View Full Version : New guy..Introduction

12-18-2010, 02:38 AM
Hello, I am a "newbie" not only to this forum but also to the art of machining. I have considerable experience in a bunch of other things (Law, Flying, Shooting about any weapon and a topnotch reloader), I also Chrome and plate my own stuff with the caswell plating system. Not so much about lathes and mills.

I love to tinker with stuff, and I am the go to guy in my family and friends circle to fix, repair, modify and otherwise keep old and new vehicles and tractors working and or running properly.

I recently "acquired" a Grizzly G4015 (no "Z" it would have cost extra) Lathe/mill/drill thingy that just looks, letís see, whatís the word I want to use...Oh, Yeah..AWESOME (well to me anyway).
I always admired my grandfathersí lathe in his shop, and loved to turn the wheels and push stuff around, Ahhh, the thoughts and ideals of the very young!

Now I am MUCH older, Granddad passed away 20 years ago, but I have always had that fascination inside me. So now I have a really heavy Machine and a wife who thinks, "Great now I will never get the car in that darn garage" but with much more colorful euphemisms.

I have retired and now I want to try to learn this metalworking, so in that vein bear with me. I have researched about as much as I can and have gotten books by south bend, read the manual front to back I even got a two volume set called "machine shop practices" and have read both of them. I am even thinking about a college course (Me, back in school AND not teaching...thatís funny!).

Anyhoo....I started to look for "stuff" that I need to actually make something, but my wife has incurred a strict budget on me for now, you know Christmas and buying Her "other" stuff, for kids, grandkids, future grandkids, soon to be ex-grandkids and in and out laws, I think she buys panhandlers stuff! This leaves me with a budget of about 400.00 bucks for now. I know I can get an Aloris tool post for 78.00 from CDCO so my budget drops from there. Should I get collets? Live centers? I have looked at so much cool stuff I really think I could spend a few THOUSAND dollars! But then a divorce will cost me MUCH more that that (she can have the house but I get to keep the Garage) so any advice would be really helpful in helping me make my marriage last another 20 or so years. (Wait I could hawk the farm...hummmm Nahhh!!??)

oh, when I got the machine I got a REALLY LARGE suitcase with "change Gears" another chuck (4 jaw) a really BIG center rest, faceplates (2) "dogs?" with bent ends and screws in them something called Starrett gauges (3) circular and 2 tall ones about 2ft tall. An electric motor and a controller box. No tooling or mills the "drill part has a standard Jacobs chuck and it also has t "Dead" centers.

So there you have it, FYI the guy who had this lathe bought it new, I know because I helped him put it in his workshop a while back. Any help ..... Please!

12-18-2010, 06:55 AM
im so much an amature that what i have to say may not be worth a crap but, , , , have you got measuring equipt ? decent caliper / mic set ?
the quick change holder is a great investment. live center would be helpful but i have found that i should have a long, small diameter one as the quick change holder and my squatty live center don't care much for each other. probably a thread gage, one of those little steel thingys that has a 60 degree point and cuts on it and a bunch of threading numbers on it. . . can;t remember the real name for it. about 6 bucks. and some hss cutter blanks for making your own tooling. how about a couple lathe files ?
i assume you already have a bench grinder for making your tools. . .
and i have a set of stubby drill bits (they hardly flex at all) and a couple different center drills plus a good set of standard jobbers drills.

that may be enuf for a while but you will for sure be adding many things as you progress. . . i get the enco catalog and fliers regularly and always find something i think i cannot live without. you will too . . .

this is of course my opinion, but i have made some interesting repairs and stuff with pretty much what i have described.

and of course welcome to the "farm" . there are soooo many interesting and talented folks here and they are ready to give answers to nearly any of your questons. . .

a great test project is a "captured nut" that you will find by searching here.

12-18-2010, 06:56 AM
Welcome to the club. You've found a great bunch of folks. Lot's of knowledge walking around here.

First things first, be SURE you can be safe and you KNOW what every button and crank does. When you're confident, grab your safety glasses and some free machining brass and have a ball with that lathe. No need to make a certain thing, just play for now and learn your machine. How to adjust and set up for different opporations is the way you will learn what you need to have when you go to buy more stuff.

Good luck with your new toy,

12-18-2010, 07:50 AM
Your screen name is a good choice. I hope it's indicative of how you'll treat your machines while you're learning.

There'll come a time when brute force is the only answer, and sometimes even the best answer, but right now gently is the right approach.

12-18-2010, 11:20 AM
In your position I'd start with a selection of basics...

1. A decent 115pc drill bit set. Plan to spend $100 or so (on sale at enco often) I would NOT buy the super cheapie import set though... I made that mistake and they were not worth the effort.

2. A bunch of 3/8 High Speed Steel (HSS) tool bits. They're just tool blanks, about 3/8 x 3/8 by 2" or so. A half dozen will last you a year at least. Little Machine shop (IIRC) has a little tutorial on how to grind them - and they sell pre-ground ones so you have something to copy. $30 will get you going there.

3. End mills. High Speed Steel is fine. Look at Enco's US Made or regular brand name sale items. (I've had bad experience with their generic 'IMPORT' brand mills) I would get one or three each of four flute 1/4, 3/8, and mabe a 1/2 inch or two. Double end mills will give you a little more bang for the buck. Mills are consumables, replace them when they get dull.

4. A set of collets for the end mills. A set of 1/8 - 3/4 by 1/8 increments will be more than enough for now. I think CDCO has a good set for pretty cheap. Did you say you got a drill chuck? Never try to side mill with a drill chuck!

5. A good quality 6" dial caliper. I prefer B&S or Starrett, but Mitutoyo is very good too. About $100, less if you find a good sale.

6. A set of center or combination drills. (CDCO has a decent set for cheap)

You may have a little room in your budget after that, check CDCO for either a set of + - reamers (through 1/2") or maybe a set of counterbores (you'll use them more than you think)

Lust my two cents, and I'm sure there are other ways to get there, but I think that will get you started off well.

Welcome to the board, and don't be shy!

12-18-2010, 11:41 AM
First and foremost; read up on your equipment and how its used. Next, ask lots of questions. Everybody starts out knowing nothing.

Alistair Hosie
12-18-2010, 12:00 PM
A very hearty welcome.MY friend you will find that George bulliss our boss and the rest of the guys here are exeptionally nice people you have picked a site with the very best of lads here Take it easy and keep going.when I started I started with nothing I had never seen amilling machine working when I had already purchased one but like everything in life we have no knowledge of we if keen quickly aspire and soon learn the basics wjich is enough to keep us happy till we get more confident . Alistair

12-18-2010, 12:12 PM
If you do not have one already, a decent bench grinder with good wheels (most come with crappy wheels) of some sort is very handy for many, many things, and will be needed for shaping those HSS tool blanks that RobbieK suggested that you get for your lathe.

Ditto on the drill bits, few things will frustrate one as much as crummy drill bits. The really annoying thing is that you won't even know how bad they are until you use some good ones.

Liger Zero
12-18-2010, 12:17 PM
Welcome aboard.

Get your wife involved. Teach her as you learn. My wife can do stuff on the Bridgeports now, including some setup work. She also has her own "thing" where she makes engraved/etched glass art.

If she's resistant to the idea of learning with you.. MAKE stuff for her. For some reason "most" women react positively to shiny and the words "I made it for you." :D

Now... as for tooling. Don't try to acquire everything in one go. If I was starting out again I would buy:

ER Collets for the lathe
HSS Steel for making bits
Quick change tool post
a handfull of brazed carbide bits
Dial indicator and base
Decent bits.

Add to that a bench grinder and DECENT QUALITY WHEELS if you don't have one.

If I was starting out with JUST a mill...

Assortment of endmills and drill bits.
Hold downs
Dial indicator/holder
Face mill.

As for starting out on a project... I started out turning bits of PVC pipe to make special fittings for a friend... then knobs out of aluminum and Delrin for other friends, occasional small bauble for the wife (she likes shiny!)... sometimes I'd just chuck up a piece of plastic or aluminum scrap and play "what if..." That's a great way to learn sequence of operations.

Don't let the debate over "micron level accuracy" or "cheap Import vs American Iron" discourage you. Some of us are machinists who are used to superb equipment and high-end tools... Some of us have import "crap" and do things for fun.

That's the key. HAVE FUN. Yes you will make mistakes. You will snap tools, you might even "crash" your machine. Learn from it, dust off and keep at it.

Oh yeah. WEAR SAFETY GLASSES even at home. Metal fragments in the eye are "the suck" trust me on this. :cool:

12-18-2010, 12:26 PM
It seems that machining falls into several basic areas.

1) work holding ( fixtures, collets, vices, chucks, centers, faceplates, clamps)
2) Tool holding ( toolposts, collets, endmill holders)
3) Tooling (endmills, lathe bits, flycutters, drills)
3a) Tool making ( grinding and fabricating tools and tool holders)
4) Measuring (edge finders, dial indicator, dial test indicator, calipers, micrometers)

As you learn more, you will find (especially when milling) that the fixturing is the biggest challenge. It pays to plan ahead for how you will hold a part as you near the end of the project.

When metalworking, the ability to measure and compare sizes is of great importance, especially since it's very hard to 'uncut' a piece of metal. At the very minimum you need a way to measure absolute dimensions (A rule, a caliper, and micrometer ; roughest to most accurate) as well as a way to measure deviation from one point to the next ( dial indicator and dial test indicator). Indicators are often mounted on magnetic bases so you can mount them, center the work and then remover them in seconds.

If you are getting HHS late tools you will also need a grinder to shape and sharpen them.

Good luck with the new toys.


12-18-2010, 12:30 PM
Welcome to the Forum and don't be shy just because you are new. I've been for quite a while and have asked at least as many questions as I have answered or given opinion on. This site is a gold mine of ideas, experience and information and everyone I've had opportunity to interact with has been very helpful. I'm grateful to have a resources such as this at my fingertips.

Like you I started not knowing much more than that I wanted to learn to use a lathe. I've come a long way but am still learning every day I use it. In my humble opinion, as a beginner, I would do a couple of things. First, get all the books you can regarding machine work and lathe operation. Lindsay publications is a good place to begin. They have many reprints of old texts on the subject for a reasonable price. Believe it or not, although some books cover the same things you will get little tidbits of helpful information from each different text even if it is about the same subject. The South Bend Lathe book you mention and the Atlas lathe book are examples. Each presents bits of information the other doesn't although much of the same info is presented too. Regarding what is presented in these older books, just because it's old doesn't mean outdated. The techniques and principals used then are still applicable today. They may be slower or more tedious, but they get the job done and allow one to fully understand the principles behind various operations. Along with this advice I suggest read, and re read these texts. There is a lot there and I seem to get more each time I cover the information presented.

I wouldn't go out and purchase a lot of fancy equipment. A four jaw chuck, drill chuck, face plate, lathe dogs, high speed steel bits and good measuring tools can take you a long way in the beginning, and even in advanced stages. I do suggest you purchase the best you can afford so you don't become frustrated with tools that "kind of" work. As you advance many of the tools you need can be made by you with the advantages of saving money, experience gained and accomplishment.

Good luck in your new endeavor!

12-18-2010, 02:25 PM
Don't be in a hurry to get collets unless you are doing a lot of production. Learn to use your 4 jaw chuck and save your money for something else. Be sure you have good measuring tools to check your setups and work.

12-18-2010, 02:53 PM
First off, Welcome!

Second, don't be afraid to get a bounty of cheap import stuff (watch for the Enco sales and free shipping offers). With your $400 budget, you can get a long way toward expanding your tooling and measuring ability. The cheap stuff is plenty accurate enough, especially learning what you don't know yet. As you learn (and replenish your budget) you will appreciate the finer things in life, like more accurate or better built tools. You will also find that some of the import stuff is just fine and even a bargain in the end. You can abuse, drop, and really disrespect the import stuff and if it fails, you are not out much dough to replace it. Just drop your prized Mitutoyo, B&S or Starrett stuff just once and you will want to cry like a baby or curse like a sailor.

You are off to a very good start.

12-18-2010, 03:11 PM
Don't be in a hurry to get collets unless you are doing a lot of production. Learn to use your 4 jaw chuck and save your money for something else. Be sure you have good measuring tools to check your setups and work.

Thanks for all the replies. I do have a coupla of grinders and qute a few measuring tools. From my reloading I have calipers (both dial and electronic) I got some "carbide inserted turning tools" in, I think 1/4 or 3/16 (?) for the toolpost that came with the lathe/mill/drill thingy. I have read about making turning tools, but I get lost in the angles and degrees for the grinding wheel. I was lead to beleieve that carbide insert tools are a good choice for now until I learn more about grinding my own.

I also got "little Hogger" mills but have yet to figure out hoew to use them in the "Mill" part (I guessed just chuck em' up and have at it! i know now that was a bad idea from what I have read, I need, I guess, some kinda collet thingy and I have looked for them but I have a 3/8X16 drawbar and need a MT3 which from what I read was only in MT2 so that caused confusion for me. Do I get the collets holder or change the drawbar to whatever collet holder threading is? so I guess I do have some of the stuff, but now confusion is coming in with R8, MT3, MT2, Brigdeport, ER series, 5,4C and holders of every type.


12-18-2010, 03:26 PM
The collet question gets murky because you have a lathe AND a mill, and there are many different kinds of collets for different uses.

For the mill; end mill holders match the mill's spindle taper (mt3 most likely) on one end and have a hole on the other that matches the endmill shank. There are typically only a few shank sizes to work with. Each holder fits only one shank size and does it with great accuracy and it holds strongly.

Collets are for holding work (in the lathe) or a tool (in the mill). They fit a very narrow range of sizes. They have to match the spindle that they go into.

You can live without collets for a long time. When you start a project in the lathe that does the same thing to a hundred parts , a collet starts to look real attractive.

Check your manual to see what the taper is for your mill and your lathe AND your lathe tailstock. They might all be the same or different.

The thread on the drawbar is not set in concrete. I have some collets that take a different thread. At it's simplest, a drawbar is a piece of allthread with a nut and washer on one end.


12-18-2010, 04:54 PM
You're in that state where you don't know what to make with your machinery, so you waste time wondering about tooling you may need later.

I'd suggest you go get drills and a centre punch, so you can drill the holes in the right place, and some stock.

Then you can always make up a rough tool if you're stuck over the festive season.

Think of something to make for the wife - a brass jewellery box for example. That should help make the budget a bit more flexible. Then go get the stock you need for that, plus lots extra. And you're off and running.

I'd venture to suggest that more than half the projects members of this board make are extra tools. Wait till you need something for a project before you buy it, then you'll be in a better position to know exactly what kind of accessory you need.

Liger Zero
12-18-2010, 06:56 PM
You reload. Is there anything you can think of to improve the reloading process? Anything around the house that may be "improved?"

Make some shiny brass knobs for the dresser or for your desk if you have one.

You can make a lamp real easy... they have kits for the wiring. Sketch out a base and machine it. Machine some details and finals, and a body.

A couple of simple "pen holders" machined out of brass or aluminum for you, your wife or a friend.

A flashlight body turned from aluminum.

The question is... where to start!

12-18-2010, 07:38 PM
Welcome Gently,

Like you I know something of the law, but very little on machining, and have been reading, slowly learning, asking lots of questions, and making lists of things that are needed to do it right. What I did was to ask what measuring tools I would need. When I got a bunch of replies on here, I made a list, looked the things up at Enco and put them in my shopping cart. When they run a discount, and I have some money, I buy what I can little by little.
Take the tooks that people have mentioned in this thead and make your list.

I bought and rented some videos- better to SEE how to do things than READ about them. Rent the AGI Lathe and Milling machine series, the Rudy Kouhoupt series of Lathe and Milling machine tapes and the Jose Rodriguez tapes on Lathes and Milling machines. They can be rented from smartflix.com, a very good company to deal with.

Good luck to you!

That is a good start for now.

12-18-2010, 08:04 PM
Figure out some projects, then buy the tooling required to do them, as you need to. You will have to get a few items before you start if you don't have them, such as drills, perhaps a tap & die set, but don't be in a hurry. That leads to buying stuff that you end up never using.

Reading all those books, renting videos, attending classes, etc. is all well and good, but the absolute BEST way to learn is to DO. It should be something you need. It's like trying to learn a word processing program: writing a letter to the editor is the best way to get started.

One of my very first lathe projects was to make a new screw for a bench vise. Had to turn down a long piece, leaving the end where the handle slides large, then thread it. Learned to grind a toolbit for a square thread, use the follower rest, work between centers, set up the change gears for threading, etc, etc. Most of my education on the lathe came from the Atlas Lathe Manual, and I still recommend (and use) it to this day.

12-18-2010, 09:31 PM
Another recently new member here, though I've been tinkering with my 3-in-1 for about two years. A good bit of advice I can offer is to check out the "shop made tools" thread here on the forums. You can get lots of ideas, figure out which projects would be handy for you, and procure tooling as needed to attempt them.

12-18-2010, 09:31 PM
Welcome to the BBS! I wouldn't get real excited aobut spending all your money at once. You might need something new that you hadn't thought of as you learn and build. If you have your budget all spent, it will be harder to get those items that you overlooked.

Drills numbered 1 to 60, drills to 1/2" by 64ths and center cutting endmills from 1/8 to 3/4 would be a good start.

Have fun!

Liger Zero
12-18-2010, 09:34 PM
A consensus on the "first 10 things you need for a lathe" and "first ten things you need for a mill" would be a great addition to this site. We could put it in sticky form at the top of the forum along with links to various suppliers.

An enterprising HSM'r could buy and package said items and sell them as a deal... maybe they could be sold directly through the site somehow.


12-19-2010, 10:21 AM
The comments about making something for your wife are right on. Other simple projects involve making repair parts for the household or your cars. When the drum rollers for the clothes dryer crap out because of their being all-plastic, a good project is to either make new ones or bore & bush the old ones, using some bearing bronze (from Enco) to make them far more reliable than the old. This will impress the heck out of your wife and she'll no longer give you a 'budget' to work with.

12-19-2010, 11:11 AM
Welcome aboard!

Just a word on quality vs. cost.

CDCO and the like are great places for certain things. By all means the toolposts and holders there are a fantastic deal and work well.

Drills and toolbits and the like... These things I'd not even consider buying cheap, it will bite you in the a$$. A good set of drills, used properly and cared for will last a lifetime, my fractional set is still going strong after 11 years (I make my living as a machinist and this stuff gets used constantly). The cheap sets I've seen don't seem to last a year. That money spent on good drills (expensive) suddenly isn't so bad after that amount of time. :D a good set of fractional drills in 64ths will carry you very nicely. Adding in a set of number drills at some point will be even nicer. Taps and dies, again go with name brand quality, but buy em as you need em.

HSS Blanks are the same in my book, go get the good stuff. Mcmaster Carr (http://www.mcmaster.com/#square-tool-bits/=a7sdy5), Arthur Warner (http://www.arwarnerco.com/index.html), and numerous other suppliers carry quality supplies, duck anything that is Indian or ROC. Almost anything M2 - T15 will be very nice to work with. Mcmaster has a nice little chart linked on the tool bit page that will explain grades quite nicely.

Otherwise, most any information you seek you can dig up here, there is a great knowledge base, not only in whats written already, but in the minds of the individuals here.

Paul Alciatore
12-19-2010, 11:49 AM
Well, welcome to the board. Always nice to have new members.

I didn't read all the responses, but as for your budget, I would recommend that you start making chips and only buy what is needed for the current project. Pick something simple at first. If you need a caliper or micrometer, then get it. But don't get a ton of fancy tooling that you may or may not need right now. Later is always going to be there. Do consider the cheaper imports. They may not be perfect, but a $20 caliper can take you far and a $200+ micrometer is a lot more limited in usage and ten times the cost.

Don't get too cheap on the cutting tools. A good milling cutter is a must and cheap ones will quickly be in the scrap bin. And drills: cheap drills are no bargain. Good quality ones are the real bargain.

But MAKE CHIPS to get some experience to base your purchases on.