Tooling Around

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My name is David Underwood and I'm a retired guy who lives in a small village in southern Ontario, Canada. The photo shows our mill pond. This site is about one of my hobbies and is my way of sharing some of my experiences with others who share my interests.

I'm a “tool guy”. I generally view a project as an opportunity to use tools. Most people think that tools are the means to complete a project – much too sensible, they are. In my case, tools often are the project. This interest extends to adapting tools and sometimes making new ones.

My first attempt to learn to do machining took place in June of 1985, with the purchase of a Toyo ML-210 lathe. Using it was not a rewarding experience. I struggled to achieve a smooth finish. My thread cutting attempts were indifferent – when they weren't scary. Boring was a mystery. Tool grinding was a mystery. The books I was able to purchase were mostly over my head. Other hobbyists were almost impossible to find. Predictably, I lost interest and my Toyo lathe languished in a corner of my shop.

About two decades later, with retirement, more time was available and my interest revived. And something else had happened since my earlier attempts, something called the World Wide Web. I was able to explore the work of many very talented people, from John Bentley to Dean Williams to Jan Ridders to Tatjana van Vaark. For Taig equipment, Nick Carter's web site is wonderful. Nick has accepted and posted contributions from Taig users all over the world. It's all a great source of inspiration. I signed up for a few Yahoo discussion forums and settled in as an interested observer. (Lurker sounds derogatory, doesn't it?) As I gained experience, my confidence grew and I was able to participate in an occasional forum discussion.

This time around, I opted for a Taig lathe and, later, a Taig mill. These machines seem designed for someone who likes to adapt them to suit his purposes. This suited me just fine. (See the “tool guy” comment, above.) For months, every time I wanted to do something with the lathe or the mill, I realized that I needed some attachment or other, first. However, to make that attachment, I needed some other device and so on. It seemed that I was doing this two-steps-back-for-one-step-forward dance for months. It was a great day when I was able to just go ahead and do something. All this activity might drive some people to distraction, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Every thing I made was an opportunity to learn something new.

And the Toyo lathe? A little cleaning and adjustment and it's doing just fine, thank you. New parts and attachments are no longer available, but those I have work well and as I may have mentioned, I have no reservations about making new fittings. I especially appreciate its thread-cutting capabilities. (Note to self: make some more change gears. I always wanted to try gear-cutting.) Certainly something has changed, as the Toyo lathe is now a delight to use. Since the lathe is the same, I guess it must be me that has changed.

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