Tool Making Meeting

Todays MWA meeting was at John Magnussen’s great place out in Buffalo. He also invited us to visit his private gallery, and there was some absolutely stunning work to be seen!

But back to the meeting: Duane Gemelke gave a great introduction to tool making, followed by an opportunity for us to make our own tools. Many type of tools could be made:

  • Texturing/Chatter tool
  • Straight and angled hollowing tools
  • Captive ring tools
  • Diamond tool
  • Small detail skew
  • Small gouge-like tool

and a number of other shapes that can be easily ground from a round tool steel. And of course tool handles for the newly-made tools. Duane gave a rundown how to make each of these tools, then we started making whichever tools we liked. Duane and several MWA members were at hand to help.

I will not go into the details of making the specific tools as it depends a lot on the available materials and tools. Instructions for many tools can be found on the internet. But there were a number of tips and jigs that were very helpful and which I list below.

Hidden jaws in Talon chuck

This was a very valuable tip: If you remove the jaws from a Talon chuck, the now exposed ‘jaw holders’ (for lack of a better name) can be used as jaws for small-diameter items! In the tool making session we used it to chuck the tool steel to work on the front.

Splitting pipe fittings into ferrule blanks

Copper pipe fittings are a popular base material for making ferrules. But the have to be cut in half, in the plane where in ‘real life’ the pipes would meet. Thus each pipe fitting provides material for two ferrules. Duane had a very helpful jig for this: 2 Wooden blocks with a square cross section, one end each turned to a diameter so the pipe fitting would just fit over it. One of these blocks on each end of the pipe fitting, the blocks clamped down to the table, and there is a handy holder to hold the pipe fitting while cutting it.

De-burring jig

The above splitting of the pipe fittings leaves one end of each ferrule to be with a rather sharp burr. Duane had a special-made chuck for the ferrules: A block of wood turned round on one end to fit into a chuck, the other end turned down to just fit about 3/4 deep into the ferrule. This end is then cut with a thin blade about halfway towards the chuck end, and a second cut at a 90 degree angle. Now with the ferrule mounted, a screw is screwed into the center from the front, expanding the four quarters slightly and securing the ferrule.

Now with the lathe at slow speed a file can be used to true the swan edge and round over the outside edge. The inside edge can be de-burred using a small tool. As copper is relatively soft pretty much any turning too may be suited for this.

While on this jig one can also sand and polish the surface of the ferrule if so desired.

Tool handle turning jig

It is a lot easier to drill the tool handle blank for the tool steel before turning it. But that makes it tricky to mount the blank between centers. A small piece of wood as adapter between the blank and the life center makes this easy. One end of the wood is turned to just fit into the hole in the blank, the other side flat with a small indentation in the center to rest on the tip of the life center with the flat resting on the cup makes that a lot easier. In addition the blank end has a second radius turned on it that just fits the ferrule. That serves as guide for how far down to turn the blank, and the ferrule can be test-fitted on the blank without having to remove it!

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