Early Machining Attempts

I had an interesting time making the driver centers. I tried several methods (ranging from the crude to the sophisticated) to turn a chunk of brass into a wheel.

I made my first center by holding a chunk of brass flat stock in my Dremel motor tool "Mill-Drill" with a 2-56 screw. I used a regular mill file clamped in a cross slide vise (to control the XY directions) and eventually made the driver somewhat round ( less than 5 thousandths of an inch runout) and then pressed on a Grandt Line tire rim.

The driver actually didn't look too bad, but this method was fraught with peril. Although turning down that first driver center with a file worked, I did not want to make all eight of them this way.

I have read many hobby articles about modelers turning parts with just a hand drill & a file. It works, but not very well. A much better way of "hand" turning is to use real cutting tools from a machinery supply store. They can be had for less than $7 in several convenient cutting edge designs. If you have a used machinery store available you can find them for even less. I sent away for some carbide lathe cutting tools and was very pleased with the results. It is truly amazing what a difference the correct type of cutting tool makes.

Carbide Lathe Tools
Left Hand Cutting, Center Cutting, Right Hand Cutting

My next effort was to put a carbide lathe tool in the cross slide vise. The lathe tool cut much, much better than a simple file, and I probably would have turned all the drivers using this method if I hadn't bought "the rest of" the lathe shortly afterwards. Anyone contemplating the "file & drill" turning method should try using a cheap lathe cutting bit instead of the file (some kind of a vise to hold the tool is a must though!).

The "Left Hand" lathe tool in the vise stays the same height, and I move the brass wheel upwards with the drill press handle to cut the wheel. After each pass I crank the vise to move the lathe tool in towards the wheel a few more thousandths of an inch. I can take up to 0.010" off on each pass without stalling the Dremel.

Four driver centers turned on the Dremel Mill/Drill press using a carbide lathe tool and pressed into the Grandt Line rims

My first center turned with a file took hours & created a ton of brass dust. The second center turned with a real lathe tool took hours & only created a half-ton of brass chips (and dust). My Dremel-Mill setup worked, but I still wanted a real lathe.

What I Had - Dremel, drill press, and a 4" crosslide vise

What I Wanted - A Taig Lathe with all the trimmings



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