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Ed Caffrey's Workshop Talk to Ed Caffrey ... The Montana Bladesmith! Tips, tricks and more from an ABS Mastersmith.

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  #1  
Old 08-11-2009, 09:45 PM
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Question Micro milling machine-?

Hey Guys, What are some recommendations for a "micro" size milling machine, and some approximate prices? I'm looking for a mill to help with slots in guards, I've seen many used "Bridgeport" mills for sale on the net, at great prices too, BUT they are all 3 phase motors, and I'm limited to single phase. So I'm looking into something "benchtop" size.
I received a "Sherline" products catalog, kinda pricey, but that's what I'm looking for. Thanks in advance!! -------- Jon


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Old 08-12-2009, 03:52 AM
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Jon
I cannot remember where I read it but some of the "Off Shore" mini mills were fairly good after they had been modified a bit. HAve you checked out Grizzly? Thay seem to have some nice ones.

God Bless
Mike


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Old 08-12-2009, 08:10 AM
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Hi Jon....

If I had my 'druthers, I'd take a look at Grizzly's G0463 square column Mill. It's the heavy duty version of their mini mill and it runs close to $1000+ delivered. I think it also has the R8 spindler tapers if I'm not mistaken.

See you at the PKA!

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Old 08-12-2009, 08:37 AM
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Ya know, its a tough decision, but I think my recommendation is to go with the largest size mill you can, for the money you want to spend. I say that because you can do small work on a larger mill, but you CAN'T do bigger work on a small mill. I actually have two mills, one is a larger benchtop, with a 2hp motor, and R8 spindle. I also have a floor model Grizzly that has a 40" table.

I've had two of the "micro mills" in the past, and was very disappointed in both of them. A 1/8" milling cutter was pushing their capacity, and even for something like slotting guards I felt they were just not up to the task.

Something like this is the minimum I would recommend: http://www.grizzly.com/products/Mill-Drill/G3358

That is very similar to my smaller mill, and this is the larger one I own: http://www.grizzly.com/products/Vertical-Mill/G3616


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Old 08-12-2009, 08:41 AM
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I have a Sherline and use it for slotting guards mostly. It will do the job but just barely.

I also have a 700 pound Grizzly benchtop mill. This one is far more useful as you will quickly find milling jobs to do that simply won't work on the Sherline. Also, as mentioned above, the larger mill has the R8 spindle which means you can use the most popular and most cost effective tooling available.

If you must use a micro then go for it but where mills are concerned bigger is truly better. Check out the mini-mills offered from Grizzly, they are approximately in the Sherline's price range but weigh about 150 pounds (weight means rigidity in a mill and that affects accuracy and cutting speed) and some have the R8 spindle.

Finally, there are several good brands of mini-mills and they may all appear to be the same machine with different paint and name tags but it ain't necessarily so. For the price, Grizzly is probably the safest bet. They stock replacement parts for most everything they sell and their tech support has always been there when I've needed them ....


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Old 08-12-2009, 08:43 AM
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John,

This is just my .02, but I would seriously consider a full size mill.. If you are like me, you don't think there is any way now that you could ever need anything that big. But, trust me, You will!!!

I have the small full size Grizzly mill. I think it ended up costing me about $2800 delivered. I wish now that I had gotten a bigger one!!!

Like I said, That's just my opinion!!!

Steve


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Old 08-12-2009, 08:57 AM
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If I were in your shoes I would buy one of the used bridgeports that you have seen and instsall a VFD or get a rotary phase converter to go with the mill. I opted for the rotary phase converter because more than one piece of machinery can be run off of it and they can be ran at the same time as long as no one motor exceedes the HP rating of the converter.


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Old 08-12-2009, 08:59 AM
Jerry Shorter Jerry Shorter is offline
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3-phase power should not be the deciding factor. 1-phase to 3-phase VFD's are readily available and not that expensive.
Jerry
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:42 AM
deker deker is offline
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Accurate machining is all about rigidity. Rigidity in tooling is greatly increased with mass. So, I'm with Ed and others, go with a full-sized mill if you can swing it. Tooling will be more available and cost less (and ask anybody with a mill, you'll spend more on tooling than the machine itself) and your machining will go more smoothly due to the increased mass and higher quality spindle bearings, etc.

There IS such a thing as "too big" though. I had a chance to bring home a Van Norman 26 for next to nothing and passed. Sure, I could mill an anvil flat with it in 3 passes, but the spindle simply couldn't spin fast enough to run a 1/8" endmill properly, and even if it could have in order to run the controls I'd have been too far from the workpiece to see what I was doing effectively. For most of what knifemakers do though a standard knee mill will be just dandy and you'll also be able to use it to make shop tooling and other bigger things.

-d
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:41 PM
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Jon I have enjoyed my 3 in 1 Shop Smithy, I have one of the smaller models with a 21 inch or so lathe bed the unit weighs about 500 pounds.

Jim P.
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:43 PM
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Question "Mills and Thrills"

Thanks Guys!! It doesn't help that I used a full size "Bridgport" in a custom shop for over 6 years, and I'm sure that as soon as I bought a "mini" I would regret it! Thanks for helping me keep the right focus, Where can I look for a VFD-? --- Jon


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Old 08-14-2009, 01:18 AM
cdent cdent is offline
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Jon, the KBAC-27 that beaumont sells is a good one, assuming it'd meet the specs to drive the mill's motor. There're bargain ones available, but it really has some good points going for it. Good luck lining up a decent Bridgeport, it's the stuff that dream shops are made of. You could also use the vfd to run you grinder.

Take care, Craig
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Old 08-14-2009, 03:25 PM
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Once you have a mill you will most certainly use it for other jobs also. Guard slotting is a very small task and most other projects require much more horsepower and mass.

Just drilling and milling out an eye on a 1" thick hammer is far too much for a mini. The mid size dovetail column Grizzly is what I use and definitely would not want anything smaller.

Making your own tooling is the other adventurous part of knife making. It's far more possible with a mid to full size mill.

My first lathe was a mini and I found out real fast that was a mistake.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:07 PM
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Cool Tons of used mills!

Thanks Guys,, I spent an hour "shopping" on the net last night, there are tons of used Bridgports out there.... I'll keep looking!!! --- Jon


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Old 06-03-2015, 09:27 PM
MPR MPR is offline
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Need some advice on the Taig Mini-Mill

Hi guys,

Sorry to dredge up an old thread. I have been doing a lot of research lately and would like to purchase a mill for my knife making (primarily folders). I've looked at the Taig line of mini-mills per the suggestion of a fellow knife maker. I have a small shop (10' x 24') so a larger mill may not be an option. From what I've read, going larger is generally advised for obvious reasons.

So, would you advise going with a larger mill or would you think something like the Taig would be a good choice? (I'd be using this for milling 1/8" Ti on my framelocks, etc). Any advice would be great. I know nothing about mills and need some education.

Thanks,

Michael
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