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Thread: Decent drill/mill for a rooky

  1. #21
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by nekshot View Post
    I appreciate your input as I was hoping to give another viable option to those wanting a machine but funds are tight. The part of this machine that I liked was all the R8 collets that come with it. You really only need to buy specific tool bit for your job. I assume it has a drill chuck with it also. Even if you never get into metal work the drill press option for normal garage repair and wood work is endless. This almost tempts me to down size now!! They will deliver it to my address!
    I agree with what Kens said about going off track so to get back to what you are asking about -the little mill.

    I have both, a version of that mill (many different brands of the very same basic mill out there) and a Bridgeport but even with the Bridgeport sitting in the same shop I use that little mill a LOT just because it's so darned handy! There are almost endless things you can do with that mill and while it would be next to useless in a "real" machine shop it is great for for a hobbyist not looking at production times and/or doing big jobs. For most gunsmithing projects that little mill can be very handy but it does have some shortcomings that need to be addressed, for one it's limber as the proverbial wet noodle and has a well known head drop problem that can a real pain especially when drilling and then there's the issue of the plastic drive gears and the too short head travel rack gear. The bad news is all these things combined make for a very poor experience when trying to use the machine as it comes "out-of-the-box" but the good news is ALL these things are easily fixed and cost almost nothing to do. Once these mods are made (they actually make good first projects for the mill!) it becomes a MUCH better and far more usefull machine. These mods are well known and there are several web sites dedicated to these little mills and how to deal with these much needed mods, of course you could just go to Little Machine Shop and buy everything necessary to address these problems but it's a lot more fun and WAAAAAAY cheaper to just do it yourself with odds-n-ends most of us have lying around the shop and maybe a few inexpensive items at the local ACE Hardware store.

    My recommendation would be to go ahead and get one of these little mills if you are interested but shop around and you can often find them cheaper in a different color/brand of the same mill, as pointed out by someone else make SURE it has the R8 spindle however. On Craigslist they turn up fairly often at really good prices and sometimes even have most or all of the mods already done, those mods are IMHO absolutely necessary but at the same time are no reason to avoid these little mills. The mods may be needed but with a bit of time and thought they are neither difficult nor expensive and make that little machine a lot of fun to use.
    Last edited by oldred; 06-15-2018 at 11:59 AM.
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  2. #22
    Boolit Master

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    One thing to di is to buy several drill chucks 3/8-24 and 1/2-20 threaded shanks. I have 3 of these made up now in my box. Make 1 1/4" shank one 3/8" shank and one 1/2" shank. The you only need to change the tool for the chuck in the same collet. For me the 3/8" sees most of the use. They are simple to make and easy to get right. start with stock oversized for the shank. thread and fit into chuck. Turn a mandrel in the lathe that fits the chuck. Lock chuck on the mandrel and lightly turn the shank to size. When done it should run very true.

  3. #23
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by country gent View Post
    One thing to di is to buy several drill chucks 3/8-24 and 1/2-20 threaded shanks. I have 3 of these made up now in my box. Make 1 1/4" shank one 3/8" shank and one 1/2" shank. The you only need to change the tool for the chuck in the same collet. For me the 3/8" sees most of the use. They are simple to make and easy to get right. start with stock oversized for the shank. thread and fit into chuck. Turn a mandrel in the lathe that fits the chuck. Lock chuck on the mandrel and lightly turn the shank to size. When done it should run very true.
    I never use drill chucks to hold end milling cutters! A big no-no to the precision machinist world. Always use R8 milling cutter holders (or collets) with the appropriate hole in it to fit the cutter. I have a big set that goes from 1/8” thru 1”. Cutters are dead centered in those and all you tighten is an allen head set screw pressing in on the cutter shank flat.

    Using milling cutters in drill chucks will ruin the chuck rapidly, as most chuck jaws are not nearly as hard as the milling shanks. Not good. Even with all my drill chucks being precision ball bearing style with carbide insert on the jaws, I still do not use them to mill anything. Ever.

    Getting a drill chuck (especially the cheap ones most on here will find on ebay) to run true on a home-brew shank is wishing for a miracle. All my drill chucks for the milling machines I have are factory made with insitue shanks, insuring no run-out. Depending on the precision of the final work one is shooting for, that could be a sticking point for home-brew anything. Most of the chucks I use cost me from $150 to $400 each and are of the precision tool room grade type (0-1/4, 0-3/8, 0-1/2, 0-3/4 inch)

    R8 collets are good, but you have to have a large set or the exact sizes of the mills you plan to use. I have the R8 set that includes all the 32nd sizes. Heck I have those in 5C and 3C also!

    You can spend many MANY times more on tooling and attachments than you ever spend on the milling machine itself! Been there.....done that!

    Good luck in your path to a small mill/drill machine!

    Banger

  4. #24
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    I must ask,
    Some of those bench mills have a round column, and some have a dovetail (squared) column.
    Tell me about the difference.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master
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    A round column allows you to swivel the head side to side over the table for unusal setups. I have never done that. But it can offer different capabilities for “unique” set-ups and needs.

    The dovetailed square columns allow for acurate and solid vertical positioning with minimum play/slop by using adlustable gibs.

    Both work very well.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    Can you disconnect the spindle, and, use it like a hand tapper??

  7. #27
    Boolit Master
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    Nothing to disconnect!!!!!!!!

    To START taps - you simply make sure you have not moved the head, table, or vice holding the work you just drilled the hole in, remove the drill bit, chuck the tap, and using the chuck key's long shank stuck into one of the chuck's key holes to turn the chuck by hand while applying LIGHT downward pressure with the mill's down-feed handle. DO NOT EVER TURN ON THE POWER!!!!!!!!!

    Very accurate and easy to start taps of any size this way. Once you get about 4-5 threads cut, loosen the chuck, back off the quill, and put your standard tap handle on the tap's square shank and finish the tapping job by hand. Remember to reverse the tap a bit ever 1/2 turn or so to clear the teeth. AND.....use a good tapping lubricant...NOT motor or gun oil!

    Perfect square/true tapped holes every single time!

    You can invest a bunch of money in a power tapping attachment, but this method uses everything you already have!!!!!

    For FREE.


    This and many other things become common sense logic once you actually own and use a mill/drill. Just like casting boolits............doing ( not just reading ) is how you learn.

    BTW........you can use the same drill chuck method in a drill press also...as long as you are using a good table vise to hold the work in the exact position you drilled the hole to be tapped.

    banger
    Last edited by bangerjim; 06-17-2018 at 01:50 PM.

  8. #28
    Boolit Master
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    You can put a dead center in a drill chuck to engage the center drilled hole in a T type tapping handle. Then use the dead center to maintain on axis alignment of your tap while hand tapping.
    EDG

  9. #29
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDG View Post
    You can put a dead center in a drill chuck to engage the center drilled hole in a T type tapping handle. Then use the dead center to maintain on axis alignment of your tap while hand tapping.
    Problem with any “T” handle tap holders is: you need the clearence between the top of the tap and the mill/drill chuck to get the “T” holder in there. Most small mini-mills do not allow that distance available to the user. I can do that on my BIG mill (and floor drill press) that have lots of throat space, but the little HF mill (and similar ones) do not have the room. A standard flat tap holding handle is only about 3/4 inch thick, so there is pleanty of room between the drill chuck and the back end of the tap to work.

    “T” style handles tend to exert forces unevenly on the tap and can lead to lop-sided threads and broken taps. Using a center to guide it is good, but you need a LOT of space between the work and the drill chuck to do that.

    Just a tip for those looking for an easy way to ALWASY start and run taps with ZERO error (and no broken taps ever again!),

    Bangerjim

  10. #30
    Boolit Man
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    Where is the best place to get end mills, collets and a vice?

  11. #31
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by dead dog View Post
    Where is the best place to get end mills, collets and a vice?
    Good sources:

    Enco

    Travers

    https://littlemachineshop.com/produc...hoC4MEQAvD_BwE


    McMaster Carr

    I have used them all...........at different times.

    And do a search on the net for LOCAL suppliers. I prefer doing business with local suppliers rather than on the net......keeps the money in your state!

    Make sure you get a vise that does NOT creeeeep. A KURT-style is what you want. Not cheap HF vises for a simple drill-press!

    There is no need for a hobbyist to invest in Hardinge or similar industrial quality collets when you are not making a living with them or using them on a daily basis for production work. The ChiCom collets perform good enough for your hobby work. And prices are 10-20X less in many cases!

    You can also look into ER style collets that allow a wider variation of sizes/collet. Standard collets have a VERY narrow range of gripping size and you need a ton of them (32nd or 64th sizes) to cover various sizes of mills and stock you may encountier. ( I use them in my metal lathes also!) I have a set that spans 1/16 to 1 inch. They fit in a common R8 holder.

    TIN-coated HSS mills are even avialbe from HF. For light occasional hobby work they are just fine. I use only solid carbide mills for all my machine work and carbide insert cutters for all facing cutters and lathe tooling. Remember the 1st time you sharpen a TIN-coated tool, you loose all benefits of the TIN on the cutting surfaces. TIN-coated carbide tools are the absloute BEST!!!!!!! I have many of them I have NEVER had to sharpen for many many years. I mill mainly brass, aluminum, and mild steel.

    Bottom line......you can spend a medium size fortune on tooling for a mill! Believe me.......I have over the past 35 years.

    Bangerjim
    Last edited by bangerjim; 06-17-2018 at 10:44 PM.

  12. #32
    Boolit Master
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    I never considered a mini mill a real mill and still don't.
    It sounds like you never used a T handle enough to understand they are easier to guide and keep aligned. Of all the bad methods to drive a tap the flat handles are close to using a Crescent wrench....
    But you can use a dead center with them too if the tap is large enough to have a center.

    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    Problem with any “T” handle tap holders is: you need the clearence between the top of the tap and the mill/drill chuck to get the “T” holder in there. Most small mini-mills do not allow that distance available to the user. I can do that on my BIG mill (and floor drill press) that have lots of throat space, but the little HF mill (and similar ones) do not have the room. A standard flat tap holding handle is only about 3/4 inch thick, so there is pleanty of room between the drill chuck and the back end of the tap to work.

    “T” style handles tend to exert forces unevenly on the tap and can lead to lop-sided threads and broken taps. Using a center to guide it is good, but you need a LOT of space between the work and the drill chuck to do that.

    Just a tip for those looking for an easy way to ALWASY start and run taps with ZERO error (and no broken taps ever again!),

    Bangerjim
    Last edited by EDG; 06-23-2018 at 06:59 PM.
    EDG

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    I have used T-handle tap holders for over 45 years (!!!!!!)......WHEN they are approriate.....like out in the boonies trying to tap a hole on a lawnmower or other yard equipment. NOT on precision shop projects where I have drill presses and milling machines to start and run the taps straight and true. And.....please.......do not degrade my many decades of engineering/machinist experience and skill set.

    It’s the CLEARANCE we are talking about here, not the T-handle itself. T’s take a lot of room between the drill chuck and the end of the tap started in the work. Depending on the size of the tap, many times one cannot get a T in there on smaller machines. The flat tap handle is thin and fits very well in small work. And you could ever use a cresent wrench with a center.

    But PLEASE.....do not derate quality small milling machines. I have done tons of work on them.....much easier than firing up my BIG mill. And I am taking about precision work that far exceeds simple gun stuff!!!!!!!!

  14. #34
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    I have used T-handle tap holders for over 45 years (!!!!!!)......WHEN they are approriate.....like out in the boonies trying to tap a hole on a lawnmower or other yard equipment. NOT on precision shop projects where I have drill presses and milling machines to start and run the taps straight and true. And.....please.......do not degrade my many decades of engineering/machinist experience and skill set.

    It’s the CLEARANCE we are talking about here, not the T-handle itself. T’s take a lot of room between the drill chuck and the end of the tap started in the work. Depending on the size of the tap, many times one cannot get a T in there on smaller machines. The flat tap handle is thin and fits very well in small work. And you could ever use a cresent wrench with a center.

    But PLEASE.....do not derate quality small milling machines. I have done tons of work on them.....much easier than firing up my BIG mill. And I am taking about precision work that far exceeds simple gun stuff!!!!!!!!
    your post makes me want to ask about this:

    https://littlemachineshop.com/produc...1963&category=

  15. #35
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    The little spring-loaded tap guides are handy. I have one and will use it when I only have 1 or 2 holes to tap and run-out isn't that critical. If close tolerances on concentricity/run-out need to be maintained, I do it like bangerjim describes. Center drill, drill, replace the drill with the tap, disengage my spindle (I'm on a Bridgeport with a 2J head) and bring the quill down and rotate the spindle by hand while feeding the tap into the hole. 3 or 4 threads in and you can unchuck you tap, retract you spindle and lower or move your milling table and finish with a T-handle tap wrench.
    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms *shall not be infringed*.

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  16. #36
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by kens View Post
    your post makes me want to ask about this:

    https://littlemachineshop.com/produc...1963&category=
    That will work, as will any dead center for a lathe with a straight shank. I would question the play in point, though. A live center is multi ball bearings designed for severe service in the tailstock of a lathe. In other words NO PLAY or runout.

    That device looks like a simple automatic center punch, which could also be used in a pinch (but not accurate).

    I even use a carbide-tipped (not live) lathe dead center with straight shank for starting taps. It all depends on what I am doing and the needs the job has.

    It all depends on your tolerances and quality of work you are trying to achieve.

    Banger
    Last edited by bangerjim; 06-24-2018 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Error in typing

  17. #37
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    really enjoy the input you all are giving, obviously you all have a life time of metal work behind your thoughts. I was excavating shop and farming and site supervision. I came into the no work side of life 10 years before I ever planned on. Because of Grizzly and HF stores with in 30 min. drive there is where I go. Grizzly has been good to me on specialty bits and such. I don't see them as a top end store but for me they are top end! I really need to get some aids for putting flats on barrels. I mean the rotary tool ability for a guy on short cash!! I will get there, patience patience patience.
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  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    That will work, as will any dead center for a lathe with a straight shank. I would question the play in point, though. A dead center is multi ball bearings designed for severe service in the tailstock of a lathe. In other words NO PLAY or runout.

    That device looks like a simple automatic center punch, which could also be used in a pinch (but not accurate).

    I even use a carbide-tipped (not live) lathe center with straight shank for starting taps. It all depends on what I am doing and the needs the job has.

    It all depends on your tolerances and quality of work you are trying to achieve.

    Banger
    A live center is multi ball bearings designed for severe service in the tailstock of a lathe.

    I even use a carbide-tipped (not live) lathe dead center with straight shank for starting taps.

    If the tip (point) of the center spins, it's a "live center". If the tip of the center does not spin; is not mounted in bearings (no moving parts) housed in the body of the center, it's a "dead center".
    Using a dead center will typically require the application of "center-point lube" to tip of the center or to the work center in your part.
    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms *shall not be infringed*.

    "The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution."
    - Thomas Jefferson

    "While the people have property, arms in their hands, and only a spark of noble spirit, the most corrupt Congress must be mad to form any project of tyranny."
    - Rev. Nicholas Collin, Fayetteville Gazette (N.C.), October 12, 1789

  19. #39
    Boolit Master
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    Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to confuse neophytes out there. Typing/dictating on an iPhone can sometimes cause errors and brain-flatulants.

    Live = ball bearings with both thrust and running beaings. The tip SPINS!!!!!!!!

    Dead = just a hunk of drill rod metal (hopefully hardened and carbide tipped) with a point on it. And yes you should use a bit of lubrication if you crank down hard.

    Bangerjim

  20. #40
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to confuse neophytes out there. Typing/dictating on an iPhone can sometimes cause errors and brain-flatulants.

    Live = ball bearings with both thrust and running beaings. The tip SPINS!!!!!!!!

    Dead = just a hunk of drill rod metal (hopefully hardened and carbide tipped) with a point on it. And yes you should use a bit of lubrication if you crank down hard.

    Bangerjim
    While it hasn't been in use as a center-point lube since I think the early half of the 20th century, I think I still have a small can of "white lead" somewhere in the shop.

    How's that for going back in time?
    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms *shall not be infringed*.

    "The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution."
    - Thomas Jefferson

    "While the people have property, arms in their hands, and only a spark of noble spirit, the most corrupt Congress must be mad to form any project of tyranny."
    - Rev. Nicholas Collin, Fayetteville Gazette (N.C.), October 12, 1789

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