One of the most common uses for tools, is making other tools. At least that's the joke among machinists...we don't actually make stuff, we just make tools. I'm not sure the previous was a complete sentence, but I recently had the need to up the ante on my efficiency. Each light has four main components that need to be machined. So, if I am making a batch of 20 lights, that makes 80 pieces of stock that I need to cut off from 10-12 foot bars. Kind of a pain, and 20 is a pretty small number. Time to make a depth stop for my chop saw.
|The DeWalt Multi-Cutter is a low RPM chop saw |
designed specifically for metal cutting.
I have lots of chunks of scrap metal and I dug up a piece of 1.25" steel round bar that would match the diameter of my 1.25" inch tube. Normally I like to take some photos of the raw stock materials but I forgot this time. Things will be more clear in a second. The first task was to turn down the solid bar so that it would fit into the end of the tube.
|I use collet chucks almost exclusively when I have the right size available.|
|This is a different (smaller diameter) collet chuck.|
I'm using the bolt and the wing nut as a "fine adjustment" setup. I can loosen the wing nut, turn the bolt a little bit, and then lock the wing nut back down to give me really precise control over the depth.
I went ahead and TIG welded the parts together. I managed to take a photo of the weld start/stop line so it looks a little worse than it is. Not quite a master welder yet...give it 10-20 years.
Some more detail shots follow, but this is the basic setup. The stock clamped in the vise gets pushed against the stop, allowing me to cut multiple parts to the same length with no measuring.
This shot shows the bracket a bit more clearly. I used some scrap DOM tube and a scrap of rectangle tube from a custom job I did for Jin Kim at BareBones Training in Palo Alto. The stop can swivel up and down so I can move it out of the way when I'm making a cut.
Just a shot from the other side. I can set the coarse adjustment by loosening the black knob and sliding the tube back and forth.
In action! Pretty exciting right? It might not look like much but this is going to save me hours in the long run.
Of course I had to try it out and cut down a 6' bar of 1 inch 6061 for making flashlight bodies! Time to get this thing on the road. Should have my first run of lights any day now so stay tuned.