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Chris M Pyle
03-26-2011, 6:28 PM
I'd like to ask any of you who have metalworking experience, do you have a suggestion for a small mill/lathe to produce screws and various parts for planes?

I know that is very open ended but I was hoping someone could suggest a mill/lathe that is known to be reliable. I've seen the unimat sl-1000 and it looks nice if you can find parts etc

Any suggestions are appreciated. This will be used for any woodworking tools I may need.

Thanks for any help

Bruce Boone
03-26-2011, 10:14 PM
My recommendation would be to first get a solid medium sized lathe. With it, you can make screws and bolts. They can be found used at various places like Craigslist and used machine tool companies. For a new lathe, Enco seems to have some of the most competitive prices. Next, you can check into the mill. Again a used real mill is better than a toy mill in my opinion. Beefy is the name of the game. I would certainly recommend a free standing Bridgeport type mill if you can afford one. In my opinion, the tools that are small and made to convert from milling to turning and back do neither very well.

Stephen Pereira
03-27-2011, 2:35 AM
Hi Chris,

Oh boy..where do were start? OK.. a Unimat, although a nice machine, is, IMO a bit small.
You'd want a lathe with threading capabilities maybe an import 9x20 or even better a 12x38..maybe an old 9" SB, Logan etc. As Mr Boone posted "beefy is the name of the game"..or the more cast iron the better. I will guarantee you that once you get started with metalworking machinery you will soon outgrow "toy" machines.

Mill.I agree with Bruce.. a Bridgeport or Bridgeport clone is the way to go. However, many planemakers begin with a mill/drill and do very very nice work..however if you check out the
blogs of accomplished planemakers just about every one of them has updated to a 'real" milling machine.

Chris M Pyle
03-27-2011, 12:07 PM
Thanks guys. I've found a few books/blogs/videos to show me some of the basics. I'm not intending to turn this into a business, rather I want to make the tools that I want to use and maybe I'll gift a few to those who need them.

One thing I am afraid of, is the weight of some of those mills. I've never moved something that heavy, i wouldn't know where to begin. I will begin looking at the bridgeports and the bridgeport clones.

I really appreciate your help, I'll start searching for planemaker blogs to get an idea of their methods, I imagine mine will be much more crude :)

If you guys have any other suggestions, blogs, videos or books for a beginner, I'd appreciate it. Thus far I have only built wooden tools (planes, planehammer, square) so this will be taking me into uncharted territories but i have some ideas for planes and I want to see them realized.

I don't have unlimited space, but i have a friend who is letting me have a 2000+ sq. ft. area for woodworking and metalworking. This is what has prompted me to finally start acquiring the tooling I need.

Chris Fournier
03-27-2011, 2:04 PM
I wish I had a friend lending me 2000 sqft!

Don't get a tiny little lathe with the space you have coming. It is shocking how quickly you can use up a lathe's capacity and oddly enough by capacity I don't only mean distance between centres and the swing but also the inherent rigidity of the beast. I know that you plan to use the lathe to make tools but the lathe will always offer you more opportunities. That being said I'd look at the 12/38 import machines or a nice clean US machine like the Southbend. The imports cut Imperial and metric threads this is useful. Don't buy a clunker!

The Bridgeport is the jack of all trades and the master of none. In the big scheme of milling metal it's not a super rigid beast but it has a large working area and tooling is readily available. It is also super common in the used market. For tool building the offshore RU45 is worth looking at as it is smaller and less intimidating to move while being a pretty decent machine.

Get a good grinder setup and learn to sharpen your own HSS tools.

Check out: http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/ This forum has a ton of helpful and knowledgable members who can guide you on your way!

ray hampton
03-27-2011, 2:54 PM
the unimat line of lathes use the same attachments as the other small lathe 7x10-7x14 by different companies ,,check out http://littlemachineshop.com/ to compare the different lathes to the unimat

Stephen Pereira
03-27-2011, 5:41 PM
One thing I am afraid of, is the weight of some of those mills. I've never moved something that heavy, i wouldn't know where to begin. I will begin looking at the bridgeports and the bridgeport clones.

.

Moving something as heavy as a mill isn't all that bad. You should have a forklift or a pretty good sized Bobcat. I've heard of people hiring tow truck operators with a roll off bed. Anyway once you get the machine in the front door..(watch your door height, you might have to partially disassemble) gather a supply of 1" or bigger pipe. Use prybars and pipe to roll your mill to its final destination. Then level the mill and your done.

As Chris suggests, check out the homeshop machinist forum..tons of good info and they tolerate beginners. In addition the Practical Machinist forum, while not as friendly towards novices has lots of knowledgable people. They have a "classified" section where one guy in PA sells reconditioned BP for less than an Asian clone..maybe something to consider.

Chris Fournier
03-27-2011, 5:46 PM
And to add to Steve's suggestion for moving a full sized Bridgey, lower the knee all the way and rotate the head to upside down and you lower your C of G alot and the move on pipes is even easier. It's remarkable what you can move with a friend or two that can be counted on to be careful and think like Egyptians.

Seriously, 2000 sq ft? I'm pouting for the rest of the day. Show us your set up when you get there!

Bruce Boone
03-27-2011, 9:31 PM
Also, if you foresee a lot more machines in your future, a cheap engine hoist from Harbor Freight for ~$300 is worth the cost. I have one that gets put to use about once a year or so.

You'll possibly find that good machines pay for themselves very easily, so it's good to keep options open. My philosophy after years of buying a lot of bad and good tools comes down to this: Always buy the best tool you can afford and never regret it. You'll find uses for it that you haven't yet considered.

Dennis Ford
04-06-2011, 8:45 PM
I agree with buying the best that you can afford; BUT consider that tooling is very expensive also. If you get a decent quality machine with the tooling that you need now, you can add tooling later for those jobs you haven't thought of yet. Also a mill with an R8 spindle will be easier to get tooling for than some of the obsolete tapers (as an owner of a machine with B & S #9 spindle, I experienced this a few times).

Stephen Pereira
04-08-2011, 12:11 AM
I agree with buying the best that you can afford; BUT consider that tooling is very expensive also. If you get a decent quality machine with the tooling that you need now, you can add tooling later for those jobs you haven't thought of yet. Also a mill with an R8 spindle will be easier to get tooling for than some of the obsolete tapers (as an owner of a machine with B & S #9 spindle, I experienced this a few times).

As Dennis says, tooling will be expensive..prolly cost you more than the inital price of your machine. R8 taper is the most common in knee type mills..maybe not the best..but the most common. Old mills with B&S or morse tapers..expensive and hard to find tooling. Stick with R8 or Cat 30-40 tapers

Chris M Pyle
04-09-2011, 8:29 PM
Thanks guys, I just went to look at the shop for the first time after being told about..... HUGE. This warehouse has just over a million square feet. He asked how much space I wanted and I just laughed. I have to frame it and run dedicated lanes to my bays but it will be a nice upgrade from the back of garage 30x60 feet

I am still looking around for equipment, the thing I am worried about, is that if I buy anything that is beat up, I wouldn't know how to fix it up. In order to learn, I was planning on renting a few videos or signing up for "Machinists University" or some such thing on one of those video rental websites. Since metal working is greek to me, I would be starting with the very basics.

Thanks for suggestions.

Chris Fournier
04-10-2011, 2:42 PM
Thanks guys, I just went to look at the shop for the first time after being told about..... HUGE. This warehouse has just over a million square feet. He asked how much space I wanted and I just laughed. I have to frame it and run dedicated lanes to my bays but it will be a nice upgrade from the back of garage 30x60 feet

I am still looking around for equipment, the thing I am worried about, is that if I buy anything that is beat up, I wouldn't know how to fix it up. In order to learn, I was planning on renting a few videos or signing up for "Machinists University" or some such thing on one of those video rental websites. Since metal working is greek to me, I would be starting with the very basics.

Thanks for suggestions.


Please don't quote us anymore about your shop space - upgrade from back of 30 X60 garage does nothing to endear you to us spacially challenged folks! The green eyed monster being what it is and all.

http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/ Just one place to start looking for your education. It won't take you long, nor will it take many tools to put toghether the info and kit that you need to buy a tight machine.

Johnny Kleso
06-06-2011, 10:15 PM
I would check Grizzy, they sell some pretty nice stuff for imports..

Also check out
http://www.practicalmachinist.com/

David Kumm
06-15-2011, 12:05 AM
A millrite is a pretty nice older mill. About 2/3 the size of a bridgeport. R8 is important but I would also recommend a three phase machine and run it off a vfd. You can vary the speed without changing belts most of the time. Also easier to find and generally less rather than more expensive. Dave