Tools Etc.


I've decided to move all the bits about new tools etc. that I've acquired to a new dedicated section to avoid cluttering up other sections and to keep these all together.



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!


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 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.


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. The bore had probably closed up a bit when I cut the slot in the collar.



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'm still picking up bits and pieces from Ebay. I'm afraid it's a bit of an obsession of mine! I don't think that I am the only one guilty of this though. All engineers seem to suffer from the dreaded tool disease!

Some time ago I purchased another clamping set for the milling machine as sometimes I didn't have enough bits for a job in the one that I bought years ago. The new one is definitely a 'cheapy' and not the same quality as the original (it was a lot cheaper though) and the clamps could do with fettling as they have a lot of burrs on them. It's perfectly adequate though for what I'm going to use it for and the parts are all interchangeable with the first set. The only problem is that the nuts won't fit into the plastic holder that comes with the set (they fall out!) so I have to store those on the shelf next door to it.



The original set is at the top and the new cheap set underneath.

I've been looking to get one of these sets for the mini mill but no one seems to make them in the small 6mm size. You can only seem to get sets having a couple of clamps with the Tee nuts, studs etc. and they tend to be rather expensive for what they are.


I've finally bitten the bullet and bought an Oxy Propane set up for boiler making. I've already got Propane of course but now need to sort out a supply of Oxygen bottles. I will not be going to BOC as their rental charges are extortionate nowadays and just not worth it for the hobby user. I'll look into the rent free bottles where you pay an initial deposit and then just pay for the refills. In theory, you get the initial deposit back when you return the bottle but you have to be careful. Some of the suppliers will only refund the full amount if the bottle is returned within 12 months. After 12 months the amount that you get back reduces and after three years you don't get anything back at all.

Along with the Oxy Propane set up I've bought some vermiculite firebricks to make a proper brazing hearth and some insulation blankets to keep the heat in on large objects such as boilers.


I've been adding to the collection of dial indicators again. I must have about 30 of them now!

I've just picked up a couple of batches of Ebay. The first batch consisted of eight indicators including some nice 0.0001" and 0.0005" ones, all of them either Mercer or John Bull. One of the tenths indicators is a very nice Mercer with a three inch dial. It's just missing the screw in tip but I've got plenty of those now. All of these eight indicators work fine and just need a bit of cleaning up. The three inch Mercer was worth far more than I paid for the lot.



The second batch of six are also nice (Mercer and John Bull again) and mostly one inch travel and again, these all work apart from one is missing the crystal. Nobody else wanted these so I got them for £2.50 plus postage!



Some of them have cracked or damaged crystals which doesn't affect the working but it would be nice to see if I can replace them at some point. You can get watch crystals quite easily in various sizes but most of them seem to be flat instead of the convex required. I might have to look into making my own from a suitable material.


I've been meaning to get some BA nut spinners for ages and finally bought a load the other day. Most are secondhand but in good condition and I bought a few new ones to fill in the gaps.



Some of the sizes are repeated as I initially bought a job lot of 15 but I got them dead cheap so no problem.


I've also been after a Coventry die head to use for threading BA stuff rather than using ordinary dies. I finally got a 1/4" one at a very good price (£20!). It's a bit well used and two of the screws holding the front plate on are missing but it still works fine and threading in the lathe is much easier using one of these. The 1/4" head limits the size of thread that you can cut but I'm only interested in BA sizes and small whitworth anyway. I think you can go up to about 1/4" diameter threads.

It came with just one set of 4BA chasers but I'm slowly collecting other sizes as well. NOS chasers come up on Ebay very cheaply. The 1/4" size are not as plentiful as the larger sizes but there's still quite a lot of them. I don't suppose there is much call for BA and Whitworth chasers nowadays which is probably why they are so cheap.



It came with an adapter which was far too big to fit the tailstock chuck for either the ML7 or the Denham lathe but that was only held to the stub on the die head with a grubscrew so was easily removed.

The stub on the diehead was still too big for the chucks so I modified a 2MT shank that I had bought some years ago but never used. The end of the shank is left soft so that you can machine it yourself so I just drilled and bored it to take the stub. It was then drilled and tapped for a grubscrew again.

The chasers come in different types to suit different materials e.g. type S is for steel, AS is for Stainless, etc. The manual for the die heads say that you must use the correct type for the material that you are threading but for the sort of use I'm going to put it to I'm sure that you can get away with using just one type. In any case, I do have various types in the chasers that I have got so far.


The last indulgence for now was something I had seen Adam Booth (Abom79) on Youtube using and thought what a useful thing to have. It's a Trav-A-Dial. It fastens to the end of the lathe saddle and has a wheel that runs along the edge of the lathe bed. It has a dial like a dial indicator that tells you how far the saddle has moved. It's a bit like a very basic DRO but mechanical rather than electronic.



The large dial reads thousandths of an inch and the smaller one reads tenths of an inch. I haven't checked but I bet that you can zero the tenth dial the same as you can the thousandths dial.

The ones I had seen for sale were very expensive e.g. there is one on Ebay now for £250 but this one had a starting price of only £25. I didn't expect to get it but no one else bid so I got it for £25. Bargain! The seller is probably a bit sick as I'm sure he would be expecting to get a lot more than that for it.

It's in very good condition apart from a crack in the crystal and came with the original wooden case and a new spare wiper felt for the side that goes against the bed and keeps the chips away from the driving wheel.

It will be more useful on the Denham lathe than the ML7 but will need some sort of adapter to mount it. The body has a dovetail on the back so I will have to make something to fit that.


That's about it for now but I have bought other things over the past year or so such as a joblot of machinists clamps which you can never have enough of!


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