Heavy steel collet closer lathe accessory on the AVIDcnc plasma table

In other projects I’ve mentioned that I have done quite a few projects to help out my neighbors in the past and that this AVIDcnc is running most weekends. This is one such project for a neighbor and it turned out to be a huge success.

As often happens my neighbor showed up in my garage on a fine summer evening (2019/June) with two panels from an old steel welding cabinet he was slowly recycling.(1/4in & 3/16in thick, who makes cabinets like that these days?).

At the root of the problem, my neighbor had bought a Lathe for his garage, and the former owner had no clue what he was doing. In addition to messing up the contactor wiring, he had crashed the head stock badly and he bolted the 5-C collet closer support arm to the fiberglass housing that covered the gears at the headstock of the lathe. He may have done that just to sell it as the collet closer didn’t have any signs of wear on it.

When he arrived, under my neighbor’s other arm the oft referred to but seldom seen CAD model (Cardboard Aided Design). I pulled up a stool to the computer and with rulers, angle finders and calipers and a lot of Q&A, slowly turned that CAD model into a CAD model with a few embellishments. This was back before I had written a program to automatically process the resultant G-Code into something that Mach-3 and the plasma table could work with, so I set about hand editing things and looking up values from the Hypertherm cut charts and before long I had something useable. It is quite nice to not have to look any of that up any more. :slight_smile:

Below the cardboard pattern laid out on one of the steel panels. I don’t remember at this point, but I think, unfolded like that, the part was somewhere in the neighborhood of 2ft long? Maybe 21in?

Before diving in with that part, we set about cutting out a steel support / base plate to pick up on 4 frame studs directly into the casting in the back of the head stock.

We cut this first and then ran over to his garage on the next block over from me for a quick test fit to make sure all the holes lined up. The photo below, tells the story, everything lined up great, his measurements were spot on and I had not fat fingered anything while building the CAD model!

One of the tricky parts was that this old cabinet had a couple heavy coats of primer on it and we had to go in with a grinder and remove that down to bare metal anywhere we wanted to pierce / do and ohmic touch-off


Knowing that we had that part correct, we jumped right in cutting the 2’nd / more complex piece. My old cell phone just couldn’t take very good arc-shots compared to the new one. Some of my favorite plasma photos Both of those phones are the same brand, just a few years apart technology wise.


Here to, we had the same issue, had to take a grinder to a good amount of the paint on the upward facing side of this part for ohmic touch offs before piercing. The part came out spectcularly.

We had to prep the material for welding and we didn’t want the smoky mess of all that paint in the garage, so it was back to spending a bunch more quality time with the grinder. :slight_smile: The extra slots cut in this part will come into play when we got to bend it up before welding, yet still keep everyhing aligned. The short slots stacked on top of each other are center cuts and are just the width of a single pass of the plasma cutter, where the longer horizontal slots were cut out as round ended rectangles so they have a bit of width to them, to help with bending.

Tne nozzle (under the shield) and the electrode I was using were both on their last leggs (consumables) and even still these cuts came out spectacularly.


This series of slots were added to help bend this thickness of steel around a pleasing corner and add to the aesthetic of the finished part.


When cutting good quality material with the right consumables and the right travel speeds, the surface finish of the cut can be amazing and fast! Sooooo blindingly fast! I come from a long background of machining and the speed with which one can process material and fabricate (certian kinds of cuts) still just boggles my mind.


After this we moved right on to bending up this material and welding it out. Bending was mostly a manual process with pipe wrenches and bench vices.

We softened up the edges and then went right on into welding things up.

This is just first pass welding across a pretty decent gap.

A quick test fit:

When it comes to welding like this (especially finish welding) my neighbor has it hands down over me. Just check out how he cleaned up and finsihed out this part! The blue color? Well that’s just what he had on hand from another project.

In this last photo, above, if one looks closely, right below the knuckle joint, closest to the cam-over-center handle, you can see the 4x holes drilled in the bottom center of the lathe headstock fiberglass gear cover where the tensioning arm had previously been attached. (In that configuration, the closing handle pointed upward.) With this well design support arm that cam-over-center locking mechanism gets all the support it really needs to operate correctly and it isn’t going to tear up the fiberglass after only a few use cycles.

Yup, just another one of those fun weekend projects where the AVIDcnc and I were able to help out a neighbor, who was the one doing most of the hard work. This project could have been done without the AVIDcnc plasma table, but boy did it make short work of a great project with some up-cycled material. :slight_smile:


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Sweet! I like how you have a room full of Mars rovers but sometimes the best answer is still a pipe wrench and vise.

Cardboard Aided Design :rofl:

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Stealling / paraphrasing a line from the movie, “The Martian”, … ‘I mean, we’ve got literally the smartest guys on the planet working on this and the best answer they came up with was, why don’t you drill some holes in it and hit it with a rock’ :rofl:

Okay, not even trying to put myself into that catergory, I don’t work for NASA. Just observing that sometimes the tool on the workbench in front of you is the right one for the job even though there may be a hydraulic bender or something else in the other room. :slight_smile:


That reminds me of this scene from Apollo 13 https://youtu.be/1cYzkyXp0jg?t=33

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