Monday, August 22, 2016

Shoehorns and Shop Machines

When I last updated the progress on my CNC conversion, I had completed the wooden chip tray, although I hadn't painted it. The paint came Tuesday, and I eventually got three coats of paint on the inside and two on the outside.  What I've been doing since Tuesday, instead of cutting metal, is 3D modeling on the computer.  I want to be sure things are going to fit before I start moving 300 pound machines around.  I am well past my years of looking at 300 pound machines and boasting, "I can carry two of them and drink a beer".

I was able to model the G0704 with the plywood chip tray in place.
While a "realistic" model isn't really needed - details like the red "STOP" button on the motor speed controller take tiny amounts of effort but aren't necessary - the size of the base is critically important, as is the size of the tray. 

Next I pulled out my floor plan layout that I originally created in '14 when the shop was being built, and then added to and tweaked as things were done.  The chip tray is 5'4" in the long direction, and 3' across.  I'd like two feet on each end, making 9'4" of floor space.  There's 6'8" between other stuff and the back wall.  Can't fit 9'4" with a shoehorn.   There's really not even enough room to put 2' of room on one end and the other against a wall, but that's a bad idea anyway.  Certainly while I'm building it (in place) and then while it's running, it's possible I'll need to get anywhere around it, and if I have to work on some side for a long period of time, I want a small chair (which is where my two foot border comes from). 

So now comes moving things around in the software to try and get everything to fit better.  In this corner of my shop I have the G0704, and my Little Machine Shop 3450 lathe.  I'm not sure it's possible to work on both the mill and the lathe without popping a breaker (maybe with light cuts on both machines), but I do want to be able to easily move from one to the other.  I needed to do a model of a chair I could move around and get a feel for how it fits, so I went searching for a free 3D model of a chair and found one I could modify.  Which was good because I don't know if it was the original or the translation into Rhino, but it came into Rhino being 65 meters across the seat!  (Obligatory, "even Moochell's butt doesn't need 65 meters").

I ended up making several copies in different modifications of the chair to get a feel for how much room there really is.  I think this layout will work. 
The bad part is that both heavy machines have to move.  I can't just put the mill in place without touching the lathe.  I have a shop crane to lift the heavy things, but it makes the job bigger.  A heavy duty extension cord or two may be needed. 

The large gold/mustard colored rectangle to the right of the mill is the LMS lathe set up with operator's position on the left looking right and its headstock on the left.  As positioned right now, it could handle a rifle barrel 34 or 36" long.  To the lathe's right is a set of bookshelves in front for manuals and catalogs, a rolling cabinet and more benches behind them.  To the left and in front of the mill is where my Sherline micro CNC stuff is.  You might notice nothing has the level of detail the mill and chairs do, although the bookshelves are close. 


  1. I built a very heavy duty pallet for my mill (2000lbs) and use a pallet jack to move it around when I need to. I don't worry about level on it at all. A real machinist would, probably, if the level plane was going to be used as a set up aid. But for a garage shop it seems to work. The problem with designing for the maximum space needed is that 95% of the time the mill will be working on a 6" piece,4% of the time on a 12" piece, and only 1% of the time on anything longer. Think about putting it on some heavy duty locking castors, so it can live in the 99% space and be pulled out for the long stock. 300lbs is not that much.
    For that matter, a lot of things can be put on castors- in the woodshop I have a 8" jointer on castors, a big workbench, a table saw, a bandsaw, and some other stuff- some of it I move rarely, and some often enough so I have had to replace the plywood flooring from the castor wear...
    The cool thing about this is that it give maximum flexibility to experiment with placement without throwing your back out- the shop is likely to evolve somewhat as needs change.
    Can you show a plan view of the shop?

    1. PS- I have a shop stool, but have never really felt comfortable sitting down and running tools- usually it is just for coffee break or looking over a design, that sort of thing.

    2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I have castors on my benches on the woodworking side of my shop, and I'm in the process of adding them to the power tools. I like the idea. The main reason for wanting extra room here is for getting around it if something goes wrong. For sure, I'll need to get around it while I finish building it, but once it's built and its enclosure is in place (kind of a DIY shower stall), all I should need to do the vast majority of the time is set up the machine and start the CNC controller.

      It would be very convenient to roll the mill over into that back left corner. If both machines were on castors and I could just move them to get behind one or the other and fix them, it would be a big improvement.

      I can't post the layout here in the comments, but I could do a blog post with it. Or you could email me, SiGraybeard at gmail dot com.

  2. Replies
    1. It's Rhino3D. (FTC, if you think they're paying me, you are smoking some great sh&t!)

    2. yuk-yuk!

      One of the guys on the Iowa uses something called "SketchUps", I think. It's quite resource intensive, and I had to turn off all the Win7 'eye candy', adjust the PC for 'Maximum Performance', and max out the RAM in the PC so he'd stop squawking about how the PC I donated for the radio stuff was so much "better" and "faster" than the one the Iowa gave him to use.

      I've got FreeCAD and Blender on this PC, but I'm a complete rookie at using them.

    3. SketchUp is a Google App. I read good and bad about it. Woodworkers seem to be into it, but not so much in the metal world.

      FreeCAD looks pretty capable. I think I looked at it in an early version and wasn't impressed, but they've come a long way.

      Blender is a 3D modeler, kind of like Rhino, but way more emphasis on rendering. After trying to get the hang of it, I thought of it more as the tool for doing the next Pixar film, not precise little parts. There are renderers for Rhino, and the publisher sells one, but they're an add on at extra cost.

      I understand the principal guy behind MoI (Moment of Inspiration) software is the guy who did the first versions of Rhino. It's relatively cheap at $300, but nothing is as cheap as free.

      I started out with TurboCAD, think it was around $100, but for some reason, just couldn't get it into my head. It didn't look like the way I look at 3D design, largely based on having taken drafting way back in school. Rhino's default display was just like I was used to, and it clicked more easily. Yeah, a lot more expensive, but paying for a better user interface made sense to me. A lot of the things I learned in Rhino helped when I needed to use AutoCAD at work. Having learned in Rhino, I might be able to work in TurboCAD now.

  3. I thought it might have been a Google app. The VP/CTO on the Iowa is a former Google guy who left Google to take the position on the Iowa. He also served on her during her last activation, so he's a great "fit" on the ship.

    Yeah, I feel the same way about Blender. I have it on this PC because I do a bit of video work on it, but mostly I use my other Win7 PC that has Adobe Premiere Pro on it for video.

    DirecTV paid for us to go to AutoCAD school, and I got fairly proficient at it so I could update and correct drawings, but rarely used it to "design" anything other than simple brackets and stuff.

    And having had two semesters of "Mechanical Drawing" in high-school, and four more in College, I, too, find it a bit hard at times to get my head wrapped around drawing programs in general....

  4. is no-cost, modern, and cloud-based CAD for mechanical engineering. If you can tolerate the lack of privacy you'll like the feature set, which resembles

    You can buy high capacity plastic pallets from http://www/ and similar. Plastic tolerates chips and oils well, but they'll still fall through the pallet holes. You might want plywood on the top to close the holes and ease cleanup, and paint or sheet plastic on top of that. Consider placing the machine towards the front to leave room for your toes. You could saw the pallet to have less front-to-back depth.

    Somewhere I saw a pallet jack with extra wheels at the tips of the forks so that if you pumped it up to max height, you could roll it sideways.