View Full Version : Finished toolblocks (pics)

Doc Nickel
11-28-2004, 05:51 PM
I finished up the first handful of toolblocks for my Phase-II "A" size post, and I think they came out well.


The one on the far right is a factory block, and no, I don't have enough setscrews yet. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Pretty straightforward (just time-consuming.) Used 1" x 1-1/2" flatbar, which was the nominal size of the stock blocks. So I just had to chop 'em to length, dovetail, groove, drill-and-tap. I also lightly belt-sanded them to more or less match the finish of the stock blocks, and then blued 'em with gunsmiths' cold-blue prep.

I drilled the sets for the same metric thread as the stockers, just to keep down the number of allen wrenches I have to have on hand, and I turned the adjuster thumbwheels from aluminum.

Back when I got the first post, I made some racks to hold the blocks near the lathe. A quick, easy design, I made a couple more last night for the new blocks:


It's just a length of 1/8" x 1/2" flatbar, with a very short L-tab welded at each end, and set so the long bar is angled to match the blocks' dovetail. (More or less.)

'Couple of drywall screws, and viola`!


Handy to grab, securely "hooked", up and out of the way, organized so you can see what tool is where.

I also made this block to hold an ISCAR replaceable-carbide parting blade:


I've had the blade for a while, but never was able to use the stock holder due to height problems on my small lathes. This block was a short 'stub' off the bar, so I grooved it, made a clamping bar that bolts to the bottom, and whipped up a fixed depth stop.


The stop is fixed since with the replaceable bits, the tool height is a constant, and I put the clamp bar on the bottom since it was easiest given the dimensions of the block, the toolpost height, and the necessary tool height in use. The bottom clamp is held on by four countersunk, allenhead 1/4-20 bolts, so given the relatively low power of the small machine, I believe it'll be plenty strong.

I still have more blocks that I'll be working on, that I'm making to take carbide inserts directly. Once those are done, I'll have 21 toolblocks... that oughtta be enough for a while. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif


11-28-2004, 05:56 PM
DAmn, Nice work. I think Im going to do the same thing when I upgrade my mill.

11-28-2004, 05:57 PM
Fine work Doc,
David from jax

Have gun, will travel.

11-28-2004, 07:00 PM
Nice job! Now,just 165 more to go and you might have enough http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif I like the holder idea too.

11-28-2004, 07:33 PM
Great job. You should be proud of the blocks.
Think that I will also copy the holder.
Thanks for the idea.


Doc Nickel
11-28-2004, 08:03 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by C - ROSS:
Think that I will also copy the holder.
Thanks for the idea.</font>

-Royalties can be paid to....


Sometimes the simplest ideas take the longest. I'd been staring at the original ISCAR holder and the blade, trying to figure out the easiest way to make it all fit the toolpost. I wanted to just dovetail the 3/4" back of the holder to fit the toolpost directly, but I was worried about not having the bearing surface to keep it well locked to the toolpost.

I also didn't have a carbide dovetail cutter, and the ISCAR block is pretty hard.

Then I'd drawn up an elaborate mount that was needlessly complex because I assumed I needed a rigid, fixed rail at the bottom for durability.

I finally had the bright idea of putting the clamp rail at the bottom, and just building it big to make sure I'd have the strength needed.

Simple in retrospect, but occasionally you get a picture of how something is supposed to be, and it's hard to shake that. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Anyway, the end result is nice and rigid and was fairly easy to machine. Just keep an eye out- the flatbar is not "square", and I nearly milled it so the parting tool would have been at an angle relative to the toolpost.


11-28-2004, 08:14 PM
very nice job.
I like your work.

11-28-2004, 08:14 PM
Nice work Doc.

charlie coghill
11-28-2004, 08:23 PM
Now I have to get a piece of stock and make some blocks to fit my tool post.

Mike Burdick
11-28-2004, 08:42 PM

Very nice work!

I like it when people make their own tooling. Great idea for the holder too.


[This message has been edited by Mike Burdick (edited 11-28-2004).]

11-28-2004, 09:07 PM
Excellent, beautiful, besides being extremely nice work. Those beauties make my narly blocks look like monkey waste. How do keep everything so clean?

I guess I need to finish my garage building project before making anymore chips, I get worn out keeping the bird nests, rat nests, hornet nests and snow away long enough to do my gun work. Besides it was below zero last night and the propane bottle wouldn't cooperate.

Happy Holidays.

Dave Burnett
11-28-2004, 09:12 PM
Really a nice job. Pictures are sure worth a 1000 words.

11-28-2004, 09:29 PM
Nice work. Thanks for the pictures

11-28-2004, 09:54 PM
Doc; One question about the slot and dovetail milling.

Which would be easier, better, quicker or more desirable:

Milling the dovetail and slots in the bar first, then cutting the blanks?


Cutting each blank, then milling the dovetail and slot?

Or...does it matter, I can make jigs or fixtures for multiple operations.

I am still learning proceedures.

So far, I have made each of my blocks individually, testing several parameters but I have settled on the final design, drawn the plans and have all necessary stock for 10 finished and 5 blanks, a second piece of stock just in case I get crazy for 15 more, a knurling tool, corner rounding bit, cobalt drills and taps ordered. I'm a total Klutz with Allan wrenchs(don't laugh, I can stick a knife up a fly's arse without it knowing) so I'm going with square head set screws ala Alistairs beauties, if I can find them cheap, otherwise I will make them and a wrench.

Anyone can join in with their thoughts. I will appreciate it and so will many others.

Thanks Happy Holidays and be nice to your family.

11-28-2004, 10:38 PM
Nice work! They look better than the original.


Michael Az
11-28-2004, 11:18 PM
Nice work Doc! Good idea with the tool holder rack. I need to make some tool holders myself.

Doc Nickel
11-29-2004, 02:28 AM
GreenWilly- (try penicillin)- since the cuts go at angles to each other, one way or the other you'll have to cut blocks individually.

In my college class, there's another fellow making similar blocks. He started with a bar of 1-1/2" square, milled three dovetails, flipped it and milled the slot, then bandsawed the three apart.

What I did was set the stop on the bandsaw, and chopped my three-foot-plus bar into six "standard" sizes, and four that were one inch longer (since I didn't know how much extra I'd need or want for the carbide inserts.) That also left me with a stub about 3/4" short, which is what I made the parting tool holder from.

Anyway, I first trued up one end of each block, then set a mill stop and milled the two lengths into uniform specs.

I then ganged three at a time lengthwise in the vise (big Kurt) and milled the dovetail. (In other words, one pass with the dovetail cutter cut three blocks at a time.) I saved a bit of time by making an aluminum "go-no-go" gage to closely fit the stock blocks. So once the gage fit, I knew the dovetail was to spec- saved a bunch of cut-and-try or confusing measuring.

Then I clamped two at a time for the slotting. Last, I set a mill stop again, and drilled the holes- in other words, I set a stop so I could drill the #1 hole in all six blocks, then moved over and drilled the #2 hole in all six blocks, etc.

I figured it was six of one, half dozen of the other: Either I moved the table four times per block, or chucked up each block four times.

Pretty much no matter what you do, it's gonna repetitive and boring. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

However, the step I skipped, which did cause a bit of a headache later, was I didn't square the bar or the blocks. The flatbar was a little bit trapezoidal- not much, but since I was alternately locating off the both the short side and the long side, I was winding up with faces that weren't quite square to each other.

Had I known, or bothered to check at the time, the second move I'd have done after truing up the cut ends would have been to take a light cut down the thin sides, make 'em square with the world.


11-29-2004, 11:45 AM
real nice. glad that blacking work out well for you.

11-29-2004, 03:10 PM
Yeah, well Doc, all the penicillin does is make'um bigger, hungrier and meaner and they are all that and more as it is. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//frown.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Thanks for the information. I encountered most of the same problems and used some of the same solutions, but my logic sometimes is questionable with my friend and partner, Alzheimer the Turk, close by. Nice to be validated when I do good, though. Also, thanks for reminding me a "go-no-go" gauge is a very good thing to have. Somehow, previously used knowledge and action isn't crossing to this new endeavor

My BXA blocks will be out of 2"x3" CR material, slightly oversized and a 6" piece is hard to handle without dinging anything. It also should be called NS, "NeverSquare". I thought about using key stock but couldn't find any near that size.

Between having, unknown at the time, problems with my cheapo vise, mill head slightly out of tram, dull endmills, drills and taps, and not enough sense to make a gauge, one block would make Murphy laugh out loud with devilish glee. Take a lesson all you other Newbies out there. I don't mind the derision if it helps someone else do better. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Thanks again

Happy Holidays

Paul Gauthier
11-29-2004, 04:43 PM
Fine looking stuff Doc!!!!!!!! I aquired a piece of stock about a year ago to do the same. Haven't got around to it yet. Hope mine look half as good as yours when I get to it.

Paul G.

11-29-2004, 04:47 PM
The black looks great in the pics! Is that a home process?

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

11-29-2004, 04:51 PM

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Pretty straightforward (just time-consuming.) Used 1" x 1-1/2" flatbar, which was the nominal size of the stock blocks. So I just had to chop 'em to length, dovetail, groove, drill-and-tap. I also lightly belt-sanded them to more or less match the finish of the stock blocks, and then blued 'em with gunsmiths' cold-blue prep.</font>

like from brownells, etc....

yes- it's just a wipe on / rinse off acid solution. I myself used tool black from MSC cataloge on a similar project. I had surface rust problem but it seems to have gone away. I suspect I didn't rinse it off adequately.

[This message has been edited by dsergison (edited 11-29-2004).]

11-29-2004, 04:56 PM
I'm just not familar with gunsmiths cold blue prep...
Looks good. Just the thing to knock the "Homemade" off a lot of stuff...
That and stamp some numbers on them.

[This message has been edited by hoffman (edited 11-29-2004).]

11-29-2004, 05:23 PM
You should be ashamed of yourself. Showing lapses in your character like that. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif Now go out to your shop and take down those holders, throw all the stuff in a heap and take a photo of what the "NORMAL" shop storage system looks like. I know we are kind of located out the norm, being up here in Alaska, but come on man, you don't need to flaunt the fact. Think of the younger guys, the impression your giving them. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif

To the rest of the group, even though I am new to this site, I ask that you will try to over look this little indiscretion on Doc's part.

Doc, if you tell me your address I will stop by and make sure those holders are properly disposed of. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif


Spin Doctor
11-29-2004, 05:33 PM
Look nice Doc. But instead of making blocks that take carbide inserts why not just modify existing 1 or 1-1/4 carbide tool holders. Getting the geometery for the inserts right is a PITA. I've posted shots of these before and I won't now cause it would be overkill. Go with a CN series ans VN series insert hlder and you would have pretty much most turning situations handled. Plus the holders are pretty cheap on ebay

11-29-2004, 06:07 PM
Great job Doc.
excellent profesional looking job.
but what catches my eye most is the black finish.
love it http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif
Is the stuff durable ...will it prevent them rusting or do you still have to keep them oiley.
all the best....mark

Doc Nickel
11-29-2004, 06:09 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Spin Doctor:
But instead of making blocks that take carbide inserts why not just modify existing 1 or 1-1/4 carbide tool holders.</font>

'Coupla reasons. First is the problem of tool height- if you look at the block with the parting tool, the bottom edge of the blade is actually slightly below the bottom edge of the toolpost itself. In other words, slightly below the top mounting surface of the compound.

I suspect that if I were to get some 1" square carbide holders, I'd have to hog them out considerably to get my tool height correct, and that, I think, would give me less than 1/2" contact between thew tool's dovetail and the moving wedge on the post.

I can "bias" my custom blocks to more fully engage the toolpost.

Second is the issue of cost- the homebrew blocks cost me a few dollars and some time. I'm taking a college class for advanced machinework, and need shop projects anyway, so why not? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

And third, I already have a few indexible carbide tools, some small boring bars and such, and a small supply of inserts. I can make the new blocks take the same inserts I already have, rather than investing in yet another style, size or type. (Which I'll be doing anyway, to get other shapes, but I'll have more of a choice. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif )

Fourth, hey, I can. What more reason do you need? http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif


Spin Doctor
11-29-2004, 06:20 PM
Depends on the swing and center height above the compound. I use the ones I've modified on Hardinge HLV-Hs at work. they only have a 9" swing and from the compound to the centerline of the spindle is in the range of 1-1/2". This is with an A series Aloris and A Series Phase II. It's an option to consider.

Doc Nickel
11-29-2004, 06:26 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by aboard_epsilon:
excellent profesional looking job.
but what catches my eye most is the black finish.

Is the stuff durable ...will it prevent them rusting or do you still have to keep them oiley.

-The black looks better in the pics than it does in person. In some spots, it looks more like a dark "color case hardening" than a nice gun-blue, but I believe that's due to not-quite-perfectly-cleaned surfaces.

I first scrubbed 'em with hot water and degreaser/hand-cleaner, then zapped them with carb cleaner and blew them dry with compressed air.

I still ended up with "bare spots" here and there that indicated a bit of oil or other contamination.

Prep is the key- heck, there may have been a trace of oil in the bits of rag I used to apply the blue, I don't know. But it's easy to touch up or redo, if necessary. There were a few spots I just scotchbrited, then reapplied the blue.

And this kind of bluing is a form of rust. The acid... I don't know, phosphates or passivates or does something to the surface similar to a sort of rust. That tends to inhibit further rust, to a small degree.

The prep indicates you should oil the surface after applying- I just wiped down the blocks with a rag I'd been using to clean up the motor oil I'd been using as a cutting fluid. It was almost soaked, and a little buffing with it brought out the glossy blue. I wiped the excess off with a dry rag.

I'm not going to bother keeping them oiled, I figure the usual cutting lubes will do that for me. (I don't use flood coolants- mainly just WD-40 and motor oil.) It's also fairly dry here, humidity-wise, on average (it's rainy today) and I have little trouble with tools rusting.


11-29-2004, 07:07 PM
So it's got phosphoric acid in it ...maybe.
so maybe I can make the stuff with phosphoric acid mixed with blue die or blue pigment ment for paint.
worth looking into Methinks.
all the best...mark

11-29-2004, 07:21 PM
Very nice.


11-29-2004, 07:47 PM
Very nice work Doc. The only thing is.......no shop should be that CLEAN. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Paul in NE Ohio

11-29-2004, 08:05 PM
Doc...Looks like you found something to keep you busy during the loooong winter up there! Lookin good! BTW...how did your CNC project ever turn out? I was so busy working this summer I lost track.

11-30-2004, 01:00 AM
Outstanding - like your Cartoons & Paintguns.