, pull out the pliers, open the welder, get the thing unmeleted, file down the contact tip, play with the feed…
    I wish I could figure out why I’m melting tips. I’ve had a similar problem running some hot, big, overlapping weaved welds with a friend’s Lincoln SP 135, but in that case instead of melting the tip and screwing up the wire feed I actually had the last 1/8” of the tip just melt and disappear into the weld bead. Yea, I am running these welders at wide open, but the contact tips are also used on bigger welders so there has to be something else going on.

    I ground the top and bottom edges of the shoe flat by hand using the 9” disc sander on my HF combination belt/disk sander:
    That’s actually dirt on the ground edge, it’s really nice and shiny, measuring it it’s dead on 90* to the plate and there is about .008” difference between the middle and both edges- good enough. The top of the shoe was dead on where the socket for the press foot went. The other sides were trued and then nicely rounded over with a flap wheel (yes, I know, I’m anal retentive).
    This is where my plan starts coming in (sorry for the cell phone pics, easier the dragging out the digital camera every time).
    Those two pieces are some rails that I salvaged from a massive tape robot I dismantled at Sally Mae (real life I’m a “computer guy” systems/network engineer that quit that job for the time being, works at a speed shop, does systems/network consulting work afternoons/evenings and takes on some occasional custom fabrication jobs “in my spare time”). They are cad plated and I’m thinking are probably hardened and predrilled, they used to be what the robotic arms rode on in the tape silo.
    I cut 2 sections of them 22” long (see, I’m telling you, I have a plan) with the holes staggered (the hole in one lines up with the center of the space between 2 hole in the other). I’ve drilled and started tapping the shoe to match these holes a little like this:
    Actually, when it’s done the 2 rails will hang down below the flat edge of the shoe about 1” and be bolted on (the reason for offsetting the holes, so the bolts for each side don’t run into each other), the end result is that I can loosen the 2 rails and use them to clamp in any blade or die I want, so I can make them for sharp bends, radius bends, and even short "fingers" like a pan brake would have so that I can bend enclosed boxes/pans.

    So my second real question… holding the shoe over the press “foot”
    Originally I had the thought that I’ll drill and tap 2 3/8 course thread holes in the top edge of the shoe, and then use some hardened 3/8” all thread that I have, thread that into the holes and then drill matching holes in the cross rail that the hydraulic ram sits on in the press, so I could bolt it on using 2 wing nuts when I want to use it (even setup some stop nuts so I can make sure that it stays 90* to the base plate).
    A bit cumbersome but safe and should be effective.
    But, after searching for something to make that pocket out of, that tube is conveniently EXACTLY the same id as the foot on the press, so much so that it’s actually a slight press fit onto it (it stays on if you get it more then ¼” over it, but amazingly it’s such a smooth fit that it doesn’t mess up the paint on the press foot). With that nice a fit I’m almost tempted to use a set screw (use the same head size as the bolts for holding the 2 rails so I can have one dedicated tool to do anything I need with the thing, or maybe even weld a T or knob to it) or drill the whole thing, press foot and tube for a pin.
    Any thoughts what would work best?

    I played with it and another project instead of going to sleep… More fuzzy cell phone pics (they come out better if there is more light), but I figure that if I lost anyone in the descriptions these should catch them up.
    Here is the shoe drilled and tapped for the rails… I used the center hole to line up both sides so even if I was off a fraction the holes would still line up:
    I just put it in the press to hold it while tapping the holes… man, I need sharper taps or softer steel…
    And here are a couple of pictures of the 2 rails bolted on and everything lined up. At this point I just need to make the blades (quite likely I’ll do one or 2 and save the rest for when I need them, and add the angle iron to the top side of that plate and the round pieces to the bottom.  There is enough room between the 2 rails that whatever side I’m not using can drop down in the gap so I can make the base plate reversible:
    You can see here what I was talking about in the earlier post, that tube fits the foot of the press so well that it stays on there without moving. It’s actually tight enough that you can’t knock it off but you can sort of slowly twist it off without that much force. Again, I still haven’t decided which way I’m going to hold it on.
    You can also see that it does fill the whole 22” of the press very nicely, there is just enough clearance on the sides that you can get it in without doing any real gymnastics, but that’s it. In the fourth picture I posted you can see a white sheet leaning against the side of the sawhorse, it’s a sheet of Teflon that I’m going to cut up and turn into pads for the side rails of the sled on the press, should just take up all the slop in it without allowing it to bind or rack.
    Another thing I haven’t decided is that I’m probably going to make most (all?) of the blades for the thing out of ¼” plate… should be plenty with the rest of this holding it rigid, and it will make “tooling” for it cheaper. Since the gap between the bolt on rails is ½” I’m debating if I’m going to weld a strip of 1/8” to the inside of both of the rails and make the gap between them permanently ¼” or if I should do that to the blades and build them up to ½” where they slide in the pocket made by the rails.
    I probably won’t have time to play with it today, but I should finish it over the weekend…

    (A large part of this section was originally responses to questions asked by others on the forum, I cut out what I could without loosing information or making it unreadable)
    So you guys are still out there… good to know I’m not alone…
    Melting tips… yea, I’m running .023 wire, volts cranked and feed between 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 (out of 10, the only thing I’ve run faster on is with aluminum) depending on what is happening how it looks/feels (yea, I end up welding a lot of heavier stuff with my little welder).
    Spatter, very little, I welded that wearing shorts sitting down with it over the edge of a trash can (read practically in my lap without getting burned) and the tip and guard/cup around it are staying relatively clean. I’ve got a tub of anti spatter gel but I’ve never used it since the one time I did with someone else’s welder I got the impression that the stuff dripped off into the weld and honestly I never really have much of a problem with build up.  It seems like I can run miles of bead between cleaning tips and usually that isn’t because it’s too dirty and I’m having performance problems but because I’m anal retentive and just want it shiny.
    Stick out… donno, I’ve been running pretty tight. Seems as I back off I loose power and penetration with the heavy stuff so I get in there, probably about ¼”. In this case the joint was basically a 90* angle/T joint so I couldn’t get all the way in, I doubt that I was closer then somewhere between ¼ and 3/8”. Really, in general I find that you have to keep things pretty tight with the little welders to lay a nice bead that doesn’t stick up too high.
    Huh, I’m not sure what to try… my instinct is towards more wire speed (which should make for more spatter), or I think I have some .030” ER70S6 floating around (which I usually avoid since these little welders seem really tuned for the .023 stuff)

    I think that I may have partially solved my problem. I found that ¾” black iron pipe is almost exactly 1” OD (seems like most of the press brakes that are sold use 1” round stock for the die), and that ½” almost fits inside it (sch 40 for both), like this:
    (notice that I cut a little slit in the ½” to fit over the seam/weld on the inside of the ¾.  I also ended up carefully cleaning up the outside of the ½” on my belt sander making it slightly smaller… would have been much easier if I had access to a lathe at the time)
    This is actually what the thing looked like: I cut the ¾” the full length, 22”, and then cut pieces of the ½”, 12” long to reinforce the centers, then I cut a groove up the middle of the ½, freehand, first with a cutting wheel and then I widened it with the edge of a grinding wheel in my monster Rigid 4.5” angle grinder (If you’re used to most of the HF grinders or like the typical Makita or Dewalt and you pick one of these up you’ll know what I mean. It’s got a reasonably sized housing but the thing is much more powerful, you can actually hear it spinning stuff up to a higher speed… the only one that I’ve used that was close was the 8.5A Milwaukee which I actually returned because of awkward ergonomics.  FWIW, this Rigid was actually made by Metabo):
    Heh, not bad for freehand, I have a better picture of the groove, but this one shows the end better, you can almost make out that I put the groove right dead on the weld seam figuring the tube was a little thicker there and I could cut a much larger groove without cutting through (It wouldn’t support the outer tube as well if it had a cut that could be squeezed) if I cut into the weld bead.

    Now since the OD of the ½” is just a little too tight a press fit for the ID of the ¾ (it would work if you only had a piece about ½” long, but there is no way that the press would press 12” of it through. I could only get about 3/8” in with a 3lb drilling hammer when I test fit it), I actually took and ground it to size on the belt sander. My anal retentiveness kicking in again I actually measured them in 4 places and made sure that they were dead on to the accuracy of the dial caliper, shooting for a .002” interference fit (If I can press it together I don’t have to make any plug welds). This is what they looked like:
    They pressed together perfectly, and even well lubed, after sitting 5 min they took a tight enough set that I couldn’t move them at all with the press. Took me about a 45minutes of puttering around to do (sort of messing with other stuff and playing with the dog… at the same time) and I have just over 1” OD and right around ½” ID now, I don’t think I’ll crush these easily.
    There was a request for a pic of what I was talking about earlier, here is what I was going to reinforce somehow:
    Now I’m going to probably still weld that angle iron to the bottom of the die, not worry about reinforcing it and use that side for more precise bends in thinner sheet metal, and weld the round dies to the other side to use for heavier pieces. I measured and made sure and both will just fit between the rails horizontal rails of my press and I’ll probably add little tabs on the sides to automatically center it when I drop it in.

    So it’s done… sort of (done in the sense that it’s useable as it sits and I have other stuff to do so it will probably get used and modified/finished/painted some more as it goes).
    This one shows a whole mess of things at once:
    You can see that I added some spacers on the inside of the jaws to close down on a smaller blade. They have a threaded hole and are held in (not that they really need it but to make bolting it together a simple operation rather then trying to line up 5 pieces…) with the one bolt in the middle of each of the side rails.
    Also, the only stock I had that I felt like using for the blade was some 3/16”, so since there was a ½” gap between rails the closest spacers were also 3/16”, but since I wanted to grab the blade and make sure that the blade is straight I ended up having to shim the side/clamping rails out with that combination. After digging for a while for something like some washers right around .030” thick I found that the bandsaw blade that I ripped most of the teeth off of in the trash can measured right around .028” (it was supposed to be .020”, grr harbor freight…), so with a little cutting and drilling it was declared a winner, you can see what I ended up with in that picture. With the teeth facing up the combination clamps the 3/16” thick blade perfectly.
    Here you can see what I ended up with for the die assembly, and you can also see the blade:
    Each side of the blade is beveled at a 50* angle so the included angle ends up being 80*, after thinking about this for a bit I just rigged a jig on my belt sander with 2 vise grips and a chunk of steel, making the angle perfectly repeatable across the whole length of the blade. The back side is just rounded so I can reverse it and put a nice radius bend.
    The die, well, the angle iron on the top side in that pic is spaced apart about 1/8” and I ran a grinder through that gap to clean it up and pretty much consistent the whole length, this lets me do really sharp bends in thin stock, the other side lets me pretty much do anything else. I ended up doing some math and came to the conclusion that 2.4” spacing for the tubes will let me bend anything to greater then a 90* angle so I measured 2.5” and then put a new grinding wheel in the angle grinder and ran it up the inside of that line, making a trench maybe 5/16” or so the length of the piece that the pipe sat in to be welded (think a trench for the tube to locate in till it’s firmly welded). It ended up just about dead on where I wanted it when it was welded together.

    Here is the whole thing assembled:
    You can see how the parts stack together:

    Finally, this is the whole deal in the press, with the angle iron side up for fine work:
    And with the round side up for everything else:
    You can see that I still haven’t really decided on retention, and really, it’s such a nice fit for the time being it really doesn’t need it.
    I putzed around bending everything I could find all last night and it showed no signs of coming loose. I’ll probably just drill it and pin it just for safety reasons, but as of right now it’s not necessary.
    Most of these setups have some sort of springs and side guides; from using the thing they don’t appear to be necessary with this setup, it didn’t show any real tendency to try torque over or do anything weird. The only issue like that that I ran into is that the shoe assembly is really heavy, enough to stretch out the return springs on the press carriage so that it does not retract the last 1”.
    I plan on taking the carriage apart and modifying it. I’m going to add pads to the side guides and make some kind of bushing to fit the head of the jack into the pocket in the top of the frame tighter, right now both have about 1/8”-1/4” slack that is just annoying. When I do that I’m going to shorten the links that hold the springs to hopefully get it to return the whole way.
    (note, that never quite happened like that, I ended up converting the whole thing to air over hydraulic, which added another set of springs on the cylinder and took care of all these issues)

    One of the welds on the base plate/die is sticking up enough that when I have the angle iron side down it doesn’t want to seat perfectly flat… I’ll have to grind that down.
    While I’m on the subject of welds I think I figured out my tip melting issues. I tried a few things with the .023” wire and finally had best results with some of the antispatter gel and the wire feed around 85-90… REALLY flying. The problem is that I was getting some really (I mean REALLY) crappy looking welds (they were structurally fine, but I couldn’t get them to look nice to save my life) like that (the bad ones are all on the round die side, facing away from the pictures.  I’m not showing them to anyone ;-) ).

    I finally decided to give up on the “the little 110v welders are optimized for the .02x” wire” thing and tried some .030” ER70S6…


    It was a slight adjustment to get nice welds with it (it’s much faster and much more heat), but after the 2nd or 3rd bead I got to a happy place and started zipping along. I was still on the hottest tap (4) and the wire feed was still at a fast, 55, but hell, it worked, that’s how I got the welds like the ones on the front of the tube/plate in the last picture. I was surprised that I never ran up against the duty cycle of the little welder, I did end up generating enough heat in the thing that I actually melted the top 1-1/2” of the trash can I use next to the bench in the garage, which surprised me since if the welding table is tied up I often cut and weld on top of it and have never melted it before…

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Hewlett-Packard/arvato digital services llc- Can Customer Service Get Any Worse?

    windows-7-logo-300x300 Last spring I ran across a great deal for a i7 workstation from HP -  they were offering a $350 discount off of their workstations, which were already at a decent price, which ended up working out to the machine costing roughly 1/2 of what the best I could do shopping the deal sites out there.  Great.

    Secondly, I was happily running the Windows 7 pre-release demo on a few other machines, so I carefully timed the purchase to happen on the first day that the free Windows 7 upgrade for new purchases was offered (June 26th), which was something like a day or 2 before the sale was ending.  Great again…


    Now, having to deal with computer hardware, software and related companies day in and day out at work I can give you absolute horror stories about a few of them and their absolutely abysmal service/support, but I’m I’m going to rank these guys as tied for first for the absolute worst, or at least most frustrating.

    (I’ll save some of the others for later, I’m sure that a lot of IT people could probably name my top few easily, the funny thing is that the other absolute worst one sends you an email invite to fill out a survey after every time you contact them, and the never, I mean _never_ give you good support, follow up (other than the survey) or do what they say they will do).

    Of course the whole upgrade procedure is more complicated then it really needs to be, I don’t understand why the couldn’t just keep a record of your sale and send it out when it was ready, but lets ignore that for now.  Their procedure:

    • fill out online form, according to their website that makes the status: New = order placed; proof of purchase not yet received.
    • they verify it and require a confirmation/proof of purchase.  That upgrades your status to: POP Received = proof of purchase received but not yet validated; processed within 7 business days of receipt
    • you supply a proof of purchase (there are a number of ways that you can do it, one of which is you can email them a scan or screen shot of your original sales receipt, which is what I did).  Once that happens (mine happened on February 22nd) you go to: Accepted = proof of purchased validated, and you move on to: In Process = preparing order for shipment. Typically 3-5 business days.

    and that’s it… I’ve never made it past that.  I’ve called them 6 times now in the last month, the first few times was told that it should show up with a shipping number on their site within 24 hours and it never happened.   Since then:

    Thursday 3/11- was told that they are very sorry for the delay and they will expedite my shipment and FedEx it, I should have the tracking number within 24 hours… nothing…

    Tuesday, 2/16- was told that they were very sorry, they don’t know what happened but they will expedite it and FedEx it out, that I should see it within 2 days but the tracking number on their site might not get updated before I get it.  OK… these people answering the phones are worthless morons, but so far I’ve been nice to them… not sure why.

    Thursday 3/18- No package.  I call them.  First I get some line about no records of the expedite, then I talk to the supervisor and get “our expedite department is busy, it could take 4-7 days for them to process the expedite (huh?  that is longer than the total time expected from their normal service!!!), at which point I got pretty irritated with the idiot on the phone, got passed to another agent who told me that “they would like to expedite my order but their computers haven’t been working all afternoon so they can’t even see my order and will update it later when the computers are fixed” (how did the first 2 pull up my order if that was the case???).  Finally I ended up talking to someone who identified himself as Peter Leonardo, the manager of the department who assured me that he was going to personally take care of it and I could expect to see a tracking number Friday or next Monday and my upgrade FedExed to me on Monday or Tuesday. 

    Monday, 3/22 (Today)- Surprise surprise… no tracking number.  Maya and Alex assure me that they will process my order expedite.  Nope… tried that already.  Tried that THE LAST 3 TIMES.  They keep acting like they don’t understand why that is problem.  Finally Alex tells me that she will take care of this personally and I will have email from her with my shipping information in the next 2 hours.  5 minutes later I get:

    Hello Mark,

    Thank you for your continous patronage to HP and your interest for the Windows 7 Upgrade Program.

    You are receiving this email as a follow up for your order.

    We are now working on your expedited order. We'll be sending you another email notification once your order has been shipped. Rest assure that we have you on our priority list.

    Best regards,


    Windows 7 Upgrade Program

    Alex, you have an hour and ten minutes left to do better than that.

    10:50pm update- Nothing… what a surprise.