Mill keyways on your lathe

IS YOUR MACHINE SHOP limited to a lathe? No matter; you can teach a lathe to perform nearly all machining operations. Start with cutting keyways in shafts of various diameters. You can hold straight-shank end mills in a collet chuck or taper-shank adapter in the headstock spindle. You'll have to make the sturdy clamp you mount on the compound rest to position the work. The carriage and crossfeed screws let you move the work into the cutter and draw it past. Thus you can cut both open-end keyways and blind slots. One such clamping fixture can be made of heavy angle (Fig. 1) bored to take the toolpost and clamped to the rest by a steel bar in the toolpost slot. After it's in place mill a V-groove across its face (cross section) by mounting an angular cutter in the headstock and drawing the work past it with the cross feed. This lets you clamp the work in an accurate horizontal plane at lathe-center. An alternate fixture (Fig. 2) is a steel block bored to receive a flanged post (like the lower end of the toolpost) so you can clamp it to the compound rest's T-slot with a large capscrew. Figs. 3 and 4 show setups with a Woodruff keyway cutter; the cut is made at right angles to the spindle. Woodruff keyseats are made by clamping the work in a vertical position and feeding it into the cutter. Again, an accurate V-groove helps to position the work quickly and accurately.