Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Joy of Milling

There's one particular part that I make for the ScopeRoller set that goes on the ATS tripods that is basically a rectangular block of Delrin with a threaded hole and a recess in it. I've made these in the past with a chop saw, a drill press, and a belt sander. The chop saw gives me three blocks that are within perhaps 1/10" of each other in dimensions, and about that close to being square. The drill press drills the hole and the recess. The belt sander smooths the otherwise over sharp edges.

Anyway, since I discovered that I have two of the right size casters (I have no idea where the third one went), I couldn't really put together a set for shipping--but I thought, now that I have the vise on the vertical mill holding everything in place correctly, why not try to mill these blocks?

I'm not sure that I can quite justify the extra time, but oh, they are so beautiful! I put four blocks in the vise at once, and after running the fly cutter over all four sides, they were within .002" of each other in dimensions, and they were absolutely square. Then I ran the fly cutter over the top and bottom faces, where the surface sometimes has markings or scratches, and now all six faces of these blocks had that perfect milled appearance! Excellent!

I tried to break the edges of the blocks by putting them at a 45 degree angle in the tilt table, but this turned to be a surprisingly slow process. I finally decided just to lightly tap them on the belt sander to break the edges.

There's enough set up time moving the vertical column to position (because the mechanism is very stiff--I'm going to get it replaced) that I should probably only do this when I have going to make five or six sets at a time.

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