Metal choices for bushings and pen parts?

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Cavediver

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Since Online Metals has a coupon code for $20 off shipping, I've decided to pick up a few things for pen turning. ( SCM6B valid 12/20/16 only ) I'd like to get some decent metal for TBC bushings, plus I'd like some stock for making nibs, caps, and bands.

I'm new to metal turning, working on the typical starter: HF 7x10.
Limited research says 12L14 is a good choice for the TBC bushings. Is there something better that's also compatible with my lathe and lack-of skill level?

Pen parts:
I like plain hardware and bands, and most of the kit choices out there aren't really right for my taste.
Is stainless 303 a good choice for visible hardware?
How about one of the aluminum alloys? (Does aluminum hold up well enough for a daily user, or is it too soft?)
Any recommendations for copper or brass? It'll be a while until I get into these two, but it never hurts to look... :biggrin:

Thanks!
 
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AWLogue

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Disclaimer: I have limited machining experience, but a fair amount of material properties experience.

I'd imagine almost any stainless would work for bushings, as long as it's *close* in hardness to your HSS lathe tools. Don't want to nick the bushings while you're turning a pen and end up with a ruined bushing!

Aluminum alloys are quite durable, but more scratch prone than steel. I'd recommend 7075 alu. for just about any part.
 

More4dan

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303 SS turns better than 304 or 316. I turn 6061 aluminum for pens but it scratches easily. O1 or W1 would make good bushing material if you want to heat treat to keep from cutting them with HSS. I just use cheap carbon steel for making bushings. I turn with a carbide tool and anything it scrapes cuts. If I mess up bushing I have a metal lathe. I can make more. I too have the HF 7 x 10. I did get some titanium and free machining bronze but I haven't turned them yet. Get a rod of 3/4" HDPE when you order to make bushings for sanding and for coating wood with CA. It will save your metal bushings.


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Cavediver

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Thanks guys.

I picked up a couple of bars of the 12L14, some acetyl, some UHMW, and a bit of 7075. I've left the stainless and brass for later; we'll see how well I do with the other stuff first!

I've got a collet chuck on my Christmas list, so hopefully Santa will be good to me and I'll be able to start turning bushings before the year is out :smile:
 

More4dan

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Thanks guys.



I picked up a couple of bars of the 12L14, some acetyl, some UHMW, and a bit of 7075. I've left the stainless and brass for later; we'll see how well I do with the other stuff first!



I've got a collet chuck on my Christmas list, so hopefully Santa will be good to me and I'll be able to start turning bushings before the year is out :smile:


Is your HF 7 x 10 the metal lathe? If so I use the included 3 jaw chuck for everything. What are you using a collet chuck for? You need to also make a dead center so you can turn between centers. Just put a 60 degree point on a piece of rod and clamp in your chuck.

For bushings I turn the small end first to fit the tube ID. Then turn the section for the OD. Then cut the bushing to length. Reverse in the chuck, face, and center drill.

Danny


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Cavediver

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Is your HF 7 x 10 the metal lathe? If so I use the included 3 jaw chuck for everything. What are you using a collet chuck for? You need to also make a dead center so you can turn between centers. Just put a 60 degree point on a piece of rod and clamp in your chuck.

For bushings I turn the small end first to fit the tube ID. Then turn the section for the OD. Then cut the bushing to length. Reverse in the chuck, face, and center drill.

Danny
It is indeed.
I bought it used from a local guy. The three jaw that arrived with it was in terrible shape and wouldn't center the work for anything. I bought a four jaw and have had reasonable success with it, but felt the collet chuck would be an easier / better / faster option for lots of things I want to do. (I have one for my wood lathe and absolutely love it. I think it's my most used chuck right now.)

Thanks for describing your process. That's the way I'd envisioned it though I'd love to find a way to do it all without removing and remounting the work (hopefully keeping concentricity errors to a minimum!).

My tailstock is also a little loose which makes drilling a little suspect right now, so I'm likely going to use a center drill in one of my boring bar holders (I have the QCTP from LMS). Not the best solution, but until I take corrective action on that tailstock it's the best plan I've got.
 

More4dan

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I will look for the link I used for aligning the head and tail to the bed and to each other. Made a big difference for accuracy. More than I needed for pens. I did find that one of the tightening sockets in the 3 jaw gave much better results than the others and marked it. The 4 jaw should allow you to get it dead on.

There is an adjustment screw on the tail stock toward the front and underneath that allows adjusting the tension.




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More4dan

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I also bored out my 3 jaw to allow 0.735" OD to pass through. I turn blanks between centers to 0.730. This allows me to drill on the lathe and chuck the blank all the way into the chuck. Really helpful for longer bits on the short bed.


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More4dan

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You could face, center drill, turn down to larger OD then turn to the min OD toward the head. You will need a tool ground to allow a right side square shoulder. Then you turn everything without removing. Be sure to use a live center while turning.


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Cavediver

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Thanks for pointing out the bored-out chuck. I'd thought about it and decided not to bother, but you've just given me a pretty good reason to do it.

I guess this means I finally have to get serious about aligning an(and fixing) the tailstock. I've been putting that off for a while and am really, really not looking forward to it :frown:
 

More4dan

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There is an easier way the gets it close enough for pen work. Dead center in the chuck and live center in the tail. Bring them together with a small metal rule between them. It will show if it needs to move front to back. The tail should be a bit higher by design. There is a screw on the back and an Allen screw under the tail. You have to remove the tail to get to the Allen screw. I tighten It a bit and tap with hammer to get it aligned then tighten. You may have to do a couple times. Sometimes tightening the set screws will shift it a bit. The 2 center will get it close and just takes a few minutes. I did the half day method with a test gauge and after bumping it out of alignment 2 days later I use the 2 centers.


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Cavediver

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There is an easier way the gets it close enough for pen work. Dead center in the chuck and live center in the tail. Bring them together with a small metal rule between them. It will show if it needs to move front to back. The tail should be a bit higher by design. There is a screw on the back and an Allen screw under the tail. You have to remove the tail to get to the Allen screw. I tighten It a bit and tap with hammer to get it aligned then tighten. You may have to do a couple times. Sometimes tightening the set screws will shift it a bit. The 2 center will get it close and just takes a few minutes. I did the half day method with a test gauge and after bumping it out of alignment 2 days later I use the 2 centers.
Good to know this works.
I tried doing it the right way a couple of times, but never got close enough for my satisfaction. I think I actually need to start over entirely; leveling it, making sure there's no twist in the bed, etc.

It seems like I have more work to do to the lathe than anything else. I guess that's the lesson to be learned from buying cheap tools :redface:

(To be fair, I'm still glad I bought it. It's been and will continue to be a great learning experience, and I actually have fun working on it despite my whining.)
 
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