The Taig Lathe has some design deficiencies. I have already tackled the toolpost which cannot be readily adjusted for centre height (see my other Instructable). In this short Instructable I'll show how, in a few short and simple steps, to make all the turn handles, including those on the top slide and the milling attachment, much more user friendly in under 15 minutes without having to redesign and replace them.
Step 1: This Is All There Is
The turn handles on the cross slide, one for the longitudinal hand wheel and one for the traverse cross-slide dial are nicely made in brass, shiny and nice to look at, but a pain to use. Even with my small hands and fingers I find it difficult to grab these tiny handles to turn the cross-slide dial or the hand wheel, especially when I have to make multiple revolutions.
I see that other people have replaced these handles with shop fabricated wheels etc. which are functionally and aesthetically excellent. However, I don't have any sophisticated machines or tools to do the same. I can only think of a simple method of improving ease of use. What is more simple than just to put sleeves over the handles to give them more finger grip? I have purchased some time ago at a bargain a bag of nylon standoffs, measuring 1/2" by 7/8" with a 1/4" hole. I find that this item is almost perfect for my purpose. All I need to do is to enlarge the centre hole to match the diameter of the original handles. So with a 9/32" drill bit in the endstock chuck, I enlarged the holes of 4 of these nylon standoffs. I put chamfers on the top edges. To take out any nylon frays and smooth out any corners, I flame rounded them with a mini butane torch for a few seconds each while turning on the lathe. I then inserted these nylon sleeves over the existing brass handles. Because the nylon heats up a little while being drilled, the holes came out to be slightly shy of 9/32" once they become cool again and make a tight fit on the brass handles. This improvisation cost me next to nothing. If you do not have any of these nylon standoffs, then it is quite simple to grab a short half-inch diameter nylon rod and turn them yourself. Believe me, these handles now work like a charm.
Step 2: Upgraded Modification
Since making the original simple modification of putting nylon sleeves over the original turn handles, I have upgraded the modification.
I removed the fixed original brass handles from the dials. These brass handles are press-fitted so they can be knocked out with a steel pin on a vise. I then tapped the holes (which are 1/8" in size) to M4.
I turned 3 aluminium cylinders to 12 mm in diameter, 30 mm in length. These are drilled with a 4 mm through hole. The hole is widened to 8 mm at one end to a depth of 10 mm.
These aluminium cylinders are then fixed onto the turn dials with 8/32" x 1" screws. The screws are secured with loctite. The cylinders should be allowed to rotate freely without binding onto the dials.
These modifications are relatively simple so I have not included any drawings. The above photograph should give you a good idea of how it is done.
The new handles are now complete. The dials can now be turned easily with the cylindrical handles rotating around smoothly. This is a big improvement over the previous simple modification, and certainly a hugh one over the original Taig handles.