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Thread: Build a Mill?

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    Default Build a Mill?

    So, was looking at the new compound table that Hafco list - looks like a reasonable quality build compared to the other junky compound tables they sell...
    M2061 | SCT-240 Compound Table | machineryhouse.com.au
    And was thinking - you could probably use it as the basis for a reasonable little mill - fabricate up some structure out of 4" box section, fill it with concrete to dampen it, and knock up a spindle with belt drive... but by this point you'd probably be 60-70% of the way to the cost of something like the 45 series mill that ozmestore1 sells on ebay.
    Having said that - the swivel base with the compound on top appeals because you can trace odd shapes with it - run up to a point, rotate, cut the next side - perfect for some of the pocketing type work i forsee myself doing...
    I have a major aversion to round columns on mills, and would dearly love a big old bridgeport, but don't think that will happen for a while (allthough that hartford that went for $600 down in sydney looked like a fantastic buy - why don't I ever see bargains like that up here in Brizzy? thinking about it though, I don't think i have the headroom in my mancave for something like that)...

    So - has anyone built themselves a mill?

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  3. #2
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    Default SOme links

    Hey Gammaboy,

    You probably already know all of this stuff below but thought I'd post it anyway. AM interested in this but have not yet got the skills to do anything,

    Some current thinking on home made mills would be here ? Homemade Tools Search: mill

    There is the David Gingery home made mill - he tells you exactly how to make it in a book easily available over internet. Its might be smaller than you want - images here https://www.google.com/search?q=Ging...w=1719&bih=947

    There are various discussion groups over at Yahoo ( multimachine, concrete lathes, various others) they often talk about using concrete inside tubing - there are plans for a home made mill here

    Yahoo Groups

    You might have to register to access them - plans for all sorts of machines on that page. Quite interesting, Joe Romig seems to have been a clever man, I suspect he was writing about home made stuff when Harold Hall was a little boy.

    And there is the stabilised drill press idea thats often discussed - see here (Popular Mechanics - Google Books) - for one version of it

    and if you enjoy making stuff this site is interesting Vintage Projects and Building Plans to see how people did things 50+ years ago.

    I have harvested various pdfs from these yahoo and vintage sites they are always interesting to have a look at.

    Bill

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    Hi Gamma,
    Here are some links to a guy who is active on the LeBlond yahoo group, he made a horizontal machine and did a damn fine job of it.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/LarGrin/videos
    My Phoenix Mill

    Hope that helps.

    Ew
    1915 17"x50" LeBlond heavy duty Lathe, 24" Queen city shaper, 1970's G Vernier FV.3.TO Universal Mill, 1958 Blohm HFS 6 surface grinder, 1942 Rivett 715 Lathe, 14"x40" Antrac Lathe, Startrite H225 Bandsaw, 1949 Hercus Camelback Drill press, 1947 Holbrook C10 Lathe.

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    Unless you had a particular requirement that was not met commercially (extra wide bed, deeper Z section,...) I would suggest that with the cost of castings, motors, electric control gear, leadscrews, slides and all the rest of the components that a mill has it's going to be an expensive exercise and keep coming back to "is it worth the effort?".
    By fabricating frame work instead of casting you would save some cost but then you trade off on rigidity.
    Looking around at what people are doing to their mills, most owners of non-industrial machines I've read of end up modifying them in some way (either major or minor) to improve certain aspects. I have a theory that says that a home machinist will end up having at least 2 of any lathe or mill that they want to have simply because they use one, learn things about it and what they want to do and then get the next one to come closer to filling the need. Assuming that you are not a professional designer with all the flash design tools that exist these days, I think that if you design your own mill you will end up making it up at least twice and some aspects perhaps 3 or more times. In MEW one writer (a prize winning clock maker, so experienced with machines) bought a new mill and for the next couple of years articles would pop up describing the modifications he had made to improve certain aspects for his use. Another project (stepper head lathe) took hundreds of hours. The guys building those had lots of experience under their belts but it still took them some time to get where they wanted to go. There are lots of threads here about members modifying these machine too. I assume (evidenced by you making the suggestions and asking the questions you have) that you are relatively new to mills, so suspect that there will be a lot of learning that you will need to do and probably a few false starts as well.

    Having said all that, if you feel that you want to do it, we (people on the forum) would love to see the photos and the build/ design process. My personal view is that it is a lot more work than most people realise and not the sort of project that should be taken on without some serious thought and a well defined target. If you want to build a machine you may be better off starting as some here have done and get something second hand to refurbish it. A lot less work that will give you that built feeling without all of the cost

    My 2c
    Michael

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    Thanks for the input guys - I'm a mechanical engineer by trade and know my way around Solidworks and Inventor at a pretty high level, so would be doing any design work in that first. I do question the logic in it a bit, and it's not like I don't have enough projects as it is...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gammaboy View Post
    Having said that - the swivel base with the compound on top appeals because you can trace odd shapes with it - run up to a point, rotate, cut the next side - perfect for some of the pocketing type work i forsee myself doing...
    ummm If I'm understanding what you are trying to do, the swivel is in the wrong place. The X datum of the work piece and the X axis of the table will still be parrallel regardless of the rotation of the table.
    Now if you used a swivel base on a vice mounted to the table things would be different.

    Stuart

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    Hi Gamma,

    Would this be your first mill you are thinking of building, as in you don't have a mill at this point in time?

    As outlined by others on the forum, building a mill would be one of the most complex and largest scale projects a person could think to build. I not here to talk you out of it, far from it! If it's something you really want to do then go for it and post your pics here along the way. I will be watching with much interest and give you all the encouragement I can. But, if it will be your first mill then you have already made things extremely difficult for yourself before you even start.

    If it were me, I would purchase my first mill (new or S/H) and use it, learn from it, decide on it's design flaws and it's strengths and then use that info and experience and apply it to your next mill that you intend to design and build.

    I think that designing and building your own mill without the luxury of at first owning and using one would be like re-inventing the wheel. You would be denying yourself much knowledge and experience in the design of such machines.

    Oh P.S. it would also be much easier to build a mill, using another mill!

    Good luck and keep us posted!

    Simon
    Girl, I don't wanna know about your mild-mannered alter ego or anything like that." I mean, you tell me you're, uh, super-mega-ultra-lightning babe? That's all right with me. I'm good. I'm good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stustoys View Post
    ummm If I'm understanding what you are trying to do, the swivel is in the wrong place. The X datum of the work piece and the X axis of the table will still be parrallel regardless of the rotation of the table.
    Now if you used a swivel base on a vice mounted to the table things would be different.

    Stuart
    Ah, of course - not sure where my head was at with that!


    Quote Originally Posted by simonl View Post
    Hi Gamma,

    Would this be your first mill you are thinking of building, as in you don't have a mill at this point in time?

    As outlined by others on the forum, building a mill would be one of the most complex and largest scale projects a person could think to build. I not here to talk you out of it, far from it! If it's something you really want to do then go for it and post your pics here along the way. I will be watching with much interest and give you all the encouragement I can. But, if it will be your first mill then you have already made things extremely difficult for yourself before you even start.

    If it were me, I would purchase my first mill (new or S/H) and use it, learn from it, decide on it's design flaws and it's strengths and then use that info and experience and apply it to your next mill that you intend to design and build.

    I think that designing and building your own mill without the luxury of at first owning and using one would be like re-inventing the wheel. You would be denying yourself much knowledge and experience in the design of such machines.

    Oh P.S. it would also be much easier to build a mill, using another mill!

    Good luck and keep us posted!

    Simon
    Hah, yeah, it would be much easier to build a mill with a mill. I've used a couple of different mills in the past, but they've all been big solid knee mills - and ideally i'd find a bridgeport or clone if a) I could find/afford one, and b) could fit it under my house (Limited to a head height of 6ft in most areas - might manage 6'6" up between some beams.)
    One of those 45 series mills - are probably what I'll wind up buying - but I know its limitations will me off till the end of time - but hey, they're cheap and compact.

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    You need a vernier, only 1710mm high overall. And I guarantee she would be rigid enough. Although finding one cheap like I did may be a problem......

    Ew
    1915 17"x50" LeBlond heavy duty Lathe, 24" Queen city shaper, 1970's G Vernier FV.3.TO Universal Mill, 1958 Blohm HFS 6 surface grinder, 1942 Rivett 715 Lathe, 14"x40" Antrac Lathe, Startrite H225 Bandsaw, 1949 Hercus Camelback Drill press, 1947 Holbrook C10 Lathe.

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    Years ago George Ewen built a neat little horizontal bench mill using an engine block for a very rigid main casting. I can't find the article I was looking for, but there are a couple of photos which show some details of the mill, and some comments on the design from George here:

    Engine block mill shaft?

    I seem to remember there are more photos and discussions somewhere on this site which I didn't find with this search, and a reference to where the original article describing the building of the mill in detail is given in the thread linked to above if you should be interested in getting further information.

    Frank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gammaboy View Post
    Thanks for the input guys - I'm a mechanical engineer by trade and know my way around Solidworks and Inventor at a pretty high level, so would be doing any design work in that first.
    Alright - scratch the middle part of my last post as if you have the design tools and know how to use them it makes the plan a little less daunting. I'd still be looking out for a second hand something though. (Apologies if I offended)

    Michael

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    Set up a saved search in gumtree and ebay and keep an eye on the machinery auctions and something will turn up eventually that suits you and is the right price . Even starting with a damaged or incomplete machine may be a better option as its easier to make some replacement parts that it is to start from scratch... Ultimately it comes down to how many other projects you have on the go and how much you value your time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stustoys View Post
    ummm If I'm understanding what you are trying to do, the swivel is in the wrong place. The X datum of the work piece and the X axis of the table will still be parrallel regardless of the rotation of the table.
    Now if you used a swivel base on a vice mounted to the table things would be different.

    Stuart
    You are correct Stuart but I had to look up the pics of my mill on the web for the 200th time to check. It has a swivel table but the swivel is between the X and Y axis. If anyone wants to check look at this page.

    MILLING MACHINE - DOVETAIL SHAFT Paramount Browns'

    I still think it is the best 45 mill around, but then I would, wouldn't I.

    Dean

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    Default well documented build

    This seems to be well documented

    Home made Milling Machine

    Bill
    Last edited by steamingbill; 24th Nov 2013 at 07:43 PM. Reason: posted wrong link

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    My thoughts on the matter... If you were going to build a bench mill there's already heaps of small bench mills that fit the bill. If you were to build a knee mill it would be to get a more rigid machine than available into the footprint required.


    After much thought I came up with this idea...


    One could pick up a pantograph mill for under $500. Then with little effort one could rig up a ram type head using the existing t-slot arrangement or modify the head of an existing machine to fit. While researching pantographs I stumbled upon this. The machine in the below link is exactly that... A pantograph mill converted to a vertical mill by the manufacturer.

    IMG_20131006_145235.jpg

    #And I thought I had an original idea! Just something to think about.


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