My flycutter arrived today as expected. I see what "Lefty" was trying
to tell me, but must admit the finish I got on even a piece of trashy
pine was quite impressive. I see no reason to throw good raw materials
under it until I shim the column, and that's a little more than I can
get into tonight.
Harold, for sweeping the table, do you have a preference between a test
indicator and a drop indicator?
FWIW, I made my first real use of the Baker DTI tonight, and continue to
like it (much) better than the other import I have. If pressed to find
fault, I suppose the dial is a little smaller than I might like.
Is a "drop" indicator the type that measures linear distance (what I would
call a "plunge" indicator)? If so, use the test indicator. While a plunge
can be used, the DTI is the standard tool for sweeping the table, and
squaring the vice.
I'd recommend using 1-2-3 blocks for sweeping the table. You can use the
table surface, but it's much faster to use the blocks as you don't have to
worry about smashing the needle into each t-slot.
I've always preferred a DTI, which is generally easier to mount. No problem
using anything that measures well as long as you can mount it without
trouble. The one advantage the DTI offers is you can make a setup such
that the indicator always trails off, assuming you spin the spindle in the
proper direction. Because the spindle of long travel type indicators is
fixed at a right angle, that's not possible.
Setting up as I described prevents "stubbing" of the contact when it goes
across the T slots. Try to avoid a setup where the indicator moves around
the circle sideways, but if you must mount it that way, preload the
indicator only enough for a reading. The more the tip has to move when it
crosses slots the worse it will respond to them. You likely know that you
should turn the spindle by hand only, never under power, and turn it slowly
as it goes across the T slots, so you don't disturb the setup, or damage the
Robin made a reasonable suggestion, although I don't like dialing across
anything but the table. It's too easy to find something under the parallel,
such as a minor ding in the table. You work yourself to death, only to find
that the work you've done is not proper. Especially when dialing in a
column that is not adjustable, I'd strongly recommend you use the table
surface, nothing else. That way you know you're not working to defects.
If you prefer to follow Robin's suggestion, follow what I have to say below:
If you're familiar with draw filing, it's not a bad idea to lightly touch
the surface of the table with a single cut file, slightly used. New ones
tend to be too sharp and take metal off where you don't want it removed. A
file without a handle works great-----just place it on the mill table and
drag it towards you somewhat sideways with light palm pressure. The only
thing that will get cut is anything standing above the table surface.
Repeat until the file glides over the table without drag. If there's dings
in the table when you start, you'll feel them--and the feel will be
different when they're gone. Be certain that the file doesn't remove any
metal aside from dings that stand up. If you find signs of metal removal,
use a different file, or flip over the one in use. Often they will be
somewhat bowed and cut on the edges. It's desirable for the entire file to
make contact, so it doesn't cut well. That's the whole idea. Do the
draw filing thing occasionally to keep the table surface in good repair, and
always when you check the table with an indicator.
One thing you can do to ascertain if your table is free of dings, or not, is
to wipe it down well with a clean rag or paper towel, then wipe the surface
with your palm. The slightest dimple will be felt as roughness. Apply
the file as suggested when you find anything like that.
I'm not familiar with the Baker, but if it works for you-----go with it!
I thought you were going to say something like that, but wanted to check
after finding a nice description of tramming that used a drop indicator.
Dumb question: the tip on a DTI is friction fit such that one moves it
to full deflection and keeps pressing?? I was told to do that, and it
works, but it bugs me to apply "large" forces to a precision instrument,
especially while at the end of its travel. Is there a better way to
In one setup, I recognized that I would have parts instead of an
indicator if I had hit the power switch; I didn't do it, but it would
have been easy to destroy it. Then I came very close to snagging it on
a clamp. Shortly after that I bought the Baker, just in case ~:0
I saw Robin's post (thanks!!), but share your concern about a stray chip
or something causing trouble. I do not yet have 1-2-3 blocks, but I do
have some inexpensive but very nice v-blocks that probably would work.
I will probably start with the bare table and try the blocks if I have
I have this in mind for "later". There are a few dings on my table
(they were there when it arrived), but nothing terrible, and to the side
so they do not interefere with where I usually mount my vise. I have
done setups spanning that area, but have been able to avoid them.
Another factor is that I do not trust my current file for this. I need
to get one that is more appropriate and then age it some.
Not with any of the models I've used. While it may appear harsh, it
doesn't seem to do them any harm. I've been using my two B&S BestTest
indicators for years, likely since you was just a kid- :-) -------and
the only problem I've had with either of them is a crystal that has come
loose from age. For lack of a different opinion, I'd suggest they're
intended to be used that way.
Truth be known, using almost anything, including the nice little round block
that I made years ago, when I had access to heat treat and grinding-----is
nothing short of a PITA. The block in question has a short, flat area,
than has a gentle taper on the edges, accompanied with a nice radius, so the
contact glides easily without stubbing. Takes more time screwing around
with it than it does contacting the table, even when I mount the indicator
so it approaches the slots from the side instead of trailing off as I
suggested. When it comes down to the 1-2-3 blocks, I don't really see any
advantage----the indicator still has to climb and drop off edges----although
you do gain the benefit of bridging the center of the table (the T slot),
where you might desire your reading. I simply move over enough so the
spindle CL is on one edge or the other. Works for me, and has for years.
Even being careful, it's hard to avoid the minor dings in tables. A dropped
parallel, a chip getting caught under a vise, even when you're exercised
great care-----it happens. Unlike many, I rely on air for moving chips
off my machine. That doesn't work well when you're set up in your house,
but I've always had the luxury of a dedicated shop. Those of us that have
worked in commercial shops do that pretty much routinely. Air was always
on machines in any job I held, and certainly has been on my machines as long
as I've owned them. You have to exercise some caution, and it's messy,
blowing things where you'd prefer they not go, but it really helps in
keeping things clean where it matters. My favorite method has always been
to blow or wipe things off, then do the palm feel thing---it's a very good
way to know that the table is clean of anomolies.
Again, my pleasure. Hope some of my ramblings are helpful.
Thanks for the confirmation.
I will start that way and look for another approach if it gets ugly.
With a small enough preload and the tip "in tow", I suspect it will work
I was taught to use air, but recently read that it is a bad idea because
it can blow chips where they can damage the machine. It makes sense,
though the machines I cleaned that way are still in use and appear no
worse for the experience - and they were being cleaned with air long
before I got to them. In my case, I have a Ridgid shop vac that
probably dims _your_ lights when I turn it on :) It does a nice job of
getting chips out of my way.
Yep! Machine shops use air. Lots of it! Most machinists are wise enough
to avoid blowing chips into wipers and places where they can do damage.
In all my years in the shop, I saw only one machine that had any chips doing
damage, those on the saddle of a mill. It's pretty obvious that the
builders expect that users aren't a bunch of morons and will apply an air
hose with good judgment, so they're built accordingly.
In all honesty, the only time I hated air around was when I worked as a
precision grinder. You rely on your ears for almost everything when
grinding, so if air hoses are going off constantly, and they were, it's hard
to hear how the work is behaving. Probably made a better grinder of me,
That's the "LAST WORD" kind of indicator, eh Harold?
I seem to recall you had a special place in your, eh, heart was it?
for that brand of indicator.
On your suggestion I purchased a bestest and you were right, it
was a much more sensitive instrument, by nearly a factor of
ten or so.
The one thing I did *not* like about it was the case - the starrette
711 really does come with a very handy case, so all the bits and
pieces don't rattle around inside. The B&S one came with very
handy accessories, but you really can't put them in the case with
the indicator itself for fear of damaging it.
Did B&S ever sell (or do they now) a better case to go with their
OK, harold *is* a cranky geezer (tm).  He has definite peculiarities.
Some make sense, some don't.
However the B&S bestest really, honestly does give ten full size
divisions for every one that shows on the last word. For some
stuff (like dialing in the vise on my milling machine, where the
jaws are bowed enough that even the last word reads a half thou
high on one side, right on in the middle, and again a half thou high
at the other side, it really doesn't matter.
But for setups where one only has a bit of room to indicate, or
it really needs to be set up back to where it was, better than a
thou, the extra sensitivity really is nice.
Now if they could just figure out the case thing....
 Right, be fair here. What poster doesn't fit the cranky geezer
profile at this point. I think it's inherent in the ng title.....
Yep, of all the tools every marketed by Starrett, they owe an apology to all
of us for that sucker.
Mind you, when new, they often are not all that bad, but mine has had
problems time and again, and has been sent back to them at least once. By
sharp contrast, the B&S's have yielded FLAWLESS service.
Yep! Mind you, I'm happy you found that to be the case. I don't like to
recommend things when they aren't supported by my claims. .
My God, did they take advice from Sears and start cutting corners there?
I've owned my two for so many years I don't recall even when I bought them,
but one of them came in a very nice covered box, much like the one my Last
Word came in, with slots for all the accessories. The other, likewise, came
with a box, but a wooden one, with slots for all the accessories. It was
top notch stuff in my estimation. What the hell did they do with yours,
wrap it in wax paper and place it in an old match box?
That's because you aren't using the dressing stick properly. Like the
indicator, you'll come to see that I'm right.
Watch that bullshit, there, Jim. I won't be denied the title I've worked so
hard to acquire. I consider myself the original cranky geezer, and should
rightly be granted the TM. :-)
Basically. The accessories came in a plastic ziplock bag, and the
indicator and one straight lathe toolpost shank came in an injection
molded plastic case, hinged lid. I'll have to haunt ebay to see
what the real case is supposed to look like - or maybe get an empty
starrett case to put it in!
I wouldn't claim that the Last Word is a *good* solution. I said it's the
one I have.
And it's hardly the only example of the old, well-preserved junk that's the
basis of my machining hobby. Now, about getting some time for the hobby...
BTW, I think that being a cranky old geezer is part of the whole old-time
machining weltenschaung. It's part of the appeal. d8-)
There's a lotta cranky geezers here.... you might possibly rate
#2 in line, the first going to robert bastow most likely. In my
mind at least that is justified by the single-minded dedication
you showed after your wife's ebay glass purchase event. What
ever did happen after all the dust settled on that, anyway? Is
that seller still in business?
This on top of the 'right way, wrong way, and *Harold's* way'
attention to shop details! :^)
LOL. I always thought the color case hardening on the starrett
711s was pretty class though.
You should check out the practical machinist board, there's a
huge thread going on about just that topic: setting up and
running a museum. The guy who's set up the Todd Engine outfit
is giving some very interesting comments too.
Oh, yeah, I have *lots* of time to check out another board.
Besides, learning to be a crusty, old-time machinist/curmudgeon is a
solitary activity. Normally it requires decades of working in a dimly
lighted machine shop and sniffing sulfur oil while cutting your fingers from
time to time on sharp chips and lathe bits that you didn't remember were
still in the toolpost.
I have to compress it by working at being anti-social at home and work. It's
a full-time job in itself.
On the other hand, Jim, the Starrett rules are heads and shoulders
above the B&S.
When I want to measure anything longer than 6" with my B&S rule, I have
to make a scratch on the work at the end point of the rule, move the
rule to that point, and then read it. And if the workpiece is, say,
15" long, I have to do it again! I hate to put those scratches in the
work, and I do think that the accuracy may suffer by it. My Starrett
rule is a full 18" long, so I can measure more pieces without moving
the rule! Wasn't that a good idea!
B&S for indicators, Starrett for rules.