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joe millar
03-04-2011, 08:46 PM
HI, everyone. I am doing a project and need a small lathe an mill I looked at the Smithy Granite Max machine I know they made cheap machines earlier but this looks like a very sturdy machine with lots of good features like D14 camlok a 2 hp variable speed dc motor and 13 ins. throat clearance on the mill head They are not cheap though, about the same money would buy the Grizzly 12x24 lathe an a small mill I would appreciate any thoughts and coments Thanks; Joe

Gary Paine
03-05-2011, 03:05 AM
Since no Smithy owners are jumping in to help you, I'll try. I have no personal experience with the Smithy, so take this for what it's worth, please.
Over the years my experience is that, although everyone tries, from machinery to snow skis, motorcycles, cars, or most things, a specialized item is usually the best choice for the job to be done. If you race and want to be competitive you use the ski, motorcycle, or car set up for the type of race to be run. Sure, a universal machine like, for instance, the Shopsmith can do everything a tablesaw, wood lathe, horizontal boring machine...etc. can do, but setups are different for each job and the size of the job must be within its capacity. That forces a lot of planning ahead, and no matter how quick things change out, still takes time. If it takes a lot of effort to set a job up, maybe dialing a part in to .0005 tir and then you have to tear it all down to change operations for an emergency job or missed operation, and then set it up again I think some personalities would get pretty frustrated. I've done a lot of jobs where I pulled a part from the lathe, taken it to the mill, and then back to the lathe - sometimes taking the chuck with it for dividing head work or such. I also wonder how cutter clearances and headspace would be using the mill with a dividing head or such, or rounding an end on a long shaft. That said, 2 hp variable speed and D14 camlock makes me envious, and I have heard Smithy owners say they are a really good machine. I chose the dedicated machine route myself because space and funds would permit it.

Fasttrack
03-05-2011, 03:24 AM
I own a Smithy Midas and it is going under the axe soon to be made into something useful ... I plan on using the tailstock and lathe spindle as a differential dividing head/tailstock for my "real" mill.

If you can afford it (in both floor space and money!), then go for two seperate machines. You'll be happier.

That said, Smithy does have really good customer service. The machines are clearly made in China - they are of typical import quality but they have better fit and finish than some HF pieces. I think they have put some serious thought and effort into providing a good hobby machine, especially with their granite line of machines. Typically, the lathe aspect of the machine is very decent while the mill leaves something to be desired.

Yep. My vote is for seperate machines if you can make it work. If you can't ... well then a Smithy Granite would be a fair alternative. Just my $0.02

DougC_582
03-05-2011, 06:27 AM
Not to spam for another site or anything--but the Chaski forum has a sub-forum just for the 3-in-1 machines, you might ask there also if you have not already.

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First off, I've never owned or used a 3-in-1, never was a pro machinist and only got my small machines a year or so ago. I have Chinese bench-top machines myself, so I'm not critical of that choice at all.

One thing I have heard about the 3-in-1's is that the work envelope is smaller than you think. Most other mill-table accessories will not be usable, even small ones intended for bench-top mills. Things like spin indexers, rotary tables/dividing plates, tilting tables, tooling plates, ect. Smithy does sell 6-inch rotary tables and tailstocks, but I'd bet they are for the regular mills, not the 3-in-1's at all.

Another matter I notice (watching the Smithy Granite videos) is that the mill head has a square baffle around it, but still appears to be a round-column mount because they show it rotated on the Z axis at left/right angles. The square-column mills are generally preferred as they don't lose the x-y location when you raise or lower the head, like the round-column setups usually do.

Another drawback is that the Granite's specs say the head's Z-axis is only about 4.5 inches. The quill extends another ~4.5 inches, but you never want to side-mill with the quill extended as the whole mill loses a lot of stiffness that way.

If you KNEW that you would only ever want parts not much bigger than the vise jaws, it could work out well. Otherwise you may run up against the workspace limits pretty quick.

Also We Note: years ago, all Smithy sold was the 3-in-1's, but now even they offer separate mills and lathes.

JanvanSaane
03-05-2011, 06:54 AM
I have a Smithy. Would I rather have a Southbend and a Bridgeport? Yes, but I don't have the room. I am not a machinist, just a mechanic that found out its nice to be able to fabricate small items myself. The Smithy will work, just take your time and know its not near as efficient as dedicated machines. It may not be a Bridgeport or a Southbend but I am still having fun making chips :). Jan

dian
03-05-2011, 07:44 AM
i believe the milling head locks to the (round) column by a single bolt/grub screw. the z-axis is the quill, as the milling head is locked to the column. there will be absolutely no stability when milling in the y-direction, the head will tend to swing around the column. you wont be able to use a larger cutter than 6 mm, even with very light cuts.

SGW
03-05-2011, 08:09 AM
The 3-in-1 machines have been flogged to death in previous postings. The search feature of this forum isn't all that great, but some time spent searching ought to turn up a bunch of opinions and information for you.

That being said, my summary of the opinions is:

1. Somebody, somewhere, has built a prize-winning operational model something-or-other with one.

2. I would quickly go insane if I had to go and try to do the same thing and cope with all the limitations imposed by the 3-in-1 design.

3. If you can possibly get separate machines you'll be a lot happier.

plastikosmd
03-05-2011, 08:24 AM
Better than no machine, if limited by space, sure it will work. The machinist not the machine. Having said that limitations of construction, lack of ability to go from lathe to mill to x as easy as 2 machines ( even as hobby, time is important to me), tooling limitations etc are a dealbreaker for me. Do your research and try one if u can. These things are heavy!

2ManyHobbies
03-05-2011, 09:23 AM
I have a 3-in-1 mostly due to lack of space. Some day whey I have more space, I will upgrade.

It works for what I need it to, but it is time consuming to tear down the lathe, set up for milling or drilling, zero everything in, then pack everything back up and zero in on the lathe again. The lathe swing is larger than you'd find on similarly weighted machines, but the capacity is still the same. The mill capacity is much less than something similarly weighted, but as long as work physically fits it just takes more time to get things done.

It is also harder on a limited budget than the lathe only option. Eating the elephant is an internal debate on a 4-jaw vs collet holders or a QCTP vs a rotary table and so on. The upside is that I am buying tooling that I intend to carry 90% of it forward to the next machine, the downside is that I always need 3-4 more tools and not just another 1 or 2.

gwilson
03-05-2011, 09:29 AM
I got bashed by everyone for telling a member to save up for a better machine,but it was the truth. His Smithy even used 1/2 of a split nut to poorly engage the lead screw.

torchroadster
03-05-2011, 10:35 AM
i believe the milling head locks to the (round) column by a single bolt/grub screw. the z-axis is the quill, as the milling head is locked to the column. there will be absolutely no stability when milling in the y-direction, the head will tend to swing around the column. you wont be able to use a larger cutter than 6 mm, even with very light cuts.

Dian; Maybe you're thinking of another Smithy model but none of the above is true with a Smithy Granite. I frequently use up to 1" (25.4mm) end mills with moderate cuts just fine.

Joe: If you are space limited the Smithy Granite is a capable machine. I bought a used 1340 about 6-7 years ago and use it frequently. The mill is nothing special, but probably doesn't have any more limitations than an equivalent size stand alone round column mill. The lathe is much better and more capable. Continuous variable speed and X and Y power feeds are useful features you will pay a lot for in stand alone machines. Frankly the Smithy Granite lathe will probably always suit my needs. I now have more space available than when I bought the Granite and will likely add a stand alone dovetail square column mill in the future.

You have to plan your projects carefully to minimize switching back and forth between lathe a mill setups any more than needed - this is a real time killer although in the end you get the job done.

AiR_GuNNeR
03-05-2011, 10:51 AM
i believe the milling head locks to the (round) column by a single bolt/grub screw. the z-axis is the quill, as the milling head is locked to the column. there will be absolutely no stability when milling in the y-direction, the head will tend to swing around the column. you wont be able to use a larger cutter than 6 mm, even with very light cuts.

This is not the case at all. I machine custom scope parts and have used the mill with my boring head to mill out 1.3" diameter lightening holes. I have since purchased a RF-45 class mill because of the one problem with the 3-in-ones....changeover.
I have the Granite 1324 that I changed over from teh 1.5hp DC motor to the 2HP brushless.

The lathe portion is really quite good, especially with the 2hp brushless motor. I've turned the rotors from our minivans many times using this machine. The mill isn't bad, but not near as stiff as a dedicated mill. I got this machine because of space limitations. I got rid of a table saw to make room for the square column mill.

Customer support has been excellent from Smithy as well.
Here is a pic of what I machine. These are 6" diameter sidewheel focus ring for competition scopes that I machined using both the lathe and mill portion of the Granite.
http://www.compufoil.com/images/daisystylenewrings.jpg

dian
03-05-2011, 12:36 PM
well, must be an "improoved design" then. but you still dont have z-axis travell, right?

joe millar
03-06-2011, 01:33 PM
Hi, Thanks everyone for all the helpful and interesting replies My maching experience is very limited I farm But took an evening course at the ACC college as I love fabricating and working with metal in my shop.I think I agree now for a farm shop I would be better with a stronger lathe even a used one would maybe be better?Thanks, again for the friendly advice Joe,

joe millar
03-06-2011, 02:43 PM
Hi. Again I forgot before to ask if the smithy being Belt driven is better or worse than gear drive ? make any differance? Also can they take an 8" chuck? seems like they change from lathe to mill with the turn of a switch does that work o-k? I wondered if it would be rugged enough to last? Thanks again Joe

Fasttrack
03-06-2011, 02:43 PM
Hi Joe!

I am currently working on a large farm in Missouri. It belongs to my brother-in-law and, as a favor to me, he told me I could keep my machines there until I had room for them in a shop of my own. It didn't take very long before he decided he needed machines for himself! We are now buying double of everything so that when I leave, he still has a machine shop. From our experience, you will definitely want big machines! Ag machinery just keeps getting bigger which means your tools have to get bigger!

Apart from a large used lathe and milling machine, I would look for a "jack knife" or radial arm drill. They are very handy.


EDIT: Smithy's are belt driven. Belts are usually quieter and provide smoother power transfer. That said, my gear driven Pacemaker is quieter than my Smithy. The import machines just seem really loud for some reason. Gears never slip and need very little maintenance. For heavy machining, you'll want a gear driven machine. For light duty or high precision work, belts are a good choice.

SGW
03-06-2011, 03:26 PM
My South Bend 10K has "obsolete" flat belt drive. But, it has saved me from destruction on numerous occasions when the tool jammed (deep parting off) and the belt slipped. Gears don't slip. And belt drive is quieter, in general.

AiR_GuNNeR
03-06-2011, 10:54 PM
well, must be an "improoved design" then. but you still dont have z-axis travell, right?

Actually you do. There is a crank that will raise and lower the head, and of course then you have the spindle that moves up and down like a drill press, or with a .001" graduated wheel.

Fasttrack
03-06-2011, 11:09 PM
Actually you do. There is a crank that will raise and lower the head, and of course then you have the spindle that moves up and down like a drill press, or with a .001" graduated wheel.


But when you move the head, you lose your position, right? My Midas is a round column, so as soon as I unlock it and try to lift it, I lose my place. On a knee mill, you don't have this problem.

Fasttrack
03-06-2011, 11:12 PM
My South Bend 10K has "obsolete" flat belt drive. But, it has saved me from destruction on numerous occasions when the tool jammed (deep parting off) and the belt slipped. Gears don't slip. And belt drive is quieter, in general.


Don't be scared off by the fact that "gears don't slip". An industrial gear driven machine (I can't speak for import gear driven machines) are built with safe-guards in place. For instance, my Pacemaker spindle is driven through a clutch (not just for safety reasons, mind!) and all of my power feeds, including the lead screw and feed rod, have slip clutches so, in the event of a crash, the gears don't explode. The clutch just slips.

Tait
03-07-2011, 08:48 AM
Just to throw in an other opinion:

I asked myself: do I really need a lathe? And a mill? And a drill press?

I also have limited space, so I was looking closely at 3 in 1 machines. At some point, I realized I don't use a drill press all that much, so I elected to get a mill/drill for milling a let go of the drill press altogether. It's been working out great, and I have enough room I could get a separate lathe if I ever need to do so. For now, I am turning the few things I need turned in the mill.

AiR_GuNNeR
03-07-2011, 09:09 AM
But when you move the head, you lose your position, right? My Midas is a round column, so as soon as I unlock it and try to lift it, I lose my place. On a knee mill, you don't have this problem.

Yep, it suffers from the same curse as any round column mill. You need to make sure the head height is set appropriately before you indicate it in.
What I have done in the past where I messed up and found that I needed to raise the head was put the chuck back on, chuck up a sturdy piece of round stock that I quickly drilled and reamed through, then put a dowel pin in a collet and and extended it through the hole. That acted as a guide so I could raise the head without losing tram. Once raised, I found that the head did swing a little bit, but by lowering the pin into the hole, I was easily and quickly able to nudge it the few thousands back into place.
Since getting the square column mill, (and an X2-CNC coming when I take George's class), I have not used the one on the Smithy.

gwilson
03-07-2011, 09:20 AM
About gear head machines: GOOD gear head machines do not leave the tell-tale little gear meshing marks on the surfaces of metal you are turning like the cheaper machines do. The Pace Makers,DSG and other high quality lathes have better made gear teeth than cheaper lathes.

I tried out a DSG lathe last summer by turning a long steel shaft I brought along. It left absolutely no harmonic vibration marks on the steel I turned,in spite of being a lathe from the 1950's. I decided the ways were too worn,but the gears still were most excellent.

Now that everyone bashed me for previously saying the Smithys were less than great machines,I see that just about everyone now thinks better machines can be had. Wonder where you were last time?

joe millar
03-07-2011, 10:03 PM
Thanks, Everyone, Never expected so much valuable information I;m certainly alot wiser now, Ihad almost decided to get a Smithy now I;m glad I asked first Looking at the Grizzly site the 12x36 at 2595 $ might be a better buy? 2 chucks quick change toolpost and dD14 and now the Canadian Dollar above par ; What would be a decent Grizzly small mill? Thanks again Joes