Last night I made a useless thingamabob.  The object itself has no real value or use (aside from it's weight in aluminum), however, the process that required making it was priceless.  I am still brand new to the world of machining, and as such I require a seemingly insurmountable amount of practice.  Fortunately, it turns out that machine work is awesome.
Well... It's A Thing.
Making this little doohickey didn't take long, but it gave me some practice in turning a diameter to a very tight tolerance, turning a curve, using a cutoff tool, and adjusting the lathe speed to get a decent finish on the material being turned (in this case some scrap aluminum).  This also gave me the mental warm-up I needed to turn a valuable part for a super top secret mystery project I am making (from brass bar stock).  I liken this practice to cutting warm-up dovetails (the 5 minute or 3.5 minute variety) before a day in the wood shop.  I find that on days I don't warm up with a simple task, I make more mistakes, simple projects take me longer and it takes me longer to get into the groove.  Just like playing sports, warming up is an important part of performance, as it gets the mind and muscles ready to perform the task at hand.  Additionally, little successes (the kind you get when making something very simple) have the habit of giving one the confidence to try something a little harder.

For me, cutting dovetails is a great warm-up for working with many different types of material.  The precision required for making tight dovetails gets me in the mindset for machine work or even working with masonry, but working with the wood itself sets me up for other woodworking projects.  Turning stuff on the lathe, metal or otherwise, is something of another mindset.  That is why when I'm turning I find it better to turn a practice piece before I get into the real work at hand.  It would probably have been beneficial to turn something useful as my practice piece, but hindsight is 20/20 and I kind of like having this useless trinket in my pocket...maybe I'll use it to crush Aspirin or squash peas?

As for the secret project, here is a glimpse at the first piece.  There are only 9 pieces to this tool, but what it will allow woodworkers to do should be awesome!  I'll have more info coming shortly.

Top Secret Project Part #1

1 comment:

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