View Full Version : Virtual "machines" (Iron)

04-16-2014, 02:01 PM
Saw a thread and it got me thinking about the machines necessary for my workshop. I started with a mini mill, got a lathe, then a full size mill. My workshop is closing in on itself rapidly but that doesn't keep me from checking craigslist for deals on machines I don't yet have. So lets talk bare necessity machines, nice to have machines, and luxury machines. I'm sure it is a matter of opinion too but I am just a home hobbyist. I don't NEED to make anything but I enjoy it.

So a "virtual machine" in this sense would be a milling adapter on the lathe. When I got my lathe it's rigidity dwarfed my mini mill so I set out to modify it for milling heavier items. Cut t-slots in the cross slide and refurbed an old atlas milling adapter for my "Z" axis.

Now one could also "lathe" on a mill I suppose but it seems like to more universal "virtual machine" would be using the lathe as a mill.

So here I am, decent lathe for me needs (10x24) and a full size milling machine. I'm losing floor space fast, could hardly decide where to plant the 3000lb mill. So why am I searching craigslist hoping to find a deal on a surface grinder? I suppose I could do much of the same with with a fly cutter on the mill? Not sure really, maybe just looking for more toys.

So if you had to outfit the essential home hobby machine shop for tinkering, what would you REQUIRE? And what machines could you "virtualize" using the machines you have selected.

Might be an interesting conversation.

04-16-2014, 03:53 PM
Well I have two drill presses, three lathes, a mill, a band saw, mig, tig stick and oxy welders, a plasma cutter, a blast cabinet, 20 ton mechanical press, a shaper, and a small sheet metal brake, various grinders, a propane forge, 150 # anvil, a full set of blacksmith tools and then there are the wood working tools.

Oh - I also have another shop at my cabin in Minnesota where I have a lathe, a mill, a drill press, a plasma cutter, a mig welder, oxy welder, 20 ton hydraulic press, sheet metal brake, a band saw, various grinders and a coal forge and full compliment of blacksmith tools including a 200 # anvil and wood tools.

None of my machines are "virtual".
Not sure what that means.

I admit it I am a toolaholic.
I use all of these things to satisfy my various hobby cravings.
I build guns, make knives, weld yard art, fix things for myself and lots of other people.
I am a not very good machinist but a pretty good blacksmith.
All of my tools were purchased on the cheap used except for one mill.
I have very little money in them.
All of them were broken or inoperable when I got them except for one small lathe I inherited.
I fixed them all.
As you can see the addition never stops.
My wife says she is going to call the scrap dealer when I die.
I told her to tell this forum that the tools were free to anyone who would come get them.
Don't get too excited, I am 81 but still healthy.

04-16-2014, 04:07 PM
Required- Only one, the grandaddy of all machine tools....The Lathe.

04-16-2014, 04:48 PM
None of my machines are "virtual".
Not sure what that means.

Imagine a drill press with an x-y table bolted to the table, and used for light (REALLY LIGHT) milling. Sure, it might work, but it's not a real milling machine.
Same with a milling attachment on a lathe. Or a piece of electric wire and a tub of salt water being used as a "welder".

Although I think a milling attachment on a lathe is farm more capable than the drill-mill or salt-water stick welder mentioned above.....

04-16-2014, 04:52 PM
My suggestion would be to start simple and get a good lathe and mill, then learn to use them. Quantity of machines doesnt make up for quality, lack of operator ability, or lack of tooling. Remember your ability to make good parts isnt just limited by machinery, its also limited by your ability measure, layout, and fixture as well.

04-16-2014, 08:27 PM
Depending on the kinds of things you like to make, either a lathe or a mill would be 'enough', though milling on the lathe and lathing on the mill aren't all that much fun, so I really consider it essential to have both.

After that,

Drill Press
SandBlasting Cabinet

04-16-2014, 08:33 PM
If you have a big mill, you can mount all sorts of things on it. One is a right angle adapter to make it a horizontal mill. Another is a sloting head that lets you do splines and keyways.

A micro lathe placed on the table of the mill makes a 4th axis for milling. That can be interesting.

A locking mechanism on your lathe and a counter on the gears makes for a makeshift dividing head.

A Dremel tool attached to the tool post makes a usable tool post grinder.

You can go on and on and on.