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View Full Version : Mill/drill or full on mill?



Frank46
12-05-2011, 11:46 PM
Been looking through the various catalogs on the difrferent types of mills. I have no pervious experience in the operation of these machines. Should I go fo a mill/drill combo or would it would be better if I purchased mill?. Any comments and/or suggestions are greatly apperciated. Frank

darryl
12-05-2011, 11:53 PM
What will you be doing with it, and how much are you willing to spend?

justanengineer
12-06-2011, 12:07 AM
Machines geared toward the home shop - typically smaller, lighter (NOT a good thing), fewer options, lower quality, and IMHO all this leads to a tool that is more difficult to use. These machines also tend to be equal if not higher in initial price yet significantly lower (in some areas non-existant) in resale value. Parts and warranties do exist, but neither of these should be necessary IMHO except in extreme situations. Also likely to get you teased or frowned upon by older generations and/or die-hard "domestic buyers."

"Retired" professional machines if found in decent shape at an average price - equal or lower initial cost, hold or increase value, high quality, heavy (possibly painful to move, but super rigid = nice finish), more options (simplify operations), and definitely have a "cool" factor.

Buy bigger than you need. Its simple to do small work on a big machine, not so much the reverse.

Im starting the popcorn now. Let the games/flaming begin...

flylo
12-06-2011, 12:39 AM
I vote Full on Mill. If your willing to do some looking there are older, still tight machines cheaper than new mill/drill imports & usually come will tooling which can add up when buying new. I just got lucky on 2. One Bridgeport that's tight & single phase 120V & one Roundtower 3HP w/DRO,vari-drive that needs the motor repaired. This one is very large & HD, also tight, both with tooling that would cost more than I have in the pair. It all depends on what you want & how much you enjoy treasure hunting. If you want an Enco round column I have one cheap. :D

dalee100
12-06-2011, 07:25 AM
Hi,

Full sized mills are nice, but......... There is a lot of it depends involved with your choices.

Like total money budgeted for purchase. Bigger machines have different values and availability depending on just where you may live. What some here would consider a good price for a machine may not even get you a door stop in your area. So learn your local market.

Available facilities can matter. If you don't have the room, it won't fit no matter what. electrical service matters. Larger machines generally require 3 phase service that mostly isn't available to residential users. So extra items like phase converters or VFD's must be bought at added expense. Wiring may need to be updated or added.

Larger machines also tend to require larger tooling which costs more.

And finally, bigger is not always better. It is possible to do some small work on large machines if you need to. But a steady diet of that plain bites.If all you to do is work with 1/8" or 1/4" sized tools on small pieces of aluminum, large machines quickly become a pain to operate. And also, unused capacity is a waste of money and space. The best size machine is the one that is just right for what you want to do.

dalee

toolmaker76
12-06-2011, 08:31 AM
I managed to get a deal on a Grizzly mill/drill, so I bought it- first mill for my home machine shop, but I have YEARS of experience on standard sized Bridgeports. In my opinion, the full size mill is a much more capable/ versatile machine. I have been getting by and done some stuff on the mill/ drill that would have been better suited to a full size mill, but as its all I have it will have to do for now.

Eventually I will get a used Bridgeport, or clone. I will not sell the mill/ drill, it is a handy machine, especially as a second mill. So my advice is to get full size if you can, but in the grand scheme of things, a mill/ drill is better than no mill at all! Around here you can find a used full sized with some equipment for about the same price as a new mill/ drill.

Kind of like the first rule in a gunfight- have a gun! Doesn't matter what kind of gun, revolver, auto, short gun, long gun, big bore, small caliber- any is better than none at all!

lost_cause
12-06-2011, 08:48 AM
in the grand scheme of things, a mill/ drill is better than no mill at all!

that sums it up well. if can afford, can easily find a full or even mid sized knee mill, it will likely be a stouter machine than a mill/drill, but if you hold off on purchasing to wait for the end all of deals, or for just the right machine to come up used, it may be a while before you can do anything but read posts on here.

a year ago i went through the same thing. i ended up finding a used rf-30 with a box of 60+ end mills, chuck, and face mill for $550. the availability of any sort of mill around here is very thin, so it was a case of take what you can get that fits the budget. i still keep looking for a good deal o a full sized machine locally now that i have the mill/drill, just because you can do more with them, but with a little creativity and a few more cuts the rf-30 has done fine for me so far. i will say i'm an untrained hack, but it's been a great and fun learning tool, any my garage has been covered in metal shavings for the last year.

sasquatch
12-06-2011, 09:02 AM
I have noticed those mill-drills have really increased in price the past year or so.
In my area the resale of a mill-drill is pretty poor,but a used regular mill is excellent.

SGW
12-06-2011, 10:19 AM
@lost_cause

Assuming you live in southern Maine, Brothers Machinery in North Andover, MA, is a fairly reasonable drive and they generally have a decent selection of used milling machines. They are visible from 495, right off the exit. If you live in Fort Kent, it's not such a reasonable drive, but there are always motels.

Dr Stan
12-06-2011, 10:48 AM
If space and budget allows it go with a full size mill. As has already been said the ease of use, capacity, and precision will be much better than a mill/drill machine.

tmc_31
12-06-2011, 10:51 AM
Frank, I got a round column mill drill a few years ago. Would I rather have a bridgeport? Sure I would and I am looking for the right one. Meanwhile, my mill drill has served me very well. Since the mill drill has an R-8 spindle, all of the tooling I've bought for it will fit any vertical knee mill that I might buy.

Tim

bewards
12-06-2011, 12:24 PM
I bought a used mill drill CHEAP and I have used it but it has many limitations. My goal down the road is for a full sized verticle mill to compliment my Sheldon Model O. I think you could use both if you can get cheap enough.


Bryan

lost_cause
12-06-2011, 12:36 PM
@lost_cause

Assuming you live in southern Maine, Brothers Machinery in North Andover, MA, is a fairly reasonable drive and they generally have a decent selection of used milling machines. They are visible from 495, right off the exit. If you live in Fort Kent, it's not such a reasonable drive, but there are always motels.

thanks for the info. i'm in the midcoast/central area, so it's a ways, but no more than a day trip down & back. maybe i will see if i can get down there sometime in the near future just to check them out, even if i'm not in the market for anything. i actually drove to merrimack, nh to pick up the rf-30 i have now, so it's probably not much of a difference. i generally don't venture south of brunswick unless it's really important, but if i know of a good excuse i may make an exception. i constantly watch craigslist, but the offers in this state are few & far between, even compared to just new hampshire.

danlb
12-06-2011, 01:59 PM
Been looking through the various catalogs on the different types of mills. I have no pervious experience in the operation of these machines. Should I go fo a mill/drill combo or would it would be better if I purchased mill?. Any comments and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Frank


So much depends on what you will be doing with it. If you have the budget and space, a compromise is to buy one of the mini-mills as a starter system. They are small enough to ship at a reasonable cost. They are sturdy enough to do some practical work, although the work envelope is not real big. If you get the one with an R-8 spindle then you will be able to use the same tooling with a bigger mill. The mini mill can be sold on the internet and shipped away if you decide you don't want it. :)

The main thing is that the basic concepts while you are learning are exactly the same whether you are using a micro mill ( ~18 inches high) or a full sized mill. I still have my micro mill and I find it is a good supplement to the mid sized knee mill. You will have to compensate due to work envelope, HP, etc but that is true of every machine.

Dan

Tait
12-06-2011, 02:50 PM
From a relative beginner:

If I had the space, I would have a separate drill press and a full mill.

Given my space limitations, I have a moderately sized, square column mill/drill and like it as a reasonable compromise. A separate drill press and full mill would mean more rigidity and less setup changes.

jep24601
12-06-2011, 05:13 PM
"Retired" professional machines if found in decent shape at an average price - equal or lower initial cost...

In decent shape I have never seen a Bridgeport advertised at a price as low as a new import mill/drill. A lot of used import mill/drills tend to be in decent shape as they have not had daily industrial use, and with the depreciation on a used machine as described they can be a third to a quarter of the price of a used professional machine. A decent used professional machine is still a better machine so once again what do you want to do with it and how much are you willing to spend.

A friend of mine's father built an entire working model railroad steam engine doing all the milling on his lathe with a milling attachment. It all comes down to how easy you want to make the job and at what cost.

Toolguy
12-06-2011, 05:19 PM
I've seen good used Bridgeports with DRO go for $1500 to $2500 at auction several times in the last 10 years around here.

jep24601
12-06-2011, 05:27 PM
I've seen good used Bridgeports with DRO go for $1500 to $2500 at auction several times in the last 10 years around here.
Yes, but those are not advertised prices and you can spend a LOT of time hanging around auctions and what do you suppose happens to all those machines - a good few of them are flipped at marked up prices on Craigslist by the guys that make a business of hanging out around the auctions.

justanengineer
12-06-2011, 06:24 PM
In decent shape I have never seen a Bridgeport advertised at a price as low as a new import mill/drill. A lot of used import mill/drills tend to be in decent shape as they have not had daily industrial use, and with the depreciation on a used machine as described they can be a third to a quarter of the price of a used professional machine.

I moved this past January from NY to IN. When I lived in NY I saw at least one Bridgeport advertised on Craigs for $7-800 just about every month, and every few months a real steal would appear. Here I see them advertised at that about every odd month. If I wanted a really nice machine with a ton of tooling and DROs I could pretty easily find one between here and there for ~$1500, which is what I see many of the dovetail mill-drills advertised for. I couldnt resist my current Bport at $250 - it paid for itself in a single usage.

For me, the more important consideration is resale value as I get bored and will sell just about anything I own. Bought used at a decent price, most things will hold value. Unfortunately that does not apply to new things, and I would be seriously worried buying an Asian tool used.

Bob Fisher
12-06-2011, 06:43 PM
I've said it before, ANY mill is better than NO mill! I live with a round column mill/ drill cause its the best thing I can get into my basement shop. have a 3 axis DRO on it, and have done some nice work with it. Would I like a full sized knee mill? You bet! but, I have access to two Bridgy's elsewhere so I don't try to push my mill/drill too much. The way I see it , Do what you have to! Bob.

Frank46
12-07-2011, 01:27 AM
Budget will allow about $1500 tops. My workshop is a two car garage. So getting something like a mill/drill or mini mill isn't a problem. All I have in the garage is the standard 110v. Unfortunately the garage is also where I store all the plywood that I use for covering all the doors,windows during hurricane season. So far have a drill press, HF metal saw, roll around tool box, 3" fan for the hot days, only one work bench, air compressor and some shelving. I can make the room for the mill if and when I get one. I like working on my firearms and would like to be able to do my own barrel work. Have a jet 13x40
lathe and a grinder. Most of the other room is taken up by one of those big heavy conatiners on wheels that I keep stuff like saws,drills and junk like that. Since I live in louisiana in the oil patch you'd think you'd see more machinery for sale. I hit every machine shop and tool business around looking for a good used lathe. No go. I did find one but they had it outside and was all rusty, bed looked like a gorilla beat on it. Found the guy who owned it and he wanted 6 grand for it. Thanks to all of you and I appreciate your time. Gives me much food for thought. Frank

darryl
12-07-2011, 03:50 AM
With that budget, I would see if I could find a model up from a round column mill. I think that's about all you'll get- something above a mini mill, maybe you can get a dovetail column for that. I haven't checked prices lately. I personally would get a round column mill before a mini mill, but I would prefer a more rigid machine. I have a round column, and I've been ok with it (also upgraded it in a few ways) but would sure like one with more beef.

dalee100
12-07-2011, 07:20 AM
Hi,

With that budget, you can look at square box column bed mills like the Grizzly G0704/BF20 type. People who have owned the SX3 types and then this box column type claim the box is a bit more rigid and a better machine. It seems the box types also lend themselves to modification pretty easily also, with CNC conversions leading the list. I do know the box type has become popular enough that they don't last long and go out of stock frequently.

dalee

sasquatch
12-07-2011, 08:48 AM
Agreed, the square box column mill is a better choice in my opinion.

They come now with the R8 spindle also.

Frank46
12-08-2011, 03:24 AM
I did see the post regarding the round post versus the square post. So at least one of my problems is solved. Thanks again. Frank

Spin Doctor
12-08-2011, 06:19 PM
As said a lot depends on just how much room you have. If you have sufficent head room and access a Bridgeport/clone or equivilant mill is pretty much ideal. But then if you are used to heavier machines a BP is "toylike". In a space challenged environment perhaps a Deckel FP-1 or 2 would be ideal. And as soon as I have an extra 10K or so laying around I have no other use for I'll get one. As to the RF-45 and clones. These are probably the best bet for the space challenged like me. Yes you are not going to plough off .100 deep facing cuts in tool steel but you aren't in a BP either. For hobbiest use .025" is enough. The 6x26's leave me a little cold. Too small by half. Although I do see the Big Green Bear is selling a 8x30 that reminds me of the one they used to sell.