Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Broaching is a technique for turning a round hole into a square hole or a hex hole or for adding a keyway into a hole. A broach is a toothed tool that looks a bit like a rack or coarse tooled file. However the teeth are different sizes as you go along the broach. The idea is that each tooth of the broach sticks out just a little bit more than the next and hence can shave a small amount off the corners until the last tooth is reached which is the desired size of the hole. Broaches are quite expensive to purchase and are easy to break. Here's some tips on how to make them and a device that pulls rather than pushes the broach meaning that it's less likely to bend.

31/10/2010 links updated
Graham Howe's Workshop Projects
Broaching Practice Book
Home made keyway broach made by grinding down old taps.

Monday, 29 September 2008


8th International exhibition «Mashprom-2008» for machine-building, metal-working and industrial equipment. The exhibition takes place 7-10th, October 2008, in the Expo-center «Meteor», Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Filing Nuts

I was lucky enough to visit the Model Engineer Exhibition at Ascot over the weekend and managed to attend one of the lectures by the chaps in the blue coats from the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers. The talk was about filing and there were some good tips such as using a triangular file to file square holes and the problems about filing a large surface flat.

I bought a few bits and pieces including a new drill vice. The next day I decided to put the teachings into practice and create some T-Nuts so that I can clamp the vice to the bench. The bar was cut to length using an angle grinder then filed square. The shoulders were roughly cut using a hacksaw then filed to size using a triangular file. The hole was pilot drilled at 4mm then drilled at 7mm and tapped. A clamping piece was sawn, filed square and then drilled and tapped to complete the first clamp, one down, 3 to go!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Cable Car Workshop

It takes a lot of hard work and skill to run the San Francisco Cable Cars and just as much to keep them maintained. You can't just walk into Joe's Autos and pick up spares, they have to be made by hand. Luckily the guys there have a very well equipped workshop with a selection of mills and lathes and large bandsaws and grinder. You can see the workshop and learn how the cable cars work at the Cable Car Barn and Museum on Mason Street, you can get there by cable car, if you visit on a weekday you might even get to see the workshop in action.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Tools from Apprentices

When I was working for Dowty Group they put me through an extensive programme of training starting with drawing and CAD, electrics and electronics (with a side in brazing) finishing up with machining.

In the machine shop we made a variety of items including a set of centre punches in a case which I've been using ever since and a milling vice. Unfortunately I did not have time to finish the vice. Given that it could be a useful little device to have in the workshop it's on my list of projects to complete. I have to ascertained what the screw pitch size is and work out how to cut that on my lathe (possibly need to buy an obscure die). I think I'll also make a popular modification which is to cut slots down the sides to facilitate clamping to the drill table.

I was not just Dowty who had excellent apprentice schemes who made useful tools but also Risley Royal Ordnance Factory and Marconi too.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Model Engineer Exhibition Ascot

The 19th September sees the start of the Model Engineer Exhibition at Ascot. As mentioned previously there will be a range of attractions, exhibits and competitions for all kinds of model engineer or enthusiast. There will also be a long stretch of 5in track with live steam engines running on it.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Kew Bridge Steam Museum - Festival of Models

Normally the Kew Brige Steam Museum showcases its massive water pumping steam engines (along with a history of steam development and a small museum). Next month it's exhibits will be a lot smaller as it is having a festival of models. On the 4th and 5th October steam boats, traction engines and railway locomotives can be seen at this event which is suitable for all the family.

"A great family day out, this years’ show will include steam models of all shapes and sizes including boats, traction engines and railway locomotives. The show will offer visitors, in particular families, an enjoyable experience with exhibits both old and new on display, inside and outside the museum, working throughout the weekend. There will be models to make and buy, as well as competitions with prizes for children."

Festival of Models

Kew Bridge Steam Museum
Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, Greater London, TW8 0EN

Nearest station is BR: Kew Bridge/Tube: Gunnersbury

020 8568 4757
Oct 4&5, 11am-4pm
Pricing: £5, concs £4

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Shed in the air!

London is notorious for a shortage of space and central London is worse than most places. When workmen came to repair this building on Shaftsbury Avenue W1 they found a novel solution to where to locate their workman's hut. The shed is located 10 feet in the air supported with scaffolding. The shed has views over the traffic and is the idea location if the workmen wish to wolf whistle at the tourists on the open top buses.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Oil from the Black Country

Whilst looking for oil to heat treat my toolmakers clamp I made a few enquiries to suppliers about quenching oil. Graham Twiddle, Senior Product Manager from D.A. Stuart Ltd responded that they could supply 25L containers of quench oil or larger which would be ideal for a club or school. He also pointed me at Model Oil UK. Richard Hallett from Mofrl Oil has confirmed that they supply both 1L and 5L containers of quench oil (they also supply a range of other oils for model engineers and model steam engines).

D.A. Stuart Ltd.
Lincoln Street
England WV10 0DZ

Model Oil Uk
Hallett Oils Ltd

Workshop Practice Series