As part of a larger project, I had to dill eight aluminum plugs to fit inside the carbon fiber rods that I was using. The best solution would have been to use my lathe and drill from the tailstock, but my alignment there was fairly poor and I needed another way to do it. Lining up each piece of aluminum rod would have been a pain, so I instead made a fixture that I could line up once, then put the same type of plug in over and over.
Perhaps this isn’t a new concept, and I’ve in fact made something similar for golf balls and ping pong balls, but what was novel (at least to me) was the way that I made three cuts to allow it to act like a spring. Generally, if I was trying to attach a shaft like this, I would just cut a slot in one side through the hole, then clamp it down with a screw or otherwise, but since the entire thing was in a vise, I had to put the other two cuts on the back to allow everything to flex. Check out how it was made in the video below:
Sometimes it’s hard to justify making something to make something else, but, especially when there are multiples involved, this can be quite beneficial. Someone told me once that you should spend half your time making fixtures and half your time actually making the final product. I could be remembering what he said incorrectly, and the ratio seems a little high for fixtures, but considering my natural instinct is to not make them, at least I can try to meet somewhere in the middle. And if you’re wondering what these cylinders eventually went on, check out this quadcopter camera rig!
On two related notes:
- For another jig example, here’s one for drilling holes in golf balls.
- On that golf ball jig, you may notice I’m using a different vise – a cheap drill press vise from the hardware store. I’m absolutely thrilled with my new milling machine vise (Amazon), and probably should have bought one to begin with. After spending quite a bit of money on the mill, however, I didn’t initially pull the trigger!