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Old 01-14-2018, 06:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Trying soft metals with Wood lathe--do I need to upgrade

I have been trying some turning of soft metals with my Nova DVR XP and have been successful with a few aluminum pens, but I was drilling some 5/8" copper rod tonight and my lathe just would not get the bar centered up--I manipulated my chuck all that I could but even when the bar was pretty damn true in the chuck, the drill bit in my Jacobs chuck in the tailstock would not center the drill bit--I checked the center on my tailstock and the headstock and it was dead on with two pointed dead centers--my Jacobs chuck is a high quality/high precision model with measured low runout--I don't know what is causing the off center bit--but that leads me to the question at hand, if I want to make good quality metal body pens, even with softer metals, should I be able to do it with my current lathe, or do I need to step up to a metal lathe. As of now there is now way I could drill a tip hole in a piece of stock for the refill to protrude through. I think I will be able to turn this copper bar--but it is drilled a good bit off center as of now--but I don't know if I should even attempt brass with my current rig.

Any advice/input is appreciated.

Thanks--Don
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Don, as for starting a drill bit in the metal rod, use a center/starter bit first. These are short stubby bits which have a point and then a 60 degree bevel. This leaves a pocket for your longer more flexible bit to start.

As for holding the blank, if round, a collet chuck works great. I believe a metal lathe will use a 3jaw chuck for centering and gripping round stock.

Good luck!
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Old 01-14-2018, 06:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Thanks for the quick feedback Charlie, I did start with a center bit--so I'm confounded by the off centerness--is that a word??
It has been that way regardless of if it's a round wooden dowel or precision bar stock in aluminum.....interesting side note--if I chuck up a square pen blank in the same chuck and jaws, it drills dead center no issues...

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Old 01-14-2018, 07:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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What kind of chuck are you using to hold the work? Are the jaws somehow misaligned so that the work is not parallel to the lathe bed? Have you measured the runout on your work holding chuck?

As far as it being off center, it actually has a center. As long as you don't remove it from the chuck it is going to turn around that center assuming that the chuck is mounted straight on the spindle.

This Old Tony has a really good video about this on Youtube here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K67bZQSETiE&t=883s

All that said, I would check out the runout on both my Jacobs chuck and my work holding chuck in the headstock. Something is amiss here.

One further comment; when it come to drilling copper and brass you should consider making some modifications to the bits you use. Both of those metals can be really grabby.

Bill
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Old 01-14-2018, 07:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Don ....

Don't ask me why, but copper is really tricky to turn and drill ... stay away from it until you get expert advice, which I am not. . Copper seems to "grab" for me.

You should not have a problem with brass if you are careful and take light cuts, although brass can "grab" if you don't have the right shape and orientation of cutting tools.

Upgrading to a metal lathe won't be much of a help with these problems ... I have a mini metal lathe and use it all the time for pens ... I can do aluminum, brass, and small steel parts but I cannot turn copper.
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:26 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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You’re right about brass Mal. I was thinking bronze. Turning isn’t too bad. Drilling can be ugly.

Bill
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Old 01-14-2018, 08:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Guys thanks for the input--I am using an Easy Chuck which I love and it has proven to be very true in every way I can manage to measure it--I do agree though-something must be amiss-I am using the small pen jaws and grabbing the rods in the middle of the jaws, when I chuck up a square pen blank I 'grab' it by the corners mounted in between the jaw gaps of the chuck. I am trying to learn which drill bits I should use for drilling metals--I've got good bits-Norseman, but I don't know if they are what I should be using--should I go to carbide or cobalt???

Still trying to figure things---
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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I'm with Mal on this. I'd be inclined to ditch the copper for right now just because of the machining difficulties and giving brass or aluminum a try.

That said, depending how far "off center" your blank is you may not have any sort of problem getting what you need out of your blank.

Bill
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Old 01-14-2018, 09:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Trying soft metals with Wood lathe--do I need to upgrade

I drill really hard materials on a mini metal lathe but copper and bronze can be a problem. It requires a different and less aggressive cutting angle on your drill bits. Also use cutting fluid. The head and tail stock might be aligned but doesn’t mean they point in the same direction. They need to align and be inline with each other. When I drill through a metal rod I also clamp my material very close to the end I’m drilling with the rest extending through the chuck. Clamping on the other end with material out away from the chuck will be difficult for any chuck to hold still with the forces to drill metal vs wood or acrylic.

What may help is to drill a small diameter bit first and move up in steps. Also look for material grades that are classified as free matching. Thy have additives to make them easier to drill and turn reducing their “stickiness”.


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Old 01-14-2018, 10:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Online metals is a good source of information and to buy stock for turning. Good descriptions of different metal grades to learn what is better for turning. For instance some bronze is stronger than steel and 303 Stainless steel is Free machining and turns easier than 304 or 316 SS. www.onlinemetals.com

The also have HDHP and Nylon rods that make great bushings for applying CA.


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