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Milling attachment for lathe

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john_k

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Hi all,

I am just beginning to get into model engineering, presently half way through building a simple oscillating steam engine. I have a generic sort of Chinese centre lathe - swing over the bed 240mm. x 600mm. between centres. I have neither funds nor space for a milling machine and I am turning my eye to the lathe for a substitute. I think I want to try removing the top slide, fitting some kind of bracket to mount it vertically onto the cross slide to provide the third axis. Has anyone tried anything like this? Reasons why it cannot work?

I have for many years been fitting digital readouts to industrial machine tools and as such I have much experience of making brackets.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions

Cheers, John Kearsley
 

atkinson582

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Hi all,

I am just beginning to get into model engineering, presently half way through building a simple oscillating steam engine. I have a generic sort of Chinese centre lathe - swing over the bed 240mm. x 600mm. between centres. I have neither funds nor space for a milling machine and I am turning my eye to the lathe for a substitute. I think I want to try removing the top slide, fitting some kind of bracket to mount it vertically onto the cross slide to provide the third axis. Has anyone tried anything like this? Reasons why it cannot work?

I have for many years been fitting digital readouts to industrial machine tools and as such I have much experience of making brackets.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions

Cheers, John Kearsley

this is sold at little machine shop.com
 

atkinson582

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i am also wondering how well the milling attachment would work on a 7 x 16 lathe. i have the pee wee v4 castings and i am wondering if i would be able to do the milling of the block, oil pan, and heads on this set up
 

dtsh

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There are many examples of people adapting milling atachments to lathes so I have little doubt to it's feasability, but they tend to have very limited range of movement and rigidity can be a concern depending on the lathe.

I had considered this route with my lathe and eventually settled on a mill/drill, mostly due to the small work envelope an attachment would have provided. The cost of acquiring the parts to make a milling attachment added up to not a whole lot less than a serviceable benchtop machine, so I went that route instead. I had seen the attachment from LMS, but it didn't look rigid enough for my needs so I didn't consider it. Given another machine takes up precious space, but if you can possibly arrange it I think it's a better option assuming budget and space can accommodate it.

Around here a used RF-30 type mill/drill, while not common, can occasionally be found for $300-$700 and a new one can be had for about $1200 delivered. If something smaller is desired, the Sieg X2 type can be had for significantly less, but I don't have any experience with them so cannot honestly remark on their capability.

All that said, I don't use my machines for model work much, more for general fabrication of parts needed on the farm, so my use and your use may differ.
 

MRA

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In days of old, it's how Grandad got his slide valves to seat ... :)

I have two nice little books on this - 'Milling in the lathe' by the ubiquitous Edgar T. Westbury, and 'Milling operations in the lathe' by the apparently immortal Tubal Cain (the nom-de-plume outlives its original owner). I like the former more - it's older and has a great emphasis on making gizmos out of scrap - but the latter is much easier to get hold of, very cheap on ebay.

Milling can work OK like this, but you'll want to do all your jibs up unnaturally tight (for a turner), and try to use a really outsize, stiff angle plate. I wouldn't splash out on new stuff to do it, personally, when you can learn about its limitations by adapting old scrap.
 

goldstar31

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I have a vertical slide from a Perfecto lathe( which none of you have heard of) and a fixed one ex Myford. Again, the Stent tool and cutter grinder( a sort of Clarkson) has one.

Really there is nowt new about it all, it is only a top slide tilted 90 degrees. If you think about it further, a vertical mill is not much different in concept but obviously made more robust. I've also got a pretty little powered vertical slide that is standard( more or less) on Siegs and Emcos.

In today's epistle to Gumtree( UK), there is a powered whatsit called an Amolco wich is a powered version of the 3 versions of the Myford Rodney affair,so thereisn't a lot that's new . Only the people that are setting out on a long voyage of discovery.
 

DJP

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I would not waste time and effort to build a vertical slide with X-Y vice to mount on the cross slide of lathe. It's not robust enough for anything except milling plastic. Not only will there be play in the slides but setting up this attachment square to the lathe spindle is not easy. Milling cutters will move in a three jaw chuck so that's another variable to can mess up your work.
I scraped the one I made and bought a mini-mill which I still have for small jobs. When I compare my lathe to my Bridgeport the rigidity isn't there not to mention all of the milling head adjustments.

On the other hand if you want a welding project you can build a work holder that allows you to mill a slot using a lathe.
 

deverett

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In days of yore, the only machine tool in the amateur's workshop was a lathe. Some very fine models were made with this one machine which used a vertical milling slide fitted on the cross slide. Another set up was to have a powered milling spindle mounted on the cross slide holding the cutter and the work held in the chuck or on a faceplate.

It is only in the last 20 years or so that hobby type milling machines have become available at prices that many machinists can afford. For those who do not have the available funds (or possibly space), then the vertical milling slide is about the only choice available, so don't knock them, DJP (or others).

Dave
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bazmak

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A cheap way is to use the compound slide.Make a substantial brkt and mount to the cross slide to use
vertical as the the 3rd axis. If you make the brkt swivel and use the swivel compound you have everything
When using the vertical slide you don't need the compound so you have everything very cheap with min setup
Vslide 08.JPG
 

bazmak

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Photo shows the basic idea as I used on the mini lathe.If you want any more info I will resurrect the thread
 

DJP

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In days of yore, the only machine tool in the amateur's workshop was a lathe. Some very fine models were made with this one machine which used a vertical milling slide fitted on the cross slide. Another set up was to have a powered milling spindle mounted on the cross slide holding the cutter and the work held in the chuck or on a faceplate.

It is only in the last 20 years or so that hobby type milling machines have become available at prices that many machinists can afford. For those who do not have the available funds (or possibly space), then the vertical milling slide is about the only choice available, so don't knock them, DJP (or others).

Dave
The Emerald Isle
I'm not knocking the idea as I built the same device. It's a worthwhile project as it sticks in your brain until you decide to start. One of the first milling exercises is to make parallels and I made various sets when I bought the mini mill. Fly cutting is another milling technique that requires rigidity in the machine. For some tasks I'm sure that a lathe can mimic an horizontal mill which could have value. So go for it. Build the brackets and try milling on a lathe. You won't sleep well until you do. At least that was my experience.
 

Gordon

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I would think that a cross slide table on the drill press would be more useful. The biggest problem with the drill press is a way to get precise depth on the spindle. I have seen several methods of mounting a cheap digital readout or dial indicator on the spindle. The drill press lacks rigidity but it is no worse than a milling attachment on the lathe. My dad used his for some rather extensive work. You can find some cross slide tables at a rather reasonable price. Most of the cheaper ones require some tender loving care and rework to make them accurate.
 

goldstar31

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You can find some cross slide tables at a rather reasonable price. Most of the cheaper ones require some tender loving care and rework to make them accurate.
Once cross slide vices are 'fettled', they can make the basis for rather interesting tool and cutter grinders.

;)

Norm
 

110samec

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i have a vertical slide on my 7 x 14 mini lathe and its good for small jobs. problem with it is the travel on the lathe isnt massive so it does really limit the size of the object you need to mill. I've made a Stuart 10V with it though. Also, its best to use a collet chuck to hold the end mill as its more secure than holding in a chuck where the tool could walk its way out of the jaws
 

Wizard69

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I hope you read the qualifications people have already made because this is one of those things that can be done and has been done but is also a huge compromise. Given that there are actually a few options here some simpler than others.

Before we get into those options there is one issue that hasn’t been brought up yet. This has todo with normal cutting forces in a lathe which are downward in almost all cases. As a result saddle Gibbs often are not fitted to the same precision you might see on a killing machine. This can lead to vibration and other issues if the killing cutter tends to lift the part. So you may find yourself and overhauling the lathe to get good results.

In any even the options:

1. In some cases all you really need is a simple angle plate bolted to the cross slide. Angle iron with welder in gussets that has been squared up is about as simple as you can get here. This does assume a lathe with a cross slide that easily allows bolting such a plate to.

2. Don’t forget your tool post!! Especially one with easy vertical adjustment. For really small parts you can clamp them in place of a HSS cutter and achieve acceptable results without any money invested. Spend a little money and you can make a quick change block specifically designed for milling. The custom “tool holder” block can be very cheap but allow handling slightly larger parts than a proper tool holding block.

3. Speaking of tool posts or similar apparatus you can read about custom holders for cross drilling rod and other stock in the lathe. As mentioned above much of this has been documented by some of the old machinist in books and magazine articles. There are a lot of ideas and concepts out there for lathe use that might not be obvious in this day and age.

4. Sometimes it makes sense to have a milling head for the lathe. This has also been documented in many article over the years. Depending upon what you need to machine this might be a good approach. There are designs that travel with the carriage and designs that are stationary above the carriage.

5. In the end it is often better to make room for what you need.
 

Naiveambition

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I built a oscillator motor as my first also, and used a 7x10 lathe with the little machine shop slide. Mine came with a large aluminum block on the back. I drilled and fitted it to mount on the cross feed. Hardest thing I found was finding suitable mounting. Needs a tiny clamp set, would be much more versatile. Another idea is make a block that mounts to the slide like a "t" and mount to the toolpost directly
I've moved up to bigger machinery but if your happy taking light cuts and with some patience it can be done.
 

AgfaClack

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I enjoyed making a milling attachment, made the one by L.C. Mason found on the web. On Youtube, mrpete222 has thorough clips discussing rigidity of the common attachments, and he makes one that uses the lathe's compound, as bazmak did. That looks like a good way.

One thing the attachment is good for, you can attach a gear-cutting jig on it.


Another kind of thing I was looking at, is the attachment by Harold Hall, like a light vertical mill.


Pete
 
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