Workshop tools

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I've set up a modelling workshop to suit my interests, based upon the German brand of "Proxxon" power tools (http://www.proxxon.de/).  These tools are originally made in places like Korea and China, and are localised and branded in various parts of the world.  In the USA, for example, the table saw is sold under the "Microlux" brand by Micromark (http://www.micromark.com/).

Pride of place was a small table-top lathe, the Proxxon PD230/E.

The PD 230/E lathe was accurate and perfectly adequate for all the fittings I've wanted to make from the IOM up to the A class.  I had one regret, however, and that is I was not able to afford the next model up at the time.  The PD 230/E has a spindle bore of 10.5 mm, not bad for its class, but I couldn't turn mast-size diameters (11 to 17 mm) through the spindle.  The next model up, the PD400, has a 20.5 mm bore, and that would have been perfect.  Well, I've now "invested" in the PD 400, and it turned out to be somewhat larger than I expected!  I took a fun picture showing new and old.

I've kept the milling accessory, the PF230, and have provided it with its own X-Y coordinate table.  The miller is easily powerful enough for almost any work.  The next picture shows the miller attached to the PD 230/E, with a dividing attachment with the three-jaw chuck set up on the lathe cross slide.

If you want or need useful information on setting up a lathe and milling machine, Sherline (http://www.sherline.com/) have a wonderful range of manuals and guides available to download.  Tony Griffiths at Lathes.co (http://www.lathes.co.uk/) has background information about the OEM business, and sells workshop books.

I added all of the accessories for the lathe and miller, some of them shown below.  The smallest, but possibly the most important of these, is the indexable insert lathe tool bit, shown at the 12 o'clock position in the picture.  I found a supplier, Greenwood Tools (http://www.greenwood-tools.co.uk/) of this specialist tool bit which is particularly suited to aluminium and plastic.  It makes it an absolute joy to turn aluminium, nylon, and PTFE parts.  If you do much turning of these materials, you really want their tip.  Brilliant!

The MBS230 bandsaw is excellent for quick and rough cutting.  It doesn't have a particularly large throat, however, and despite a nicely engineered blade guide, cuts can wander on longer pieces.

The drill press is the smaller TBM220, and while excellent for clean drilling, runs out of vertical reach if the optional KT70 X-Y coordinate table is installed, as pictured, along with the drill chuck and a larger drill.  The press is intended for small drills and uses a collet system, up to around 3 mm dia.  The X-Y coordinate table is superb -- no backlash at all, and it enables perfect positioning and exact spacing of holes on booms and masts.

For finishing the cut-to-length of a spar, the KG220 cut-off saw is a beauty, especially if fitted with the optional tungsten-carbide cut-off blade, as pictured.  When running this saw, however, keep an eye on the driven pulley inside the drive mechanism on the left side behind the plastic cover.  Its shaft has very little clearance to the cover, and the heat can melt the inside of the cover and cause the plastic to flow onto the pulley with, ah, undesirable effects.  The cut-off saw is somewhat pricey, but I've found the investment repaid with exceptionally clean and precise cuts.  I've recently upgraded to the KGS 80 cut-off / mitre chop-saw.  Even better...!

The SP/E grinder is a very neat little unit.

The MF70 micro-miller has all the credentials for intricate work, and when it works it works very well indeed.  The X-Y table is superb, and the miller runs at up to 20,000 rpm handling down to a 1 mm milling cutter.  I no longer use the machine, though, because of a fault in its design.  You can see the white cloth patches on the head.  I added these in an attempt to cover up the air intakes which are inadequately shielded against intake of milling shards and pieces.  No problem as such, but the motor and the control electronics are not enclosed inside the casing.  The shards get in and I've shorted out the control electronics twice now.  The dealer has invited me not to return for any third claim under warranty.  I've now sold the MF70, and rely on the PF230 (well, FF230 now that it mounts on its own XY table).

On the other hand, the FKS/E table saw is outstanding, amazingly quiet, powerful, and accurate.  The tungsten-carbide blade cuts aluminium spars perfectly.  Micromark sell a variety of very useful accessories for this saw, listed as the "MICROLUX TILT ARBOR TABLE SAW",  item number 80463.

I use a pair of hand drills, and matching vice and holder.

Bottom line?  Quality equipment more than pays for itself in reduced stress and enhanced enjoyment!


2011 Lester Gilbert