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Minimum tool set?

Posted by freds 
Minimum tool set?
January 02, 2009 03:25PM
We seemed to have a lot of different target audiences from skill levels to put the machine or electronics together; as to what is a valid tool that we should expect the end user to already have or purchase.

A case in point Demented Chihuahua is working on a design for a extruder using parts purchased from a local hardware store and skate bearings.

He advocated creating a coupler between the motor and the screw shaft by drilling out a aluminum cable crimp, then drilling and tapping for two set screws.

One of the comments was should we expect the user to have a tap? Ah you can get a cheap tap set for about 10-20 dollars.

Maybe all holes in extruded parts are considered starter holes and depending on need would drilled and tapped for either metal or nylon screws?

Maybe we should define tooling/capablity levels?

Level one

Hand drill
Small socket set
Course file

Level two

Above plus bench tools like:

Sander or Grinder
Small Drill press

Or maybe the qualification level should be that a new tool to perform X has to be less then $30.00?

Everyone's thoughts?
Re: Minimum tool set?
January 02, 2009 04:04PM
Fred et al,

IMHO, some sort of workholding (e.g. a vise) is a good idea, for safety if nothing else. A bench vise can be used with the hand drill to rig an Afghan lathe, or just to hold a part still. If drill presses don't come with a vise, I hope users get ahold of one, to prevent personal injury.

Craigslist or freecycle are the hobbiests' friend, in my experience.
When others move (or upgrade), they're often motivated to unload tools; I got a gratis table saw this way! I realize this varies by place, but it's at least worth a look before shelling out for new tools.

Of course, reprappers can do it their own way, but given what part kits cost, some investment in tools seems appropriate to me. If a set of taps can be had for $10-$20, I'd sure recommend it (though I think my HF set was a bit more.) If only a few sizes were needed, perhaps a group buy or suggesting that the rrrf.org store sell taps would help. Of course, this would just bring the imperial vs metric issue into the limelight....

IMHO, if having a tool would substantially simplify (or lower the cost of) a reprap kit (or equivalent), then we should consider that approach.


Minimal electronics tools (IMHO):

Soldering iron
Diagonal pliers (wire cutters)
long-nose (or needle nose) pliers

(IMHO, worth it to spend a little more to get a DVM with frequency and capacitance measuring capability, esp. if you don't have access to an oscilloscope.)

Here is a thread (in another forum entirely) [groups.google.com]
about a cheap DVM (with a 9v battery) costing ~same as the battery! No store name or part #, though.

Note: stranded wire can serve in lieu of solder wick or a "solder-sucker" -- not quite as well, but in a pinch, better than nothing.

As you might surmise, I'm in the "can't have too many tools" camp, though I realize others may not have the $, space or inclination.

Larry Pfeffer,

My blog about building repstrap Cerberus:
Re: Minimum tool set?
January 03, 2009 02:07PM
Hi freds -- I think cost is important but smooth function of the end bot is equally, if not more, important. Some things like tapping were "not essential", but made all the difference for me. I had access to tapping tools but really didn't know what they were before. If anything, I think trying to go inexpensive on tools will only frustrate the non-engineer, non-technically-inclined-but-want-to-build person. Case in point: self-tapping screws broke, took time to fix, etc.

Right now, I'm at the lower end of the skill-level I alluded to. What seems to me a large hurdle is documentation, which is probably why you started this thread. I notice that people are asking similar questions on the forum. Lots has been worked out and the info is spread out in the forum, but the documentation is at times (many times), incomplete (for me at least) and out-of-date, and doesn't include some key piece of info. I'm not complaining bc I understand the experimental nature of the project. I'm offering to help out once I get my Mcwire going on. Helping out for me probably amounts to documentation initially -- like integrating info and bringing stuff up to date for a new repstrap build.

Anyway, just an idea since I'm still trying to get my bot working grinning smiley

Re: Minimum tool set?
January 03, 2009 03:05PM
Don't seem to be getting much response to this thread. Arthur I hear ya about breaking taps, I always seem to break 4/32's and went though a number of them before I got the hang of it.

Your right it is a education project and it helps to have many links to how to do things.

Was sort of hoping people would chip in so we could put together a check off/shopping list of items/tools people should have.
Re: Minimum tool set?
January 03, 2009 03:25PM
Well, there's this link to a basic tool set:


A drill press is nice, but not necessary. I don't have one, but I did cut a couple bearings on one. My latest bearings I made just with a hand drill and a vice though. I even made a nozzle on my hand drill using Vik's technique.

Really, all you need is a hand drill and soldering iron, plus some basic hand tools. Big power tools are fun and faster, but not required. I found a huge metal bandsaw at InterAccess that made short work of cutting the 8 mm rods, but only after I'd cut half of the rods by hand with a hacksaw.

A set of needle files is nice to have, but again a knife will do in a pinch. I also bought a tap and die set eventually, but that was only for the PTFE insert, which is so soft that a tap isn't essential.


edit: I almost forgot - a multimeter is essential, even if it's just a $10 Radio Shack one.

Also, I built a Darwin; a McWire might need a few more tools.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2009 04:04PM by Wade Bortz.
Re: Minimum tool set?
January 06, 2009 01:29PM
McWire doesn't require any more tools. I built mine--excluding the z-axis which used a mill but didn't need to--with a battery powered hand drill, a hack saw, pliers, snippers, screwdrivers, an analog multimeter, a soldering iron, and a table-top vice. That's it.

My extruder was a kit from RRRF when they still sold them. Bearings were made via the method Wade used. Same with the drive screw. My new extruder will get rid of the need for all that and still uses the same tools but ads a 10-32 tap. The 10-32 tap is, I think, essential as it gives you the ability to make really serviceable motor couplings from Cable stops--which are already round, pre-drilled, and available from the hardware store.

I wouldn't recommend buying anything but these tools to get a McWire or Darwin up and running. Yes it will be hard. That's a given. It's all about the process. Enjoy!


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