The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 14, February 13, 2009

Customer Projects

Building ìMillie,î a small oscillating steam engine/Pam Weiss

This simple bar stock steam engine is a good beginnerís project. The flywheel is just æ" in diameter. Plans for building ìMillieî are included in Joe Martinís book, Tabletop Machining.

Building a steam engine from bar stock is a better first machining project that a casting kit, because if you make a mistake, you can saw off another piece of metal stock and start over. If you mess up a casting, the project is doomed unless you can buy another casting. These plans were originally shown in Modeltec magazine, which is no longer published. Ed Warren designed the engine and gave us permission to re-publish them in Tabletop Machining. If you donít have the book and would like the plans, contact Sherlineóor better yet, buy the book!

Sherlineís lead toolmaker Pam Weiss built the engine and photographed a number of the setups along the way. You can find plans and more detailed photos on pages 330-332 of Joeís book.

See for many other projects by Sherline machinists.

Shop Tip of the month

Magnetic mill vise jaws/Steve Houtchen

Tired of your parallels falling over while you are trying to clamp a part in your mill vise? Steve Houtchen of Dayton, Ohio came up with a solution. This one is so easy it doesnít need a photograph. Steve purchased four rare earth magnets at Radio Shack (P/N 64-1895, $1.59 for 2). They have a specified size of .197" diameter by .059" thick. Steve bored two holes in each vise jaw directly under the existing screw mounting holes. He placed the bottom of the magnet hole 1/16" from the bottom of the jaw so they would be about centered on the parallel. He bored the holes to exact size and .0625 deep and pressed in the magnets. He now recommends using a little glue to make sure the magnets stay in the jaw. Now his parallels stay tight against the vise jaws during setup.

This and over 50 other handy tips can be found on the TIPS page at

Product Spotlight

Sherline adjustable tailstock tool holders

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P/N 1201ñAdjustable Live Center, 1202ñAdjustable Drill Chuck Holder (1/4" and 3/8" Chucks), 1203ñAdjustable Tailstock Tool Holder, 1204ñAdjustable Drill Chuck Holder (5/32" Chuck) and 1206ñAdjustable Die Holder. (Click on any underlined part number for more information on each product.)

An advantage of the Sherline lathe is that the headstock can be rotated to cut tapers. The disadvantage of this adjustable design is that perfect alignment with the tailstock is more difficult to achieve. The solution to this for those who need perfect headstock-to-tailstock alignment is to make the adjustment at the tailstock end using these special purpose tool holders. They all have a rear plate with a #0 Morse taper for the tailstock spindle. The front plate can be adjusted in relation to the rear plate to achieve perfect centering. A witness mark on top of the rear plate makes it easy to return the holder to the aligned position when used in the future so it doesnít have to be re-aligned each time. P/N 1201 replaces the standard live center with an adjustable one. P/N 1202 allows the attachment of a 1/4" or 3/8" Jacobs drill chuck. P/N 1203 accepts tools you make yourself that are held in place with a custom turned split collar and set screw. P/N 1204 has a #0 Jacobs taper to press on the small 5/32" drill chuck, and P/N 1206 holds 1"diameter tapping dies. A 13/16" bushing is included for smaller dies. For centering, drilling or tapping small parts where perfect centering is critical, these adjustable tool holders give you new options.

Did you know?

ï The black navigation bar with yellow type at the top of the Sherline home page makes it easy to find the most popular pages quickly.

ï Exploded views of every lathe and mill can be found at to make it easy to find the replacement parts you need. Once you have the part number, you can find part prices at They can be ordered on-line at or just give us a call at (800) 541-0735.

ï You can save 20% on this monthís Internet Special. What are these three popular lathe accessories? See to find out.

Upcoming Shows

ï NAMES (North American Model Engineering Society) Expo, April 18-19, 2009, Toledo, Ohio. ( The Sherline Machinist Challenge Contest is held at this show each year, and the Joe Martin Foundation presents its award to the Metalworking Craftsman of the Year as well. Lathe demos by Jerry Kieffer will once again be featured at the Sherline booth. Come by the booth and ask about our ìShow Specials.î The NAMES organization also purchases Sherline tools each year which are offered as raffle prizes to lucky winners in attendance.

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

Paul Bundy displays one of the three 1/4 scale Marmons known to still exist. 

ï The newest addition to the on-line museum is a page on Leroy Cox, builder of the most popular model engines ever builtóthe Cox .049 among others. Also new this past month is a page on the quarter scale 1921 Marmons and other small model cars made by the auto manufacturers for display at auto shows. REO, Bugatti and Cadillac also built small promotional models, and all are featured on this new page.

ï Our new first Saturday of each month hours (10-3) are becoming better known. The past two have each seen a host of visitors. Thanks to these visitors, we plan to continue these hours for the museum in Vista, CA in addition to our regular weekday hours of 9-4. Come by or call 760-727-9492 to let us know if you want to bring a group of people for a visit.