My name is Chase and I have a flashlight problem. OK, not really, but I love flashlights. The modern surface mount LEDs can be really efficient and have gorgeous color rendering. Gone are the days of blueish sterile white light. I have a small fleet of flashlights that run on 18650 lithium ion batteries. The lights run a long time, are rechargeable, and have a variety of light settings from stun to kill.
Most of them come in some form of all black tactical form factor. That is great for clipping to a belt, or holding in the backyard. What they aren’t always the best for is home projects. They tail stand ok, but are easy to tip over. I need something that will give me a stable base and let me point the flashlight where I want. Enter loc-line.
I started with a finished shot because it is a little convoluted if you aren’t familiar with some of the components. I had left over loc-line from a CNC mill vacuum project. This is 3/4″ line, and can be found in kits for reasonable prices from amazon and elsewhere. I started by prepping a base from some 3/4″ plywood, painting it a zazzy orange, and attaching a screw down base.
The loc-line will snap onto that orange base, and provide flexibility to point the flashlight. To hold the flashlight I found this snap on 1/2″ PVC fitting. It came with the cutout, and a threaded female fitting. Most of my flashlights fit nicely in the opening and their clips help keep everything in place.
A threaded 1/2″ PVC fitting went on some 1/2″ pipe. This will all fit inside the open end of the loc-line. I thought about using epoxy to bond the two together, but I don’t know how well glue sticks to the blue plastic and there is a huge gap to fill. Small screws in pre-drilled holes did a really good job of fixing both halves together.
Once fixed I spray painted the PVC holder section to match the blue loc-line as much as possible. In retrospect it would have been easier to paint before I attached. Live and learn. Now I can have blinding light pointed in any direction when I am under the sink, changing outlets, or anywhere else.
One of the early upgrades I added to my mill was a dust shoe. It was a copy of a common design in the shapeoko community. It works, but I have issues with it. The design relies on a skirt, which is never the length you want and doesn’t work well with small parts and height changes. The other issue I have is that you can never see what is going on. Some have created designs with clear materials, but those will get dusty fast. Lastly the design restricts access to the collet locker. It makes bit changing a pain. In comes my savior, Loc-Line. First a picture of the finished product so we are all on the same page. They sell 3/4″ Loc-Line for a reasonable price on amazon. I don’t recommend it however. The stuff has a large internal diameter, but the bend radius is not tight. I made an early version of this with the 3/4″ stuff and just couldn’t ever get the nozzle positioned how I wanted. Instead I recommend this 1/2″ kit from amazon. It comes with 12 segments, 3 different nozzle diameters, and two threaded NPT adapters. One is 1/2″ NPT and I think the other is 3/8″. I used two kits to outfit my mill.
Now is one of the many times I really really want a 3D printer. I could print a perfect adapter to go from my tapered shop vacuum hose line to these Loc-Line threaded adapters. Also a 3D printer would let you print all manner of nozzles. Having some be flat bottomed or concave to sit around the bit would be ideal. Alas I have no 3D printer, but luckily PVC piping got me there. My shop vac line fits reasonably well into a 1″ PVC coupler, so I started with that. I found a great tee to go from 1″ to 3/4″ pipe, and a set of 3/4″ plugs with internal 1/2″ NPT pipe threads. Loc-Line threaded adapters go into those. Take a look:
1″ coupler into 1″ tee with 3/4″ sides
Plugs installed with 1/2″ NPT threads
Painted with Loc-Line adapters installed
Just for the fun of it I went ahead and painted the PVC tee blue. Why not add some color to life. A shaped piece of wood conforms to the spindle on one side and the PVC on the other, and a hose clamp holds it all together. I forgot to take a picture, but the SVG profile is below and you can see it painted red in the finished shot. Looks stylish, has a lot of adjustability, easy to see what is happening, and easy bit access. Does it suck though? I shot some video while finding out. First I started by pocketing 1.2″ diameter hole as an easy test. Next I moved onto a deep profile cutout to see if it could suck debris from the bottom of a trench. As a bonus the nozzles hit the work surface. Being flexible they moved and didn’t interrupt the mill. I will probably chew up nozzles over time, but they are cheap enough. If I had a printer I could make my own on demand! Someday. Anywho, video time.