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New Workshop




I made a start on the roof sheets on Tuesday and got all but one sheet in place. Fortunately, there was little or no wind so waving the sheets about as I lifted them on to the roof was fairly uneventful. I would not have attempted this if there had been a strong wind! The weather was not very kind on Wednesday though and I fitted the last sheet and put the rest of the fixings in the others in the pouring rain. It was worth it though to get the job finished.

I managed to get at all the fixings by leaning right over the roof from the edges whilst standing on the ladder. Needless to say, I made sure the ladder was very securely positioned and couldn't slip. This meant I didn't have to climb up on top after all, thank goodness.

Today I made up the window frame for the opening windows that will go along the top of the back wall and hopefully that will get fitted tomorrow. We did go to the club today as usual but were back by 2pm as Mick wanted to try steaming the American 2-4-4T in the afternoon!

I'm going to order some 1 inch thick polystyrene sheets on Monday and some UPVC sections to finish off around the windows etc.

A couple of photos of the inside so far:


Not a lot done over the last few days due to other work. The window frame was fitted in the back wall last week and today I glued strips of UPVC to the outside of it with silicone sealer and made a start on covering the inside faces of the window openings. The strips were cut from a couple of sheets of UPVC salvaged from an old door panel. The sheets were originally glued either side of a sheet of polyurethane foam but I managed to peel them off the foam quite easily. More recycling!

I also finished the front window frames by gluing the corner joints with silicone sealer and hung the door. The door is a very nice hardwood paneled door that was bought by someone to replace the front door on a flat they owned but they bought one too wide and it couldn't be cut down enough to fit. They didn't bother taking it back so it's been sat under my car port for several years. I was getting fed up with it stuck there and was going to get rid of it but fortunately I didn't! Just goes to show that all this hoarding of stuff does pay in the end!

The insulation will have to wait a bit longer as I realised the other day that the annual fee for this website is due later this month so I can't afford it until next month now. I haven't ordered the UPVC bits as planned either but may do that this weekend.


I've finished off the insides of the rear window frames and have now fitted all the windows themselves but still have to refit the sealed units and the locking mecanisms. I stripped all the windows down to give them a good scrub as they've been lying around for several years! All of the units have misted up slightly due to failed seals but they will do for the time being. They still let light in and I'm not bothered about looking through them. The view is not very inspiring anyway - it's next doors garage!

I made the gaps in the window frames a bit tight and they could have really done with being 1/8" wider. The windows and hinges only just fit! I can't find the locking keeps for the windows and I might have thrown them away (unusual for me!) so I'll either have to buy some more or simply make some from bits of angle.

Rear windows fitted and waiting for the units to be put back

I ordered the plastic cladding etc. yesterday to finish off around the front windows and had a phone call to say it would be delivered today. Unfortunately, when the delivery van arrived, there was only a small package containing some more silicon sealer and some cladding nails. The main package containing the cladding etc. had not been put on the van! The driver was very apologetic and promised it would be delivered tomorrow. No big deal but I was hoping to get the front finished tomorrow. I might do yet if it comes early enough.

I started sorting out the glazing strips for the front window frames. These will all have to be cut down to fit the new frames but that's easy enough with the chop saw. I seem to be missing the rubber strips that hold the glass in on the inside of the frames and I think I do remember throwing them away, thinking I would never need them! I had a search on Ebay and there are several window companies that sell the rubber sections by the metre so I can soon get some replacements. The only thing is that there seem to be dozens of different shapes and sizes so it's a question of getting the right one! I might get enough to replace the whole lot as some of the old ones have gone a bit stiff and don't seal all that well anymore. What I would like to find is a supply of the aluminium spacing bar that's used to separate the two panes of glass in the sealed units. I could then repair the misted units in the windows rather than buy new ones!


The promised delivery of the missing plastic never materialised so we'll see what tomorrow brings! If nothing appears tomorrow, there will be a few phone calls being made.

I fitted the sealed units into the back windows and fitted the locking mechanisms and handles. Had another search for the missing keeps but with no success. Tonight I cut and fitted the glazing bars for the front windows but I don't seem to have all the seals for those either. I'm going to have to sort out replacement ones and get an order sent off.


The plastic cladding didn't appear on Thursday either! I rang up the supply company who were very helpful and promised to chase up the delivery and see what had happened. They rang the next morning to say that the delivery company could not find the package. How can you lose something 5 metres long! Anyway, the company have sent out another batch which should be here tomorrow (Monday).

In the meantime, I've done a few small jobs. I ordered some new seals for the front windows on Thursday and they arrived next morning at 7.00AM. I've drilled holes through the framing to take the cables for the power socket ring main and ran the cables for the lights. I'm fitting four five foot flourescent fittings which should give plenty of light. Two of them will be over the bench at the front and the other two over the machines at the back. I've also diverted the armoured cable that fed power from the house to the greenhouses and fitted a two way consumer unit in the corner of the workshop to feed the sockets and the lighting.

I spent most of Friday photographing all my etched brass loco kits that I bought back in 2004 but have never touched. I've decided that there is no point in keeping them as my interest is now mainly in live steam.They are all on Ebay now and going very well. They should raise enough money to finish off the workshop and buy a nice Boxford shaper that is part of the workshop clearance I've been helping with. I think there might be enough left to buy one of the locos as well! There's a very nice part built 5 inch gauge GWR Bulldog chassis to the Keith Wilson design with most of the castings to finish it. They are a lovely looking loco and don't seem all that common. Not too big either so should be easy to manage. I'm very tempted!

Saturday was taken up with a trip to Swindon to attend the AGM of the Southern Federation of Model Engineers. It was a long way to go for a two hour meeting and I don't think I shall bother next year.

Today I cleaned up the two panes of glass for the front windows and put them in place. I can't fit them properly until the plastic arrives as I need some bits of it to make spacers to compensate for the use of a single pane of glass rather than a double glazed sealed unit.


The second batch of plastic arrived last Monday as promised and is now fitted. I used 300mm wide hollow cladding (or soffet board) to fill in over the windows and around the windows. The edges of the wood surrounding the plastic window frames have been covered over with plastic angle cut to fit. The angle also covers the cut edges of the plastic cladding and it all looks quite neat and tidy.

I've still got to buy some wood to finish off the door frame. It would have been nice to use plastic for that as well but the company I bought the plastic from didn't have anything suitable.

The rectangular plastic trim that I bought to pad out the single glazing in the front windows proved to be too small so I'm going to have to think of something else. I'll probably just order the sealed units and fit those straight away rather than wait until later.

A member of one of the engineering forums I frequent suggested that I might have a problem with rain blowing under the roof corrugations at the front so I've fastened a length of plastic angle onto the front edge of the roof sheets and this should stop that happening. It actually looks better as well and covers the bare ends of the roof sheets.

I've bought the insulation to go on the walls and roof which is to be used in conjunction with some standard loft insulation that a friend has given me. I was going to use 25mm polystyrene sheet but came across a product called Superfoil which is basically bubblewrap with an outer layer of silvered plastic. The bubbles act as the insulation and the silvered plastic reflects heat back into the interior. Although it's only 4mm thick it is supposed to have the same insulation value as 55mm of polystyrene. As the price worked out to be pretty much the same as the 25mm polystyrene I decided to give it a try.

At this point I realised that I should have thought a bit more about the timber framing and made the spacings of the verticals to suit the insulation and the size of the plywood which will line the workshop inside. I should have made the framing so that any joints in the plywood lining fell on a piece of wood. As it happens, most of the joints will be in 'mid air' and will need wooden strips putting behind to support them. The insulation will have to have joints in it as well. Oh well, too late now!

I've now sold all the stuff that I put on Ebay so I've finally got sufficient funds to get everything I need to finish the workshop. I've ordered the light fittings and a load of sockets for power. Over the next week I'll sort out the plywood for lining the interior and the materials to finish the floor etc.


The sockets and lights arrived and the Superfoil insulation which is now fitted. That was dead easy to fit, just cut to size with scissors and held in place with pins to stop it falling out until the loft insulation is added. I'm fitting the loft insulation now. That's a bit fiddly and messy as it has all got to be cut up and made to fit between the timbers. That's held in place with string nailed to the timbers.The loft insulation is too thick at 170mm so I've split it in half and it's about right then. Apparently, there's no point in squashing it down to fit because if you squash it to half it's proper thickness, you only have half the original insulation value anyway.

Insulation in progress

I had to buy some 2.5mm twin and earth for the sockets. How that's gone up in price lately. I used to be able to buy 100metres for what I paid for 25!

I've fitted one of the fluorescent lights temporarily until the lining is on the ceiling and it's pretty bright with just that. When the other three are fitted as well it should be plenty bright enough to see what I'm doing. The fittings are the standard type with chokes and starters but I've bought some electronic high frequency chokes to fit instead. This worked out much cheaper than buying the fittings with the electronics already fitted. The electronic chokes are much better. You get instant start, no flicker, and longer tube life. You also don't get the stroboscopic effect that can make things like lathe chucks appear to be standing still when they are actually spinning!

I've gone for 22mm P5 grade moisture resistant chipboard for the floor and that is coming tomorrow along with the 9mm plywood to line the walls. I'm also bidding on a big piece of Altro flooring on Fleabay which will work out considerably cheaper than buying it normally (assuming I win it!). It's a bluey grey colour but I'm not bothered about that if it saves money! I'll probably get some rubber mats to put on it anyway.


Wow, how time flies! Sorry for the lack of updates but I've been very busy with other things e.g. the garden.

The workshop is now virtually finished and ready for use. The interior is lined with 10mm plywood with a coat of emulsion to brighten it up.

Plywood lining fitted and sockets and lighting

The Altro non slip flooring was glued down with the correct adhesive (a bit messy!) and the edges finished off with some 1/4 round PVC trim. The next job was a nice long bench and this was made from a frame of 89mm x 39mm timber left over from the workshop framing, covered with 22mm chipboard. It will eventually have a covering on top of this, maybe 1/8" hardboard, which can be replaced at a later date if it gets too scruffy and damaged. The clock is the old Smiths Selectric from the workshop in the house. I was told that it came from the old Derby Friargate station when it closed but there is nothing to prove that unfortunately.

Altro flooring fitted and the new work bench

I could now finally move the Chester mill into it's nice new home. This meant stripping it down again into manageable bits so that I could carry it, so it all got a good clean at the same time. It has kept in pretty good condition, despite it's position under the car port for all that time. It has been back in use over the last few months but I have altered the top belt cover by removing the hinges so that the cover can be just lifted off when needed to change the speed. It was a real pain before as you couldn't open the cover unless the head was wound right to the top of the column. To be honest, there's not now enough headroom over the top of the column for the cover to hinge anyway! Recently, I have moved the light fitting over the mill to the side a bit as it was in the way where it was.

The mill, finally in it's new home!

You can feel a bit of vibration through the floor when the mill is running but the floor is very solid.

The next job is to weld up a steel stand for the ML7 and I've already got some 50mm square steel tubing for this. The ML7 can then be dismantled, cleaned, and installed. I've now also collected the Denham lathe from my friend at Hinkley. This needs completely stripping and repainting but is in very good condition and will make a superb addition to the workshop. I've still got to collect the Boxford shaper that I bought from the workshop clearance that I recently helped with. Hope it's all going to fit!!

There's still a few little jobs left to on the workshop. I've got some guttering to fit along the back to collect the rainwater (for the locos and the garden) and the rear window frames still need a strip of pvc gluing on inside to finish them off. Then there's shelving and storage to fit in to house all the materials and junk from the upstairs workshop!


Not much progress made inside the workshop due to other projects. I've moved the shaper (recently collected) inside ready for cleaning and painting and made a start on the Denham lathe. The guttering was fitted last year and a nice big water tank made to collect all the water from the workshop roof and the two greenhouses. The water will be used for the greenhouses and the garden during the growing season. I struggled for water last year and as I'm on a water meter I don't want to have to resort to using mains water.

This year's water supply for the garden!

I did have a problem over the winter when water suddenly started dripping in over the back windows of the workshop. I eventually traced this to water running between the roof sheeting and a length of plastic angle I had fixed underneath the overhang of the roof to finish off the back wall of the workshop over the windows. I had taken the waterproof membrane over the top of this angle (can't remember why now!) instead of behind it and the water was running back between the membrane and the angle. I spent an afternoon in the freezing cold taking off the guttering and replacing the angle with a simple strip with the membrane tucked behind it. This has done the trick and the workshop is nice and dry again.


Back to the workshop saga!

Both lathes are now set up as well as the shaper. The next job is providing storage to house the collection of tools and other assorted junk. I've got several draw units to fit and shelves underneath the bench as well as on any available wall space.

I've not sure about the Pollard drill. Although it's nice, it's very big and takes up a lot of room. The main problem is that it is very deep and sticks out a long way if put against the wall. The stand that it's on takes up a lot of room as well. One possibility is to mount it on the far end of the bench. It will just fit under the roof so I could do that. It would be nice to have a dedicated drilling machine rather than having to use the mill all the time. I have got a cheap Clarke bench drill but the quality is not there. Mind you, that's at my brother's house anyway.

I think I will move the minimill into the workshop as well as that does get a lot of use. It makes a very good precision drilling machine and is useful for delicate milling jobs. That could also go on the end of the bench but I don't want to start filling the bench with machine tools otherwise I'll have nowhere to work! I could put a small bench or sturdy shelf for it at one end of the workshop which may be a better idea.The problem is that I've finished up with more machines than originally planned for! I've also got a small bandsaw to go somewhere. Bigger workshop? !!

One advantage of having the new workshop though is that I can use the old upstairs one for more storage for other tools such as the chop saw, circular saws, etc. which I don't really want in the new workshop. That can be kept purely for metalwork. I think I'll probably keep the tool and cutter grinder upstairs to keep grit etc. away from the machine tools. That won't be used all the time so having it in the house won't be a problem.

I might actually get back to making some chips soon!


After a bit of thought I decided to utilise two drawer units to make a small bench at the end of the workshop so that the minimill could be mounted on it. I had intended to put the drawer units under the main bench but that would have left a big gap behind them which would have wasted valuable storage space.

The drawer units were screwed together, screwed to the wall, and a piece of surplus chipboard from the floor cut and fitted. The units were not tall enough as they stood so I made a 'spacer' from some 150mm wide timber that I had lying around and painted it white. The chipboard was then covered with a piece of the Altro flooring that was left over to make a hard wearing surface. At some time I'll get some 25mm alumnium angle to put around the edge. I've still got to cover the main workbench with something, maybe lino if I can get a cheap offcut, and that will also have aluminium angle around the edge.

The Minimill in it's new home

I can still fit some shelves etc. behind the mill so I haven't lost too much storage space.


Been busy over the last week gradually fitting shelves and moving stuff into the new workshop. It's times like this when you realise how much stuff you've accumulated over the years and how much it weighs! I'll post some pics when it's all done.

I've dismantled the Pollard drill again and moved it onto the end of the bench where it doesn't look too out of place. I've put it at an angle with the motor tucked into the corner so it doesn't stick out past the edge of the bench. I think the wheeled stand that it was on will have to go as it takes up too much room. I had thought it might be useful as a moveable work bench but at some point I want to build a loco stand with a revolving spit and there won't be room for them both.

I stood looking at the ML7 the other day and suddenly realised that I now can't use the drawbar that I made for the 2MT collets that I use in the spindle - the lathe is too close to the end wall to get it into the spindle! I'll have to come up with one that fits from the collet end of the spindle instead of the changewheel end. I'm not moving the lathe again!

I looked on Ebay today and came across some 3mm thick rubber matting that's quite cheap and will make a suitable top for the bench. It's got fine ribbing on one side but the other side has just a small pattern so I can use it upside down - I think having the ribs on top would make it awkward to keep clean.

I received some bad news this morning. Friend Dennis, whom I got the Denham lathe from, passed away this morning. He'd just celebrated his 93rd birthday but had not been well for some time. I'll miss him.


I ordered the matting and some aluminium angle for the bench and that arrived on Friday so I got stuck in and got that job done. The reverse side of the matting is virtually smooth so is ideal to cover the bench. The angle is the sort used for finishing the edges of flight cases and has a nice chamfer on the top edges. This was simply screwed onto the edge of the bench. While I was at it, I decided to replace the top of the bench for the minimill with the matting which looks better.

The matting was 1.2 meters wide so I had to cut it in half for the bench which left a nice long piece to put on the floor in front of the bench. There's still quite a large piece left which will make a couple of mats to go in front of the lathes. The only problem is that the rubber stinks but hopefully that will go away with time. The smell gets on your clothes and makes those smell as well, it's that strong!

There's not a great deal left to do now. Most of the tools are in the new workshop but some still need sorting out as to where to put them. I can still fit some shelves under the bench for odds and sods and some drawers under the bench would be useful as well.

At some point, preferably before next winter, I need to buy and fit the sealed units for the two large windows. The single glazing seems to be fine but double glaze units would help keep it a bit warmer.

Out of interest, I kept a record of how much I spent whilst building the workshop and you can see it here. The costs were just under £2,000 but that includes delivery charges where necessary which would account for maybe £150 in total.

It's been a long and hard haul but I got there in the end! Now to enjoy it.


Wow, I can't believe it's four years since I finished the workshop! Well, I say finished but there are still a few little jobs that I haven't done yet. I still haven't replaced the single glazing with double glazing and the small windows on the back wall still haven't got any catches on them. Some of them tend to creep open with wind etc. so I have to check them now and again and pull them shut again.

I haven't spent very much time in there over the last six months as I have a problem with my leg at the moment that makes it very uncomfortable and often very painful to walk and stand for any length of time.

A few thoughts and observations:

I've noticed that the temperature changes very slowly inside the shop due to all the insulation so condensation has never been a problem and I don't seem to get any rust on any of the equipment. I have noticed a bit of condensation on the inside of the windows if I am working in there when it's cold outside but the double glazing will cure that when I get around to fitting it. I've got a thermometer in there permanently and it's very rare for it to go below freezing even though I don't leave any heating on at all. I did use a small dehumidifier at times over the winter which extracted quite a bit of moisture from the air but it's a cheap Peltier effect one and it freezes up and stops working if the temperature gets too low.

If I intend to work in there when it's cold I just put a 3KW fan heater on for 15 minutes before I go in. It soon reaches 70° F in there and then it's nice and toasty.

The big windows at the front make it very light inside during the day and the four light fittings give plenty of light when it's dark. However, the two fittings over the lathes, mill, and shaper are a bit too low really due to the lack of height of the ceiling and I do catch my head on them sometimes. The fittings are quite bulky and I have thought about replacing them with some low profile LED ones instead. The fittings over the bench are fine.

The big problem I do have is storage, or rather lack of it. There's very little wall space to put shelves or cupboards up and I've got a lot of stuff to keep in there. I have put up shelves where possible but there is nowhere near enough.

Some years ago I purchased a job lot of plastic storage bins ( the sort that normally clip onto a metal back board) so I've screwed a lot of those to the back wall behind the lathes wherever there is space. I keep lathe tools and odd bits and bobs in those. I also bought two metal drawer units and fitted those on the wall next to the mill for cutters and small tools.

Over the last few months I've bought quite a lot of secondhand Mitutoyo digital calipers and micrometers. Some of them are in good condition and some not so but all of them work and I got them at very good prices. I did buy a few faulty ones as well very cheaply with the idea that I might be able to repair them. One of the calipers sold as faulty just wanted the battery contacts cleaning and a new battery fitting. I was surprised to read that the batteries in the Mitutoyo calipers are supposed to last for over two years. That's a bit different to my cheap Aldi ones that only last a few months! Having said that, I've got five of the cheapo Aldi ones and they all work perfectly and seem to be accurate enough ( I've checked them with gauge blocks). Some of them are maybe 10 years old now. At about £8 each I consider them very good value and ideal for rough work. The Mitutoyo ones will be kept for 'best'.

I did buy a cheap 100mm caliper from China as sometimes the 150mm ones are too big to fit in but it is absolute rubbish and very poor quality. I might just cut one of my Aldi ones down and use that.

I've also bought a Mitutoyo 150mm height gauge as I didn't have one at all and several sets of telesopic bore gauges which I also didn't have. Other purchases include a couple of nice dial indicators, a couple of magnetic stands for them, and various small tools such as countersink bits and a centre finder. I've been inspired by watching a load of videos on Youtube by people such as Abom79 and Keith Fenner!

The problem of where to keep all these new acquisitions came up so I decided to buy two sets of Bisley metal 10 drawer units. I removed the eight wooden drawers under the small milling machine, leaving the frame intact, and these new metal cabinets fit nicely in place of those. I think that the old wooden drawers will be relocated, probably under the workbench top, giving yet more drawer space for tools.

My brother has borrowed my digital camera at the moment so I will put some photos up when I get it back.


I'm having a bit of a clearout at the moment to try and get rid of some of the stuff in the workshop that needn't be in there. The shed next door to the workshop has been full of junk for ages now and is just a tip so I'm having a sort out in there to get rid of the rubbish and make some room. It's full of plastic plant pots that I've collected over the years and will never use so these are going in the bin along with anything else that I don't need anymore. There were a couple of black bags full of the leftover insulation from the workshop and bits of plastic etc so these will go as well.

I'm trying to make room to put some cheap shelf units in the shed so that some of the junk from the workshop can be stored in the shed instead. I've managed to put two up so far and that has already made a difference. One thing I've done is to move the compressor from under the end of the bench in the workshop and put that in the shed. That has freed up quite a large space under the bench and so I've moved those new Bisley drawer units that I put under the Mini Mill to where the compressor was.


I did have to move the leg that supported the end of the bench from the front to the end of the bench to get both drawer units in. There's room behind the metal drawer units to put long lengths of stock out of the way and room on top to put something, maybe another couple of shallow drawer units.

I've also put the old wooden drawers back which had been stacked in the shed taking up valuable room. I was going to fit them under the bench top but they are better back where they were under the mill. Fortunately, I hadn't removed the runners for the wooden drawers when I fitted the Bisley units.

I wasn't entirely happy with the way that the Bisley drawer units looked under the mill anyway as it looked a bit of a bodge. Also, I had been storing all the digital calipers and micrometers etc in the Bisleys but finished up with a lot of wasted space due to the shallow drawers in them. I could only get one layer of boxes etc. in each drawer whereas the wooden drawers are much deeper and you can stack boxes on top of each other and get more in each drawer.

I'm going to have to run an electric supply to the shed so I can fit a socket for the compressor rather than use an extension lead all the time and I'll probably put a light in there as well. The airline from the compressor is plenty long enough to reach into the workshop if I need to use it in there. I only really use it for blowing bits off that I've machined or cleaned in paraffin etc. and I do that outside anyway. I know a lot of people use an airline for blowing off swarf etc. in the lathe or mill but I've never thought that to be a good idea. The swarf blows everywhere and just makes a mess!

One thing I want to try and do is reduce the noise that the compressor makes when it's running. It's horrendous at the moment! I'm wondering if a lot of the noise comes from the air intake? I'll try fitting a pipe to it to see if that acts as a silencer and quietens it down a bit.


More new tools

A few months ago I started making a 'Wish List' of all the tools that I would like to get for the workshop and this weekend I crossed a few of them off.

The first item was an R8 boring head for the mill. I did have one that a chap at the club gave me but it's seen better days. It needs the gib adjustment screw tightening down as far as you dare to get rid of the play in the dovetails.

I had a look around at the options available on Ebay etc. There were a couple of secondhand ones for sale but they seemed a bit expensive, especially as you don't know what condition they are in. Next I looked at the Chinese ones which seemed reasonably priced for a complete set with boring bars etc. However, when I looked at the photos that some of the sellers put up in their listings the quality looked awful. Some looked as though they had had the dovetails hacked out with a chisel! In the end I spent a lot more than I intended to and went for a Vertex from Rotagrip (no association). The quality looked vastly superior to the cheap Chinese ones. I went for a 75mm diameter head which takes 18mm boring bars as I thought this would be a more rigid setup than the smaller heads that only take 12mm bars.

It arrived today and the quality does look very good.



The set comes with two 18mm boring bars that take a HSS square tool bit, two 18mm carbide tipped bars and three 12mm carbide tipped bars with an adapter. The action of the head adjustment seems very smooth and precise.


I also bought a set of 1/8" parallels for the mill. I was getting fed up with trying to find bits of bar to use to get work at the right height in the vice! These are just cheapo Chinese ones but they will be perfectly ok for what I do.



The last item was an R8 slitting saw holder for the mill. When I was cutting down the aluminium angle for the driving truck I had to use a small homemade one in the drill chuck which was ok but not as rigid as one held directly in the spindle. The one I bought is one of those that takes a range of saws with different bores. They are not ideal as I've found that they don't hold the saws very centrally due to the design but they do work. Ideally, it would have been better to buy some blank R8 arbors and make my own. I might do that eventually but this will do for now.



Oh, and I ordered a load of wooden file handles. Some of them seem to be ridiculous prices but I found some more reasonably priced. I've picked up a lot of NOS files over the last few years to replace my worn out ones and increase the different sizes and shapes but haven't anywhere near enough handles for them all. I get a lot off Ebay (where else!) but a chap usually has a stand at the Midlands ME Exhibition and I've bought a lot from him. I was talking to him in March and unfortunately, he may not be attending anymore as the cost to him of having a stand is getting too much. I think a lot of the traders are feeling the same way.



I've decided to make some more modifications to the workshop to improve the lighting and make more storage space available.

I've bought two more shelving units to put in the shed and also decided to insulate it using the same aluminised bubble wrap that I used in the workshop. Of course, I decided to do this after fitting the previous three shelving units so I've got to empty those again and move them so that I can get at the wall behind! I'm hoping that the insulation will help prevent condensation and rust which is always a problem with metal sheds. I'm just sticking the insulation to the steel walls using strong double sided foam tape.

I've also bought a metal three drawer tool chest for keeping my measuring equipment in so they are all in the one place.



This will just fit between two of the shelves on the shelf unit at the end of the workshop and holds my digital calipers, dial indicators and telescope gauges etc. It seems reasonable quality for the price and has ball bearing slides on the drawers which makes them very easy to open and close. I've still got a lot more calipers etc. but I'll just keep the ones that I use the most here.

At the same time I bought some metal drawer boxes as used in fitted kitchens and these will be fitted under the bench when I get the time. I have already fitted two wooden drawers that friend Rod gave me under the bench to hold all my small hammers, screwdrivers etc. I was fed up with having them cluttering up the bench top!

I finally got around to buying some 600mm square LED lighting panels to replace the fluorescent fittings over the lathes and the mill. I think I mentioned before that the ceiling is quite low on this side of the workshop and I had to be careful not to bang my head on the fittings! I have recently replaced about fifty conventional 600mm square fluorescent fittings with LED ones in our local social club and I was very impressed with the LED versions.

The prices for these fittings are very reasonable now and I paid less than £20 each for them. If they had been available cheaply when I first built the workshop then I would have used them straight away.

I've fitted three of the LED units to replace the two old fluorescents. Each of the lathes has one centrally mounted on the ceiling directly over them to give the maximum light on the lathes and the third unit is mounted between the mill and the shaper.



These LED fittings are mainly used in suspended celings (as were those at the club) but they can be mounted onto a conventional flat ceiling. You can buy a celing mounting kit but these are about 50mm deep as they are designed to hold the power supply for the fitting. I would not have been any better off using these as I would probably still have banged my head on the things! Instead, I mounted the panels directly to the ceiling using mirror brackets on each corner. The panels are only 9mm thick so these mirror brackets were ideal. The power supplies were then just mounted on the ceiling in a convenient position and wired up to the existing mains cabling.

I did modify the cable exit on the panels. As received, the cable comes straight out of the back of the panel which would have made it difficult to mount the panels flat against the ceiling.



What I did was to file a groove in the edge of the aluminiun extrusion that surrounds the panel and feed the cable out the side through that.



This of course invalidates any guarantee that comes with the fittings but for less than £20 each I'm not bothered. If one packs up then I'll just throw it and buy another one.

If you decide to do something similar yourself be very careful that the LED strips are not on the side that you decide to file the slot! The panels have the LEDs mounted on two opposite sides of the panel and they shine across the plastic diffuser to illuminate it. Normally though, I think the cable exits on one of the sides that does not have the LEDs as mine were.

I opted for the 6500K panels which give a very white light with a blue tint. This may not suit everybody though but I think it is ideal for a workshop. I recently fitted a 6500K LED bulb in the back room of the house where I normally live and work and I can actually see what I'm doing now! You do get used to the bluish light after a time and I don't notice it now.

I will probably replace the two fluorescent fittings over the bench as well at some point in the future. The old fittings won't be wasted. I want one to put in the shed and two will be fitted under the car port. I do have lights under the car port at the moment but the fittings are steel and getting quite rusty now. The fittings from the workshop are plastic so better suited for that purpose.

I've also been spending more money on Banggood! I've ordered a 50mm carbide insert face mill which I've been wanting for some time, a carbide insert parting off tool, some carbide insert boring bars and some metric cobalt drills. I'm just waiting for all these to arrive.



Bit of an update on the tooling. The facemill arrived but I've not really used it yet. I did try it when I was remachining the trailing frame for the Bonds Pacific but the setup wasn't rigid enough so I reverted to an endmill. I do have some carbide insert tools that I want to machine down to fit the lathes so that will be a good test for it when I get around to it. I also ordered some spare inserts for the facemill after it came.



The facemill cost just over £25 complete with four Blue Nano inserts and the R8 arbour which is very cheap. The inserts were £15.80 for ten. The face mill itself and the arbour seem very nicely machined and the inserts fitted perfectly.

The Blue Nano inserts are supposed to be a lot tougher than standard carbide and should last three or four times longer before they need changing. Time will tell how good these actually are but the reviews seem very good.

Next to arrive were the parting off tool and the boring bar.



Both seem ok for the price but again, I haven't tried them yet. The parting/grooving tool was just under £10 with four inserts and the boring bar was just £5.34 with one insert. These are the standard carbide inserts but I'll probably get some of the Blue Nano ones as well.

You are limited in the depth of the cut with these type parting off tools (16mm in this case) but I just wanted to try parting off with these carbide inserts as I haven't tried them before. The insert width is 2mm but I noticed today that you can get 1.5mm inserts as well. I may have to machine the shank down to 10mm thick as the quick change toolpost on the ML7 will only take 10mm shank tools. Actually, it will take bigger but you can't get the tool low enough to get down to centre height. If I remember correctly I couldn't find a 10mm shank tool advertised individually at the time which was why I finished up with a 12mm shank one.

Next came a set of metric 1.5mm to 10mm cobalt drills. I had seen DoubleBoost (John Mills) on YouTube reviewing these and they seemed pretty good for the price. In fact, John had also reviewed the facemill with favourable results which was why I went for one of those.



The tips seem to be four facet ground so they should cut well and probably drill without needing a pilot drill first.


I decided to order a new set of 10mm shank insert tools for the ML7 recently and they came today. I have got some that I bought years ago from one of the ME suppliers but I've never been all that impressed with them. The inserts that came with them were not that good but I have been using some good quality ones for the last year or so which has improved them somewhat.



This is one of the more expensive (£38) 10mm sets as it comes with Blue Nano inserts. It seems a bit strange when you look through the various sets as seemingly identical sets vary quite considerably in price!

I've now got another parting tool. I did look at the sets without the parting tool but they seemed more expensive than those that included one! The set comes with only one insert per tool so I'll order some more later. They work out about £10 for 10 which is very reasonable.

I've also ordered a profiling tool that uses the round inserts. Unfortunately, the smallest shank size for these is 16mm so that will definitely need machining down when it arrives. While I was at it I ordered some spare screws for the inserts as I'm bound to drop one and lose it!

The only problem now is that I could do with a load more tool holders for the quick change toolpost! I really ought to set to and machine some as they are not cheap to buy.

What I would like to do is modify the topslide on the Denham lathe so that I can use the same quick change toolpost on both that and the ML7. I can then use all the same tooling on both lathes if I want to. It should just be a case of moving the toolpost stud on the Denham topslde towards the front corner and adding a spacer to bring the tool post to the right height so that the tools will still be at centre height without having to adjust them.


Inbetween times I've been picking up bits and bobs from Ebay etc. I always look and see if there are any bargains to be had.

I've added a few more clock gauges to the collection.



A couple of nice Battys, a very nice Mercer, a John Bull with rear plunger and an unbranded one which is probably a cheapy. No Mitutoyos yet but even secondhand they command very high prices. A couple of them are 'sticky' and need a good clean. Many people make the mistake of oiling the plngers and that eventually gums them up.

One very nice acquasition recently was Mitutoyo however and that was a one inch bore micrometer which is in as new condition. I got it under sad circumstances though as it came from the workshop clearance of a fellow member of the N25GA who passed away early this year.




Just a correction to what I said about not having a Mitutoyo dial indicator. I found one in a box in one of the workshop drawers. I had forgotten that I had it!



I'm still buying bits and pieces from Ebay and one of the latest acquisitions is a secondhand Albrecht keyless drill chuck 1 to 13mm. Last year I bought a new keyless chuck from Banggood and I've now decided that it's crap! I checked the runout by chucking a dowel pin and measuring the runout with a dial gauge. It's a massive 0.010" TIR which is rubbish really. Even the cheap chinese keyed chuck that came with the mill is much better than that at 0.003" TIR. It doesn't grip that well either.

While I was at it, I checked the runout of the mill spindle and that's about 0.0006" or 6/10 of a thou. I wonder if the bearings may have something to do with that but I suppose it's not bad considering it's a cheap chinese mill. I will get around to replacing the bearings though when I've finished messing with the Winson Britannia. There is quite a bit of play in the spindle if you move it from side to side with your hand although that could be play between the quill and the head casting.

I thought it might be the arbour that came with the chinese keyless chuck that was the problem but that runs perfectly true. It's either the arbour is not fitted properly or the chuck body doesn't run true to the taper socket in it.

Anyway, I decided to look for a s/h chuck from a good quality maker and found an Albrecht that looked reasonable so took a gamble and got it for £18 which was very cheap. If it turns out to be rubbish I won't have lost much.

It didn't come with an arbor, which is no problem, and it was missing the knurled ring at the top that you grip for tightening it. I can soon make one of those from a bit of steel bar. I've noticed that quite a few s/h chucks have this ring missing. You don't really need it if you are using the chuck in a fixed spindle such as a tailstock so I suppose people take them off and they get lost.

It looked in quite good condition when it arrived and operated very smoothly. The jaws are a bit worn and chewed up at the very end but I've looked and you can get new jaws for about £60. That seems a lot but these chucks are about £250 new!

I decided to take it to pieces to give it a good clean and see what state the insides were in. Tom Lipton (Oxtools) has a very good video on Youtube about taking these chucks to pieces which came in very handy. You can also download the instructions from the Albrecht website.

You need to unscrew the hood from the main body of the chuck and Tom warns that it is a VERY tight fit if the chuck has not been to bits before. He was right!

To grip the bottom of the body I found a square of steel plate which already had a hole in it so I chucked that up and bored it to a good fit on the body. I then split it on one side with a hacksaw. You can then put the body in the block and clamp it in the vice while you unscrew the hood (hopefully!) using a pair of pipe grips (Stilson Wrenches). Make sure you use some soft shim between the hood and the wrench to avoid making a mess of it.

It took a pair of 24" Stilsons and a bit of gentle heat to get the hood to loosen up but it came of easily after that.

I stripped the insides and cleaned everything up with paraffin and then thinners. It was pretty mucky inside with chips and old grease everywhere. Make sure that you don't lose the ball bearings!

You can see the block with the hole to grip the body in the photo below.




There was a bit of discolouring on some of the parts but no corosion and everything looked in good condition. I lightly stoned the jaws to remove some small burrs on the edges where the drills are gripped, greased everything where needed and reassembled it. I thought that I would try it as it was before splashing out £60 on new jaws!

I had bought an arbor to fit (R8 to JT6) so fitted that and put the chuck in the mill. I tested the runout as for the chinese chuck.



To my delight I got 0.0006" TIR which is the same as the runout of the mill spindle so it looks as though even with worn jaws the chuck still runs very true. I may still treat it to a new set of jaws but we'll see how it goes as it is for now. It's certainly a far better bargain than the chinese one! I shall keep my eyes open for some others.

I did actually dismantle the chinese one and it's a direct rip off of the Albrecht but nowhere near as well made or finished which is no surprise. It did cost considerably less after all. I thought that I might find a burr or something inside that was causing the runout. I found plenty of burrs but cleaning them up made no difference.

I've just bought another keyless chuck with a 2MT shank for the lathe. That's a Swedish make called Rapid? which is supposed to be good so we'll see what it's like when it arrives.

I've also picked up another couple of DTIs, a Verdict and a Mitutoyo, and a box of loose gauge blocks. I find them useful for packing when you are clamping stuff in the mill vice etc. I don't mind using old gauge blocks for that. I've got a set of good quality ones for 'best' use.

Incidently, one of the new LED light panels started flickering a week or so ago and it seems that the electronic power supply is faulty. I'd got some spare ones from the job that I did at the RBL Club so I just swapped it out. Not worth the hassle of trying to get a replacement from where I bought the panels.


Today I decided to have a change from the Britannia and make the missing collar for the Albrecht chuck.

I had some odd steel blanks which would be suitable so after some simple turning and boring I had a suitable collar. It was set up in the mill to drill and tap the holes for the clamping screw and the slit put in the collar with a slitting saw. I used the new R8 slitting saw arbor for the saw and, as I suspected, it does not hold the saw very truly and the saw had a distinct wobble from side to side! Still, it got the job done.



The original collars have a slotted head screw for the clamping screw but I used a 4mm hex cap head bolt instead.

The knurling on the edge of the collar didn't come out too well. My clamp style knurling tool wouldn't stretch to a large enough diameter so I used an old single wheel knurling tool that I got from somewhere. I don't think the wheel is very sharp and it took a lot of pressure on the tool to make it cut at all. I don't like using these single wheel knurls as you put a tremendous side pressure on the spindle and the bearings which doesn't do them any good. There is enough of a knurl though to get a good grip on the collar for tightening the chuck.

Unfortunately I can't fit it yet as I have to remove the R8 arbor from the chuck as the bore of the collar is smaller than the end of the arbor. I need a pair of chuck removal wedges but the only ones that I can find are out of stock at the moment.

Actually, this was attempt number two at the collar as Mr Bozo paid a visit when I was doing the first one. I had faced one side of the blank and bored it to a good fit on the chuck and called it a day as it was getting late. It was when I looked at some other chucks to see what diameter the collars were that I realised I had bored the blank to fit the wrong bit of the chuck! I had bored it to fit the main body of the chuck (the same size as I made the clamping tool for disassembing the chuck) instead of the smaller diameter that the arbor fits into. Oh well, I've got two tools for disassembling the chuck now!

Incidentally, I used the Albrecht chuck for drilling the holes in the collar and it worked fine so it was £18 well spent.


The Rapid chuck arrived today and it seems to be ok apart from it feeling a bit 'sticky'. The chuck has a bit of corrosion on it but nothing too serious. Maybe it's been left lying around somewhere damp. I stripped, cleaned, greased and reassembled it the same as I did for the Albrecht and it works very smoothly now. The body is a different diameter to the Albrecht so I utilised the 'Mr Bozo' collar that I started to make for the Albrecht to grip the body to unscrew the hood. I just had to put it back in the lathe and bore it out a bit more.

The jaws look brand new and have no wear at all so I guess that it has had new jaws fitted at some time. The hood wasn't all that tight to remove so it may well have been apart before. The grease inside looked old though and had gone quite hard. Probably whoever fitted the new jaws just did that and left the rest of the chuck alone.



The construction is identical to the Albrecht so maybe all these keyless chucks are to the same design? There is no provision for a collar on the fixed part of the body so tightening it in a mill could be awkward. However, I've got it to use in the ML7 tailstock so that is no problem.


I've used the Rapid chuck a few times now and it works fine. The only problem is that I've realised that it is only a 3/8" or 10mm capacity and I still have to use my normal Jacobs keyed chuck for anything bigger!

I've been trying to get hold of a set of JT6 chuck removal wedges so that I can remove the arbor from the Albrecht and fit the collar I made but wherever I've looked they have been out of stock! However, I came across a video on YouTube by Halligan142 where he improvised and used an open ended spanner as a wedge to remove the arbor. Looking through my collection of miscellaneous spanners I found a 16mm one that I must have ground down years ago to make it thinner to fit a certain job. The grinding had left the end of the spanner with a slight wedge shape and it would just fit in the gap between the chuck and the shoulder on the arbor. A quick tap with a hammer and presto, out came the arbor.

When I came to fit the collar I found the bore a bit too small to fit the end of the chuck so I had to rechuck it in the lathe and remove another 5 thou from the bore. After that, the collar fitted snugly and job done.



It will be a lot easier to tighten the chuck now. Before I had to use a spanner on the spindle arbor to stop the spindle from rotating whereas now I can just grip the collar.


I've finally got around to replacing the remaining fluorescent fittings over the bench with three more LED panels so all the workshop lighting is now LED. I can really see what I'm doing now!



As there is a lot more headroom at the front of the workshop I didn't have to mount the panels flush to the ceiling. This avoided having to alter the cable on the panels like I did on the other panels over the lathes and the mill. I mounted the panels using the little Z clips that came with the panels so they stand off from the ceiling by about 10mm.