The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 18, June 16, 2009

Sherline Projects

Music box/Geoffrey Rhodes

The open music box with clear top shows off itís nicely machine brass gears and mechanism. (Photos: Geoffrey Rhodes)

Geoffrey Rhodes of England sent us an e-mail saying, ìI thought you may be interested to see the attached pictures of a musical box I have just completed using only Sherline tools. I have a lathe and a milling machine and through the years I have purchased lots of attachments.  I made a gear tooth profile on the end of a Sherline lathe tool which I then mounted in the fly cutter in order to cut the gears. I mounted the gear blanks (which I cut from a 2-inch diameter brass bar) in a holder that I made from mild steel. This was mounted in the Sherline circular table on the mill. The transparent top of the musical box was cut from a sheet of Perspex (Plexiglas) and then turned in the lathe using a spacer below the headstock. (P/N 1291 spacer block kit) It is the maximum diameter I could get into the lathe.

My Sherline supplier (in England) is Millhill Tools who have been extremely helpful and efficient in helping me build up my workshop.î

We invite Sherline Newsletter readers to send in photos of projects they have made. This and many other projects can be seen in the Sherline Workshop on our web page.

Shop Tip of the month

Handy key and Tommy Bar holders/Steven Lang

Holders made from square tubing or channel are mounted to the mill column or lathe tailstock. (Photos: Steven Lang)

GM Engineer Steven Lang likes to keep his tools in easy reach and out of the clutter of chips on the workbench. A few pieces of scrap aluminum channel or square tubing can be easily machined on the mill to be turned into handy holders for your most often used tools like Tommy bars and chuck or hex keys. Steven has used countersunk screws to attach them to the mill base and the tailstock for a neat appearance. On the mill base they are mounted one above the other. On the tailstock they are attached to each other because of the limited amount of surface area available for mounting. Note also that Steven has shortened a 5/32" hex key and glued it in place to make a permanent tailstock locking lever. This is covered in Tip 30 elsewhere in the Tips section.

These and more than 50 other helpful tips for Sherline machinists can be found at

Product Spotlight

Digital Readouts: P/N 8100 (mill, $375.00) and P/N 8200 (lathe, $325.00)

A Digital Readout makes it easier to keep track of your position by translating handwheel rotation into an electronic readout of travel. It also reads spindle RPMóa handy feature. The P/N 8100 mill readout kit is shownóthe lathe kit is similar but with one less handwheel. Any new machine can also be ordered with a DRO already installed.

What is a digital readout and why would I want one?

A digital readout is simply a graphic display of the current positions of each of your moveable axes on a lathe or mill. As you turn the handwheel, the DRO keeps track of the movement and provides an LCD numeric display of position to 3Ω decimal places. That means the 4th digit to the right of the decimal point is either a zero or a five, or Ω of a thousandth of an inch. (Metric versions read to .01 mm.) Unlike DROís on larger, more expensive machines, Sherlines DRO does not have sensors that measure actual table travel directly. Instead, optical sensors read rotation of a gear behind each handwheel and translate that rotational movement into a reading of distance using calculations based on the pitch of the leadscrew. Because Sherlineís precision rolled leadscrews are very accurate and the travels on a small machine are relatively short, error is minimal, making for a very accurate yet cost effective solution. As a bonus, a forth sensor reads rotation speed of the spindle pulley to give a constant readout of spindle RPM. Three red buttons on the readout face allow you to zero the X, Y or Z axis at any time by pushing a button. Backlash can be measured and the amount for each axis set into the readoutís memory. Whenever there is a change of direction in handwheel movement, the readoutís built-in computer automatically subtracts the amount of backlash programmed into it before it starts counting movement in the other direction, effectively eliminating backlash from your consideration.

Kits are available to install a DRO on any existing Sherline inch or metric lathe or mill. Even CNC machines can have an DRO handwheels installed on the rear shaft of the stepper motors for use in manual mode. Any new Sherline machine can also be ordered with the DRO option factory installed by adding the letters ì-DROî to the machineís part number.

Did you know?

ï Need help adjusting or maintaining your Sherline tools? Help Sheets are available on everything from installing new gibs to lubrication and preload nut adjustment at The page is linked from Section 1 of the main menu on Sherlineís home page.

ï Looking for magazines that offer projects and plans for model engineers? The Sherline RESOURCES page offers a list, but here is a quick summary:

The Home Shop Machinist (Village Press)

Machinistís Workshop (Village Press)

Model Engine Builder (Elmwood Publishing)

Model Engineer (My Hobbystore Ltd.) (England)

Model Engineerís Workshop (My Hobbystore Ltd.) (England)

ï This month three mill vise and rotating base options are on sale at 20% off, meaning you can save $15.00 or $33.00. To learn more, see or go to and click on the ìMonthly Specialî link to order on-line any time of day or night.

ï Sherline has not had an overall increase in prices since October 1, 2003. When you consider the increase in cost of everything else during that same period it points out that Sherline tools are a real bargain. Now is the best time to buy to take advantage of 2003 prices.

Upcoming Shows

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 One new craftsman was added to the On-line Craftsmanship Museum in the past month. Maurice Nysether is a late starter. He bought, restored and rode his first motorcycle at age 55. He soloed in an airplane for the first time at age 76 and started machining at age 73. Since then he has made over 20 internal combustion engines. He will turn 90 soon and is still going strong. Four of his interesting engines are featured on this inspiring page.

ï Also added to the on-line museum is another all-wood steam engine by Australian woodworker Harold Manwaring. This time it is a stationary engine called ìMaryî rather that a locomotive, but equally impressive.

ï The museum library is seeking the donation of back issues of Model Engineer magazine. Our collection is complete from issue number 1 in 1898 up through volume 191. We also now have a subscription that started with Volume 200, so we are in need of any or all issues in Volumes 192 through 199 to make our collection complete. As a note of interest, the magazine was originally called Model Engineer and Amateur Electrician when it was first published. The British magazine is the oldest model engineering publication, having now been in continuous publication for over 111 years.