I' m looking for mill advice

Discussion in 'Equipment Discussions' started by ICANHITHIMMAN, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. ICANHITHIMMAN

    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

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    So I have been shopping around for a few months, reading on other forums, here and there about the small hobby mills (mini mills) that are available out there. I just cant decide, so I'm asking for advice.

    I don't want to spend more than 1k, space and weight are an issue a bench top unit is ideal. Also power is a factor 220 is available but 110 is more practical for me.

    I have looked at little machine shop and grizzly as they both fit into my price/size range. Any other suggestions are welcome first hand experience is great.

    I intend to use it for small work on 1911 pistol frames and slides etc.
     
  2. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    In the past I did alot of work on 1911 slides. Some were harder then "the hubs". Make many "Bomar" sight installs and front dovetails. I was glad to have the mass and ridigidity of a full size vertical mill. Not saying what you've got in mind won't work, just relaying past experience. Carbide cutters require ridigity! (or more carbide cutters!)
     

  3. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    look for a Bridgeport clone that has the smallest table they sell (36" or 42"). I like the ones from Willis Machine, as they are easy to rebuild, and most all the addons will work on it. You can buy several of the clones wired for single phase electricity.
    gary
     
  4. ICANHITHIMMAN

    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

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    Yes I have a concern with this, I see this as the best option for a bench top model in my price range at present.

    HiTorque Mini Mill, Solid Column with Tooling Package - LittleMachineShop.com
     
  5. ICANHITHIMMAN

    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

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    Just did some informal searching cant seam to find anything I will have room for yet.
     
  6. ICANHITHIMMAN

    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

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    Is there a disadvantage to having a mill with a column that will not tilt? I am of the understanding that the same cuts can still be made, but added set up is required?
     
  7. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    a few years back I was tasked with buying six or eight Bridgeports (or clones), and a half dozen CNC lathes. Got a ticket to the Chicago Tool Show (this place is huge so take good walking shoes). Looked at a lot of machines while I was there, but kept going back to the Willis Machine booth. Bought ten of them for less money than I could buy eight Bridgeports (all are made in Asia these days). But what sold me was the way they did the saddle and basic frame construction. BVoss that I was nuts till the first two showed up on the dock.

    I also bought six CNC Hardingh slant bed lathes (well actually there was seven on that buy, but one went to somebody else). They wanted me to buy Okumas, but these lathes made the Okumas look like toys. Came in about 20% cheaper and were U.S. made! The down side was the lead time. It was almost a year as I was right behind Pontiac and Ford in my buy (the two together almost bought a hundred of them!!) Bought one right off the floor with the bar feed unit and live tooling with the motorized tail stock for $226K delivered and setup. That was roughly $50K less than the Okuma without an X2 slide and live tooling. Plus it had a better build quality. Would have loved to seen the sales commision check they guy got for selling 100 lathes in that price range.

    Now a machine you might want to consider (as your doing light milling and mostly drill and tap work) is a gently used is the one sold by Fanuc that has the large hex turrent on the front. These are often .0005" machines, and can be often picked up fairly cheap.
    gary
     
  8. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I've seen the heads move under heavy cuts before. But I doubt you will
    gary
     
  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Re: I' m looking for mill advice.

    Yes, there is an advantage to a solid column. They can be vastly more ridgid. Probably not a concern for you at this point. Most of the same "cuts', as you put it, can be accomplished with the proper work holding devices and added set-up time. My concerns with "table top" machinery is their overall lack of weight. The weight is usually sacrificed in the way the table is mounted and supported and in the quill. Without a knee to raise up to the cutter, the quill will have to be lowered thus lossing some rigidity for your cutter. Most of those good dovetail cutters are carbide, and, as I mentioned before, carbide is not very forgiving of a weak set-up. Good work holding is, also, quit expensive. If you get that table top machine, by no means skimp on the vise. And, buy a decent set pf parallels, too. What taper does this thing have? R8? I know, holders are everywhere, cheap. With the 'lessor' machine, buy the best you can afford. Also, go to the trouble of supplying 220/230 v instead of just plugging in it in to 110/115v, you'll come out ahead in the long run. It's just alot harder to do professional quality work on 'hobby type' tools.
     
  10. ICANHITHIMMAN

    ICANHITHIMMAN Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys I here what your both saying loud and clear. I talked it over with a buddy and I think we are going to go halves on a used Bridgeport. He has the space at his place, and the experience.