Drilling out a bolt – the hard way

After breaking my makerbot extruder head I decided I wanted to try my hand at making one from scratch. It’s a brass m6 tube with a nozzle screwed onto one end. How hard can it be!

It turns out it’s really hard, but I ended up having luck with a technique called the “afghan lathe”

Before I get too far into it I need to explain that most bolts are made of hardened steel. To de-hardened them all you need to do is to get them red hot with a blowtorch and let them cool slowly. Here is a pic of me doing just that to two m6 bolts.


After your bolt has cooled, it should look something like this.

Start out with a drill press, a vice, some c clamps and a drill bit. Put the drill bit lightly into the drill chuck backwards. Lower the drill press until you can grip the drill bit in the vice (which should be sitting on the drill press table) Clamp the bit in the vice, and the vice to the table VERY securely. Release the chuck on the drill press. Now you are going to take the bolt that you de-tempered and put it in the chuck. I left the head poking out. That will make it easier to get a good straight grip on it. Tighten everything down and grab some machining oil.
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