One of the first things I learned when I first became involved in model engineering was that it was possible to make ones own cutting tools out of hardenable steel, e.g. silver steel, with the first two tools being a three-lobed countersink tool, and a metric thread cutting tool. Both were successful, and both are still in use today, some 30 years later. As a result of that early success and buoyed up by L.C. Mason’s comments in his book “Using the Small Lathe”, I decided to try making a set of slot drills and a set of endmills. Now Mason explains how to make slot drills, or as he calls them, slotting cutters, but only mentions endmills in passing, indeed he describes slotting cutters as the homemade version of the endmill. Perhaps that should have told me something!
I bought myself some imperial sized silver steel – which was rather silly as early on I made the decision to work only in metric, indeed all my machinery and measuring equipment are metric, ok, some are dual marked, but I have never used the imperial calibrations. Furthermore, as both my lathe and, eventually, my milling machine had MT3 tapers, I also bought a set of metric MT3 direct collets. The result was that I ended up with a set of imperial cutters and no means of holding them except by means of a chuck – and this is generally thought to be a bad idea.
Another mistake was that I made the cutters in total 1½ inches long, and no, I do not know why I did it.
Overall then, I ended up with a set of cutting tools which I could not hold safely, hence they were placed in a drawer to collect dust and rust pending a decision as to what to do with them.
30 years later...
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