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Thread: unimat 3

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    Stevohdee's Tools

    unimat 3

    Once upon a time... I owned a Unimat 3. I made all sorts of knife components, pommels, guards, threaded rods and folding knife locking devices. I even made a heavy duty cutter assembly for a small manual pantograph to cut inlays and a puzzle Cryptex for my daughter's 21st. The poor little Unimat was often thrashed beyond intended limits and a cordless drill supplied a makeshift power feed. Annoyed to change the angle on the compound by winding the slide back to access the nut as we do on most modern mini lathes I made this new compound for it. Didn't have a mill back then so the task was quite laborious with hand tools. Hard to see in the pictures but just to the right you can just make out a part of an el cheepo watchmakers screwdriver with a lever on the end. This was attached to a pinion which turned a cog underneath the compound. The other pic is a failed attempt to cut a cog via the engraving machine, the final cog had a thread and was O1 tool steel.

    I sold it in 2015 after 24 years for about the same price I paid for it. Determined to get a no-nonsense sale the lathe was gib adjusted perfect and running like new. After suffering a few tyre kickers (people who winge about insignificant faults trying to get the price closer to zero) a man rang up, said "I'll pay your asking price, I'm on my way". He arrived with his enthusiastic 12 year old son, I gave him a road test, he gave me the money and left.

    The joy of the sale pales at the thought that this man and his boy was going to learn to use the machine together. I often ponder what wonderous things they may have created. As parents we tend to guide our kids away from gaming, anti-social media, drugs and all the other crap this modern world has to offer. I hope it worked for them, the machine of course but most of all...the bond.

    cheers Stevoh

    unimat 3-dsc_3030-large-.jpg

    unimat 3-dsc_3031-large-.jpg

    unimat 3-dsc_2264-large-.jpg

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  2. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to Stevohdee For This Useful Post:

    DIYer (Nov 21, 2018), Home-PC (Nov 13, 2020), JoeVanGeaux (Nov 21, 2018), michaelszreider (Oct 22, 2020), Paul Jones (Nov 23, 2018), PJs (Nov 24, 2018), Seedtick (Nov 21, 2018), Toolmaker51 (Nov 25, 2018)

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    Thanks Stevohdee! We've added your Unimat Compound to our Lathe Accessories category,
    as well as to your builder page: Stevohdee's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:




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    Supporting Member JoeVanGeaux's Avatar
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    I enjoyed the account of your Unimat 3. I have the very same model that I inherited from my dad. I recall the day we both "bit the bullet" and went to downtown New Orleans to get some equipment to finally get busy making things. This was back in about 1976.

    We each spent over a month's pay on tools. He bought just about everything he could afford to make the Unimat 3 a usable addition and I bought nearly every other tool (in its miniaturized version, of course) which included a Dremel drill press, scroll saw, table saw, drill, vise and many other tools and accessories - tools that I STILL use to this day - though I save those tools for projects more suited to their limitations.

    I have always bit my tongue when people trash these tools! If you have nothing but a hammer, dull hand saw and a small set of screwdrivers, wrenches, re-claimed screws, nuts and maybe a box full of re-straightened nails (No sockets, mind you!) then you scored well beyond belief with these tools. With these you can do things, otherwise, not practical or at least very awkward. For example, I actually cut a top for a workbench inside my apartment at the time from a full sheet of 3/8" plywood - one long 8' cut and another 4' cut on that tiny Dremel table saw!! I could only see the blade, my marked line and the surrounding floor during that cut while slowly feeding the sheet.

    I have only recently thought of selling that machine to get tools I need now, but I always stop short after recalling the memories associated with those tools!

  5. #4
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    Hey joe, yes its amazing what we can do with very little when we have to. Nowadays we can go buy a tool without breaking the bank but back then we used whatever we had. Nice vision of you cutting 8' of ply on a miniature machine, something i would have done. My son asked to use the unimat one day and dropped it breaking the clip on the drive cover and bent one of the wheel handles. His nickmame became Dennis after Dennis the Menice so everytime he broke something he would announce "I dennised it".

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    Supporting Member NeiljohnUK's Avatar
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    Nice story and a good adaption, we use Unimat's for 'spin-casting' glass due to their usefully small size which fits inside the controlled atmosphere glovebox where the 'glass' is made and melted (not your usual sort of glass). I have the slightly larger Emco Compact 5 for space reasons at home, it had been very badly treated by the school it came from, but for my uses it's ok, bigger jobs or high accuracy I do during lunchtime at work. Good Unimat's are making crazy money now!

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    Thanks neiljohn for your message, that post is 2 years old and yeah it's amazing how much $ these little machines are asking for now, even the dodgy ones. Cheers mate

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    editor@glue-it.com's Tools
    Hi All, just got a great article sent to me from Ray Dean about his 24V DC motor conversion for the Unimat 3.

    unimat 3-uni-4.jpg

    This is a great simple conversion and gives a lot better power and torque than the sewing machine motors that I have used in the past.

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to editor@glue-it.com For This Useful Post:

    kboy0076 (May 5, 2021)

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    greenie's Tools
    I will second the motion that by replacing the motor with a 24 volt DC motor, sure makes the U3 a far more versatile lathe, than with the 240 volt AC motor that's fitted as per original.
    It now can cut mild steel with a full 2mm of the tool tip buried into the material, 4140 you will have to have that 2mm reduced to just 1mm tooltip buried in the material, but it sure can cut it now.
    I'll be keeping a close watch on all the changes I have done to it, to see if this extra power will start to wear out something else, only time will tell me that though

    Just take it easy as your starting to cut the material, then keep applying pressure as the swarf magically appears, with-out the lathe motor stalling - ah bliss, eh.

    Unheard of performance now, compared to when you're just using the 240 volt AC motor.
    Last edited by greenie; May 3, 2021 at 05:44 AM.

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    editor@glue-it.com (May 3, 2021)

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    Supporting Member WmRMeyers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeVanGeaux View Post
    I enjoyed the account of your Unimat 3. I have the very same model that I inherited from my dad. I recall the day we both "bit the bullet" and went to downtown New Orleans to get some equipment to finally get busy making things. This was back in about 1976.

    We each spent over a month's pay on tools. He bought just about everything he could afford to make the Unimat 3 a usable addition and I bought nearly every other tool (in its miniaturized version, of course) which included a Dremel drill press, scroll saw, table saw, drill, vise and many other tools and accessories - tools that I STILL use to this day - though I save those tools for projects more suited to their limitations.

    I have always bit my tongue when people trash these tools! If you have nothing but a hammer, dull hand saw and a small set of screwdrivers, wrenches, re-claimed screws, nuts and maybe a box full of re-straightened nails (No sockets, mind you!) then you scored well beyond belief with these tools. With these you can do things, otherwise, not practical or at least very awkward. For example, I actually cut a top for a workbench inside my apartment at the time from a full sheet of 3/8" plywood - one long 8' cut and another 4' cut on that tiny Dremel table saw!! I could only see the blade, my marked line and the surrounding floor during that cut while slowly feeding the sheet.

    I have only recently thought of selling that machine to get tools I need now, but I always stop short after recalling the memories associated with those tools!
    I've never managed to lay hands on a Unimat of any sort, and for much of what I want a lathe for, they're much too small, but you can do things on a small lathe that are much more difficult on a bigger lathe, too. Over the past 13 years, I've been accumulating machine tools, and learning to use them. I'm up to 4 lathe, with 3 of them functional. One is a restoration project, and another probably should be, but I settled for rewiring it. It still isn't finished, because I've had to tear the shop apart several times since then, to fit more stuff in. I'm hoping that once I have the 3-tetris puzzle that is my shop together, I can get the kids to come visit and learn to play with me. Didn't get to do much of that before. I have decided that I was a crappy dad.



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