The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 16, April 15, 2009

Customer Projects

Walrus Tusk Ivory Guitar Pins/Mike Fleck

A lathe is not just for metal. Other interesting materials, in this case ancient walrus tusk ivory can be turned with interesting results.

Mike Fleck of Fleck Guitars in Alaska sent photos of the beautiful guitar bridge pins he turns on his 4400 lathe. These are what hold guitar strings in place at the body end of the guitar just past the bridge. Normally they are made from plastic, wood or ivory, but these custom turned pins are turned from walrus tusk ivory that can be thousands of years old. The rare material, dug up by native Alaskans on St. Lawrence Island is also popular with scrimshaw artists, but its natural beauty lends itself well to use on a high quality acoustic guitar. For more of Mike's work see

Shop Tip of the month

Mill Indicator Holder/Steven Lang

This indicator holder was made by cutting the dovetail off a P/N 1290 Steady Rest Riser. The parts can also be made from scratch.

GM engineer and long time Sherline user Steven Lang sent in an example of this useful indicator holder he had made from a P/N 1290 Steady Rest Riser Block ($50.00). By machining down the thickness and drilling an additional hole to mount the indicator, he was able to turn it in to a Z-axis holder for an inexpensive dial indicator. The extrusions of the 1290 come 1.2" thick, but Steven machined his down to a thickness of 0.50" to take up less vertical space. (If you were to saw one in half you can make two holders.) The 10-32 hole to mount the indicator is based on the location of the flange on this particular indicator. Check the one you are using and modify the hole location if needed. Although you could use a standard 10-32 socket head cap screw to secure the holder to the column dovetail, Steven has also turned a nice looking knurled knob and pressed it onto the head of 10-32 screw to eliminate the need for a hex key when moving the holder to a different position.

Note also that without the indicator mounted, a part like this could be easily adapted for use as a positionable hard stop on the lathe or mill.

CLICK HERE to view a dimensioned plan of the parts if you want to build one from scratch. If you click on the link below and read the full tip, Steven also offers a way to make the mount work where space is limited by making one additional piece that allows the indicator to be mounted above the headstock.

To view this and over 50 other handy tips for Sherline owners, see the TIPS page at

New Product Spotlight

Sherline Short 90∞ Angle Plate, P/N 3561 ($60.00)

At only 4" long, the P/N 3561 90∞ Angle Plate is short enough to be used in line with or perpendicular to the mill table.

This angle plate is a very useful work-holding fixture for milling. It is 3-1/2" long as opposed to the P/N 3559 90∞ angle plate which is 10" long. Sherlineís lead toolmaker, Pam Weiss came up with this part initially to use up cut-offs at the end of the extrusions used for the longer angle plates and also to solve some particular set-up problems. With two perpendicular surfaces, parts can also be held from two directions at once. It can be used to hold parts on either the vertical or horizontal surface, but its short length gives it the additional advantage of being able to be oriented either parallel to or perpendicular to the mill table, giving you some extra setup options when working on small parts. It has two T-slots running full length on each face. It is made from extruded aluminum with accurately machined faces and a black anodized finish. Provided with the plate are four 10-32 x 3/8" mounting screws and T-nuts.

This fixture is not limited to use on Sherline tools. Like the rotary table and some other Sherline accessories, it could be useful on larger machines in your shop as well.

Did you know?

ï Sherline builds every part we possibly can in our own factory in Vista, CA. The only imported parts we use are those that come from US suppliers who make or purchase them outside the USA. Sherline machines most likely have a higher percentage of domestic content than almost any manufactured item you have in your home or garageóalmost 99% US made.

ï This month two of our most popular and useful mill accessories are on sale at 20% off, meaning you can save $54.00 or $64.00. To learn more, see

ï The Sherline lathe was designed in the late1960ís by Australian Harold Clisby to overcome the design weaknesses of the then-popular Unimat lathe. Unimat stopped producing metal cutting tools many years ago, but Sherline is in its 35th year of production in the USA after buying the line in 1974 from its first Australian manufacturer, Sher Pty. Ltd.

ï This will be the 18th year Sherline has hosted a contest for miniature machining at the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in the Midwest. Look for contest results in next monthís newsletter.

Upcoming Shows

ï NAMES (North American Model Engineering Society) Expo, April 18-19, 2009, Toledo, Ohio. ( By the time you get this, itís still not to late to get to this great show if you live within driving distance of Toledo. Donít miss it! Sherline will be there.

ï WEME (Western Engine Model Exhibition), July 18-19, 2009, Vallejo, CA. This relatively new show in the Bay Area hosts a large number of fine engines. Emphasis is on internal combustion engines, but many steam engines are on exhibit too. Sponsored by Model Engine Builder Magazine, this show gets better each year. For information see Sherline will have a vendor booth at this show again this year.

ï GEARS (Gas Engine Antique Reproduction Show), September 19-20, Portland, OR. The other main West Coast show is held at the armory near the Portland Airport each September. For more information see

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï The newest addition to the on-line museum is Scotty Hewitt, a race car driver from Los Angeles who makes very small steam engines and CO2 powered race cars. Shown here is one of the projects that he built that won first place in the Sherline Machinists Challenge contest a few of years ago. Scotty won that award three years in a row. In addition to seeing it in our on-line museum, this engine and much of his other work can now be seen in person at the Craftsmanship Museum in Vista, CA.

ï The museum was visited on Saturday, April 4th by the local Packard Automobile Club who arrived in a number of gleaming examples of the now extinct marque. Local car, metalworking, woodworking and clock groups are finding it to be an excellent destination for a club get-together, and attendance is way up.

ï See for hours, directions, phone number and a map. If you donít live near Vista, CA (Coastal North San Diego County), be sure to see the on-line museum at

ï It is with great sadness that we announce that model engineer Robert Washburn died April 13, 2009. He and his wife Francis were publishers of StrictlyIC Magazine for 84 issues between 1988 and 2002. Bob and his magazine inspired many builders of model internal combustion engines during the past two decades and were recipients of the Joe Martin Foundationís Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.