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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  CAS TOPICS  |  Shooter's Meeting (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Camille Eonich)  |  Topic: Amateur milling machine - Anybody got one - recommendations. 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Amateur milling machine - Anybody got one - recommendations.  (Read 2535 times)
Baltimore Ed
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« on: June 30, 2017, 09:32:42 am »


First thing let me say that I'm not a gunsmith, just a tinkerer but I'm looking to buy a mini milling machine this summer. I plan on working with aluminum and HDPE, no steel. I have used my big drill press as a mill in the past but would rather not wreck my press on this build. My question is- does anyone have one- likes or dislikes - make model? Looking to spend no more than 600.00 to 700.00. Thought my post would get more responses here than the real smith forum. Thanks
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2017, 08:10:19 pm »

I don't have one as my brother has a large one I can use, but rarely have. I have heard if Minimat, Unimat etc. I have also heard that they are a bit small to be useful. The SMITH seems to be a better option, but who am I to say?

https://smithy.com/granite-3-in-1?gclid=CjwKCAjw7dfKBRAdEiwAch0egXJ0NKXN5goU-B1f7Br6RG9cqXmYFaHWULcuR_IqK_21PvBtl4CzQhoCQSEQAvD_BwE
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2017, 09:01:38 pm »

That's a very nice machine Sir Charles but while it's not a1000 lb Bridgeport its still a bit too much machine for me.
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2017, 11:17:02 pm »

Greetings My Dear Ed -

You have come the the right place. nearly a lustrum ago I got a 10x23 benchtop lathe from Grizzly, and had planned to get a benchtop mill from them. I had planned to get this one from Grizzly:

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Mill-Drill/G0758

But there was a sudden online deal from Harbor Freight and I got this one for ~ $300 delivered ( somehow I was able to use several coupons) :
https://www.harborfreight.com/two-speed-variable-bench-mill-drill-machine-44991.html

I have been quite happy with it, I have modified bullet molds, squared off pistol barrels, cut dovetails for sites, modifed 1911 slides, modified scope mounts, and fabricated barrel shrouds. It's not super accurate, has some backlash ( which is probably correctable) , but I have been very happy with it for my purposes. It's a LOT more accurate and square than my attempts at hand filing!.

But first, you ought to go here:
http://littlemachineshop.com/info/minimill_compare.php

and read what they have to say :-)

yhs
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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2017, 05:32:33 am »

I've got a mini lathe from Harbor freight and use it a lot for all kinds of things - including what it was intended to be used for.  But I'd also like a mill.  Thanks for the heads up on the little milling machine and link to coupons.  July 4 is my birthday!   Looks like destiny.
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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2017, 05:40:44 am »

Harbor Freight  25% off on the 4th on everything .... Happy Birthday !
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Baltimore Ed
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2017, 07:33:51 pm »

Thanks for the info also. I will call them Monday and see about placing an order to get the 25% discount on the 4th. I have a HF about an hour away and spoke to someone about getting a mill shipped to them and I pick it up to save a bit but they don't do that. Of course they didn't even have one in the store.
Update ----Called yesterday and ordered, got the discount, ship Wednesday. Will post photos. Thanks for the info guys.
Upupdate---The unit came Tuesday, only 6 days from the left coast. Wow. A friend helped me get it into my shop. I haven't opened the crate yet. I've got an ongoing house project that's dragging. When I get that done then I can play with my new toy. Will post photos.
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2017, 06:57:36 pm »

I have finally finished my bathroom painting projects and got back into my shop. After a big clean up I've uncrated my HF mini mill, cleaned it up and am trying to figure it out. First thing is that It is too low so I'm having a 9 inch high stand welded up to mount it on, then I'll mount it to my bench. There was no real damage from it's long journey. Everything works but the table is sticky on the in/out motion but is very smooth on the left/right. When my stand is done I'll take some photos. I will have to buy a rotary table as my first project is a Lewis gun drum magazine modification.
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2017, 10:14:39 pm »

Greetings My Dear ED -

congrats on your mill!
yes, they need a riser....

but the first thing you should do is head over to one of the minimill forums and learn about de-gunking it.
They come packed in cosmoline just like a rifle, and that adds to the stickiness!

have fun, make chips, show us your results!

yhs
prof marvel
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« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2017, 04:28:50 pm »

Played around with the mill some more. The y axis stickiness was due to the dial mounting piece not being true to the all tthread, I loosened the bolts, lined things up, tightened them back up and it's slick as the other. But in my reading about these mills one of the complaints was the huge amount of backlash in the z axis dial. My machine was no different with a huge amount. When I removed the metal cover the reason was obvious. They got cheap on the connection between the dial and the gear assembly and used two clevis style swivels to connect them. The slop was between the male-female fittings. The correct way to fix this would be to use a solid piece to connect the dial and gearbox , align the parts and redrill and tap the screws for the dial mounting bracket. I did it the easy way and tightened up the female parts to eliminate any slop but now there is a problem with the dial turning smoothly due to the misalignment. The way I fixed that was to use a pair of small compression springs that are bigger on the bottom and smaller at the top so when they compress they don't stack up. I put one on each of the two screws between the dial base and the frame. This allows the base to move slightly as the linkage turns. There is NO backlash and the dial turns fairly smoothly. There is only a hash mark on the base for the dials zero setting, so the very small amount of imperceptible wiggle is a big improvement over the huge amount of backlash that was there. Next is my base,  a rotary table and maybe a light of some sort.
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« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2017, 04:48:53 pm »

I wouldn't mind seeing a picture or two if you get a chance.

CC Griff
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Professor Marvel
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 10:14:06 pm »

......I did it the easy way and tightened up the female parts to eliminate any slop but now there is a problem with the dial turning smoothly due to the misalignment. The way I fixed that was to use a pair of small compression springs that are bigger on the bottom and smaller at the top so when they compress they don't stack up. I put one on each of the two screws between the dial base and the frame. This allows the base to move slightly as the linkage turns. There is NO backlash and the dial turns fairly smoothly.....

Uuuuuhhhhwaaa?

would you please be so kind as to provide a tintype, etching, drawing or polaroid so my poor grey cells can fathom whatthehello you just described?

yhs
prof marvel
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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2017, 10:26:28 pm »

Too late to go to the shop tonight, I'll take some degauritypes tomorrow.
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« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2017, 12:49:18 am »

Too late to go to the shop tonight, I'll take some degauritypes tomorrow.

Ah My Dear Ed you are too kind to this necromancer pyromancer damn you autocorrect
 Time is of little import, I eagerly await thedevelopment of said  degauritypes  daguerreotypes at your conveniance

yhs
prof marvel
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2017, 01:50:23 pm »

Prof, here's the linkage that I was trying to 'splain. I don't know what they're called but I do know what a clevis is, the two units are 90 degrees apart to compensate for the linkage misalignment of the main gear and small dial. I could have left it looser but I was trying to remove all of the backlash. As I removed the backlash from one part I found something else. I discovered the castle engagement on the z axis handle had a lot of play too so I center punched each of the posts to tighten them up. I belt sanded the rear of an old socket so that it would just barely fit inside of and support the castle part ot the unit. You don't want to be beating on stuff without it being supported. On another pix you can see the compressed springs under the fine thread knob block which allow the block to move slightly but doesn't create any backlash issues. I plan on getting longer allen head cap screws for the fine thread block and cut them so they will bottom out in the blind holes as opposed to leaving them loose. I went by the welding shop and my mill stand is made but not blasted for painting, I will pick it up Monday. Hope this helps everyone.


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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2017, 01:53:37 pm »

Wouldn't let me do five. I also used a small flat bearing between the block and fine adjustment knob which helps.


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« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2017, 02:27:16 pm »

Thank you sir, that is now clear as crystal! Iwill have to go make the same mod to mine.
If you are interested I can try to dig up my links to "improvemelnts" on this particluar model,
most interesting to me  was a fellow who stiffened and reinforced the vertical column and the angle-thingy ( left-right swing from verticle ) . He had tried epoxy, concrete, gravel-filled epoxy and other stuff.

yhs
prof marvel
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« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2017, 02:40:08 pm »

Thanks, I would appreciate any information on mini mill improvements. Glad you're able to use my ideas. You mean that he filled the hollow vertical column by filling it with concrete? The dang mills not heavy enough??? I wouldn't think that it would flex enough to matter no longer than it is.
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2017, 07:06:02 pm »

 Mr. Ed,,, I have the same mill ( only blue),,and now ,thanks to you,,,and your pictures,,i can fix that jump'n ,,wobbly,,micro adj. thing'y.  I have a mini lathe also,,i never thought I would really use them( mill& lath) as much as I do.






  Thank's for the tip. smoke'm if y'a got'm,,,Hootmix.
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« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2017, 11:17:33 pm »

Greetings Ed & Friends -

These minimills are notorious for flex, and "lack of mass". Mass helps dampen vibration, chatter, blah blah blah ...

the columns on these benchtop models are also notoriuos well known to have "fore-and-aft flex" due to the "feature" of being able to go left and right from vertical. SO another mod has been to add stiffenning plates. all these are adressed in the links:

reducing column flex
http://www.hossmachine.info/Shop_Info.html#x2%20column

xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/3032973/292114156/name/Column+Flexing+in+the+Minimill+-+revision+1.pdf

Re: Reducing Mini-Mill Column Flex (and Column Y-Axis Alignment)
http://www.homemodelenginemachinist.com/showthread.php?t=5401&page=2

https://www.cnccookbook.com/epoxy-granite-cnc-machine-fill/

http://www.cnczone.com/forums/benchtop-machines/61507-20-00-x2-belt-drive.html#post478434

http://www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_mill/projects/projects.htm

I have not yet had time to implement any of these :-(

hope these help
prof marvel
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« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2017, 09:38:53 pm »

Prof, I've ordered a pair of gas springs to replace the coil spring unit. They will mount inside ofnthe column. I also plan on stiffining the column with a piece of plate. Photos to follow.
Update-- air springs came today, I've built the air spring assembly with the small pulley on the bottom. Tomorrow I'll build the cap that sits on top of the column. Waiting for the 1/16 in cable. Also need another small pulley for the top. I've built the column y axis tram adjustment gizmo. Painted the base too. Pictures tomorrow.
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« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2017, 03:01:41 pm »

Guys, I've gotten my upgrades done (so far) and here's what I've done. A stiffening plate with extra bolts to allow in-out adjustment of the column, two air springs in the column--eliminating the spring, a 9 inch stand and removal of the backlash. To get the unit on my stand I had to use my deer gimbals, a double pulley and a single pulley hung off the upstairs floor joices over my bench. Hoist a bit and put something under it until it was the right height and then I rolled the one work table out of the way and the one with the stand under it. Didn't even mess up the paint. Here's some photos.


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Baltimore Ed
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« Reply #22 on: November 02, 2017, 03:04:28 pm »

The air springs work great. But when they sit awhile you have to remember to compress them before you slacken them because they stick and and then expand which can mess up the cable. I used bearings and aluminum odds and ends laying around the shop to build the top of the column.


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« Reply #23 on: November 02, 2017, 03:17:58 pm »

Here's where the air spring idea came from. Next thing that I'll have to order is a longer rack to take full advantage of them.


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« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2017, 05:03:26 pm »

 Those are nice improvement's,,,,and nice work!!! Thank's for sharing.








  smoke'm if y'a got'm,,,,Hootmix.
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