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bcarter

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#1
This is my first post. I'm impressed by the amount of knowledge on access. Thanks to all who contribute.

I recently started yoyoing at age 55 and am quite taken with modern yoyos. They've changed a great deal since the Duncan Butterfly I had as a kid. I'd like to try some designs of my own and want to buy the proper machines to get started. These would be prototypes not production runs. The two images below are typical of the things I'd be working on. Materials are plastics, aluminum, brass and stainless. The silver rings in the lower photo are steel added near the rim to increase the rim weight. Outside diameter ranges from 1-1/8" to 2-1/2". The width of individual halves would be from 1/2" to 1-1/4". The two halves are joined by a threaded axel and a ball bearing is seated between the halves.

My questions are about what machines to acquire. Lathe: micro (Sherline? Taig?), mini (LMS or other?), benchtop (PM or other) or vintage American iron (SB or other?).
If a micro lathe is up to the task that would be fine. If it turns out I find tons of other applications and need a bigger machine I can get that down the road. If I'm going to be frustrated with the process or results because a micro is under equipped in power or rigidity I'd rather buy bigger up front. I've got floor space but I don't want a large machine taking up space if a quality small machine is good for this application. Most of times I've wished for a lathe and or mill in recent years have been for similar sized operations for anything from model planes and trains to my long board skateboards.

Any suggestions on whether or not I should also get a mill at the start and if so specific recommendations are very welcome.

Another general question. Are quality smaller tools better suited than a larger tool for small projects? I could imagine a point where the bulk of the machine would be a deterrent when making small parts. I assume jewelers lathes came about for a reason.

Thanks in advance for your patience with the questions and for any guidance.

Take care,

Brent

Ministar-01.jpg

Yoyo.jpg
 

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ttabbal

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#2
I've never used micro or mini machines. I can tell you that my bench top lathe (PM1127) hasn't turned anything over 2" diameter yet. I haven't had any issues with small parts. I could see it happening with really tiny stuff, but I wouldn't hesitate to make something the size of a yo-yo.

Most mini machines seem to be more kits that you almost have to expect to work on for the low end. LMS gets good reviews for mini machines. Sherline seems popular with the micro guys.
 

David S

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Welcome Brent.

Those are lovely looking yoyos indeed. I have an Atlas 618 that I think would work very well for making those parts. I repair old clocks and my lathe handles small parts just fine. A number of folks use the Sherline lathe for clock / watch type work, but I think it may be a bit too small for what you are trying to do. Now there are folks here that are very familiar with the Sherline machines and will probably pitch in.

From what I can see the lathe would be more useful than a mill at this point...at least until you really get hooked on hobby machining :).

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with and your progress.

David
 

markba633csi

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Hi Brent- making a "bowl" shaped part will be challenging on any machine without some special tooling
You are really talking about a CNC type machine
Mark
 

JimDawson

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I agree with Mark, to make the shapes that you show would be easier on a CNC lathe. Not impossible to do on a manual machine, but difficult at best.

I would think something in the 12 to 14 inch swing range would be about right. That will give you a nice stable platform to work from. For your application I would want a manual/CNC machine. They do exist, also converting a standard toolroom lathe to CNC is not that difficult if you want a project. So now it's just a question of budget. :)
 

P T Schram

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You will find more uses than you ever imagined when you have a piece of machinery. One of the nice things about the smaller stuff is that there is always someone to take it off your hands when you outgrow it (I OTOH have the luxury of enough real estate to keep them-LOL)

As you're just getting in, Imsuggest buying new so you're not tied up making an old machine work so you can concentrate on learning new skills and improving your skills. There will always be time for more, bigger/smaller new/used machinery.
Good luck and welcome to the cult of home machinists

And I suggest beginning with a lathe and getting the mill later, just don't wait as long as I did
 

bcarter

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Thanks for the replies. I knew the shapes would be a bit challenging, my hope was that I could accomplish something with a manual lathe and creative use of tracing attachments. There is a certain amount of pleasure in the manual process. Ask me about my Curta calculator.

I shouldn't leave the impression that I don't have any fabrication experience, just very little time on purpose built metal working machines. I make a lot of stuff from my own bikes and skateboards to hand laid Z scale double slip switches.

The biggest surprise was the suggestion to go with 12-14" swing, my uninformed idea being the PM1127 was at the top of the size range for this style of project. This is why you seek advice from people with experience. Anyone want to buy a $4000 yoyo (or two) to offset my start up costs? ;-)

Does anyone want to venture a specific recommendation for a lathe manual or CNC?

If I should be considering CNC I haven't looked at those machines at all. I'm not opposed I just don't know where to begin. Then there is the lack of experience with CAD and CNC to overcome, but I like learning.

Thanks again to all.

Brent
 

ttabbal

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I'm not sure why you would need a larger, more rigid machine for what you are wanting to do. Perhaps someone can elaborate on the reasons for that recommendation? I know people here really like that size range, and there are a number of advantages, but I don't see much reason for it for a yo-yo.

Some of the shapes would be harder on a manual machine, but I think it's possible.
 

T Bredehoft

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I've been working with a 6" Atlas/Clausing lathe, it's a little light for a yo yo. I've been looking at PM's 10-22 lathe, it has a lot that my Atlas doesn't have as far as capacity and use is concerned. I don't know if it's enough lighter than the 1127 to make a difference.
 

mikey

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Welcome to HM, Brent.

I wanted to add some perspective, just for some flavor.

I can make half your Yo-yo on my Sherline manual lathe by using a graver. No problem, I can make it as complicated and curvy as you like. What I cannot do on that machine is make the other half exactly the same; for that, you need CNC. If you are willing to go down that CNC road then there are machines that come already set up and are ready to go. All you need is money and the willingness to do CAD and programming. If making Yo-yo's is something you plan to go into business to make or if that will be your main focus then I think a CNC lathe is the only way to go.

On the other hand, if what you really need a lathe for is smaller parts then that opens up another can of worms. Nobody has really addressed your question: Are quality smaller tools better suited than a larger tool for small projects? In a word, and in my opinion, YES.

I am a confessed Sherline user and am biased toward them because I know exactly what those machines can do. I have about 30 years on their lathe and mill now so my comments are actually user-comments. You will find that the attitude on this forum, and most other forums, is that you can make small parts on a big lathe but you cannot make big parts on a small lathe; it is true, too. However, it is also true that it is easier, faster and more precise to make small parts on a small precision lathe. This is why watch makers use small lathes instead of a 14X40. I own a very good 11" lathe but I often prefer to use my Sherline lathe to make smaller parts. Why? Because it is simpler, faster, more precise and I can pick up the lathe and put it away when I'm done.

So, the decision point revolves around what you intend to use the machine for most of the time. If you want to make Yo-yo's, then go with a CNC lathe. If your needs are more general and you plan to work on the smaller end of the spectrum then look at all the options. The real problem is finding a high quality precision lathe intended for small part work. Within this very restricted category, Sherline is probably the best bet.
 

cascao

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It can be done easily in a 7x manual lathe if concave surfaces are replaced with taper surfaces.
 

JimDawson

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#12
The biggest surprise was the suggestion to go with 12-14" swing, my uninformed idea being the PM1127 was at the top of the size range for this style of project.
That is the size range I am used to using, so that is normally what I recommend. :) It's a personal preference. I have run lathes from a 6 inch to 20 inch, but I am most comfortable in the 12-14 range. I have a 13x40, it's a good all around size for my average work. It will swing about 4 inch diameter over the cross slide and is convenient for very small parts also. For small precision manual work my real preference is a Hardinge HLV-H, which I think are 10'' swing, I've run one a few times. I'm certainly not going to argue with @mikey 's experience with a Sherline, I have never even seen one :)

The real problem in the smaller lathes is what is available on the market today. Most are entry level, low quality, machines and would not be my choice for precision work. The market is trying to hit a price point and of course the quality suffers. One exception to this are the Emco lathes, made in Austria, and are high quality. I'm not sure what Matt @ Precision Matthews has to offer, I know he has some very nice equipment.

For a CNC; Emco, Hardinge CHNC, Tormach, and Sherline might be good choices. Nothing wrong with buying used equipment in CNC or manual, I have had very good luck doing so.
 

ttabbal

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I was thinking about making a yo-yo and if I wanted a concave type design I would hollow the center, then use the compound to taper the edges in. Easy. Trickier is getting both sides to match exactly. CNC definitely wins there. I don't think that would bother me though. A thou or two would likely be unnoticeable. Perhaps weigh the halves for balance, I have a 0.1gram scale. That should be accurate enough.

If you want a more curved design, you can use a radius tool or perhaps a form tool. And there are gravers, though matching sides is harder that way.

If you are sure the size will work, Sherline sounds like a decent option. If you think larger work is a possibility, consider a bigger machine. The common advice is to go as big as you can fit into the budget and space. But if you know you never want to turn larger than 3", a 14" swing is overkill. Sure, it's more rigid and you can take deeper cuts. But a lot of really good work is done on little machines. You just have to stay within their capabilities. Tooling also gets more expensive with larger machines. If you think you might want slightly larger work, the LMS mini lathes are considered good. From there I'd probably switch to a PM machine. I started out looking at the Harbor Freight mini, and followed that progression. I considered Grizzly, they have some good reviews. I decided that for what I wanted to do, the accessories and machines from PM were a better fit for me. I was only looking at smaller machines, so they might compare better at the 12" swing and higher.

One thing that I didn't think I would care that much about was the chuck mounting system. After having a D1 camlock chuck, I really don't want anything else. Swapping is super easy, and I don't have to worry about it spinning off if I run it in reverse, which is really nice when threading.
 

mikey

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The real problem in the smaller lathes is what is available on the market today. Most are entry level, low quality, machines and would not be my choice for precision work. The market is trying to hit a price point and of course the quality suffers. One exception to this are the Emco lathes, made in Austria, and are high quality. I'm not sure what Matt @ Precision Matthews has to offer, I know he has some very nice equipment.

For a CNC; Emco, Hardinge CHNC, Tormach, and Sherline might be good choices. Nothing wrong with buying used equipment in CNC or manual, I have had very good luck doing so.
I agree with Emco lathes as an option, Jim. The problems are 1)finding one in decent shape, 2) parts are stupid expensive because they are no longer factory supported, and 3) finding one at all - Emco owners don't often let go of them.

I own an Emco Super 11CD and you'll have to see the executor of my estate to get your hands on it. Brent, if you are considering an Emco, the smallest I would go for is the Compact 8. It is made to a tool room DIN standard but it is a change gear lathe so you have to be sure you get the change gear set to go with it.

On second thought, it just dawned on me that the Compact 5 is available in CNC - that might be an option.
 

P. Waller

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Your parts are all curved surfaces, you will find this difficult with a manual machine without form tooling and other attachments. Not impossible yet difficult.
As mentioned a 2 axis numerical lathe would be the bees knees for such work.
 

tq60

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For size and cost the small lathe at harbor freight when on sale and coupon is hard to beat for small work.

We got ours 15 years ago and later gave it away but the chuck was repeatable meaning we could take work out and back and it was still very close.

We made some crankshafts via offset work that was too much for it so we upgraded.

You will need to make tools for doing the curved shapes and a "ball turner" would be a good starting place.

These machines are small and can be used on your lap if needed so for small work space they are perfect as you store up on a shelf and bring out to use when needed.

Can be found used for a song too.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk
 

Cadillac STS

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Lathe all the way for a yo-yo. Because you want the halves to be round and in as perfect a balance as you can.

For those dish looking ones could you start out pressing the general shape on a press and a set of dies. Dies you make on the lathe first. Then take the rough pressing to the lathe and finish them there for roundness and decoration. Make a setup to balance the halves independently then weigh each one putting two of matching weight together.
 

P T Schram

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For size and cost the small lathe at harbor freight when on sale and coupon is hard to beat for small work.

We got ours 15 years ago and later gave it away but the chuck was repeatable meaning we could take work out and back and it was still very close.

We made some crankshafts via offset work that was too much for it so we upgraded.

You will need to make tools for doing the curved shapes and a "ball turner" would be a good starting place.

These machines are small and can be used on your lap if needed so for small work space they are perfect as you store up on a shelf and bring out to use when needed.

Can be found used for a song too.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk
I agree with everything you've said with the exception of finding them used!

I have been searching for one for several years to use in an application where I don't want to damage one of my Sotuh Bend's but just haven't seen them and I check eBay and craigslist regularly

When I saw an HF micro mill on CL, I dropped what I was doing and went to get it and as I was leaving, another gentleman was arriving to be disappointed!

My experience has been those who have smaller machinery already have a list of vultures waiting for them to become available
 

bcarter

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#19
Thanks again for all the great ideas to consider.

I was looking at some yoyo stuff today and found this guy in the Czech republic who is doing prototyping on an dual spindle CNC. I didn't even know what that was but the video is impressive. You can see it in action in "Birth of Sumec - CNC" and see the machine in the background in Floutek Update 3 starting around the 40 second mark. Interesting looking, certainly not manual and probably crazy expensive.

https://yoyoexpert.com/forums/index.php/topic,78687.0.html
 

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P. Waller

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Sub spindle would save much time, pick up the front and part off then finish the backwork without stopping.

I imagine that many will not have such luxury.
 

homebrewed

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Many who started out with the 7xN (n = 10, 12, 14 or 16") Chinese lathes have moved on to 8" machines. The build quality is reported to be much better. The Grizzly 8x16 currently is running a bit over $1K, not including shipping. The Little Machine Shop 8.5 x 20 runs about $1900. Instead of spending a whole lot of money on a larger lathe you might be able to buy one of these and upgrade it to CNC. Of course, this approach requires some considerable DIY work and would be a project in itself.
 

bcarter

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I thought I would post an update. I found a Sherline 4400 used nearby. It has worked out very well for me. I'm only making wood yoyos so far but I can see how I could do aluminum yoyos at least for my own use on it. This is a perfect starting point for me. Here is a maple axle I'm threading to 3/8-16 for one of my yoyos. I'm very pleased with the Sherline's capabilities and ease of use.

Here is the most recent yoyo I've made on the Sherline.
 

francist

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#24
Nice threading! Took me a bit to get my head around how big (or small) the piece was but it looks great.
Is that yo yo made from wenge? If so you are a better man than I -- I've only turned that stuff once and hated every minute of it.

Glad you got a lathe sorted out, happy turning!

-frank
 

brino

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#25
Hi Brent!

Welcome to the site.

I recently started yoyoing at age 55 and am quite taken with modern yoyos.
I am glad to see you are NOT acting your age! :)

Ask me about my Curta calculator.
By the way, do you have any pictures you could share of your Curta Calculator?

Here is the most recent yoyo I've made on the Sherline.
Very nice, What wood is that? The grain contrast is great!

You seem to have made a great jump into lathe work.
Congratulations.

-brino
 

bcarter

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Frank,

Sorry about the closeup. It is only 3/8" diameter. I will be doing some 3/4" soon at 8TPI.

It is indeed Wenge. Give it another try. Turn it on your metal lathe. I used HSS and carbide tools with no problems at all. I did do some hand work using a toolrest and carbide insert wood turning tools. They are used mostly like scrapers so again no difficulty.
 

bcarter

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Brino,

Thanks for the kind words. I plan to go down fighting. Still running, skateboarding and mountain biking every week. I love toys and am having a blast with yoyos.

The wood is Wenge and it looks even better in person.
Here is picture of the Curta. They really are incredible machines. They hold an amazing attraction for anyone who like numbers and mechanical devices.
 

mikey

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Your Wenge yoyo is beautiful! Happy to see the Sherline worked out for you.

I never heard of a Curta calculator but the story on Wikipedia is interesting. The inventor would have been one hell of a hobby machinist!
 

ttabbal

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Those Curta calculators are really interesting. I might have to attempt using the 3D printer model. I bet some of you here could machine one in metal, but it's beyond my current capabilities. Maybe I'll keep it in mind for a future project when I get more experience.

I love the look of that wood when turned. I've tried to get a similar effect from gluing strips and turning that, but it's not in the same league as that wood.
 

bcarter

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Mikey,

A tip of the hat to you for answering all my questions and helping me tool up the Sherline. It is a perfect fit for my needs. Now to make the right mill choice...

I want a mill with similar capabilities. I just need to research the usable work envelope of the Sherline mills. I certainly respect their quality for value equation.
 
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