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Bolster
11-10-2009, 10:30 PM
Is it possible to mill wood on a HS Machine? There are some guys in our class at the local college who are using a CNC'd Bridgeport to make designs for wood, seems to be working fine for them. I don't think the Bridgeports go over 3000 RPM.

A Sieg X3 tops out at 2000 but you can buy different gears for it and get it running at 4000 RPM. I'm wondering if I could do a bit of casual woodwork on it, or at least use it for drilling holes in wood, if I get the inclination to do so.

I know that most people will respond, "That's insane, don't you know a wood router runs at 20,000 RPM?" But when you look at speeds recommended for drill bits, the speeds are much, much slower. In fact I back-calculated CS from a number of wood drill bit sheets, and found the CS of hardwoods (for drill bits mind you, not router bits) is around 100 and for softwoods it's around 175. That was surprising because it put hardwood CS in the same range as low carbon steel!

So maybe 4000 would be enough RPM to get some work done in hardwoods? I don't know, school me on this one.

EDIT: What about taking the head of the X3 off, and finding a way to attach a router base (and thus router) to the plate that normally holds the head? That would give you precise 3 axis movement with a wood router. I've always wanted an overhead/ pin router, might this be a way to achieve that?

Ken_Shea
11-10-2009, 10:43 PM
Bolster,
Yes you can mill wood, haven't had the need to do much but it was not a problem, remember, woods soft till you get hit with it :D

My suspect is that the key is specialty cutters for wood or very sharp quality HSS cutters.

I would try it just as your equipment is set up, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Ken

Dragons_fire
11-10-2009, 10:46 PM
i have used my mill/drill for lots of wood now. lots of drilling, and i usually just use 4-flute HSS endmills for milling. i will post a picture soon of my latest project.

Duffy
11-10-2009, 10:52 PM
Absolutely. You can sure turn wood on a metal lathe, and my old Logan only goes to 1500rpm. There is really no difference, whether you move the wood past the cutter, or the cutter past the wood. Depending on wood species, grain, and grain orientation, as well as cutter feed size and feed rate, the finish may be less than ideal. Of course, on a lathe, that can be corrected with sanding.
Way back in the beginning of time, there was an article in Projects in Metal, (the forerunner of The Machinist Workshop,) by Frank Mclean, (deceased,) on mounting a router body to a mill/drill. A 2hp Porter Cable body only weighs about eight pounds, so it should be no major problem to hang it from a mill quill. Best of luck. Duffy

bruto
11-10-2009, 10:55 PM
I've routed with a drill press, and it works if you're careful. The main problem is at corners and ends, where the bit will tend to chip off pieces. Steady feed and good holding helps a lot, so a milling machine might work pretty well. End mills can do pretty well on wood, and won't tear as hard as some router bits at lower speeds, because they have more and shallower cutters. My ex father in law, who manufactured furniture, used spiral end mills in his mortising machines.

dockrat
11-10-2009, 10:59 PM
Only one rule.........CLIMB MILL

Bolster
11-10-2009, 11:07 PM
My suspect is that the key is specialty cutters for wood or very sharp quality HSS cutters.

Yeah, that makes sense. Our teacher was explaining to us today how carbide is actually rather dull, so I'll bet carbide router bits would give more trouble at slow speeds, whereas the HSS cutters, being sharp, would probably do better.

And the recommendation to climb cut makes sense, you're not tearing out as much. Good recommendations, thanks.

tattoomike68
11-11-2009, 12:03 AM
You can get whats called a speeder head. it will do 7 : 1 so your 1,000 rpm is 7,000 rpm.

mills wood like a somebitch on crack. rev it up to 28,000+ and mill in rapid traverse.

might be just what you need, it pops on and off so you can still do metals. its just a fancy gadget you bolt on your spindle.

dp
11-11-2009, 12:09 AM
It is - I have some African blackwood I'm going to turn into a mouthpiece for my bagpipe practice chanter. I turned a short sample and it turns great.

lakeside53
11-11-2009, 12:14 AM
I've milled plenty of wood on my BP, and tons (literally) of Trex... For the Trex I used a quality 1/2 inch carbide wood router bit. The wood (mahogony) responded well to an aluminum cutting (high spiral) endmill.

I dialed the speed up to about 5K (VFD). Worked very well even at 3K though. I mounted a vacuum nozzle right near the cutter to remove most of the shavings.

darryl
11-11-2009, 12:17 AM
I don't find hss to be that great for wood. Sure it can be sharpened to a razor edge, but it doesn't last nearly as well as carbide. Once that ultra sharpness is gone it cuts like carbide, then it gets worse.

Either way though, you can treat it just like any other material on the lathe or mill. You won't have to worry about speeds since you'll never get those machines to turn as fast as a decent bit is capable of removing chips from wood, but who cares. You can use faster feeds since for the most part it's an easier process to remove wood chips.

I just crank it around and hope I've paid attention to end points. And I agree, climb mill. Less tearout. That's all I ever did when routing cabinet doors.

For wood and plastics, router bits would probably be the best choice, even if you're not turning them as fast as a router would. Different grade of carbide (suited to the application) and they will stay sharp quite a while.

One of the biggest drawbacks to using metalwork machines for wood is that the bits generally won't be as strong since the shanks are smaller. You just have to gauge your feed rates to keep side forces within reason. Not hard to do.

You can always upgrade a mill, or even a lathe, for a higher speed spindle which mounts in the main spindle but is driven by a different motor. You can have a 'through the spindle' shaft with a high speed bearing set ala a router, mounted in the main spindle, which doesn't need to rotate, driven by a high speed motor from above- or you can build your own adapter which also mounts in the spindle, but gets its power from the spindle as well through a secondary pulley or gear set.

See what Evan has done with his mill.

I have a speed increaser of my own, which I seldom use, but it gives about two to one increase. It's inline with the spindle, mounts to the quill, and is driven by the spindle through gears. Not the best thing, but it works. It's been awhile since I made that, but I believe I used a shaft out of a burnt router so I could use the collet end.

Bolster
11-11-2009, 01:20 AM
See what Evan has done with his mill.

And where might that be, my good man?

dp
11-11-2009, 01:51 AM
And where might that be, my good man?

http://Ixian.ca/gallery

Ian B
11-11-2009, 02:06 AM
No problems at all milling wood. Hardwood cuts the cleanest (and yes, climb mill, mill onto an edge rather than off it). I use whatever cutter's in the spindle, bigger the better.

I also made a clamp for the quill of the machine that allows me to mount a small wood router. This lets me use normal router cutters at their recommended speed, with all the movement control of a mill.

Ian

gmatov
11-11-2009, 02:21 AM
Bolster,

Another reason to climb cut is that with conventional milling, that stick of wood might get yanked out of your hands and go through the wall of your shop, or, worse, thru someone you like who is in the same shop.

Climb, you have to push it into the cutter. Conventional, it will take it out of your control. Hold tight.

Cheers,

George

Circlip
11-11-2009, 03:04 AM
Whoa Gmatov, Think you've reversed the process, climb milling drags the work into the cutter, conventional YOU have to push.

Regards Ian.

beanbag
11-11-2009, 03:37 AM
I was warned not to cut wood on the machines around here coz the dust will react with the coolant laying around (on the ways or the pump) and turn into goo.

oldtiffie
11-11-2009, 06:27 AM
Funny that this topic should come up as it has been in my mind lately.

First of all - climb cutting - only on mitre/bevel/drop saws. Router only on VERY light cuts where there is very good control.

Conventional cutting otherwise - planers, bench and hand saws, routers etc. All/most edges are TC - kept sharpened commercially - only diamond honed by hand to razor sharp at home. Cutters always "bite in" and never "rub" or "drag".

I am having a speed-doubler fitted as part of the CNC conversion on my Sieg X3 mill - from 2.000>4,000RPM.

I have several other precision high/medium speed spindles that I am considering for milling/grinding - will work with wood and/or metal. All have precision collets - made in Germany and Switzerland. All have the DIN standard 42mm (~1 11/32") spigot (common to most larger drills and grinders etc.) and precision collets. The "Bosch" medium-speed die grinder collet run-out is 0.01mm/0.0004" max (collets from 3mm ~ 1/8" > 6mm ~ 1/4"). The larger "Proxxon" has similar collets with almost zero run-out. The smaller "Proxxon" has precision collets with maximum run-out of 0.015mm ~ 0.0006" and a standard DIN 20mm spigot.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder2.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder3.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_grinder1.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder4.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder6.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder7.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder8.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder9.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder10.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder11.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder12.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder13.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder14.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Bosch_HS_Grinder15.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill1.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill2.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill3.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill4.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill5.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill6.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill7.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill8.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_mill9.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Proxxon_small1.jpg

And this "Metabo" drill is hard to beat for power, speed and accuracy as well as portability:
http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Metabo_drill1.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Metabo_drill2.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/Med_Speed_Spindles/Metabo_drill3.jpg

They are here all waiting to work their way up my ever-increasing "to do" lists.

Evan
11-11-2009, 06:40 AM
Use carbide tooling including regular carbide router bits. Hardwoods often contain silica which is very abrasive and will take the edge off HSS very quickly.

Here are some examples:

Rosewood:

http://metalshopborealis.ca/pics3/lotus.jpg

Teak

http://metalshopborealis.ca/pics3/woodframe.jpg

Black_Moons
11-11-2009, 07:26 AM
Nice work, how do you get the endmill swirlys out? or do they just not show up in wood?

Tony Ennis
11-11-2009, 08:18 AM
Depending what you're doing, a regular drill press with a Forstner bit does well also.

Your Old Dog
11-11-2009, 08:28 AM
It is - I have some African blackwood I'm going to turn into a mouthpiece for my bagpipe practice chanter. I turned a short sample and it turns great.

Keep in mind the dust from most all African Hardwoods is highly toxic.

Evan
11-11-2009, 08:29 AM
Use high quality tooling and the "swirlys" go away. I use Garr solid carbide cutters. I can't afford cheap cutters. One Garr end mill will outlast 10 "cheap" endmills.

oldtiffie
11-11-2009, 08:31 AM
Odd that YOD - the "Tree-huggers" seem to thrive on it. Or do they have an antidote in the water they drink?

Evan
11-11-2009, 08:35 AM
Oak is a carcinogen because of the tannin. Many hardwoods regardless of where they originate are either toxic, allergenic, carcinogenic or any combination of those three. However, Jatoba aka Brazilian Cherry, is one of the hardest and stable woods there is and is non allergenic and non toxic. It mills fairly well although not as nice as teak. It can (must) be drilled for fasteners and can hold a bolt as well as aluminum. It taps almost like metal with pefectly formed threads. It's also a lot less expensive than teak.

rantbot
11-11-2009, 08:49 AM
I know that most people will respond, "That's insane, don't you know a wood router runs at 20,000 RPM?"
For many centuries craftsmen managed to get excellent results with hand tools which didn't run at 20,000 RPM.

I use the old Bridgeport regularly to cut wood. Sometimes I hold a router bit in a Jacobs chuck, more often I just use cheapo Chinese mill cutters. Spindle speed seems to be of little importance. I get what, in metal, would be called a "mirror" finish when cutting rosewoods (like, say, cocobolo) or maple, but a rougher surface in pine or birch. Were I to start working with a lot of pine or birch, I'd experiment more with better cutters and higher speeds.

Some of the tropical rosewoods, and some oddballs like bamboo, can be allergenic, and if I worked with them on a daily basis I would expect some trouble eventually. But for occasional work I have yet to notice any physiological effects.

JMS6449
11-11-2009, 09:05 AM
Try a piece of ipe, used for decks and outside construction. Harder then the jatoba, it is also known as ironwood. Does not stick together with glue or epoxy. Never needs any finish for outdoor used, it oxides. When you cut, it smells like iron, tastes like iron, stains like iron oxide.

Similar woods are purpleheart, greenheart. The purpleheart also oxides and turns from purple to brown when left without a finish.

Carbide cutters are necessary even for drilling holes.

wierdscience
11-11-2009, 09:08 AM
Yes it can be turned at low speed,ever see a spring pole lathe?

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/wierdscience/DSCF0002.jpg


It can also be single pointed.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/wierdscience/DSCF0006.jpg

DR
11-11-2009, 11:01 AM
Metal working machines can do a very good job cutting wood.

The key is the rigidity of the machine.

I have a router bit for finger jointing. This sucker is almost 3" diameter capable of 1" thick wood. It has a 1/2" shank for use in a hand held router. I can't imagine being able to cut with this monster in a hand held tool. Likewise, hand holding a piece of wood to feed into the router mounted in a table.

I tried the cutter in the spindle of my CNC mill at only 2,000 rpm. It cut very smoothly both with climb and conventional cutting.

There seems to be an urban legend that cutting wood on a metal working machine will ruin it. Not so. A good many of the high-end production musical instrument makers are using CNC milling machines and have been doing it for years. The advantages over a CNC wood cutting router are many, price, quality, service, etc, etc.

sbmathias
11-11-2009, 11:18 PM
Here's something that I "machined" a while back.
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc300/sbmathias/wood1.jpg
A number of interesting problems arose, such as how to register the pieces, how to clamp them, etc. This was done from scratch, starting with cutting down the apricot tree. A rather impressive piece.
One surface, two edges. As it turns out, there is a whole "family" of related solids with interesting properties.

darryl
11-12-2009, 12:34 AM
Good point about the wood dust mixing with coolant to make goo- I'd want to really clean up before and after milling wood, and probably also wipe down with a lightly oiled rag afterwards. I'd wipe down with a clean rag before working on any wood. I tend to have a few used rags around at any one time, and use them in order of dirtiness to help clean up. The worst one gets tossed when it doesn't look good enough to use again, and a clean one is brought out.

I had several rolls of commercial hand towel given to me by someone who worked laundering them. I just cut off several pieces at a time and grab one whenever a clean, known grit free one is called for.

Bag-o-rags seems to be not bad as long as it doesn't include polyester, etc.

Tobias-B
11-12-2009, 01:30 AM
Grizzly even advertises a 'wood mill' in their catalog- just adds more speed & table travel
to a regular metal mill. Bet it would do well with plastics, now that I think about it...

t
http://www.grizzly.com/products/Wood-Mill-Wood-Metalworking/G9959

dp
11-12-2009, 01:45 AM
Keep in mind the dust from most all African Hardwoods is highly toxic.

Yep - that's even true for our local cedar. I built a vortex chip separator just for these projects: http://www.cgallery.com/jpthien/cy.htm

Works a treat!

airsmith282
11-12-2009, 08:59 AM
i have done ,different plastics and wood on my machines with no problems at all, it doesnt hurt them at all and just make sure after doing wood to do a good clean up after...

if you need persicion wood turning or milling done then metal machines rule that job all to easy...

lane
11-12-2009, 05:26 PM
Mill wood all the time . Don`t worry to much about RPM just pick one and cut . Climb milling works best.

TClarke
11-12-2009, 07:35 PM
I milled some burl caps not too long ago for wood turner friend.

http://www.glacern.net/free_photo_upload/milling_wood.jpg

uncle pete
11-12-2009, 07:49 PM
Not only can you use router bits in a mill but try useing what's called a rotary planer made by Wager in the U.S. It's called a safe-t- planer, It's made to be used on a drill press, You can literly plane wood to as accurate as your mill is. I've been able to plane to .001 of finished dimension. Grizzly sells them but I don't know of any dealer in Canada so I ordered mine direct from the Wager people. Treat the wood just like metal, Lock the material down onto the table or use the mill vise and use the planer just like a face mill. You won't believe how easy this works compared to "normal" Woodworking equipment. Only thing you have to remember is to back up the exit point of the planer on your material with some scrap wood to prevent the wood edges from chipping. Down shear end mills or router bits work the best to for cutting slots or dadoes. If your wood is short enough then dovetails done on a mill are far more accurate than any dovetail jig made. I really think if more woodworkers knew the possibilities of a metal working milling machine when used for wood a huge ammount of them would own one.

Pete

darryl
11-12-2009, 09:44 PM
A 'huge amount' of them probably wouldn't go to the extent of fabricating a spindle for a suitable speed range, but for those who would I agree- you can sure do some accurate work with a mill. My table saw is set up to be as accurate with cuts as I can get it, and I have no problem skimming a few thou from something to get it to size. It definitely takes technique and practice. With a mill you can get closer, and do things you can't with any other machine. I'd be lost if I didn't have the mill to perform those special operations. I'd have to say also that pretty much any round column mill would be good enough as well for anyone wanting to be able to do these other functions. If someone were to use one strictly for wood and maybe plastic, you could get by without coolant or other lubes except for a dry lube that's made for woodworking machines. You could do up the whole thing- ways, leadscrews, etc with top-cote.

The one thing that would make the most sense would be to fabricate a high speed shaft within the existing spindle, whether it's driven by the spindle through a gearing or belt system, or separately driven by a higher speed motor. For parts to do this is might make sense to look at commercial router tables that can handle 1/2 inch shanks and turn at some intermediate speed, like say 10,000 rpm. Router tables that handle larger ogee cutters, that kind of thing is what I'm thinking of. Just an idea or two.

bruto
11-13-2009, 04:23 PM
A 'huge amount' of them probably wouldn't go to the extent of fabricating a spindle for a suitable speed range, but for those who would I agree- you can sure do some accurate work with a mill. My table saw is set up to be as accurate with cuts as I can get it, and I have no problem skimming a few thou from something to get it to size. It definitely takes technique and practice. With a mill you can get closer, and do things you can't with any other machine. I'd be lost if I didn't have the mill to perform those special operations. I'd have to say also that pretty much any round column mill would be good enough as well for anyone wanting to be able to do these other functions. If someone were to use one strictly for wood and maybe plastic, you could get by without coolant or other lubes except for a dry lube that's made for woodworking machines. You could do up the whole thing- ways, leadscrews, etc with top-cote.

The one thing that would make the most sense would be to fabricate a high speed shaft within the existing spindle, whether it's driven by the spindle through a gearing or belt system, or separately driven by a higher speed motor. For parts to do this is might make sense to look at commercial router tables that can handle 1/2 inch shanks and turn at some intermediate speed, like say 10,000 rpm. Router tables that handle larger ogee cutters, that kind of thing is what I'm thinking of. Just an idea or two.


For a mill drill dedicated to wood, I wonder if it wouldn't be more effective just to find a 3450 rpm motor.

By the way, thinking about the Wagner Safe -T-Planer (that's the spelling you want for google searches, and the one that will get you to Frank Ford's illustrated review among others), another potential way of getting a bit of planing action from a mill is with a fly cutter. I haven't experimented with different bit configuration on mine, but a regular fly cutter does well enough to show some promise, and I suspect it could be quite handy if you take time to figure out a good wood-specific cutter profile.

aostling
11-28-2009, 12:55 AM
Here's something that I "machined" a while back.
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc300/sbmathias/wood1.jpg

One surface, two edges. As it turns out, there is a whole "family" of related solids with interesting properties.

I haven't seen this unusual geometric solid before. I wonder if it has a name?

Can you supply a link describing the other related solids?

mochinist
11-28-2009, 01:23 AM
I haven't seen this unusual geometric solid before. I wonder if it has a name?

Can you supply a link describing the other related solids?hexasphericon

Im going to bed but googling that and also running a search on this site should get you some links, there was a thread on them here a long time ago.

I made one out of aluminum
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/mochinist/sphericon002Medium.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v471/mochinist/hexasphericon_ani.gif

aostling
11-28-2009, 02:24 AM
hexasphericon
Im going to bed but googling that and also running a search on this site should get you some links, there was a thread on them here a long time ago.


Thanks, Donald. I found Steve's description in the 2003 thread, and this link to his work: http://www.mathias.org/steve/sphericons/

gmatov
11-28-2009, 11:02 PM
Ian,

No kidding that I misspoke on the "climb milling".

I did that about 30 years ago on a brand new router table, yanked the piece out of my hands and stuck it into the drywall in my garage.

Fence set wrong to the bit, work between the bit and fence...zooiinnggg.

On my Stanley stair router "shaper" table, I use a backup block for all cross grain work to prevent chipping the end of the cut. Did a good bit of door stile and rail cutting with those 2 1/2 - 3 inch cutters and never get chipping. Carbide, and Grizzly cutters. All I could afford at the time. Damned good tools, low price or no, still use them.

Cheers,

George