How to clamp work....?

Topics include, Machine Tools & Tooling, Precision Measuring, Materials and their Properties, Electrical discussions related to machine tools, setups, fixtures and jigs and other general discussion related to amateur machining.

Moderators: Harold_V, websterz, GlennW

TechTony
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by TechTony » Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:43 pm

Thank you all for weighing in....

Current update:
I'll get the EM holder set.
I'll get the collet set later but it's not what I appear to need at the moment.
I've abandoned the stacking of XY tables in order to close the gap between the work and EM, idea. Thanks for weighing in on steering clear of aluminum tables; I doubted it myself, so thanks for confirming that point.

Back story:
...and while I appreciate the concern for my well-being, I think I'm ok. I've sought out machinist mentors in the area and only came up with those that want indentured servants. While I don't mind putting in some work in exchange for some knowledge, I'm an IT consultant by day... that's what pays the bills... so putting in full or part time hours as a shop servant for next to nothing in order to learn machining, just isn't feasible for me. I know my way around a wood shop, I know how to use a wood lathe, saws, drill presses, etc.; so I didn't expect it to be a huge gap in knowledge to move from wood to steel - after all, a lathe is a lathe and a mill is just a glorified router. I've also got a pretty decent blacksmithing setup and am comfortable working with hot steel. I really think I've got a grip on shop safety basics. I've already picked up the Machinery's Handbook (30) hoping that it would help steer me in the right direction but largely, it doesn't really cover the basics.... it covers more of the advanced topics. I really don't feel the need to spend 15$ to 50$ on a book of basics that tells me not to wear loose clothes around motorized equipment.

So I saved up and I bought this monstrosity and most of the work I do on it is soft metal and on the lathe. I've used the mill side of it a handful of times to work on things that I have been able to clamp in the XY vice that came with it --- which puts the work piece well within workable height ranges - which also inspired the XY table stacking idea. Machining a piece of plate though doesn't require the use of the vice and presented with a whole new set of challenges. So, as far as I can tell, this is just part of the learning curve.

It's the best 3n1 I could find in my budget and footprint constraints. I knew it would come with challenges, most of which I figured would be able to be overcome with additional setup times. I've had it for less than a month now and am still getting through the initial learning curves - both with this machine specifically and with basic machining. I don't have the resources or real estate to have a real mill, so I am content to make this work, and I think I have the perseverance learn it. I get that there's a large stigma against 3n1s in general, but it's what I have to work with --- and quite frankly, I'm rather proud to own it.

So far every time I've had an issue along the way I've posed the questions here and you guys have been great at pointing me in the right direction. I've received solid information and even managed to pick up some tooling from the for sale board here. Essentially, I've embraced this forum as my sort of sudo mentor -- and truly, you guys have provided, so thank you all.

So if I'm doing something that's notably unsafe or unduly hard on the machine and you feel that it bares mentioning, then please, feel free to tell me and I'll take appropriate action. And really, I can't emphasize enough how appreciative I am for the solid input.

pete
Posts: 1804
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:04 am

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by pete » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:28 pm

Sorry this may seem insulting, in no way is it meant to be. I can't disagree more. You need to help educate yourself about all this. Buying every book you can about milling and even lathe work isn't optional if you don't have someone to show you the basics. A machinist apprenticeship is at the minimum 4 years of both hands on working experience with training done by very experienced machinists that are capable of doing that training and additional schooling and testing over that 4 years. And after that 4 years your just barely at an entry level machinist position and will spend the rest of your career learning. It isn't something you just blindly learn by trial and error. If you don't hurt yourself, at the minimum you will damage the machine. Yes this forum is very good, but it would take forever to detail everything you'll need to learn. Wood working and a wood lathe doesn't relate all that well to what the requirements are while metal working. You can get away with far more while doing wood work. Trying to do the same while metal working just doesn't work. I know just about nothing when it comes to computers, but I do know I could never become a IT tech by trial and error at home without some education. Machining is exactly the same. I bet my machining book and magazine collection weighs over a ton, I'm still buying books and still learning. Those books are tools and just as important as anything else in your shop. And the good ones go into a lot more than just not wearing the wrong clothing. Anyone here who did have to teach themselves at home will agree with me about those books. The professionals will agree about how important the training is. Some of us don't have a mentor so we had to do it the hard way. Books aren't the best way, but they will pay for themselves.

User avatar
Gary Armitstead
Posts: 231
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:35 am
Location: Burbank, CA

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by Gary Armitstead » Sun Sep 18, 2016 9:31 pm

Tech Tony,

I'll try very hard to not sound insulting.........BUT your photo you posted yesterday told me all I needed to know about your machine "skills" or more precisely, your lack thereof. That setup you have shown shows so much. Not using the clamps in the proper way. The nut fastened down right to the clamp without a washer (maybe there is one, but difficult to see), the ANGLE of the clamp and not level with the table. Actually there is very little holding power where that clamp is now. A first week apprentice machinist would have been laughed out of the shop. A end mill in a drill chuck! Yeah, these are "cold" statements, but as you stated in your "backstory", "Feel free to tell me and I'll take appropriate action".

Here's MY backstory........To become a journeyman die sinker (one who lays out, machines and polishes cavities to make drop forgings and forgings for aerospace, automotive and medical), I had to go through two 4-year long apprenticeships. During that time, I also had to attend school classes on all aspects of the machine trades, learn to operate hydrotel milling machines, EDM machines, CNC mills and lathes and learn MasterCam software to program these machines to make dies. Also had to learn to operate at least another two dozen machines in the shop. I was STILL learning when I retired after 45 years. Those folks who you sought out to help you could have been a big help to you in your setup alone, but of course you didn't want to be an "indentured servant". How arrogant.

Most of the previous comments on this thread to you from these forum folks, were meant to keep you from injuring yourself or damaged the machine. Working in wood is another world from working in metal. And to say a mill is a glorified router....sure.

I don't know, but I've probably stepped over a line. I DO know that if I stepped into an IT Consultants office that sure as hell doesn't make me an IT Consultant.
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

spro
Posts: 7801
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:04 pm
Location: mid atlantic

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by spro » Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:29 pm

There is something about confession and posting a pic. This was help at some cost. Tony is not an individual you walk past thousands of. New to this, makes honest mistakes yet more to this. He probably doesn't want to take a dusty book to bed. I found that doesn't go well. When we get into complicated sentences, it may not be exactly how you read it. Forget that for a minute. Some of us ARE his mentors thru this quest.
It should remain and has. There are very people who knew basic nothing and ascended to building engines and amazing things here. There is always abiding respect for a person who has been through it all. It is there in his reply but pressed to some wall, he has to respond.
People like me, may be of fertilizer, Mentors provide the nutrients. Whatever it is but new machinists grow from your knowledge.
I had some teachers/ instructors back in the day... If they didn't like me personally , I turned them off. That is part of immaturity and looking back, there were reasons for that. I would do the same thing. It isn't up to me now.
It is appreciation for those who know and the worst thing .... to be humiliated by what your grandfather said. That same man Loved me to pieces. Some small thing which I broke a zillion years ago. Dang so much and I look just like him now.

User avatar
Gary Armitstead
Posts: 231
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2013 12:35 am
Location: Burbank, CA

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by Gary Armitstead » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:17 am

spro wrote:There is something about confession and posting a pic. This was help at some cost. Tony is not an individual you walk past thousands of. New to this, makes honest mistakes yet more to this. He probably doesn't want to take a dusty book to bed. I found that doesn't go well. When we get into complicated sentences, it may not be exactly how you read it. Forget that for a minute. Some of us ARE his mentors thru this quest.
It should remain and has. There are very people who knew basic nothing and ascended to building engines and amazing things here. There is always abiding respect for a person who has been through it all. It is there in his reply but pressed to some wall, he has to respond.
People like me, may be of fertilizer, Mentors provide the nutrients. Whatever it is but new machinists grow from your knowledge.
I had some teachers/ instructors back in the day... If they didn't like me personally , I turned them off. That is part of immaturity and looking back, there were reasons for that. I would do the same thing. It isn't up to me now.
It is appreciation for those who know and the worst thing .... to be humiliated by what your grandfather said. That same man Loved me to pieces. Some small thing which I broke a zillion years ago. Dang so much and I look just like him now.
I totally agree with what you are saying. When I got into the trade a "million years" ago, I know some of the old timers would look at the stupid stuff I would do and shake their collective heads. BUT the difference with having a mentor looking over your shoulder is that they will stop you before you make that one stupid mistake that could get you hurt. That was the point of my first post to Tony. I was an apprenticeship representative for the apprentices that trained in many of the shops I worked for. in that capacity, you can see these novices come in and soon become confident in their work and how it's done. You DON'T get those skills from a book......you get them by being "guided" by a mentor in the practical aspects including simple things like how to fasten a work piece to a work table. Once you're shown the proper way to do it AND WHY you do it that way, that knowledge stays with you the rest of your life. It's what you "don't know" that gets you hurt in a machine shop environment. Maybe Tony might decide to look into getting bigger machinery and if he's not aware of certain safety issues, he could definitely be hurt. There is an old book I've had for over 55 years. It's simply called Shop Theory. It gives the basics of the shop.......setups and clamping, heel blocks (what Tony is definitely missing in his setup), parallels for bring his work up to the cutter, etc. Amazon has it in stock. https://www.amazon.com/Shop-Theory-Jame ... 0070016127
Here is a quote from one of the reviews of this book......"4.0 out of 5 stars Great for self-teachers
By C. Aumack on October 28, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great machine shop book for those of us that never took shop in school and are self-teaching. Get is used for a few bucks and read/use as a reference.

Anyway it's getting late. Just a suggestion.
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

TechTony
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by TechTony » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:22 pm

Spro - Thanks - it's great to see that someone gets it.
Gary - Thanks for supplying a title rather than the response of others of "go find a book". I'll take a look. I fixed my errors in clamping after watching the tormach clamping vid.

As for the rest of you that are so worried about insulting someone -- really --- don't. You're all entitled to your opinion, whatever it may be.

The image at the beginning of this post was taken of literally the first piece of work I've ever attempted to clamp - even the first usage of this clamping kit - and nobody showed or told me anything about how to do it. So yea, I got it wrong. Then I watched the tormach vid and I won't get it wrong next time. EM Holder set has been ordered, I'll use them when doing EM work henceforth. Looks like learning-on-the-fly is working after all.

Many Thanks.

User avatar
GlennW
Posts: 6812
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:23 am
Location: Florida

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by GlennW » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:55 pm

Well, Tony,

If you thought that you had this all figured out and didn't want any help you wouldn't have come here!

Just keep asking questions and you'll keep getting answers. That's what this site is for.

Many here have started at the bottom with no knowledge of metal working or machines and become pretty damn good at making things.

Everyone makes mistakes along the way, but the main thing is doing so without getting hurt!
Glenn

Operating machines is perfectly safe......until you forget how dangerous it really is!

Carm
Posts: 457
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:14 am

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by Carm » Mon Sep 19, 2016 2:21 pm

TechTony
Enthusiasm is good.
Some skills you have are transferable.
But please don't equate metal working tools to wood tools. Inattention around them is far more dangerous.
Glenn W's tag line sums it up.
Good to keep in mind.

User avatar
BadDog
Posts: 4850
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 8:21 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by BadDog » Mon Sep 19, 2016 2:31 pm

While I agree that a "mentor" is invaluable and will improve your abilities faster than anything else you can do. So I highly recommend it. But that is not to say you need to enter into a 4 year apprenticeship unless you want to do this "for real". I certainly had no apprenticeship, and I'm sure it shows to some degree in my work, but while I'm still learning constantly, I've reached a point where I can manage to get pretty much anything I need done successfully. And I did have a (fairly rarely available, but still SO helpful) mentor, but he helped me with the hard stuff, not the basics. Things like the ubiquitous toe clamp sets such as the OP used in the early posts were simply obvious to me. I've done "mechanical" stuff literally all my life. We were poor beyond imagining by most on this site, so when I was little, I literally built my bicycle with my grandfather's help (a boilermaker who started his family during the depression, and had a broad skill set for making and fixing things) from parts scavenged at a local dump. I eventually moved on to motorcycles (a Honda Z50, then a 125 when I was older), as well as helping on family projects fixing/installing AC units and all manner of other things. From there it was "gear head" and "hot rod" on just about anything that rolled. I learned how things worked, and how to improvise with pretty close to nothing other than random junk to work with, and we got it done. So when I got the toe clamps, while there may be some nuances to their use I might have missed initially, the basic function was immediately obvious so attempting something like shown in the initial post never crossed my mind. The same is true of many things in machining that seemed obvious to me (and a small few were wrong in my assumptions, but I was corrected and learned). But I think that's mostly an artifact of how I was raised, what I've always done, and what I"m fairly good at (gear head (automotive) stuff) which can be reapplied in some ways. But not everyone has that background, and they need a more initial help to manage the basics. If you grew up with Nintendo and "hanging out" (or whatever the non-gear heads do to pass the time), then later developed an interest in "making things", ultimately leading them to buy a 3-in-1 to play around and learn on, then that will not be expected to go very smoothly. some variation on that is what we are seeing here. There is the woodworking side to consider, so it's not a complete restart, but as already pointed out, woodwork and machine tool work is really a completely different world not transferring well (or not contributing at all) into primary machine work. Belt grinders and things like that, ok. But as noted, a mill is FAR from a glorified router, and the primary focus/input/control/function of the wood vs metal late (criticality of speeds, feeds, lead, clearance, and so on is also completely different.

Again, no substitute for for a skilled mentor, and my advice would be to look for one among local hobbyist groups. Unless you live in some really isolated area, I'll bet there is a local group, you just have to find them. Once you do, join the group and get to know the guys. Hopefully someone will "click", and you'll have found at least a part time mentor who can help you with the basics in short order, and problems as the come up. Also, look for the old high school level trade school books published no later than the early 70s. Later versions spend a lot of space and time on "numeric" and then "CNC" control. These books will have a lot of basic information you need, thought you won't find anything much like your 3n1 in there. And of course following the 3n1 group (and other forums) here will also be of assistance. But it appears you definitely have some important basic skills that are quite lacking, so be careful and listen to what folks are telling you.
Russ
Master Floor Sweeper

jcfx
Posts: 480
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:24 pm
Location: NY

Re: How to clamp work....?

Post by jcfx » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:52 pm

TechTony, there are youtube videos that are geared towards the new to metal machining, they can be invaluable in
seeing how it's done if no mentor is available or if the written word in a book is confusing, which they can be.
Nothing like seeing it done, getting that dim flickering lightbulb above your head to go bright and going Ah-HA ! :)

Tubal cain ( MrPete222 ), Stefan Gotteswinter, are two youtubers that come to mind that I think are excellent.

I agree with Russ, that the older machinists books are best for the starting machinist, what worked in 1920 on a manual lathe
or mill works today on a manual lathe or mill.
One book I bought when I got a lathe and that I refer to often is Machine tool Technology By Krars and Amand
I have the 3rd edition and it's up to the 7th edition, best bet is to look around brick and mortar used book stores
or even flea markets for a copy.
The current 7th edition has a lot of added CNC stuff, and Amazon new and used prices are insane.

Post Reply