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What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:05 pm
by Mr Ron
Like most amateur machinists, we all have an assortment of tools in our inventory; some used frequently and others not so. At times there are projects that require a tool not currently owned and it may only be a one off project. I would like to ask everyone what their must have, indispensable tool is. I would like to know what indispensable tools should be in everyone's inventory excluding big ticket items like vises and rotary tables.

I have a 6" digital caliper, 2- 1" mics, a 12" vernier caliper, a 12" vernier height gage and various dial indicators, all big name instruments, so I think I'm pretty well covered in the measurement area. What other measuring tools would you consider indispensable for the amateur.

I have an 11" quick change lathe (Sheldon), a 6x26 knee mill (Taiwan) and a pretty decent vise and 6" rotary table. I would like to have a surface grinder and a tool grinder, but they are far out of my reach.

Basically, I have and make do with what I have, but are there any tools that I should have? My wife didn't know what I want for Christmas, so she told me to buy a tool or anything else within reason. I'm guessing < $150.

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:42 pm
by John Evans
Oh Wow! Where do I start !! A set of mics to 6" ,a good set of telescopic gauges [no cheap Chinese] for starts. Now I will say the boxed sets of 0-6 " Chinese mics are quite good. These are needed if you intend to make proper shaft/bushing or bearing bore fits. Calipers need not apply for this kind of work,old fashioned spring joint calipers would work as well if not better for measuring ID-OD fits.
John the tool junky !!

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:04 pm
by warmstrong1955
It's a long list....that starts with what you are planning on making. You grow from there, project by project.
That's how I did it.

One tool that is used, for almost everything I make, is my band saw. Parts heading to the lathe, or the mill, almost all start by cutting material on the saw.
On a budget, a Horror Freight 4" x 6" will do a lot of work, with a bit of adjusting and dialing in...
Just a thought.....

Bill

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:31 pm
by SteveM
Some of this might be repetitive and redundant with what you have, but I figured I'd cover it all.

My overall philosophy is that if I might only use it occasionally, if I get the tool cheap enough, I will buy it. That means I need lots of drawer space, but that I have.

Small hole gauges. Use them when your telescoping gauges are too large. I had to bore a bunch of holes with a 0.0002 tolerance and they were indispensable.

LOTS of good rulers. I like Starrett satin chrome. Easy to see the graduations. 6", 12", 24". Multiples on the 6" - you WILL misplace them. I'm ALWAYS reaching for a ruler.

Machinist squares in different sizes. You will use them to like up parts in the vise and to check your work.

Plain calipers, straight, inside, outside and hermaphroditic. Always using my straight calipers to make a mark on a part to tell me where to stop turning.

More quick-change toolholders (AXA in my case). You can't have enough toolholders. If you ever have to swap a bit out of a toolholder, that means you don't have enough toolholders.

Parallels and angle blocks for the milling vise.

Thread pitch gauges, inch and metric. These are indispensable. A "fish" gauge, if you are going to thread on the lathe.

Edge finders for the mill. The kind that kick sideways when you contact the part. You can't work a part if you don't know where it is.

Dial indicators, at least one being a long travel one you can use to measure lathe carriage movement. Dial TEST indicators - at least 0.001, but you should eventually get a 0.0001. I'd recommend BestTest. A good magnetic base and arm (Noga makes a great one and if you watch, you can get they cheap - I have four and the most I paid for the arm was $15). The Starrett 196 back plunger mic comes in handy to be able to see the dial at certain angles.

V-blocks for holding round parts on the mill or checking for roundness on a surface plate. Speaking of surface plate, get one, even if you have to get a budget one - you are just checking heights and stuff and not inspecting down to the 50 millionths. Best bet is to look for someone having a free shipping deal.

If you get a surface plate, you will need a surface gauge. An accurate 90 degree angle block is good also, preferably one with a V-groove so that you can hold a round part vertical.

Machinerys Handbook. An older one is fine - most of our work is the same that has been done for the last 50+ years.

Specialty mics. Buy them when you find them cheap, as you won't have much use for them, until you have a use for them and then you will thank yourself. I have a hub mic. Haven't use it yet, but that one day I need it, it will be worth the ten bucks I paid for it. Same goes for tube mic, anvil mic, V mic, blade mic, depth mic, inside mic set (the one with interchangeable rods), inside mic (like a 0-1" mic in reverse). You can take the anvil clamp off a multi-anvil mic and use it to accurately measure steps.

Get or build a good mic stand. So much easier to measure a bunch of stuff when you don't have to hold onto the mic AND the part.

Steve

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:54 pm
by Mr Ron
I probably should have started off by listing what I already have and then add on to what I absolutely must have. Besides the tools I have already listed in the OP, I have the following:
Inside/outside calipers; dividers; depth mic; magnetic bases; QC tool post; small surface plate; surface gage; 6" & 12" rules; V-blocks; 12" combination square; 60" steel straight edge; edge finder; wiggler; small steel square; telescoping gage; parallel set; Boring head; fly cutters; fractional, number & letter drills; (2) tapping heads; metal cutting bandsaw; wood bandsaw; wood lathe; drill press; all kinds of sanders, (2) bench grinders; cabinet saw; air compressors; air tools; cordless tools; mill DRO; adjustable parallels; pin punches; assorted end mills/lathe cutters. I'm sure there are other bits and pieces I've left out. I just want to know what are the indispensable tools I haven't mentioned that I should have. I would think there are lots of small items I haven't thought of that every machinist must have.

I was thinking along the lines of something like a vertical mill tramming DI, but that seems to be a convenience item rather than an indispensable item. As far as projects I'm likely to work on, I like to build small locomotives in the 3/4 and 1-1/2 scale range and all the machines I have can handle that. Almost all my tools are made in the USA or Japan, like Starrett, Mitutoyo, Delta, Sheldon, Jet. I try to stay away from Chinese tools, but have used them where necessary for a one off job. I know this is a tall order I'm asking for. I'm trying to think of something I absolutely need, but can't think of it at present. It's when I get into a project that is when I realize the tool I need. If I can't think of a tool to buy, my wife threatens to buy me something like clothes or non-tool item.

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:32 pm
by liveaboard
Most indispensable tool under $150; aside from hammers and the like, is my extra wide facom locking pliers.
https://uk.farnell.com/facom/501/lockin ... dp/3522374

Ok, more of a mechanic's tool than a machinist's, but this thing is just really, really useful. Everyone should have one.

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:37 pm
by Mr Ron
liveaboard wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:32 pm
Most indispensable tool under $150; aside from hammers and the like, is my extra wide facom locking pliers.
https://uk.farnell.com/facom/501/lockin ... dp/3522374

Ok, more of a mechanic's tool than a machinist's, but this thing is just really, really useful. Everyone should have one.
I have locking pliers, the original made by the Binghamton Machine company of Binghamton, New York. These were made before the vise grips. The feature about them is they can be adjusted, locked or unlocked with only one hand.

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 7:01 pm
by mihit
Mr Ron wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:54 pm
. I'm trying to think of something I absolutely need, but can't think of it at present.
Beer fridge?

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 2:00 am
by neanderman
I've been gradually assembling a 'set' of mic's to cover from 1" to the throw of my lathe (15"). Likewise, I've acquired a set of small hole gauges, telescoping gauges and internal mics up to about 6" (if memory serves...)

A quality DI (Browne and Sharpe, per Harold); a planer gage; a set of parallels (fixed and adjustable); radius gages; some gage blocks -- I know there are others, but this is off the top of my head.

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:55 am
by liveaboard
Mr Ron wrote:
Tue Dec 25, 2018 6:37 pm
I have locking pliers, the original made by the Binghamton Machine company of Binghamton, New York. These were made before the vise grips. The feature about them is they can be adjusted, locked or unlocked with only one hand.
I haven't seen those; I've had a lot of vice grips of course [who didn't?].
The Facom grips have 1 difference; they can open really wide, like 5" or so. Sort of super vice grips.
Facom makes pro quality mechanic's tools in Europe. I don't know if they're known in the US at all.

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 1:25 pm
by Mr Ron
I know this is a difficult question to answer, so let me put it a different way. What 5 or 10 or 20 tools would you must have in your shop? What one tool would you consider being absolutely, you couldn't do without if you could choose just "one" tool. On second thought, many tools need to depend and be used with other tools, but in a well equipped shop, there may be a "one" tool that stands out above the rest; a tool that everything would come to a halt without this "one" tool.
I don't know where I come up with silly questions like this one. I guess I have too much time on my hands. I better get to work in my shop and quit asking impossible questions. That's what happens when you get old.

Re: What tools should I have?

Posted: Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:43 pm
by Harold_V
A 1" micrometer. It's the most used tool I have.
Could be I'm wrong, though. I, too, am quite old (79)

H