Ever parted off a tiny part only to have it ping out of sight, never to be seen again? There are probably enough parts in the swarf behind my lathe to build two or three more engines.
This device was built to test my idea about how to entrap the errant minutiae. It worked reasonably well so I decided to document it here to spark the creativity of others.
The main part consists of a transparent pill vial fitted with a magnet on the bottom. Near the top of the vial a slot has been milled into the side. Said slot is a bit wider than your cutoff blade.
The top of the vial has a slot wide enough to admit the stock from which the workpiece is to be parted. This slot is oriented perpendicular to the side slot.
The holder for this contraption consists of a flat steel plate with a long rod. The rod is held in the tailstock chuck and the vial is stuck to the steel plate with the magnet.
Put together, it looks as shown in this [staged] shot. By sliding the vial magnet around on the steel plate, the vial is oriented such that the cutoff tool fits through the slot and touches the workpiece, projecting through the vial cap slot, at the correct cutoff point.
Once the workpiece is parted from its parent stock, it's trapped inside the vial. Pop the vial off its support and dump its contents (which will include the parting swarf) into a tray on the workbench and pick the finished workpiece out of the mess with tweezers.
It's clearly not a tool meant for production work but, once you've lost a few parts into which you've invested considerable time, you may find it not looking quite as hokey as it appears at first blush.