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  1. #1
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    Those of you machining

    What are you using to machine your light heads/mounts/etc?

    Lathe or Mill? Both?

    What brands? What have you had good (and bad?) experiences with?

    If you have examples of your work you can post or link to, that would be helpful too as I am fairly new to machining.

  2. #2
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    I machine all my light related parts on a mill. Mostly on a Taiwanese copy of a Bridgeport mill called an ACER, though I have played around with a CNC when I get access. The ACER is an OK machine and has always worked fine. The digital readout quit once, but a $2 part from Radio Shack fixed that.

    Here are threads on lights I have built.

    New helmet light started

    Next bar light

    36-21.5-33

    Micro helmet light

    Another dual MC-E

    5 cell 18650 holder

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker View Post
    I machine all my light related parts on a mill. Mostly on a Taiwanese copy of a Bridgeport mill called an ACER, though I have played around with a CNC when I get access. The ACER is an OK machine and has always worked fine. The digital readout quit once, but a $2 part from Radio Shack fixed that.

    Here are threads on lights I have built.

    New helmet light started

    Next bar light

    36-21.5-33

    Micro helmet light

    Another dual MC-E

    5 cell 18650 holder
    Thanks Vanc... just the kind of info I was after. I have already read some of your builds - I'm impressed. Look forward to reading the other threads.

  4. #4
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    Over 70 year old Lathe and also a chinese Milling machine .

    Lights too numerous to link but plenty to see on here with a little searching .

    this is one of the friendliest forums ever and you will get plenty of tips and help if you need it .

  5. #5
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    Thanks troutie... I have seen some of your builds already. I really would like to get more involved but I need to learn more about machining. At this moment, I am trying to learn how to remove material with a lathe... like the wells drivers/stars/optics rest in I have seen you guys make.

    This is a very friendly forum and I am just glad I stumbled in here. It is gonna cost me though! lol....

    I have already ordred parts and spares - my first build will be the conduit style phucked posted up recently. Need that bad boy out of necessity.

    I also want to upgrade my cat eye triple shot pro at some point.

    Many thanks.

  6. #6
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    I use a tiny Taig micro lathe, it really is small but never needed bigger for light building. I also have a Chinese milling machine that does a good job. I usually end up using both machines to make a housing. I think that if I could only have one machine It would be the lathe.

    Just finished a housing this morning.

  7. #7
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    Well, I started with a hack saw and a bench drill press, then bought a 7x12 mini lathe, but also have access to a 16x40 lathe, CNC lathe and a CNC milling machine.

    Here's some of my own creations:

    First and second build using hacksaw and drill press

    Helmet light using CNC lathe and some human labor

    Tail light using same tooling as with the helmet light

    Helmet lights using 7x12 mini lathe

    Handle bar light using 7x12 mini lathe and CNC mill

    Bar lights mod using 7x12 mini lathe

    Handle bar light using 16x40 lathe and CNC mill

    Torch using 16x40 lathe

    Probably still more to come. Some projects are still unfinished.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the research fodder guys.

    Yetti - that little lathe looks awesome. I will read more about it. Fits my space req's for sure. I have been looking at the HF mini mill... but honestly, I'd like to find a good used one with some tooling included.

    Toaster - thanks for all the great links (especially stating which machines were used) and showing the machining pics in your builds.

    I love that flashlight you made. I want to do this and give them away to my Dad and some friends for Christmas but I am afraid it won't be this year. Really nice looking light. Something to be appreciated for sure.

    Have y'all seen any good instructional videos out there yet? Not having much luck. Yes, I'd like to take a class but I don't have the time.

    Do any of you guys have a camera you could setup and document some of the machining steps involved in making a housing with a lathe or with a mini mill? I would if I could... there arn't any great videos showing different material removal setups within one project that I have seen.

  9. #9
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    Great info in here. Make me want to get both a lathe and a mill!

    But I have all the light I need for now!
    "By Your Command"

  10. #10
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    "boring" was the term I needed... I found some boring videos with the lathe on YT. Used Lathe's seem easier to find but still.... not much craigslist love around DFW area though.


    edit: not boring as 'yawn' -- boring as in making a hole! haha...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJWilly View Post
    Thanks for the research fodder guys.

    Yetti - that little lathe looks awesome. I will read more about it. Fits my space req's for sure. I have been looking at the HF mini mill... but honestly, I'd like to find a good used one with some tooling included.

    Toaster - thanks for all the great links (especially stating which machines were used) and showing the machining pics in your builds.

    I love that flashlight you made. I want to do this and give them away to my Dad and some friends for Christmas but I am afraid it won't be this year. Really nice looking light. Something to be appreciated for sure.

    Have y'all seen any good instructional videos out there yet? Not having much luck. Yes, I'd like to take a class but I don't have the time.

    Do any of you guys have a camera you could setup and document some of the machining steps involved in making a housing with a lathe or with a mini mill? I would if I could... there arn't any great videos showing different material removal setups within one project that I have seen.
    TJWilly, feel free to look at my Picasa albums. There is a lot of junk but some of it may interest you.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1152643...eat=directlink

    https://picasaweb.google.com/1152643...eat=directlink

    Here is a link to a youtube video. This man has made tons of vidoes and they should keep you happy for many hours.MACHINE SHOP TIPS #65 Lathe Project Pulley Part 1 of 3 tubalcain - YouTube

    This man has tons of videos and is far too skilled for his own good. Making a micro tool holder part 1 of 3 "HD" - YouTube

  12. #12
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    If you are in the beginning of the learning process, you can consider this manual as a machinists bible.

  13. #13
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    Awesome info. I know what I will be doing this evening once I get the rugrats to bed.

  14. #14
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    Here you go This is the one I finished this morning.

    It's a work light for my machines but I'm going to make a couple more for security lights. The LED is the Osram Oslon and only took three and a half months to arrive Very good LEDs though and I think they are great in neutral white

    Anyway both milling machine and lathe were used.I know it's not a bike light but there isn't any other thread for this non bike stuff so I'll plonk it here.





  15. #15
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    Fantastic work. I am impressed with you guys. Really.

    And since this thread is more about technique with machines, your work fits perfectly here.

    Actually I'd be interested in any techniques you guys want to share... now back to my youtube crash course in machining.... lol

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by yetibetty View Post
    TJWilly, feel free to look at my Picasa albums. There is a lot of junk but some of it may interest you.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/1152643...eat=directlink

    https://picasaweb.google.com/1152643...eat=directlink

    Here is a link to a youtube video. This man has made tons of vidoes and they should keep you happy for many hours.MACHINE SHOP TIPS #65 Lathe Project Pulley Part 1 of 3 tubalcain - YouTube

    This man has tons of videos and is far too skilled for his own good. Making a micro tool holder part 1 of 3 "HD" - YouTube
    I found his index of videos for those interested in not searching around youtube. He had this note in one of his descriptions.

    MACHINE SHOP TIPS

    Thanks again!

  17. #17
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    I've just started using a lathe (a very old grumpy mini lathe a friend gave me) and it's been a relatively painless process so far. Understanding how they work helps, but starting with small simple projects and listening to the machine is how I've been improving. So far I've only done a couple of small pedestals (one for a minimag conversion as a Xmas gift ) and I'm getting better at it each time. There's a huge repository of knowledge on here and there's no such thing as a stupid question!

    I'd go for a lathe first, as they're easier to find and conceptually easier to get your head around (mine anyway). Plus, if you buy one with a standard tool post, it's possible to convert it to a light duty mill by adding a vertical machinists vise to the cross slide. It's what I'm planning on doing to my old rust bucket, after I install an on-off switch that is

  18. #18
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    After discovering the delights of this forum I built my first couple of lights from rectangular section using hand tools and a pillar drill. Then I was really hooked and bought a Myford ML7 lathe off of ebay which has allowed me to produce much better finished lights but they don’t work any better!

    In fact, my favourite (and most used) light is still my double XP-G square section light, the second one I ever built by hand.

    A machine tool like a lathe or a milling machine will enable you to tackle much more ambitious projects but beware, you can easily spend as much again in ancillary equipment like tooling, measuring gauges etc.

  19. #19
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    This is a place local to me. They have combo machines as well:

    Grizzly.com® -- Product Categories
    "It looks flexy"

  20. #20
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    Still on the fence. Not sure which direction to go. I know I can do most with a lathe and 4-jaw, but I have some ideas that I know will require mill work.

    Used lathes are not very abundant in my area. No shortage of 43 ton machines... but for the hobbyist.

    I wonder if I can get by spending more on the lathe than the mill. In other words, getting a decent benchtop lathe but then going with something like the harbor freight mini mill. I have read enough on combos to know I don't care to do multiple setups switching from lathe to mill. Though I don't agree with ALL the negative comments out there, some of them, do make sense.

    There is a Craftsman (atlas) 101.2140 benchtop lathe I found and the guy wants $700 with tooling (centers, 3 and 4 jaw, jacobs, a few bits to cut with, quick change tool post and setups for under and normal drive.

  21. #21
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    I tend to use both a lathe and mill. I have a ZX-45 mill and a Hafco AL330A lathe at home and bigger units at work. To speed things up I have DRO's fitted to both machines.

    The most expensive part is the tooling costs, for example a 63mm facing cutter for the mill was about $450. If you are happy to sharpen your own tool steel for the late you will save some money . For the mill a rotary table is a great addition if you don't have a lathe as it will certainly broaden what you can make, however good ones can be expensive depending on the size.

    Good luck with your choice

  22. #22
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    You should also check your local universities. I used to work in a laboratory at CU Boulder that required a lot of machine work. There was a machining shop that offered classes to anyone that signed up (students got priority for the spots of course) but after the class you were given a certification and could use any of their mills and lathes. The class I believe costs $200, much cheaper than buying your own and Sid has lots of advice if you ask (he runs the program).

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