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Thread: Affordable US-made Mill/Drill?
04-07-2010, 02:56 PM #1
Affordable US-made Mill/Drill?
I want to buy a Mill/Drill setup because I'm really limited on space in my workshop. I don't want to buy any of the junk that Harbor Freight, etc sells. Is there such a thing as an affordable (used is fine) US-made unit? I'd much prefer an old beat up US unit to a new Chinese one. Looking to spend under $1000 if possible.
04-07-2010, 03:43 PM #2
There arent really US made mill/drills.
The mill drill as a concept was invented by the europeans, and skipped straight to Taiwan.
There are small US made vertical milling machines with quills. But they are mostly bigger than benchtop, old, and somewhat rare.
I am sure a few people will chime in with their recommendations for small WW2 era american made machines. They do exist.
But if what you want is a Mill/drill, they are asian, unless you have $35,000 to spend on Milicron's Fehlman.
04-07-2010, 03:56 PM #3
Thanks, that's great info even if it isn't what I wanted to hear!
04-07-2010, 03:58 PM #4
Sounds like it's time to expand that shop!
04-07-2010, 04:34 PM #5
You're not going to save much space with a mill drill. I know from personal experience. If you buy or build a cabinet to set it on the floor space requirement will be about the same as a no. 1 Bridgeport. Depth and height are also about the same. A 26 in. table is narrower than a Bridgeport with a 36 in. or 42 in. table, and that will be your only space saving. Tools and accessories, which take up a lot of space, will be identical for both types of machine. There are worn knee mills available in your price range, but they are a lot harder to find than a Chineese mill drill. Look for a Bridgport or clone made in Taiwan or Spain. The Clausing, Rockwell and Millrite machines which are slightly smaller than a no. 1 Bridgeport are also hard to find and often command a price premium. Keep in mind too that a mill drill can be a great drill, but is a poor excuse for a milling machine.
04-07-2010, 05:09 PM #6
If you are the persistant and lucky type, you might look for a #12 Van Norman mill. They use 5V collets, and the spindle speed is a little slow for drilling, but the 12 has a small footprint. It is as simple as a stone, and can be configured to operate vertical, horizontal, or any angle between the two. The machines are available and reasonable, ($1000) or less. The collets and accessories are tougher to find. The #16 is the same, but a little larger. Good Luck and Regards, Clark
04-07-2010, 05:26 PM #7
Thanks gents, unfortunately I've already expanded the shop! Problem is, the bigger the shop gets, the more "stuff" finds its way in. I'd love to have a DP, mill and lathe but I barely have the space for one. So, I'll probably end up with a little Atlas lathe and then some sort of combo mill/DP. I'm a complete novice, and my projects will be simple - mostly small car part modifications.
I'll look into the machines you've mentioned.
04-07-2010, 07:36 PM #8
04-07-2010, 07:45 PM #9
I would bet donuts that those are chinese machines with US assembled controls
04-07-2010, 07:52 PM #10
IMHO, and from personal experience, buying a mill without a knee is just plain foolish. My mill/drill takes up about the same floor space as a small Bridgeport. Though I can produce decent work with it, a Bridgeport is more rigid and will give better surface finishes, is more accurate and has a larger working throat. You'll spend a huge amount of time coming up with tricks to get around not having a knee.
04-07-2010, 07:53 PM #11
IN doing a bit of research on the IH mill, I found reference that claims they are indeed Chinese mills with US-made CNC units. On the IH web site they make mention several times about manufacturing CNC units here in the USA, but say nothing about the mills. I have no proof, but it seems to be the case based on what I read. Too bad, it looks like the perfect size, and a good machine at a good price. A used one would be perfect for me.
04-10-2010, 07:59 PM #12
If you can wait patiently and put out a Google alert for Millrites (by Powermatic), they are known as "Baby Bridgeports" but are still pretty big. about 3/4 the size of a Bridgeport. They have a knee. The problem is that mills smaller than that are basically toys. You need some significant weight to the machine to prevent vibration/chatter. I just bought a great Millrite a few days ago and am now building a shed for it in my backyard. You can convert them to 120 also if they are not already wired that way. I'm pretty sure they are no longer in business. 100 % American as far as I know and they do come up from time to time. Just put an alert in Google for "Millrite" you'll eventually find one. I hear the Clausings are pretty good too and of the smaller variety. I think if I had to do it all over again, since I'm having to build a shed for my mill, I might just as well have gotten a Bridgeport.
04-10-2010, 08:08 PM #13
I have not seen a Millrite for many years, but I think they were decent machines. They may be listed as Burke, Powermatic and/or Millrite.
I bought a new Rockwell vertical mill in 1974 and think it is about as good as you can get in a smaller than Bridgeport knee mill. The base is quite compact, but the table obviously adds width to the space required. It is better than a Clausing in that it takes R8 tooling, and is a tiny bit bigger than a Clausing.
04-10-2010, 08:08 PM #14
I just noticed Steve you're in L.A. I'm in the bitterly cold north. You are obviously not in an apartment. It cost me a couple hundred to pour a 4 inch concrete slab (6 by 8 feet and a few inches extra for my wall frames) with a light duty rebar mesh. Have you any consideration to just building a shed and getting a Bridgeport ? That's what I'd do, the Bridgeports are plentiful and better than a Millrite. Oddly enough they are cheaper too on account that they are not as much in demand as the Millrite. Christ I envy you for having the climate. My problem is how do I heat my shack 4 months of the year. Build it Steve and the mills will come.
04-10-2010, 08:17 PM #15
i have been thinking of adding a mill myself for a long time i have looked at all the Asian gear and for the reasons mentioned above and more im now looking for a used Bridgeport it is just a better option in every way what really convinced me was reading the Bridgeport manual (you can find a copy in the manual section of this forum) it really doesn't need as much space as you may think put it in a corner use the walls to store the tooling and thats about it
what is taking up all the space in your workshop right now?
04-10-2010, 08:18 PM #16
.. almost forgot
...If you do build a mill shack, I'd recommend just pouring your pad only and hold off on everything else to give yourself lot's of manouvering room to winch in your base, then build the walls and ceiling and reassemble your mill.
04-10-2010, 08:35 PM #17
Just brainstorming, here:
Buy that beefy Alzmetal drill press that's on this site (for $1400).
That column is so much more than an import's column.
The table's pretty nice, and you can store crap under the table.
04-10-2010, 08:40 PM #18
L. Vance the key to finding the right mill is doing what I did: Put out a Google alert. I was getting hits every week but they were all down in the states or a thousand miles away up here in Canada. I also put out a Google alert for Clausing. It will even scan Kijiji and Craiglist ads and send you an email when they go up for sale.
04-10-2010, 08:44 PM #19
The Excellos are nice too. The machine shop I worked in had both a Bridgeport and an Excello. I chose the XLO over the Bridgeport, Just less clunky and easier to change speeds on them. Unfortunately for this poster they are as big as a BPort.
04-10-2010, 08:47 PM #20
I really have to applaud this guy he is doing everything he can to hang the made in USA sticker on his stuff.