Weekly update: Year 3 week 12: Xen and the art of lathe maintenance

Before anyone says anything yes I know Zen is not spelled like that, Xen is the alien world in the computer game Half Life, yes I am a geek.

Apologies if I get technical this week, I have some diagrams and photos of things too along with the usual pen images of what I am working on.

* pen making

Last weeks pens I managed to finish off, there is still some marks on the internals of the ink windows but I am going to resand them tomorrow. If you remember the orange one which is made out of Brooks Warm PM is the one which I did mid mental breakdown and refused to give in no matter how much went wrong with it, and a lot did. This one I am going to open a raffle which will be available to anyone over seas, on a variety of different platforms so I can reach as many people as possible and I am going to donate the proceeds to [Mind](https://www.mind.org.uk) which is a uk mental health charity. That is as soon as I can figure out the financial logistics and how to make it work, any advice would be great.

The other pens in that initial picture, [an alternate picture you can see here](https://i.imgur.com/pJ2Wrzq.jpg) are going towards stock for the London Pen show in October. I am making a showing there, it seems to be a semi regular thing for me now. Pop along say hi, even if you don’t buy anything its always cool to meet people.

I made some new blanks in the week. Some odd mixes of colours, it was just me playing around, some of them came out really [well](https://i.imgur.com/BlDt4Xn.jpg) . I really like the yellow, white and green one.

My wife commented the other day saying that I don’t tend to make pens that are the same and that when people choose a design they may want another pen of exactly the same design. As I shape things all by hand this is incredibly tough but she says that it is a sign of quality. I just, well, I get really bored making the same pens over and over again, I am not a machine and well if I see something in a material that I want to come out in the pen I will make slight alterations to the basic design so I can get this detail to the forefront. However I can see her point and with that in mind what I am doing this week is I am going to make a bunch of stock pens and try to make them as identical as I can, just to prove to myself and others that I can do it. [Here is the work so far](https://i.imgur.com/qhdo8oJ.jpg). The bits on the bottom that look off are just so I have some sacrificial material if I have to put the live centre against the bottom of the pen when shaping it. The one laying horizontal doesn’t count that one is a Zeus for a client.

* Lathes

[Here is a basic Diagram of a lathe.](https://i.imgur.com/Ajmd8le.jpg) Specifically my lathe.

So there are a bunch of things to remember when using a lathe, firstly you can strip it down so that all the gears are removed and all you have is the chuck mount and the bed. If you ever need to do this however something has gone drastically wrong. I have had to do this.

A while ago I took my eye off the ball for a few seconds and the tool post went crashing into the chuck. An alarm sounded and I smashed that emergency stop button like my life depended on it. What followed was a very panicked stripping down of the lathe. When I turned on the lathe once I had freed it of the jam I found the lead screw no longer spun. This is what moved the tool post back and forth in the auto feed mode. Panic panic panic. Phone Warco who supplied my lathe, discovered there is a sacrificial pin in the lead screw to stop damage to it and the gear box it is connected too. If your lead screw stops spinning check this pin, on my lathe it Is situated where the lead screw goes into the gear box under the chuck. I had to hit mine out with a hammer and very small screw driver, they are quite snug, also they are cheaper to replace than a whole lead screw.

The next problem I had was that the gears were chattering. This was sorted by opening up the gear cover box and checking to make sure the gears were spinning without wobbling. In the centre of each gear is a removable axle, if everything is lined up and straight yet you still get the annoying chattering, take the gears off and check to see if this axle is bent. If it is bent it will cause the gears to wobble as they spin and clash against each other. Still replacing the axle is cheaper than replacing the gears.

The latest problem actually has some photos. So I noticed that recently the tool post seemed to occasionally jump forward in a tilting action, snagging with the work piece. This has caused things to break (like in the orange pen I am raffling for charity), and has caused tenons to become uneven, which is just.. well, it’s bloody annoying. Out comes the tool box, off comes the tool post to see what’s up. Well, I found the problem, one of the t screws that hold the tool post down to the cross slide has got its threads stripped, possibly my own fault, [here is the stripped one next to the good one](https://i.imgur.com/Ub0kXRJ.jpg), that would allow for the annoying movement. Luckily I had some studding that was the same thread as the nut and I had a spare nut, happy days, I could make this work. I am good at breaking things which is handy because it means I am good at fixing things too. [Here](https://i.imgur.com/uXcJOVI.jpg) is the new part next to the old. These fit into the troughs on the cross slide [like so](https://i.imgur.com/ZrjouPK.jpg). Only problem, is on the new part as it is not a locking nut in the trough it will spin as I tighten the top nut, easy fix, wedge something between the side and the nut to jam it in place, I used a screw I had laying around. With that all in place I was able to put the tool post back on and I was back in [action](https://i.imgur.com/fYIl61a.jpg).

Other than that, lube often, lube makes a happy lathe.

Wow that was a long one.

Anways take care and stay safe.

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