The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 49, April 16, 2012


Customer Project

Elk Antler Watch Cases/Grower

A while back, a Mr. Grower sent in an e-mail with photos attached of watch and coin pendants that he had turned from an interesting materialóElk antler. The photos were saved for the newsletter, but unfortunately the e-mail was lost, so Mr. Grower if you are out there, e-mail
Sherline and we will give you further credit in an upcoming edition. Otherwise, itís pretty easy to get the idea of what he is doing from the photos. A recess is turned that allows the pocket watch to be pressed into the slice of antler. It is held in place with a snap ring. Enough of the original antler material is left natural to show its source and provide a unique surround for the timepiece.

The material itself turns well although it can be a bit porous inside. The exposed interior of the antler can be left natural or it can be soaked with a thin cyanoacrylic (super glue) and sanded to help fill the pores if need be. However, it is the rugged and uneven outside shape combined with ever changing finish of the interior that gives it its character. When cut in section it almost has the look of a tree branch with bark on the outside.

The idea here is that when you have a lathe, you are not restricted to just metal and wood as raw materials. Nature can provide other interesting sources. Get creative!


(Above) A 4-jaw chuck is used to grip the uneven material. Two P/N 7600 3/8î tool posts are bolted to a custom riser block on the lathe crosslide to make up for the height of the riser block under the headstock.

(Above) This angle shows the tooling a little better. Each 3/8î tool is custom ground to produce a particular part of the shape. Shown are a counter-bore form tool and a grooving tool for the snap ring that holds the watch in place.

(Above) Here are some examples of finished timepiece pendants on chains.

(Above) Not just watches can be imbedded in the antler material. Here is a selection of coins, perhaps with the birth year of a favorite relative.

You can see many other customer projects in the Workshop section at

Shop Tip of the month

Removing tapered tools from the headstock without a hammer/Nhut Le and Larry Simon

An e-mail from Nhut Le says he was looking for a way to remove #1 Morse tapered tools from the Sherline headstock without having to whack the drawbolt head with a mallet to break the taper loose. He took a 3/4-16 NF nut and milled it down so that he could thread it onto the external thread of the headstock. When it comes time to remove a fly cutter or other tool with a #1 Morse taper, he just loosens the drawbolt and then threads the nut down against the body of the tool. As he unscrews the nut, it pulls the tapered tool out of the hole rather than driving it out from the other end. It is not only easier on the threads of your tool and drawbolt, it also keeps from knocking the tool out of alignment by banging away on a stuck taper.

Note: This does require that you install the remover before you install the tool. Unless this nut is pre-installed, it will not work on an already stuck taper. For tools to handle that, see Tip 15.

Larry Simon took this tip one step further by providing a spacer ring so the nut will also work when removing 1/4" and 3/8" Jacobs drill chucks from the spindle. Larry also added three Tommy bar holes in the nut to provide an easy way to turn it without using a wrench. He was kind enough to provide a sample of his finished product for photography as well as a dimensioned plan. Larry used to work as a draftsman and plan checker at the Manitowoc Crane Company in Wisconsin and is the builder of a large model of a construction crane that now resides in the Craftsmanship Museum.

The above photos show the late Larry Simonís version of the above tip. He also included a brass spacer ring for use with a drill chuck as shown in the second photo.

CLICK HERE to view a dimensioned plan.

Instructions for use:

1. Before installing your #1 Morse taper accessory, thread the nut up onto the spindle snug against the shoulder.

2. Install the accessory, tightening the drawbolt as you normally would.

3. To remove a typical #1 Morse taper accessory like a fly cutter, mill arbor or boring tool without banging on the drawbolt and possibly altering your machine's alignment (or damaging the bearing races), first loosen the drawbolt 2 or 3 turns. Then use Tommy bars or a wrench to back the nut off until it presses down on top of the tool, freeing the taper from the spindle.

4. To be able to remove a 1/4" or 3/8" Jacobs drill chuck, also install a spacer ring sized to fill the distance between the nut and the top of the chuck. Removal is done in the same manner as before.

Note that the spacer ring is not intended for the smaller 5/32" Jacobs drill chuck. The chuck arbor on that chuck has a double taper and you are equally likely to press the chuck out of its arbor as you are to press the arbor out of the spindle.

NOTE: Joe Martin adds that if a tapered tool is drawn really tightly into the spindle, the only way to remove it may still be to use a hammer on the head of the slightly loosened drawbolt. To keep from knocking the mill out of alignment, support the headstock with a block of scrap wood between the headstock and the table, and give the head of the drawbolt a sharp rap with a hammer. Using too much force on a threaded release nut to press the tool out could possibly cause damage to the spindle nose threads. In this case itís better to risk damage to the cheaper drawbolt threads.

You can view this and 65 additional handy tips for Sherline machinists at

Product Spotlight

Headstock Spindle Nose Options

The headstock spindle can be ordered in several versions. Shown here is the standard 3306 headstock/motor/speed control unit with #1 Morse internal taper and æ-16 external thread.

Every once in a while we find that the many options available to Sherline customers can be a little confusing. One of those areas is the headstock spindle, which is available in several different configurations. Letís look at some of the options:

ï STANDARD TAPER AND THREADóThe standard spindle that comes with a Sherline lathe or mill has a #1 Morse internal taper and a æ-16 external thread. This allows the use of all standard Sherline accessories that mount to the headstock. If you purchase a complete headstock, motor and speed control unit in this configuration it is listed as P/N 3306--$320.00. (If ordered with the optional 10,000. RPM pulley set it is P/N 3307--$400.00)

ï OVERSIZE INTERNAL THROUGH HOLEóA headstock or headstock/motor/speed control unit can be ordered with the internal through hole opened up to a maximum of 9/16". This adds $80 to the price of a standard spindle. It is available by special order from the factory only. Keep in mind that while this allows larger stock to pass through the headstock, it also eliminates the #1 Morse internal taper, meaning no tapered tools like drill chucks, fly cutters, etc. can be held in the headstock.

ï ER-16 SPINDLE NOSEóER-16 collets are popular in some industrial applications. To accommodate those who want to use them we offer a spindle with the special ER-16 taper and metric thread to accept the ER-16 collets and collet nut. We donít supply the collets or nut, but they are easily available through MSC or other tool suppliers. Keep in mind that this taper and thread is not compatible with any Sherline accessories, so it can ONLY be used with ER-16 collets. A headstock/motor/speed control unit with this configuration is available as P/N 3308 for $380.00.

ï INDUSTRIAL HEADSTOCKS AND CARTRIDGE SPINDLESóA special division of Sherline has been formed to offer specialized components to industrial tool designers. The Sherline Industrial Products Division has its own web site at There you will find round flanged and unflanged spindles with a choice of 2-positon belt pulleys or timing belt pulleys. Also offered are a variety of flat-bottomed and dovetailed headstocks. These are not available through Sherline dealers and can only be ordered through the Sherline factory directly.

Also available from Sherline IPD are custom manual or CNC machine slides based on components made for the standard tool line.

Did you know?

ï Sherline will have a booth next weekend at the NAMES show in Wyandotte, Michigan. See below for upcoming show dates.

ï The P/N 8650 CNC Cam Grinder has just had an update done to the instructions to include an even better explanation of how to go from simple measurements on the cam drawing to developing the CNC g-code automatically with a program Joe Martin developed.

ï Sherline tools are not limited to cutting just easily machined materials. A host of carbide and even a ceramic cutter are available for cutting materials like stainless steel, titanium or hardened steels. See the VIDEOS available on the Sherline web site to see and hear a wide variety of materials being cut.

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows


ï North American Model Engineering Society (NAMES) ExpoóApril 21-22, 2012, Yack Arena, Wyandotte, (Detroit area) Michigan. See Sherline and the Joe Martin Foundation will be attending this show, where Gary Conley will be presented with his award as the Foundationís Metalworking Craftsman of the Year.

ï Black Hills Model Engineering Showó12th Annual show, September 15-16, 2012, Rapid City, SD. See for details.

ï Estevan Model Engineering ShowóEstevan, Saskatchewan, Canada, October (Next show: October 14-15, 2012, the weekend following Canadian Thanksgiving). For updates and info see Estevan is about 15 minutes north of the North Dakota/Canada border.

ï Western Engine Model ExhibitionóAugust, 2012, Pleasanton, CA. Held in conjunction with the GoodGuys Hot Rod Show at the Alameda Co. Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, CA. See for details.

Send us your show details and we will post them hereÖ

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

ï New Craftsman Added to the Museum Web SiteóLast month we added seven fire engine models by Tom Showers that were loaned to us by their conservator and fire apparatus historian, John Ackerman. This month, with Johnís help we were able to include Tom Showers and his life story in our on-line museum. He started building fire vehicles and apparatus in Pearl Harbor in 1941 and continued all his life, building over 450 models.

ï Club VisitsóOn March 30th the museum was visited by a group of hot rods in San Diego to compete in the GoodGuys National hot rod show being held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds that Weekend. On April 7th, we were also visited by members of the Early Ford Club. See the CLUB VISITS page for photos of the cars and club members.

ï New ExhibitsóAn old friend of Joe Martinís, Ralph Cooney donated four of his custom investment cast .61 cubic inch model aircraft engines. He also donated the aluminum molds he made to make the wax models that are part of the ìlost waxî casting process. Putting the molds, wax models and the final engine together in a display will be a good illustration of the process. On April 12th, former aerospace engineer Ronald Remsberg dropped off a 71" long model of Londonís Tower Bridge to add to our collection. It took almost 10,000 matchsticks making up 5836 ìpiecesî or sub-assemblies and over three monthsí work to complete the large model. Photos of the bridge have been added to Ronís page.