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spindly57

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Hi, I am looking to buy a lathe/mill combination. I do not have the room for two separate machines I have looked at few different machines. Was looking at the Smithly Midas 1220 LTD combination lathe and mill.
Any thoughts on the matter good, bad, usefulness.
Appreciate any and all comments.

Regards Spindly
 

Zeb

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Hello,
I don't know much about the Smithy line, but looks robust and able to handle most of what I see on this forum.
Maybe I'd ask, what are you looking at possibly making with it?
 

trlvn

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Hi Neighbour!

There are some people that are happy with combination machines, but...not many.

As a lathe, a combination machine isn't that bad. As a mill, some of the issues are:

- not rigid. Poor finishes, chatter. Small depth of cut possible. Easier to break end mills, etc.
- limited work envelope.
- more changeover/setup time.

As @Zeb says, we might be able to give better advice if we knew your area of interest.

BTW, I believe the Smithy machines are not inexpensive--especially with the USD conversion rate, shipping, and you have to pay tax anyway at the border. Do you mind sharing the estimated landed cost?

If you want to get into model building, there is a local club. Meetings are still virtual for the time being:


Craig
Oakville, ON
 

Zeb

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@spindly57 I've gotten a lot of ire for it, but if you're leaning more towards watchmaking size to steam engines that can go on a bookshelf, Sherline is having a 20% off sale during December. I made wooden bases with handles for both machines. I can pull them out of the cupboard and on to the kitchen island. They're quiet and very accurate for detail work. Spindles can handle difficult metals but are really designed for light cuts and those who like to go really slow.
 

Robsmith

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I bought a Smithy CB 1229 XL 20 odd years ago. It has served me well building car parts . Engine , carby ,suspension and decorative trim etc. It isn't over robust but if you take your time the accuracy is pretty good and repeatable. Over time I have modified it here and there just to improve it's operation. I'm happy with it and envy all the dedicated machines ie: lathe and separate mill and drill press. But space dominated the purchase. That was an epic process as well. It came from China, went to Ann Arbor then back to NSW Australia. Just about around the world. The shock and horror when I saw "Made in China" stamped all over the crate dampened the delivery excitement a bit. But I am generally pleased with it's worth.
 

spindly57

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Thanks to all that replied. I am a wood turner, make vases, candle holders, toys and the like. Was going to start mixing wood and metal for inlays and accents.
Took machine shop in High School, quite enjoyed making some of the projects we did. Was thinking about trying my hand at small steam engines, made one in college. Would have a steep learning curve though, But I'm retired have lots of time on my hands. Projects I would be doing, are small.
My problem is I have no room for full size equipment.
Smithy seems to be the one that is favored, certainly not the cheapest. The materials I would be using are softer metals brass, aluminum, and such.

Regards; spindly57
 
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spindly57

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Hi Neighbour!

There are some people that are happy with combination machines, but...not many.

As a lathe, a combination machine isn't that bad. As a mill, some of the issues are:

- not rigid. Poor finishes, chatter. Small depth of cut possible. Easier to break end mills, etc.
- limited work envelope.
- more changeover/setup time.

As @Zeb says, we might be able to give better advice if we knew your area of interest.

BTW, I believe the Smithy machines are not inexpensive--especially with the USD conversion rate, shipping, and you have to pay tax anyway at the border. Do you mind sharing the estimated landed cost?

If you want to get into model building, there is a local club. Meetings are still virtual for the time being:


Craig
Oakville, ON
Hello Craig
Nice to meet a fellow country man.
 

Courierdog

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There are many of us out here in the Virtual Country Side, lurking for an excuse to say hello.
As to the Smithy or any Combination Machine, like anything else, there are comprises with anything. Determine the Size of Lathe required for your envisioned work. As to the Mill the work table and the travel are some of the limiting factors of the Combination. The Smithy is heavier than many Combination units and from what I read they have provided better support than most. In the end it is your money, and personal preference, is the real deciding factor
 

stanstocker

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Greetings,

If your heart is set on a combo this will be of no use, but in the same footprint there may be some other options for lighter duty work such as bookshelf scale model engineering.

I have never used a Smithy, know a few people who have. The Smithy is according to most a pretty good lathe with a lot of swing. I won't hate on it as a lathe. Where combination machines get iffy is the mill. The use of the carriage cross slide as a mill table makes this a big machine with a very small milling work area. The finish when milling seems to suffer from the headstock configuration and mounting. Having to tear down milling set ups for turning and vice versa can be a bother according to some folks.

The machine you have will always beat the machine you wish you had, no point in not getting on with things. I've done work on machines so beat to death they might be turned down at a scrap yard, the sort you stand to the side in case it all comes apart. So I won't hate a nice new combo but wouldn't make one my first choice for your intended application.

I'd suggest considering a Sherline or Taig / Peatol lathe and one of the Seig benchtop mills before going to a combination. Most of the turning other than flywheels is of small size in bookshelf scale model engines. The swing for dealing with flywheels can often be accommodated by adding riser blocks. A rotary table on the mill can allow you to mill the perimeter of flywheels too large to swing in your lathe. If you have a Sherline mill, the head stock can rotate 90 degrees, and tools can be mounted on tall blocks on the mill table to create a quite light duty but usable larger swing lathe for those large aluminum flywheels. When space is limited Wile Coyote eyebrow wiggling and conniving is sometimes needed.

The Sherline and Taig lathes are small and light enough to put on a shelf or under the bench when not in use.

Lee Valley Tools in Canada is a Taig / Peatol dealer, although they only show accessories on their web site. They may deal with machines.

There is a firm TLA in Canada that is a Sherline dealer, no idea who they are or how they are to do business with:


If you layout your work area and consider how you might configure things, you might even be able to fit a smaller Seig lathe into the mix such as one of these:


That's about it for lathes. No matter what you have, there are always days you wish for more swing, more power, a finer finish on a tiny part you can barely see, different spindle nose / taper, it's just the nature of the shop.

I do a lot more work on a mill than on the lathe making engines and other model engineering sorts of things. Maybe not in cubic inches of metal removed, but in time when you include setup. The larger table of an "actual" mill is really nice to have, as is the ability to just leave something set up on the machine. The Sherline mill is nice, but quite small. The Taig/ Peatol mill is good and has more work capacity than Sherline without being awkwardly heavy to move. In this price range though, getting an R8 spindle for a mill is really beneficial. The mill doesn't have to be a huge extravaganza, at the lowest price end something like:


I'd suggest seeing if funds allow stepping up a grade or two from this, but it's a perfectly workable if not elegant machine. Just remember that tooling is going to add a lot of expense beyond the basic machines and typically minimal accessories included with machines.

This mill is still small enough to slide around on a benchtop or move (with some help probably) as needed, or perhaps mounted on top of a sturdy roll around tool cart. It will probably give a much better finish than I've seen with combo machines, reduces complexity of maintenance and repairs to the machine, and be able to take all sorts of standard R8 tooling. It will handle larger things like mill engine base castings readily, and because of increased mass will cut deeper or with larger cutters than a Taig or Sherline mill. If you have two mills in the running, all else being equal, think about going for the one with the greatest spindle clearance. Things get very crowded between the table and spindle quickly on small machines, to the point that some really useful tooling just won't fit in some cases. If you can land model aircraft on the table it still won't be large enough some days, but too tight a spindle clearance will be a bother EVERY day. Clearance can get crowded on larger machines some days too...

Regarding spindle clearance, do be aware of screw machine drill bits, they are standard diameters but shorter than the jobber length drill bits typically found in hardware stores. Very nice in smaller machines, both lathes and mills.

I have Sherline lathes and mills, Taig lathes, and also have a Taiwan made older Grizzly mill and a South Bend 10 so this is based on my experience and which machines I use and when. If a larger mill wasn't available, odds are the Sherline mill would not be as well liked. It's lovely for the work that fits, but a lot doesn't. I do not own one of the mini mills, but have used them and the ones from Little Machine Shop or MicroMark tend to a be a bit better than those from Harbor Freight in the US. I think in Canada Princess Auto is your equivalent to our Harbor Freight but with a larger variety of everything, still ranging from swill to occasional gems just like Harbor Freight :)

If you don't already know, the import machines can be built to many grades from the same base castings, so machines that look identical in the pictures may be quite different inside. Buyer beware.

I know this is long winded, I got a lot of iffy advice, and made some poor machine choices in the pre internet days so have tried to get some of the wish I'd known stuff into this.

Happy Shopping!
Stan
 

Courierdog

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Aside from all the Pros and Cons of a combo. Please define your space allotment hight ,width and depth. Plus how much weight can you accept.
Then discuss the type of work you anticipate amount of turning vs amount of milling. Type and size of projects you envision. Or are you trying to justify a machine of some type against a dream project.
Amount of Money available to purchase said machine and tooling to support your activities.
 

Zeb

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The only thing I'd add with Stan's excellent runthrough is if you have both the Sherline mill and lathe, you can easily spin the chuck off the lathe and mount it onto either the mill spindle, rotary table, or indexer. I have a couple of chucks, so I can remove one, ADHD to another project, then go back without consequences.
Biggest thing is regretting the lack of clearance for longer drills on the mill (can be solved with a horizontal mill reconfig) and not having a quill. Next is me being a dummy and not sizing my projects to match the machine. I sometimes find myself drilling a 3/8ths hole, then proceeding to spend an hour using a boringggg bar to bring a cylinder bore Ø up to an inch. hehe In the end I'm happy with the results though, and happiness may vary amongst folks as he said.
 

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