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Thread: I just got my 1st milling machine. Now what should I use it for???

  1. #1
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    I just got my 1st milling machine. Now what should I use it for???

    Ok I'm a woodturner & wood worker not a steel or metals worker. However I just got a deal that was to good to pass up on a good used milling machine so I took it. Now that I have it I really have no idea what I'll use it for. I don't own any other metal working tools other than a 4" grinder.
    So any suggestions as to some beginners projects I could use it for?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Meirhaeghe View Post
    Ok I'm a woodturner & wood worker not a steel or metals worker. However I just got a deal that was to good to pass up on a good used milling machine so I took it. Now that I have it I really have no idea what I'll use it for. I don't own any other metal working tools other than a 4" grinder.
    So any suggestions as to some beginners projects I could use it for?
    Hmmm.... Did you get accessories with it - t-nuts and clamping bars, a collet set, end mills, dial indicator and calipers/mikes etc? Do you have a vise to clamp onto the table? A mill by itself is not very useful without some of these things. You might list what you have plus say what kind of mill you have, table top, Bridgeport? If you give the brand and model number people might better understand the capabilities and limitations.

    The first thing I would do would be get some good books to read to learn the basics. Then practice on some scrap! You can start by milling wood and plastic with simple end mills - a lot of wood, especially harder species, cuts cleanly and more easily than with a router. Just play for a while. I like to mill HDPE plastic too, trivial to cut. You can practice milling aluminum, brass, and then mild steel to get the feel of it. Practice how to hold things to the table so when you do want to mill something you'll be ready. Practice milling to a line scribed through some dykem blue, practice milling to a precise thickness, steps, slots, edges.

    You will need some stock to play with. I collect useful scrap and buy some great metals and plastics at a local metals processing place at near-scrap prices. Online Metals and others have bundles of a variety of size and shaped metals which might be useful to play with or have on hand for projects.

    As for simple projects, some people mill some t-slot nuts to fit your table and clamping bars for their first real projects. You can always use more of those!

    Now you are going to need a metal lathe! I get a lot of use from both to make tools and things to support my woodturning and repair around the farm. There are a zillion YouTube videos about machining if you like that kind of instruction. TubalCain (mrpete222), a retired shop teacher, has hundreds of videos.

    I'll use my mill for the simplest things. For example, I wanted a special coping saw so I welded some rod, turned a handle, then used the mill to cut a couple of flats to hold the blade ends. I also milled a piece of bronze and made a branding iron for a woodworker friend.

    saw.jpg brand_composite_3.jpg

    I often make brackets, tool parts, and things for the shop. A mill makes a good precision drill press too. I find more uses for it the more I use it.

    JKJ

  3. #3
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    John thanks for your quick reply. Here's a pic of the mill. I just bought a set of 20 end mill cutters, 52 piece clamp set, wiggle center finder, set of parallel bars,and a 1,2,3 set up blocks. It came with a dial indicator & I already have a digital caliper. I hoped this was enough to get me a start. It has a really nice vise already. thumbnail.jpg

  4. #4
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    That looks like a Rong Fu mill drill, a good sturdy machine, especially compared to the little tabletop mills. And with a horiz feed! Some people don't like a mill-drill since you can lose indexing if you rotate the head and they can be a little less stiff than a mill, but they are more flexible than a fixed head mill and I think they are perfect for a home shop. If you haven't looked at there, the LittleMachineShop people have about everything you need.

    It sounds like you have you have everything you need to start playing. Have fun and don't forget the safety glasses! And save room for the metal lathe.

    JKJ

  5. #5
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    It sounds like you’re off to a good start and have a good looking vise to boot! I have the Kurt version of the same vise. I have had a full size knee mill in my shop for over 25 years. You are only limited by your imagination and skill level. There are a ton of utube videos to help developed the skills.

    Here’s a little router base I made with my mill: http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthre...le-plunge-base
    Please help support the Creek.

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  6. Nice! It's funny, I have so far only used my hobby mill and lathe so far to make tools for wood-working.

    Some ideas for simple projects that relate to woodworking -

    20161019_070542.jpg
    A mini-square for checking dovetails and narrow mortises etc.

    20170313_182254.jpg

    A wooden plane adjusting mallet?

    20170428_165918 (1).jpg

    Some dovetail marking gauges?

    Just some ideas. None require a lathe (which will be next on your list I'm sure - if you get into the metalworking thing).

    Have fun!

    Cheers,

    Dom
    Last edited by Dominik Dudkiewicz; 11-10-2017 at 7:59 AM.

  7. #7
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    Those are beautiful Dom! You are having TOO much fun. (And Bruce's router base is incredible.)

    Just as when I got my first welder, the mill and lathe have opened new vistas in my thinking. For example when I built a portable llama restraint chute I was able to machine parts for removable axles, saving a bunch of time and resulting in a better job. Once I ordered a machined steel part that came just a bit too big in diameter. No problem, no hassle - just chucked it in the lathe and fixed it in the time it would have taken me to package it for return! I think I'm spoiled now.

    I think posted this in the turning forum before - one of my wood lathe tool adapters, this one for a 5/8 tool shaft:

    Handle_roughing_IMG_5964.jpg

    JKJ

  8. #8
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    Thanks everyone for your responses.

  9. Wow that router base is epic! Awesome work Bruce!

  10. #10
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    Thanks Dominik. I bought a cnc router a few years ago and haven’t used the plunge base since.
    Please help support the Creek.

    If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something. - Steven Wright

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