Step 9: 4 Nested Cubes

Here I will show you how to make 4 nested cubes.  They are easier to make then the free floating cubes, simply because there are less operations to do per side.  I spent 4 hours today on this (I already had a cube made, just did the lathe work today), most of which was me not working very hard/setting up.  Once I got the first 2 sides done, I busted out the last 4 sides in an hour and a half.  So all in all, I bet it could be done in 3 hours of working hard, once you know what you're doing.

We'll start with the calculations.  The cube began at 1.900 after milling, and I wanted 4 cubes.  I decided to keep it simple, and make the difference between each cube 0.500 (as opposed to 1.900/4 = 0.475 difference).  So the cubes are 1.900, 1.500, 0.900, and 0.400. 

For the bore sizes, I drew the 4 cubes on Google Sketch up, drew an X to find centre, and then used the tape measure to find the corner to corner distance of each.  I then just drew circles (make sure to keep the diameters of the bores less then the corner to corner distances.)  until I thought they looked good.  In hindsight, I would have made the bore diameters closer to the corner to corner distances,  I think it would look cleaner.  Maybe I'll make another.  Since the difference between cubes is 0.500, the bore depth is half of that (so 0.250). 

The cubes are 1.900, 1.400, 0.900, and 0.400.  The bores are 1.700 x 0.250, 1.100 x 0.500, 0.500 x 0.750, and the hole through is a 13/64th drill bit.

- Now we can begin!  Put the cube in the 4 jaw, and dial it in.

Note:  On one side, I tightened the vice too much, and there are now indents along the side of the cube.  It was the 5th side I did, I believe.  5th or 6th.  So be careful when tightening, keep it tight for safe machining, but don't tighten it so much that you crush the aluminium.

- Centre drill, drill 13/64th's 1 in deep, drill 7/16's so the tip is 0.750 deep, drill 1 1/16th so the tip is 0.500 deep, and drill 1 5/8ths so the diameter just appears.  (I'll say this now, I never quite worked out exactly how far to rough with the drill bits.  If you put the tip to the bore depth, you will never screw up (because the drill point angle will go into the smaller hole, so the diameter you are making will not be to depth.).  You may have more boring to do, but that's fine.  Experiment and find out what works.)

- Get the boring tool set up, set it to centre height, and touch off on the face of the cube (use the paper!)

- Set up the dial indicator on the ways, and move in to your first bore depth.  Don't leave extra room for undercutting, all we're doing is boring.  It doesn't matter if you do biggest to smallest, or smallest to biggest, since we're not undercutting, and the cubes will always be attached.  I did biggest to smallest, because after roughing with the drills, it looked weird.  (Again, when roughing, always make the drill hole smaller/shallower if you're having doubts.  It's better to have to bore more, then to have a too big, rough hole.)  So if you're doing the 0.750 bore first, then move in 0.753 (remember the paper width!) and set 0 there.

- Begin roughing out the bore depth, getting to 90 on the dial indicator (save the final depth cut for last!).  Then rough out the diameter of the bore.  As before, on your final diameter pass, go to 0 on the dial indicator (full depth) and make your facing cut, so that you have a nice smooth transition between the diameter and the face.

- Repeat for the other 2 bores.

- Chamfer if you like, I didn't for this one because I'm going to throw it in a steel shot tumbler to try and polish it, and that will break the corners.  Also, I knew that it would be wicked hard to file the edges of the inner cubes, since they are still attached,  and I figured that it would look funny if the outer cubes and the bores were chamfered, and the inner cubes were not.  So I left the corners sharp for now, the tumbler will smooth them off a bit (and hopefully smooth them equally).

- Repeat on the other 5 sides (remember to do opposite sides, think of a dice!  Do 1 then 6, 2 then 5, 3 then 4)

And you now have 4 nested cubes!  I think the nested ones look better in pictures, and are nicer to look at, but the free floating cubes are cooler/more mind blowing/better to play with.

I didn't take many pictures, there is not much to see.  Just imagine all the pictures from previous steps, but think of 4 cubes, not 3, and forget the undercuts.  I wish I took a picture after all the roughing drill bits had gone through, so you could see what it looked like, but oh well.

How much width for under cutting tool?
<p>Approx 1/8 in.</p>
<p>if you were to make this from steel rather than alloy, you could be really cheeky with the center ball by using physics. if the finished cube set was evenly heated the metal would expand enough to be able to trap a ball bearing in the center,. best option would be to heat in a brine, that way you would get even expansion. just find the right size bearing and chill it before fitting. the brine would also colour the metal as it is how firearms are blued. just a suggestion from an engineer with a nerdy side.</p>
<p>the heating process would also remove any hot glue used to secure the cubes for finishing.</p>
<p>i want to download the attached file i don't want to go with pro registration any way to get it????</p>
<p>This is great reading! I don't have a lathe but if I did, I'd certainly be spinning up some aluminum in short order. There's another YouTube video out there somewhere in which the machinist filled the first five bores and undercuts with hot glue. You can see the care he used, as the metal certainly absorbed a good bit of the heat, making the cube a bit more challenging to handle while he filled the remaining bores. It allowed him to perform normal speed cuts on the sixth side.</p>
Hello. It is very inspiring work. but i dont have any talent for it. Can i order a turners cube from you to turkey? :)
<p>Really Nice instructable, can you please explain what a PLANAR Bar is , I haven't heard of it before.</p><p>thanks.</p>
Planar bar is basicallt a round bar with one edge ground flat.<br><br>The flat end rests on the vice, the round end touches your piece, and makes sure that there is only one point of contact, forcing the other side of your work to be parallel with the other side of the vice
You can also make a set of step-cylinders which nest into the bores. These hold everything in place as you do the final undercuts, and generally reduce the risk of damage from clamping forces.
You can make a sphere in a cube... Using an inverse ball endmill plunged from all six sides.
I was wondering how to do that... We saw an example of that, but it was made on a CNC. I imagined it was just a small endmill (&lt;1/4 in) and some fancy programming to get the angles required for the circle. But inverse ball endmill would be perfect! <br> <br>It would still be a bit tricky though, because you'd have to make the hole smaller the the diameter of the ball, and that would make it tricky to get the endmill in. <br> <br>I may be getting some more time in a machine shop.... Perhaps I should try it to see how it works out.
The endmill dictates the hole diameter.<br><br>When I was in machining school (Warren Occupational/Technical Center in Lakewood, CO), we learned to grind the radius into the endmill. The trick, for this part, is to cut a larger radius than the cutter. The resulting ball will be larger than the hole when plunged through from six sides. But will remain attached to small support surfaces at the corners.... This is serendipitous, as you wouldn't want the aluminum ball coming free and bouncing into your fragile cutter anyway.<br><br>Once the manual machining is complete, Go back in with a jeweler's saw and free the ball.
Ahhh.... But then you'd have rough saw marks on the ball... <br> <br>If you did plunge in fully on 5 of the sides, on side 6 you could stop, and do similar to what I did in Step 7, for the final side. Just stop the mill, and turn it by hand, so the ball falls off nicely and you dont have to deal with it spinning at upwards of 1000 RPMs :D
If you plunged it completely on 5 sides, you'd have a sphere that isn't very spherical.<br><br>You clean the jewelry saw marks up by hand with your trusty needle files and maybe sandpaper. A machinist worth his salt can turn file marks into replica machine-tool marks. I do it often... And polishing the whole assembly to a bright finish is even easier.
VERRY GOOD! <br>i use to do this by hand in Wood.
Do you have and pictures of wooden ones you could share?
these are my Uncles. My mother has mine <br>i have done copies of all of these Except the 3-interlocking rings on the left <br> <br>
Pretty wicked! Should try making some of these out of metal
it MAY be possible. I'd love to see it if it is. <br> <br>however, the wooden models are only possible because of the ability to use a knife and the sheering properties of woodgrain. <br> <br>One whittles down most of the joint, SNAPS the remaining web, then uses the knife and sandpaper to smooth out the roughness. <br> <br>To achieve the same results in a machine operation, using metal, would probably require an EXTREMELY delicate bit, a very high rpm machine spindle, and a 5-6 axis machine. The very fine, fiddly work your hands do naturally with a knife blade are impossible to replicate in a 4 axis machine. And nearly impossible in a 6-axis. <br> <br>Check out the 5:30 mark on this youtube video for the sort of fiddly maneuvers needed by a machine tool to replicate a fairly simple hand-tool woodworking process. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU32Q6QXtWQ <br> <br> <br> <br> <br>You COULD replicate these in metal, fairly easily, but it would involve casting, not machining.
here are some better photos of the plier joints
Looking at this actually makes me giddy. I love it.
This is really cool, I took a manual lathe class as a pre-req for a bunch of engineering classes a few months ago, I think I'll try this.
Do it!
now I know what I'm making when I gain access to the lathe at my college (and learn to use it). I remember the first time I saw one of these, I just thought and thought and thought until I figured out how it was made. it's shockingly simple, you just need good spatial sense.
Most things are a lot simpler then we think they are. Just take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you're done!
Little typo: &quot;Male it Real&quot; challenge. Thought that I was reading Cosmopolitan for a minute...
Oh my! Thank's for pointing that out. Fixed!
WONDERFUL!<br><br>You beat me to it, but glad to finally see a REAL turners cube!<br>Not saying the &quot;attached nested cubes&quot; aren't fun to look at, but this requires a great deal more skill. And make better playthings for when you have grandkids.<br>Also glad to see you did the double nested version(so much more impressive than a one-in-one)<br><br><br>As I understand it, this was an apprentice job way back in the day.<br>And it was done entirely on a lathe(this being WELL before computers, heck most shops at the time didn't even have electricity!)<br>It was a testament to the young man's skill, to be able to make the 6 facing cuts, to get a cube. Ok, it was a REQUIRED BASIC SKILL. :-)<br><br><br>Step 11, on the final side cutting... that's an interesting technique!<br> Sure would have been quicker than how I did it.<br> I ended up making 5 stepped plugs, with 1-2 thou clearance.(4 jaw chuck, plus a backing plug). Obviously, all 5 plugs were turned on the same lathe.<br>The main advantage to having plugs is, you can have the machine running the whole time. You don't have to turn the chuck by hand for the last bit. Also eliminated the need for using your shims :-)<br>
I'm just finishing up my final project at school, then I'm going to make the &quot;attached nested cubes&quot; (4 cubes) and a free floating one like this, but with 5 cubes instead of 3 :D I'll be sure to add them to this Instructable!
@Xyver; tweeted! Love the arcane vocabulary (is not a miller) Cheers! : ) Site
Thanks for sharing a very detailed and well presented instructable. though it's rarely done now, it certainly USED to be a very common way for a turner to show his skills. When you talk about using a &quot;manual&quot; machine you are of course only adjusting the machine manually,consider doing the same kind of thing with a &quot;Pole Lathe&quot; or &quot;Treadle Lathe&quot;, it HAS been done, but not my me.
I'm mainly talking about manual vs CNC, where we control the machine as opposed to robots controlling the machine.<br><br>I can only imagine how tiring a treadle lathe could be.....
you might be surprised how NOT tiring it can be ;-)
I made one of these when I was training. They are quite impressive and I'm still pretty proud of it :) <br>Thanks for sharing, I hope it inspires people to make one.
Nice and detailed instructable, thanks for sharing.
Glad you liked it :D

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Bio: I like working with all mediums, but so far my speciality is machining and electronics. I make all my Instructables from a design heavy perspective ... More »
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