SwarfRat Enterprises, L.L.C.




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Here's our second offering of a great project for anyone, requiring only a little bit of stock, novice-level skills and a fun afternoon in the shop!

Having a dial indicator mounted on the bed of the lathe is extremely handy for so many operations, as is a micrometer carriage stop, so we've designed this quick-release clamp, the basics of which will work for either purpose!

All the work on the actual clamp is done on the mill, (except for the quick release stud -- more in a bit) and aside from fasteners, the only material you'll need is five inches (actually less,) of 1" x .625" square aluminum stock. 


A Dial indicator clamped to the bed in this manner will allow you to advance the carriage exactly the desired distance, easily measured in .001" increments!

Using the clamp to hold a modified micrometer setup on the inboard side of the carriage will allow you to set a stopping point for your operations, again with the precision and repeatability of .001"!

For this use, I modified an old micrometer I got in a package deal from eBay.

(I needed the 7-8" mic that was being auctioned, and the seller included 4 or 5 little 1" mics along with it.  Most were badly used, as was this little guy, but with some quick hack-saw work, a little precision turning on the mini lathe and a bit of polishing, the actual measuring screw was removed from the old frame and installed on this slightly modified clamp body!  (click here if you'd like to see the steps involved...)

It works beautifully, and provided a precise and solid stopping point for turning functions like making precise flanges and shoulders.  Quite a useful tool!




This is a view of the clamp itself -- as you can see, no biggie.  There are no compound curves or difficult cuts.  It's all nice and square.

If you're worrying about the clamping lever, well, you don't have to make that.  It's from a bicycle seat-post or front-wheel quick-release skewer, slightly modified. 


The axle skewer that I used was off of a garage sale bike I'd bought for another project.  But you shouldn't have to do that. 

If you shop around a bit, you should be able to find a quick-release seatpost clamp in either a bicycle shop, or perhaps a big discount store like Target or the like.  The prices will vary, but with a bit of work you should be able to pick one up for under $10.00.  QR seatpost clamps or wheel skewers need to be the type shown, and not offset like on older bike wheels. 

(If you can't find anything suitable in your area, we do have a limited quantity of the type of lever shown on the picture of the micrometer stop above.  Click Here for more details on this, and/or our optional parts kit for this project. )

The levers all work about the same.  The tightening bolt threads into an aluminum barrel that rides in the off-center hole in the lever arm.  You can replace the skewer with your own bolt, or thread it to your specs.

I made this replacement stud from .250 brass rod, turned and threaded to fit the barrel and the slot in the lever.  The other end was threaded to 1/4x20, to fit the clamp jaw.




Here are the plans for the body of the clamp.


Just click on them to go to a full-page version.

Feel free to copy it from there.





And here are the plans for the jaw.

Again, click on them to get a full-page version.






It goes without saying that this plan is by no means the only way to build a holder like this.  Modify and play around with the design, and let us know how it goes.  Feel free to send any pictures of your efforts if you wish.

I hope you'll find this a fun and rewarding project. 

We'd like to add more projects as time goes by, and we'd love to consider any ideas you might have for useful and fun subjects, so drop us a line!

In the meantime, keep safe, busy and happy!


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