Metal Spinning Anyone?

Sheet Metal Fabrication techniques, questions and help. "Tricks of the Trade"

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Metal Spinning Anyone?

Post by sunworksco » Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:23 am

Would be interested in spinning 260 brass sheet.
Anyone have experience?
Any constructive advice is very welcome.

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Re: Metal Spinning Anyone?

Post by helimaniac » Sat Feb 11, 2012 1:53 pm

Sorry to disapoint you, this post is not going to be informative.
I am also interested in spinning. I want to fabricate custom decorative lighting, and want to make my own light shades for the fixtures. I have researched a bit online, watched a few videos ect. Not a ton of real technical stuff, especially geared to machinests with HSM lathes.

I have been hoping someone would get this post rolling, but no answers yet. I thought maybe if i threw in a few specific questions it might break the ice so to speak. I hope Sunworksco does not mind the intrution:
Most of the "spinning kits for sale are for wood lathes, and seem made for extremely imprecise and difficult to repeat types of projects, one off "art work" projects. I imagine one could easly fab a tool post set up for the spinning tool holder, besides the obviouse swing limitations, would a metal lathe be the better starting point? I actually have an old shop smith collecting dust so could go that route if there is somereasoi am not seeing that a 12x36 metal lathe is not better.

What would a good starterset up befor someone wanting to make fairly simple conical type projects? Meaning easiest technique and tooling options. I do not need extreme precision but maybe .1" over a 6" deep spinning

I could start with aluminum if it isa better learning metal, eventually working with brass like the OP

What are yourintended use for the project!
What type of machineare you thinking of using?
Have you done any spinning before?

Once again i am sorry for the interruption, but was hoping to get the thread jump started

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Re: Metal Spinning Anyone?

Post by alames » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:38 am

OK, so I haven't *done* any, but I've read a fair amount. I have every confidence that I could go out in my garage and get started, mess up a few while I learned what *not* to do, and be fine.

I'd favor the *least effort* approach to getting started. There's an article by Phil Duclos called "Give Metal Spinning a Whirl" which outlines a *very* low-impact approach to metal spinning. You only need to make one or obtain 1 spinning tool, cobble up a tool rest (which can be as simple as a piece of rectangular bar stock clamped in a lantern tool holder), chuck some wood (by standard means, although the metal spinners have faster, more secure ways for production), turn a form. You need to be able to anneal the metal if it's copper or brass; aluminum needs nonesuch. For annealing you need a torch, a kiln, or so, that can get you to 1200 degrees or so.

I have a couple of books about metal spinning, at least one is from Lindsay Publishing. Old books are fine on this, and it's not a subject that gets written about much in current literature.

There's also a nice article in Projects Ten from Village Press -- the guys who publish Home Shop Machinist magazine (get it for a bit of a price break from That article talks about *many* different shapes of tools, examines a production spinning lathe, and goes into detail about modifying a chinese metal lathe to be an efficient, custom metal spinning lathe. I personally wouldn't go that route until I had tried Duclos' approach first, to determine whether I could do enough without the need for *yet another* lathe in my garage (I currently have 2 woodlathes and a metal lathe, and am running out of room). I'd also want to see how much fun I had doing it, and how much demand I could see for the spun metal parts.

I like Duclos' advice -- don't *convert* anything. You already have what you need, or at least most of it. You might like more diametral capacity, but don't we all, for all of our turning work?

In actual practice, spinning looks an awful lot like wood turning -- large, smooth body movements, as much a dance as anything else, are the order of the day. There are some great Youtube videos on the subject.

Metal spinning can be dangerous -- the edge of that spinning piece is *sharp*. Please be careful.

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Re: Metal Spinning Anyone?

Post by alames » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:43 am

Regarding choice of metal, Duclos favors aluminum. You don't need to anneal it, so you can dispense with the torch, the turntable he suggests, and all the time unmounting and remounting the work. Aluminum is forgiving, and cheaper than brass or copper (which have gone through the roof since the Chinese started building another coal-fired electrical plant every day).

Hope it goes well. Knock yourself out.

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