View Full Version : A Dollar a Day for A Year

11-10-2013, 06:28 PM
The photo should be of the Gary Martin hand powered shaper castings. $365.00 and free shipping. Sofar the Cast Iron has been nice to work with. The drawings are mediocre, but that is part of the challenge. I don't smoke, drink or visit casino's, so I should be able to afford a dollar a day from my retirement check.

This is my first machine/tool from castings instead of barstock and "billet". I will post progress pictures as I get deeeper into the project.


Tony Ennis
11-10-2013, 06:31 PM
The castings look very nice.

11-10-2013, 07:45 PM
Looks like great fun! Always a serious amount of head scratching (for me anyway) on how to proceed with these pieces with nothing really flat or square. I like it...

Bob Fisher
11-10-2013, 08:27 PM
What does it look like finished? Where is it sold, etc. Bob.

Mike Burdick
11-10-2013, 08:39 PM

Make it "double duty" so it can make gears! A hand shaper will work well for that. Take your ideas from this...

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CCkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fneme-s.org%2FShaper%2520Books%2FMichael_Moore%2Fshaper% 2520gear%2520cut.pdf&ei=9DOAUpatM6H12wX8uICwBA&usg=AFQjCNEsKClOnU6K0GBf3bBhoAB1eP8vZg&bvm=bv.56146854,d.aWM


11-10-2013, 08:41 PM
Be patient. We will get to see the finished product in a few months.
Hopefully with all the steps in between.

11-10-2013, 09:05 PM
I was unfamiliar with this tool, so I found the website where the kit can be obtained, along with other tools such as the Quorn universal tool and cutter grinder, which I had considered getting many years ago when I bought my lathe and mill:


11-10-2013, 09:26 PM
I talked with Gary Martin at the GEARS Show in Portland Oregon. He convinced me that it would be a "fun project". He was veryup-front about the drawings being no perfect. I requested a set of pictures of a finished unit which he sent the next day.

PStechPaul has the correct website. http://www.martinmodel.com/MMPtools.html

The castings that I have worked on are great material and not a ton of not needed material. I will post pictures as the build progresses .

Gizmo2 has it right, it is great fun to figure out where the part lies within the cast piece.


11-10-2013, 09:38 PM
I worked for a year programming CNC machining centers to machine castings made to 50 year old paper prints. I gained a whole lot of respect for the guys that did those drawings, they really knew their casting design! You had to carefully study the prints and the castings as the sequence of operations was extremely important. The castings often had protrusions in places that got machined off. Those were for holding the part in a fixture for earlier operations. If you did the sequence wrong you could find yourself with no way to accurately locate the part.

loose nut
11-11-2013, 10:50 AM
I don't smoke, drink or visit casino's,

i didn't think it was possible that there was someone else out there that is as boring as me.

11-11-2013, 12:46 PM
Mike Burdick

Interesting concept. Maybe combine the Index Fixture I built for my CNC mill. See the latest issue of Digital Machinist. "Building a Small IndexFixture for Your CNC Mill" . I shall use the PDF you suggested for an after dinner read while the better half watches "Dancing with the Stars" and I pretend to pay attention.


11-11-2013, 07:00 PM
I machined this die filer I got from Gary, the castings were really easy to work with and machine. This was my first attempt in machining castings so I was quite happy with the quality. The setups were not as bad as I first thought once I figured out the first step everything else worked out fine. I would love to make the shaper but I have really run out of room in the shop.

11-11-2013, 07:49 PM

Nice piece of work. What is the finish? The shaper isn't too large, all the castings arrived in one $16.35 USP all you can get in it box. The castings must weigh around 60 pounds. Gary sent a CD with all the drawings as a .pdf. Kinko's will print them full size for you.


11-14-2013, 11:51 AM
A progress note. The photos will give you an idea as to my progress.

I have pictures of how I held the parts as well. This is just a quick update.

11-17-2013, 05:20 PM
Today I 'turned' the Head of the Ram using my Horizontal Mill and Dividing Head. I used this method because I did not want to tie up my Lathe or screw around balancing the part on the Lathe. It worked fine once I remembered that it was removing material by the radius not the diameter.



11-17-2013, 11:39 PM
That is very interesting looks like you are doing nice work. Just wish you would not post any more photos its making it harder and harder to keep from ordering a set of casting. :p

11-18-2013, 09:51 AM

To ease your pain. The drawings are poorly dimensioned andthe view layout is inconsistant. There are some non-cast parts that are missing drawings as well. If this would frustrate you then it is not the project for you. If the enjoyment is in solving the riddles and seeing the part emerge from the cast part, then get it ordered and get started.


11-24-2013, 06:35 PM
How is the project coming along? I do look forward to seeing the results if you don't mind posting as you go (contrary to my previous post):)

11-24-2013, 06:36 PM
How is the project coming along? I do look forward to seeing the results if you don't mind posting as you go (contrary to my previous post):)

11-25-2013, 03:33 PM
Rolland -- I should get some pictures posted this evening.

Mike Burdick -- I printed the gear cutting .pdf. It made a great read while waiting for the better half at the doctors. I may build the gear attachment before I build the vise.


11-25-2013, 07:40 PM

Ready for some work making gibs

11-26-2013, 06:00 AM
Thanks for the build pics.

I've been interested in this set of castings for a while - but I've got 1 hand powered shaper as it is, and enough projects to last a lifetime, so we'll see… ;-)

Also, agree with your philosophy of a dollar a day; while we do tend to spend money in large chunks, the overall expenditure (at least for me) is lots less than smoking, never mind gambling or drinking…

But, keep the pics coming!

Another JohnS.

11-29-2013, 03:32 PM
Latest update. Today it was time to machine some gib strips.




One photo of the gibs in place, one photo of the machining fixture and one photo of the gib strips ready for final finish. I nstalled the strips and with out lubricant they both run smoothly. It indicates that the male dovetail is both instances are parallel. The next hurdle is some Acme threads or I will finish the clapper box while I plan how to machine the feed screw.

So far this has been enjoyable.


12-10-2013, 02:48 PM
A quick progress report. All the gibs are fitted. The 'HEAD SLIDE' was the latest addition. This includes the knob with engraved numbers and the 7/16-20 screw, which I single pointed as well as fitted a woodruff key. In one of the pictures is the casting for the clapper box that will be the next part. I am still smiling eventhough it is now tie to build some of the parts without drawings or castings.




12-15-2013, 04:12 PM
The clapper box and related peices are finished. The bit stock is 1/4 inch. I need to shorten the bit clamping screw and find another with a square head for the tilt screw. The next part will be to finish the base and the table.

My plans are to make the gear generator mentioned earlier as well as a automatic feed system.

I am keeping drawings of any parts that I have made that were not from castings as well as any corrections/clarifications on the furnished drawings.

Still having fun


12-24-2013, 01:42 PM
The stroke lever and links are pretty well finished as is the clapper box and tool holder.


It is now time to single point the feed shaft. This is three different thread pitches and two different thread types. This will have to wait a week as I "put out some brush fires".

Still smiling and having fun.


12-24-2013, 02:24 PM
This is very, very, very bad, Pete. You're way too far ahead of schedule. There are nearly eleven alloted months left to meet budget!! ;)

12-24-2013, 03:23 PM

I need it done by September. There is the vise to build as well as the feed system and the gear cutter set-up that was mentioned earlier.

Last month I "hooked up" to city sewer. This means repairing/replanting the lawn, rebuilding my grape arbor and landscape repair. The end of Feb and the first two weeks of March we will be in Panama and Costa Rica. There are two half finished magazine articles for Digital Machinist as well as some machine parts to build for a large saw shop. Did I mention that I have several teacher workshops to plan and instruct.
Let's not forget the greenhouse with the annuals and vegetables to get started.
Who said retirement was just sitting around waiting to get old?

Thanks for the laugh and have a great holiday season.


01-16-2014, 01:55 PM
The progress on the Shaper Project has been slowed while I rebuild the Quick Change box on my lathe. The QC box has been a lot of fun and using rebuild guide it is not too difficult. So if life lets me, I should be starting on the Cross Feed screw next week. This will an exercise of cutting 1/2-10 Acme threads as well as two different 60 degree thread pitches on one shaft. The next exercise will be cutting the female 1/2-10 threads so that they fit well.
There will be pictures of the machine when the crossfeed screw is fitted.
The following tasks are designing an autofeed as well as the gear cutting attachment that has been suggested.


01-17-2014, 07:39 AM
Thanks for the update - understand the diversions, good luck with the feed screw cutting!

I have been looking for "Dollar" in the forum listings for updates.

An interesting project :-)


02-14-2014, 12:39 PM
So the Sewer is in and works, the QC box on the lathe is repaired and working, furthermore it is Seattle Mist outside. It was time to build the crossfeed screw. It is 10.10 inches long and the threaded portions are 1/2-10 Acme and 7/16-20NF. The two threaded parts are the bearing housings with a 3/4-16NF thread. All threads are "Single Pointed" and fit as they should.


I have now built all the parts from the drawings that I am going to build at this time. My next goal is a jack screw for the table and a ratchet feed device. Once those are done I will focus on the gear generator set-up.
Still smiling and having fun

doctor demo
02-14-2014, 03:49 PM
So it is Seattle Mist outside. Still smiling and having fun Pete

Keep up the great work and photos.

So what You are sayin is "it is a beautiful day outside" in the PNW:p


04-24-2014, 01:05 PM
I am back on the project. The pictures are the cross feed nut and the second crossfeed screw. The first screw was made without the use of a Follow Rest. While the screw looked good it had some differences in diameter as well as thread depth.
I made some ball bearing ends for my follow rest and cut the second screw. It is a much better part.

There was a discussion of using the "Evanuts" but I decided to try cutting the 1/2-20 internal threads. With a little care they work well.

The next step will be the promised ratchet and table jack screw.

04-25-2014, 07:44 AM
Beautiful work, as usual. Interesting about the feed screw and the requirement for the follower rest.


06-25-2014, 06:56 PM
An update on the shaper project. All but the table has been painted a dark green. I only painted the parts where the original cast surface remains. The large feed wheel is to compensate for having only partial use of my right hand. The feed wheel is marked every .001 of travel. I have yet to check the accuracy with a travel indicator.
The ratchet feed assembly is the next design task which will be followed by the gear cutting apperatus.
Since it is now painted Green, my wife has decided it should be named Kermit. http://i1148.photobucket.com/albums/o563/72stepside/DSC_0679.jpg

06-26-2014, 11:08 AM
That is really handsome! Nice work.

I'd love to have a little shaper like that - it would be the bee's knees for cutting gun-sight dovetails. Perhaps I need to go looking for plans and castings...

06-26-2014, 11:36 AM
Good choice on the name, that's my favorite Muppet.

06-26-2014, 12:35 PM
Excellent progress, Stepside! It never occurred to me before that the traverse is fully independent of the stroke. Looking again at the Martin Model page on it, that fact looks obvious to me now. I look forward to seeing your vise construction. I've wondered in the past what the actual jaw width + opening capacity of the included vise castings are. It might be useful as a stand-alone tool for other small machine tools. Thanks for the update!

06-26-2014, 01:11 PM
As to the vise, I am not going to use the castings that came with the shaper castings. The table will be drilled and tapped for 3/8-16 fasteners so I can use the hold-down kit for my ProLight milling machine.
My first tooling will be the set-up to cut Involute spur gears. Near the start of this thread there was a link to plans for the tooling.
The total stroke is 4.125 inches and the crossfeed is 3.750 inches.

Sun God
06-29-2014, 10:05 AM
Really beautiful piece of work there, reminds me a lot of the Adept shaper I'm rebuilding.

Out of interest, why was the casting sprue left on the back of the ram? On the print it's removed, I presume there's a reason?

06-29-2014, 12:53 PM
Sun God

The sprue/riser was left on at this time to give me some options for working the ratchet. If not needed I shall remove and repaint. I guess it is time to attack the ratchet.
My plans are to install a riser base so I have more height adjustment for the table. This will be necessary for high tooth count gears.

Thanks to all for the compliments-- but like any "parent" I can see all the flaws in the "child".

Sun God
06-29-2014, 10:04 PM
Check out this thread (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/threads/63031-Job-for-a-little-shaper?highlight=adept+shaper) for ideas on a ratchet feed. I have always liked the idea of a Bowden cable system that uses arms at each end of the ram travel to actuate an advance/retract mechanism on the cross-feed.

07-31-2014, 12:07 PM
This is just a quick update on the shaper. It is a photo of the prototype of the ratchet system. It works well, so now I will build "pretty" parts and then it will be time for the gear cutting attachment.

The Artful Bodger
07-31-2014, 04:15 PM
Check out this thread (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/threads/63031-Job-for-a-little-shaper?highlight=adept+shaper) for ideas on a ratchet feed. I have always liked the idea of a Bowden cable system that uses arms at each end of the ram travel to actuate an advance/retract mechanism on the cross-feed.

Thats my little Adept shaper and the Bowden cable system works very well.

Sun God
08-11-2014, 01:41 AM
I missed this when it came up the other day, but just by chance saw the bookmark for this thread and clicked it on a lark. Looks like a really cool way of handling cross-feed, Stepside. Any details of how the ratcheting itself works, or is it a mysterious aluminium box intentionally ;)

08-11-2014, 06:43 PM
The ratchet portion of the mechanism is a basic copy of the ratchet on my AMMCO 7 inch shaper. Where I put the ratchet gear is opposite to the AMMCO so the support bearing hides the works.

This is just the prototype. I hope to get one built that is a lot more attractive. Besides a smoother shaped housing, I need a pull knob on the end of the brass rod. The steel threaded part needs some grooves to lock it in the correct travel direction as well as lock it disengaged. The large pivoting mechanism at the back of the machine needs to be rebuilt, maybe with some steel and silver braze. A choice of return spring locations must be sorted out. Finally the remains of the sprue/riser will need to be machined and a plastic wear plate attached.

The good news is that it ratchets in both directions at a rate of .005/click.

08-25-2014, 05:08 PM
Some progress

The following photos are just "quick and dirty" to show that progress is being made. One photo is of the first chips. I just had to know if it would cut anything, so I grabbed a old lathe bit that was laying around. I know I should grind a better bit, but it did make chips with little physical effort. It was not clamped to a workbench so it was one hand on the lever and the other keeping the machine on the table.

The second shows the ratchet with the stroke limiter and if you look carefully where the casting sprue used to be there is a plastic slotted bearing that eliminates the need for a return spring.

The next step is to build the gear cutting arrangement that will bolt to the table.



09-06-2014, 06:44 PM

I am working on the gear generator now. I assumed that the drawing was for the same sized shaper. There is a reason there is it should be spelled ASSume. So after the modification of the main body I think it will work. The indexer works on the same principle as the indexer in the Fall 2013 issue of Digital Machinist. The only this one is even smaller. To give an idea of size, the disc o the outboard end of the table is the blank for a 32 tooth 16DP gear.

I don't know if I will get it done in time for the GEARS show in Portland. There is still the drive wire system to scale and build as well as reverse the ratchet pawl due to clearance issues.

I will be sure to post the first set of gear teeth being cut.

11-15-2014, 08:12 PM
Okay I built the gear generator that Mike Burdic suggested. Once I realized it was for a larger shaper I scaled the parts and built the unit. My thought is to 1) center the cutter on the gear blank having the cutter just touching the blank, 2) move the table over the clear the blank and lower the cutter to whatever depth of cut the shaper will handle, 3) Proceed accross the blank until clear on the opposite side, 4) lower the cutter and proceed back accross the blank until clear. 5) Repeat 2 through 4 until the cutter is at full depth, 6) Index one tooth and repeat 2 through 5, 7) repeat 2 through 6 until a finished gear is produced. This seems to make sense to me but it is not producing any teeth.

The good news is it easy to make a cut and once I got the wire threaded and tight everything moves like I think it should. Any ideas on why it does niot work?

If needed I can take some pictures tomorrow.

Thanks in advance


01-03-2015, 06:18 PM
Kermit gets a vise.

The following pictures are of the new vise I built. It is a combination of my ideas as well as James McKnight's "Small Compound Angle Vise". I made the Compound Angle Vise from the plans in the Home Shop Machinist Magazine. The plans are also in "The Shop Wisdom of James McKnight" available from Village Press.

I was going to use the vise I had built until I reaized it was too long and too tall. I also didn't like the way the rotating angle was clamped. It takes too much force to clamp. So the new vise still rotates, it does not tilt but it can be mounted at an angle on the shaper. I solved the clamping problem with a cotter both fore and aft. (the two hex head bolts visable on the top ends.) If I were to do it again I would put the cotters so they were on the sides of the vise.

I need to "Put some Lipstick on the little pig" and it will be finished. Some work on the bit will help the surface finish of the parts as well.

01-03-2015, 07:14 PM
Excellent work, Stepside!! I love it: a trunnion / vise. I have to ask, the original one you made, is it ground? If not, how did you get that even, attractive surface finish? I can still see very faint tool marks on the angle base below the rotating vise. Very, very impressive marking job on the degree plate of the smaller one. It looks stamped instead of scribed. How did you do it? I am thoroughly enjoying the progression of this thread, BTW :)

01-03-2015, 07:43 PM
What a nice project! Excellent work. Those are very good looking castings. I have been tempted on a number of occasions to order something but the shipping costs to Canada are very high. I have never built anything from a kit but if I were to do so it would be something like that.

"i didn't think it was possible that there was someone else out there that is as boring as me."

I do smoke the equivalent of maybe 3 cigarettes per day in my pipe but that is a medical necessity and I am not joking. Other than that not only do I not drink or gamble I also do not watch TV or listen to music, go out to eat or go to the movies. I'd rather stay home and talk to my dogs...

01-03-2015, 09:36 PM

The finish on the first vise was done with 600 grit wet/dry abrasive with spindle oil as a lubricant. The finish was decent to start with as a lot of it was done with my 7 inch AMMCO shaper. The degree plate was done with Rhinoceros and RhinoCam. I used the smallest engraving bit I had as the plate would be a 1.5 diameter circle. I have a ProLight CNC milling machine to do the actual cutting/engraving. Starting with a piece of .032 brass held in a fixture, I engraved the numbers and lines. The next step was to cut out the shape using a profiling tool path. The tool path had some .010 thick by ,100 long tabs to hold it in place. The latest issue of Digital Machinist has my short article on using bridges/tabs as well as vacuum in fixturing and holding parts.

The castings are excellent. There was enough "meat" to machine to size without running out of material. On the other hand the drawings were less than perfect. Any part except the dividing head that has Green paint is a casting. If it is not painted it something that I "noodled out" because there was not a drawing. The basic shaper took shape in the alloted year with me working on it in spurts. The gear generator and the vise have been a case of starting with existing plans and then modifying to fit.

Thanks Arthur and Evan for the kind words.


09-27-2015, 08:58 PM
I realize this is an old thread, but seeing a friend's shop with an Adept hand shaper he had resurrected brought me back.

In the last report on the gear generation it wasn't working as expected and I'm curious 1) what the results actually were and 2) whether there's been success since then.

The article in Model Engineer was interesting but took a little head scratching to be sure I understood what coupled with what among the different indexing and rotating parts in order to generate the tooth profile. It looks like is should work, so now I'm wondering what went wrong for Stepside.

09-27-2015, 09:16 PM

What a nice design for a parallel gib for the dovetail ways.
Usually with a parallel gib, the set screw vectors are kind
of wrong. They only tend to work well if you pin the gib.
But I like this design.


09-27-2015, 09:30 PM

I have to admit being not as focused as I should be. So "Kermit" the shaper has been idle most of the time. I put the whole gear cutter set up together and cut one tooth. It works as it should, if one has a lot of "Free Time" or has some "Anger Issues" to work out.

There have been a few small parts made using it a a regular shaper. The key to using it is first spend time on the bit and second make sure the bench it is fastened too if quite sturdy. I had it on a bench with casters and spent most of my time moving the bench back to where it belonged.

I would build it again for just for the "Fun Factor" or better yet build a planer to go with it.

Do you wish more photos?


09-27-2015, 10:48 PM

Thanks. I've made a small note of these small hand shapers in passing but didn't give them much more thought. Then I suddenly realized looking at the one this weekend that some keyways I've made lately could have been quite easy if I'd had one.

The gear making just screams out to me gashing first on another machine so good share of the material removal is done with power tools and the muscle work can focus more on profile.

The biggest key challenge I've faced is a triangular gib key ala W.D. Urwick. Its characteristics have a lot to recommend it, the external key is piece of cake but a well formed internal keyway takes some time and thought.

Yes, if you've got more interesting things to show I'd like to see them. Now this whole tiny shaper thing is really tugging at my sleeve. Not that I need one more project, but all the same ... That last line about how much fun it was to build is just twisting the knife.


09-28-2015, 09:14 AM

After looking through the thread, I realized that the ratchet assembly was the first one I built. I need to take some photos of the final version which is a copy of one on a planer. The planer was built by, Richard P Wilson I believe. The current cross feed is .005/stroke

Having a decent set of broaches, it never occurred to me to cut keyways. This would be a great experience for my 15 yr old "apprentice".

At this point in time, I have two Street Clocks in for repair or rebuild, so it could be a few days before I take current photos. If I don't get to it in a week or so please remind me.

Sorry about twisting the knife, but as the title states "A Dollar a day for a year" is much cheaper than Golf, Bowling or owning a boat.


09-28-2015, 10:41 AM
Yeah, I know I shouldn't complain. I don't smoke, drink, boat, play golf, or bowl but I will admit in the best spirit of AA that I've spent more hours on this Quorn build than I care to know about. It's getting to the short strokes now but there's yard work, some house repair, volunteer work and other things that are getting short shrift. Not to mention the frequent reminders at home on the cause du jour about de-cluttering. My knee jerk response to that is to grab for a cross, a wooden stake and put garlic cloves in my ears but I really do get the hint. So the prospect of another build like Gary Martin's shaper is almost like tossing a life preserver to a drowning man. Thanks for the help. :D

09-28-2015, 11:45 AM

My "New to Me" goal. I also have way too many things on my "to do" list. So I have limited myself to only finishing part done tasks. Last week I emptied two boxes of parts and put together the solenoid operated air to my CNC Mill. My next part done was some pen making fixtures for my wood lathe. My big job to finish is the painting all the motion works for a street clock. This to be followed by some #14 and #16 round head screws. I am trying to get this done while maintaining the house, yard, part time job and family stuff as well. Ain't retirement fun.


04-16-2019, 10:57 PM
I know this is an OLD thread, but I'm thinking seriously about buying one of these kits. What machine tools/ operations are needed to finish this besides obviously a lathe? Thanks. John

04-17-2019, 08:51 AM

It could be done with a decent sized shaper and a 9 inch lathe. I used a Bridgeport Mill, and a South Bend 9 inch for most of the work. As I think back there was quite a bit done on a 7 inch AMMCO shaper. If you decide to build it I can offer insight and suggestions. Send me a PM with questions.

Thanks for reminding me of a fun adventure.