Horizontal vs. Vertical Mill?
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    Default Horizontal vs. Vertical Mill?

    Please excuse my ignorance, but I was wondering how the capabilities of these two compare. Seems like if you had a horizontal mill without a vertical head, all you could do is make slots and surface. Am I wrong? Can you do pockets? Please educate me.

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    Well, technically, the horiz mill is more versatile.

    It will run end mills and well as supported arbors. A vertical mill really cannot run a supported arbor, nor are they typically nearly as rigid.

    However, the lack of a quill makes the horizontal mill much more tedious for some of the more common uses of a mill, such as drilling and boring.

    The most useful thing you can have for a horiz mill is a 90 degree angle plate, so that parts can be oriented the same relatively. Again, a trade off, you can't see as well, and it's sometimes just simply ackward to use a vise mounted vertically, so it's perpendicular to the spindle.

    Lastly, you don't really specify the type of vertical, I'm assuming you mean the standard BP style of mill with a turret. Those do give you the ability to work "off table", but horizontal mills give you the same capability, "on table", so that's really moot as well.

    Others may disagree, but for versatility, I think the horiz mill excells. Especially considering the obvious and usually simple upgrade associated with mounting a quill equipped vertical head (BP, Fray, Burke, there are lots). Also factored into my opinion is that horiz mills are usually a fraction of the cost.

    Tools

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    Here we go again...

    I think you'll find that most folks will start with a vertical, disregarding any available horizontals as being limited, I did.

    I have both now, a couple of each, though my first is the tiny vertical Benchmaster that I've had for something around 40 years.

    Now days, any heavy, deep end mill work that I need done I usually set up in my K&T 2H. It is no problem for me to stand to the side and watch the cut, with the advantages of much greater rigidity, heavier cuts and the chips fall out of the slot! This does require that you are competent in regard to depth of cut, as the hand wheels are out front, but the clutch handle on my K&T is as easy to reach from the left side as it is from the front.

    There is a term used in the descriptions of some NMTB taper holders; "gage". I have several NMTB 50 holders with "2.5 gage" etc. That is just an odd way of expressing an elongation of the projection of the nose. A 2.5" gage tool holds an endmill out an additional 2-1/2", increasing the visibility and ease of operation. This elongation is usually tapered with a beefy hold that a J head Bridgeport or clone can only dream about.

    Since my K&T is a universal, a tapered cut is very easy. Two choices, mount the part skewed to the table or swing the table to the appropriate angle. No messing with sine bars or expensive, (if it's descent) tilting vises and their size limitations. Lock that big chunk solidly to the table and whack away.

    Since you can nearly always get more bang for the buck in a horizontal, doing it over again, I'd start with a horizontal with a universal table. Best of all world's, a horizontal with a vertical head.

    A vertical turret mill can do a few things better than a horizontal but when it comes to very satisfying metal removal, they can't beat a horizontal. That doesn't mean I never use my verticals, there are little jobs with small metal removal. Oh yeah, rotary tables can mount both ways on a horizontal too.

    Now gear cutting, even spiral gear cutting...... naw, that's another horizontal book.

    In the late sixties when I went shopping for my first mill, I passed on a nice Hardinge universal horizontal with a vertical head, because it was a hundred dollars more than the Benchmaster. At that time, Hardinge had not achieved general cult status. What would I need a horizontal for anyway? I'll forever be sorry but don't tell my eternally faithful and grossly over-worked little Benchmaster. In '69, I bought a Datsun pickup, $1,800 dollars new. A hundred bucks was a lot of money, 18 of them bought a new "truck".

    Come back for lot's of counter conclusions and choose for yourself, kinda' like Ford vs Chevy. In the the car wars, you'll find most Ford guys have seldom driven Chevies and vice versa.

    Bob

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    I have made slots and surfaced and made gears with my vertical mill. I have used end mills and bored with my horizontal mill. I am happy I have both kinds, because it is usually more convenent to use one rather than the other for any given job.

    Larry

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    You don't find too many bridgeports with 50 taper
    spindles.

    To put it another way, you could slap the entire
    bridgeport on the kearney and trecker machine, and
    cut it slap in half.

    Jim

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    I forgot, I could actually swing a 48" face plate on my K&T, creating a hell of a "T-lathe".

    More practical is the 30" face plate that clears the table. Still close to double the swing of my biggest lathe.

    Oh yeah, Larry said it best, with the fewest words.

    Bob

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    Horizontals are worth scrap here
    And that is for good reason
    Also cutters with inserts for a supported arbor are seldom


    Most horisontals are universals with a lost anglehead anyway (at least over here)
    Get yourself a desent universal

    Peter

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    I have one of each.I can accomplish,on my horizontal,everything that can be done with most verticals.I could probably find a way to do the reverse using only the vertical but it would take longer to set it up.A good universal horizontal with a vertical attachment would be ideal however,us K&T owners have a difficult time securing that vertical attachment for our horizontal mills.That is,an original attachment.As tools stated BP or other heads can be relatively easy to adapt.One of the greatest attributes of the old K&T mills is their ridgidity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forestgnome View Post
    Please excuse my ignorance, but I was wondering how the capabilities of these two compare. Seems like if you had a horizontal mill without a vertical head, all you could do is make slots and surface. Am I wrong? Can you do pockets? Please educate me.
    You are wrong .

    There are some ops that are way easier on a horizontal than they'd be on a vertical, and vica versa. But, the horizontal is SOOOO much more rigid than a B'port-style vertical. If you think of a Bridgeport as a great drill press then yes the horizontal is quite limited. But if you look at more general metal removal, the horizontal comes into its own. Just having built-in geared 3-axis powerfeed is a slam-dunk IMO. Even if all I'm doing is drilling a hole, much of the time I go to the horizontal, to leverage the rigidity and powerfeed.

    Granted, if you need to do compound angle stuff, then you need a multiaxis head. I'll go out on a limb and say that for most parts, this is an edge case that the horizontal misses, and a B'Port-style vertical is optimized for.

    At the end of the day though, horizontals are so cheap, you might as well get both.

    Regards.

    Finegrain

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    Sometimes I like being wrong! After seeing many of you suggest horizontal mills due to price, this was just the info I was looking for. The reason I stated "no vertical head" was because I know the cost and availability of accessories (anyone see any cheap taper attachments?). I didn't know about the geared 3-axis power feed. Do most horizontals have geared feed? Either way, I do find many of the old horizontals a thing of beauty. I saw a Cincinatti once that was the most solid, beast of a machine I've ever seen. Would've probably needed a special floor to hold it. Thanks for all the helpful replies!

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    The more experience I got with a horizontal, the greater was my percentage of milling time in horizontal as opposed to vertical mode. My mill is a horizontal that has a small B-port head, mounted on a swing-away arm (to facilitate movement of the head without the strain of lifting and moving it), for vertical milling when a drilling/boring job needs doing. In use, the vertical head mounts on the overarm. Switching from horizontal to vertical is a 5-min job, with another couple of minutes to do a tram. Good arrangement.

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    All I am going to say is a horizontal mill with an angle plate is a vertical mill. A very VERY rigid vertical mill.

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    I'll just be repeating what most here have already said.

    But, I'll also note that for a beginner or inexperienced machinist just starting out, a vertical is probably a bit more useful and somewhat easier to use. R8 might not be the epitome of rigidity, but it's extremely common, very inexpensive, and you can do 99% of your work with just half a dozen collets, a drill chuck and maybe a small fly cutter.

    50-taper tooling is not cheap, and a 50-taper machine is not small. If you have the room and the need for something that size, they can be had for a pittance, but the more home-shop scaled machines tend to cost considerably more. Besides which, the home-shop sized stuff often tends to have a somewhat more obscure spindle taper (like B&S 9) or one that's not even as good as R8 (like Morse #2.) Ever try to find horizontal arbors with a 5C taper? 'Nuff said.

    The smaller machines also don't always have power feed, let alone power all three directions.

    But, all that said, I still agree with the others. They're extremely useful, very rigid, and can often be had for a song. If the choice is to start with a $200 horizontal or wait for a $1000 vertical, get the horizontal and start cutting, continuing to keep an eye out for a vertical.

    I'm not sure I'd recommend a horizontal as an only mill, and if you have the room for it, I'd very definitely suggest having both. I just got a small horizontal more or less tooled up, and it's proven very handy to have both options available at the drop of a hat.

    Doc.

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    I produce a product in my home shop and I use the horizontal for all of it except drilling for that I use a turret mil. I bought my K&T several years ago and it has the vertical head I used the vert head for a while but fell in love with the rigidity of the horizontal the metal removal rate is astounding I actually slow it down because I get tired changing parts out of it I prefer to sit occcasionally, this thing can work you to death and keep right on going I am looking for another so I dont have to change set ups.

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    Then you have the Van Normans, which are both in one nice compact package. They may not be a rediculously overbuilt as a 20,000lb K&T, but a little #6 or #12 (or #16S with the quill, IF you can find one) is a mighty solid little chunk of iron. I was running the Summit Bport copy at work just today, rough cutting some 3/8" plate on edge with a carbide roughing mill. The table and kneee were jumping all over the place. "Sure wish I was on my little VN," I thought. Even thought the VN probably weighs half as much, it is a far more solid machine.

    Now, add the ability to run an actual overarm setup and function as a full horizontal mill, or swivel the head up and work vertically, or anywhere in between. Several times I have drilled intersecting holes without unmounting the work or changing the drill. You just swivel the head and feed the other direction. Same for squaring up work. Face off the top, face the side, flip it and repeat.

    I wish we had a good horizontal at work. I run across jobs about every day that could be done faster and easier in a horizontal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forestgnome View Post
    anyone see any cheap taper attachments
    Ever heard of a sine bar?

    Clamp your part to the bed at the correct angle and mill your taper. Not quite as easy as a universal table machine, but you also don't have to tram the damn thing between every use either.

    Milling a taper on a turret mill is no different, except you're cutting on a different edge of the cutter. If cutting a taper or facing long work, I'd prefer a horizontal for the additional rigidity - it means you can hog more and do it faster, and swing a bigger face mill to boot.

    Compound angles are easier on the turret mill because of the ability to nod and tilt the head, but you pay for that in lost rigidity. It has it's place, but so does a horizontal.

    I've been torn between keeping and selling my horizontal because of the tremendous floor space it consumes in my humble shop, but every time I think I'm ready to give it up I realize something else that it can do better than the knee mill. If you have one, you can make it make you money. I'm still waiting to put power to mine (I need a transformer for it), but I do know it'll earn its keep once I do.

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    Put a moveable spindle on a horizontal and you now have a horizontal boring mill. All the convienence of a turret mill with the brawn of a horizontal. Chips falling away from the workpiece are another big advantage.

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    I bought a Van Norman 22LU for $600 bucks delivered on a sunday and use it as a dedicated machine with 4 beveled saws on the arbor which cut bevels on 96 parts in the length of one bed traverse. What is really a time saver (aside from four tools on the arbor) is rapid traverse on all axes for loading and unloading parts at a comfortable height and, of course, starting the next batch. I realize this has nothing to do with the original question, but thought I'd mention the rapids.

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    The combination NMTB 30 taper V/H that sits in my shop has made the most money for me in the Horizontal mode. Saws and form cutters.
    A tool maker might see the reverse, which is what a BP is all about.

    The vert spindle, is a basic drilling quill. limited to lighter cuts.

    Different horses for different courses.

    CalG

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Shaper View Post
    Ever heard of a sine bar?
    Actually I meant a taper attachment for a lathe. Guess it needed context. Never heard of one for a mill.


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