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Thread: Another laser finder.

  1. #1
    [email protected] tonyfoale's Avatar
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    Another laser finder.

    [email protected] has posted his Dan Gelbart inspired laser aligner. Rather than hi-jack his post with details of mine, I'm making it a separate post.
    A laser finder/aligner is an extremely useful add-on to a mill or drill press and can be used for various alignment tasks to a surprising degree of accuracy as Mr. Gelbart has shown in his video.
    I took his idea and made something to suit my own needs and from materials I had to hand. There were 3 features that I wanted to incorporate, viz;
    1. The ability to continue machining whist it was fitted.
    2. Adjustable laser angle.
    3. Adjustable focus.

    Rather than write my usual verbose description, in this case I think that the pix and captions are enough to show both its construction and a particular use. Don't forget to click on the images for full size versions.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder009.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder010.jpg
    I rescued the laser from a damaged spirit level. Here we have the laser board, housing and adjustable focus lens holder.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder017.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder020.jpg
    I made a hinged clamp for rapid fitting and removal. Here are the separate pieces and assembled.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder033.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder034.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder037.jpg
    The laser is epoxied into its pivotted holder, 2 AA batteries are fitted in a drilled hole under the red cover/switch.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder003.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder053.jpg
    I wanted to be able to use this when milling so it had to be reasonably well balanced to avoid creating vibration. Firstly the balance was checked which indicated that there was too much mass concentrated near the laser end. So excess metal was milled away and an adjustable steel nut and bolt, as a counter weight, were added to the opposite side. That brought the balance to an acceptable level.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder027.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder028.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder029.jpg
    Attached to the mill spindle. The eagled eyed amongst you will note that these pix were taken before the balance was attended to.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder040.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder041.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder042.jpg
    I mentioned that a laser finder is also useful in a drill press. To that end I made a simple mandrel to hold in the chuck and provide a clamping surface for the hinged clamp.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder025.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder026.jpg
    Initial hand rotated tests gave perfect results, however once it was rotated mechanically it would reach an RPM when some of the circle would disappear. Weird yes? Anyone guess the problem? At speed the batteries would centrifuge away from one of the contacts, I forget why it didn't turn off for a whole revolution, but there was a logical explanation. The fix was simple, I just used a stronger spring in the battery compartment.

    So let's see how it helped turn what would have been a tedious job, into a piece of cake.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder043.jpg Another laser finder.-laserfinder046.jpg
    I wanted to counter bore a number of cover screw holes, in a crankcase, to fit small O-rings to ensure a good seal. Without the laser I would have had to centre off each hole by one of several methods, all tedious. It can be seen how easy it is to centre over the hole with the laser.

    Another laser finder.-laserfinder051.jpg
    Align as above and plunge to depth. Very simple and very fast. I have found countless applications for the rapid alignment that this tool enables.
    Last edited by tonyfoale; 04-19-2017 at 05:51 AM. Reason: Spelling

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  3. #2
    Content Editor DIYer's Avatar
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    Thanks tonyfoale! We've added your Laser Aligner to our Measuring and Marking category,
    as well as to your builder page: tonyfoale's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:




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    C-Bag (04-18-2017), Paul Jones (02-18-2018)

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    C-Bag's Avatar
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    I have to admit I didn't understand how having the laser off set was an advantage over the laser center finders I've seen for sale. Until I saw the pics in use and the idea of leaving it attached. Especially with my mill/drill where clearance make tool changes a pain, not having to swap out the center finder is brilliant.

    This is a solution I'm going to have to seriously look into as I bought a laser a while back with the idea of making and inline type center finder. It's somewhat bigger than yours so there will need to be a lot of rearranging, but the concept is the same.

    Thanks for posting your version with the detailed pics of layout and use.

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    Paul Jones (02-18-2018)

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    [email protected] tonyfoale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C-Bag View Post
    This is a solution I'm going to have to seriously look into as I bought a laser a while back with the idea of making and inline type center finder. It's somewhat bigger than yours so there will need to be a lot of rearranging, but the concept is the same.
    One advantage with a rotating offset laser is that no alignment of the laser is necessary. The centre of the lit circle is the spin axis of the spindle. Either raising/lowering the quill and/or adjusting the angle of the laser will change the circle size. In fact if you adjust the focus fine enough you can adjust the circle to a small dot. Don't be tempted to use a powerful laser, the strong light will just dazzle you and the line will not appear so fine and accuracy will suffer.
    I would recommend strongly that you go and look at Dan Gelbart's video. He shows how by adjusting the circle size you can align bearing bores to a high degree of accuracy. I can vouch for that from my own use. I haven't made a video because I haven't anything to add to Dan's.
    A word of warning though before visiting Gelbart's pages. The man has documented so much cool stuff that you'll want to spend all day watching. A self made billionaire with dirty finger nails.
    Here is the link to a video with the laser
    Last edited by tonyfoale; 04-18-2017 at 09:23 AM. Reason: Added video link.

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    C-Bag's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link and the warning

    Upon closer inspection of the mill/drill it's going to be tricky as I don't have much space on the rotating nose because of a wonderful LED light ring I installed around it. More opportunities for creative solutions I guess.

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    I really like this one Tony
    Not sure if I need one of these but I know I have to make one, and yes I have an old laser level with a broken housing, didnt think of using that.
    Thanks for the post

  10. #7
    [email protected] tonyfoale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olderdan View Post
    I really like this one Tony
    Not sure if I need one of these but I know I have to make one, and yes I have an old laser level with a broken housing, didnt think of using that.
    Thanks for the post
    You could put it in your lathe chuck as an aid to alignment when you mill using your vertical slide.

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    olderdan (04-18-2017)

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    This is soooooooo what I was looking for!!!! Thanks Tony!!!!

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    Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  14. #10
    [email protected] tonyfoale's Avatar
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    It has been a long time since I saw Dan Gelbart's video which I referenced above. Last night I revisited it but was very disappointed. The video that I recall had a lot more detail showing him aligning bearing bores and a lot of other stuff with the laser centre finder. So either I am inventing memories, the video has been edited or there is another video there which I couldn't find last night.
    Anyway I still recommend Gelbart's videos for forum members viewing.
    Another excellent YouTube channel is Don Bailey at Surburban Tool.

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