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Steel Plate For Sherline Lathe Base?

Discussion in 'SHERLINE, TAIG, TITAN & SIEG MINI-MACHINES' started by tomw, Aug 1, 2015.

  1. tomw

    tomw United States Active Member Active Member

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    Dear All,

    I have an alignment problem (not an issue; magazines have issues) with my lathe, a Sherline 4400, between my tailstock and headstock. It was suggested in a different thread this problem is due to the bed being twisted. This may well be the problem, since Sherline can find no problem with my machine.

    Currently, the machine is mounted on a piece of oak shelving from Lowes, as suggested by Sherline. Would it be beneficial to use a piece of plate steel, say 1/4" thick, for the mounting plate? Would thin rubber washers between the steel plate and the lathe bed mounting points be an even better set up? Should the steel plate be a fancy ground steel plate?

    Your thoughts are most welcome. Or needed. Or, oh, just tell me what to do, for chrissakes....

    Yours sometimes,

    Tom
     
  2. coffmajt

    coffmajt H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    While a steel plate might be somewhat better, the oak should be ok if it is thick enough and seasoned so it does not change shape with the weather. I would suggest setting the headstock and tailstock on thin shim stock, lightly tighten the hold down bolts and observe what happens. Repeat with adding or removing shims and observe. If there is some small twist, the combination of shims and bolts will correct the alignment. Are you using a good machinist level for levelling both ways? Jack
     
  3. brino

    brino Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Hi Tom,

    You can check the oak board you're using as a base for twist or "wind"......
    Here's an example of "winding sticks":
    http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?p=53276&cat=1,230,41182

    I am not suggesting you buy those, it just shows a good picture of how they are used.
    You could use a couple of straight edges, a couple levels, a couple pieces of angle iron, etc.

    -brino
     
  4. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    My 4400 lathe has been mounted on a piece of 3/4" Melamine ply for over 20 years and has remained stable. While it is still a wood product it is less likely to move with changes in humidity and remains quite flat. It has 6 rubber feet to spread the load and prevent sagging in the middle.

    The base simply needs to be fairly flat. A ground metal base is not needed in my opinion. Rubber washers between the base and lathe is probably not a good idea; the lathe is already light and rubber will only reduce the already limited rigidity. Some guys use extruded aluminum box section for a base. It seems like a more stable arrangement to me and would possibly be lighter than plate steel. If I was to do this all over again I would go with the extruded aluminum. I would put a steel plate on each end to which the lathe would be attached. I would attach the plates to the base with a screw on each side and shim under those plates to level the lathe.

    Currently, my lathe is shimmed only at the tailstock end under the bed, not the base. There is a single screw holding the bed to the base here and shimming it there is simple. Mine required a single piece of aluminum foil on the backside to bring the lathe into level and it has remained stable all this time.

    Good luck with getting this sorted. The little Sherline is a fine lathe. I had a guy who owned a Smithy Granite 3 in 1 laugh at it when he saw mine, that is until he saw it take a cut that his machine couldn't do! I didn't tell him I was cheating with a custom ground bit but then again, he was so arrogant that it made me feel mean.
     
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  5. tomw

    tomw United States Active Member Active Member

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    Dear All,

    Thank you for the advice. I like the idea of the aluminum (aka aluminium) box section.

    I do not own a precision level yet. It seems like this might be a good idea. Any suggestions on a reasonably good level? I know, Starrett is the best, but what is the best in the next tier down? Is their a next tier down?

    Mikey, that a good story. I have had folks be quite surprised by what the little Sherline can do.

    Cheers,

    Tom
     
  6. brino

    brino Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Excellent question, so far I have not been able to bring myself to lay out the massive funds for some thing I'll use so seldom.
    I know, a tool is an investment, but wow the prices.....

    -brino
     
  7. T Bredehoft

    T Bredehoft Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Keep in mind you will be building a drum head. Any vibration made by the lathe will be transferred to the material it's bolted to. If it's thin sheet metal, expect a lot of rattle. If it's cork, nothing. Somewhere in between, (my lathe is mounted on rubber pads on wood) is where you will be comfortable.
     
  8. kvt

    kvt Active User Active Member

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    Suggestion, Take the 4400 and loosen all the bolts then check to see it the tail and the headstock are in line. If they are lined up better then take a look at where it is touching. Yes the oak can twist I have mine on a piece or 3/4 particle board with a sheet of Formica on top. Then that is also mounted to some good wood and a steal frame But even then I think mine may have a bit of a twist.
    and like one of the others said I can do more than most think.
     
  9. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    The good thing about mounting the lathe to an extruded box section is that it will likely stay level, even when you move the lathe around or do curls with it or whatever. If the lathe is going to be stationary and you want to isolate it from vibration you can mount the box section to a bench with a 1//8" thick layer of polyurethane in between.

    I think a 6" Starrett 98 level is perfect for the Sherline lathe. A used one on ebay shouldn't be too bad (under $50.00). Use it on the compound, not the bed. It is more than adequate to get you close enough and you will finalize with a test bar anyway. I use mine for many things and I really like the 6" size.

    I own one of those 12" European master precision levels, the 0.02mm/M kind. Mine is a Kinex but there are cheap versions on ebay. This is overkill on a Sherline but for larger lathes it is great. Side by side with the Starrett 98, the bubble on my Kinex will move a full unit without any apparent movement of the the Starrett's bubble. You still have to do test bar work to finalize but this level will get you damned close. Most of the competition on ebay will be for a Starrett brand and their master levels go for stupid money. My Kinex is twice as sensitive and cost under $100.00 - I got lucky this time. You will have many opinions on this topic. Mine is that a master level is worth it (for larger lathes, not the Sherline).
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2015
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  10. silence dogood

    silence dogood United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I looked up Sherline's instructions on mounting the lathe. Yes, it does say that you can use a piece of shelving, but it does not say much more. Which means that one could use 3/4"thick particle board shelf(I don't think so). Sherline also does not say how thick the board should be. I personally would use 1.5" thick maple, but oak will work. After you bring the wood home, let it sit in the shop for two weeks to acclimate. After that check for flatness, Plane, sand, and/or scape till flat on both sides. Let sit another week and do it again if need be. I don't recommend this but if you don"t want to flatten it, at least let it sit for two weeks, then shim. I've had a few years working with wood and I also tune pianos. Sometimes I get a customer whom just moved into town, I always ask them to let the instrument sit in their new home a couple of weeks, then I tune it. Other wise I'm just wasting my time and theirs, it will go out of tune very quickly. Both my mini mill and lathe are mounted this way and I've not had any problems. Mark
     
  11. tomw

    tomw United States Active Member Active Member

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    Alright, I found a used 6" Starrett level. It was $90, which I don't think is too bad since it was still in it's box (local tool company had taken it in return).

    I also ordered a chunk of aluminum box section, 6" x 2" x 3ft with .25" walls. I like the idea of the box section because I can use the space to hide my DRO and power wires. I think I might even give it a 110V power strip to plug the motor and DRO into (inside the channel), and a master switch on the front to control everything. That way I have just one cord going to my wall socket. Obviously, the box would be grounded! And it would have to be somewhat protected from chips and cutting juice.

    Mark, I like the idea of a thicker chunk of wood for my mill. What about a butcher's block (the kind with glued 3/4" laths)? Their are some reclaimed building materials suppliers in Austin (like Habidoo for Humanity) that might have something similar, and it should already be seasoned (with a little pepper, some salt, a little beef blood). Is there any reason to prefer a solid piece of wood?

    Thank you all for your help, and more importantly, your time. I am obviously very new at this, and having a place like this to ask the proverbial stupid questions is really great.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
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  12. Andre

    Andre Active User Active Member

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    I wonder if you could pack the aluminum box heavily with sawdust or similar, and use a smaller pipe tucked into one of the corners of the box for your wires. Possibly could dampen the vibrations.
     
  13. 4gsr

    4gsr Global Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Build a dam at each end about 1" tall and fill up near the top with steel shot. Steel shot will reduce, maybe even stop the vibration. We use steel shot a lot, stuffed into a bicycle inner tube, tied off the ends. We shove this up into the ID's of thin wall tubes that get a lot of vibration and chatter marks on the OD. Most of the time it works.
     
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  14. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Tom, there was a guy named Jim Knighton who has now passed. He was one of the most innovative Sherline lathe owners around and did what you are trying to do - extruded aluminum base housing electronics. He also did an amazing number of other Sherline mods that are worthy of a look, if not emulation. His site is long gone now but Sherline has a pdf file (JBK's lathe modifications) you might find useful:

    http://www.sitelevel.com/query?crid=87doyper&query=jbk's+lathe+modifications

    Sherline tools have a fairly large following and there are many users who do amazing work on them but there are a few that stand head and shoulders above all of them and Jim Knighton was one of them.
     
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  15. silence dogood

    silence dogood United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Tom, if the butcher block is made with long strips of wood, should be okay. If you see a bunch of end grain squares, maybe not. Mine are built with 2by6's glued and splined.
    For a finish, use mineral oil. In my case, I had some Marvel Mystery oil. I do have a sheet metal flat pan between the machine and the board to catch the chips. I have a LMS mini mill mounted on an old scrap Rockwell-Delta table saw base. I don't have any noise or vibration problems with this set up. In fact, I like it so well that I'm building something similar for the 8x14 lathe. All the previous suggestions sound good to me. The important thing is make sure that you have a solid flat base to hold your machine. Mark
     
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  16. tomw

    tomw United States Active Member Active Member

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    Mikey,

    Mr. Knighton certainly new what he was doing. I am sorry that he has passed. I like his ideas, and will be stealing several!

    Mark,

    Thank you for the information. With that information, I have found a butcher's block, approx. 2" thick, longitudinal laths (grain parallel to the surface), that I think will work great. I am going to head back to Habidoo and buy it.

    All,

    I have set up my lathe on the 6" x 2" x 36" box channel (1/4" thick walls). I spent an inordinate amount of time futzing around to get the lathe level in the X and Z planes (making it flat). I really like my new level, but damn that thing is sensitive. Luckily my wife was out for the day, so I got to use our granite counters as a set up surface.

    It took .035, .015, .007 and .004 shims, at each bolt location, to get things level. The shims were aluminum and brass, which will change in thickness over time.

    The first thing I noticed was the greater ease of movement of the tailstock across the ways. It used to bind, now it doesn't bind.

    The second thing I noticed was my runout was less than half of what I was seeing before. This is great, and certainly good enough for now! Woo Hoo!

    The third thing I noticed is that the noise from the machine is about the same as when it was mounted to the 3/4" shelving board I was using before. I don't anticipate any need for sound deadening.

    I will post some photos soon. Thank you so much for all your help.

    Most thankfully yours,

    Tom
     
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  17. brino

    brino Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Great!

    Thanks for posting back with your results.
    It is truly appreciated. :encourage:

    -brino
     
  18. chips&more

    chips&more United States Active User Active Member

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    IMO a piece of “real” tree wood will never be stable unless it's petrified. Throughout the sessions it will have movement. If you really want to jazz up your lathe. Maybe think about a sheet of phenolic, say around 1” thick. Be prepared to dig into your wallet. But it ain’t gonna flex either…Dave.
     
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  19. tomw

    tomw United States Active Member Active Member

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    Dear All,

    INTRODUCTION

    As promised, here are some photos of my lathe with an aluminum box channel base.
    IMG_1259.jpg

    METHODS

    I used my new (to me) Starrett level to make it as true as I could. My procedure was:

    1) Drill and tap for 1/4" NFT in each corner of the box channel for leveling feet. Put in 1/4 hex head bolts that have had their heads faced smooth. Put jam nuts on the end of the bolts that protrude into the channel.

    2) Check to see if spouse is away. Bring lathe (less headstock and motor), aluminum box channel, Starrett 6" machinists level, and various tools into the kitchen.

    3) Using granite counters, Starrett level, and previously described 1/4" bolts, set up the aluminum box channel as a "darn near" level surface. The box channel is extruded, so there is some waviness. I then placed the lathe on the box channel.

    4) Using the Starrett level and aluminum and brass shims, I worked to get the bed of the lathe straight in the X to about one tick mark of variation as the level was slid along the ways. I also regularly checked to make sure the Z axis did not deviate from level relative to the box channel.

    To keep the lathe bed even with the leveled (given the waviness) box channel took between shims .034 to .005 in thickness, depending upon the mounting point they were used. According to my logic, the bed should be, in the X axis, twisted less than .003 per foot.

    The lathe was then brought back into the shop (with no forensic evidence left behind) and the aluminum box channel bed* was leveled to the workbench using the 1/4" bolt feet.

    I thus did some stuff. Just wondering, what did I do wrong.

    RESULTS

    The first thing I noticed was the ease that the tailstock moved along the ways. Before mounting (BM) the tailstock would bind when I moved it back and forth along the ways. Furthermore, it would seem to bind in the same place along the ways. After mounting (AM), I find the degree of binding is less, and not predictable.

    The second thing I noticed was the taper when turning between centers dropped by 50%. This is great. I still can't turn a .100 shaft between centers, but I am close.

    The third thing I am noticing is an absence of greater noise. Despite the hollow channel the box makes, I am not hearing any greater amount of noise from the lathe.

    DISCUSSION

    After approximated 3 hours of use, I am pleased with how the Sherline Alumi-Bed 3000 has worked out. Oh, that is what I am calling it**. I still need to obtain an adjustable chuck mount. After that, I should be set.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Thank you all. If I can wash your cars or whatever in payment, let me know.

    *thingy
    **This is not patented, trademarked or otherwise reserved.
     
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  20. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Glad things have gotten better. One thing I might suggest to you is to be absolutely sure your headstock is aligned with the ways before doing any further testing. On lathes with a fixed headstock, test bar procedures usually allow us to tweak the lathe leveling process to bring things into decent alignment. However, with the Sherline lathe the headstock can swivel and this will throw your results way off. You should consider getting it dead square to the ways as a next step.

    To do this, I would take a piece of round bar of decent size, maybe 1/2" OD or more and slap it in the 3 or 4JC. I like to use those nice ground rods from old printers; they are ground accurately and cut like butter. Have about 4-5" of stick out and, using a sharp HSS tool, take a few full length passes at about 0.010" depth of cut. Then take a skim cut of about 0.003" deep and shoot for a fine finish, again full length. All of this is without tailstock support. Now measure for a taper and adjust the headstock angle until the rod turns dead straight. NOW you're aligned with the ways and can proceed to test your tailstock alignment or further adjust your leveling or whatever else you plan to do.

    You lathe can work to tenths tolerances. I know Sherline says it is accurate to 0.002-3" but trust me, that lathe can do work in the 0.0001-0.0002" range. As you may have guessed, this is more the operator than the lathe but to work accurately you must get that headstock dead square to the ways.
     
  21. ogberi

    ogberi Active User Active Member

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    Very nice setup! You will be amazed at the tolerances that tiny machine can hold. I have a Taig lathe and a 9" south bend, and I still find myself using the Taig quite a bit. I fitted mine with inexpensive digital calipers for a poor-man's DRO. But I still find that I slap an indicator or test indicator on it from time to time when really splitting hairs.

    I think you'll find that razor sharp HSS tooling works best on these small lathes. I use a 6" bench grinder to do the bulk of the shaping of the 1/4" HSS tools, and an el-cheapo Harbor Freight variable speed 3" bench grinder to put the final edge on them, and for touchups. A diamond hone can really refine a cutting edge.

    If you get the chance, make a tangential tool holder. The bits are dead easy to sharpen, quick to touch up, and can flat out hog off material, even on a small lathe like this.

    Can't wait to see what projects you turn out.
     
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  22. tomw

    tomw United States Active Member Active Member

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    Mikey,

    Thank you for the additional comments. I did the headstock alignment thing, but only over a very short distance. I will follow your procedure to get it dialed in a bit better. I have already had pretty good luck shaving 2 tenths off of a brass rod with a very sharp HSS bit. This was over less than .250 in length, so the headstock was sufficiently aligned.

    Ogberi,

    Thank you for the comments. I have not yet heard of a tangential tool holder. Looks like I have some reading to do!

    Cheers,

    Tom

    p.s. Attached is my 2nd steam engine, which I finished last night. I had to remake or repair several pieces that were originally done on the misaligned lathe. In the photo you can see the brass bushing in the flywheel I made to correct the angle of the shaft hole.

    I think this one will actually run. IMG_1264.jpg
     
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  23. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I should add that the headstock alignment thing is to get you started. Once you do this you can then continue to refine the leveling process until it is as good as you need it to be, then go back and recheck the headstock alignment. I check this alignment anytime I have a critical project to do and perhaps 3-4 times per year on top of that. Many guys view the Sherline lathe as a toy but it is, in fact, a precision lathe if we take the time to keep it adjusted.

    I haven't tried a tangential tool yet, though I've been meaning to. I like that it is simple to grind and there have been so many positive comments on them that it begs for a personal trial. My only reservation is that the same tool geometry is used for all materials and I do not know how that works out. Someday I will have to break down and run a fair comparison to my own tools and settle it for myself.

    Nice little engine you made, Tom! I'm afraid you've stepped onto a very slippery slope with this machining thing ...
     
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