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How do AXA tool holders fail ?

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  • How do AXA tool holders fail ?

    There was a couple of comments in a different thread (Shop Made Tools) about using aluminum versus steel for AXA QCTP holders. As a follow up, I'd like to hear people's experiences with failures of AXA tool holders. I am particularly interested in structural and material failures - shear, bending, bell mouthing, etc. While we may learn something from use-failures ('I forgot to tighten the set screws') that isn't the direction I am headed on this thread.

    Thanks
    Dan

  • #2
    I don't know. I have been using them for about 45 years now, and haven't had one fail yet. Other than they don't repeat exactly as well as I would like, they just keep on plugging. Never tried one of Aluminum, don't think I want to. I even made a small one of steel in my shop one Sunday when I needed an extra, that was fifteen years now.

    Sarge

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    • #3
      I used them on a 12 x 40 lathe for 18 years and never had a problem. Made several out of mild steel too.

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      • #4
        I've bought the cheap AXA blocks from CDCO, opened them up to take a 3/4" tools and have never broke one.
        jack

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        • #5
          AXA usually fail in their responsibilities as a parent.
          "the ocean is the ultimate solution"

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          • #6
            Originally posted by platypus2020 View Post
            I've bought the cheap AXA blocks from CDCO, opened them up to take a 3/4" tools and have never broke one.
            +1 on the CDCO holders for 10 bucks each. I've been using them for years and about the only thing I can find to complain about is the quality of some of the clamp screws. Toss them and replace with quality hardware for maybe another buck. The things will last forever. Just a quick on-line look shows AXA #1 from Phase 2 going for $55, and from Dorian for $70 (or if you're really clueless, from Graingers for $90). Seriously? For a chunk of steel with a dovetail and 5 threaded holes? How's this thing going to break?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Dan_the_Chemist View Post
              There was a couple of comments in a different thread (Shop Made Tools) about using aluminum versus steel for AXA QCTP holders. As a follow up, I'd like to hear people's experiences with failures of AXA tool holders.
              12 years of using aluminum 0XA holders in a piston style tool post... No failures of any kind in any holders. I have over a dozen. The commercial ones were anodized. No discernible wear. The ones that I made have the same dimensions and are not coated in anything but cutting oil.

              4 years of using steel AXA holders in a wedge style post. No failures of any kind. They have a black oxide coating and the surfaces appear to be ground. They are commercial products.

              What might be more interesting is whether anyone has been able to see a difference in finish when using the same tool in two identical holders made of different materials. Or are you interested in wear characteristics?

              If you think about it, the cutting edge of a 1/2 inch tool is only breaking a chip that is a small fraction of an inch in cross section. In order for a holder to fail you would have to run the shaft of the tool into the chuck jaws or something equally forceful.

              Dan
              At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by steverice View Post
                AXA usually fail in their responsibilities as a parent.
                My parents were AXA. You can't imagine what we went through.

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                • #9
                  I've never heard of a steel or aluminum AXA (or any other size) failing/breaking, period. Normal use or a crash. I think that is coming from a keyboard metallurgist, not real experience. I am putting the finishing touches on 12 of them I've cut from 1018 steel. After buying the screws (good ones) from Fastenal and the steel from SpeedyMetals I'm coming out a little bit better than the ones for $11 plus shipping available on ebay, but I've got a lot of hours in them. The second batch went much faster with the new mill power feed and being more aggressive with the cuts, but still for about $40 more spent, I would have had the time to play a couple rounds of golf or worked on the car. Glad I did it though because mine fit the dovetail better and the screws don't need to be replaced.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by danlb View Post
                    What might be more interesting is whether anyone has been able to see a difference in finish when using the same tool in two identical holders made of different materials. Or are you interested in wear characteristics?

                    If you think about it, the cutting edge of a 1/2 inch tool is only breaking a chip that is a small fraction of an inch in cross section. In order for a holder to fail you would have to run the shaft of the tool into the chuck jaws or something equally forceful.

                    Dan
                    I have never seen a catastrophic failure of an AXA holder, but I'm not a professional machinist. I was wondering if this was one of those cases where experienced people would pop up all over with stories about fractured dovetails, cracked blocks, deformed tool slots, etc. So far - nope.

                    The other thing I wondered about was low level vibration concentrating stress at the leading edge of the tool slot, and slowly deforming the opening into a bell mouth shape (as we see with the jaws of chucks). That might show up with your suggested test of the same tool in two identical holders made of different materials. That could be a very interesting test indeed.

                    Finally, another reason I asked the question is that I live in an area where I can find large blocks of cheap aluminum far easier than large blocks of decent steel. When I saw that post in "Shop Made Tools" I began to question my automatic choice of steel as opposed to aluminum. I thought I'd ask to see if the answer is already known before I break out the old FEA program and put in some models.

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                    • #11
                      I made a handful of AXA blocks almost twelve years ago, and have used them extensively since. Including, unfortunately, the occasional mild crash.

                      I made them with standard hot-rolled bar stock (1018 mild steel) and then cold-blued them. With the subsequent years of wear and use, the only way to tell the difference between them and the factory pieces is I used coarser screws for the height adjuster posts.

                      Back then (2004) the cheapest AXA blocks you could get were $24, and I made a total of nine. Today, of course, you can get them for $10 or $11, so it's not as much of a savings.

                      I would be a bit leery of using aluminum, however- no real empirical experience, but I still probably wouldn't be able to really trust them for anything but the lightest of use.

                      I have, however, made several aluminum dovetail blocks for specialty uses, such as indicator holders and center finders.

                      Doc.
                      Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

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                      • #12
                        No toolholder failures here apart from rough threads in a couple of cheap ones and some undersized dovetails in a few hardly in life failures.

                        I wish we could buy holders here in the UK for $10 the cheapest on Ebay today here is $26 over double the price .... rip off Britain again

                        Paul

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                        • #13
                          I have had an Armstrong brand AXA toolholder fail by
                          catastrophically cracking in half in the feature where
                          the toolbit is held. It was so hard it must have been
                          brittle and cracked from the stress riser in the sharp
                          corner of the slot.

                          -D
                          DZER

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                          • #14
                            AXA indicates a smaller lathe, 9" -10" range, smaller tooling and light cuts. In the home shop environment, I see no reason that aluminum holders would not hold up.

                            Keep in mind, not all aluminum is equal. I would use 6061 at a minimum, 7075 is even better. Take a look at your existing toolholders and see if there is room for additional support beneath the tool. If possible make this section thicker as that is where failure is likely to occur.
                            Jim H.

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                            • #15
                              Nope!
                              Make it wider, not thicker.

                              -D
                              DZER

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