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#1 Dallas Racer

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:11 PM

I'm thinking about getting  a manual milling machine just for something to do. I've always wanted one, but don't have anything I really want to make, so I never have. Maybe a couple of vintage drag style chassis, but some are already being made that are way better than I can make, and buying a mill for just that makes no sense anyway.

 

But I figure it will be a lot of fun learning how to use it, even if don't end up making anything. When/if I get tired of it I'll get rid of it.

 

I don't want to get a marginal one though, as that won't be any fun. I was going to get this used Wong Fu round column mill because, in spite of its shortcomings, they are supposedly more rigid than most import mini mills. But they're 400-500lbs. That's going to be hard to deal with.

 

https://dallas.craig...6492959190.html

 

These get good reviews for what they are, and are much lighter, but now I'm jumping up to $1,600 shipped for something just to F around with. That's hard to justify.

 

http://www.precision...m/shop/pm-25mv/

 

I know there's a lot of machinist of the forum. What are your thoughts?

 

PS: I'm aware I'll have to spend a @#$% load of extra money on tooling. I'm ok with that.

 

 


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#2 Dennis David

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:17 PM

Have you considered Sherline?
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#3 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:27 PM

https://sherline.com/


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#4 Dave Crevie

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:34 PM

Technically those are not mills, without knee action they are jig borers. But they probably don't have the precision

spindle/quill assemblies to actually do jig boring. As a cheap hobby machine they are probably alright, but your

depth of cut accuracy will not be great. 



#5 Dallas Racer

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:44 PM

I like the weight of the Sherline, but I keep reading rigidity is paramount in any type of mill. That's why I'd really like to get that Wong Fu. I just don't have any means of dealing with its weight. The Precision Mathews weight I can get around.

 

Read what these pro machinist have to say about mini mills in general. They don't think they're worth buying for any reason: http://www.practical...i-mills-313526/ They say get a used real mill. But then you get back to the weight thing. And the space. And supplying power.


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#6 Dennis David

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 01:58 PM

Sorry but i tuned that out months ago. Technology is changing, some people refuse to change along with it. It all depends on the materials you use and speeds you are willing to put up with.

Besides that, it's more like my machine is bigger than your machine. I had three uncles that were master machinist who originally worked at United in the 60s but that's not what everybody needs to get the work done.

Go with what you can fit in your workspace and work within its limitations.
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#7 Half Fast

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 02:02 PM

I think what a skilled pro machinist, would find acceptable is totally different from what a hobbyist needs or can afford.
 
Cheers

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#8 Dallas Racer

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 02:45 PM

Technically those are not mills, without knee action they are jig borers. But they probably don't have the precision

spindle/quill assemblies to actually do jig boring. As a cheap hobby machine they are probably alright, but your

depth of cut accuracy will not be great. 

 

Dave, you sound like you've done machinist work. Keeping within my limitations, what would you get?


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#9 Pitt Man

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 03:38 PM

Hey Phil,

 

Dennis hit it on the head with  "Go with what you can fit in your workspace and work within its limitations. "

 

I recently retired from machining after 47 years. 

 

Always a mill guy, manual, NC, DNC, CNC, shop floor programming. (nicknamed night shift mill bitch!)

 

Trust me, I know mills and what I required for home use.

 

I sprung for a cheapo Harbor Freight tabletop, I'm set up in my laundry room so space is at a premium.

 

Do I wish I had a shop floor programmable Bridgeport? YEAH, you betcha, but not practical.

 

The HF mill is lightweight, can't take heavy cuts, but it works fine for what I need.

 

Making padlock parts and frame pieces is no problem.

 

Today's project is making a pair of vise jaws for a buddy. Hot roll steel, taking .020" deep passes with a 3/8" hog mill. Nibble, nibble, nibble, but it gets done!

 

003r.jpg


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#10 Dennis David

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 05:46 PM

Check out those collets! Those are some big bits. My largest end mil is 6 mm and Face mill is 12 mm LOL


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#11 Tim Neja

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 06:02 PM

Bottom line is if you're already knowledgeable about machining,  you can get a LOT done with a very simple machine as Bob aptly demonstrates with his post!! Fit your BUDGET and your ROOM with what you really plan to make!! Sherline or Harbor Freight will probably do more than you need for the next several years!! 


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She's real fine, my 409!!!

#12 Dallas Racer

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Posted 14 February 2018 - 06:34 PM

Bob, I've seen your pics and post about milling on DC punk. I meant to message you but I forgot. 

 

I knew you were a machinist but I didn't you were the night shift mill bitch!  :D  Note: I did 3 or 4 years on 2nd and 3rd shift in the '70s. I was a welder and a fitter manufacturing water and oil well equipment. Some people love it but I hated it. I couldn't sleep during the day.

 

I worked at a big company that had 100-150 machines of all types and sizes. That's where my interest in machining was born. In the '80s I bought an old, small Craftsman lathe. I never did get the hang of it though. Now with youtube and the internet it's much more doable. I wish I still had that lathe.

 

Today's project is making a pair of vise jaws for a buddy. Hot roll steel, taking .020" deep passes with a 3/8" hog mill. Nibble, nibble, nibble, but it gets done!

 

You're obviously a very patient person, especially since you're use to doing things at pro milling speeds. I'm a patient person too. Good thing, because it takes me weeks to build a chassis. But cranking pass after pass after pass on a manual mill may be too much for me. That's why I wanted a slightly bigger mini mill.


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#13 Jesse Gonzales

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 01:47 AM

Check out Taig http://www.taigtools.com/mmill.html good stuff from AZ

 

Jesse Gonzales


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#14 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 02:26 AM

Mass is relative.  A tabletop Bridgeport would be nice, but you need to bolt the smaller machine to the worktable securely.  Each machine use collets of standard sizes which have material limits.  These numbers are the ones you really need to be concerned with.


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#15 havlicek

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 07:42 AM

So...I am NOT a machinist, but I have started down this road and bought an inexpensive machine that was "functionally capable" of doing many of the things someone might want to do associated with slots...but the machine became non-functional in a week or two (*ie: it broke).  I was able to just work-around the machine's limitations...except for the one limitation that stopped it from working :)  I sent the machine back (*which was a PITA) and got the Sherline.  The clouds parted, and everything was unicorns and rainbows (OK, I'm overstating just a little, but not much!).

The Taig that Jesse mentions is a really well-regarded machine as well, so in the same general size and weight/capacity range, I'd look at that one too.

The Harbor Freight machine (*and the same basic machine with other branding), the Micromark R8 etc. are much larger and heavier, and would no doubt be a better choice for heavier jobs if you have the space and "the need".

The Sherline WILL handle mild steel easily, but you'd be using smaller diameter tools and taking lighter passes.  Then again, for slot-car-related tasks, all of that seems entirely appropriate, and the Sherline IS a well-made precision machine.  Mine is just attached to a not-super-solid bench with two #10 wood screws, and is plenty solid, smooth and accurate.  The number of accessories for the Sherline is mind-blowing too.  If there's a particular task you're considering, they've probably got a solution.


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#16 wbugenis

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 08:17 AM

I have two of these.   This one is from ebay for a  hundred and a half. It is a dedicated machine set up for slotting commutators.

 

This is possible only because of the wide variety of attachments available from Sherline.

 

That said, you will soon reach the limitations of the small machine.

 

A nice Bridgeport bargain from ebay with a DRO is on my list

 

 

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#17 Rob Voska

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 10:16 AM

Bridgeport style is nice if you have the room.  Can be had at "auction" for a reasonable amount.  In my area that's $1500 - 3K.  Tooling usually goes cheap & it a godsend.

If you can get a 42 or 48" table.  That way you can use one end for the vice & the other for clamping or other setup's.

Rotary phase converter is good & there are plans on line how to built them cheap.

Digital phase converters are cheap and easy but take away 1/3 of the HP.  

Belt drive is fine and dependable.  Variable is nice but not needed.

DRO is nice as are the new digital scales that are like calipers. 

Check slop, backlash, wear, condition before buying.


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#18 wbugenis

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 10:30 AM

Bridgeport style is nice if you have the room. 

 
For the "serious hobbiest" having the room means a different thing than in the general (normal?) population.
 
I heard that Monty Ohren set up his surface grinder with rotary phase converter in his living room.
 
One of the frequent contributors here who is seeking information on a commercial tire grinder has not mentioned to his 
wife he plans to grind tires in the living room while she is at work.
 
I, myself, have gotten sort of  carried away with this hobby thing.
 
...Now how am I going to get that Bridgeport up the stairs?   What's that Johnny Cash Song?? ...."One Piece At a....."


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#19 Dallas Racer

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 02:38 PM

I have two of these.   This one is from ebay for a  hundred and a half. It is a dedicated machine set up for slotting commutators.

 

This is possible only because of the wide variety of attachments available from Sherline.

 

That said, you will soon reach the limitations of the small machine.

 

A nice Bridgeport bargain from ebay with a DRO is on my list

 

That's quite a setup. Why may I ask why you need that?

 

You can't get those type of attachments for other mini mills? Or those att. won't fit on other mini mills?

 

I must say I don't get the Sherlines and Taig mills. With a coupon, you can get a Harbor Freight like Bill has for less money, and it seems like a much more rigid, more powerful mill. It's a Sieg X2 (I've been researching this for weeks) and offered by many companies: https://makezine.com...er-many-brands/ There seems to be a lot of people on youtube that are plenty happy with them. Bill a pro mill operator is happy with his.


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#20 Dallas Racer

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 02:43 PM

Bridgeport style is nice if you have the room.  Can be had at "auction" for a reasonable amount.  In my area that's $1500 - 3K.  Tooling usually goes cheap & it a godsend.

If you can get a 42 or 48" table.  That way you can use one end for the vice & the other for clamping or other setup's.

Rotary phase converter is good & there are plans on line how to built them cheap.

Digital phase converters are cheap and easy but take away 1/3 of the HP.  

Belt drive is fine and dependable.  Variable is nice but not needed.

DRO is nice as are the new digital scales that are like calipers. 

Check slop, backlash, wear, condition before buying.

 

 

 
For the "serious hobbiest" having the room means a different thing than in the general (normal?) population.
 
I heard that Monty Ohren set up his surface grinder with rotary phase converter in his living room.
 
One of the frequent contributors here who is seeking information on a commercial tire grinder has not mentioned to his 
wife he plans to grind tires in the living room while she is at work.
 
I, myself, have gotten sort of  carried away with this hobby thing.
 
...Now how am I going to get that Bridgeport up the stairs?   What's that Johnny Cash Song?? ...."One Piece At a....."

 

Well don't say that. I'm trying to talk myself out of that.  :laugh2:

 

I'm not hurting for space, and a small knee mill is sounding better and better. Grizzly even has small one: http://www.grizzly.c...ical-Mill/G0728


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#21 havlicek

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 03:15 PM

 

 

I must say I don't get the Sherlines and Taig mills. With a coupon, you can get a Harbor Freight like Bill has for less money, and it seems like a much more rigid, more powerful mill.

 

Well, it's EZ.  The Sherline (*and I presume the Taig) are very accurate mills capable of producing fine and repeatable work, even from a hack like me.  I'm sure the Harbor Freight (*and similar made by the same factory) is way more powerful and solid.  More "accurate"?  I wouldn't know, but there's nothing lacking in the accuracy department with the Sherline.  What's more important is the kind of work you expect to do, figure that and a little "what if I want to try something more?" into the equation.  For me (*and I "think" for the majority of slot-car enthusiasts), something like the Sherline is a no-brainer.  Lastly, if it matters at all, the Sherline is made in the USA.  So...the Harbor Freight is bigger, heavier, more powerful, and more "solid" (*at least from a weight standpoint for sure).  None of that makes it necessarily more appropriate for slots-related machining.  That is all according to the individual...and "horses for courses".

BTW, unless bottom line price is the major factor, I think the MicroMark has some things in it's favor over the Harbor Freight if someone is going in that direction.  I forget though.


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#22 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 15 February 2018 - 05:37 PM

I used a Grizzly (like the Harbor Freight or Micro Mark minis) for years.  It was OK.  The lead screws were not particulary accurate and it was tough to eliminate the backlash.  I replaced them with Micro Mark "true inch" lead screws - a little better.  The gibs required constant adjustment.  The sweet spot - tight enough to avoid any twisting motion but loose enough to avoid impossible to turn hand wheels was hard to find.  The (plastic) gear drive failed and I replaced it with a belt assembly from Little Machine Shop.   

 

The real jump in functionality came with fitting a 3 axis DRO (from eBay)  This replaced the less-than-precise lead screw action with a measured true travel from the DRO and eliminated backlash issues.  I no longer needed layout lines and hole spots on the workpiece.  I would make a simple drawing with reference point positions noted, set a 0,0 and crank to the numbers.  My DRO was switchable from inch to mm readout so I could mix dimensions on the drawing, e.g. make an inch dimensioned motor mount but set the motor mounting holes in mm.

 

A downsizing move spelled the end of that mill.  I considered a Sherline or Taig  (btw, of the two I consider the Taig, also USA made, as far  better).  There are, so far as I know, no off-the-shelf DRO packages for either although I am sure one could be assembled from readily available parts.  My build program has taken a different path - lightweight chassis/cars so I have not pursued this.  Of course, a CNC system can function as a DRO.

 

EM


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#23 havlicek

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 06:33 AM

 

 

There are, so far as I know, no off-the-shelf DRO packages for either although I am sure one could be assembled from readily available parts

? Sure there is:

https://sherline.com...x-power-supply/

 

...as well as CNC-ready, or CNC equipped and accessories to do about anything you could dream-up.


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#24 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 09:32 AM

The read-out is not the issue - plenty of those around.  It's the scales and appropriate mounting brackets that will take some planning.

 

EM


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#25 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 16 February 2018 - 09:44 AM

And a correction - a CNC system can function as a "DRO" but it is not the same - the DRO directly measures movement (like a pair of digital calipers) while the CNC system infers displacement by counting turns of the lead screw and is therefore subject to leadscrew and backlash errors.

 

This leads me to speculate on the possibility of a hybrid system: steppers to drive the motion and control acceleration, deceleration etc but absolute position controlled by scales  (and if this is like most of my Eureka! moments, it has already been done.

 

EM


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