This post is about an experiment with an unsatisfactory result. But we learn from failures, perhaps more than from successes.
I am interested in making spool ends for reels by metal spinning. The goal is to make a spun spool end from nickel silver so it can be brazed to the shaft, but my experiment was with aluminum which is supposedly easier to spin.
There is a good on-line article on making a spinning lathe, but since my goal seemed modest (just a small amount of forming) I tried to get by on the cheap by spinning on my Sherline lathe. The conclusion is that even for this simple task the Sherline is not sufficiently rigid or powerful.
My information source was a book from Artisan Ideas, which turned out to be a technical school textbook from 1936. I recommend the book as a record of a disappearing art. It shows what should have been a warning to me: the spinning tools are often 2 or 3 feet long, to get the leverage needed.
Here are the tools that I made (or bought) for my lathe:
From the top: clamping bolt, brass fulcrum, brass clamping washer/pilot, aluminum form or “chuck”, aluminum and nickel disks to be spun, steel tool with hemispherical end. The forming that I wanted was to turn the edge of the disk 90 degrees.
Forming the spinning disk takes a larger force than I could apply, given the compliance of the lathe and the length of the tool. I could not turn the edge 90 degrees.
There was no point in trying the nickel silver disk (.032 thick) since I failed with the aluminum (.040 thick). So I will continue to use machined spool ends.
Update 18 July, 2011
Richard Westerfield read my original post on metal spinning and offered to loan some instructional materials. One was a set of DVDs by Terry Tynan.
The other was a CD-rom by James Riser.
I recommend both. Tynan is an expert spinner and shows the techniques to spin many shapes. Riser seems to be more of a DIY amateur who figures out how to get things done. Tynan may forget to mention what he uses for lubricant; Riser will give you a dozen alternatives. Tynan makes his tools by grinding pre-hardened rods; Riser does it by forging.
How would I use this information? Tynan’s 3rd DVD concerns projects done where the lathe is a converted wood lathe. The one he uses looks as if it would handle a 10 or 12 inch diameter wood workpiece. There are just two steps to the conversion: 1) add a C or Bar clamp to the bed to keep the tailstock and toolrest holder from creeping, 2) make a spinner’s toolrest.
I wish that I had taken to trouble to seek out this material before starting my spinning effort; I probably would not have wasted my time. The CD and DVDs are very good and I recommend them to anyone who is serious about spinning. But I need just one spun part, a spool end, and I can machine that.