View Full Version : Mill: Gear head vs. Belt driven

12-27-2005, 12:33 AM
Looking at getting a mill, first one. Sorry for the basic question.

How noisey is the geared head versus belt driven? I guess changing speed is a lot more convenient. I know switching the motor and adding a VFD is an option, but would like to hold off the additional cost for awhile.

Also, can someone explain how realistic it is to tap with the gear head milling machine?

Thanks in advance.

phil burman
12-27-2005, 01:13 AM
At top speed (1,500 rpm) I wear ear-defenders. If you work a lot with small end mills etc the (low) top speed on the geared head can be an issue.

In hindsight I should have bought a square column mill with belt drive.


12-27-2005, 03:52 AM
I have a square column gear head mill. I like it a lot and it serves me well. It is not loud at all and it is easy to change speeds on also. My lowest speed is 90 rpms. Top speed is 1600 to 2000, I can't remember right now. I have tapped in the two slowest speeds with good results. Most of the belt driven machines only go down to about 240 rpms, I doubt if you would want to tap at that speed. Your mileage may vary.

12-27-2005, 05:39 AM
Buy what you can afford,You will be happy with it.

Are you worried about wakeing the neighbors?

The tame Wolf !

12-27-2005, 12:22 PM
Nah, my neighbors are used to me pounding away on old cars. I just don't like loud noises, such as vacuuming, but it seems all my hobbies involve creating some noise. Woodworking, etc.

I like the convenience of a gear head, but also want to keep things simple. Tapping feature definitely is alluring, but only if it's really useable.

12-27-2005, 01:35 PM
I am not sure what you mean by a tapping feature unless you are talking about a jog button like the grizzly machine has I think. Mine doesn't have a jog button, I just start it up, run the tap in a jacobs chuck and run it down into the part and cut it off a a little bit before I want it to stop. When it stops I simply reverse the motor and back out the tap. Not a good technique for blind holes but it works for me. Tapping heads could be run it if you was going to do a bunch of holes, but my drilling and tapping is random, so a tapping head would be a waste of time for my kind of work.

12-27-2005, 06:43 PM
Gear head will definitely get you to reach for your earplugs at the higher speeds, above ca 1000rpm. On my 12x36 I use ear muffs above 600rpm and on the mill above 500 rpm (noisy old Van Norman). If tapping you will want to use spiral taps of good quality for power tapping, and it helps to have a through hole.

[This message has been edited by sch (edited 12-27-2005).]

Your Old Dog
12-27-2005, 07:01 PM
Well, admittedly I have a hearing problem but I don't find my geared head all that noisey. Maybe compared to a belt drive model it would bother me but I've never worked with a belt job. I went geared head because I thought I'd be more interested in the slow speeds when in fact I wish mine would turn faster.

Every once in a while my geared head will pop a 30amp circuit breaker when I kick it on. I sure wish I'd have bought a square column but I'll make do with my Rung Foo special http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif If I were to do it over I would likely go with the belt drive for noise and less worry about the gear train and it's fluid that foams.

12-27-2005, 07:25 PM
I have a mill drill with the dovetail column. The switch you see on the top left, turn it left for milling, right for power tapping. For tapping I use the low range of the gear box and the lowest speed. I have tapped down to 3-48 without breaking a tap. I love power tapping!


Paul in NE Ohio

[This message has been edited by PHiers (edited 12-27-2005).]

[This message has been edited by PHiers (edited 12-27-2005).]

12-28-2005, 07:39 PM
PHiers, just wondering how you like the CBX digital readout. I just ordered one with the new control box that figures bolt circles and has a few other features. Just like to know how you like it?

12-28-2005, 07:41 PM
I like the CBX dro just fine. I also have it on my lathe. I wish I had waited a year tho, I like the looks of the new read out.

Paul in NE Ohio

12-28-2005, 07:47 PM
Thanks for the reply PHiers, do you have any better photos of how you mounted it that you could email me? I have an identical machine and mounting ideas would be appreciated.

12-28-2005, 08:05 PM
Take a look here.


Also here:


Hope this helps.

Paul in NE Ohio

12-28-2005, 08:07 PM
Another thing, you will need to make the mounting brackets, try to have a supply of aluminum angle on hand! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

Paul in NE Ohio

12-28-2005, 09:14 PM
Thanks for the pics. Great looking shop too. I like the storage rack under the lathe and the metal rack. I could use one of those if I had the room.

12-28-2005, 11:56 PM
Thanks everyone for the input.