The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 36, December 15, 2010

Holiday Hours

Sherline will be closed Friday, December 24th and Friday, December 31st.

Sherline Workshop Project of the Month

ìOld Manî Tommy Bars/John Ecker

This tip was originally published in the first Sherline newsletter three years ago, but our mailing list was a lot smaller then, so many of you may not have seen it.

Tommy bars can be slippery and hard on your fingers when tightening and loosening chucks. Here are some simple ways to make them more comfortable. If you donít have a knurling tool you can simply turn a series of grooves in the brass handles for better grip.

John Ecker of West Bend, WI explains that at age 79, his fingers are smooth and slippery, especially when steel parts are oily. He had trouble tightening up his 3-jaw chuck with the Tommy bars without his fingers slipping off. He solved the problem by turning up some easy-to-grip knurled brass sleeves that are pressed onto the end of the 5/32" diameter Tommy bars. The new brass handle is about 1.75" long and is pressed on leaving about 2" of Tommy bar remaining for a total length of about 3.75". If the press fit isn't tight enough, some Lock-titeÆ can be used to keep them in place. If you are looking for a test job for your new knurling tool, why not make something that you will use hundreds of times in your own shop?

Another idea from Tracy AtkinsonÖ

If you don't want to deal with custom building your handle, here's another way to add a little length and some grip to your Tommy bars. Stock knob handles are available in most hardware stores. Buy the smallest you can find. Tracy Atkinson sent in this photo and suggestion. He used super-glue to hold the knob in place.

El Cheapo Tommy barsÖ

The least expensive Tommy bar we've seen is a large nail with the point ground off. The head of the nail probably isn't the most comfortable handle in the world, but it does give you some grip. Clyde Hackler of Plastools uses these in his Sherline lathe when demonstrating his cutters at shows. It's not fancy, but it works. If you lose your Tommy bar on the bench some time, it might be quicker to find a nail to use until you locate the bar among the chips.

Shop Tip of the month

Clock key tap handles/Jerry Kieffer

Two different size tap handles. The top one fits the Sherline spindle itself, and the smaller one is for use with a º" WW collet. Fitted into the end is a cut-off clock key providing the square hole for the end of the tap. (The apparent curve in the shaft is caused by the wide angle lens.)

Keeping taps perfectly aligned with a drilled hole assures that you will cut straight threads and also that you wonít break small taps. Jerry Kieffer of DeForest, WI came up with two ways to use the spindle on a Sherline mill to guide the tap handle. Square shanks on taps can be sized to the square holes in various clock keys available from clock repair suppliers. Most taps you use will come in size ranges that use the same size square shank, so only a few handles can cover a broad range of tap sizes.

Materials: 9-10" length of 13/32" steel rod, 2-4" length of 1/8" steel rod, Old clock key with square hole in end to fit your tap

Making the tap holder

1) Find or purchase a clock key with a square hole for the size tap you wish to use, cut off a portion of the key shaft and turn the outside down to 13/32".

2) Drill a hole in the end of the 13/32" shaft and bore it out to accurately fit the end of clock key.

3) Press the key shaft into the hole and use a little LoctiteÆ to hold it.

4) Cross drill a 1/8" hole through the 13/32" shaft near the other end.

5) Slip the short length of 1/8" diameter round stock through the hole to act as handle to turn tap.

Using the tap holder

1) Insert the tap holder through Sherline spindle.

2) With the tap centered over the hole, use the handle to twist the tap tool to cut threads.

Using with WW collets for smaller tap sizes

A smaller tap handle can be made with a1/4" diameter shaft. A 1/4" WW collet is placed in the collet adapter in the spindle and held with the collet drawbar but not drawn up. The tap handle is slipped through the collet which acts as a guide to center the smaller holder.

Notes from Jerry

If you donít have any lying around, offers a large selection of clock keys at Jerry notes, ìWhen using WW collets, projects tend to be smaller. The square ends on taps are of various sizes depending on the tap size and manufacturer. However, the ends of taps 6-32 and smaller tend to be smaller but are generally all the same size from any one manufacturer. For example, 0.110" square is common. These are the sizes generally used for small projects were one may use WW collets and the collet draw bar. On the other hand, 8-32 and larger taps tend to have a larger square end depending on the tap size, but again can be the same size up to 12-24. Sizes 0.125" and 0.150" square are common.î

This and 58 other handy tips can be found at

Product Spotlight

CNC upgrade options

Sherline manual lathes and mills, no matter how old, can be upgraded to computer control (CNC) at any time. The choices can be a bit confusing just looking at the price list, however, so here is a brief summary of your options.

Add stepper motor mounts only

This would be for experienced CNC users who can build their own driver boards and provide their own computers and stepper motors. Motor mount kits can be found for each lathe or mill and are usually numbered beginning with a part number in the 6700 series. They are listed on the accessories price list at .

Add stepper motor mounts, stepper motors and a 4-axis driver box w/software

For those who choose to save a little money by using an old computer they have on hand and installing the Linux/EMC2 software we supply with the driver box, kits can be found on the CNC Systems Price List at . The are:

6701/6711 for 5000 or 5400 series mills

6706/6716 for 2000 series mills

6721/6726 for 4000 or 4500 series shortbed lathes

6731/6736 for 4400 series longbed lathes

Make sure your computer has the minimum requirements of an 800 MHz clock speed (Pentium III), 256 MB RAM, a CD or DVD drive and a 25-pin parallel (printer) port. Many recent computers no longer contain a parallel port, but USB wonít work for CNC.

Complete upgrades with computer

For the complete upgrade kit including a new Sherline computer with built-in 4-axis driver board, here are your options:

8542/8543 for 5000 or 5400 series mills

8022/8023 for 2000 series mills

8401/8402 for 4000 and 4500 series shortbed lathes

8442/8443 for 4400 series longbed lathes

Sherlineís Christmas Specials at good through December 23rd!

4400A or 4410A Lathe Packageó15% OFF! Save $120.00!

To help out at Christmas, Sherline is offering a 15% savings on our best selling lathe, the 4400A/4410A deluxe longbed lathe with 3.1" 3-jaw and 3/8" tailstock chucks. Instead of the normal $800.00 price, between now and midnight, December 23rd you can order this package for only $680.00óa savings of $120.00! The offer is available by calling Sherline at (800) 541-0735

(Note: 4400A is the part number for the inch lathe, 4410A is the part number for the metric version.)

When completed, Millie is small enough to carry it in your pocket! Thatís a quarter in the picture for size scale.

ìMillieî steam engine kit free with any lathe or mill purchase!

This kit with plans is not available for sale separately and the offer only lasts until December 23rd.

Did you know?

ï Have you ever seen a steam powered Sherline lathe? No? Check out this one on YouTube at built by Carlos. This fun link was sent to us by Vince Pugliese.

ï Sherline machines were sold in the past under names other than Sherline. In fact, the brand first came to America from Australia when Sears was looking for an importer to sell Sherline lathes under the Craftsman name. Once Joe Martin bought the tool line and started making machines in California in 1974, other companies wanted to put their name on the machines too. You can still find old Sherline machines out there with labels like Jensen, Brookstone and even National Camera Co. (NatCam) on them. You can learn more about these specially branded machines at .

ï How do you tell how old a Sherline machine is? See for a guide through the changes over the years to help pin down a date.

ï Every month Sherline offers an Internet Special at . Save 20% on the accessory of the month.

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows

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

ï North American Model Engineering Society (NAMES) ExpoóApril 30-May 1, 2011, Southgate, Michigan. Americaís original model engineering show. See Sherline will be there!

(Send us your model engineering show dates and we will publish them here.)

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï The latest addition to the museum in Vista is a new brass work of art by Polish craftsman Szymon Klimek. Already on display is his tiny and highly detailed ìAdlerî locomotive made from photo etched brass parts so fine you wonder how they can even be handled. It is displayed inside a glass wine goblet to protect it. The newest creation is called ìSusiî and is a solar powered Victorian steam engine, also inside a wine goblet. In keeping with the wine theme, the ornate engine is decorated with bunches of purple and red grapes and very beautifully detailed brass grape leaves. When placed next to a bright light source it springs into action.

ï Holiday hours for the Vista museum will be in place later this month. We will be closed Friday, December 24th and Friday, December 31st.

ï Construction is now complete on the interior of our new Foundation offices, shop and museum and the final approval has been given by the city of Carlsbad. Rather than disrupt tours during the busy holiday season when many people are on vacation and have put the museum on their agenda, we have put off the projected move to the new building in Carlsbad until after the first of the year. We will be at the old location all the way through December and open Monday through Friday except for the two holidays noted above. If visiting in January, check the web siteís home page at for days and hours. As soon as we have exact days for closure, they will be posted there. The museum will be closed for about a week during the move.