March 1, 2015

Taig Mini Lathe

Back over the summer, while exploring some dusty top shelves at MITERS, I found what appeared to be they ways, carriage, and cross slide from a tiny lathe.  No one seemed to recognize them (and they were covered in a healthy layer of dust), so I claimed the parts as my own.  The steel dovetail ways were a bit rusty, but everything seemed in good shape otherwise.

The design of this thing is unusual.  The tailstock is lever-actuated, the carriage is cast aluminum with machined surfaces, and the cross slide looks like an anodized aluminum extrusion.

While looking at shiny machined things on some corner of the internet, I found a photo of a workpiece in a small lathe, and I recognized the distinct carriage and way assembly.  Elsewhere on the site, the lathe was identified as a Taig machine.  Turns out there's a pretty large community of people who use (and heavily modify) these machines.  Here's an example of a blog dedicated Taig mill and lathe projects.  

All the parts for the lathe are readily purchasable, and they are actually really reasonably priced.  But that would be no fun, so I'm going to basically build everything from scratch.  My basic plans are:

  • Make it metric!  Why?  Because metric is great, and I also happen to have a pair of sweet 1mm pitch metric ball screws I'll be using on the cross slide and the compound.  I haven't yet figured out the carriage rack situation though.  
  • Make a headstock and spindle.
  • Make a chuck from scratch.  Depending on how adventurous I'm feeling I may make both an independent 4-jaw (definitely easier to make) or a 3-jaw scroll chuck.
  • Brushless motor drive.  I'm deciding between a SK3 and a fancy Moog inrunner I have lying around.  The Moog will be quieter and shinier, but is definitely less power dense.
  • Make a new cross slide, and turn the old one into a compound slide.
  • Add a leadscrew for the carriage, for at least one speed of auto feed.  I don't care about threading, but a slow auto feed speed for finishing passes would be nice.
  • Make a mini quick change toolpost.

To start out, I removed most of the rust with steel wool, and then lapped the ways with oil and fine polishing compound.

In the next episode, I'll make a new cross slide, and ball screw couple it to the carriage.

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