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View Full Version : Mills and Drills Someday a mill



Mike Heidrick
02-03-2011, 12:57 AM
Someday I woul dlike to own a benchtop mill. I saw David P Best's millon Fog the other night. Awesome. What benchtop mill's are you folks using?

Bill Bukovec
02-03-2011, 9:03 PM
We have a small Grizzly at work that gets light use.

I don't want to start a vendor bashing thread, so I will just say I would recommend a mill with a higher price tag.

The bearings in our quill need replacing after a year.

Bill

Stephen Pereira
02-05-2011, 8:48 PM
I would suggest a knee mill instead of a mill/drill. One of the main diffrences is that you can raise or lower the table( z axis) without loosing your location . In addition a knee mill gives you more room between the spindle and table. Oh.. and while you are at it don't forget to buy a DRO..you'll be glad you did.

Scott T Smith
02-05-2011, 10:07 PM
I would suggest a knee mill instead of a mill/drill. One of the main diffrences is that you can raise or lower the table( z axis) without loosing your location . In addition a knee mill gives you more room between the spindle and table. Oh.. and while you are at it don't forget to buy a DRO..you'll be glad you did.

+1. I would add a power feeder as well. The knee mills maintain a much tighter tolerance than the mill drills, and are typically higher HP. Plus there is a ton of tooling available used (or even imported new) for the basic Bridgeport clone knee mill.

Stephen Pereira
02-06-2011, 1:07 AM
+1 for the power feed..AND.. a Kurt vise..let's see..DRO, power feed, Kurt vise..that adds about $2K to the price of your basic mill. You will spend more $$ on tooling than you did for the basic machine.

Keith Outten
02-06-2011, 12:18 PM
I think most woodworkers would be happy with a bench top Mill/Drill, they normally sell for under $1k.
I own a Grizzly bench top Mill/Drill and although it isn't a knee mill it is a solid machine that continues to serve me well. I did purchase the aftermarket power feed for the table and I found an inexpensive 6" vise that is made by Jet that does a pretty good job considering it isn't a milling machine style vise.

Tooling for a mill is very expensive and I doubt that the majority really need to purchase all of the goodies that you need for serious metal working to make a mill/drill worthwhile. My mill has been a great addition to my shop, I would never consider going back to a dril press again.
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Leigh Betsch
02-06-2011, 1:09 PM
I bought a Moore #1 jig borer as a substitute for a drill press and mill. While the head isn't rigid enough for heavy milling, you can do some very nice fine milling. And it's just super as a drill press. I paid $800, which is less than the PM2800 that I returned. I added a VFD so I have variable speed also.

I also have a MaxNC bench top CNC mill for complicated work. I only own 50% of the MaxNC, my partner owns the rest. It's a great little CNC to learn on but it also is not rigid enough for heavy work.

Tooling is expensive but so are dovetail jigs and WWII's.

Steve Ryan
02-07-2011, 1:46 PM
Look around on craigslist. Just be aware that most used "bridgeport" type mills will be 3 phase, and weigh about 2000 pounds.

Bruce Page
02-07-2011, 2:41 PM
I have used a few bench mills and never cared for any of them. Believe it or not, when I worked in the plutonium facility at Los Alamos Labs they had an $800 bench mill set up in a $20,000 glove box. Go figure...
The key to a good mill is rigidity. Most benchtops have a head that is clamped to a round column (ala drill press), that can move under load. You could probably get by milling lighter materials like aluminum & plastic but you would need to take light cuts on denser materials. I have never seen a benchtop that would allow you to sweep the head in relative to the table surface, a critical process when doing precision work. If the head is off from the factory, you’ll just have to live with it.
The down side to a full fledge mill is the tooling. There is a ton of accessories available for the Bridgeport type mill and very few of them are cheap.

Bruce Boone
02-08-2011, 11:21 PM
My first real machine tool was a full size mill from Enco. That was in about 1985. There is not a single day that goes by that I don't use it even today. My advice would be to see what full size mills at Enco cost, and if you can swing it, go ahead and get one of those. You'll find uses for it that you never yet considered. Tooling can start simply and be added to when it earns its keep.

David Brimm
02-09-2011, 9:15 PM
I use a full size Bridgeport at work and thought about getting one for home use too but think I've decided to just get a small lathe/mill combo like the Shop Fox for light work at home. I can always use the heavy equipment at work so that helps.

Tom Cornish
02-15-2011, 4:10 PM
If you've got the space, a real Bridgeport is really nice. There are enough shops converting to CNC and/or closing shop that the used supply is fairly good.

Tom Cornish
02-15-2011, 4:13 PM
Look around on craigslist. Just be aware that most used "bridgeport" type mills will be 3 phase, and weigh about 2000 pounds.A Bridgeport (or any other single motor 3-phase device) is trivially easy to convert to single phase operation via an inexpensive frequency drive. Google TECO and you will find a number of Bridgeport appropriate VFDs for just a couple hundred dollars.

A VFD may make a step pulley machine more attractive by providing intermediate speeds (and if you're careful, extended high speeds too). This may end up being cheaper than a variable-speed Bridgeport.

Julian Tracy
02-21-2011, 2:32 PM
183582I've got one of the commonly referred as 6x26 knee mills. They are about 900lbs or so and have a true knee instead of a column.

There's a yahoo group for owners of these mills and they can be had from any number of importers: Grizzl, Enco, BusyBee, HF, etc. The 6x26 HF mill runs on sale at times for $1395-1595. I think all Grizzly makes now is a 8x30 model...

Mine is a Jet, made in 96, and has a riser block under the head. The biggest drawback of this style of mill is the lack of space between the spindle and table. I think the comment above about the knee's benefits of having more space in compared to column mill/drills is actually backwards. Most column mill drills have the table surface a good 6-8 inches below where a comparable knee mill's table is.

You'd be much better off spending the extra $3-500 a small knee mill costs in price compared to the column drill/mills.

In terms of 3-in-ones, they are better lathes than mills, the table size and travel on the mill end of it is so limited that you'd be confined to very small stuff.

Keep your eyes out on CL, they come up frequently and one that was owned by a person is almost better than one "new" from an importer. As with most import metal working machinery, even as new, they should be considered a project tool before they can be put to productive work.

In regards to tooling, most of the small knee mills and some of the column mills have R8 standard spindles, like most Bridgeports. R8 stuff is pretty darn reasonable and widely available.

Find a couple of machinist rummage/garage sales and you'll be finely tooled up at a discount of about 90% compared to buying the good stuff new.

JT

Stephen Pereira
02-21-2011, 11:34 PM
183582
. I think the comment above about the knee's benefits of having more space in compared to column mill/drills is actually backwards. Most column mill drills have the table surface a good 6-8 inches below where a comparable knee mill's table is.


JT
Right you are..just checked Enco's site..the comparable mill/drill table to spindle was 4" greater than the knee mill. I stand corrected.

Bruce Page
02-22-2011, 12:49 AM
Spindle to table

I think the gap between the spindle-nose and the table at its lowest position is around 16 or 17 inches on my knee mill. However, I can clamp a long work piece off the edge of the table, swing the head over, and have spindle-nose to floor capacity.
I have used that setup for long pieces numerous times.

Terry Beadle
02-25-2011, 12:47 PM
I too would like a mill/drill. Something with 110V and less than 800 pounds...something around 500 pounds should be plenty. I would like to use it to make a few infill wood planes of a design I've been thinking about for a while. I've watched CL and Grizzly and it looks like such a machine would cost around $700 to $1500 just for the machine. A good vice will run another $300 or a little higher. Tooling, oil, stock etc....the total bill would be around $2000.

Divide that by Ron Brese's kit and that would be 4 or 5 kits and not have to buy/store/expend/etc.

So unless I'm willing to make infills in competition with the other makers ( that assumes skills I don't have yet ), I'd be better off just buying 5 kits from Ron and select one for each day of the week...hoot!

I guess the real issue I'm struggling with is that outside of infill planes ( milling steel and brass ), I really don't have a need for a very accurate mill/drill. My current chinese drill press has a Grizzly X Y table ( not the cheap one ) and it really does every thing I've asked of it. It's just on the cusp of not being able to mill brass effectively as there is no micrometer control of the vertical cut. It's a swag eyeball kind of thing.

I've looked at Mr. Rodregez's website ( http://tool20895.homestead.com/jose7x10taig.html ) and even bought one of his dvd's on converting a drill press to a very lite duty mill. With all the labor and skills required, I doubt I could make such a drill press mill. Probably simpler to bag groceries a while, save up, and buy something that would put such a device to shame.

So what would one use a mill/drill for if one already has a good xy controlled drill press?

By the way, I saw Ron Brese at the LN tool event in Marietta GA and he's a real master craftsman. Just holding one of his planes is a reality check to what good really means IMO. Here's a couple pics from the event.

David Kumm
03-27-2011, 4:58 PM
Take a look at used millrite, burke, or powermatic mills. Powermatic bought out Burke in the early 70's and continued production of the millrite under their name. They are about 2/3 the size of bridgeports and take up about the same space as a drill press with a million times more flexibility. You want the r8 collets, not the b and s. Three phase is preferable because for a couple hundred you can wire up a vfd and not have to change belts often. Dave

Noah Bledstein
05-27-2011, 11:56 PM
Try the Grizzly G0619 6"x21" bench top mill. It is no Bridgeport, but it takes R8 tooling, fits in roughly the same footprint required by a bench top drill press and has a very powerful brush-less motor. For my purposes it has proved plenty stiff, accurate and powerful. I use it primarily to make parts when repairing older wood working tools and for the occasional bracket, etc.... It has proved more than sufficient for these purposes and has been a great way to learn metal working. It also doubles as 18" drill press which can be useful when my 15" floor standing drill press isn't quite big enough. By all means get a knee mill if you can swing the space, power requirements and price. I hope to have one someday. Fortunately, any R8 tooling you buy for the G0619 should work on an R8 knee mill.

Terry Beadle
06-02-2011, 12:32 PM
That G0619 looks like just the ticket for my needs. Now to save up the bucks!

Do you recommend getting the metal cabinet shown with some of the other Grizzly mills? Will a cutting oil system be required?