dice milling project

I mentioned in one of the threads about welding that I was working on my first milling project to learn some basic metal working skills and thought
I'd share it with the group.
I took an introduction to automotive machine shop class this summer at the same community college (NOVA in Manassas VA) where I took my 6 welding classes and I've been learning some basic milling machine operations for the first time in my life.
Though the class had no formal projects, I made up my own project to create a 3" square dice out of 6 pieces of 3/8" aluminum. Here's the finished work:
http://www.newsreader.com/red_dice.jpg
Though you can't tell from the picture, all the sides also have rabbet joints in them to make them interlock with each other. That added yet another level of complexity to my project.
It's powder coated - which is something else I'm learning how to do this summer by finding a old used oven on craigslist and running a 50 amp 220 volt circuit to my garage. I picked up the powder coat starter kit from Eastwood after someone here mentioned it. Running the power to the garage and adding a sub-panel to allow me to support more 220 power tool outlets in my shop ended up costing 6 times what the oven itself cost! :)
The class was mostly an introduction to all the specialized machine tools used for rebuilding engines, and only spent a few hours on the mill and lathe but it had lots of lab time where we could play with anything we wanted. My plan was to spend about half the class working with the mill and half with the lathe (I've never used either before this class) but this project I created took a lot more time than I expected and I ended up spending it all on the mill. I've only got one class left now to start playing with the lathe!
Now I've added a mill and lathe to my "must have some day soon" list. :) Metal working is such fun. Like welding, I don't know why I waited until so late in life to start learning it!
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I feel the same about metalworking. Nice good looking dice. If you had a aluminum capable welder, you may have been able to weld outsides and then mill flush, to make the welds invisible!
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I could easily have used the equipment in the welding lab to weld it into a cube but I wanted it to be purely a milling project so I opted not to do that. I actually like the seams and cap screws!
Here's a 2" dice I made as a welding project. This was done with oxy-acetylene The dots are brazed. It's made out of 18 gauge steel. The holes were drilled, then I welded backing plates to each piece and then filled the holes by brazing. Grinding off the excess got it back to the nice round circle shapes for the dots. (no seams or screews :)
http://newsreader.com/dice.jpg
On the same line of projects, I made a 4" cube out of 3/8" steel with only stick welding. It was done with 7018 rods.
http://newsreader.com/cube.jpg
At a bit over 5 lbs in weight it makes for a serious paper weight.
I also made a 2" cube out of 18 gauge steel with Tig. Don't seem to have a picture of that online. TIG was by far the easiest for me.
Welding a cube is an interesting project because the errors of alignment and distortion tend to add up showing off your mistakes. Welding shut a sealed container is also an interesting task as the hot air tends to want to expand and blow out your weld pool. Nice little projects for testing your skills as a welder and you end up with something fun for you desk in the end.
For the oxy-acetylene class I also made this more complex art-like project....
http://newsreader.com/rosebee.jpg
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Looks very, very cute. I love the handle on that rosebud. Did you have access to a sandblasting machine?
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The school has one (or two maybe?), but I've never used it. I used a wire wheel to clean it up and then clear coated it with some type of clear acrylic spray paint which caused it to turn a darker color in the process.
Getting sand or bead blasting equipment is yet some more stuff on my wish list.
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On 22 Jul 2008 03:36:56 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

40+ years ago I needed an ejector plug for a 4" soil compaction mold. The father of one of the engineers in the company was an amateur machinist he made one for me from 4" OD pipe with end caps welded on then turned and faced to 3.95" Dia. x 5" long. He did a very nice job on it with no visible joint. As a joke, I labelled it "Light Weight Steel" and put it on a shelf in the lab. One day, the company president walked through and noticed it. For the rest of my time with that firm, we had many good laughs over that incident, Bob was real great guy and always got a good laugh out of any practical joke, particularly if he was the fall guy. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
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On 22 Jul 2008 03:36:56 GMT, with neither quill nor qualm, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) quickly quoth:

Cute, and the Miller catalog it's resting on in the pic is a nice photographic touch, Curt. ;)

I reckon so!

That does sound challenging.

I particularly like the thorns on the stem and the BBBBs (ball-bearing bee butts.)
Good show. Carry on.
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wrote:

That is not as fancy looking as your milled and powder coated die, but it has a certain aesthetic pleasantness that is far more satisfying.
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wrote:

I sort of agree--the welded ditty is a bit subtler, and certainly *metallurgically* more inneresting.
To give the brass touch even more oomph, I'd consider ball-milling/drilling the brass spots, to show off some depth to the brass, make them even more "life-like" as dice.
The machined dice were more "in your face", art-deco-ish. Curt, you could put a real pair of dice *inside* the machined version, for those who bother to look inside--or don't get it. :)
I think Curt's got hisself a possible cottage industry, here! Really great.
In the long run, if you were to try to sell these, the machined version would be far easier to make, production-wise, than the welded.
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Very nice, very inneresting concept, well excecuted. I'm sure this would be a hit in Las Vegas/Atlantic city gift shops, etc. The Gambler's Paperweight. You may want to get a design patent on this, much cheaper/easier than utility patents. Poss. even a utility patent.
You mentioned powder coated, but the picture shows anodized.
Must really screw up the floors, tho, when you throw'em.... :)
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If you count the tuition for the course, and all the money I spent on buying various metal working tools (I love having an excuse to buy more tools) and the powder coating equipment you would have to consider that one die to cost about $800. :) Not likely to make much money if I spend that much for each one I make. :)

:)
Yeah, I guess that's a bit confusing. It's powder coated but the name of the powder color is "Anodized Red". It's a color available from Eastwood:
http://www.eastwoodco.com/jump.jsp?itemIDQ43&itemType=PRODUCT
I put that caption on the picture because I sent it in to Eastwood for their web site of customer samples of their colors. On their web site in the section of samples of that color, the caption wouldn't have been so confusing.

:)
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On 22 Jul 2008 02:41:33 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com (Curt Welch) wrote:

Just a small niggle:-
One die, two dice
The next step it to make a set of three or four nested dice in the fashion of the Chinese ball or machinist's cube <G>
regards Mark Rand RTFM
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