The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 30, June 15, 2010

Sherline Workshop Project of the Month

Compact Workshops/Marvin Meit, Steve Peirce and Ronald Melvin

It doesnít take a lot of space to put together a very complete workshop for small projects.

A small project is not necessarily a little projectóit may still be a very complicated and time-consuming effortóbut the space needed to complete it need not be huge. Above are two shops that show some ways to include a lot of work space and tools in a small area.

Marvin Meitís closet shopóYes, this shop is built inside a 6-foot closet. Two sets of shelves support a worktop that hosts the machines including a lathe, mill and table saw. The back wall has pegboard to support shelves and more tools. It doesnít get much simpler. Marvin and his partner Jorge make parts to super-detail high-end diecast models by Pocher, making parts like custom wooden steering wheels. Anyone who works out of a small home or apartment will appreciate how much utility Marvin has packed into a small space. (For some fine model cars, see for Marvinís model site and check out the Gallery section.)

Steve Peirceís kitchen shopóOne corner of a kitchen is all it takes to set up shop for Steve. His projects have been winners and high finishers in past Sherline Machinistís Challenge contests at the NAMES show, so some real quality work has come out of this small space. (Having a refrigerator handy is great on those late-night sessions too.) We will admit this works much better for bachelors...

Ronald Melvinís shop takes up just one small corner

Ronald Melvinís corner shopóWorking indoors is essential in the long, cold Canadian winters, so this five-foot work surface provides most of the area Ronald needs for his small steam engine projects. He has also proved good lighting, which is essential. An additional 3 feet of space is available on another surface inside a small furnace room off to the side, and his bench grinder is kept in the garage to keep the grinding dust off the precision machines. Each drawer in the cabinet is efficiently laid out to hold accessories for the lathe and mill. A lot of space is not needed if you store things efficiently and keep you work space clean and organized.

See more compact shops at and also enjoy projects made by Sherline machinists at

Shop Tip of the month

Making a tap holder to keep from breaking tiny taps/Bob Shores

The late Bob Shores was a mentor to many, and offered plans for fun engines to build. One of the tips he liked to pass along was how to keep small taps lined up so they wouldnít break. He started with a 2î aluminum disk with a drilled center hole and knurled edge. Here is what he had to say:

"I have read many tips on tapping holesósome good, some not. Five years ago I dreamed up a tapping method for small holes. I tap a lot of holes with 0-80 and 2-56 threads, and since I have been using this method, I have not broken a tap in five years.

After drilling the hole in your part to the proper size for tapping, the drill bit is removed from the chuck without disturbing the work. A 2" aluminum disk, knurled on the outside and drilled and tapped for a 4-40 hex bolt grips the tap just above the flutes. The end of the tap is gripped in the drill chuck and lowered until it just touches the work. The chuck is then loosened to allow the tap to turn freely. The disk holding the tap is turned with your thumb and forefinger. The drill chuck acts as a guide to keep the tap running true, and your fingers are very sensitive to the amount of torque being applied. To break a tap you would have to apply a lot of force." óBob Shores, Ruskin, FL

Bobís wife Margaret still offers plans for the Little Angel, Silver Angel, Hercules, Silver Bullet and other engines designed by Bob. You can find out more at

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

Product Spotlight

Using a Compound Slide, P/N 1270 (metric P/N 1280)

The compound slide offers a way to turn tapers and cut angles on a lathe without rotating the headstock. Four mounting holes are provided in the base for solid positioning on the crosslide. The fixed base has a red anodized finish with laser engraved angle scales to make setting an angle easy. It utilizes a highly efficient locking ring design to lock the rotating portion in position without having to over-tighten the locking screws. A 1/4" cutting tool can be mounted across the front or on either side of the head.

Compound Slide P/N 1270 (1280 metric): $125.00

How it worksÖ

Unlike compounds used on full-size, conventional lathes, this one was designed to be used from the "back" side of the table. This allows it to be designed in a more compact size and used without interference from the crosslide handwheel. The lathe tool is inserted in the holder "upside down" so the cutting tip faces downward. Because of the small size of the miniature lathe, operating the crosslide handwheel in this position causes no inconvenience. (Chip removal is also aided by this upside-down tool position.)

Travel of the slide block is up to 1.75" when square to the base or angled slightly. When angled to 45∞ the handwheel will hit the corner of the base, shortening travel to about 1.25".

The compound slide in use. Note that it cuts from the back side of the part.

The Sherline compound slide is available in both inch and metric versions. On the inch version, the handwheel is calibrated in .001" increments driving a 20 TPI leadscrew. On the metric version, the handwheel is calibrated in .01 mm increments driving a 1 mm pitch leadscrew.

To read the complete instructions for using a Sherline compound slide CLICK HERE.

NOTE: A riser block is available for the compound slide as P/N 1272 ($30.00) when using it with the P/N 1291 Riser Block kit. When the riser block is in place, the compound slide is used on the front side of the part.

Did you know?

ï Sherlineís owner, Joe Martin first went into business making connectors for the radio control industry and has been an avid R/C airplane builder and flyer all his life. He was one of the founders and an early champion in the sport of R/C Formula 1 pylon racing. He started a new business in the early 1970ís as an importer bringing in Sherline tools from Australia to sell to Sears under the Craftsman name after his connector company was sold to R/C manufacturer Kraft Systems. He ended up purchasing the Sherline tool line from Ron Sher and manufacturing it in the USA starting in 1974.

ï When Joe bought the company, the entire machine and accessory line price list fit on one side of one sheet of paper. Now it takes 4 double-sided price lists (manual machines, CNC machines, lathe accessories and mill accessories) plus a single-sided sheet on chucks and collets to describe all the tools and accessories available to Sherline customers. It has been described as the most complete machine tool line (of any size) in the world made by one manufacturer.

ï You can see how Sherline tools are made by taking a photo factory tour at If you visit the factory in Vista, CA, you can take the tour in person.

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows

ï Sherline will be attending the Western Engine Model Exhibition (WEME) in Vallejo, CA July 10th and 11th. See their site for details at In addition to many fine steam and internal combustion engines on display, they will also be displaying the ìWorldís Fastest Indianî motorcycle built by Burt Monroe and featured in the recent movie of the same name. This is a real piece of motorcycle history, having set many speed records at Bonneville.

ï Black Hills Model Engineering Show, Rapid City, SDóSeptember 18-19, 2010. See

ï Estevan Model Engineering ShowóOctober 16-17, 2010, Estevan, Saskatchewan, Canada. See

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï One new craftsman has been added to the on-line museum. Michael Paul Smith has recently received a tremendous amount of attention via a viral e-mail on the Internet back in January featuring his work. A New York Times article in March further spread the word. He makes models in 1/24 scale and photographs them in conjunction with 1/24 diecast cars and trucks to create an entire imaginary Midwest town with the feel of the 1930ís to the 1960ís. The images are startling in their realism and capture the real feel of that era thanks to the craftsmanship of his models.

ï Our thanks to Phillip Henderson for the donation of one of his fatherís detailed wooden models of heavy construction equipment. Perry Henderson built many fairly large models since his retirement as a purchasing agent for a heavy construction company. We now have on display a 1/15 scale LeTourneau L-1100 front end loader that is one of two he built. Thanks also to Joshua Vest for contributing four interesting model airplane engines from his fatherís collection: A Fitzpatrick .61abc, an OS Wankle, a VECO .35 RC and a Cox Tee Dee .020.

ï The foundation has received its business license from the City of Carlsbad for the new building on Lionshead Avenue and contractors are submitting their plans and bids for the tenant improvements. Construction on the interior will begin as soon as we obtain a building permit from the city. We are on track to move the foundation offices, shop and museum into our new home by around the first of the year.