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  • Machining while sitting down?

    The ravages of time and all that are beginning to tell on me. First it was lights on the machine tools, then magnifying visors, then crane rails above the lathes and mills to move accessories.

    I have thought about how to continue machining small part as I get older and the desire to stand for periods of time declines. I remember a Hewlett-Packard shop where the machinists operated Hardinge DV59 turrets and HC chuckers while seated. I was planning to set up a 10" lathe and table top mill especially arranged for making parts for small steam and gas engines, and perhaps clocks.

    Three of my friends in the hobby have told me this is not a good idea, but I thought I would run it by the members of the forum before I let it go. The lathe would be mounted on a torque beam behind the lathe with cantilevered mounting arms and no chip pan. That provides sufficient knee room; a canvas apron will deflect the chips from my legs and keep them out of my boots. The mill would probably look a lot like one of the newer square column imports with the z-axis operated from the base. I have bits and pieces to kludge this one.

    My friends suggested that the ergonomics of this is not very good. So is this a good idea and if so are there any specific recommendations?

    Thanks
    Carl

  • #2
    I can see how it would be tempting but the only two concerns I would have are regarding 1) safety and 2) ergonomics.

    The safety one is pretty obvious and probably not a huge deal. Being essentially non-mobile while operating machine equipment is a little bit scary in case something decides to let go and fly at you. When you are tucked in close to the machine, there isn't anything you can do. When you are standing up, it is much easier to dodge out of the way, etc.

    The ergonomics is a serious concern, however. I don't think it would be very comfortable to crank the handwheel on an apron if it was at chest height. While sitting at your desk, try making a revolving motion with your hand at about the height the lathe would be at. It's pretty tought to do unless the apron itself is literally right on top of your knees (or at least that is how it is for me - maybe someone with different geometry wouldn't mind so much).


    It will be interesting to see what you come up with. Good luck!

    Comment


    • #3
      DON"T let your friends talk you out of it. Do what every can and is necessary to continue enjoying your hobby. If it gives you a reason to get up in the morning it can't be a bad thing.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by portlandRon
        DON"T let your friends talk you out of it. Do what every can and is necessary to continue enjoying your hobby. If it gives you a reason to get up in the morning it can't be a bad thing.

        True. I don't mean to discourage you from finding a solution - just trying to help you find one that you'll be happy with

        They do sell those sit/stand chairs for machine operators. They are pretty pricey, but they may help with the ergonomics consideration. Maybe that would help. Alternatively, I suppose you could you use power feed and avoid turning the cranks by hand as much as possible.

        Comment


        • #5
          i have sat in front of my machines before its not a big deal , never had a problem other then my shop is small in size so it ended up becomming a pain the but so i stand and then take breaks and sit down for a bit. i have a bad back so a few breaks here and there are good anyhow,

          Comment


          • #6
            In you own shop, do what makes you happy.
            Sit, stand, use an air hose, smoke cigarettes, have a beer, what ever.
            As always, be careful. If you do dangerous things, and machining generally is, just be sure to work within your limits feeling safe and being comfortable with what you are doing. Hell, weld naked if you need a sun tan. Just be aware of the risks and be willing to accept them. At home I pee sitting down because I'm too lazy to aim. And I have a collection of Home Shop Machinist mags by the can.

            --Doozer
            Last edited by Doozer; 02-10-2010, 01:33 PM.
            DZER

            Comment


            • #7
              Once I have the lathe or bench mill set up, I often use a stool. I stand up when I want a closer look at the work or make some change.
              Gary

              Comment


              • #8
                Sitting at machines

                I can't stand for long or walk very far. I have a rolling walker that has a seat on it that is higher than a normal chair. I stand at the lathe and work as long as I can then sit down. I use the auto feed more than I used to and it takes longer for me to do things. Schedule is not that important now. Different things wear out on different people but walking exercise is very beneficial if you can do it. After a total of 4 1/2 months in the hospital and having a bad ankle I go to a Therapy pool and walk in 3 1/2 ft water that reduces the load on the ankle and it is definately helping build the strength. It takes about seven times longer to recover strength as it did to loose it. Exercise and pursuit of intrests like the shop work are important to maintaining a balance in your life. Do what ever it takes but be safe. Wishing you well!
                Byron Boucher
                Burnet, TX

                Comment


                • #9
                  I work on the lathe almost always siting down. Once the piece is in the chuck and indicated, why stand if you could sit down. We are talking home shops here. I do intricate work and am fussy about measurements. There is no way I could stand there for that long. Any light and sturdy chair with no swivel, no back or armrest! would do. I have kicked my chair out of the way a few times as needed and that is why I make sure it is a light one. The swivel seats just do not feel stable enough to work on (at least for me). David
                  DH

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I had an older guy that worked for me for awhile and he used something really similar to this stool, and it didn't slow him down a bit.

                    seems kinda pricy at $358, but this gives you a starting point of what to look for

                    http://www1.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNSRIT...MT4NO=79558860

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Stool?

                      When I am stuck at my lathe for a long time,but still have to keep an eye on what's happening, I sit on a small stool that's higher than a chair. It's really more like the portable stools that you see at sporting events, where your two feet and the legs of the stool make a triangle, so you are not really sitting with all your weight off the ground, but more half leaning on the stool.
                      Since I have ankle and foot problems, I find this is enough to take off the worst pressure, and that leaves you free to get up and down when you need to .

                      If your legs are deteriorating like mine, then it's regular use, stretching and bending that keeps them going, rather than plonking yourself down on a chair and not moving for a couple of hours, which you might be tempted to do on a chair.

                      Confession time: If I am stuck with standing up while a long cut is going on, then I find it useful to do a 'dance' to the lathe rhythms, just to keep the weight off my heels, and I also do simple tai chi exercises in front of the lathe while the cut is progressing, timing my movements so that I'm at the right place to adjust a control when needed. I do have non-fatigue mats which help, but keeping the legs and feet moving really helps more -it probably looks funny, but who cares, I'm on my own here :-)

                      For the idea that standing up helps you dodge flying debris, in my limited experience, shrapnel from a crash is traveling so fast you can't see it , never mind dodge to one side to avoid it. As long as you aren't standing/sitting directly in front of the chuck at such times, you should be safe.

                      As many have said, the value of your hobby is too important to let go, so try and figure it out so you can keep going. The business with leaning on the stool is a good place to start -this may be enough for you to keep going almost as you are now.

                      Good luck, and let us know how you are doing

                      Richard in Los Angeles

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have two stools, one about 24", the other about 30" and I use them as needed. When I stand in one place without moving for over a half hour my legs start getting tight. To overcome that I kind of dance in place, that is I pull each leg up about a foot off the ground at a time. I also rise on the ball of my foot several times and sometimes I side step a few steps one side then the other. Any thing to keep the blood circulating and the muscles loose. I am 68 and I think I started doing it about 15 years ago at work. I did get some strange looks but who cares if your legs and feet like it.

                        At work the tall stool was called a butt jack and two or three of us used the butt jacks.
                        It's only ink and paper

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by millhand
                          The ravages of time and all that are beginning to tell on me. First it was lights on the machine tools, then magnifying visors, then crane rails above the lathes and mills to move accessories.

                          I have thought about how to continue machining small part as I get older and the desire to stand for periods of time declines. I remember a Hewlett-Packard shop where the machinists operated Hardinge DV59 turrets and HC chuckers while seated. I was planning to set up a 10" lathe and table top mill especially arranged for making parts for small steam and gas engines, and perhaps clocks.

                          Three of my friends in the hobby have told me this is not a good idea, but I thought I would run it by the members of the forum before I let it go. The lathe would be mounted on a torque beam behind the lathe with cantilevered mounting arms and no chip pan. That provides sufficient knee room; a canvas apron will deflect the chips from my legs and keep them out of my boots. The mill would probably look a lot like one of the newer square column imports with the z-axis operated from the base. I have bits and pieces to kludge this one.

                          My friends suggested that the ergonomics of this is not very good. So is this a good idea and if so are there any specific recommendations?

                          Thanks
                          Carl

                          It is a good idea.

                          Bear in mind when you sit, your arms will do more reaching.

                          And ALWAYS remember that these machines have moving parts which will tear your flesh without hesitation.

                          The leaning/sitting stool that is shown below at MSC works great for taking the load off your feet...but you need to remember not to have it scoot out from under you.

                          http://www1.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNSRIT...MT4NO=79558860

                          TMT

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Messed up my back a while ago and had issues with standing for any length of time.
                            Built a leaning stand similar to what Mochinist showed in his post, Only difference is that I had a crossbar/step on the bottom so I was not just leaning against it, but was completely on it.

                            Was light enough that it was no trouble to move around, small enough that it was out of the way, and actually comfortable enough that I still used it when I no longer needed it. (but I was glad when I recovered enough to not need it.)

                            The old ergonomic computer chairs would also be good, though pretty low

                            Ken

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                            • #15
                              stool

                              MSC stool looks like a good idea.
                              I could use one of those. Doesn't appear that it would too difficult to make one. Adjustable height & seat angle.
                              Last edited by ptgord; 02-10-2010, 04:28 PM.

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