Home Workspace | New Stock and Milling Advice

While I was out today, I also stopped by a local machine shop to discuss better ways of milling out small parts, primarily the pendant that I worked on a couple of weeks ago. 

He suggested that instead of having the two pegs for the part to stand on, it would have better rigidity to have a thin flap of metal surrounding the piece. It would also help with cutting the pendant loose; for my system, I would simultaneously cut off the part and finish the face, which was quite difficult and left a bunch of imperfections I couldn't remove later. He also suggested using putty to fill in the first side milled out; this would prevent vibrations, which could cause a bad surface finish. You can see in the images of how he milled out similar parts.

In addition to all this, he mentioned that it would be easier to get the side's filleted with a square endmill vs. a ball endmill. The reasoning behind this was you would need the ball endmill to reach farther down past the part and would interrupt the metal flap around the piece. I initially thought he meant to do step-downs with the square endmill, which would leave steps on the finished part, but rather mill it to flow over the sides.

Another great piece of advice he gave me was for the tooling itself. He was saying that you only want as much flute length as you're going to use, and any more than that would be pointless and give you less tool rigidity. I've heard this from Saunders and a few other people as well but forgot it when ordering the new endmills. He also gave me a Harvey tool catalog which he said would explain the purposes behind coating and the best endmills for the material being used.

After giving me this very much needed advice, he gave me a bunch of new stock I could use to mill. Mostly 6061 aluminum but also a bar of 7071, and aluminum & bronze compound, some more acrylic, and black material that I forget the name of but reminds me of micarta. 

Home Workspace | New tools

Before I make the new clamp system (see the previous post), I needed a drill press for getting holes in the bar stock to attach to the vice. I've wanted to get a drill press for some time as it's super handy to have around, and I had to do some unfavorable hand drill setups, which I won't go into as it would send shivers down your spine.

I looked at local for sale places like Facebook marketplace and craigslist but couldn't find any in my price range ($50-90). I only needed a pretty small tabletop one, so I looked at harbor fright, I was amazed to find they had one for under $60 and perfect for my worktable! It's got a 5-speed system with a 2" drilling height.

While I was there, I also decided to pick up some other tools. I ended up getting a set of small files for deburring, a small hack-saw, and a metric threading kit, which was on clearance as the box was open (only found one part missing) for $50!

I was planning on threading the base plate that I would be getting from Design The Everything to attach my new clamp system. After buying it, I found they didn't have the specific threading tool for the screw that I'd be using, so I went to ace hardware to pick it up. I kind of regret buying the whole threading kit as it has tools primarily for larger sizes I would rarely if ever use. 

Home Workspace | New Table Vice/Clamp System | Pocket NC

One of the main issues I ran into when making the pendant on the Pocket NC was to clamp the bar stock. The current vice system that comes with the machine is designed more for square-shaped material and not ideal for thin rectangles. It's pretty easy to get into the existing system, but you have to bring it so far forward that you have almost no tool length left to cut the backside of the material if you're doing a multi-axis part. 

I liked Winston Moy's low profile design, where he had a hard stop close to the center of the b-table, and you would thread your stock to attach it to the new clamp. The downside to his model was the threading aspect of it, threading takes time, and you need the tools to do it. That's where I came up with a very similar model where you just have through holes on the bar stock. You would then put two screws through those holes and the clamp to a steel nut (steel vs. threading the aluminum for strength) on the other side and tighten it. It will still be a pain to make those holes but much faster than threading them. 

One of the issues I ran into was the platform in which to attach the new clamp. Since I would be removing the existing vice system, I wouldn't have anything to attach it to. A huge thank you to Design The Everything from Instagram; we were talking about tooling and the purposes of endmill coating when he offered to send me a plate design that fits over where the standard clamp would. It's a 3/16" circular disk with holes to match the ones on the b-table. It would require some work to get the new vice to fit, but since its a clean workpiece (minus the holes), it's ideal for this situation.

I had some extra time, so I also decided to animate the assembly and how it worked.

Home Workspace | New Endmills | MSC Industry

After reading up more on speeds and feeds, I also dived into coatings and what their purpose was.

From what I understand, depending on the coating, you can cut different materials more efficiently. The reason you wouldn't want to go with a coating would be price, and you can't sharpen the coated carbide endmills meaning they are a one time deal. 

Since I mainly cut in aluminum, I primarily focused my research there. Aluminum has a shallow melting temperature (compared to say steel), which means you want chips to be evacuated quickly and smoothly; for this, you'd want a smooth surface finish on your endmill to cleanly cut and remove material. From what I found, TiCN or titanium carbonitride was recommended for cutting soft materials like 6061 aluminum, so I ordered four endmills. 

I got a 1/8" two flute corner radiused, 1/16" two flute corner radiused, 1/32" square two-flute, and 1/8" four flute ball endmills. I will be testing these soon by making a new clamp/vice system for the Pocket NC, similar to what Winston Moy made for his machine.

Home Workspace | Voice Over Recording | Premiere Pro

I finally faced my fear and put together the voice over for my unboxing and setup of the Pocket NC.

Before making the video, I was talking to Winston Moy, and he said that pretty much no matter what I did, the first videos would be incredibly cringy.

I used premiere pro to do the recording and initially wasn't going to use a script to read from, but after stumbling over my words and not knowing what to say, I decided just to make one as I went. Quite a bit of the information I originally had in it was pointless as you could see it in the video, so I only kept what was not as obvious, and that seemed to work out pretty well. I recorded in mini segment clips with a blue snowball microphone, and I didn't think about background noise, so the recording quality isn't the greatest. 

I am going to try and challenge myself to put out two videos a month, if not once a week, to get used to recording myself. I believe that video content making will have some part in my future, and I figured I might as well start early. One thing I keep telling myself is, "you can only go up from here" and "you have to do it sometime, so get it over with now." Also, I kind of realize that next to no one will ever see the video anyway, so that's somewhat comforting.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with what I came up with; I committed to myself that I would get it done today, so there is a ton of room for improvement.