Metal Lathe & Mill Projects

By Christian Mullen
Lathes turn metal for cutting.

Having a lathe and mill in your machine shop can open many opportunities for you to engage in projects for things that you may need and give you practical experience in the various milling and lathe operations. In many cases, making these items may cost more than buying them outright, but the experience you will gain making them can be used down the line for more complicated projects.

Soft Faced Hammer Lathe Project

Make a soft-faced mallet for your shop. Whenever you need to tap delicate materials without dinging them, use a soft-faced mallet. You can make the head and shaft of the mallet on a metal lathe. Make the tapered shaft out of aluminum using an outside diameter tool on the tool block. Use a knurling tool to make the handle grip so the tool does not slip when in use. Thread the opposite end to screw on the head. Make the head from aluminum round stock, drilling and tapping two holes on each end to screw in the two different types of faces you plan on using. Drill and thread the main hole for the shaft to match the threading you used on the shaft itself.

Toolmaker’s Screwless Vise Mill Project

Make a screwless vice in your mill. Use a CNC mill or a manual mill to accomplish this project. Cut the main block from a piece of steel, slotting the top to allow the front jaw to be adjusted. Cut another piece of steel to the specifications for the non-moving vise block. Cut the front at a 45-degree angle so the adjustment nut is easy to access and turn freely to loosen the jaw to tighten on material you cut in the vise. After you have completed the vise, consider getting it hardened, which will prolong its life and prevent damage from broken tooling or accidents.

Vise Clamp Mill Project

Cut a block of steel to use as a vise clamp. You will need several vise clamps to hold down vises on milling tables, both CNC and manual. Using a roughing endmill, cut away the material to form an L-shaped piece of metal. Set that up in a vise and cut a slot with an appropriate-size endmill to fit a bolt to secure the clamp. Make sure to deburr all the sharp edges before handling.

About the Author

Christian Mullen is a graduate from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in finance. He has written content articles online since 2009, specializing in financial topics. A professional musician, Mullen also has expert knowledge of the music industry and all of its facets.