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7x10, 7x12, 7x14 Mini-Lathe Information

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Rent Mill & Lathe DVDs at Smartflix | Great aluminum & steel prices at OnlineMetals


Sometimes video training is all you need to get an idea of how to get started.

Unfortunately, there aren't many videos out there on metalworking or machining.

Luckily for us, there's a website called (used to be name Technical Video Rentals) that has a decent selection of videos to get you going.

There are a few slight issues we've had with their system, one of which is their order queue system. On the website it will tell you how long you have to wait before the video goes out. In initial rentals, the website mentioned that there was no wait: "An order placed today: should ship right away (0-3 days, unless other customers rent all our copies first!)". Once confirmation via email is sent of the order, you wait for another follow-up email that tells you whether your order's been shipped. The problem we experienced was that the email mentioned that all videos were unavailable. This can be quite frustrating if you had expected them to ship fairly quickly (we're not expecting same day, mind you). Then strangely enough, yet another email came in that same day stating that the videos had been shipped. Maybe their online order system isn't quite real-time or there was a glitch. It would be nice if we either knew when it would ship or have them say that it'll get there when it gets there (like Netflix does with their queue system).

Once the order's been placed and you wait days or weeks, you get this in the mail:

smart flix vide

They provide a mailer box for DVDs (larger boxes for larger orders) with a return mailer. All you need to do is to follow their directions and put the labels back on there when you're done. Here's what came in the box:

smart flix adverts

Advertising from Craft: magazine (from the makers of Make Magazine) and Little Machine Shop. Funny!

We've watched quite a few DVDs from their website offering and are quite happy that they exist! Browse through their extensive collection and rent a how-to DVD today!

We recommend the following series:

Lathe, Mill and General Machine Shop Operations

For lathe, mill, and general machine shop operations, the "Professional Machine Shop Course" series with host Darrell Holland is quite informative. He uses larger machines like a South Bend lathe and Bridgeport turret mill to demonstrate machining techniques, but they all certainly apply to the small Asian imports. We will provide our ongoing review of the individual DVDs in their series as time allows.

Professional Machine Shop Course: Lathe

DVD 1 contains general lathe terminology, types and principles of lathe operation, use of cutting tools and holders as well as tool geometry and even how to grind them! He also talk quite extensively about how to align the lathe using methods like headstock/tailstock alignment and the test-bar method which uses a piece of round bar that has one end turned down a bit (both ends are center-drilled) and then placed between centers. A dial test indicator is used mounted to the cross-slide (his milling video shows how to make one apparently) and is tested for runout. Actually, he just sees how far out of zero he is once indicated on one end, then moves the carriage to the other end when the test bar it flipped around. Great technique! He also goes into leveling a lathe using a level on the bed to adjust out the twisting of the bed. You'll wish you had a South Bend here :) Also a co-ax indicator is used for yet another method of centering a tailstock to the headstock.

DVD 2 contains information on material selection, preparation and workpiece holding using the chuck. Finally learn the proper use of a 4-jaw chuck! Then watch as he discusses and demonstrates the lathe operations from facing to parting. Ever wondered about stainless steel work hardening? He discusses that too! Finally, speeds and feeds and manual/powered techniques.

DVD 3 is great for those who wish to make your own Morse Tapers and arbors. Darrell demonstrates taper turning and how to calculate and then setup the tapers. Then he goes into external and internal threading. At this point you'll wish you had a low gear on your mill or a hand crank to turn the chuck at under 30 rpm!

DVD 4 is the final one where Darrell demonstrates boring and various finishing techniques such as reamining, knurling and polishing and filing. Some discussion on tolerances is also presented.

Now, while the content is great for beginners and even intermediate machinists, the production value of the DVDs is nowhere near Hollywood or professional training video standards. For instance, many times throughout the series you can hear someone off camera remind Darrell on topics to talk about. You can also see shadows of cameraman or workers. The lighting is a bit dull, the DVDs are clearly transferred from older media like VHS and was most likely produced in the 80's or so. Again, as long as you don't expect a blockbuster movie, but want factual, how-tos, these videos won't dissapoint. As a side note, Darrell's voice is somewhat challenging to listen to, but you'll get over it after a while. How-To DVD Rental

Professional Machine Shop Course: Vertical Mill

Now that we know what to expect from the production and content, we begin with

DVD 1 in which Darrell Holland discusses history, terminology, safety, goes into CNC (not an extensive CNC video, btw, just touching upon the subject), and then basic purchasing decision criteria like size, cost and what to expect from each type of machine.

DVD 2 is where things get interesting. One of the frequently asked questions with the mini-mill is how to flycut and the proper ways of cutting whether it be conventional or climb cutting. Then tramming the head and truing the machine. For those who often wondered how it's done, Darrell provides some very useful tips. Workholding and toolholding is then discussed.

DVD 3 contains answers to yet another popular question: proper speed and feed. Specialized measuring and indicating tools are discussed such as the edge finder, center finder, surface plate, etc. Some of the areas are probably more applicable to general machining, but it's nice to have it applied to milling as demonstrated.

DVD 4 delves into the types of cutting tools from carbide, cobalt and high speed steels to the types of cutters ranging from face mills to fly cutters. Then topics of backlash as applied to handwheel operation is discussed. Next, drilling and tapping techniques and practices along with proper lubrication for various operations is discussed.

DVD 5 is fun to watch as Darrell Holland demonstrates the various techniques in action from boring to facing and shaping and even fly cutting. Again, as with the lathe series, he also talks about holding tight tolerances.

DVD 6 is geared towards those who want to understand production-type work. Quality control topics are discussed along with other tips, tricks, and techniques for production work.

Again, this series is highly recommended for its content geared towards newbies and even the intermediate-level machinist.

Professional Machine Shop Course: General Machine Shop Practice (Coming soon)



For welding, from Oxy-Acetelyne to TIG, the Steve Bleile series is great to watch. Again, somewhat dry and comedic timing at times with similar production values as the Darrell Holland series, but very informational and geared towards the newbie and intermediate welder.

Oxy-Acetylene Welding with Steve Bleile

Oxy-Acetylene Welding is often revered as very difficult to learn and master, but once learned with some competency, becomes a great starting point for other methods of welding. In his Oxy-Acetylene Welding DVD, Steve Bleile shows you how to create that perfect pool of molten steel. Important safety aspects are also discussed prior to starting to weld.

GMAW (MIG) Wire Feed Welding with Steve Bleile

MIG welding or (Gas Metal Inert Gas) welding is very common and quite easy to learn. In this DVD, Steve discusses not only the components that make up the MIG welder, but shows you how to reduce spatter and weld in various configurations. Close ups of the welds are presented. This video doesn't seem to have as much welding tips as the oxy-acetelyne video has, but this may be due to the fact that there are a few more variables to master with gas welding than with wire fed welding.

Oxy-Acetylene Torch Cutting wit Steve Bleile (Coming soon)

Steve Bleile's Arc Welding Series (Coming soon)

Flux Core Welding (Coming soon)

Brazing with the Oxygen Acetylene Torch (Coming soon)

You can't go wrong with these welding DVDs. They are great as a starting point before you begin to weld. Even if you have some experience welding, Steve will point out some tips so that you can go out and practice more with hopefully better results.



Looking for mini-mill help and how-tos? How about lathe help and how-tos?

We're prototyping a benchtop CNC vertical mill using the DigiSpeed-XL interface card for Mach, Dart Controls and KB Electronics KBIC/KBMM 90VDC motor controllers, 1.5HP treadmill motor from Surplus Center and a R8-spindle head from the X2 mini-mill - not to mention Gecko servo drives and an entirely closed-loop system. Come take a look!

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Check out our newest developments like the CNC/DRO 8x12/8x14 lathe using Gecko drives, break-out board, NEMA 34 step motors, DRO and more!

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