The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 33, September 15, 2010

Sherline Workshop Project of the Month

Custom motorcycle models/Steven McDowell

Steven McDowell mailed in a photo of his latest project. At first glance we thought it was a real custom bike, but it was built on Stevenís Sherline lathe and is only 13" long. According to Steven it was inspired by one of Arlen Nessís shovelhead Sportsters. He goes on to say, ìI was fortunate to get a Sherline lathe as a Christmas present last year, and I couldnít wait to play with it. It is the smaller unit (Model 4000) and is manual, not CNC. I used it to make the wheel rims as well as the rear wheel pulley, oil and gas caps, carburetors and funnel ends to them and the tapered cylinders on which I used the parting tool for the fins. I also fabricated the handlebar risers and the headlight ring. Any part I can do, I do it on my lathe. I work nearly sixty to eighty hours on each bike.î


This second bike was inspired by a custom motorcycle he saw in American Iron magazine. The paint jobómetal flake silver and fuchsiaówas Stevenís idea. He has built five bikes to date and is presently working on an Indian bobber. 

Shop Tip of the month

Containing chips on a tabletop milling machine/Scotty Hewitt & Craig Libuse

Scotty Hewitt, a three-time winner of Sherline's Machinist's Challenge contest, constructed a simple shield of countertop material that goes behind his mill to keep flying chips contained. To take further advantage of it, he mounted an inexpensive high intensity light with a flexible shaft to the shield that throws good light where he wants it while not getting in the way when he works. (Sorry, Scotty didnít send a photo, but the concept is pretty self-explanatory.)

Craigís super-simple chip shield is made from an old cardboard box.

Craig Libuse notes that for a really quick and easy way to contain chips, find a corrugated cardboard box about 2í x 2í x 2í. Cut off the flaps on top and remove one of the sides. Using a box-cutter knife, cut away the flaps on the bottom, but leave some near the front of the side pieces that are to be bent back. Place a weight on these flaps to keep the shield where you want it. If it becomes stained with coolant, just throw it away and find another box.

Another ideaóFor trade shows we have a chip shield that is made from clear Plexiglas so that spectators can watch a machinist at work from outside the enclosure. Clear plastic piano hinges were glued at the joints allowing the three clear sides to be placed at angles during milling but folded flat for transport to and from the show.

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

Product Spotlight

Sherlineís DC Motor or Headstock with DC motor

P/N 3305, DC motor and Speed Control: $210.00

P/N 3306, Headstock, DC motor and Speed Control: $300.00

P/N 3307, Headstock, DC motor, Speed Control with 10,000 RPM pulley set: $380.00

When Sherline switched from a Ω HP AC/DC motor in 1994 to a high-torque DC motor, it was one of the best things ever to happen to benchtop machine tools. Since then, many people have chosen to upgrade their old machines to include the new motor, giving them new life. Others have found additional uses for these powerful, quiet motors. Sherline offers the motor and speed control as a separate unit or combined with the Sherline headstock in a ready-to-run configuration. These have been sold for many home and industrial uses to power other machines from old Unimats to new machines of the userís own invention. The headstock/motor unit can also be ordered with the optional high speed pulley set already installed, making it capable of turning the spindle at up to 10,000 RPM instead of the standard maximum of 2800 RPM.

The sophisticated electronics in the Sherline DC speed control accept any incoming AC current from 100 Volts to 240 Volts at 50 or 60 cycles/sec. The circuit board reads the incoming current and automatically converts it to 90 Volts DC to power the motor. In addition, there is circuitry that applies additional power under load to keep RPM constant and also a sensor that protects the motor from damage due to overheating. The motor has lifetime lubricated bearings and externally replaceable brushes for easy maintenance. The control has an on/off switch and a potentiometer to control speed with the turn of a knob. No need for gear or belt changes, just dial in the speed you want. For those needing extra torque during a heavy cut, the 2-position pulley on the headstock does allow a quick change to a high torque position that cuts RPM to 1400 but offers greatly increased torque.

Whether you are upgrading an existing machine or designing a new one, keep the powerful, versatile Sherline motor and speed control in mind.

Did you know?

ï Sherline gives away two handy pocket size decimal equivalent chartsóan inch and a metric version. They are printed on sturdy 3 x 5" paper with a laminated coating and are available free at our booth at model shows or ask for one of each when placing your next order.

ï Sherlineís CNC cam grinder is now available for sale. See for details. Building a mechanical machine to grind cams is a complicated process that has stopped many hobbyists from building internal combustion engines in the past. Now the application of CNC to the process and a ready-to-use machine allow this task to be completed in hours instead of weeks or months. Itís great for serious engine builders, machining clubs or engineers designing small prototype machines that require cams.

ï While cheap Asian import machines try to scoop off the easy sales in the small machine tool market, Sherline continues to offer not only the finest tools but also the best support and largest accessory line of any company out there. (See the cam grinder above as an exampleÖ) What few components we donít make in our own California factory, we always strive to purchase from American companies whenever possible. Please keep that in mind when buying or recommending a machine to a friend. Support American workers and the companies that employ them.

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows

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

ï Cabin Fever ExpoóJanuary 15-16, 2011, York, PA. The East coastís biggest model engineering show. See

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï An article recently appeared in the August issue of In Flight USA magazine. This magazine goes to pilots and is available at many pilot lounges and restaurants in airports around the country. The article by Russ Anderson featured photos of the aluminum P-51 and Corsair models by Young C. Park that are displayed in our museum. For those flying into nearby Palomar-McLellan Airport in Carlsbad, CA, the museum is only a few miles away and well worth the visit.

ï A display featuring a half dozen steam engines by Rudy Kouhoupt is now up and running in our machine shop. Visitors can see many different configurations of steam engine being run on compressed air, and we are in the process of adding a second air manifold and more engines.

ï Construction continues on schedule on the interior of our new Foundation offices, shop and museum. Drywall and taping were just completed and carpet and tile is next. We still expect to be moved in before the first of next year.