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Turning nose cones

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qquake2k

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I've turned several nose cones and one tail cone from basswood, and one transition from balsa. I was very happy with all the basswood nose cones, it has a very tight grain and is very smooth. But I'm looking for alternative woods to use. Basswood is expensive, and not that easy to find. Has anybody used redwood or pine for nose cones? I figure it would have to be clear of knots, and kiln dried so it's dry enough. Anybody have any idea as to the weight differences?

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RocketFeller

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Poplar might be a good option.


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rstaff3

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I can't speak for the weight (although I could go weigh it) but this 2.6" poplar cone is pretty light. It was made by sandman. Note he hollowed it out to lighten it up.

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rharshberger

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I can't speak for the weight (although I could go weigh it) but this 2.6" poplar cone is pretty light. It was made by sandman. Note he hollowed it out to lighten it up.

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Pine you need sharp tools and to use shearing cuts to prevent tear out, Poplar works well, since it normally machines well. Redwood, I have no experience with. Hollowing all three nose cone is recommended, just like bowls however the wall thickness and base/tip needs to be uniform or cracking durinng continued seasoning is possible.
 

dr wogz

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I've heard (here!) of some people using hard woods to make heavier NC, as to not require a lot of added nose weights.

I remember a shop teacher showing us a turned piece of lilac. it was a white wood with streaks of purple / violet in it. very cool looking. Also, some 'dead' pine trees from some beetle infestation have blue in them. also very cool looking..
 

qquake2k

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Wow, thanks for the fast responses, guys! Unfortunately I haven't learned how to hollow nose cones. But so far it hasn't been an issue, and in some cases, I've had to add weight. I never thought about poplar, I'll look into that.

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Gary Byrum

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I'll throw in my 2 cents on poplar. I turned some honey dippers with it and it carves nicely. I'll say it's possible, you may not need to hollow it out given, you'll prolly need the nose cone weight anyway. I feel like giving it a shot for use as a nose cone also, so I can prolly give you some specs on it when I make one. I don't recall it being that expensive, so it's worth a try. Lowe's stocks some 2x2 " pieces which would make for some decent experimenting.
 

rstaff3

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I'll throw in my 2 cents on poplar. I turned some honey dippers with it and it carves nicely. I'll say it's possible, you may not need to hollow it out given, you'll prolly need the nose cone weight anyway. I feel like giving it a shot for use as a nose cone also, so I can prolly give you some specs on it when I make one. I don't recall it being that expensive, so it's worth a try. Lowe's stocks some 2x2 " pieces which would make for some decent experimenting.
Glad someone had 1st hand experience with poplar. When I spec's the cone, I asked Gordy to pick a wood he liked for such things. And he is what you would call an expert.
 

Gary Byrum

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I just found a bunch of leftover blocks in my stash, and I have 1.5 x 1.5" x 7" cuts of poplar, and it weighs 4.5 OZ. I could turn something up to a BT 55 size and tell you what something like a 55AC would weigh. Let me get past the morning work orders and woke up properly, and I'll turn you one out. It's not like I wouldn't have a need for a 55AC, right?
 

rstaff3

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I just found a bunch of leftover blocks in my stash, and I have 1.5 x 1.5" x 7" cuts of poplar, and it weighs 4.5 OZ. I could turn something up to a BT 55 size and tell you what something like a 55AC would weigh. Let me get past the morning work orders and woke up properly, and I'll turn you one out. It's not like I wouldn't have a need for a 55AC, right?
I like having parts laying around even if I have no immediate need. They facilitate future builds when an idea pops to mind.
 

boatgeek

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I've heard (here!) of some people using hard woods to make heavier NC, as to not require a lot of added nose weights.

I remember a shop teacher showing us a turned piece of lilac. it was a white wood with streaks of purple / violet in it. very cool looking. Also, some 'dead' pine trees from some beetle infestation have blue in them. also very cool looking..
I've made one nose cone out of curly maple and one out of pine, both solid. Neither rocket had stability problems. :) I don't remember any problems with tearout on the pine, but I don't know the details of the tools since I was borrowing lathe time. The pine was my very first turning project and it turned out really nicely, so it can't have been too hard.
 

prfesser

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My two pence: I've made many a nose cone by drilling a hole for a dowel and chucking the dowel in a drill press. The larger the nose cone the larger the dowel needs to be. A 1/2" dowel is not too large for BT60 nose cones, especially if it's longer than about 4". Even then, vibration can cause the cone to be asymmetric. I've gotten best results by using an aluminum or steel rod instead of a dowel, and drilling the hole in the stock as deep as is practical. I glue the rod with epoxy, keeping the epoxy off the very end of the rod. When the job is done I use a piece of thin-wall tubing that is slightly larger in diameter than the rod to remove the rod. Sharpen the end of the tube, file a few notches in the end, and 'drill' by hand outside the rod to the depth that the rod was glued, to loosen it from the nose cone. If the end hasn't gotten much epoxy on it you can clamp the rod in a vice and twist the nose cone off the rod.

Best -- Terry
 

qquake2k

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I've only ever used face plates for turning nose cones. I support the tip with a live center during initial shaping. I wouldn't use the dowel method on anything larger than a BT-60. There's just too much flex.

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rharshberger

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Now that I have a lathe with a dovetail chuck its time to experiment with it on nose cones, the lathe also has a MT2 mounted Jacobs drill chuck for the tail stock for center drilling and hollowing nosecones.
 

qquake2k

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I used a Forstner bit in a drill chuck to drill out the tail cone for my Bullpup.

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Gary Byrum

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Aight Cap'n. I got you some specs. This 55 AC has a 3/4" shoulder and weighs in at just over 1.5 oz. A standard balsa of the same type is right at .25 oz. Granted, that's considerable nose weight for this size nose cone, but I wouldn't be afraid to fly it on something tall and not so lean of a rocket. You've seen my birds before. They are far from being plain with all kinds of dolollies hanging off of them. Then again, hollowing it out a bit isn't a bad idea either. Unfortunately, I have no drill press to bore a hole, or a small enough face plate for a nose this size. 60 or bigger perhaps, but I'm just getting started using the face plates I've had collecting dust for a few years.

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rharshberger

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My new toy, new to me anyways, the lathe is probably at least 30 years old. It has an interesting tailstock that is X/Y adjustable, and a Teknatools Original Nova Scroll Chuck (for which accessory jaws are still available), and it has been re-motored with a Boston Gear TEFC motor, configured for 110V with adjustable speed and forward/reverse. I still need to make a steady rest for it but that is a winter project. I picked it up from my brother for $300 (which is what he paid for it). My old lathe is pictured below it (both are 12" lathes), not for comparison because there is no comparison between the RD and the Craftsman...


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Edit: picture of the Nova chuck has, two of the jaws removed so I could ID the chuck model.
 

qquake2k

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That is a thing of beauty! I used to have a Craftsman lathe just like your old one. Not a big fan of tube style lathes.
 

rharshberger

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That is a thing of beauty! I used to have a Craftsman lathe just like your old one. Not a big fan of tube style lathes.
The old Craftsman was fine for learning on, but the tube type way was a little sloppy so I never bothered getting a jacobs chuck for boring or a dovetail chuck for it. It also used MT1 spurs and centers which are pretty limited in selection, the new lathe has MT2 accessories which are much easier to find and more varied. Probably the next accessories I will pick up are a Steb type drive center and 2" and 4" faceplates, plus a swan neck carbon cutter hollowing chisel. The old Craftsman is for sale on Craigslist as I write.
 

qquake2k

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FYI, if you ever turn a nose cone for LOC 3.1" tubing, a 3" faceplate is the perfect size for the shoulder.

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rharshberger

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Thats good to know, what brand faceplate is yours? Face plates are cheap enough to have multiple sizes. My new RD lathes is threaded 1"x 8tpi, lots of options.
 

qquake2k

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A few more shots of the 3" faceplate. One thing I like about it is the small center hole makes it easy to line up the outer mounting holes. I use a transfer punch to mark the outer holes.

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