The piece I am making is a cylinder, about 15mm diameter but needed to have a flat down one side. I don't have an end mill to mount in the chuck, so I bolted the cylinder sideways in the 4-jaw and used a normal cutting tool... did a reasonable job (nothing a bit of linishing won't sort out!!). Is there a better way of doing this without buying a milling machine?
You really gotta get a couple decent model engineering books and discover some of the things that you are rediscovering.
The Amateurs Lathe by Sparey is one of the best.
Workholding in the Lathe by Tubal Cain is good, and affordable, Milling Operations in the Lathe , Same author, is one I reccomend getting over a lot of others. Both are part of the "Workshop Practice Series" books. Most of that series of books contain a least a few golden tidbits of information, while some of them are simply outstanding. These two books are in the outstanding catagory,IMO, and can be got for pretty cheap in the brit neighborhood, according to amazon.co.uk.
The prices quoted there for brand new stock are about half the retail prices I pay here in Canada for these books, and if you check out the "used" listings, well sir, I figure they are asking a paltry sum for these, at 3 or 4 pound a copy.
At those prices, I recomend you get Screwcutting in the Lathe, by Martin Cleeve, as well. I don't normally recommend it at the retail prices that I have to pay over here, as it is largely padded out with screwcutting charts that are really only of use to folk with older odder lathes, but it covers the theory of screwcutting well and is a usefull addition at the prices over there.
If you feel the need to splurge, get the George Thomas books, Model Engineers Workshop Manual, and Workshop Techniques. GREAT books!
Given the equipment that you have available - perfectly reasonable.
With similar constraints I soon looked on eBay for a Vertical Slide which fits on the cross slide. Theses are available in both Fixed and Swivel types. Once you have one then your time will be taken up with "making fixtures to make tools, to make fixtures, to make tools, to make parts" :))
My Vertical Slide is on the cross slide as much as my quick-change tool post!
I've already got the screwcutting and milling-in-the-lathe (sounds like a nice village...) books - probably should read them again.
Isn't it a "shock" to the cutting tool when the cylinder meets it - since the length of the cylinder far exceeds the diameter, the majority of the time there is air in front of the cutting tool, until the cylinder swings round to hit it... do I not risk damaging things? Standard of finish was not great as I was reluctant to increase the speed but it's close enough for what I need...
...so to answer the question, looks like I'm a genius!!!
It is a shock, but nothing compared with running the saddle into the chuck jaws or dropping something heavy on the bed :D As long as the tool (HSS?) is sturdy, speed is low and feed is modest, no problem. If you take too big/fast cuts the worst that could happen is the workpiece moves, or the tool tip snaps off - in which case you'll may to start again. Provided the lathe is setup right, the machine won't suffer.
I think I did chip the tool slightly, but can just index it round :) Will look at investing in some different tools - I think the scrappie down the road has hundreds just lying around which I'm sure I could pick up for next to nothing...
Your lucky then. The scrapies round here (not that there are many) have an animal with fangs at the gate (or it could be the owner - hard to tell) playing the "no mate can't come in, health and safety.. mor'n my jobs worth" record.
Don't assume carbide is the be-all and end-all. You can grind HSS tools and tool bits to any shape or cutting angles you need, and they will often give a finer finish. You can also make specials from scratch from silver steel. Shape it in the soft (well softish) condition, harden it, and just hone the edge on.
I always look forward to reading your posts. Some are very detailed and informative, some give a different view on problems which no one else has thought of and some like this, just crack me up. Keep it up.