Quite often I need a part or have to machine something the old fashioned way because my funds are limited and I cannot afford a mill or lathe. The main tools I work with are a 3/4 hp drill press, 2 wheel grinder, tap and die set, jigsaw, hacksaw, dremel, caliper, and your other basic hand tools. Just the other day I found a wood cutting blade in my jigsaw works better at cutting 1/8" aluminum than the metal cutting blade I had just purchased.
I've never taken a machine shop class and basically have learned from books and online.
So could we share some tips and tricks we have learned just working with different things and maybe learn there is an easier way aside from purchasing an expensive piece of machinery or test equipment or part?
1. Use a clear piece of plastic (baseball card sleeve works well) for transferring hole patterns of parts.
2. Always using a punch/set to mark center holes. This saves so much time from having to start over from off-center holes.
3. If you do not have the right size drill bit to drill a hole just the right size for a shaft so that it turns freely, drill the hole to the size that almost fits but is still to tight. Then use a piece of shaft the same size you need, grind a flat edge so that it is half round. Make sure your edges are clean and then use that to drill your hole out. I know this works on aluminum using a steel shaft, not sure of other metals.
4. Get you a set of calipers even its a cheap one, they make everything so much easier!
5. Old roller-blades and VCR heads are great sources of bearings.
6. Need a bearing sleeve but can't machine the aluminum? Use plastic cutting boards, acrylic, or rubber. I used an old rubber printer roller the other day, removed the steel rod, drilled the center out with a wood bit the same size as the roller-blade bearing.
7. VCR heads also make great robot arm joints and very little work required!
8. Old CPU power supplies make great test power supplies while working on a project.
Please share any tips you have!