The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 39, April 15, 2011

By request we are including in this issue larger photos for more detail.

Sherline Workshop Project of the Month

Two steam engines from one set of plans/Les Cade

Many years ago Les Cade of San Marcos, CA saw some plans in either Live Steam or The Home Shop Machinist magazine for a small steam engine made from bar stock. It looked like a fun project for Sherline tools so he gathered some scrap material and made a steam engine. He recalls it used a ìStevensonís Linkageî for the reverse mechanism but canít recall the exact article or date. In any case, he made all the parts himself except for the valves which were purchased from Coleís Power Models. Hereís what it looked likeÖ

The finished small steam engine has a lever at the top for reversing the direction of the drive.

When completed, the engine ran so well that Les decided to make another one, but this time a bit larger. He used the same plans but scaled up the dimensions. Actually, part of the engine was scaled up about twice size and another part about 1.5x size, but the big one ran just as well as the small one. Hereís what it looked like:

The second engine drives a generator that lights a street lamp.

The point is that scaling plans can work in your favor whether making something bigger or smaller. If you find a project that you like but feel it is too big for the equipment you have, just divide all the dimensions by a factor to size it down. If you think the parts are too small for you to be able to work with them comfortably, multiply the dimensions by a factor to get to a size you are comfortable with.

These two engines are among a collection of nineteen gas and steam engines that Les just donated to the Joe Martin Foundationís Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, CA.

Shop Tip of the month

Perfect alignment for stamped letters and numbers/Jerry Kieffer

Here is an example of the professional look you can get with stamped numbers. The upper sample was done in a straight line with the work piece held in a vise. For the round version with the letters on a curve, the work piece was held in a rotary table. Getting an even depth requires a consistent touch with the hammer.

Occasionally I have a need to stamp a smaller project with numbers and words in a professional looking manner. While there are special presses and stamps made for this type work, they are very expensive and generally limited to straight lines. In the past I have also hired this work done, but it was also expensive, time consuming and with mixed results. Of course attempts have been made to free hand stamp with readily available hand stamps. I doubt I have to explain the results of free hand stamping in regard to straight lines and even letter/number spacing to anyone who has tried.

In case anyone also has this need, I thought I would pass along a method I use that for the most part covers my needs. Rather than purchase expensive presses designed for this work, I use a Sherline mill as follows:

ï First, the work piece to be stamped is mounted in the mill vise, the bed, a rotary table or however.
ï Second, a four-jaw, self-centering chuck is mounted on the mill spindle. A square stamp is then mounted in the chuck finger tight.

ï Third, the spindle is then rotated until the stamp is square to the slide movements and the spindle is locked in place. In the beginning, I used a wood wedge under the spindle pulley to lock it in place so it wouldnít turn. Since I use a locked spindle for several other purposes, I drilled two holes in the pulley and threaded for a locking screw.

Here is a picture of the spindle lock Jerry made to keep the spindle from turning during the stamping operation. The pin threads into the pulley to lock against the headstock below.

Once stamping is complete, the stampings can be surface sanded to change number/letter appearance if desired. In the example photo the straight line was heavily sanded on the left side and lightly sanded on the right. The arc was not sanded. Stampings can also be lightly bead blasted for even another appearance variation not shown. For Sherline size projects, figures are normally limited to 3/32" or smaller.

A part held in the vise is being stamped with a series of letters or numbers. Using equal increments on the X-axis handwheel to move the vise left/right assures even letter or number spacing. The square shank of the punch is located finger tight in the 4-jaw self-centering chuck. The photo above this one shows the steel rod used to tap the punch once it is in position.

One caution: hand stamps made in China and India DO NOT work well with this procedure, if they are even hard enough to stamp at all. The figures are not all the same size nor are they generally centered in the stamp. When stamped in a straight line or arc this stands out like a sore thumb.

óJerry Kieffer

NOTE: Jerry also notes that most of the letters and numbers are approximately the same width for spacing purposes. Certain letters like ìWî may be slightly wider. If the letter ìIî or the number ì1î do not have serifs on top and bottom spacing may need to be reduced in their case.

This and over 60 more handy Sherline shop tips can be found on Sherlineís web site at

Product Spotlight

Sherline handwheel options

Adjustable Zero HandwheelsÖ

The basic model 4000 series lathes and 5000 series mill come with 1-5/8" red laser engraved handwheels marked in either 0.001" or 0.01mm increments. These work perfectly well for machining; however, you do have some options that offer handy advantages. If you purchase a 4400 series lathe or 5400 or 2000 series mill, they will come already upgraded with 2" diameter adjustable zero handwheels.

Adjustable zero handwheels can make life easier for the machinist.

The black knurled adjuster in the middle of the silver handwheel allows you to unlock the rotating red collar so you can reset your reading to zero (or any number) at any time without moving the handwheel or the slide. Starting from zero when dialing in a particular number makes the math easier and reduces the chances for errors. These handwheels are available as upgrades for the 4000 lathes and 5000 mills.

ï P/N 3420 ($35.00) 2" Adjustable Zero Handwheel for Crosslide or Y-axis (Metric P/N 3430)

ï P/N 3428 ($35.00) 2" Adjustable Zero Handwheel for Lathe Leadscrew or X-axis (Metric P/N 3429)

ï P/N 3440 ($40.00) 2.5" Adjustable Zero Handwheel (Metric P/N 3450)

ï P/N 3460 ($45.00) 2.5" Adjustable Zero Handwheel with ball bearing set for mill Z-axis (Metric P/N 3465)

NOTE: The difference between the P/N 3420 and 3428 handwheels is which way the numbers face on the collar. One reads from the leadscrew end, the other reads from the operator end.

Digital Readout HandwheelsÖ

DRO Handwheels can be ordered factory installed on new machines or as a kit like the one above to upgrade your machine to include a digital readout.

Digital readouts take the adjustable zero handwheel into the electronic age by allowing the operator to return to a zero setting at any time with the touch of a button. The LCD readout indicates to 3.5 places on inch machines (to 0.0005") or to 2 places on metric machines (to 0.01mm). The small gear you see on the back of the handwheels is read by an optical encoder that translates the rotational movement into a distance measurement with a high degree of accuracy. There is also an additional bonus: A fourth encoder reads stripes on the pulley to output a constant spindle RPM reading, ending spindle speed guesswork forever.

To order a new machine with digital readout (DRO) just add the letters ì-DROî to the machine part number. To upgrade a manual machine to DRO, here are the kit part numbers and prices:

ï 4000 or 4400 series lathes: P/N 8200/8260 ($325.00)

ï 3-axis kit for a lathe with a vertical milling column: P/N 8210/8215 ($385.00)

ï 2-axis kit without electronics box (for those who have a mill DRO): P/N 8220/8225 ($165.00)

ï Z-axis kit only, for adding a vertical milling column DRO: P/N 8240/8245 ($65.00)

ï 5000, 5400 or 2000 series mills: P/N 8100/8160 ($375.00)

Did you know?

ï One of the things that assures travel accuracy on Sherline tools is the use of precision rolled threads on the leadscrews. Threads cut with a die can vary as the die wears. Rolled threads are pressed into the metal using a very accurate pair of ìrollsî that actually squeeze metal up into the threads. In addition to assuring that the finished thread remains as accurate as the rolls (which are very accurate), the reoriented molecular structure of the metal in the threads is actually stronger than before. Sherline has two thread rolling machines in our factoryóone for inch and one for metric threadsóand we make all our own leadscrews in-house.

ï To learn what different materials from plastic and wood to stainless steel and titanium look and sound like when cut on a Sherline lathe, click on the ìVideos of Cutsî link in the navigation bar at the top of the Sherline home page. The page also contains a short video tutorial by our technical representative/retired tool maker Fred Smittle on what causes tool ìchatterî and how to eliminate it.

ï Half of the worldís newspapers are published in the USA and Canada. (Yes, it has nothing to do with Sherline, but itís interesting anyway.)

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows

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

ï Western Engine Model Exhibition (WEME)óAugust 27-28, Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, CA, to be held in conjunction with the Good Guys car show. Hotrods, show cars and model engineeringóa great combination! See for details. Sherline will be there!

ï Gas Engine and Antique Reproduction Show (GEARS)ó September 24-25, 2011, Kliever Armory, 10000 N.E 33rd Drive, Portland, Oregon 97211-1798. For information see their web site at

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

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï New on the outside of the foundationís museum is our sign. Finally we have more than just a building number to help you find us. Below you see the crew from Clear Sign & Design in San Marcos lowering their lift after completing the installation.

ï Our newest major exhibit is now on display. We have on loan from England for one year the 1/8 scale Napier Deltic 2-cycle diesel engine built by Clen Tomlinson. It is a masterpiece of miniature CNC machining with 36 pistons, 18 cylinders, 3 crankshafts and 3 distributors. You have to see it to believe it, and you can for the next year.

Clen Tomlinsonís 1/8 scale Deltic engine

ï In the past month we have had visits from several groups and clubs including the Horseless Carriage Club of America (San Diego) (March 19), the American Society of Engineering Management (March 26), GoodGuys National Tour hotrods (March 31), Palomar Model A Ford Club (April 2), San Diego Fine Woodworking Club (April 9) and the Honda Goldwing Road Riders Assn (San Diego) (April 13). See the CLUB VISITS page for photos and details.

ï Lou Chenot will be presented his award as Metalworking Craftsman of the Decade at the NAMES show in two weeks in Southgate (Detroit), Michigan. The show is April 30-May 1 at the Southgate Civic Center.

ï A rare clock that is almost 200 years old with all wooden works was donated by Joe Kunkler along with two really detailed small steam engines and a large collection of clock makersí tools. The clock and engines are being prepared for display in the foundationís machine shop.