Picture of How to make an espresso tamper
Here's my first Instructables project and I made it at Techshop. A shiny new 58.4mm espresso tamper!  I started with a 2.5"x12" copper round rod and a basic understanding of how to use a metal lathe and a vertical mill.  As it turns out, making a round thing into a smaller round thing just isn't that difficult.

Here's what I did:
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Step 1: Roughly shape the sides

Picture of Roughly shape the sides
I used a steady rest because the material I was working with was too thick to fit through the headstock of the lathe and too long to be stable on its own.  First I machined the face flat, then brought the diameter down close to the final dimension I was looking for - in this case I ended up at 59mm with the plan that the finished tamper would be 58.4mm.

Step 2: Shape the top

Picture of Shape the top
I used the compound rest to curve the top of the tamper then drilled a 5/16" hole in the center.

Step 3: Finish the sides

Picture of Finish the sides
Once I had a way to support the copper rod from both ends I removed the steady rest and turned the material down to the target size.

Step 4: Tap the hole

Picture of Tap the hole
Start with the tap in a drill chuck so you can be sure it's square, finish by hand. Copper is miserable to tap, this was the most irritating part of the project.  On the bright side, I got to test fit the handle afterwards.

Step 5: Chop it off!

Picture of chop it off!
Throw the thing in a horizontal bandsaw and cut it off.

Step 6: Flatten the bottom

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I used a fly cutter on the mill to flatten the bottom, figuring that it was easier to get the piece level using parallels than it would be by hand in the lathe chuck.

Step 7: Clean up and assemble

Picture of clean up and assemble
Remove the burr if there is one, screw the handle on and take it home.

Step 8: Put it to use!

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Biscuitus2 years ago
If you don't mind a piece of advice, I can help you remove this and the last step and it's a lot more stable. Since you were at a Techshop, they should have had a parting or grooving tool holder and tool. Once you have the final diameter and the hole drilled, open the chuck up and move the material so that the final depth or length of the part is 1/4" to 1/2" away from the chuck jaws. Tighten the chuck and move your parting tool so the OUTSIDE edge of the tool is at the line where you want to cut your part. Alternatively, you can touch the edge of the parting tool (the left side if you're looking at it) to the end of your part. Take a caliper and measure the width of the parting tool. Move your carriage the length of the part plus the width of the parting tool. Your tool will now cut the part exactly where it needs to cut. Now, measure the diameter of your part, divide that number by two. Then subtract .0.50 from that number. You can test this by taking a small steel rule or a thin, flat, stiff piece of metal and hold it against the work. Move the point of the cross slide in until the tip of the tool is touching the rule or flat metal. Tighten it just enough to hold it. If the top of the rule is away from you, your tool point is too high. If it's toward you, it's too low. Adjust your tool post accordingly. Start your lathe and bring the cross slide in until the tool just touches the metal. Make sure the point of the parting tool is near the middle of the part. Now Don't move it, but zero your cross slide. Now bring the tool into the work, a little at a time (about .050 for copper) and back out each cut. Repeat this until you get to your target number. Stop the lathe. The part should still be on there, but it may have already broken off. If it isn't, grab on to it and wiggle back and forth until it breaks off. You'll see a nib on the back. You can sand this off or you can chuck it up and take your previous tool and face it so you have a clean surface. While it's still in the chuck, take a swiss file and deburr all the sharp edges. The easiest way to do this is to set your RPM to 60 or 80, whichever your lathe has and hold the file at a 45 degree to the edge and press lightly on it. Just be mindful of the chuck jaws but at that speed, it's pretty easy to avoid. Hope this made sense and helps you!
FoodGeek (author)  Biscuitus2 years ago
Your advice absolutely makes sense, but the head stock for the lathe only holds material up to 1.5" in diameter. That's why I ended up using the steady rest in the first place.

Also I've had limited success using the parting tool to cut a straight line longer than an inch or so. The tool always seems to deflect a bit and give me a domed surface.