No announcement yet.

I had another forehead-slapping moment

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • I had another forehead-slapping moment

    Folks were talking in a previous thread about what kind of exotic materials they'd worked with. I've only ever done Al, brass, tool steel, stainless, and copper - nothing really fancy at all. Never did cold-rolled steel before in either the mills or lathe, but an order for some arrived yesterday.

    Geez Louise that stuff is easy to work! I can't believe I've never worked with it on the machines before. And it's easy to weld, too.

    So this leads me to ask: Anyone have a favorite "all around" raw material for the shop? Sure, I know that different materials have their places, but do you have a favorite?

    I know I sound like I've just discovered that I have opposable thumbs, but I'm curious whether others have had similar experiences with other materials. Thanks.
    The curse of having precise measuring tools is being able to actually see how imperfect everything is.

  • #2
    At the risk of stating the already obvious, aluminum.

    I should amend this to say that I do a lot of plastics too. Teflon, ABS, PVC, HDPE, Nylon in various forms including natural, nylatron and graphite filled as well as a few others.

    [This message has been edited by Evan (edited 01-27-2006).]
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


    • #3
      Mine is already obvious too, Gatorade.


      • #4
        Easily I have to favor 12L14 over just about any other material. Close second is 360 brass.
        James Kilroy


        • #5
          12L14 absolutely!

          Gives a great finish, cuts very nicely, if you start with it, you will mistakenly assume this stuff is easy.

          Stainless is the worst I've worked with so far with aluminum in between. The stainless wasn't bad, it just wasn't effortless the way the 12L14 was.

          I'll probably try some brass next.

          Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:


          • #6
            all around raw material for the shop?

            as far as shafting goes...

            1144 stress proof, machines like a dream, welds great,chips control is no problem so a newbie can get high surface finnish and dimensional accuracy. It is sutable for short run tools like a left hand acme tap can be made for tapping new crosslide nuts.
            It is easy to harden with old style blacksmith methods, It bends with heat very well.

            If I had to pick one grade of shaft to keep on hand it would be 1144 stressproof.


            • #7
              Whatever they make Colt Revolver frames out of. It cuts like butter. The Smith's seem a bit harder to cut. (I'm talking small chisels here)
              - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
              Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

              It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


              • #8
                <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Your Old Dog:
                Whatever they make Colt Revolver frames out of. It cuts like butter.</font>

                Cuts like butter, huh? Colt did have some problems for a while there, but I didn't realize it was that bad.


                • #9
                  I'm a fan of aluminum as well. Still get bit sometimes though. On my latest project, I made some bearing retainer blocks, a pair. One of them didn't like being drilled- it gummed up the drill bit and seems to take dents pretty easy. The second piece drilled like a dream, bored really well, and seemed generally to have been optimized for machining. These were both scraps from different places. The plate material I got in was much better than the soft piece, and not quite as good as the other mystery piece I used, as far as machinability goes. The plate is 6061 T651. All around, and for the dollar, that's what I like to use.
                  If I had gotten a lot of scraps of the first stuff and used it for my projects, I might not have realized about the machinability issue. The more I learn though, the more I want to specify what alloy I want to use for any particular application. There is definitely a lot to know about it.
                  Here's a cold rolled story- I was making a tool holder for the lathe, and had a piece of cold rolled 1/2 x 1 bar to make it from. It needed to be an L shape, so I started to bandsaw down the middle of it to remove a section. I watched amazed as the cut end splayed apart, ending up with a gap of about a quarter inch after I had gone about three inches into the bar. That piece was instant scrap, and an example of where or how not to use cold rolled.
                  I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                  • #10

                    Machinability shouldn't be your main criteria. You need to chose the material with the right properties for the job.

                    That said I like:

                    4140PH for steel
                    Delrin for plastic
                    6061 for Aluminium
                    303 for stainless
                    And for 3-Phase Mt. Dew to drink


                    [This message has been edited by moldmonkey (edited 01-27-2006).]

                    [This message has been edited by moldmonkey (edited 01-27-2006).]
                    Jon Bohlander
                    My PM Blog


                    • #11
                      <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Anyone have a favorite "all around" raw material for the shop?</font>
                      My favorite is actually China-Heat. It's available at your local Home Depot in the plumbing section and it's dirt cheap, machines really nice, and welds like a dream.


                      • #12
                        Another vote for 1144 stressproof.

                        I also like 12l14 and 303/307 stainless,oh and 932 bronze too.
                        I just need one more tool,just one!


                        • #13
                          A third for 1144. Made the tie rods for my Jeep out of 1144. I've used it for various other projects as well. As said above, it machines great and welds great.