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By Retired

A few years ago I upgraded my Graduate lathe and also my Lorch Schmidt metal lathes adding a 3 phase inverter rated 1.1kw motor to each; both lathes are powered through a single Huanyang 2.2kw VFD. These 2.2kw VFD's run a single 1.1kw motor without problems. The VFD is mounted in a wooden ventilated enclosure to keep dust from it and one heavy duty 3 phase rotary switch for power plus a toggle switch for signal selects which lathe is to be run; only one lathe at a time can be run; the motors are twins allowing this to be done leaving the VFD parameters alone. The system has worked without any problems at all other than lots of initial problems associated by "cross talk" on the signal cable which I overcame by rerouting and using CAT6 cable. A bright warning light was added to let me know the VFD was powered up.

Anyway; a few months ago I bought two very old coach lamps from Rufforth Auto Jumble in York these requiring lots of work. The lamps were very rough and when I opened one up I found the lamp reflectors to be badly corroded and these reflectors refused to polish up so involved quite a bit of head scratching; I could have sprayed them silver but I'm a sucker for punishment always doing projects the hard way so wondered if I could make make new reflectors; to really complicate matters each lamp had three totally different reflectors meaning two of each style were needed?

I've been aware of metal spinning for over 50 years but never attempted it so I did lots of research. There are many YouTube videos covering metal spinning so I'll not go into a lot of detail; the spinning tool has to be extremely robust to withstand the force applied to its handle in order to give the necessary leverage; so much force in fact I cracked a rib which slowed me down a bit. With everything set up and the wooden pattern turned I destroyed half a dozen aluminium circles before making positive progress; it took about a week for me to grasp the basics but this wasn't full days by any means perhaps only two hours each session. I changed the profile of the bottom reflector to give more ventilation around the brass lamp holders

I can now not only spin metal (aluminium so far) but I successfully spun the required six reflectors much to my absolute delight. My best friend is secretary of his local woodturning club and he tells me members tend to "turn round and brown"? I'm adding this to say metal spinning can be done not only as in my case to spin reflectors but now I'm hoping to incorporate both metal spinning and woodturning into artistic turned items assuming the weather ever warms up enough.

I hope this is of interest.

Kind regards, Colin.

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By TFrench
Really interested in this - it's something I'd love to have a go at. Have you got any pictures of the toolpost and tool?

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By AndyT
I can remember watching a film at school showing a professional doing spinning, making it look quick and magical.
I've also watched This Old Tony on YouTube try and mostly fail. It must feel very satisfying to have cracked it!
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By n0legs
That is brilliant =D>
I had a little go when I was an apprentice on some brass to make a flagpole balltopprettythingy. It was bloody hard on the hands as I remember.
The lamps look great (homer)
By sunnybob
I'm pretty safe in claiming to be the only person here who actually worked in a metal spinning shop for 3 years. i didnt do much spinning personally, but kept the three who did supplied with the raw materials and made sure they were kept with their noses to the lathes all day long.

Youve done very well to teach yourself to make that ali reflector with the straight tube section. Did you anneal it at any time? if not, then even more well done.

The main tool was a 3" diameter wooden pole about 3 foot long, with a 1/2" bronze rod (again 3 foot long) stuffed into it with about 18" protruding. But it sounds like you held it too low. It should be tucked tight into the armpit for any major effort, not against your ribs.
I saw one spinner who had to stand on a box and lean over 30 degrees sideways at full stretch to get enough force to move a 22 gauge stainless steel blank.

the lubricant was large bars of green fairy soap, liberally applied to the spinning blank in between every effeort.
By novocaine
that is rather impressive.
I won't show my pitiful attempts that haven't really amounted to anything but a few bits of ragged brass. I feel it will soon be time to try again.
well done.
This is really interesting and the results on the lamp reflectors are superb, well done Sir. Like others here I've only seen metal spinning on film & video, never tried it myself.

Like sunnybob I too wondered if you annealed your ali blanks, and if so, how often (during each shaping - flat blank to finished shape)? And like others too, I would also like to see the setup & tools used.

I don't have a wood turning lathe but a small (Chinese) metal turning lathe. Doubt if I'll ever try it but very interesting non the less. Thanks for posting.
By Retired

Thanks for asking TFrench; I can go better by adding this link showing the entire project in great detail; you'll find the tool rest and tools used etc. I hope it helps. ... ng.289525/

It's good to hear from you too Rorschach. Yes I'm as busy but now spend time on the above forum. I miss UHM forum but couldn't continue posting or adding threads because a number of members were openly breaking forum rules by extreme swearing and not playing fair back stabbing other members especially in the SG; I did complain to the mods and even openly complained on the forum but unfortunately the rules were not enforced and I simply cannot condone such behaviour hence I walked away; I'm unsure if things have improved on UHM. I believe it was you Rorschach who kindly gave me lots of information whilst I was installing our coffered ceiling; in particular excellent advice about Wallrock liner and its adhesive.

Thanks Andy; yes it does look very easy until tried for the first time then it is difficult and frustrating; the tool roughs up the surface resulting in torn metal and the tool being dragged in but this is the learning curve all metal spinners must go through? Once I learned to keep the tool moving and to "strike" quickly at the start I improved; at first I enjoyed glimpses of highly polished aluminium where I was spinning correctly but then would linger and rough up the surface; as I progressed the rough surfaces diminished to the point I could gently go over the rough surface smoothing it out; lots of lubricant helps at first but as experience is gained a wipe over with a wet lubricating cloth is sufficient; it really comes down to not giving up whilst ensuring personal safety because it's rather like spinning a circular saw blade and if it breaks free it's not going to be nice standing in its way.

Thanks n0legs, I can fully understand the problems you encountered and perhaps spinning brass as a first attempt at metal spinning was a bit ambitious; fortunately I've only spun the more friendly aluminium which is a lot more forgiving.

SunnyBob; what wonderful work you're doing; I'm mightily impressed by your skill and impeccable attention to detail; my lovely wife would appreciate having me make for her the pretty owls; bear and boxes so you've fired up my imagination for later on in the year when or if the weather warms up. Thanks for your compliment; I didn't do any annealing at all but I did use eventually suss out I was using the wrong grade of aluminium; I had bought a sheet of scrap aluminium from our local scrap yard to experiment with and it was a disaster the aluminium being much too hard; the reflector with the parallel sides was challenging; my first attempt produced a washer as the center broke free but I'm as stubborn as they come and wasn't going to be beaten. My tool handles are pitch pine at 2" diameter and the full tool length at 42" but 3" diameter is the correct size although the Graduate dictates only smallish diameter circles can be spun. Yes with hindsight my ignorance resulted in a cracked rib just for the reasons you describe; I have the Graduate on 3" high raising blocks because I'm 6' tall which is very comfortable for woodturning but too high for metal spinning so as you kindly mention I need to make a wooden platform to stand on allowing the tool handle to rest on my upper chest; I heard and felt the loud crack followed by a searing chest pain when I fractured my rib; it took at least five minutes for the pain to ease before I could carry on spinning but now only using my hands and arms keeping the tool handle clear of my stick insect like body; I'm only just over ten stone in weight so have no padding for applying heavy pressure to tool handles. Stainless steel will demand a great deal of leverage in order to form it and also plenty of lathe power; it's common for a metal spinning lathe to have 10hp. I've seen novices on YouTube trying to metal spin without adding lubricant at all hence of course they always failed.

Thanks novocaine; please have another go at metal spinning but leave brass alone and buy a bit of correct grade aluminium then I'm sure with patience and determination you'll succeed; my metal spinning learning curve was spread out over two weeks but really proved to be less than a week because of endless interruptions and being wanted elsewhere; had I been left in peace I'd have been successfully metal spinning in a couple of days; aluminium is a lot cheaper than brass to destroy but like I did you could practice on any pieces of aluminium you can lay your hands on.

Thanks for your kind comments AES. By using the correct grade aluminium I found I didn't need to do any annealing at all simply doing the spinning from start to finish leaving the work in the lathe. Unfortunately your small Chinese metal lathe would burn it's motor out at the very first attempt if used for metal spinning; my Graduate is upgraded to 3 phase 1.5hp through a VFD but in overload condition the VFD increases it's power up to 50% more and even with this extra power when I made my first attempts at metal spinning and the tool was roughing up the surface I could stall the lathe so the more powerful the lathe the better.

I'll add a few more pictures but as I said earlier I posted the full story on another forum for anyone interested. Although I was a raw novice; I've been using lathes for over 50 years being taught as an apprentice on big industrial metal lathes and at one point I owned a Colchester Triumph but now own a smaller very rare floor standing Lorch Schmidt metal lathe; I also own a Record Power DML 24" woodturning lathe; I can't have too many lathes and have owned up to five lathes at a time. I did however enjoy considerable help and advice from the owner of a metal spinning company I emailed enquiring if they would kindly sell me aluminium circles of the correct metal spinning grade aluminium; this gentleman replied inviting me to his works and I was treated like royalty by him as he took me under his wing showing me every aspect of metal spinning with a comprehensive tour of his works which I found to be truly fascinating; I offered to pay full price for anything in order to get me started with metal spinning but he was exceptionally generous not only giving up his time so freely but very kindly indeed giving me ten aluminium circles about 9" diameter; lubricant and even a well used proper metal spinning tool; I was allowed to watch metal spinning first hand looking over the spinners shoulder so yes I was a raw novice but I'm a very quick learner too; I've never been a time waster and this gentleman and I hit it off right from the start; anyway rather than keep repeating myself if you are interested please read the story at the link above.

Thanks once again everyone for your interest and kind comments. I must mention metal spinning is addictive once all the mistakes have been made and the basics grasped. If only our winters didn't last for nine months each year I could really enjoy myself; like SunnyBob I enjoy doing lots of different projects tackling things as strange as making my own bespoke wire wound potentiometers; I enjoy leaving my comfort zone.

Kind regards, Colin.

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Home made metal spinning tool rest costing nothing made from offcuts.

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My metal spinning and cutting tool. I was generously given one used complete tool and two tool blades; I turned pitch pine handles for the two blades; spinning tools at 42" over full length; 2" diameter but would be better at 3" diameter for serious metal spinning.

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First attempts using aluminium sheet bought from scrap yard; this was corroded and of the wrong grade but cost little for the experience it afforded me; I learn from my mistakes not from what I already know and I never know when to quit just being downright stubborn however long it takes. Failure isn't an option.

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Metal spinning can be complicated; here's where I needed to spin a shallow dish as center of one of the reflectors but a bit of thought sorted the method needed.

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Crude mounting method but it worked perfectly allowing the dished section to be successfully spun.

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With the dish profile spun I could then remount on another wooden pattern and complete the reflector.

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I needed to determine the profile of the original reflectors and this is how I did it then used these paper patterns to woodturn the formers needed.
By sunnybob
Buy a large bar of the roughest coarsest soap you can find. They used bars that were a foot long and about 2" square. As the metal is spinning rub the bar across it from the centre out. You will find it stays on the metal better than any oil as it lodges in the tiny grooves.

We used to spin all metals from 24 gauge brass right up to 20 gauge mild steel, all by hand. Those men were TOUGH! I was offered the job but could not face the prospect of my working life being facing a dirty wall (the soap used to spray up it). I used to linish the spot lamp housings though, again all by hand and everything we did would be instantly banned in this day and age. On a production run they would remove the finished article and insert the new disc without even turning the lathes off.

The most difficult we did were aluminium sampling flasks for the milk marketing board.
A tube 7" high by 2" diameter, spun from a blank disc, necked in and then a curled over rolled lip sized to fit a rubber bung. A THOUSAND at a time! The guy hated that job with a vengance. I had to take the part formed blanks away to be annealed three times during the process.
Oh what fun :roll: :shock:
Thanks very much for your detailed reply Retired (Colin), and for the link to the full post "on the other side". Fascinating stuff.

And yes, I "knew" that my little Chinese lathe isn't powerful enough, but it's an interesting process which, as said before, I've only seen on film before. I doubt I'll ever have a go myself, but who knows?

And thanks for your reminiscences too sunnybob, again very interesting.

Not really thread drift (just for once from me!) but it's only recently that I saw a TV or video piece about a firm making something called "the Gamekeeper's Teapot" (or some similar name). I can't remember where/when I saw it (maybe via a link on here?) but it was all about a small firm in, I think, Scotland, who make the above things all themselves. It consists of 2 "pots", one fits on top of the other, the lower has space for a small fire (bit of dry grass, newspaper, etc), with the upper pot holding the water for the brew. All spun and I THINK (only think) from a fairly thick gauge ali. They annealed the half-finished pots at least once after start of spinning though. The film showed the whole process, including the owner's wife packing the things for export all over the place. Including in the packing was a couple of sheets of old newspaper - "for the new owner's first brew".
By Retired

Thanks sunnybob. I too wouldn't want to spend a lifetime staring at a bare wall whilst wrestling with a long and heavy metal spinning tool spinning metal to shape; as a hobby it's fascinating and enjoyable but the honeymoon would soon dwindle having to do it for a living. I've been offered a job but politely declined after all now 71 years young I've done more than my share for the government.

7" high x 2" diameter must have proved real fun to spin from a blank circle; a thousand of these would be dreary but the company I looked around takes in orders for many times this and each time I've visited the spinners have been working flat out; a fork truck was continuously moving items around and loading/unloading vehicles; the whole works were buzzing with activity. I've held down some awful jobs in order to pay the bills; being a production glass fiber laminator on bonus wasn't fun especially during hot days after adding hardener to 5 gallons of resin. I also worked for a short time at a chemical company servicing acid pumps; it was horrible and shortly after I left the building I worked in exploded; apparently a worker was smoking whilst going up in a lift; the building produced nitro benzene; I used to stink of the stuff. As you say Oh what fun.

I too have the correct metal spinning lubrication you mention; please see the picture below.

I've just been in the workshop for half an hour removing the chassis from a Barker 88 vintage valve radio; I had the fan heater on but it was too cold to continue and a quick check of the chassis showed it to be a lot different to the service sheets I have; one of these days a job will go straightforward but I'm not holding my breath.

Good idea Phil using pewter to be spun; I'm unsure as to cost but it's a nice soft metal especially for a novice to have a go at spinning.

You're very welcome AES; I'm pleased you had a look at the full thread. I used to have a Clarke 300m metal lathe kindly bought for me by Bron to use until I sorted out a bigger lathe; I;'d just sold my big Colchester lathe; I dialled in a light cut of 60 thou and thought it's not a bad little lathe until it expired in a flash and a cloud of smoke burning out both circuit board and motor. 60 thou cut on the Colchester was a scratch; I should have read the instructions which did state 10 thou maximum cut. It would be no use repairing this lathe back to original with the circuit board alone costing around £100; I threw the motor and circuit board away; next it was fitted with a countershaft and industrial rated Servo motor; it could then take a 60 thou cut; my fault entirely having been used to operating big industrial lathes I killed the little blighter.

This is possibly the thing you are thinking about;

Kind regards, Colin.

Metal spinning lubricants.

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New countershaft being grafted in to my Clarke lathe.

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Not cheap but then burning out a weak motor and circuit board isn't cheap either so I did something about it. The lathe sold immediately it was advertised and the new owner was delighted with it.
Yup retired, that's the product I was talking about ("Ghillie Kettle" - knew it was something like "Gamekeeper" - too much lady Luverly's Chatter ) but the video you linked to was much shorter than the one I saw. But thanks anyway.

My own little lathe is a bit different to the Clark (there are several versions, even if all come out of the same 1 or 2 or so factories in China). Mine's badged "Einhell" and was made in the Chinese "Red Dog" factory ('onest)!

Mine will happily do a 20 thou (inch) cut in MS, but I wouldn't ask it (or expect to get) 60 thou. I did my apprenticeship in the RAF and we had Colchester lathes too ("Student" models) but I have neither the space nor budget for such things these days.

By TFrench
Thanks for the reply Colin, really useful info on the other thread. Something I'm definitely going to try when I get my wadkin lathe up and running. I'm a lagger and tin-basher by trade so I've got access to all the aluminium I need!

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