Some simple directions in the holding and setting of tools may be of service to the novice. Practice has shown the most effective way of treating different materials, so that the tools will do the most efficient work.

A tool ground in a certain way and set at a particular angle might do the work admirably on a piece of steel, but would not possibly work on aluminum or brass.

Lathe Speed

If the lathe should run at the same speed on a piece of cast iron as with a brass casting, the result would not be very satisfactory, either with the tool or on the work itself.

Some compositions of metal require a high speed, and some a hooked tool. These are things which each must determine as the articles come to the shop; but there are certain well-defined rules with respect to the ordinary metals that should be observed.

The Hack Saw

Our first observation should be directed to the hand tools. The hack saw is one of the most difficult tools for the machinist to handle, for the following reasons:

First, of the desire to force the blade through the work. The blade is a frail instrument, and when too great a pressure is exerted it bends, and as a result a breakage follows. To enable it to do the work properly, it must be made of the hardest steel. It is, in consequence, easily fractured.

Fig. 28.   Hack Saw Frame. Fig. 29.   Hack Saw Blade. Fig. 28.—Hack Saw Frame.
Fig. 29.—Hack Saw Blade.

Second. The novice will make short hacking cuts. This causes the teeth to stick, the saw bends, and a new blade is required. Take a long sweeping cut, using the entire length of the blade. Do not oscillate the blade as you push it through the work, but keep the tooth line horizontal from one end of the stroke to the other. The moment it begins to waver, the teeth will catch on the metal on the side nearest to you, and it will snap

Third. The handle is held too loosely. The handle must be firmly held with the right hand, and the other held by the fingers lightly, but in such a position that a steady downward pressure can be maintained. If loosely held, the saw is bound to sag from side to side during the stroke, and a short stroke accentuates the lateral movement. A long stroke avoids this.

The hack saw is one of the tools which should be used with the utmost deliberation, combined with a rigid grasp of the handle.


For remarks on this tool see Chapter IV (On The Use Of The File), which treats of the subject specially.

Grindstones, Emery And Grinding Wheels

A good workman is always reflected by his grinding apparatus. This is true whether it has reference to a grindstone, emery, corundum wheel, or a plain oil stone. Nothing is more destructive of good tools than a grooved, uneven, or wabbly stone. It is only little less than a crime for a workman to hold a tool on a revolving stone at one spot.

Carelessness In Holding Tools

The boy must learn that such a habit actually prevents the proper grinding, not only of the tool he has on the stone, but also of the one which follows. While it is true that all artificially made grinders will wear unevenly, even when used with the utmost care, due to uneven texture of the materials in the stone, still, the careless use of the tool, while in the act of grinding, only aggravates the trouble.

Another fault of the careless workman is, to press the bit against the stone too hard. This cuts the stone more than it wears off the tool, and it is entirely unnecessary. Furthermore, it heats up the tool, which should be avoided.


A true workman, who endeavors to turn out accurate work, and preserve his tools, will never test the work with his calipers while the piece is turning in the lathe. A revolving cast iron disk will cut ruby, the hardest substance next to the diamond, so it is not the hardness of the material which resists wear, but the conditions under which it is used.

Care In Use Of Calipers

The calipers may be of the most hardened steel, and the work turned up of the softest brass, the latter, when revolving, will grind off the point of the tool, for the reason that the revolving piece constantly presents a new surface to the point of the calipers, and when tests are frequently made, it does not take long to change the caliper span so that it must be reset.

As stated elsewhere, the whole energy of the lathe is concentrated on the bit or cutting tool, hence, in order to get the most effective work out of it requires care; first, in grinding; and, second, in setting

Machine Bits

It does not always matter so much whether you use a square, pointed, or a round-nosed bit, provided it is properly ground and set in the tool holder. As a rule, the more brittle the metal the less the top rake or angle should be.

In the chapter relating to the grinding of tools, references were made as to the most serviceable bits for the various metals. We are concerned here with the setting or holding of these articles.

Fig. 30. Plain Hook ToolFig. 31. Plain Straight Tool
Fig. 30. Plain Hook ToolFig. 31. Plain Straight Tool

The two illustrations here given show a pair of plain bits, in which Fig. 30 represents a hook-shaped formation, and Fig. 31 a straight grind, without any top rake. The hooked bit would do for aluminum, or steel, but for cast iron the form shown in Fig. 31 would be most serviceable.

Then the side bits, such as the round-nosed, Fig. 32 and the square end, Fig. 33, may be ground hooked, or with a top rake, or left flat.

The too common mistake is to grind the lower or clearance side at too great an angle. Fig. 34 shows the correct angle, and the dotted line A illustrates the common tendency to grind the clearance.