The Sherline Miniature Machinist's Newsletter

Number 54, September 17, 2012


Customer Project of the Month

1/8 Scale Harley Davidson Progress/Jerry Kieffer

Jerry Kieffer continues work on his tiny Harley Davidson “Knucklehead” motorcycle. He has made the commitment to make every part to the best of his ability, as he notes, “Even if it takes the rest of my life.” At the NAMES show in Wyandotte, MI in April we took some photos of the current state of progress on the model, and since then Jerry has continued building parts like the took kit and taillight housing. Yes, the lights will work too.

 Jerry in Sherline’s booth at the 2012 NAMES show in Michigan.

Jerry’s goal with this model is to build it so well that no one will ever attempt to top it. He already has over seven years invested in the project and says it will take at least a few more before it is ready to be run. Even though it looks fairly complete in the photos, there are still many of the smaller parts to make. Once run, his models are disassembled and each part is painted before the final assembly—a process that usually takes about another year.

Right-hand and left-hand side views of the bike show the fenders and seat pan have been completed. The seat pan was pressed from copper using a die Jerry built. It will be covered with leather.

The first photo above shows engine detail with the plugs removed while the second photo shows the rear fender, muffler and wheel detail. Note the tiny Schrader valve in the wheel—it actually works, and the tires hold 4 PSI of air pressure to give perfect scale tire deflection when the weight of the model is sitting on them. Jerry is also building a tiny air gauge that will read the correct 31 PSI when checking the pressure. There is oil present on some of the parts to keep them from rusting, as the silver you see is the actual raw metal—not paint.

Jerry’s latest functional masterpiece is the tiny speedometer that actually reads MPH when the cable from the front wheel turns. It took several months of work just to get the tiny magnets inside set to the right position. The face is a scaled down version of the graphics on Jerry’s real 1947 Knucklehead that is serving as the prototype for this model.

Jerry Kieffer was selected as the Joe Martin Foundation’s very first “Craftsman of the Year” winner back in 1997. This and several of Jerry’s other projects can be seen in detail on his page in the Craftsmanship Museum web site at Photos can be enlarged there for greater detail. A video of the speedometer in action can also be seen at

Discovery Channel Canada also did a great video segment on Jerry and the bike. CLICK HERE to view it. It covers two “Garage Gurus,” so skip to the 8-minute mark to see the start of Jerry’s video.

Shop Tip of the Month

Axis Direction in CNC/Joe Martin

A question that often comes up when watching a Sherline CNC mill move is, “Isn’t the table moving in the wrong direction?” On a Cartesian co-ordinate graph, the “plus” direction is at the top on the Y-axis and to the right in the X-axis. Yet on a CNC mill, a positive move of the table moves it to the left in the X-axis and the saddle moves toward the operator in the Y-axis. Why is this?

The following explanation written by Joe Martin has been extracted from the CNC instructions that come with the Sherline CNC mill. Hopefully it will help clarify why the CNC industry has settled on these directions.

FIGURE 2.2—Mill axis directions in relation to the operator.

Directions of axis movement on a mill

Before we go on, let’s be sure we understand the directions of movement of the three axes of a milling machine. When programming g-code you will use the Cartesian coordinate system. In relation to the machine operator, the X-axis moves left/right, the Y-axis moves in/out and the Z-axis (spindle) moves up/down.

A tip regarding axis direction

It can be a little confusing for a new machine tool operator, because when you write code you think in terms of the part being fixed and the tool moving, but when you operate most machine tools the tool is fixed and the table moves. When using the jog controls, at first it may seem like the axes are moving in the wrong direction, but when you picture the move in relation to the cutting tool it makes sense. Programming directions relate to APPARENT TOOL MOVEMENT. Therefore, a positive move on the X-axis will result in the table moving to the LEFT (tool appears to move to the RIGHT); a positive move on the Y-axis will result in the table moving TOWARD you and a positive move on the Z-axis will result in the headstock moving UPWARD. (A positive move on the A-axis will cause the rotary table to rotate CLOCKWISE.) This is the way full-size CNC machines work too.

You can read complete instructions on how CNC was developed, how to write g-code and how to set up and operate a Sherline CNC mill at

Product Spotlight

Two ways to mount the Rotary Table vertically

The P/N 3700 manual 4" rotary table or the P/N 8700 CNC programmable indexer version are designed to be mounted horizontally using hold-down bolts and clamps that are provided with the table. However, for many applications, such as cutting gear teeth or splines on a shaft, it is preferable to mount the table vertically on the mill. To do this Sherline offers two options. The least expensive way is the P/N 3701 Right Angle Attachment, which is designed to do just this one task. A slightly more expensive but more versatile solution is to use the P/N 3750 Tilting Angle Table. This allows the rotary table (manual or cnc) plus the P/N 3551 Mill Vise, a 3-jaw or 4-jaw Sherline chuck or a part using the P/N 3013 hold down set to be clamped to a table that can be tilted from 0° to 90°. Also offered is an Adjustable Right Angle Tailstock P/N 3702 that can be used with either of these fixtures to support the end of a long shaft on center with the rotary table.

P/N 3701Right Angle Attachment$75.00

P/N 3702Right Angle Adjustable Tailstock$75.00

P/N 3750Tilting Angle Table—$110.00

Did you know?

• The next model engineering show coming up will be the GEARS show at the Kliever Armory in Portland Oregon, September 29th and 30th, 2012. Jim Clark will be there in his red Sherline shirt. If anyone wants information on the tool line, look him up.

• The next show after GEARS is the Estevan show in Canada just north of the North Dakota border. It runs October 14 and 15—Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Our dealer from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Dixon Forge will be representing Sherline with a booth at that show. See

• Craftsman of the Year from 2005, Gerald Wingrove is now retired but is still active building model cars. He has written several very popular books on the subject. See his site at for what he is up to now. The Gallery section has many photos of some inspirational model cars built by him and others.

• Sherline’s RESOURCES page offers a wealth of information on machining and projects that machinists do. Everything from sources for materials, plans and books to sites offering unusual projects can be found there. See

Upcoming Model Engineering Shows


Gas Engine Antique Reproduction Show (GEARS)September 29-30, 2012, Portland, OR See for details.

Estevan Model Engineering ShowEstevan, Saskatchewan, Canada, 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.

North American Model Engineering Society ExhibitionApril 20-21, 2013, Yack Arena, Wyandotte, MI. Don’t miss the “grand-daddy” of model engineering shows in the USA. Sherline is always there in force.

Send us your show details and we will post them here…

Joe Martin Craftsmanship Foundation News

New Exhibits—Lowell Wexler added his 1/5 scale flying R/C model of a P-38 Lightning to our display. Lowell also hosted a fine display at the Oceanside Airport where members of the local club flew both model jets and prop planes for a demonstration during a car show held there. A book on ELF model engines donated by the author John J. Brown was added to the museum library.

Club and Group Visits—On August 4th both vintage trucks and Model A Fords visited the museum. The American Truck Historical Society brought out some vintage big rigs and fire engines in the morning, while the Palomar A’s came by in the afternoon. Photos of both visits can be found on the CLUB VISITS page on the museum’s web site.

• On September 15th, over 50 visitors came by as part of a hosted tour put on by a group raising money for the Meals on Wheels program. The day began with a tour of the Mercedes Design Center in Carlsbad in the morning before moving to our museum. The next day a large British car show was held in Fallbrook also as part of this fundraising event. We are proud that our museum was chosen as one of the key attractions for the weekend. See photos of the event on the CLUB VISITS page.

Five new glass display cases were just purchased by the museum to expand our displays. Paul Healy is in the process of building risers for the cases to make viewing easier for our visitors, and they will be in place soon as we fill them with new displays.

• A group e-mail was sent out regarding some clever model cars made using old soda and beer cans. A correction followed giving proper credit to the person who actually built them, Sandy Sanderson of New Zealand. You can get on the museum’s mailing list simply by sending a message to and asking to be added to the list.