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Unread 03-01-2015, 10:18 AM   #1
andrewswen
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Mill machine?

Ask a welding question in the wrong forum and got chewed out, so I hope I'm asking this in the right place.

I want to buy a mill and lathe to do my own machining; too many custom projects through the years and it's getting expensive. Buying my own should cut down on cost and ugly expressions from machinist when I ask them to do a custom projects.

Any recommendations on specific brands of machines and sizes?

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Unread 03-01-2015, 02:30 PM   #2
dwilliams35
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A) what parts are you wanting to do?
B) budget?
C) available power?
D) do you have any idea how much this costs on a long-term basis? The machines are the cheap part. buying tooling from then on out is the expensive part..
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Unread 03-01-2015, 03:25 PM   #3
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new or used and how big? power feeds, NC control, full manual?

lots of things to consider.


we have a larger Enco mill with a 10x54" bed, 2 HP 3 phase power, and 3 axis DRO. i wish it was NC controlled or bar minimum had power feeds but for home use full manual control does most things i need. i have NC control at work and it makes so many things much easier. it is honestly bigger than needed for home use really, a bit smaller with a 9x48 bed. If you have 240, a simple converter is easy to build for 3 phase and that is all we did was build a rotary converter witha 5HP motor and capacitor start, planning on adding more equipment later such as a Lathe.

for a lather, what are you planning on turning? really need to figure on how long of a bed, maximum swing and the pass through hole size. at work i constantly use a small lather with only a 40" bed, 14" swing and a 1" pass through. we have another with a 60" bed, 20" swing and 3" pass through and it is 10x more useful than the smaller one. i can turn down wheels on it, drive shafts, almost anything i want on the larger one over the smaller one. i personally would not want one much smaller than it.

really gotta think about what you are planning on doing with them. and as said above, lots of coster after the machines to keep them running in consumables and attachments.
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Unread 03-01-2015, 06:33 PM   #4
andrewswen
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Most of my projects are not automotive related, but that's not to say I cannot use them for that. A bracket here, a mount there, and sometimes you get an idea in your head and you just gotta make it real.

I'm hoping 3k would be able to get me a used mill and lathe that would fit my needs. And yes, I see the attachment tools are expensive!

115 volts???

Maybe I would get a hobby mill and lathe first?
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Unread 03-01-2015, 08:42 PM   #5
dwilliams35
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3K isn't going to get you much besides one of the combination mill/lathe rigs, and that's going to be seriously limited on HP and size of parts you can work on. I really think I'd just piecemeal it with decent sized equipment rather than just getting undersized machines and having to upgrade: the mill, in my book, is much more useful than the lathe if you want to do one first: equipment will pop up on craigslist and ebay occasionally, and the ebay stuff can sell pretty cheap because they're always "local pickup": find one close enough for you to get, and you're in good shape. The mill is probably more useful than the lathe, if for no other reason than you can use it for a drill press too. I use my mill a good bit more than the lathe.
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Unread 03-02-2015, 06:24 AM   #6
Jim1611
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I have used this stuff since 1979, it's my trade and good metal working equipment will last a very long time if it's taken care of. With that in mind why not try to save some more money towards the purchase and spend about 3k on each piece. Get the mill first. I'd opt for a free standing unit with a table of about 7x42. You may have a hard time finding single phase machines though. As far as a lathe goes something along the size of a 13x40 would serve you very well. Buy these once and buy decent machines and they'll be selling them at your estate auction many years later.
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Unread 03-02-2015, 08:57 AM   #7
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All good points here and Jim sums it up nice. It really depends though on how big of a part you will make. Having to change your garage/shop for power inputs and accumulating all the tooling, not even counting your machines themselves, I am thinking your 3K budget might get you there. Then add 3K a piece for decent used machines, and then you are getting closer. I think for about 10K youd be close.

Your other option is to get a benchtop lathe/mill combo. Here is a link to one to give you an idea. There are several brands.
http://www.smithy.com/midas/pricing/xl
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Unread 03-02-2015, 03:49 PM   #8
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3k a piece is a better idea for the machines. if you only have 110V power available then you are severely limited on your equipment selection and size.

buying used you can sometimes get alot of tooling with the machines, but then you usually settle for what is available and not exactly what you want.

But as said above, buy good machines and they last a lifetime. the mill i used every day at work is from the 70's, and the lathe i use is from the 50's and still cuts precision parts.

really takes a lot of machine work to truly justify owning one at home.
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Unread 03-03-2015, 12:58 PM   #9
StanF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewswen View Post
Ask a welding question in the wrong forum and got chewed out, so I hope I'm asking this in the right place.

I want to buy a mill and lathe to do my own machining; too many custom projects through the years and it's getting expensive. Buying my own should cut down on cost and ugly expressions from machinist when I ask them to do a custom projects.

Any recommendations on specific brands of machines and sizes?
I've owned a couple of different mills and lathes in my home shop. My best advice would be to look around, be patient, and be ready to jump on used machines (ie: have cash immediately available).

$3k per machine sounds about right, then you could almost double that for tooling.

For mills, there are a ton of options - Bridgeports are great, if you can find a good one, but they are heavy, difficult to move and will require 220V with a phase converter. They will be more accurate and will cut smoother than lesser mills. There are a ton of great accessories for them.

At the other end of the scale is a mill/drill, which I wouldn't recommend, unless you will always be working on small parts. Their Y-axis, in particular, is limited. And their Z-axis will be a PITA because of the round column.

In between, there are American-made Millrites, Clausing and Rockwell smaller knee mills. They can be tough to find. Grizzly also made a little knee mill at one time, I think.

There are some dovetail column mill/drills that could be interesting.

In any case, make sure that you get an R8 spindle - that's the most common and desirable.
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Unread 03-03-2015, 01:39 PM   #10
Jim1611
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StanF View Post
I've owned a couple of different mills and lathes in my home shop. My best advice would be to look around, be patient, and be ready to jump on used machines (ie: have cash immediately available).

$3k per machine sounds about right, then you could almost double that for tooling.

For mills, there are a ton of options - Bridgeports are great, if you can find a good one, but they are heavy, difficult to move and will require 220V with a phase converter. They will be more accurate and will cut smoother than lesser mills. There are a ton of great accessories for them.

At the other end of the scale is a mill/drill, which I wouldn't recommend, unless you will always be working on small parts. Their Y-axis, in particular, is limited. And their Z-axis will be a PITA because of the round column.

In between, there are American-made Millrites, Clausing and Rockwell smaller knee mills. They can be tough to find. Grizzly also made a little knee mill at one time, I think.

There are some dovetail column mill/drills that could be interesting.

In any case, make sure that you get an R8 spindle - that's the most common and desirable.
Not to argue but I don't agree with that. He could spend the 3k on the mill and under 1k on tooling to start with. Were it me and using it the way it sounds he wants to he would be well served with an R8 collet set, an R8 Jacobs drill chuck that will hold up to a 1/2" shank, a decent hold down set and a good vise. Drill bits and end mills can be bought on a have need basis. He could pick up some measuring tools and such off ebay well worth the money too. He could also make many of his own tools like parallels, v-blocks and such.
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Unread 03-03-2015, 02:06 PM   #11
StanF
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Originally Posted by Jim1611 View Post
Not to argue but I don't agree with that. He could spend the 3k on the mill and under 1k on tooling to start with. Were it me and using it the way it sounds he wants to he would be well served with an R8 collet set, an R8 Jacobs drill chuck that will hold up to a 1/2" shank, a decent hold down set and a good vise. Drill bits and end mills can be bought on a have need basis. He could pick up some measuring tools and such off ebay well worth the money too. He could also make many of his own tools like parallels, v-blocks and such.
Seriously Jim, lighten up...I said, that he "could" spend $3K on tooling. I didn't say that he would or should initially spend that much.

He does need to start thinking about tooling, as the tooling purchased can quickly exceed the cost of the machine.
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Unread 03-03-2015, 04:37 PM   #12
Jim1611
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Wasn't trying to be heavy
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Unread 03-16-2015, 12:37 PM   #13
GrantYJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewswen View Post
Ask a welding question in the wrong forum and got chewed out, so I hope I'm asking this in the right place.

I want to buy a mill and lathe to do my own machining; too many custom projects through the years and it's getting expensive. Buying my own should cut down on cost and ugly expressions from machinist when I ask them to do a custom projects.

Any recommendations on specific brands of machines and sizes?
Before you buy a machine, I'd get a copy of SouthBend's "How to run a Lathe" as well as something similar for a Mill (The Milling Machine by Harold Hall is pretty good). Jumping in and buying machines without knowing what you need/want, how to tell if the machines that you're looking at are functional or worn out, or even how to use one once it's set up is a rough way to learn.

Read up, look around on the web and make an informed decision (there are several great machining forums that are very specifically geared to beginners). I also agree that you'll spend a lot of money on tooling. The nice side of that is (also as mentioned before) you can get it a little at a time. I bought a wild array of mill cutters a couple of months ago (around 60 cutters) for $50 from a guy on Craigslist. Some of them are worn out, some I doubt I'll ever use, but some were new and most were in good usable condition.

I'm still a beginner. I have a 10" Southbend lathe with power feed and power cross feed and an all manual mill drill. It's a nice setup for relatively small projects, but I've already got a 3 tier Mechanics toolbox set full of tooling and measuring instruments. As others have said, the machines are the cheap part. Also, do you have a good means of cutting down stock to get them to a manageable size to work with on these machines? Time to look at a horizontal band saw or power hacksaw. Don't want to buy a ridiculously expensive keyway attachment ...hmmm that old metal shaper seems like a good idea. Hate wasting all your money on new cutting tools? Ahhh... Now you need a tool grinder for the lathe bits and a Tool and cutter grinder for your mill cutters. Keep in mind that all these machines (and so many more) now have their own tooling to make them more useful as well as more consumables.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm really enjoying my equipment (I scour Craigslist every day for more equipment) and the things I can now make, but it's a really expensive way to save a few bucks. If you want to get into machining to save money, just pony up and pay a machinist or find a hobbyist in your area who would be ecstatic to have someone pay for material cost and consumables. It'll be cheaper. If you want another hobby, go for it. It's incredibly relaxing (for me anyway), but please do your homework before you run out and buy a machine. These machines are very powerful and not forgiving to someone trying to "figure things out" as they go. You could easily damage your new investment or yourself.

Be careful and good luck.
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Unread 03-16-2015, 09:08 PM   #14
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Nice...more books to add to my library! Thanks for the info.
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Unread 03-17-2015, 07:05 AM   #15
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Here's another source http://www.pdfslibfree.com/guy-lauta...ide-reader.pdf and another http://secure.villagepress.com/stor...list/group/130 this one has several good books but a bit high priced.
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