Tools Posts

Framebuilder Tooling – Using a Milling Machine

Framebuilder Tooling – Using a Milling Machine

A Milling Machine is usually the second major machine tool any aspiring metalworker will obtain, after a lathe. More correctly known as a vertical mill as horizontal mills do exist. Whereas a lathe mainly turns objects in a circle, the milling machine will make objects square and cut slots as well as performing tasks that can also be done on a lathe such as drilling and tapping (being more flexible for this), boring holes and sawing (using a ‘slitting saw’) and mitering tubes.
 Basically it consists of a drill mounted on a column which can be moved up and down, pretty much the same as a pillar drill. The head is wound down slowly and has an accurate depth scale on the operating handle. There is also a plunge section as you would find on a pillar drill with a large handle which can be used for rapid drilling but is locked out for more subtle milling operations. The column can often be tilted from side to side to enable cutting at an angle but in practice this is not very useful and it is usually better to mount the work at an angle. The mill can be used as a drill press. Some mills are sold as mill/drills but I am not sure of the difference. Drills can be mounted in a drill chuck but other tools are best mounted in a collet chuck system which is more accurate and secure. The drill head itself can only move up and down, so the shaping of the metal is achieved by moving the table in two axes, against the milling cutters of which there are several types. Collet chucks and the like are usually attached to the mill head using a morse taper. These have a tapped hole in the top which is to further secure them in the drilling head with a threaded bar. Unfortunately a lot of potentially interchangeable lathe tools have a tang (a projecting bit of metal) which is to facilitate their ejection from the lathe tailstock. This means they will not fit into the mill head. I am mystified as to why tooling manufacturers do not make interchangeable tools.
*(Belatedly I have discovered my mill can accept tools with a tang by fully extracting the drawbar, I do not know if all mills are capable of this. I have not seen any reference to it anywhere so it may well be worth asking if you are considering a specific purchase)
fullsizeoutput_6c6 fullsizeoutput_6c4

Femi 782XL Metal Cutting Bandsaw – Review

Femi 782XL Metal Cutting Bandsaw – Review

I have wanted a bandsaw for some time but have been deterred by their size and weight in as much as one would have needed a permanent space allocating in the workshop, which I do not have! I then discovered the Femi portable saws, the 782XL being the smallest and only weighing 16kg. It will cut solid metal up to 41/2 inch diameter at a reasonable speed and the blade requires no lubrication during cutting. It stores away under my bench. 
I also obtained one of the matching tables which folds flat so also takes up no space. Although the table is sold as matching the bandsaw I could only match up one hole to slip a bolt through to make sure it is stable in use when being used as a table saw. It seems perfectly stable when used otherwise resting on a bench or the floor.
IMG_3639 fullsizeoutput_690

Extras available are a small cutting table which attaches easily by clamping in the material clamp and a quadrant kit which in retrospect I probably will not use as it appears to be designed to help feed a large sheet at an angle, the size of which I cannot envisage using. Oddly Femi do not supply a fence guide which I think you really do need when cutting small pieces on the table. It is possible to purchase generic fences from places such as Axminster but I do not know for sure if they will fit.

Tube Bending and Panana Budget Tube Bender Review

Tube Bending and Panana Budget Tube Bender Review

Tube bending is something I avoid, however there are times when it is necessary. Some framebuilders do it as a feature of their work but I tend to only use bent tubes when it is necessary to solve a clearance problem as with the child’s first pedal bike. I purchased this bender for the princely sum of £90 from an Ebay retailer who I guess is based in China but had stocks in the UK. The brand may be a red herring as I suspect it is one of those tools turned out by a Chinese factory under different names. Indeed Stakesy’s have what looks to be an identical bender available on their site for £165, though they were out of stock when I ordered mine: https://www.stakesys.co.uk/tube-pipe-benders/manual-tube-benders/sta137-buzz-bench-top-manual-tube-bender.

Disc Brake Fixtures on Kickstarter – UPDATE 2

Disc Brake Fixtures on Kickstarter – UPDATE 2

Eric Meinert, from Canada, has just launched a Kickstarter project to fund his POST MOUNT disc brake fixture. Suitable for both frame and fork as with previous fixtures, and suitable for both 140mm and 160mm rotors. The fixture can be ordered by pledge on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/4608648/bicycle-post-mount-disc-brake-jig. It will subsequently available from his Incepi website.

This fixture now complements his other available fixtures which are available from his INCEPI website at:  http://incepi.myshopify.com
There is an ISO disc brake tab fixture, below, which I purchased through a previous Kickstarter launch.
fdc5d88315fddee65be9afe7980f3146_large de1408012ce5c9cf03fc4e447e26843f_large

IMG_2133
Additionally there is now a FLAT MOUNT fixture which I understand is likely to become the accepted standard for road bikes. I think the price for the fixtures is very reasonable despite having to import them from Canada: effects of Brexit not withstanding!
FullSizeRender_6_copy_large
I have no experience of flat mount fitting on steel frames but The only commercial supplier I could find of the flat mounts themselves was Paragon Machineworks in the USA. However when I was at Bespoke 2016, Bear Bikes in Leighton Buzzard did have some on display and although they are not advertised as such I am sure they can supply them.

Some Small Lathe Projects

Some Small Lathe Projects

Since Jon Thompson’s post on introduction to a lathe I thought it worthwhile to share a few of the small bits I have produced since obtaining my lathe, to give a further idea of some of the possibilities. The first thing you discover is that a lathe straight out of the box is only the start, and most of the jobs I think up usually require additional lathe tools from commercial suppliers; or require the making of bits yourself specifically for individual jobs.
The first thing I wanted to make was a heat sink for brazing the top end of seat tubes; something I now feel is essential for fillet brazing stainless steel in this situation. These are commercially available but on reflection those I have seen would be unlikely to fit in my frame jig should I wish to braze in situ, so I can make my own more fit for purpose. One further point is that despite the Chinese allegedly dumping cheap steel on the open market, none of it has come my way and metal is an expensive commodity to buy, especially in the small quantities usually required.

Pro-Max 350w 6inch Bench Grinder –  Review

Pro-Max 350w 6inch Bench Grinder – Review

I purchased this machine from Metal Polishing Supplies after an online search. It is a “Budget” model in the world of Bench Grinders and bears a remarkable resemblance to a lot of other own brand models suggesting they are likely to be made in the same Chinese factory. Credit to Metal Polishing Supplies, however, in as much as the company has produced it’s own product leaflet which is written in clear english. They also offer a 3 year warranty.

Servicing a Model W Gas Fluxer

Servicing a Model W Gas Fluxer

I have been running my Gas Fluxer now for 2 years before the gas pressure dropped right off and it looked like it would need servicing. The outflow valve was very stiff and showed evidence of white residue on the threads suggesting a leaking valve. The usual most likely cause of pressure drop off is a blocked flashback arrestor but in this case replacing it didn’t help. I resolved to empty the fluxer and replace any faulty seals.

Angle Grinder review – Makita GA4034 100mm

Angle Grinder review – Makita GA4034 100mm

I had always assumed angle grinders were far too cumbersome for cutting cycle tubing, especially for mitreing. This was based on my experience with my “Budget Brand” 115mm grinder which is heavy, fat and vibrates a lot. When I was informed by a contributor he was using a DeWalt tool for mitreing I thought I should look at them again to try and reduce the cost of using Dremmel cutting discs which are at least £1 each and last a couple of tubes.
IMG_1769

Make Your Own Framebuilding Jig

Make Your Own Framebuilding Jig

By Jonathan Thompson

My first experiences of frame building involved some sort of jig. This was some angle iron bolted to a sheet of MDF (for my tandem BMX and recumbent) and then a proper jig at Downland Cycles for their framebuilding course. To start to make frames at home I thought I needed a jig. Looking at the retail options was a bit of a financial shock. Lovely though they were, they were all well into 4 figures which seemed a bit steep. How hard can it be?

Framebuilder Tooling – Using a Lathe

Framebuilder Tooling – Using a Lathe

By Jonathan Thompson

I have to confess to being a tool buyer. I’ve generally found the sooner you buy tooling the sooner it pays for itself and generally it always does.
For me the lathe was always a desire. When it came to building my jig it meant I could build a custom one rather than forking out on prebuilt one or someone else making the round bits. I also have a full time day job, so getting to machine shops during the week is never easy and I love the chance of learning some new skills. It also just opens up a whole lot of other jobs that are impossible without the right tools.