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Thread: AR-15 80% Lower Milling

  1. #1
    caprio is offline Plastic
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    Default AR-15 80% Lower Milling - Mill Recomendations

    I have an 80% lower and need to complete it. I've seen a few video where guys complete
    these with only a drill press. Seems a bit crude.

    I'd like to know if one of the smaller milling machines like the ShopFox
    or Harbor freight milling machines would be adequate for the job?

    ShopFox M1036 Features ~$400

    Motor: 0.2 HP, 2A, 110 Volt, single-phase
    Drilling capacity: 1/4-Inch
    Spindle taper: JT1
    Spindle travel: 1-1/2-Inch
    Table size: 3-1/2-Inch by 8-Inch

    Harbor Freight Mini Mill 2 speed variable ~$500
    Horsepower (hp) 4/5
    Maximum speed (rpm) 2500
    Minimum Speed (RPM) 1100
    Number of speeds Variable
    Spindle Taper R8
    Voltage (volts) 120
    Chuck size (in.) 7/64 in. - 1/2 in.
    Last edited by caprio; 01-28-2013 at 04:56 PM. Reason: change title

  2. #2
    Greg White is offline Titanium
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    Sure it will, makes sure your drill chuck is big enough to fit ur mill bits.
    Gw

  3. #3
    GGaskill is online now Stainless
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    That #1 Jacobs Taper would steer me away from the Shop Fox pretty quickly. You don't really want to be holding end mills in a Jacobs chuck.

  4. #4
    caprio is offline Plastic
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    Default Mini Mill. Harbor Freight vs. ShopFox

    Thanks for the comments so far. Please keep them coming.

    I was leaning towards the Harbor freight. It has a 4/5 HP rating while the ShopFox
    only has a 0.2 HP. I like the digital depth gauge on the ShopFox. The harbor freight
    comes with the feed table. The shopFox it's extra. HF mill has a 1/2 chuck, SF looks like
    it only takes 1/4" bits? HF has 20% coupon so I can get this for $399 and have it today

    Sorry if this is a stupid question. Don't both of these mills have Jacob chucks? AFAIK a Jacobs
    chuck is a generic term for the common power drill type chuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by caprio View Post
    I have an 80% lower and need to complete it. I've seen a few video where guys complete
    these with only a drill press. Seems a bit crude.

    I'd like to know if one of the smaller milling machines like the ShopFox
    or Harbor freight milling machines would be adequate for the job?

    ShopFox M1036 Features ~$400

    Motor: 0.2 HP, 2A, 110 Volt, single-phase
    Drilling capacity: 1/4-Inch
    Spindle taper: JT1
    Spindle travel: 1-1/2-Inch
    Table size: 3-1/2-Inch by 8-Inch

    Harbor Freight Mini Mill 2 speed variable ~$500
    Horsepower (hp) 4/5
    Maximum speed (rpm) 2500
    Minimum Speed (RPM) 1100
    Number of speeds Variable
    Spindle Taper R8
    Voltage (volts) 120
    Chuck size (in.) 7/64 in. - 1/2 in.

  5. #5
    wyop is offline Cast Iron
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    You (and everyone else looking at these table-top ChiCom mills) needs to understand something about Chinese machines:

    When you, I or anyone else in the US says "1 horsepower," we're thinking of a horse like a Percheron or a Clydesdale.

    When the Chinese Commies say "1 horsepower," they're pointing to a picture of a Shetland pony and saying "Well, it looks like a horse... it has four legs and eats hay, right?"

  6. #6
    caprio is offline Plastic
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    Understood. I really hate to buy Chinese crap and prefer American made. Can you recommended
    an alternative? I've been searching around on eBay and Craigs list but just haven't found a reasonable
    priced unit.

    Thanks.

  7. #7
    pmtool is offline Aluminum
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    Asking questions about junky import mill drills will get this thread deleted.
    wgnrr1, Nmbmxer and Rob F. like this.

  8. #8
    Perry Harrington is offline Titanium
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    Bridgeport Mill

    Guy wants $750, don't know anything about it.

  9. #9
    GGaskill is online now Stainless
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    I assume the HF comes with a jacobs-type chuck on a arbor, but its primary tool holding method is the R8 collets. These are much more appropriate for holding tooling that will develop side thrust than a chuck, which I have seen broken of its arbor with a stub left in the back of the chuck.

  10. #10
    Cole2534 is online now Titanium
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    And here I am, wishing I had a heftier machine to finish out the trigger pocket...

  11. #11
    wyop is offline Cast Iron
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    For most people who aren't going to use machines full-time, they could do FAR worse than to seek out a Bridgeport with a J-head. That's the head that needs you to change belt positions on a pulley to change speeds. They're nearly bulletproof and idiot proof.

  12. #12
    MIBill is offline Cast Iron
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    If you have the room for it keep looking for a used Bridgeport. Although I did a lot of work on my first mill (Jet Bench-top), I do kind of regret buying it now. It has been collecting dust since I got my Bridgeport running. I was a PITA to do a lot of things on it. The table was too small... There was too little clearance under the ram for some things... When raising the head on the column the zero would change. too short of a stroke on the column... You can do a lot with a small mill. I'm not saying it CAN'T be useful, but you will spend MANY more hours do things on a small mill.

    I paid $70 for my Bridgeport... No I did not miss type that. It cost me JUST over $200 for parts to get it up and running. Less than $300 for a J-head Bridgeport.

    Then there is the VFD ($150)... For the most part I can forget that it's a J-head now. It runs from about 500RPM to 3,000RPM without changing the belt position. That covers 90%+ of all my work.

    Then there's the ball screw, pulleys, belts, Hardware, motors, drivers, power supplies and software for the CnC conversion I cooked up. I was on the hook for about $4,000, total, at that point. Add the DRO, tool holders, Pump for coolant... I could go on. The point is it is probably best not to buy a mill at all :-) It will never be big enough, or bad enough and there will always be something else to add to it (I'm about $500 away from adding the 4th axis).

    It's kind of like a combination new girlfriend/heroine addiction. You will spend all your time and money on it...

  13. #13
    MIBill is offline Cast Iron
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    Quote Originally Posted by wyop View Post
    For most people who aren't going to use machines full-time, they could do FAR worse than to seek out a Bridgeport with a J-head. That's the head that needs you to change belt positions on a pulley to change speeds.
    Three letters... VFD. It will run a 1/2" EM down to 65SFM (@500RPM) and tops out at 3,000RPM. It's a little slow for a 1/16" EM so I have to watch my feed rates. I might be able to run the motor faster but I don't want to damage the old beast. I have dilutions of getting a higher RPM 2HP inverter duty motor for it... New precision bearings...

    For slower speeds... Back gear! It's great for running the coaxial indicator. With no load on the motor like that I can turn the spindle at about 20RPM without changing the belt. If I drop the belt I can get down to about 14RPM and still have usable torque or about 3RPM with light to no load.

    Quote Originally Posted by wyop View Post
    They're nearly bulletproof
    You basically have to roll the damn things off a truck to do any damage to them! (that's how I got mine for $70)

    Quote Originally Posted by wyop View Post
    and idiot proof.
    I know what your saying... However, NEVER underestimate idiots!

  14. #14
    Doug W is offline Hot Rolled
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    One of my 1st machines was a used jet bench top mill/drill. 15 or 16 inch??
    It would work for your project and plenty of other projects without the foot print of a BP or BP clone and the transportation hassles.

    In fact I still have it and use it multiple times a day for drilling and save my BP clone from the bearing abuse of hogging holes up to 1-1/4" diameter in steel.
    It is way faster to set up and get drilling than with a BP and has a #3 morse taper for larger bits.
    It is also far simpler to work on if it has issues.

  15. #15
    wyop is offline Cast Iron
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIBill View Post
    Three letters... VFD. It will run a 1/2" EM down to 65SFM (@500RPM) and tops out at 3,000RPM. It's a little slow for a 1/16" EM so I have to watch my feed rates. I might be able to run the motor faster but I don't want to damage the old beast. I have dilutions of getting a higher RPM 2HP inverter duty motor for it... New precision bearings...
    Exactly my point. For less money than one can spend on a piece of ChiCom scrap, you have a real machine. VFD's are great... but not absolutely necessary to get useable work done with a J-head machine.

    Just don't tell the wife about the relative size difference ... and how there will have to be a car parked outside if you get the Bridgie instead of the ChiCom bench mill.

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