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J S Machine
08-09-2011, 12:51 PM
I realize this has probably been covered numerous times.

I would like to get myself a mini mill, and I'm not sure what would be best. I did a little research a few years ago and found that most of the smaller mini mills that are available are all made by the same manufacturer, but with different names.

I'm interested in the smallest mini mill made. This is about all I can afford. After a bunch of reading and trying to figure out what would be best I decided on this one:

http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=3900&category=

It seems to be my best bet because of several things. The machine already has the belt drive head setup that replaces the noisy plastic gears that are prone to breaking, an R8 quill, and a bigger table with more travel in X and Y. I'd like to have a bigger stronger machine, but this one will work fine for small knife projects that I would use it for. The only downside to this machine is that they are in CA, and I am in AL. The freight costs alone are over $100. I would save a little money on shipping if I bought from harbor freight, but I don't want to buy an inferior machine. This particular one I linked has the features I want.

I looked at harbor freight and I think grizzly sells the same little one, but they have 3T taper quills, and I don't want that at all. Then they have the plastic gear heads too.

Anybody have the machine I linked to?

Black_Moons
08-09-2011, 01:08 PM
Only serious problem I see with it.. No gears (Well, Speeds really), Without a backgear you won't have enough torque to run flycutters, facemills, boring heads or even reasonabley sized drills.

You MUST have enough torque (and downforce) to run a large drill or all you do is grind the steel slowly and dull the drill bit.

Highly recommend getting a mini mill that at least has a 'low' speed. Basicly more or less with a variable speed drive, the torque you get at full rpm, is very similar to the torque you'll get at 100rpm. Ie: none.

(Might get more torque at 100rpm, but not by much. few percent, And your motor will overheat MUCH quicker without a seperate fan)

Gear drive multiplys torque by the ratio of low gear. ie if high gear is 2000rpm max and low gear is 500rpm max, thats 4x as much torque in low gear.

Multiple pully belt drive options that let you adjust ratio that way work too, Although they tend to be limited in torque for very low RPM operation, on a minimill it should be fine. I don't see any mention of multiple belt speeds on that mill however.

Rex
08-09-2011, 01:21 PM
The LMS would be my choice. Buy it.

Jaakko Fagerlund
08-09-2011, 01:57 PM
Only serious problem I see with it.. No gears (Well, Speeds really), Without a backgear you won't have enough torque to run flycutters, facemills, boring heads or even reasonabley sized drills.
Seems that you haven't used that mill, as otherwise you would know very well that it really has torque in the high & low RPM's and the tools you mentioned are not a problem. The motor is not a regular brush DC motor, but a brushless DC version that really ups the torque curve over the RPM range.

To OP: I would say go for the LMS.com version :)

J S Machine
08-09-2011, 02:21 PM
Is this really the best option out there, or are there other machines I should consider?

Are there any drawbacks / common problems withe these smaller mills?

madwilliamflint
08-09-2011, 03:09 PM
I went through this process last year and after all the research I bought the Grizzly G8689, which I'm pretty solidly happy with.

THEN, about 2 weeks later, the LMS miller came out and I've been kicking myself ever since.

macona
08-09-2011, 03:10 PM
30" table bridgeport. Takes up about the same space as a small mill on a desk or stand.

Rosco-P
08-09-2011, 03:10 PM
Similar machines at Travers Tool? http://www.travers.com/subcat.asp?navPath=All+Products%2F%2F%2F%2FMachine ry%2F%2F%2F%2FMilling+Machines

J S Machine
08-09-2011, 03:30 PM
30" table bridgeport. Takes up about the same space as a small mill on a desk or stand.

I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.

Rosco-P
08-09-2011, 03:41 PM
I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.

Three phase power is not a hurdle. All it takes is a rotary phase converter or a VFD. There's an entire sub-forum dedicated to them over at Practical Machinist. http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/transformers-phase-converters-vfd/

Dr Stan
08-09-2011, 03:43 PM
I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.

Not all BP's are three phase.

I have a Fray #7 that I've almost completed its rebuild. It also takes up about the same amount of space. http://www.lathes.co.uk/fray/

paulsv
08-09-2011, 04:35 PM
Is this really the best option out there, or are there other machines I should consider?



I'd suggest you look at the Grizzly G0704. Larger travels, more rigidity, not much more money.

Black_Moons
08-09-2011, 04:44 PM
I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.

Havent seen many 3 phase bridgeports myself. You can get HUGE machines with just 240v 1 phase.

Check out https://www.machinetoolswarehouse.com/xcart/product.php?productid=16133&cat=252&bestseller=Y
Or its smaller brother: https://www.machinetoolswarehouse.com/xcart/product.php?productid=16134&cat=309&page=1

Either is 10x the mill you where looking at.... at only a few times the price. :) A little noisy, but not bad as they have oil flooded gearboxes.

Don't go round collumn whatever you do.

And remember, you can do really fine, detailed work on a HUGE machine.
You can't do huge work on a small machine. (Said huge work might be as simple as drilling/taping 1 hole in a lawnmower motor, or other large, premade workpeice, So don't think you'll never want to do it)

photomankc
08-09-2011, 05:03 PM
I'd suggest you look at the Grizzly G0704. Larger travels, more rigidity, not much more money.


It's a real nice machine, so long as you don't need it for the next 6 months or so. The backorder on the BF20 type mills is crazy right now.

Mcgyver
08-09-2011, 05:27 PM
I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.


there's legitimate reasons why a bport or similar won't work for someone, but if that's your only reason, well, you have no reason not to :). There are lots of ways to solve it....and in doing so you open yourself up to a whole new world of powerful, low cost used machinery.

has there ever been a person who regretted getting a full sized mill over a mini? The advantage isn't so much work envelope (most of the time) but power and rigidity, things that are really hard to deliver without some mass.

J S Machine
08-09-2011, 05:28 PM
Havent seen many 3 phase bridgeports myself. You can get HUGE machines with just 240v 1 phase.

Check out https://www.machinetoolswarehouse.com/xcart/product.php?productid=16133&cat=252&bestseller=Y
Or its smaller brother: https://www.machinetoolswarehouse.com/xcart/product.php?productid=16134&cat=309&page=1

Either is 10x the mill you where looking at.... at only a few times the price. :) A little noisy, but not bad as they have oil flooded gearboxes.

Don't go round collumn whatever you do.

And remember, you can do really fine, detailed work on a HUGE machine.
You can't do huge work on a small machine. (Said huge work might be as simple as drilling/taping 1 hole in a lawnmower motor, or other large, premade workpeice, So don't think you'll never want to do it)

What is "round column"?

Honestly, the prices on these machines you suggested are out of my range. And two, the shipping costs are unreal. I know that these little mini mills might not be as capable as some of the other machines, but for what I'm doing at the moment it might be. This is a picture of me trying to relieve the liners for a knife. We're talking about .008-.010" deep cut. In case you were wondering, a drill press spindle sucks when used as a mill. I need a %&*^* mill, lol.

http://i226.photobucket.com/albums/dd198/JSMachine/knives/MDA/mda44.jpg

Also, I never really thought about it, but had always assumed that most mills were three phase. I do have 240 to my shop, so I could use one of those if I could afford it. But like I said, I have no idea what it would cost to ship a big machine like that, but I would imagine it is scary.

Deus Machina
08-09-2011, 05:40 PM
A round column is just that--the mini you posted has a square dovetailed column, allowing the head to move up and down without swaying. A round column is tube, like your drill press, and the head will swing and shift, requiring you to square back up every time you move it on the Z axis.

I love my Harbor Freight mini for what it is (I have an R8 one), but the LMS machines are the updated version.

Really, for the same price as a new mini mill plus freight, you can probably find a larger used mill in Craigslist or the local classified ads. Much as I like the mini, a small knee mill or pretty much anything in 240 would be a tougher machine. My mini, at least, doesn't much like working on steel. Not enough mass to it. Light cuts like that you could do, but I wouldn't expect much more.

Kent
03-12-2013, 10:50 PM
Very informative. This also reinforces my future choice of the LittleMachineShop rigid column version. I plan on adding the power feed and tach. Also the air spring conversion. Im trying to find a value but not to expensive DRO as well.
Like the OP I am mainly limited by space. I have a budget as well but its simply not an option to get a close to full size bridgport even if it were the same price as the X2 class mill.

flylo
03-12-2013, 11:08 PM
I have a real factory R head Bridgeport 110V from the factory, used very little & mainly for a drillpress. Runs great! I think the table is around 36". I just bought 2 turrent BPs way newer when I picked them up one has a 110V shaper on the other end. :rolleyes: Just what I've been looking for to put on that machine. Yipee! a new toy.:cool:

I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.

John Stevenson
03-13-2013, 06:01 AM
If you are going to get the LMS hi torque mini mill, go for the fixed column model not the swivel column one shown, only a few dollars more but well worth the money to get a more rigid machine.

Rosco-P
03-13-2013, 08:59 AM
\Also, I never really thought about it, but had always assumed that most mills were three phase. I do have 240 to my shop, so I could use one of those if I could afford it. But like I said, I have no idea what it would cost to ship a big machine like that, but I would imagine it is scary.

Regardless, you have 240 available in your shop, so a rotary phase converter or VFD will provide 3 phase for motors.