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Occasionally I need to contract professionals to make tools or equipment like the rivet making tool. I was considering making sections of it to save money but I would have ruined it. The realization hit while making a jig that rests on top of the tool.

The jig had to perform a function so its appearance wasn't critical. Whatever was lying around for scrap metal would work. I drilled and cut the pieces as best as possible. The first one took more than an hour because I don't have a CNC machine and setting up each drill hole is time-consuming.

That's expensive campfire wood.
The drill press table was off-kilter just a fraction of a degree and so were the holes. It doesn't really show up on thin materials but with 1" square tubing back-to-back it was quite obvious. I retrued the table, tried again, and it wasn't much better. I re-retrued the table with a better reference and determined that it couldn't get any better.

There was a slight tilt introduced as the clamping mechanism tightened. I'll have to compensate as best as possible. I laid the pieces on the table to minimize the effect. Trying to maintain the precision of the rivet tool pushed my off-the-shelf drill press beyond its limits.

Deep down I know that anything precise will not be done on my drill press, table saw, sliding compound miter saw, or pretty much standard shop equipment of any type. Many bad holes were drilled elsewhere and will surface forever.

Two of my wooden drawplates, for instance - the holes are just a little angled. Tubes that are drawn through get a slight curve unless the plate is canted. Both of them split while drawing silver tubes. Being 1" red oak, I thought they'd stand up. Wooden drawplates only work for light-duty knitted metalwork: Viking knit chains, loop-in-loop chains, kumihimo.

There is definitely going to be some more CNC machinery in my future. The amount of time and aggravation saved by having a basic tabletop end mill...I'd be a kid in a candy store! Add a lathe and I'd binge-machine for days.

Posted by M: August 3, 2021

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