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HennieL

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Hi Everyone,

Following up on the most informative discussion "Let's talk drilling", I would really appreciate your comments and input regarding milling machines.

I've been using a little Optimum BF20 mill/drill for the past few years, and have become more and more frustrated with it's lack of capabilities, especially in machining tool steels and such - case in point I recently tried to mill a 12mm slot in a piece of annealed cobalt high-speed steel (HSS-Co), and I could not make cuts deeper than 0.25mm with a four flute end-mill, or with a 12mm ball-nose end-mill, using HSS-Co6 cutters from a reputable supplier. Because the lack of cutting capacity, I ended up with this tool steel work-hardening on me, and I blunted two end mills... So, long story short, I am seriously looking to buy a new milling machine - and that's where I would appreciate some advice from members with more engineering experience than me.

OK, so after a lot of research and price shopping, I must make some serious decisions, amongst others:
  • what would be the most versatile, smallish footprint machine with a professional size chuck, enough power to do some actual milling, and still small enough to fit into my single garage sized workshop that already has a 1m lathe and a large work table.
  • In my opinion a dual vertical and horizontal type machine would be much more versatile than just a vertical type mill - do you concur?
  • I would like to have a machine with an ISO-40 size head - would this be the most versatile, or what would you recommend (nothing larger...)
  • And the most difficult/controversial question, would a machine with a Bridgeport type vertical head with an additional horizontal receptacle be "better" than a universal type head that can take both horizontal and vertical cutters in the one head?
I am looking for something like the following (both Chinese made, but sourced through a well known and reputable supplier)

The Bridgeport type with horizontal receptical...
Mill 2.jpg


Or the Universal Head type...
Mill 1.jpg


Both machines would have power feeds in the "X", "Y" and "Z" axes. The Bridgeport type has the advantage of a quill type head that can be used for drilling as well, whilst the universal head type machine does not have a quill, and can only be fed vertically through it's knee, but is more sturdy. Does anyone have first-hand experience with the latter type of machines, and can you please explain how one would accurately adjust the milling depth on it?

Thanks in advance for your comments, advice, and constructive criticism (also on any other type of mill that you might consider to be more appropriate) - and of course realizing that here in South Africa my choice of brands and types are limited to either "made in China" or "made in India"...

Hennie
 
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SmithDoor

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Your mill is small.
I have little larger that take a heavy cut. You may look for one like mine .

US $416.02 39%OFF | Small Metal Drilling and Milling Machine Woodworking DIY Full Copper Wire Mini Drilling and Milling Machine

Dave

Hi Everyone,

Following up on the most informative discussion "Let's talk drilling", I would really appreciate your comments and input regarding milling machines.

I've been using a little Optimum BF20 mill/drill for the past few years, and have become more and more frustrated with it's lack of capabilities, especially in machining tool steels and such - case in point I recently tried to mill a 12mm slot in a piece of annealed cobalt high-speed steel (HSS-Co), and I could not make cuts deeper than 0.25mm with a four flute end-mill, or with a 12mm ball-nose end-mill, using HSS-Co6 cutters from a reputable supplier. Because the lack of cutting capacity, I ended up with this tool steel work-hardening on me, and I blunted two end mills... So, long story short, I am seriously looking to buy a new milling machine - and that's where I would appreciate some advice from members with more engineering experience than me.

OK, so after a lot of research and price shopping, I must make some serious decisions, amongst others:
  • what would be the most versatile, smallish footprint machine with a professional size chuck, enough power to do some actual milling, and still small enough to fit into my single garage sized workshop that already has a 1m lathe and a large work table.
  • In my opinion a dual vertical and horizontal type machine would be much more versatile than just a vertical type mill - do you concur?
  • I would like to have a machine with an ISO-40 size head - would this be the most versatile, or what would you recommend (nothing larger...)
  • And the most difficult/controversial question, would a machine with a Bridgeport type vertical head with an additional horizontal receptacle be "better" than a universal type head that can take both horizontal and vertical cutters in the one head?
I am looking for something like the following (both Chinese made, but sourced through a well known and reputable supplier)

The Bridgeport type with horizontal receptical...
View attachment 126132

Or the Universal Head type...
View attachment 126133

Both machines would have power feeds in the "X", "Y" and "Z" axes. The Bridgeport type has the advantage of a quill type head that can be used for drilling as well, whilst the universal head type machine does not have a quill, and can only be fed vertically through it's knee, but is more sturdy. Does anyone have first-hand experience with the latter type of machines, and can you please explain how one would accurately adjust the milling depth on it?

Thanks in advance for your comments, advice, and constructive criticism (also on any other type of mill that you might consider to be more appropriate) - and of course realizing that here in South Africa my choice of brands and types are limited to either "made in China" or "made in India"...

Hennie
 

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HennieL

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Your mill is small.
I have little larger that take a heavy cut. You may look for one like mine .
Dave
Thanks Dave, but from your attached data your drill/mill is even smaller than my current BF2, only weighing 75kg vs ~110kg of the BF2...

I'm really looking to upgrade to a "proper" milling machine... not to replace it with something similar to what I currently have.
 

SmithDoor

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I retired and just do not a larger mill.

A Bridgeport mill is good around if you have the room.
I have own 4 in past even purchase a new one.


Dave

Thanks Dave, but from your attached data your drill/mill is even smaller than my current BF2, only weighing 75kg vs ~110kg of the BF2...

I'm really looking to upgrade to a "proper" milling machine... not to replace it with something similar to what I currently have.
 
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Hi Hennie, power and precision come from mass, accuracy of manufacture - and heritage. Milling machines that of old have originated from lathes have as main a horizontal spindle, often like Bridgeport expanded with a versatile head with vertical spindle. The milling machines that originate from vertical drills and often come with a round pillar upright are much less sturdy. However these are often easier to operate. As my family in our former colonies has been guest of the Emperor of Japan we still prefer European manufacture over Asian manufacture.
So I myself have a Swiss Aciera F3 mill of about 600 kg. And a new German Wabeco F1210 mill of about 150 kg. The (only?) setback of the Aciera is that is has no quill. This means no feeling in drilling, feeding by moving the whole table up which causes quite some consumption of smaller drills. Therefore the German Wabeco with quill and high revs which is lighter but quite precise.
A friend of mine has a full size original Bridgeport which does boast a quill. And a slotting head.
So my advice is to get the biggest Bridgeport type you can afford, preferably an original.
Don't forget the revs you need for small hole drilling. I have a separate high rev milling/drilling head that I attach if I need to drill a lot of small holes in the same set-up as I did my milling.
And if there is a choice get the long table.
 

HennieL

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Thanks for your input, Clockworkcheval.

The (only?) setback of the Aciera is that is has no quill. This means no feeling in drilling, feeding by moving the whole table up which causes quite some consumption of smaller drills. Therefore the German Wabeco with quill and high revs which is lighter but quite precise.

That is one of my concerns, hence one of my original questions "Does anyone have first-hand experience with the latter type of machines, and can you please explain how one would accurately adjust the milling depth on it?" Drilling small holes would not, however, be a large factor in my choosing of a new mill, as I would still keep the small Optimum BF20, and use it exclusively for what it is good at - drilling small diameter holes.

From the little that I could find on the internet regarding the Universal Head type mills (similar to that of the old Deckel FP2 mills of the 1970's), I am under the impression that they are sturdier (weight for weight) than the upright Bridgeport type of mills. This would be a major consideration for me, and I really would appreciate any feedback from people who have first-hand experience with this type of mill.

So my advice is to get the biggest Bridgeport type you can afford, preferably an original.

Unfortunately, getting a US, German or Swiss manufactured machine is out of the question, with the dismal exchange rate of the South African Rand, and my only two options would be to either buy a new Chinese import, or an old second-hand machine. The second-hand machines currently available are either much too large for my purpose, or so dilapidated and broken that it would be a major challenge to repair - and of course in my country the second-hand machine salespeople are even worse than the second-hand car salesmen :rolleyes:
 
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L98fiero

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That is one of my concerns, hence one of my original questions "Does anyone have first-hand experience with the latter type of machines, and can you please explain how one would accurately adjust the milling depth on it?" Drilling small holes would not, however, be a large factor in my choosing of a new mill, as I would still keep the small Optimum BF20, and use it exclusively for what it is good at - drilling small diameter holes.
For accurate depth control, lift the knee or you can put a digital scale/DRO on the quill.

From personal experience operating mills from small tabletop machines to horizontal boring mills I'd suggest the combined turret mill with the horizontal spindle would do everything you need unless you are into some fairly large projects and with a little ingenuity and a DRO you can still do the big parts. The horizontal spindle is, in my experience, used primarily for squaring up and heavy slotting because you can run a larger mill in the #40 spindle. The advantage of the combined machine is that you have the versatility of a turret mill with the rigidity of the horizontal, the downside is that #40 tooling is more expensive.

As for which machine, I have a table with only 24" of travel and seldom have issues, none that can't be overcome, and I'm still doing some commercial work. Also it's hard to tell the better quality Chinese mills from the original Bridgeports until you see the price tag and unless you are not into cleaning and lubricating your machines and using them 24/7 on commercial work, I'd think the Chinese machine would last many years without an issue, for hobby work, more than a lifetime.
 

timo_gross

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I am following this with interest, I think there are two aproaches. Carbide high spindle speeds high feeds, low cutter engagement.
Everything slower, but bigger cuts.
I see a lot of people (not only me) struggling choosing from the different available strategys. More because the machining strategy is not best suited.
Tool manufacturers, often answered the question: How much power and torque do I need for a particular tool and material? "You need enough power :oops:o_O." Because all their customers are running the same standard 10-15 kW BT40 CNC spindles with similar properties. And there is a weird mixture of modern tools and old strategys and outdated rules of thump out there.

Choose spindle speeds according to what you want to do most. A candoitall is not available anymore, too many different approaches and materials available. I feel it is easier to run a tool too slow than too fast.

Greetings Timo

p.s. tooling cost is very much dependent on area. BT40 and NT40 are used most around here, so it is easy to get and prices are often cheaper than R8. (More modern boring systems or face milling cutters, etc. are usually not available in non Standard sizes (R8 = non standard size :cool:)
 
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Richard Hed

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Hi Everyone,

Following up on the most informative discussion "Let's talk drilling", I would really appreciate your comments and input regarding milling machines.

I've been using a little Optimum BF20 mill/drill for the past few years, and have become more and more frustrated with it's lack of capabilities, especially in machining tool steels and such - case in point I recently tried to mill a 12mm slot in a piece of annealed cobalt high-speed steel (HSS-Co), and I could not make cuts deeper than 0.25mm with a four flute end-mill, or with a 12mm ball-nose end-mill, using HSS-Co6 cutters from a reputable supplier. Because the lack of cutting capacity, I ended up with this tool steel work-hardening on me, and I blunted two end mills... So, long story short, I am seriously looking to buy a new milling machine - and that's where I would appreciate some advice from members with more engineering experience than me.

OK, so after a lot of research and price shopping, I must make some serious decisions, amongst others:
  • what would be the most versatile, smallish footprint machine with a professional size chuck, enough power to do some actual milling, and still small enough to fit into my single garage sized workshop that already has a 1m lathe and a large work table.
  • In my opinion a dual vertical and horizontal type machine would be much more versatile than just a vertical type mill - do you concur?
  • I would like to have a machine with an ISO-40 size head - would this be the most versatile, or what would you recommend (nothing larger...)
  • And the most difficult/controversial question, would a machine with a Bridgeport type vertical head with an additional horizontal receptacle be "better" than a universal type head that can take both horizontal and vertical cutters in the one head?
I am looking for something like the following (both Chinese made, but sourced through a well known and reputable supplier)

The Bridgeport type with horizontal receptical...
View attachment 126132

Or the Universal Head type...
View attachment 126133

Both machines would have power feeds in the "X", "Y" and "Z" axes. The Bridgeport type has the advantage of a quill type head that can be used for drilling as well, whilst the universal head type machine does not have a quill, and can only be fed vertically through it's knee, but is more sturdy. Does anyone have first-hand experience with the latter type of machines, and can you please explain how one would accurately adjust the milling depth on it?

Thanks in advance for your comments, advice, and constructive criticism (also on any other type of mill that you might consider to be more appropriate) - and of course realizing that here in South Africa my choice of brands and types are limited to either "made in China" or "made in India"...

Hennie
The mill that does not have a quill, IMNSHO, is a bad choice for an amateur, I would thimpfk that belongs in a large shop. I too am looking at a mill that has both vertical and horizontal capabililties. I'm thimpfking the Grizzly

g0757-56d321b48b5084730574f324b6d94071.jpg



Grizzly G0757 - 9" x 39" 2 HP Horizontal/Vertical Mill
might be worth it.
 

L98fiero

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The mill that does not have a quill, IMNSHO, is a bad choice for an amateur, I would thimpfk that belongs in a large shop. I too am looking at a mill that has both vertical and horizontal capabililties. I'm thimpfking the Grizzly
Grizzly G0757 - 9" x 39" 2 HP Horizontal/Vertical Millght be worth it.
I don't think that's the machine Henni is talking about, the picture is of a Knuth VHF 1.1 with #40 taper and 5" of quill travel, 2 hp on the vertical and 3 hp on the horizontal and weights 2200 pounds. It would do pretty much anything most home shops I know of would need done. I'd buy one if I didn't have a line on a mint condition Excello 602 within driving distance and if it was within my(wife's) budget.
 

Richard Hed

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I don't think that's the machine Henni is talking about, the picture is of a Knuth VHF 1.1 with #40 taper and 5" of quill travel, 2 hp on the vertical and 3 hp on the horizontal and weights 2200 pounds. It would do pretty much anything most home shops I know of would need done. I'd buy one if I didn't have a line on a mint condition Excello 602 within driving distance and if it was within my(wife's) budget.
No no, Hennie lives in S. Africa which he has told us before does not have Grizzly but similar things are probably available. I's just telling him about this product and recommending AGAINST that machine with no quill. That would be a big mistake.
 

Richard Hed

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I am following this with interest, I think there are two aproaches. Carbide high spindle speeds high feeds, low cutter engagement.
Everything slower, but bigger cuts.
I see a lot of people (not only me) struggling choosing from the different available strategys. More because the machining strategy is not best suited.
Tool manufacturers, often answered the question: How much power and torque do I need for a particular tool and material? "You need enough power :oops:o_O." Because all their customers are running the same standard 10-15 kW BT40 CNC spindles with similar properties. And there is a weird mixture of modern tools and old strategys and outdated rules of thump out there.

Choose spindle speeds according to what you want to do most. A candoitall is not available anymore, too many different approaches and materials available. I feel it is easier to run a tool too slow than too fast.

Greetings Timo

p.s. tooling cost is very much dependent on area. BT40 and NT40 are used most around here, so it is easy to get and prices are often cheaper than R8. (More modern boring systems or face milling cutters, etc. are usually not available in non Standard sizes (R8 = non standard size :cool:)
Where do you live that an R8 is nonstandard?
 

SmithDoor

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R8 is only a standard for small mills.
When order my old Bridge Port I order with quick change it did not come with R8.
Most of mills I own had mt40 or mt50.
The mill that have now has a morse tapper 2.
There is no real standard


Where do you live that an R8 is nonstandard?
 

Zeb

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Yeh, a decent Bridgeport is tough to find even here for an affordable price. One of the issues with SA is that sometimes they ship stuff there that had quality issues. I would check some of the mills coming out of Taiwan, as they look fairly decent.
 

timo_gross

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Where do you live that an R8 is nonstandard?
You will not find many R8 machines in Europe, China, Japan, Russia basically everywhere outside the US I guess.
I am in Taiwan, machines with R8 are rare and hard to sell if you want to get rid of one. R8 machines are mostly produced in China for US (Hobby) market and found their way to other places outside the US.


Greetings Timo
 

HennieL

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Thanks for everyone's input so far - keep it up :)

I's just telling him about this product and recommending AGAINST that machine with no quill. That would be a big mistake.

Richard (and everyone else...): I'm certainly not being argumentative about this advice as I don't have enough knowledge or experience with milling, but please elaborate on why you're making this recommendation (I like to understand "why" with everything I do - I suppose that I never outgrew that stage of my childhood...)

Why would a machine that's used in industry not be suitable for hobby use (apart from cost, that is...) - especially if it is more sturdy for the same smallish footprint, and keeping in mind that I will keep my small mill/drill to use as an accurate drill (which was the main reason that I bought it in the first place)?

Why daddy, why??? :D:D
 

aarggh

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I have an Optimum BF16 and love it, it's an absolutely superb machine for light aluminium machining, fantastic value. For bigger stuff I have a 3hp geared head knee mill. I spent ages looking at various smaller models, and gradually going up in size until I ended up with a model pretty much identical to the pic, except mine doesn't have the horizontal borer. As others say the bigger and more mass you can get in a mill the better. Mine takes NT40 which is great as you can get really decent stuff not too expensive. Generally the Z axis isn't powered on these as you usually use the quill to fine adjust and then lock to machine.

A quill as others have pointed out really is a necessity if you want to have more control over the machining you do, I couldn't imagine not having a quill, it would make simple things much more tedious.

I love my mill but I do find if I'm using the shell mill cutter assembly and I'm really hogging steel, the ram does actually vibrate out of position forward/back slightly, it's quite hard to completely stop that, so I just don't overdo it.

The one thing I do really regret though, is I went for a geared head thinking it would be far superior than a belt drive (thinking crappy drill press experience), but the noise it makes is pretty loud at times, so I have to be careful not to upset the neighbours. If I had my choice I would go for a King Rich V2000 being a superb machine for a home shop or serious hobbyist, but if not that, then one with a variable belt drive like the Bridgeports and King Rich's have, I think that would be the bees knee's, and much better than geared head.

I will say there's something really nice about turning big pieces of steel into little red hot swarf on the mill, very good for the soul I reckon! ;-)
 

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Richard Hed

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Thanks for everyone's input so far - keep it up :)



Richard (and everyone else...): I'm certainly not being argumentative about this advice as I don't have enough knowledge or experience with milling, but please elaborate on why you're making this recommendation (I like to understand "why" with everything I do - I suppose that I never outgrew that stage of my childhood...)

Why would a machine that's used in industry not be suitable for hobby use (apart from cost, that is...) - especially if it is more sturdy for the same smallish footprint, and keeping in mind that I will keep my small mill/drill to use as an accurate drill (which was the main reason that I bought it in the first place)?

Why daddy, why??? :D:D
LOL, *I never ever thot you were being argumentative, son (because I say so, son, because I say so). OK, so the mill in my experience has two methods of machining. They are both important in their own way. One method is to plane mill in which i am also grouping side, groove and top milling techniques. The other way is to use the mill as one would use a drill press, that is to plunge the quill into the work. If you have a quill, you can quickly and easily set the depth to do any of your "plane Millings" but if you only have a knee, I believe this would not be either quick or easy to set depths. For production work, that would most likely be just fine. But for Amateur, especially, one or two offs, that would be a pain in the prostate. *If you are getting a mill with a motor raised and lowered knee, that would be helpful but I don't know how accurate or easy to set as I have never run any thing like that. With a crank (hand crank) to raise and lower it, it would be terrible IMNSHO. I hope that helps
 

HennieL

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If you are getting a mill with a motor raised and lowered knee, that would be helpful but I don't know how accurate or easy to set as I have never run any thing like that. With a crank (hand crank) to raise and lower it, it would be terrible IMNSHO. I hope that helps

Thanks Richard - that helps a lot, and I concur with the points you made. This was one of my main concerns, and I raised the question in my very first post:
...the universal head type machine does not have a quill, and can only be fed vertically through it's knee, but is more sturdy. Does anyone have first-hand experience with the latter type of machines, and can you please explain how one would accurately adjust the milling depth on it?
The Universal Head machine that I'm looking at does have a power feed in the "Z" axis (through the knee), but I could not find anything on a "fine adjust" knob or mechanism in the literature, hence my question.

I would really appreciate some feedback from someone that has experience with this type of machine, regarding this question... can one electronically adjust the vertical height to an accuracy of 1.0mm, 0.1mm, or 0.01mm? I note that the machine does have a 3-axes DRO, and would assume that the resolution would be something like 0.02mm or 0.05mm, but cannot see how an electrical motor and gears would be able to adjust to this accuracy given the momentum (lag) in any electro-mechanical device such as this.

The one thing I do really regret though, is I went for a geared head thinking it would be far superior than a belt drive (thinking crappy drill press experience), but the noise it makes is pretty loud at times, so I have to be careful not to upset the neighbours.

Thanks for this, aarggh - something that I have not considered, and will have to give some thought to. I'm not too concerned about disturbing the neighbours (they are quite far away, and my double brick wall garage/workshop will dampen the sound quite well), but I am concerned about my own ears (given that I am already partly deaf due to nearly 60 years of shooting ;))
 

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It is difficult to make a recommendation without knowing your budget, the type of work you plan to do and your ability.
for my pennies worth, I would go for plenty of iron, a heavier machine will will hold its accuracy better, quill drilling is nice but a stand alone drill is much better, a Bridgeport type is tall and may not fit easily in your workshop.
I would look for a horizontal machine with detachable vertical head, preferably with power feeds, this brings us to the Aciera, Deckel, Schaublin, Alexander types. Don’t be too worried by age, they are all rebuildable, my Deckel FP1 was made in 1937 and still mills to .001” which does me.
good hunting
 
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