View Full Version : What tool will be best for me?

12-28-2005, 02:11 PM
I don't know if I need a mill, mill-drill, mini-mill or drill press. I have been using a couple of friends' mills to miter my tubes and do not want to wear out my welcome, so I am starting to consider what will be a good solution for me.

My basic needs are to miter tubing up to 2" outer diameter with wall thickness of up to .079".

A good drill press is $300 and a good tube notcher is $200, but that puts me at the price point of a cheap mini-mill that will have more capability in the future.

I also don't have room a big bridgeport or knock off. Will a mini-mill do what I need or do I need something I don't have space for? Something in the 500 pound range is probably all that I can afford or fit in my workspace.

12-28-2005, 02:51 PM
Sounds to me like all you need is that DP and a notcher. A milling machine might even be harder to use. I'm sure others will disagree.

I have seen photos of a commercial product that attaches to a lathe compound for notching tubing. It resembles a milling attachment. It may have an advantage of being more accurate than the DP/notcher arrangement.


Now that I look at this, it certainly looks like a Palmgren milling attachment.

Of course you must supply a lathe, but it may not need to be any more than an old $200 Atlas.

Depending on the nature of your projects, you may find a lathe of more utility than a milling machine.

You know, now that I think on it, I have the ideal setup sitting in my shop: A 10" Atlas, new milling attachment, driven by a 2 HP Variable speed motor. I am about to part it all out.
Are you anywhere close to Texas?

12-28-2005, 02:53 PM
how precise do the cuts have to be? what exactly do you meen by "miter"?


Tin Falcon
12-28-2005, 03:13 PM
Let me realy try to confuse you here.I worked in a steel fabrication shop for a while.We did lots of railing work mosly in 1 1/4 pipe we used a hand operated notcher to shear cut the birds mouth for 90 degree copes. whe used the chop saw for angle cuts.

12-28-2005, 03:14 PM
I tig the tubes together, the better the miter or cope the better chance I have of getting a good weld.

12-28-2005, 03:20 PM

I live in Alabama. How big is a 10" Atlas as far as weight and floor space?

12-28-2005, 04:10 PM
This particular one is the smallest bed made, 36" long.

The bed weighs 50 lbs (exactly)
Headstock about 30
Motor and control another 50 lbs
tailstock (optional) 15 lbs
carriage assy 20 lbs.
Milling attachment is about 20 lbs

so maybe 200 lbs total.

Note that this one has had all the feed removed, so the power carriage feed would not be there unless you build something. The babbit bearing spindle is driven directly by the motor via a large pulley at the left end of the spindle.

So as a lathe it's marginal. I had intended to keep it for the odd milling job my minimill would not handle, but I realize it's worth more parted out.

Not sure you could come out on it after shipping. You ought to be able to find an Atlas locally without a great deal of trouble. The milling attachments are like gold though. You might be better off fabbing something for your purpose.

But for notching tubing, I do like the lathe arrangement as illustrated by the site above.

If you still have interest in my lathe, hit me offline rex at txol.net

12-28-2005, 09:58 PM
I have to thank you guys! I have the smallest and, consequently cheapest, smithy machine they offer. Yeah i know...before you laugh you got to understand i'm just a kid and working out of my parents' garage. Which means sometimes i've got no space at all because they need to park thier cars. Recently i started a new frame for a go-kart and i also have another front axle assembly to build for my school and require quite a bit of notching. My little drill press could never handle it (1/12 hp 10" sears i got for 10 bucks at a garage sale) and theres not enough clearence on the "mill" portion of the smithy machine to get a hole-cutting saw and pipe in there. The vertical vise and using a lathe is a great idea though. I think i can make it work; have to put together a darn-good vertical clamp, but it is Christmas break and i need project http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

12-29-2005, 05:51 PM
If you are going to a lot of coping for welds, get yourself a Vogel Arc-Fit Notcher. They don't up a lot of space, and can pay for themselves very quickly.
www.vogeltool.com (http://www.vogeltool.com)
The Econo line is, IMO, not suited for continous use, and if you are low production will probably due the trick.