View Full Version : Machine Shop Ideas?

August 26, 2010, 03:00 AM
So I'm a student majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I was told I have to take this new course as a co-requisite to one of my classes. I didn't know anything about it at first. Today was the first day. They want us to get acquainted with the use of several types of machinery and safety procedures.

It looks pretty exciting. Its a giant room full of drill presses, lathes, mills, sheet metal bending equipment, and I think maybe even CNC.

We have a couple of projects where we get to design our own (and fabricate) our own things.

Looking at previous students work, alot of people have constructed all sorts of vices and some have made simpler things like a mallet. Those were the examples that students gave to the instructor. You get to actually keep your own work here.

Who can give me some ideas? The items cannot be too large (lets say can fit in a large shoe-box) and I'm not sure what materials we have access to yet beyond aluminum... I swear one of the things he was showing us looked like it was cast iron.

The idea behind the course is not to train machinists, but to give us a background in what goes into fabrication for when we are designing things down the road (i.e. you can't design something that is impractical to manufacture... economics, safety, etc...)

It's going to be a learning experience so complicated objects aren't necessarily a good thing, especially if I'd like them to actually work. I'm leaning towards my own set of rings, or a custom rail for one of my guns...

Currently I have a modest reloading setup (rock chucker supreme and dies, ram priming unit... and I only mention this because maybe I could make a threaded attachment to the press that does something unique and useful).

The guns I own currently are a Ruger 77/22, Browning T-bolt, Remington 700 VTR .308, and a Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter .45 colt.

I'd like to hear some of other peoples ideas, given the constraints of the class and my current zero hands-on experience with fabrication (I am fluent in designing things on CAD software however).

August 26, 2010, 06:57 AM
A multiple section brass/aluminum cleaning rod with various tips. If you are allowed to order stock.

August 26, 2010, 09:15 AM
Once upon a time, Ohio State University required mechanical engineering students to make their own drill press by the time they graduated. They had to learn basic iron casting, mill and lathe and shaper and surface grinder use to complete it. I believe they were allowed to buy the motor and belts and ball bearings, and maybe the chuck, but otherwise were on their own. Today they are not allowed near machine tools and have to request their machine shop make things for them. Too much liability risk for the University. Yet another example of safety concerns dumbing us down.

I don't know if making a gun accessory would disqualify you if they don't let you bring the gun onto campus to show it works? You'd have to ask. If they teach you sand casting of gray iron, you could make your own bullet runout gauge, using one of the $20 Chinese dial indicators. You could make a .22 rimfire ammo rim thickness sorting gauge just from flat stock and drill rod and, again, the Chinese dial indicator, but with an elephant's foot tip. A small arbor press for pressing pins in and out might be useful. A dovetail sight adjusting tool is nothing more than a specialized c-clamp, and, again, is useful.

The reason people make small vices and the like comes from the tradition of apprentice tool makers, who are encouraged to make many of their own tools in school, then use them the rest of their lives. Even making a simple hammer brings with it the challenge of learning enough about steel and heat treating to correctly choose the alloy for the head and to heat treat it to a hardness great enough not to indent or deform on impact with a punch or a nail, but not so hard and brittle that it shatters.

A more complex project, if they have the right kind of grinding equipment, would be learning to make your own chamber reamers and other cutters. Could be fun.

A much easier task is learning to make and harden a set of D reamers from drill rod for final sizing precision holes. Guy Lautard's book, the Machinists Bedside Reader (http://lautard.com/books.htm) is full of project ideas like that and methods for doing them. It would be worth your time to read regardless of what you decide to make. For still greater complexity, the late David Gingery's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_J._Gingery) machine shop series is interesting. He built a complete machine shop pretty much from scratch over a period of twenty years or so. It starts with the castings.

August 26, 2010, 11:23 AM
Thanks for the responses so far, and no I would definitely not be bringing any firearms on campus. I live in Cali after-all, aside from the usual security concerns, we are extra paranoid out here ;)

I'd still be able to take measurements from home, or even some sort of casting of the part of the gun if I had to. I will update this post again next week when he actually goes over the materials available to us (and if we can bring our own) that should make a huge difference for the possibilities.

August 26, 2010, 11:50 AM
Back in 1969 when I took a 3 hour a day high school machine shop class,the project was a drill press vise made from a kit.It would not surprise me if the kit was a Palmgren.
It was a good choice because it gave a broad spectrum of skills and experience.
The lead screw had to be turned and threaded on a lathe.It needed a groove cut.It needed four flats or a cross drill for a handle.

Later,whether with a tap or single pointed on a lathe,internal threads must be cut for the nut.

To begin the body of the vise,the mill is trammed in first,and the vise indicated square.The basic teqniques of squaring a piece of stock must be learned(critical skill!!)

There is some fly cutting,end milling,slot milling,drilling

Then the mating part,the jaw must be fit,and thre screw,jaw,and body must all fit together and work!!

If you want to get real fancy,it can be case hardened and precision ground.

If I may suggest,see this time not so much for a specific gun related part,but something that will give you a comprehensive shop experience.

Have fun,Great opportunity!!

August 26, 2010, 11:58 AM
Its a giant room full of drill presses, lathes, mills, sheet metal bending equipment, and I think maybe even CNC.
Be careful you don't get that CNC on your CNS, or you'll be SOL PDQ. That would be a major SNAFU, and BOHICA. And don't assume your DILLIGAF would help.;)
you can't design something that is impractical to manufacture... economics, safety, etc...
Yeah, like a V8 engine. When Henry Ford came up with the idea for the V8, his engineers told him it was impossible to do, there was no need for a compact 8-cylinder engine, and no one would buy it anyway. :rolleyes: Impractical is in the eyes of the beholder.
Once upon a time, Ohio State University required mechanical engineering students to make their own drill press by the time they graduated.
One of the guys in my machine tools class made his own lathe, 6" swing/20" between centers. Worked pretty well, too. He was an overachiever. Most of the rest of us made vises, toolboxes, hinges, ball peen hammers, etc.

August 31, 2010, 04:38 PM
I was a Chemical engineering back in 1968.
I was also working my way through school as a gunsmith.
I spent a lot of time in the shops at school learning heat treating and manual machine practices, When it came time to graduate I had a dubble major also in Mechanical engineering. I ws not that good as a high school student and went to five schools. "fighting" after 6 years as an Officer in the Army I went to work for the Fire Dept "no jobs in engineering at the time" So I worked on my Masters and then got a PH.D in engineering Science, with my intrest in firearms it took me all the way.
Asmall lath would be great to build I use one for case trimmimg. die polishing, neck turning, ETC
Good Luck

September 1, 2010, 07:33 AM
A model of a civil war cannon is always fun. You got a complex shape to do on the lathe, drill a center hole, tig weld or tap in trunnions, and build some form of mount. Plenty of work, and even non-functional in aluminum a nice conversation piece for your office later.