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Thread: Turn a Drill Press into a Dedicated mill?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Chilliwack, BC, Canada
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    Planlos, just to rain on your parade a little more.... I've got that exact same drill press but with a Busy Bee sticker. Early on I tried to do what you are intending. I even modified the drill press to make it more stable. I added pressure locking screws to lock the column so it wouldn't rattle around. I also make up a way to lock MT2 end mill holders in the stock quill.

    But it was all for naught.... it shook, rattled, squealed, danced and just about any other description for "vibration" you can imagine. About the only thing it was good for was paper thin milling of aluminium and for making mortises in wood. In fact making mortises in wood is where it shone. I did this long before I got a mill and never did mill anything else with it other than the wood mortising on a couple of projects.

    Now you suggested making a new quill shaft. But the thing is that's where the problem lays. It's simply not large enough and the bearings will not allow you to make it larger. Between that and the small ram diameter you're hooped. It simply is what it is and that's a decent enough drill press.

    If you want to use one for something your better bet would be to turn it sideways and use it as a wood lathe along with some made up options for a tail stock and movable tool rest. I'd modify the arm for the table into the tail stock with a fixed center. To tension the wood between head and tail use the drill press ram and lock the ram.For this sort of use it would be pretty darn good.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Somerset UK
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    964

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    Even if you limit the milling cutters to 1/4" maximum, the lack of rigidity will prove very frustrating. You can buy drilling vices with X and Y movements, and you could mill soft metals like aluminium up to a couple of inches long with care.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sutter Creek CA
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    14

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    HAHA You guys are all awesome! I forget I am in the presence of Giants... If I could mill a squarish hole I would be stoked. LOL This settles it I will just continue to store them until my buddy and I open our non profit public maker space. We want to have one open to help out our local kids that have nothing better to do than grow weed. Shop class doesn't exist in our tiny county anymore.
    "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you."

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    SF East Bay.
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    You can mill with the Lathe.

    In essence, you can create a flat face on a block of metal by gripping it in the chuck and facing it with normal lathe tools, Rotate the block 90 degrees and you can make a second face that is flat and perpendicular to the first.

    You can mill pieces by clamping them to an angle plate that is bolted to the compound. In that case the endmill goes in the chuck and you move the work across the cutter using the compound.

    There have been several lathe milling accessories sold that are simply the compound mounted straight up and down with a small vise attached to it.


    Dan
    Measure twice. Cut once. Weld. Repeat.
    ( Welding solves many problems.)

  5. #15
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    288

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    Hi Planloss,
    I made an A frame brace for locking the quill. This significantly reduced the "nodding donkey",
    and increased the stiffness in both horizontal axis.
    https://app.box.com/s/x42g9pnmll7l9jft54d7apd5t6322wkw
    It reduces the workpiece capacity because the A frame encroaches into the space above the XY table
    But it makes the drill more accurate for drilling the small camera parts out of 6061. Holes in line , holes on a square etc.
    And I can mill small features on 6061 parts with up to a 4mm 4 flute end mill.

    It is not in the class of a machine tool, but the mods cost me nothing except for a bit of brazing and a lock collar.

    In past 5 years I have used it for end milling I suppose about 10 times.
    In my case hardly worth having the cost of a proper mini mill.
    I also have the milling attachment for the South Bend 9A, so I choose the best of my 2 not very good options for each job.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Ashburton, near Christchurch New Zealand
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    You have three of these? Then it is obvious, just take note of all the good advice we have seen here then go ahead and do the best you can with one of them.

    You might get terribly frustrated or you might find you can manage useful stuff like putting a flat on a shaft. You might even bust the machine but at the end of the day you will have gained knowledge and that is a priceless achievement.
    John

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Grand Blanc Michigan
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    4,152

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    Quote Originally Posted by PlanlosChannel View Post
    HAHA You guys are all awesome! I forget I am in the presence of Giants... If I could mill a squarish hole I would be stoked. LOL This settles it I will just continue to store them until my buddy and I open our non profit public maker space. We want to have one open to help out our local kids that have nothing better to do than grow weed. Shop class doesn't exist in our tiny county anymore.
    Unlike the rest of these guys, who give opinions based on hearsay and reasoning, I actually did it once - following the Rudy model. Suffice it to say that the drillpress survives and serves to this very day, returned to its original condition and purpose, the rest of the components scattered to the corners, shelves, boxes, nooks and crannies of my shop, (hopefully untraceable to the folly of the original construction) and validating all the opinions given to this point in this thread.
    Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
    ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    SF East Bay.
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    In all fairness, people have been doing it for years. In 1954 Popular Mechanics provided plans that would allow you to do milling safely on a drill. The article is at https://books.google.com/books?id=Au...epage&q&f=true . It's not quite as involved as people think.

    For a maker space, they might be enough for people to learn on till you can get some good equipment.

    Dan
    Measure twice. Cut once. Weld. Repeat.
    ( Welding solves many problems.)

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    British Columbia
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    5,461

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    Quote Originally Posted by Weston Bye View Post
    Unlike the rest of these guys, who give opinions based on hearsay and reasoning,....................
    I beg to differ Weston. I'd be willing to bet most here have indeed tried it and speak from sometimes painful lessons, hence the the almost unanimous thoughts against the project. I mean really how often do we all agree on anything?
    I know I wasn't blessed enough to have a mill initially. It's only natural to want to try, and good lessons are learned along the way.
    Good lessons stick around for a long time because they are usually not easy ones.

    By the way Planos, take a bow for your future plans on the non profit public maker space. That'll open a lot of minds and opportunities to those that ordinarily would never learn a new set of skills like this. Skills that will stay with them for a lifetime. Way to go!

    We should have poll here sometime on who here has tried milling on a drill press. LOL
    Count me in for those that have.
    Home
    Bad Decisions Make Good Stories

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    Grand Blanc Michigan
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    I beg to differ Weston. I'd be willing to bet most here have indeed tried it and speak from sometimes painful lessons,...
    Yabut, they wouldn't admit it.

    Present company excepted, thanks Willy.

    We should have poll here sometime on who here has tried milling on a drill press. LOL
    Count me in for those that have.
    Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
    ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

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