from Graham Meek

MODEL engineers who write about novel items of tooling have started to make a comeback since the heydays in decades past of George Thomas, John Radford, Dave Lammas, Martin Cleeve and, of course, Edgar T Westbury. Our new generation includes people like Ken Willson with his stepless anvil for screwcutting, Graham Howe whose articles regularly appear on MEWS and Gray Meek. Incidentally, all three collaborate on projects.

Gray has two articles on MEWS which you can see here and here. These articles are now included with 11 others as chapters in Gray’s new book Projects for Your Workshop. Incidentally, this is “Vol 1” so we are in for more treats in future.

An early chapter deals with a screw cutting clutch for the Myford Super 7. Readers will be familiar with this approach as adapted by Graham Howe for his new Warco BG600H lathe. This is one of those pieces of kit it is well worth the time to make if your lathe did not come with a leadscrew clutch fitted. It is one of those bits of kit that can bring the home workshop up towards the toolroom standard.

Another is Gray’s well-known zeroing hand wheel for Myford 7 series lathes. It remains a mystery why Myford never adopted this design for fitting to its new lathes or as a retrofit item for the thousands of Myfords still working away.

Too late for Myfords now, of course, but you can still produce this top notch piece of equipment to make your life easier and less reliant on fag (cigarette!) packet calculations. As with all the items of tooling described in this book, it is fully illustrated in colour and with high quality drawings that we have come to expect from TEE, also publishers of Engineering in Miniature, which is also renowned for its first class drawings.

Also in the ‘almost essential’ category is Gray’s simplified retracting tool holder for screw cutting. This is based on the idea of the George Thomas design, found in many a serious workshop. Gray had built the Thomas retracting holder for his Myford Super 7, and adapted that when he changed to an Emco Maximat Super 11. But that was not ideal.

A new design was made and the opportunity taken to simplify things by not using the dovetail slots of the Thomas design but use a cylindrical slide. That is much simpler to make. Again full drawings and clear manufacturing instructions are included.

Another item described for the Emco Maximat is a backstop. Again this is a simple construction, fully described with excellent photos. It is what Gray describes as an ‘apprentice training piece’ which has saved far more time than it took to make and has reduced to contributions to the scrap box.

Of all the items described in the book, one which will probably give most pleasure is a height gauge of 100mm or 150mm height capacity. Originally from the days when buying a height gauge cost a great chunk of an apprentice’s pay, this small threaded version is now more valuable as a  piece to use in limited space. These days when ex-industry height gauges are cheap as chips, cost is not an economic argument that still applies. But it does provide something that can be used in a limited space, like a small cross slide. And it will be a really nice thing to make. No doubt many of us now the proud owners of a wonderful Japanese height gauge from a redundant Standards Room, often wish we had a smaller version. We wonder how many 12inch height gauges are used at more than 4 or 6 inches, anyway.

The best way of holding the tools on the lathe is an area of great argument. Gray looks at the merits and de-merits of tool holders and comes up with a design for a 4-tool turret. Convenience and accuracy come at the price of a piece of equipment that needs to be most carefully made. As usual full instructions and drawings are provided.

Other items include a boring and facing head that will give results in tricky situations, a slotting attachment and a milling arbor and over-arm support for the Emco mill. There is also an excellent guide to making cams.

Finally, Gray details a lever operated tailstock attachment. This definitely comes into the category of ‘essential tooling’ for those who need to drill small holes. The sensitivity it provides is vital. This is a well tried and trusted design and has been available from Hemingway Kits for some time. Gray’s new version was designed to suit his Emco lathe. This again is a simple tool to make which can be fitted and removed in minutes and the builder will be amply repaid for the time it takes.

Projects for Your Workshop Vol. 1

by Graham Meek

TEE Publishing £13.95 (P&P £2.10)