The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 21, September 16, 2009

Sherline Workshop Projects

Project updateóCab forward locomotive/Dwight Ennis

In Newsletter No. 8 we featured a 1901 North Pacific Coast locomotive model under construction by Dwight Ennis. Here is what it looked like last time we showed it:

The loco under construction

Dwight recently sent photos of the finished locomotive along with some additional construction details, and we felt it was worth an update. He notes, "The vast majority of it was done on my Sherline CNC machines. All sheet metal was cut to outline and window openings cut out on the CNC milling machine, then bent or slip rolled as required. Rivets were located and "center punched" on the milling machine, though they were actually embossed manually using a miniature arbor press with specialized punch and die. Turned parts were done on my Sherline CNC lathe. Everything is low temp silver soldered together. Pressurized steam and water lines are high temp silver solder for additional strength."

The finished engine and tender

This and many other Sherline projects can be viewed in more detail on the Sherline Workshop page. (This is project #26.)

Shop Tip of the month

A Simple Cone Mandrel/Ross Heitt

This handy tool makes a good rainy day lathe project.

A cone mandrel is a very effective device for holding a part that has a hole drilled through it. It could be used to hold an R/C car wheel, a flywheel, a gear blank, etc. The part is secured between the tapers of the mandrel, which allows access to both sides and the outer circumference without having to change the setup. For the Sherline lathe a good size would be a shaft of about 1/4" to 5/16" in diameter. The cones are about 5/8" to 3/4" diameter with a 60∞ cone. Use a fine thread on the shaft and try to get a good, snug thread fit between the shaft and the collar. Center drill a 60∞ hole in one end for the live center point. The driven end is held in a collet or chuck. Both cones can be threaded or one can be fixed to the shaft with a set screw or pin.

óRoss Heitt, Saskatchewan, Canada

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

Product Spotlight

Sherline CNC systems get hardware and software upgrades but no change in price

The 8020 CNC mill package shown here will look essentially the same. The big differences are inside the computer and driver box.

Software changesÖ

UBUNTU LINUXóThe Debian version of Linux has been shipped with Sherline CNC machines for the past several years and is debugged and working great; however, there are several good reasons we are converting to the newer Ubuntu version. In addition to better developer support, it offers seamless integration with a larger number of hardware components, plus it is directed more toward the new user who is familiar with a WindowsÆ or MacÆ type desktop interface. No more ìmountingî and ìunmountingî drives, drives and files open with a double click instead of a single click, etc.

The desktop of the Ubuntu version of Linux has changed, making it even easier to navigate. Drop-down menus from the top menu bar give instant access to all the important programs and utilities, and the icons you need to open the G-Code folder and proper version of EMC2 for your machine are right on the desktop.

EMC2ó The newest version of the Enhanced Machine Controller offers Sherline users a lathe-specific CNC program for the first time. Now you can choose from inch or metric versions of the Sherline mill or lathe. Just click on the appropriate desktop icon to open the correct version of EMC2 for your machine. The new details on how Ubuntu and EMC2 operate are included in version 5.0 of the Sherline CNC instruction manual. It can be found on the Sherline web site at

Copies of Ubuntu Linux and EMC2 software are now available from Sherline for those wishing to upgrade. New systems will begin shipping with this software within the week.

Hardware changesÖ

For the past several months we have been shipping an upgraded driver board that now includes a protection circuit that shuts down all stepper motors in case of an electrical surge or anomaly to keep from burning out motors or driver chips. Turning off power to the board and then turning it back on resets the circuit. We also eliminated the floppy drive (who uses floppies any more?) and substituted a USB flash drive that is much more useful for transferring G-code files to and from your CAD computer.

More big newsóAssembly of our computers is now done in-house where we can better control availability and quality of the individual components. This will also aid in problem analysis, testing and repair if needed in the future.

The best part of all this is that the price on CNC systems remains the same. This means you now get even more ìbang for your buckî with Sherline CNC.

Did you know?

ï You can take a tour through the Sherline factory without leaving the comfort of your home or office. A Photo Factory Tour is available right on the Sherline web site. You can also get a real factory tour if you visit the plant facility in Vista, CA. Hours and a map to the plant can be found HERE. A ìheads upî call before your visit is appreciated.

ï The original Sherline lathe was designed by Australian Harold Clisby in the late 1960ís to overcome the flaws of the weak two-rod bed design of the then popular Unimat lathe. He took his design to product engineer Ron Sher who started production of the small lathe in Australia. Joe Martin started importing the lathes to sell through Sears under the Craftsman label and eventually brought full production to the USA in 1974. Joe developed the long version of the lathe and three milling machine models plus a huge accessory line over the years. Sherline has been in continuous production in the USA for over 35 years and is now exported all over the world.

ï Want to see materials from Delrin to Titanium and even Inconel being cut on a Sherline lathe? See the sample cut video web page at

Upcoming Shows

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

ï 22nd Annual Estevan Model Engineering ShowóEstevan, Saskatchewan, Canada, October 17-18, 2009. (Fifteen minutes north of the N. Dakota border.) See for details.

ï The Cabin Fever Expo in York PA each January is the largest show on the east coast. See for information. This is its 14th year and the show will be held January 16-17, 2010.

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï The Foundation recently presented a Special Achievement Award to Szymon Klimek of Poland for his artistic interpretation of small brass model engineering projects. The award includes a certificate, an engraved gold medallion and a check for $500.00.

ï Toy Farmer magazineís latest issues featured a two-part article on scratch built farm toys, the highlight of which was a 2-page spread on Jerry Kiefferís 1936 John Deere ìDî tractor. This running model was built on Sherline equipment and is featured in the Joe Martin Foundationís on-line Craftsmanship Museum. A link to the article is on Jerryís page or you can CLICK HERE to view it directly.

ï We regret to announce the unexpected passing of model engineering craftsman Jerry Howell on August 29th, 2009. Jerry designed and produced many model engines and offered plans and kits for sale. The Foundationís museum shop is nearing completion on his Howell V4 engine. We regret that he will not be able to witness its first running. His loss is a big one to the model engineering community.