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7x12 mini lathe in fetching blue!

Mini-lathe Projects

It is very easy to spend all your energy in the home metalworking workshop trying to find clever ways of making new tools and setting up your home workshop so that all your tools such as the mini-lathe and the bandsaw are easy to use and efficent. However, sooner or later you need some projects. Some things to make. Something to show for all your engineering investment!

You may have purchased your hobby home metalworking workshop equipment for a specific purpose such as radio control car racing or astronomy. If this is the case then there should be no shortage of things you need to make. If you are simply into hobby engineering for its own sake, then it is straightforward to browse around on the internet and find lots of ideas of fun things to make.

It is worthwhile keeping a list of potential mini-lathe projects. Each time an idea of something that you'd like to make occours to you, note it down so you do not forget it. Having too many different projects on the go at once it a good way of not finishing any of thing. Each project will eventually reach a point where you are stuck, or faced with a dull repetitive task. Finally you will finish nothing! However, keep a couple of projects on the go - because a problem with one project often acts as inspiration on another. However, if you find yourself starting new projects faster than you are finishing them, try and rationalise your work in progress.

There are an endless list of things you want to make on your mini-lathe, here are a collection of articles on items that I have made in my home workshop.

A design and steps for making a chuck key Actually, the easy way to make a chuck key is just find some square stock of the right size and stuff a handle on it. However, if you have some spare stuck, then this is an amusing way to keep out of trouble for an afternoon. A 4 jaw chuck is much easier to use if you have two chuck keys, and the key from the 3 jaw never seems to fit the 4 jaw, so get on and make a second key.

A design and steps for making a indexer rotary table A worthwhile project. A proper rotary table is a very stiff affair that lets you mill on it, however, some kind of indexer to mark bolt hole circles and so forth is useful. A simple worm and wheel set can be got off Ebay for a few quid, and the rest is down to you!

Making model rocket fuel at home is great fun, if a little dangerous, so take care.

Making nozzles for model rockets is soemthing mini-lathes were born for. One of the most delightful looking finished articles is a polished rocket nozzle in steel. Even if you never launch a rocket, making the nozzles and cases and letting them off upside down in the back garden is a much more fun way of spending Guy Fawkes night.

Making a square part on the mini-lathe Something of a tradition on any lathe website. As soon as you realise that square things can be made on a lathe, a whole new world of possiblities opens up. I only use my milling machine if I can't devise some way of doing it on the lathe.

Making telescope worm gear and wheel sets One of the reasons I got into mini-lathes and home workshops in the first place. A Telescope worm wheel is extremely difficult to make, and this set of articles goes on for quite some time. Probably the most difficult thing I make, until that is I finish the homemade equatorial EQ telescope mount.

Restoring Alfasuds I use my mini-lathe to help my friend restore old Alfa Romeo Alfasuds and Sprints, and sometimes get to drive them!

Homemade GEM telescope mount One of my biggest projects - making a equatorial telescope mount!

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