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'Steves Toolworks' is the website for one of my OLD hobbies (It's only a hobby. I am in no way trained or qualified in machining).

Links to my project & information pages are contained within the text on this page, as hyperlinks.

I'm a disability pensioner on a government pension, almost at retirement age & don't do machining for an income - I got so many requests to do jobs & reject all jobbing/machining jobs – Sorry. I have little available time to machine for others (see next para.), getting materials such as good plate or bar stock is always a problem, I tend to have to rely on scrap metals, I have very limited resources (time or money) or machines or tooling, I’m not a professional and my doing jobbing would be taking the food out of the mouths of professional machinists. Though I will do my best to help friends or relatives with their projects, if I can.

Actually, I’m only just starting to get back into my workshop after a long, long time, due to ill-health (multiple heart attacks, stroke, 2 new knees etc. Even then, I’m lucky if I can get ½ to 1hr at a time (per day), often several days between sessions, due to pain/fatigue. 90% of my machining is done sitting down on a bar stool now.  It's a ?ĝĝ?#341; getting older isn't it. 

This website shows my home workshop and any projects I had (or was) making. 

Note:  Only this first page has few pictures.  Makes downloading this page faster, when you're seeing what's new - done for your convenience .

I indulged myself by putting a photo here (I don't normally look this smart, but it was my daughters wedding & I was under executive orders).

I live in Western Australia (between Perth & Rockingham).  I wanted my own hobby metal workshop since school days (1960's, Canterbury, UK) - finally made it, 40ish years later.  I don't get to spend any time in my workshop now, but I did enjoy the time I had there.  It's a ?ĝĝ?#341; getting older isn't it. 

Wherever possible I re-used old 'scrap' for projects.  Partly for financial reasons (I'm a disability pensioner), and partly the challenge of recycling good used materials. Partly due to the lack of local metal merchants who will sell small quantities. It would be so nice to have a real, old-fashioned hardware store nearby – The last local one was ‘killed off’ by the Bunnings conglomerate.  Examples of my ‘on-the-cheap’ projects are: Mandrel Handle ($0.50), Leadscrew Hand Dial ($0 - for lathe), homemade Edge Finder  ($0 - for mill-drill).

My aim isn't to give detailed plans, (everybody's needs will differ).  I want to show how I did it, sharing guidelines, ideas & inspiration, for the benefit of other hobby machinists & model engineers.  Given the need & a little lateral thinking, many things are possible with limited equipment & resources.

I hope these pages give the encouragement to try making, before rushing out & buying.  It's not just good financial saving, but gives considerable self-satisfaction - all the while becoming a more proficient machinist.  It's the trying that's important, as any failures are also valuable lessons.

I will concede, when starting to build a workshop, a certain amount of items are purchased, just to get a head start.  As the workshop builds in sophistication, less needs to be bought & more items can feasibly be made yourself.  i.e.: even if you intend making most of your special milling cutters, it's expedient to have a small commercially made set available for making them.  I'm sure anyone who's tried to make machine tool cutters from scratch, by hand, will agree with me on this.

Unfortunately, not everything homemade works as planned.  I once made a 3/8-24 UNF tap, hardened & tempered - it looked great - it's a pity the metal wasn't high carbon steel (which I'd believed it to be).  The first time I tried to use it all the teeth stripped off & the straight flutes made a beautiful spiral.  It's now totally useless, but looks very artistic.  Still, that's life isn't it.

As Johnny Carson once said: "If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the  impersonators would be dead."

I have a presence on Facebook and on YouTube, where I intend to publish occasional videos. I will put links to them on here soon.

The current (& planned) status of my (3.5m x 5m) workshop is:

Machinery & Tooling:

Lathe - Advance 7" (3-1/2" centre ht) x 20", Australian, 'improved on' Myford M4 clone, similar to the Perfecto lathe (UK).  See my home made/modified Lathe Radial Drilling & Light Milling Attachment.

A second, more robust lathe.  A Ta Shing - 250mm swing x 600mm.

Milling machine - Second hand HM-30 mill drill (almost identical to ZX-30).  Photo's show new hand dials made from scrap pulleys.

Douglas 10-1/2" Metal Shaper (Shaping Machine) – Had to sell due to lack of space - Purchased second-hand - capable of machining up to a 10" (250mm) cube (approx). Currently needs a machine vice (about 4" or 100mm size) & tooling.  Hopefully now I won't have to cut internal keyways by hand on the lathe (very slow, tedious & (in my case,) painful).

'Heko Junior Power Hacksaw' - An old & incomplete unit from the Eastern states.  Re-built & saving me a lot of (pain &) hard work.   Made a lay-shaft to slow it down, now I can use it on high carbon steel without overheating & stripping teeth off the blade.  I have since passed it on to a neighbour that's into building his own light aircraft.

An old industrial power hacksaw found in a scrap yard - more robust than the Heko - Will service it & replace some bearings / bushes, then it can be used - it's vice allows me to cut at more than just 90-deg.  Will put photo's on here soon.

Bench grinders - one for general tool grinding & one with a wheel for carbide tool grinding (i.e. 'greenstone').  Lathe tip grinding angle guide made from an old 'Stanley Bridges' circular saw table accessory.

Dad's old 135A arc welder bought in 1970.

Bar shear for flat & round stock - found by a friend, rusting on a farm (shear was rusting, not my friend - though you never know - he has got sandy-reddish hair).

Hand & other tools - mostly Chinese.

Common metalwork tools - twist drills, hacksaw, files, drifts etc..

Taps & dies (many are cheap carbon steel ones, sold in car shops for thread cleaning - Slowly adding a wider range.  Replacing carbon steel with HSS).  I will add home-made taps for a couple of special threads - I plan to use ACME in machinery making.  I must make square broaches in a couple of sizes too.

Dial & vernier callipers - They are the instruments I use most, highly recommended - reliable, accurate & no batteries or electronics to fail.

Telescopic internal gauges, small hole gauges, micrometers.

Dial (test) indicators (plunger + finger type), magnetic stand.  You can't have too many of these. One dial indicator came without lens or pointer, so I made new ones for it.  I'd also like to add Dial Indicator Internal Hole Attachments, both straight & right angled for awkward jobs - one day (he dreams - with a sigh).


Machinery Projects:.

Home made Dog-plate, Faceplate & a versatile Toolpost for the TaShing lathe (the toolpost is designed on the same principle as that on the Advance lathe & some Myford's).

Power Feed for mill/drill - Conversion of an auto windscreen wiper motor mechanism

Die filer - An old project that was put on hold, but is now completed - including: how to make a small vee-belt pulley. 

Lathe Radial Drilling & Light Milling Attachment - Modified GMC drill press - mounted on lathe cross slide.

Making dual pulley from 2 single pulleys for Ta Shing lathe.

Repairing Stripped Half-Nuts for Ta Shing.

Repairing a gear with missing teeth (2 different methods - Advance bullgear & TaShing idler gear).

Homemade pulley for a Serpentine (toothed/timing) belt - Without assistance of a dividing head or special end/side milling cutters.

Suds Pump for cutting fluid.

Forge - Made from a plough disk, a length of pipe, assorted scrap steel & an old hairdryer or vacuum cleaner with speed controller.

Tooling Projects:

Homemade milling cutters - Materials include: old 'big-end' engine bolts & old twist drills - showing how I made a guided reamer & counterbore for making small bearing housings - An example of using re-ground twist drill as an end mill - on Gear Repair page.

Simple Direct Indexing Head with Tailstock - Materials: 4 Toyota Land Cruiser pistons, 2" Dia. high tensile bolts, VCR springs & video heads etc.

Conversion of boring head for 'Offset Taper Turning' & 'Over-the-top Ball Turning'

Toolmakers buttons - How I made mine for $2.60.

Edge Finder & Centre Finder made from scrap.

Drill chuck arbor for Mill-Drill - Morse taper #3 to Jacobs taper #33 - also 3/4" Milling cutter arbor.  Later I'll make arbors for a shell mill & side & face cutters.

Drawbars - Metric (M12x1.75) & Imperial (3/8Whit.) for Mill-Drill

Tee-Nuts - made to suit mill-drill & utilise M8 x 1.25 threaded bar/bolt set I made for the lathe.

Angle plate for milling on lathe - made from 'U' shaped girder or truss.

Homemade indexable tip cutting tools.

Home made indexable tip boring bars.

Groover/mini-parting tool.

Fly-Cutter  for faceplate.

Lathe Mandrel handle - 1-degree divisions - uses an old record player / turntable platter.

Graduated dial for leadscrew, headstock end of lathe - using old sewing machine parts.

Graduated dial for leadscrew, tailstock end - using old VCR parts.

Wobbler lathe accessory.

Lathe Cutting Tool Height Setting Gauge.

Notes & Interesting Ideas:

The sort of things I keep an eye out for & try to salvage are shown on my Shopping List web page.  The list includes most of the materials I feel 'You can't have too much of'.

Taper (Arbor) Specifications for Morse taper & Jacobs taper - Imperial & Metric - Formulae for tailstock offset.

Formulae for Milling on Shafts & Shanks - Square on a shank, Flat on a shank, Flutes on a tap.

Masonry drills as boring bars .

Another good use for masonry drills - grind the end so it looks like a normal twist drill - you can use it as a very hard twist drill.  It can drill through case hardening & taps or H.S.S. drills when they break off inside blind holes.

Aluminium cooking foil makes good thin shim - the brand I use measures at 0.012mm or 0.0005" (0.5 thou).  Aluminium drink cans are about 0.125mm or 0.005" (5 thou).  Another source of thin aluminium as shim is the foil barrier inside tins of coffee.

The 'sticky' oil used for chainsaw chains is the same as the correct lathe oil, but available in small quantities.  It works well on my change gears, shaft bearings & leadscrew journals but is a bit too viscous for my ways.

I found that good 2-stroke oil works very well on my lathe bed - It's a fairly low viscosity oil that lubricates & protects well, but doesn't go sticky or gummy if I don't use the lathe for a week.

Engine bolts from big-ends, crankshaft bearings etc. are good quality high tensile steel - good for making custom milling cutters.  To use: anneal - make cutter - harden - re-temper.  You'll often (in the photo's) see me use re-ground twist drills as milling cutters, as on the Gear Repairs page.  They work quite well, and of course, nothings much cheaper than a broken twist drill.

Carbide router bits (woodwork ones) are a good substitute for end mills.  The 1/2" shank ones are best as they're strongest.  Cheap Chinese ones work fine.  Available in a wide range of profiles.  Remember: Keep the speed up & the feed rate down - remember they're a 2-tooth cutter when calculating feed rates.

Tap & Reamer dimensions - diameter, total length, cutter length, square end size.

Items like gudgeon pins, ball bearing shells etc, make good parallels for setting up odd jobs when machining.

Wheel nuts (esp. the long ones with domed heads) plus bolts, are good machinist's jacks for setting up items on the mill.

I do tempering of cutters etc. in cooking oil, in an electric wok, 1hr per inch of thickness at about 180C to 190C.  This seems to work well.  Tempering is done from 150C for very hard (& brittle) tools, up to 310C for springs.

Links to other websites of interest