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The Secret Place of the Least High

April 3rd, 2012

A Mighty Fortress is My Garage

The Garage of Blues has undergone yet another metamorphosis.

I could not deal with my old Clausing lathe, so I started shopping for a new lathe that actually worked. I got tired of shopping, and I prayed for God to send me a good lathe at a good price. The next day, I got a sudden email message advising me that a reputable seller had knocked thousands off the price of a machine, and that it had been equipped with some stuff I like, and that stuff I did not want had been removed.


I took some photos while the riggers were moving it in. They gouged it slightly, but having seen what BAD riggers do, I was still satisfied. Here it is.

That thing is a 16 by 40. It can swing a part almost 17″ wide. It’s not packed with features, but the quality is very good, and the construction is heavy. It only has 12 speeds, but the range is nice: 20-2000 RPM. The motor is 7.5 horsepower, which is insane. The threading options are a little limited, but change gears can be had. The ways are a foot wide, the castings are Meehanite. It came with a neat light and a DRO. No complaints here.

Og told me to get a 12 x 36, and he was probably right. He was right when he told me to get a Grizzly instead of the Clausing. But come on. This baby has a 2″ bore. I can part stuff that would otherwise require a saw. You know I needed that.

I actually wanted a 14 x 40 with variable speed, but the seller I had in mind would not give me a quote. He kept saying he’d get around to it. He said he sent it, but it must have gotten lost in cyberspace. After two months, I gave up on him. I think the smaller lathe would have been fine, and it would have had a big bore on it, but I can’t hold people at gunpoint and force them to do business with me.

I could not get him to sell me the smaller lathe I wanted, and once I had decided on the big lathe, people told me not to use a VFD, which is the cheapest way to run a big lathe on single-phase power, without derating and other potential issues. They told me I needed a digital phase converter, which is pretty ridiculous. They cost a lot. I was determined to get a VFD, but over time, I decided to bite the bullet and do it right. So now I have the phase converter on my wall. Right now it’s only connected to the lathe, but if I feel like it, I can add the mill to it and bypass the existing VFD, which does absolutely nothing except provide three-phase power. I can also put up sockets and run whatever three-phase stuff I get later. This is advantageous, because a lot of great three-phase equipment goes on the market for low prices, and it’s generally better than single-phase machinery.

I went with Gator chucks. Ordinarily, the lathe would have come with no-name Asian chucks, but they were not included, so I got to pick my own. Gators are made in mainland China, but the company has a very good reputation. I got an 8″ adjustable 3-jaw chuck, which is practically my fiancee now, and I also got a 10″ 4-jaw which I haven’t even tried, because the 3-jaw is so great. I can’t measure the runout on the 3-jaw, and so far, that has held true on diameters of 1″ and 1.5″, so it appears to work well, at least within that range.

I was going to get cheapo Chinese carbide holders, but I got yelled at when I mentioned this to actual machinists, so I found a great deal on two Kennametal 3/4″ holders, and the seller threw in 10 inserts. Very nice. Super rigid.

The lathe isn’t leveled yet. I was going to use the famous “Rollie’s Dad” method, but research led me to conclude that it wasn’t really that great, so I reluctantly ordered a good level. I went with Tools4cheap. I’m hoping the level lives up to the hype.

The lathe is a DREAM to run. It scared the crap out of me when I first got it going. I accidentally started the giant chuck spinning at 2000 instead of 500. But it does what it’s supposed to do. The repeatability on the 3-jaw chuck is a wonder to behold. The worklight is bright and very easy to position. The controls work MUCH more smoothly than the ones on the Clausing. It just does what it’s supposed to do. I don’t fight all day to make the tool work. It’s just like my gorgeous milling machine.

I finished up my 304 stainless garlic press. It works great. You stuff it with garlic and whack it with a hammer, and pureed garlic poomps into a little chamber. Then you pump the piston again, and the garlic pops out on your cutting board. This is the first decent garlic press I have ever seen. And I’m improving it. I’m making a big base that includes the pulverizing holes and the chamber for the crushed garlic, and it’s going to thread onto the main housing. It will come off easily to go in the dishwasher. I love it. It’s so cool I can’t stand it.

After this I may make a nutcracker. I don’t need one. I just hate nutcrackers. They’re wimpy. They slip and shoot nuts across the room. They break. I’m going to make one that will open a golf ball, if that’s what turns you on.

Today I used the lathe to bore out a 1 1/2″-wide piece of stainless, for the garlic chamber. I saved my old 1/2″ Albrecht chuck from the Clausing, and I got an adaptor sleeve to make it fit the new tailstock. I drilled the work with three bits, creeping up to 1/2″, and then I went to a boring bar that would fit in the hole. Then I put it on the mill and flattened the bottom of the bore. Going back to the lathe, I turned on the DRO, put in a bigger bar, and set the bottom of the bore as zero. After that, it was a simple matter to open the bore up until the walls were about 3/16″ thick. The bar screamed like hell–nothing I do seems to change that–but the finish is really nice, so I guess it’s okay.

I have to figure out what to use for the internal threading on the end that joins the press body, but other than that, this will be a cakewalk. God willing.

I wonder if cooks would pay for stuff like this. It would be pointless to make these things for less than thirty bucks. But they would last forever and work like nothing else on the market.

I love the garage more every day. I have a guitar amp out there, which I’m halfway done building. I have my tools set up in a nice ergonomic way. I have peace and quiet. I have air conditioning and comfy chairs. I have hundreds of albums on the MP3 player. And I have the ultimate place to pray. I generally do at least an hour and a half out there in the evening.

I have been asking God to tell me what my job is. Crazy as it sounds, I think he answered. I think prayer is my job. Some people go to Calcutta. I go to the garage. It suits me to a tee. Prayer is the most powerful thing anyone can do, even if no one appreciates it. And if you’re in God’s presence every day, for long periods, good stuff is going to happen to you, regardless of whom you pray for. It’s a little like being God’s treasurer. You’re distributing his supernatural wealth. Some of it is going to stick to you.

I believe God has given me a fortune, and the substance of that fortune is faith, which is much more valuable than money. If God gives you a fortune, you have to share it. So, unless I’m wrong about what he wants me to do, this is going to be my primary function for a while. Pray for others. Pray for the country. And of course, pray for yours truly. Come on, man. I need a little piece of the action. You can’t muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.

Life has changed a lot. Things work better. Things that used to cause me stress are turning into blessings. Even the collection calls from student loan servicers and collection agencies are kind of pleasant now. I executed a release, so they can never get another dime out of me, but they still call from time to time and ask–very courteously–if I know where they can find the borrower. Now I feel I can relate to them, instead of seeing them as relentless sources of aggravation.

If you’re a cosigner for someone who won’t pay, for God’s sake, ask about executing a release. Not a settlement. A “release.” Trust me; this advice is gold. I got my freedom. Get yours. They will negotiate. You may lose some money, but thereafter, you will sleep well while the person who took advantage of you has to worry about things like wage garnishing, lawsuits, and debts bankruptcy doesn’t affect.

I don’t think I’m going to be here too long. My faith tells me I will find a better place to live. I don’t want to budge until I get a clear indication. I truly look forward to kissing Miami goodbye forever. My family endured so much sorrow here. I don’t need to look around me and be reminded. My life is in the future, so I don’t want to be wrapped up in the past. I think God has given me the Garage of Blues so I can have a little comfort while I wait.

I think my dad is coming around. He sees how I am blessed. That has to have an impact. My sister…another story. Some people are extremely hard for God to teach, so they go through shocking trials. I’m not worried. I keep asking God to do specific things to bring her around, and he keeps doing those things. Whatever happens, she will have the best shot prayer can provide.

I have to go work on the amp. I can’t wait to hear it!


People are asking about the garlic press. I have really bad photos. The end result is what matters, so here are two photos of the garlic on its way out. This should give you an idea of what it does to the garlic. The press is one inch in diameter, to provide scale.

The garlic may look solid, but that’s because it was mashed into a cylindrical space. It has passed through several 1/8″ holes.

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28 Responses to “The Secret Place of the Least High”

  1. aelfheld Says:

    If you’re not going to make the garlic press for sale – and yes, I would buy a good one at that price – you could at least put up some pictures for me drool over.

  2. Randy Rager Says:

    I would gladly pay $50.00 for a good garlic press that would last me a lifetime, provided the holes the garlic is pressed through are smaller than the ones I find on almost all commercially available presses.
    My wife has one with the small holes, but it’s rather flimsy and (I think) made of aluminum. I’m always afraid of destroying it when I use it.

  3. Steve H. Says:

    Here is the thing about garlic presses with small holes. It’s REALLY hard to make the garlic go through them. You can correct this by making more holes, but you will create something which is harder to clean.
    I guess everyone has different ideas about how their garlic should be. The press I made creates little granules maybe the size of a big mustard seed. I’ll see if I can put photos up.

  4. Spud Says:

    How many people have those little garlic press cleaners but no press? Or vice versa? I think many folks will want that cleaner regardless of the garlic pressing efficiency.

    “You can’t muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.” Umm, I believe the ox treads out the wheat, but it’s a long post so we should give you some grace on that. If you’re seeking God’s heart, then it’s just fine to ask for stuff for yourself cuz you’re asking for His will.

    This summer may be hot enough to make you wonder why you endure the heat.

  5. Steve H. Says:

    “Umm, I believe the ox treads out the wheat, but it’s a long post so we should give you some grace on that.”
    That’s a good idea, since you’re wrong. “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” Deuteronomy 25:4. Get yourself a King James! Don’t read those silly hippie Bibles.
    “This summer may be hot enough to make you wonder why you endure the heat.”
    Well, this is what the air conditioning is for.

  6. aelfheld Says:

    Spud, ‘corn’ is technically a generic term for edible grains including but not limited to wheat, barley, rye, sorghum, millet, and maize.

  7. aelfheld Says:

    And the garlic press looks like a winner.

    Would countersinking the holes satisfy Randy’s aim?

  8. Steve H. Says:

    “Spud, ‘corn’ is technically a generic term for edible grains”
    Here’s something I don’t get. Why did Pharaoh dream of “ears of corn”? Is there such a thing as an ear of barley?
    Countersinking is not easy in tight spaces. You have to have a narrow tool.

  9. og Says:

    You’ll like the eisen. let me know what kind of inserts you use, I can often get free samples.

    Remember a few things: The rotating mass of the chuck and spindle is a lethal device. if you catch your clothing in it, you will be harmed badly, or die. if you get your finger or a hand tool caught in it, you will be harmed or die. it is very easy to become complacent; the machine will never become complacent. I hope that you treat it with respect, and I will pray that you are always extra cautious.

    Now: get some nice brass and make a cannon. Start small, like a 3″ bore. Then you can move up to mortars with a 6″ bore or more.

  10. Steve H. Says:

    So far, it’s fantastic. But I don’t think it would even slow down if my hand got stuck in it. I would roll up like a party noisemaker on New Year’s Eve.
    Thanks for the insert offer. I can’t really tell them apart. Apparently each one has a big long number that describes it, and every digit means something important.
    I didn’t realize how many different types there were. I got a great deal on some triangular inserts, and when I opened the box, I saw that they didn’t have holes in them for setscrews. Still can’t figure out where those go.

  11. og Says:

    Here’s a primer


  12. Steve H. Says:

    That really makes my head hurt, but thanks.

  13. aelfheld Says:

    “Here’s something I don’t get. Why did Pharaoh dream of ‘ears of corn’? Is there such a thing as an ear of barley?”
    The answer appears to be yes.
    I’d still buy the garlic press, countersunk or no.

  14. Spud Says:

    NLT: You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.

    NKJV: You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.

    Sorry, I’m just not that hard core “KJV or nothing else for me or thee” kinda guy. I use the NLT for the 3rd graders I teach, as it’s a good balance between “readability” and keeping to original intent (whatever that may be). I use NKJV for my own reading.

    I have never heard of using oxen to tread corn, so I’ll chalk it up to learning something new. Well, here’s something from wiki.answers.com: Maize (Zea mays), or “corn” as we call it in the US, was almost certainly used in Biblical times, but not in Biblical locations. Maize, or at least a close relative, was certainly being cultivated by mesoamerican cultures around Biblical times, regardless of Old or New Testament times. The word “corn” is used numerous times in the King James version of the Bible, but it’s used as a general, all-inclusive word to refer to the grain from any of a number of cereal grasses, most likely wheat or barley. That’s why most modern translations do not use the word “corn”.


  15. Spud Says:

    PS How do you get breaks for your paragraphs in the comments? I tried using ‘br’ in brackets but it did not seem to take.

  16. blindshooter Says:

    I covet your shop, does that make me a bad person?

  17. Steve H. Says:

    I’m pretty sure all people who don’t use the KJV go to hell, but it’s conceivable that I am mistaken. I like it because it tends to translate stuff word for word, and that makes it a little less likely that a liberal theologian will change the meaning of a passage he doesn’t understand.
    There is something wrong with this blog’s stylesheet, so the comment paragraphs don’t work.
    “I covet your shop, does that make me a bad person?”
    Sadly, yes.

  18. Aaron's cc: Says:

    Don’t confuse “covet” with “desire something like”.
    I can see a friend in the car that I’d like if I could afford it and be VERY happy for him. I’d like to think that my friends would be happy for me if I was more materially successful.
    Egalitarianism and zero-sum material thinking is what transforms admiration of someone else’s blessings into something bordering on planning theft.
    Nothing wrong with asking Steve about the makes and models of everything he’s been blessed with. He seems to openly publish and doesn’t seek being proprietary.
    Nothing wrong with admiring a friend’s wife and intelligently inquiring if she’s got a sister or which congregation she attended to increase the likelihood of finding one with similar qualities. That is… if you’re not already married. ;-)

  19. og Says:

    it’s actually fairly simple if you just ignore the top of the document and just go down to Appendix A. The first letter is the shape, the second is the clearance, the third the dimensional tolerance. Most triangle inserts are TNG’s. then the “Attachment type” (in other words, is it a screw down, a cam, or a clamp, and the illustrations are very easy to understand) the size, and thickness. A TNGB33 is a very common size. Once you understand how to size and spec them, you can get some real bargains on Ebay. I have a copy of Appendix A laminated and hung above the workbench here.

  20. Aaron's cc: Says:

    Spud, some of us cheat by using periods as single lines, which serves to simulate paragraphs.
    The section in the stylesheet seems to be on line 253 in your style sheet (add the margin-bottom line):

    #content .post p, .commentlist p {
    line-height: 100%;
    margin-bottom: 8px;

    This should add an 8 pixel break below each paragraph.

  21. Steve H. Says:

    I fiddled with the style sheet.

    This comment is a test.

  22. Steve H. Says:

    Dang. It works. Not what Aaron noticed, but the paragraphs are functioning again.




  23. Steve H. Says:

    I agree with Aaron. Teachers I respect say the Biblical references to coveting are about setting your heart on things, not simply wanting them. You would have to be a little off not to want a good thing when you see it.

    I think many sins can be traced back to covetousness. Even rebellion is covetousness. You set your heart on having your own way, and you defy God in order to get it.

    I don’t write about things I possess unless I feel that God is okay with it. I believe it’s wrong to show off, and it’s wrong to be proud of possessions. And you shouldn’t put temptation in front of other people. On the other hand, if you always conceal what God has done for you, you deprive him of his glory, and you deprive others of an incentive to meet him and submit to him.

    This garage is something God has put together by motivating and guiding me. I didn’t see it coming. Now he uses it for his own purposes. That’s worth talking about.

    One of the kings of Israel (or was it Judah?) lost everything in his treasury because he showed it to foreigners. I keep that in mind.

  24. Justthisguy Says:

    Og, how is he going to turn the trunnions?
    Too true about the safety. I mind the time I was working in a machine shop, and the foreman said, “See that guy? The one with one arm off at the shoulder?” It seems the fellow had been cutting on the i.d. of a large object and reached into the thing…

  25. Aaron's cc: Says:

    Kumar lives.

  26. Justthisguy Says:

    Oh, more safety advice from some old machinists at Redstone Arsenal: When in the shop, always be sure to wear your steel-toed shoes with the steel instep overlay. This way, if you drop that razor-sharp insanely expensive carbide milling cutter, you won’t be so tempted to try and catch it. Just come to attention and let it fall.
    The old machinists at Redstone wore neckties, but they insisted on very secure tieclips, and I betcha the neckties were of the phony, or clip-on, variety. Oh, and short-sleeve white Dilbert shirts, too, like the one I am wearing at this moment.

    P.s. Air conditioning may be optional in an oratory, but it is absolutely necessary if said oratory is also a machine shop. It helps, to make and measure things at a standard temperature, if you want them to be the right size. But you knew that.

  27. Bradford M. Kleemann Says:

    I covet your corn press, no matter how many triangles are involved.

  28. Lee Says:

    Wow! Nice shop. Geez you don’t mess around, do you? 16 x 40?! Holy cow.

    I’ll second you on the KJV. Why they continued to make new versions after that one is a mystery to me.