Sherline Lathe...Should I buy metric or English??

jjmove

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Hello everyone. After reading mountains of info on the MB, I have decided to buy a Sherline lathe (currently own a Peerless 8MM) but am wondering, would I be better off with English or Metric version..I do clock repair on all types of clocks from tall case to cuckoo and everything in between...I also want to buy a Sherline mill to make wheels and the many other uses as discussed on the MB. Also, I have been advised to buy the 17 inch lathe bed version. I know that the NAWCC Clock School is now a Sherline dealer, so does anyone know if they offer member discounts? Your input would be greatly appreciated.

JJ
 

R. Croswell

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JJ,

Are your measuring tools English or Metric? I think I would find it difficult using a Metric lathe with English calipers, unless you have the electronic type that read both. Which system do you feel most comfortable using?

You can use Metric and English size collets in the Sherline lathe. For me, it would mostly be personal preference because most of my lathe work is to turn something to fit a measurement that I took myself. Less ofter to a specified size. I'm sure others will give different advice. Will be interesting to see.

Bob
 

eskmill

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It's a good question: metric versus inch for your Sherline purchase.

I have read Sherline's owner Joe Martin's preference of inches over millimeters and agree with his comments.
(go to the Sherline site and use their Google engine to search Martin's comments on inch vs metric)

Where in North Carolina are you going to find a new metric headstock nut in a hurry if you misplace yours? It would be different if you lived in Europe but Americans are slow to stock lots of metric nuts and bolts.

That being said, we have to be adaptable to inches and millimeters, ounces and liters and so on. Your Peerless lathe is likely all metric and the collets are metric. Learn to think in both systems.


 

jjmove

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My measuring instruments are both Metric and English. I guess what I'm asking is which one would you buy and why? Would the 17 inch bed be a real advantage and why?

JJ
 

Ansomnia

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jj, I believe Sherline sets up their milling machines for 0.001" increments on the cranks while the scales on the platforms are displayed in fractions (1/32). The metric setup is simply in 0.01 mm increments. I imagine they use the same scales across all their lathes and mills.

Therefore, I believe the metric increments are more accurate as 0.01 mm = 0.00039370" vs. 0.001".

The conversion between the 0.001 decimal inch increments and the fractional scale is also a bit of a pain. The fractional scale has its usefulness but I think the Imperial measure is mainly a legacy system. If you aren't producing parts with Imperial sizes I don't think it would be so good to have your Sherline equipment set up with Imperial measure and then have to constantly convert when you move the cranks. BTW, it is far better to convert using a scale with higher resolution (0.01 mm) than using one with a coarser scale (0.001").

In addition, if you end up cutting horological wheels and pinions I believe the cutters are sized in metric.

Les makes a practical point regarding nuts and bolts but in my case, the nearby Home Depot has a good range of metric parts and I drive by an industrial area with scores of supply houses every week. So for me, I would go for the metric setup.

I would also go for the longer bed in case you need to work with larger stock, for instance, turn a wooden column for a (longcase)clock case - 8" between centres is too short for that.

BTW, I use a digital micrometer for quick metric-Imperial conversion. The one I got on sale from Lee Valley recently has an extra feature - it converts to fractions as well.


Michael

 

Jerry Kieffer

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As mentioned the inch or metric version will be a personal preference.
The only difference in the machines will be the leadscrew pitch and handwheel markings. The Inch version will likely have better resale than a metric version. The purchase of a short bed or long bed will depend on your needs. If your work will be limited to typical clock work, I would suggest the up grade short bed with adjustable handwheels. The short bed has the advantage of being much easier to control accurate work because the handwheels are located in a more comfortable controllable position. I can not remember one time I would have needed a long bed for clock work. On the other hand if this will be your largest Lathe and you have other needs that require greater center distance then that should be considered. I would also suggest the upgrade standard verion of the Mill for the same reasons. Saved money can be spent on accessories that can be determined after spending several hours making chips on the basic units. I would suggest the "A" package to get started on the Lathe.
The possibility of NAWCC school of Horology discounts can be determined by calling the school and getting the straight scoop from the horses mouth as they say.

Jerry Kieffer
 

Piecat

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Gentlemen

I believe the issue here is not English versus Metric, or Metric versus Inches, but correctly expressed: Metric versus Imperial, or vise versa. :thumb:

Piecat
 

Jerry Kieffer

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Micheal
Sherline equipment uses metric leadscrews/handwheel markings for metric machines and Inch leadscrews/handwheel markings for inch machines. Each handwheel marking/setting is equally as accurate as the other. All other parts including nuts and bolts of the equipment are identical for both machines and in imperial.

When cutting wheels and pinions the tooth Diametral Pitch (Size) is determined by the cutter not if the machine is metric or inch. Tooth spacings are generally achieved with index plates, Rotary Tables or indexers that are not metric or inch and used on both machines.

The determination of a inch or metric machine should be made by whatever method the individule is most comfortable measuring in.
Duplication of parts requires measurement that is equally as accurate with both methods.

Jerry Kieffer
 

pbrchief

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I'm well versed on Sherline!! I aughta own stock. I have about every attachment they make. I make my own gears and besides watches I make small scale steam engines and working boilers. I owned a metric lathe and mill first and bought a long bed and 2000 mill after 3 years and use all four of them in my shop. The bottom line is to have highend micrometer and calipers. Trusting those dials can be catistrophic when getting down to the "knats ass", and you can't put metal back on. Of course the DRO solves all your problems including backlash and metric to english; besides turning speeds. I only have it on the mill, and it was worth every penny. The rotary table is RIGHT ON!!! and of course in degress, so no worry there. I use the roary table and dividing head for gear cutting. I even make my own 8mm collets.
If you can master making your own cutters your well on your way.
Feel free to email me for any questions or concerns on Sherlines GREAT products. I also own a TAIG with a 8mm headstock.
It's an expensive setup- but by far the best. That 90 volt DC motor that plugs into 110 house current can't be beat. You can hog out wiiithout any cares or use a loupe and it will run true. It's almost bulletproof.
I hope this helps. Mike <pbrchief@charter.net>.
 

Ansomnia

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Jerry, thank you for your elaboration. I am well-aware the Metric and Imperial versions of Sherline equipment are essentially the same machines except for the leadscrew pitchs.

However, and please correct me if I am wrong but I believe the handwheel markings are the same on both versions. Sherline appears to emphasize this fact
  • "…Some imports that claim to be inch machines actually have metric leadscrew pitches but handwheels marked in a close approximation in inches.…"
I believe all the handwheels are the same and simply have decimal divisions. So the Imperial measure equipment uses decimal inches to divide the handcrank movements even though the scales on the platform are in fractional inches. I believe it is the different leadscrew pitches which allows Sherline to achive uniformity in handwheel design. It is a good design.

As for my comment on horological wheel and pinion cutters, unless you make your own cutters and prefer using inches you are likely to use Thornton, Bergeon-Tecnoli or Carpano. I believe those are the well-known, industry-standard makers of single-tooth and multi-tooth horological cutters. I personally don't find it nice to have to deal with a mix of Metric and Imperial measures when I am working on one object. I would like to make my own cutters but for now I own a fair number of commercial horological cutters and (thankfully) all are metric.

As I said, I also base my choice of the system of measure on the parts I anticipate making. My 19C clocks are metric and small. My 17C and 18C clocks are mainly English (yes, the clocks are English, thus in Imperial measure) and big; their tolerances do not require the accuracy of the small 19C metric clocks. So metric makes sense for me.

Finally, I do own 2 Sherline lathes and a mill with the CNC rotary table from Bryan Mumford so I am not reading this entirely "from a book". :D although not quite at the level of being granted "automatic" stock ownership in Sherline like Mike! :D

BTW, Mike (pbrchief) welcome aboard! It's very nice to have another Sherline expert to weigh in on this topic. Hopefully, you will find other Sherline topics of interest to comment on.

P.S. You are right about not trusting the handwheels. Sherline equipment does exhibit very little or no apparent backlash but if you are doing accurate work you have to check it with a good micrometer as you approach the intended dimensions; especially if you are working on watches!


Michael



 

Jerry Kieffer

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Michael
It looks like I even miss spelled your name in the last post. What can I say, it was late at night.

The inch and metric handwheel makings are different on each Sherline machine per the last page of the instruction guide that comes with each machine.
The inch model moves the slide .050" per one complete turn of the handwheel and the markings are divided by .001". The metric version moves the slide 1MM per one complete turn of the handwheel and the markings are divided by .01MM. Assuming one reads the handwheel markings accurately each machine should be equally as accurate.

On commercial horological cutters you are correct that they are sold as Module (Metric) cutters. However for the actual cutting process of a wheel or pinion it will not normally make a difference if you have a metric or inch machine. During the cutting process the only handwheel setting normally used would be the depth of cut. While a Handwheel setting could be used for depth, it will be far more accurate to determine correct depth by visual inspection of the tooth form. Controlled Length of cut for items like a pinion can be more accurately achieved by clamping a "stop" to the bed of the mill set to the correct travel length.

Again Metric/inch comes down to personal preference The reproduction of wheels/ pinions through use of machined cutters in most cases will be anything but standard Module/Involute or even a cobination of both. Equally accurate cutters can be made using any accurate measuring system since again in most cases you will use actual existing wheel measurements rather than specified measurements. I have three complete sets of cutters and generally can find a cutter that will work but seldom one the will accurately reproduce an existing wheel.



Jerry Kieffer
 

pbrchief

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The point I was trying to get across, and my ability to express myself in writing is much poorer than oraly is; when finding centers with an edge finder; wiggler, electronic, etc; using a dial indicator, Sterett "last word" or really anything but the dials will be far more reliable and cause less heartaches. I know by my junk bin.:) Proof is in the "pudding".

Speeds and feeds and the basics will always work out better unless you have a sturdy Bridgeport knee mill or a Southbend or Prazi lathe with are both in my shop arsonal. And again a DRO solves a lot of these headaches.
Sherline has a very accurate DRO and has yet to fail me.
Also an early 1950's edition of The Machinist Handbook can solve about any questions. 95% setup and 5% removing of metal is a good rule also.
Basics like tramming & checking runout is a plus too.
Mike
 

Ansomnia

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Mike and Jerry, thank you both very much for your further advice and elaborations. I know how easy it is to make spelling mistakes or even make the wrong choice or words - I think the operative word to describe a suitable frame of mind might be "robust" - it's best not to take emails or electronic postings too personally. A sprinkle of humour or smilies do help. :)

I agree one has to verify with proper measuring instruments rather than trusting on "settings". The new electronic digital units are quite good although I do keep a full set of manual micrometer and calipers just in case I run out of batteries.

I also appreciate Jerry correcting me on the handwheel markings. This is an issue that is of personal interest to me. My Sherline equipment is used and the mill is actually in Imperial setup. I would have preferred metric but I got this unit for a good price. I would like to set it up with the Enhanced Machine Controller (EMC) (and DRO) but I'm wondering if I should convert the mill to metric before doing that. I imagine handwheels would not be needed but the leadscrews would be. I'm wondering if the conversion is worth it. Since the EMC and DRO are actually software-driven they theoretically can be calibrated to work with either Imperial or metric leadscrew setup and still display in either units or both but I don't suppose the programmers bothered to provide that facility.

I appreciate the mental ability to work in either measurement systems but for efficiency sake I would prefer to keep things simple and just convert as infrequently as possible. The cutters I have come across for cycloidal tooth forms over the last year or 2 are all metric.

Wheel and pinion cutting is a medium term project for me as I have other projects at the moment. I do appreciate your explaining the realities of making wheels and pinions. My most realistic introduction would likely involve a small project or making one or two replacement wheels.

What do you think?


Michael
 

DeweyC

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I KNOW I should let Jerry handle this, but I believe the Sherline DRO is driven by the lead screw, not table position like the "big" DROs. Also, there is no inch/mm conversion. It must be set to agree with the lead screw scaling.

Unless it has some functions like determining the centerline or such, and given it is really just making the hand wheel markings more readable, I am not sure I see an advantage. It might be just as useful to mount a couple electronic calipers to the table.

For those tooling up around Sherline I would highly recommend Jerry's course at the NAWCC School. He showed me how to make any wheel cutter in less than 15 minutes with 4 cuts. I bought the vertical mill a week later.

Jerry, I made a tooling plate and milled the bottom of a ww bed to create a fixture for a WW headstock. That way I can use my latch plates and also get rid of my filing rest. Now I can't figure out why I still own a WW milling attachment.

I am putting the indexer into next year's budget.
 

Kevin W.

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Hello Michael, i am aware Lee Valley sells measuring tools, as i work for them.I have only seen vernier calipers like what you have described, not micrometers.Were these perhaps a limited item?
I remember a few years back they sold a micrometer, but it was not electronic.
:cool::cool:
 

Ansomnia

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veritas said:
Hello Michael, i am aware Lee Valley sells measuring tools, as i work for them.I have only seen vernier calipers like what you have described, not micrometers.Were these perhaps a limited item?
I remember a few years back they sold a micrometer, but it was not electronic.
:cool::cool:
Veritas, that was a typo error I made - should have written calipers. I imagine someone can easily use the same chip on a micrometer to allow it to do fractions conversion but I haven't seen one here yet.

My point was the use of the built-in fraction conversion capability and how fractions can be awkward to convert to decimal measurement.

My other method is to use my Mac laptop - it has a unit conversion program.


Michael
 

David Robertson

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So Jerry... how about sharing how you make wheel cutters in 15 min with 4 cuts:???:
 

Kevin W.

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I actually wish Lee Valley would carry a better line of measuring tools.But i guess it is more of a woodworker, craft store.Neat idea though to have a fraction converter as well.:clap::clap::cool:
 

jjmove

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For what it's worth, I talked to Merritt's today, and they said for every one Metric Sherline lathe they sell, ten English (er, Imperial) versions are sold. DeweyC, did you buy your vertical mill thru the NAWCC clock school? As DeweyC said, I would also highly recommend the NAWCC weekend classes as well as the excellent Field Suitcase Program classes! Jerry, since Taig was mentioned earlier, do you recommend their version over Sherline?

JJ
 

Ansomnia

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DeweyC said:
I KNOW I should let Jerry handle this, but I believe the Sherline DRO is driven by the lead screw, not table position like the "big" DROs. Also, there is no inch/mm conversion. It must be set to agree with the lead screw scaling.…
Dewey, thanks for your comments. I was primarily wondering if the DRO had the ability to make unit conversions. I understand from having spoken to Sherline that it is a useful accessory even with the EMC because it will double-check the input from the controller in case there was a problem with the feed. The EMC will also allow manual operations when you are only making a small number of cuts. So the DRO will confirm the leadscrew travel. Sometimes it's not so easy to get the micrometer or caliper in there.

Jerry's course sounds like just the thing for people like me. I just wished I didn't have to travel so far and take the evenings off as well.

As for Merritt's customer preference, I don't suppose the customers indicated why they picked the Imperial measure setup. Sometimes, folks are just more used to the Imperial system - especially if they are between 35 to 60 years old. We switched to metric in Canada a bit earlier than the US I believe.


Michael
 

Jerry Kieffer

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You are correct in that the Sherline DRO counts handwheel rotations as opposed to measuring table position. This is not a problem as long as you use the DRO as you would use handwheel settings. (Measure in one direction only) However it can be set for Inch or metric readings on either style lathe . I do not use the DRO system because I personally have never had any issues with handwheel settings/readings.

As far as your Milling fixture you should display anything impressive to impress your friends and customers so you have an excuse to raise rates.

Sounds like your having fun and thanks again for the very kind words.

Jerry Kieffer
 

Jerry Kieffer

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The Sherline Taig thing has been beat to death on just about every forum I have visited. The best way to decribe it I think would be like a Ford and Chevy thing. My first mini lathe was a Unimat and then a Taig. At that point I was unhappy and tested one of everything that was available in the US market and for the most part now use Sherline equipment for all Micro Machining. I currently own two Taig Lathes that I use strictly for glass/optic work as they were originally designed for. The quality of construction of both the Taig and Sherline are similar. The Taig is supplied as a very basic unit at a lower price. The Sherline Includes all of the features in the base unit that Taig owners eventually attempt to add through modification at of course a higher price. Both machines are a fair price for what you get. To do the work I wish to do, to the accuracy I wish to do it in a timely fashon, I have found I need the following basic features.

* Variable speed DC motor with high torque at low speed.

* Grade three Headstock bearings or higher with an effective adjustable preload nut

* All axis must be leadscrew controlled with repeatable resettable calibrated handwheels

* The Headstock spindle must except all standard methods of work holding including ww/8mm collets.

* The headstock and Tailstock must be adjustable for alignment IN ALL directions and the tailstock must be REPEATABLE when moved.

* The lathe must have threading capability and be accurate enough to cut threads up to at least 500 TPI.

With the exception of a WW spindle that limits spindle hole size the Taig lathe as it comes from the factory offers none of these features.
On the other hand Sherline offers these features at a lower cost that other quality lathes such as Prazi and Cowells. They also offer a wider line of accessories than any other brand that I am aware of. Since my personal allegiance is to performance and not brand, I use what works best with the least amount of effort.

Jerry Kieffer
 

jjmove

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Jerry,

Well said...thank you...I am now convinced which direction to go. Especially since I read a comment on the MB some time ago that you actually use your Sherline to turn balance staffs. I had been told by many people that the Sherline did not have the needed accuracy to do this (in fact, I believe they referred to the Sherline as a "hobby" tool), but apparently they were wrong. Thanks again.

JJ
 

Jerry Kieffer

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Very briefly the tooth load radius of an existing wheel is measured by comparision to a standard such as the end of a Pin Gage under magnification. A Endmill is then selected with the same radius. Once the tooth spacing and height are measured both sides of the cutter can be machined in a mill using the correct Endmill with the correct radius. This assures the proper cutter radius and simplifies accurate machining of the cutter profile. The cutter is machined from 1/4" square Brand Name A-2 drill rod and then hardened/tempered. Very easy to demonstrate but difficult to cover all bases by description on a forum such as this. If you miss a couple of points you can cause someone who may use it a lot of grief. Seminars covering all aspects of the process including demonstrations takes about an hour. If you need more info you may contact me off list.

Jerry Kieffer
 

David Robertson

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Thanks Jerry..

I have seen this technique described in some other venue (perhaps by you) in enough greater detail that I think I have the idea.

As I recall, the angle of the blank during milling and the offset in the cutter holder during use are all critical factors:???:? Am I remembering correctly. I have some material put away somewhere that I will have to find.

I wish I could be in one of your seminars someday. Perhaps you will get to central Texas for a class sometime!!

Thanks again..
 

DeweyC

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Yes, I did purchase my Mill from the school. It is one of the ways to support the school.

To clarify Jerry's and my comments on how the DRO works, the Sherline Access. Guide includes a special notice that emphasizes that the DRO will not switch between inch/mm in use. It must be initialized to match the pitch of the leadscrew.

IOW, if you have an inch leadscrew, you initialize it to inch, if metric initialize it to metric. But you cannot use it to convert a metric reading to an inch reading.

As I understand it, it is simply displaying the hand wheel markings on a digital display and provides not other functions that are found on DROs like on my Sony mounted on my large mill.

As for the hobbyness of the Sherline, go back and look seriously at the work shown in the book Tabletop Machining. BTW, you will find some of Jerry's work highlighted in that book if you look.

BTW, I have told watchmakers interested in machining to buy this book for years. I have found no horological books (not Levin and not certainly not Fried) that ever discussed the basic principles of precision setups. They will all tell you to use WW milling attachment but offer no guidance on how to ensure it is properly setup. No wonder watchmakers think machining requires 5/20 vision and genetically determined dexterity.

Almost everything I know about lathes and mills can be traced to the two Sherline books and the Argus series of books. The rest can be traced to Roy Hovey. Today, we have an excellent program of instruction at the NAWCC School which sharpens the learning curve considerably for those who take advantage of it.
 

MuensterMann

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Another consideration is (from Sherline website): Most of our cutting tools, like center drills, are manufactured in a fractional size. If you have a metric machine with metric holders, like collets or end mill holders, you will need to order fractional holders to accommodate our cutting tools.

Not exactly sure what one must buy and if it is a big deal or not.
 

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