More shop made tools from recycled materials – Machinists Jacks

On the tool making side of things I noted while doing some milling of small brass parts that there was a bit of deflection due to the part sticking out unsupported from the end of a collet block. I had seen video on Youtube of various people making machinist jacks to support items being machined and thought I would have a go at making some.

Although I had thought about them over time, I haven’t tried making them before because I didn’t have any suitable material but after watching how one You Tuber went about it, that gave me an idea. 

Last year, my 20+ year old mitre saw gave up the ghost and before disposing of it I salvaged what I could in the way of useful materials and fixings. The biggest chunk of useful material was the slide which carried the saw backward and forwards when making the cut. This tuned out to be thick walled tube which was 30mm OD and 20mm ID. Not ideal, initially for making screw jacks, as I don’t posses any means of making threads that big (I haven’t yet attempted any single point threading but I have just bought a couple of lathe tools for the purpose so watch this space). 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when a friend of ours was winding down his handyman business and moving house. I asked him if he came across any bit’s of useful metal as he was sorting out ready to move, that I would take them off his hands and save a trip to the tip. He was sure there would be and a couple of days later he dropped off a carrier back full of nuts bolts and studs. In amongst the contents were a a number of cut off lengths of M16 stud, each about 4 inches long fitted with two nuts. There were also a number of M16 high tensile nuts and bolts most of them still sealed in bags (that’s how I know they are M16). A combination of these formed the basis of the jacks. I turned down four of the nuts and made them a press fit into the thick walled tube. I am not sure what the tube is made of but it really does machine well. 

Machinist’s Jack from Scrap
Machinist’s Jack from Scrap

The high tensile bolt heads were a bit tougher to turn and even harder to knurl so on the second one I didn’t attempt to knurl it. I used a carbide end mill to cut scallops and then cross drilled for a pin to allow fine tuning.

Machinist’s Jack from Scrap

I couldn’t resist adding a small brass cap to stop the pin from coming out as I wind it in and out. The two locking collars were made from another standard nut, turned, knurled and then parted into two. The standard nuts which thankfully I have most of, are so much easier to machine than the high tensile ones. Finally all the parts were cleaned with acetone and blackened with Birchwood Casey.