Question about lathing and milling stop motion parts.

Hi all Iam new here and like everyone else Iam fascinated by stop motion animation and this site has a ton of helpful info in pointing me in the right direction on a dream project of mine. Iam currently in the process of looking for a metal working lathe to learn how to make armatures, I have a mill already. What Iam trying to find out is whats a good size lathe that would be good for a beginner like myself to start making armatures on, also what kind of metal is used to make them, Iam assuming something light like aluminum.

Thanks

Zaid

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I love Nick's props... very, very nice work!  I don't have a lathe, and it's a bit down the list for me, as I don't do collet joints... MUCH more helpful (since you have a mill) is a metal cutting bandsaw, like this...

http://www.harborfreight.com/horizontal-vertical-metal-cutting-band...

I have two of these, one from the mid-80's that never cut perfectly straight down, but works great in a vertical position for doing large radius cuts in aluminum, and a new one just a few months old. 

The stands they come with nowadays are trash, you're better off to build your own from wood, but the saw is worth it's weight in gold.

I like Dave's ball jig, almost exactly like mine... it's really all you need. Drilling holes into balls was one of the more mysterious processes when I was young and trying to do it on my own, but since this simple style of jig, it's really not even a chore and they all come out perfect.  My first jig was crazy stupid until I stopped trying to re-invent the wheel!

I've got Tom's book... Dave is right, it gets into collet joints, universal joints, and takes a pretty comprehensive approach to things.  A good VIDEO of basic armature machining, would be, IMO, very helpful, as walking through pictures in a book can gloss over some important points.  I also bought one of Tom's human armatures made almost entirely of swivel joints... it was very inexpensive (I truly don't know how he made money on them) and was a nice education in that sort of joint construction.

Regards,

Jim Arthurs

Ok, but my question - are the Chinese tabletop mills really unsuitable for making armatures? I think that's what Sven got, and he has turned out some really great armatures with it. I'm pretty sure a few other guys on the forum are using them too, and I've never heard any of them complain that the machines aren't up to the job. I ought to check - it's possible Sven got a Sherline of something, I don't remember. 

Does anybody know what kind Dave Hettmer is using? He braced it with some steel stock to stiffen it, I suppose that's a lot cheaper and more practical than getting a mill the size of a Buik and needing to get it trucked in and have an electrician install 440 wiring for it? 

I got a Micro Mark-branded SIEG SX2, which is one of the Chinese things.  For the most part it satisfies my needs, but the Z axis is disappointing.  The brace helps.  Now that I know what to look for, I think there are better mini mills out there and I would have spent a bit more $$$ to avoid the limitations on this one.

A friend recommended getting a Bridgeport, but I simply don't have the space for something like that. Leaving one in the unheated, uninsulated garage was not an option here in Michigan, and bringing one into the basement would have been impossible.

Tom Brierton has a Sherline.  It's in his unheated garage, but the garage is finished and sealed from the weather, so it can survive the Chicago winters.

Trust me Iam all for using the best tool for the right job, but if someones gonna give me a harbor freight lathe for free Iam not gonna turn it away just for the fact I can use it to learn on lol. From the little research Ive done into the Harbor freight lathes Iam not sure if the mills have it or not but probably do, is that they have plastic gears. Also Ive seen people make upgrade kits for them by replacing said plastic gears with metal ones, but due to cost of everything I might as well get a older american one. Honestly though I really dont see how a import lathe couldn't due something to suit someones needs, like all tools in my opinion if you know its limitations I believe it will last a long time.Now to another question what do you mean by using a "Brace" for your machine Dave? and what does a Colet Joint look like? Thanks again!!

He posted pictures on some thread around here - I have no idea which one. Maybe if you click on his name to see his profile page you can find them in his pics. 

****

Here ya go: The Trouble With Tramming

No matter the machine you use,the only limitations are the machine and the operator.Practice makes perfect,and as you get more confident in using the machine,the better and faster you will get at using one.Some of you might one day decide to get yourself a bridgeport,but the table top mini mills do their job for the most part.And no...you can't BEAT FREE,even if what you get needs some TLC and some tooling up,you still come out ahead.Especialy if it is a machine you use regularly,but if it just suits in your garage gasther dust and rust,then it nothing more than a boat anchor or really big paper weight.

Ahh I see the brace now, now Iam assuming the braces purpose is to "brace" the mills head no? sorry if that sounds redundant lol. Well good news for me is I believe I have found someone that is going to show me the ropes on how to use a lathe, I cant wait!

It's to stiffen it, so the upright column doesn't flex as much. It's already stiffer for example than a drill press, but still has a bit of flex in it that can cause problems. So you brace it up to minimize flexing as much as possible. 

Serves pretty much the same purpose as bracing up the platform of a drill press by jamming a piece of wood under it so it can't flex and cause the drill to walk across the surface of a ball or other part. 

At least that's what I understand - admittedly I don't know a lot about it and I might have that wrong in some way. 

Ahh gotcha, makes alot more sense now.

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