Archive for March, 2006

Belt Change on a Harbor Freight 34706 Lathe

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Today I changed the belt on my Harbor Freight 34706 Lathe. That was a lot harder than it should have been: The clearance between the pulley and the cast-iron housing was about 1/4”, not enough to get the new belt through without damaging it. So the pulley had to come off for the belt change.

The outer half of the two part pulley (it is a variable diameter pulley to allow for speed changes) is secured on the axle with a c-ring and two set screws. Problem was that the pulley was stuck on the axle. I guess a pulley puller or maybe some heat could have helped the situation, but alas I had neither available.

I started tapping the pulley with a mallet, but after a few taps I realized that this would probably damage the bearings. I ended up wedging a piece of wood between the pulley halves, using the speed-control handle to apply some pressure, release, rotate the pulley a bit and repeat. It took about 15 minutes, but the pulley came off fraction by fraction.

I cleaned the axle and the opening in the pulley by sanding them lightly, and applied a small amount of White Lightning bicycle grease on the axle. The pulley went together a lot easier (yes I remembered to put the belt in first), and hopefully next time this procedure will be a lot easier.

Egg Turning

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Yesterday MWA meeting was about turning eggs, and unlike my Easter Eggs from last year these were solid. Dan Rominski gave the demonstration.

Wood choice and preparation

Pretty much any kind of wood of appropriate size can be used to turn eggs, though it should be reasonable dry to avoid later splitting. The firewood pile might yield some useable pieces for this endeavor. To prepare the wood mount it between centers and round it over with a roughing gouge. Then cut a rabbet on one end so the wood can be mounted in a chuck. In this case a peeling cut with a Skew made quick work of this.

Turning the egg

All the remaining work can be performed with a large Skew, only for the final part off a smaller Skew comes in handy. For safety the tail stock should be engaged for the rough shaping. A blown-out egg can be used to help judging the developing shape. Once a rough egg shape has developed and some of the waste wood has been turned away to have plenty of room for the tool, the tail stock is removed. The egg shape is further refined, leaving just enough wood at the head stock end to drive the egg. Once the shape is fine and the surface smooth, the egg can be sanded and finished right on the lathe. Depending on the smoothness of the cut, start with 150 or 220 grid sandpaper, and work up to 600. In our demonstration the egg was then finished with a mix of Shellac and mineral oil. It goes on very easy and can be polished similar to friction polish right on the lathe. Now it is time to ‘cut the egg loose’. Using a smaller Skew carefully turn away the remaining connection to the head stock end. Once the egg is free some quick sanding and finish touchup at that end and the egg is finished.

Parting thoughts

Turning eggs is a fun project, and a great opportunity to hone the Skew skills. Alan Lacer’s Video/DVD The Son of Skew (which has been on my want list for some time) further demonstrates how it is done.