Recommendation on small mill wanted
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  1. #1
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    Hi I have listed this topic on general discussion a while back and I am hoping some of you from gunsmithing post could share your suggestions. I am looking for a small bench top mill (200-300 lbs) and I have been both reading up on foreign and domestic models(Taig, Warco, Prazi BF400 and etc). Any shopping tips and reviews and suggestions on specific model would help.

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    Your post has gone unanswered for a while so I thought I would ask a question since I couldn't find your parallel post on the General forum--did you get any recommendations over there? I have a full size Bridgeport and can't really speak to the small machines. What kind of work are you planning to do on the machine?

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    Thanks for the response Mr. GGaskill. I have posted similar topic about month or so ago. I work with mainly annealed carbon and stainless steel in small sizes, and some non-ferrous material like copper, brass, nickel silver and etc for guard and pommel on knives. Eventually I would like to challenge fabricating my own parts for bicycle and shop tools.
    I have had some helpful responses from my last post, I have got was that mini mill will work on my needs, and I didn't get much response on reccomending specific models or manufactures to look for. I guess what I wanted to know was differences between so called "mill/drill" and "mini-mill", and what would be ideal and minimal requirement for these machines. I'm lost with manufactures' claims like "precision" or "heavy duty" and I didn't know what truly makes them all that claims true or not. To make a story short, I'm looking for a simple, well crafted machine that is both dependable and provides constant accuracy without spending lots of money for tuning or completely draining my savings (I have about $1,200 to $1,500 to spend with accessory toolings).
    I have looked both domestic and foreign machines and as a beginner I have very limited knowledge on what is really provided by these manufactures (ex: made in where? How does machine rate for its performance? and etc).
    I was assuming that gunsmith would know more about these smaller benchtop machines but I appologize for ignorant assumption that you guys work with smaller machines for smaller parts.

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    1500 will get you a fully manual bridgeport, and some tooling....

    I wouldn't spend 1500 for an import, new, though, as you'll get better quality from the ole BP

    just my 2¢

    jeffe

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    Heres one that seems to fit your requirements.

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/item...emnumber=G3102


    [This message has been edited by BobB (edited 03-09-2004).]

    [This message has been edited by BobB (edited 03-09-2004).]

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    Thank you very much for both Mr. Jeffeosso and Mr. BobB for your suggestions. It would be nice to have big mill machine like both of you have mentioned, but I am looking for something lot smaller, prefarably no more than 300 lbs due to shop space and fact I have to relocate often for work in near future.
    I have noticed both of you have suggested bigger models, but I am curious if bigger machines will provide better quality?
    I am looking for something small, likely what most of people may consider as toy or hobby machine. I am new at this machining but I really like to have a machine versatile enough to handle tasks with knife making and for other interests like fabricating my own parts for bicycle and such. I do many model making for presentations as well and I was hoping I could utilize mill machining into my model making as well.
    If you guys do not mind I would like to hear more about advantages and disadvantages about issues with domestic and imports. I have seen some well crafted imports from Germany and GB but are these machines even worth consider? I maybe wrong, but I am worried those imports may have problems with finding parts, service, and etc. I'm also interested in how domestic and import's motor performs. From my experience I have noticed difference between my new Baldor motor on belt grinder to my old machine with farming grade single phase motor.
    Again, I'd like to thank both of you for your kind suggestions. And for those who are tired of newbie's what to get post, I apolagize for your patience to enduring newbie stumbling around seeking help. I hope you guys can understand that I just want to begin challenging machining with good foundation for such large investment (at least for me it is).

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    While these machines ARE large, they are fairy accurate.

    All things being equal, a heavier machine will will produce better results than a lighter one.... say you took a J head head, and bolted it to a woodern frame or a mill... you would get FAR better results, from rigidity and concentricy....

    First and foremost

    the head must Rotate and tilt. If the head does not move in 3 dimensions, (left/right, tilt in, out, turn left/right) it's a drill.

    You could look at "index" or "wells index" mills on ebay.. these are far smaller than a bridgeport, about 1/2 the weight, and still very strong machines.

    there's a couple index machines under 1000 on ebay, even a buy it now.

    for less than 300 bucks, wellsindex will regrind your spindle to r-8 from a brown and sharpe 9

    that's cheaper than a couple of BS9 collets

    Let me tell you why it MUST move.. as the typical cheapy mill doesnt, .. say you have a roundish part, that you MUST have a 21 degree notched on both ends, to make an upright for a bike... with a DRILL, there's NO possible way you could make it exactly the right angle, in alignment from both ends, deep enough, and symetrical...

    in a bridgport, you clamp the piece in a vise, with a Paralell under it, tilt the head 21d, cut 1 end, spin the vise swivle, cut the other end, and you are done... 2 mins...

    in a DRILL, that's at least 2 hours of frustration, and wasted pieces


    just my experience

    jeffe

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    Check out the Taig, it is small, lightweight, but rugged for it's size.

    http://www.cartertools.com is the site of a dealer with many links. It is not a large mill, but if it fills your current needs it is better than a Bridgeport that has to be left behind as you relocate. I have not used or even seen a Taig, but I think it might be what you are looking for.

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    The best small machines seem to be the Emco-Maiers but they are quite expensive (made in Austria.) You are unlikely to get a great machine for your budget unless you happen to fall into an estate sale or some other unpredictable circumstance like that.

    The primary drawback of "mill"/drills is they can't be moved in the vertical plane without losing registration as the column is round and allows sideways motion when it is unlocked.

    [This message has been edited by GGaskill (edited 03-10-2004).]

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    With your budget and size restrictions there aren't too many machines that will work for you. One that might be a good compromise is the Benchmaster. These are small but fairly rugged machines. What sets them appart from the mini-mills and mill/drills is that they have a "knee" that can be used to raise and lower the work, just like a full size mill.
    Here's some info.
    http://www.lathes.co.uk/benchmaster/index.html
    I almost bought one from a gentleman up in NY about a year ago. It appeared to be in great shape and was in your price range. If you are interested I will see if he still has it. I see these on ebay every now and then as well.
    If you wanted to spend more money and get a new mill, I think that Wabeco machines look pretty nice. I think that are up around $3,500 but they fit your size requirements and are certianly nicer than the Asian offerings.
    http://www.lathes.co.uk/wabeco/page4.html
    Finally, if you decide you can handle something a little larger you might consider the Rockwell, Clausing, and other similar mid-size mills. These will run 600 to 1000 lbs, but will be quite a bit more capable than the smaller machines. Good luck with your decision.

    Zach

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    Blue,
    where are you located?

    here's an AWESOME index, for 600.. buy it now.. but it's in CT

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=12584

    jeffe

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    In my opinion,

    A real nice smallish mill is the Clausing 8520 or 8525. One uses a MT2 collet the other B&S #7.

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    Others have said it, with your budget and size restrictions, your options are really limited. The small Asian stuff are poor quality; the small European machines are very expensive; good used American iron (like Rockwell and Clausing) is too big.

    For tabletop mills (say under 50lb), I have a feeling you will not be happy with the Asian "mini-mill". Visit your local Harbor Freight store and see one. Sherline (U.S. made) makes good stuff, but your project list says to me you will outgrow it.

    For benchtops, you have the mill-drills, all of them Asian these days. Quality depends on the brand and model. All of them are too heavy for you (500-700 lb), and the better ones (Grizzly #G0519, looks like a miniature bed mill) are above your budget.

    I would take a look at the Taig vertical mill, which is the largest tabletop mill I know of, is U.S. made, and the price puts it in the middle of your budget, which leaves room for tooling. From your project list, I still have the feeling you will outgrow it.

    I would honestly reconsider your requirements. Do you really have a "weight" lmit, or is it a "size" limitation? Are you planning to move machinery down into a basement, for example. I dont know the layout of your shop, but if you could "chop in half" one of your benches or tables, to make room for a small floor standing Clausing, Rockwell, (or Asian equivalent) mill, that would really open up a lot of possibilities for you. The Clausing and Rockwell mill (each about 800 lb) can be taken apart into managable pieces. Here's an example of an Asian version of the Clausing: <http://www.kinzers.com/don/ForSale/BenchMill/> which is an older version of the G3102 someone mentioned earlier. This mill is really at the heavy end of benchtops and light end of floor standing.

    Great deals on accurate, completely tooled machines can come up (we've all seen the "tool gloat" postings) well under your budget, but they might not make your size/weight limit. If you believe you might have a size limitation, then I would suggest doing an internet search to see how others have crammed full size mills, lathes, and everything else you need, into extremely small workshops. You'll also probably run into examples on how others have moved full sized machinery into their basements.

    Jeff

    (no affiliation or recommendation of any sellers mentioned)

    [This message has been edited by mendoje1 (edited 03-14-2004).]

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    Thank you so much everyone for your kind suggestions. I have come to realize I have serious restrictions (on both budget and work space) and I really need to sit down and start making plans and considerations based on needs and limits.
    At this moment, from suggestions I have decided to scratch out drill/mill,and interested in domestic products since imports are either beyond my budget or my personal experiences with uncertain quality of cheaply made imports I have had over last few years..
    From everyone's opinions I would love to have abilities of heavier benchtop model which many of you have suggested, but even now my shop remains to be limited in a concrete floor room about 180 sq. ft,with already getting tricky with having stand/tools, shelves,bookshelves, and workbench built in shop. Currently my shop doesn't have direct access to driveway. I am hoping that next year, next place will have better access for shop.
    I am being attempted by an idea of having to accept inconvinience of even greater limitation in shop and relocation by diassembling a mill. Wabeco and Prazi or Warco and others alike are out of my reach right now. I have to be able to plan sensible with materials and accessory tooling considered. I am interested in finding out in average how many or in what components could these larger benchtop mill can be taken apart? If it is 200 lbs or so I am willing to make extra work even when I know I will be recloating within a year and to follow.
    Again, thank you so much everybody, now I am going to incorporate your considerations to plan and I hope to find a mill that would work out for my needs.


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    Blue,
    as for the driveway...

    make sure you bolt whatever you get to a pallet, and get a pallet jack... the index is more than small enough to fit into more garage shops

    jeffe

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    Thanks Mr. Jeffeosso, I won't forget about pallet and pallet jack. By the way, I been wondering but will small benchtop mill handle titanium slab? I really don't think I'm going to challenge it anytime soon, but I had a thought if small mill can mill a small path at a time to work with titanium (I believe titanium used for liner and handle has some additives like aluminium in it and I was told it is extremely difficult to work with).
    As far as the purchasing mill, I'm going to give myself some time till beginning of April. I should be looking into more based on what everyone here have to say and maybe I can go check out a machine or two, which I have to go out of town to see any machines that have been suggested on this post. Again, thank you so much everybody and hope to talk to you guys soon again.


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