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Mill Curtain

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  • Mill Curtain

    Up front, I know someone is going to say make it, however, the equipment is about another month away from arriving. I would like to have it before it gets here.

    Has anyone purchased, built, seen or otherwise used a curtain to go around the back and sides of a mill in order to keep the chips from flying all over the place? I would rather keep the cleanup confined to one area, that area would be inside the curtained area around the mill. Just a thought. Thanks.

  • #2
    I did something similar for my bench grinder. I put ugly (cheap) orange welding curtain up against the wall, and 12-gauge shower curtain liner facing the room so light can get in. I mounted these with screwhooks on the ceilings and the walls. I used a couple of those cheap box-store spring clamps to clamp the 'doorway' seam open or closed. The curtains are floor-to-ceiling length and do a great job containing the dust.

    Hadn't thought about doing that for the mill - I think it would get in the way of setups, and make it awkward to put heavy equipment on or off the table. But it will certainly contain the chips, especially if you use welding curtain.

    Make-it-vs-buy-it: they make welding curtains on frames (quick example: Wilson Stur-D Screen Frame) that would work fine. Regarding the screw hooks, I originally tried using conduit as curtain rod, but there is just too much movement, I prefer the curtains to be more like walls than, er, curtains.
    Last edited by thin-woodsman; 01-24-2021, 03:10 PM.


    • #3
      thin-woodsman...Thank you for the reply. My thought was more like having a curtain along the back and then on the left and right side, those curtains would be more like 30 to 45 degrees away from the mill, sort of like this (I know, the symbols are upside down):

      It wouldn't be bad like this if you have enough room on the left and right sides:

      Just a thought.
      Last edited by lovemesomemachines; 01-24-2021, 03:13 PM.


      • #4
        I think that the idea is a fine one. And I assume that the sides and back would all be one sheet? Otherwise the chips would still find a way through the gap.. Or there would need to be a lot of overlap.

        What about a way to get back in there from the front and sweep up all the chips that fall off the curtain? Some sort of light gauge chip trays that can be lifted out and dumped? Or can you walk around the back and sides to sweep the floor and it's just to keep things from being broadcast over hell's half acre of the shop area around the mill?
        Chilliwack BC, Canada


        • #5
          Originally posted by lovemesomemachines View Post
          Up front, I know someone is going to say make it, however, the equipment is about another month away from arriving. I would like to have it before it gets here.
          An EMT bender and tubing cutter is all that is needed for frames, A drill to permanently assemble the pieces previously cut and bent.
          I don't see bandsaw, lathe or mill being needed, making it easier or quicker.


          • #6
            I'm rather thinking even just some 1/8 x 1/2 to 1/8 x 1 flat stock with holes drilled in it to let the curtain be zip tied in place. And a few more holes to allow the whole thing to be hung from the ceiling with something flexible. Or a light duty stand off the floor. I like the idea of hanging from the ceiling simply because it would make sweeping the floor easier.

            And perhaps an eyelet kit to install a few extra eyelets in whatever you use for the curtain(s) so it hangs better.
            Chilliwack BC, Canada


            • #7
              I'm been thinking about this also. Milling aluminum in particular, at high speed & without flood coolant spays chips all over the place. I have been cobbling together a coolant system, I'll probably try that first and see how much difference it makes. I have a friend who made a cutter-surround from plumbing parts that attached to his shop vac which worked great for very light materials like plastic. I'll see if I can find the link to his video.
              "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979


              • #8
                I have a frame (dry-fit, not glued) built of 1/2" PVC that stands on the floor, and goes around 3 sides of my small (Grizzly 0704) mill, about as high as the mill controls (maybe 6" higher then the top of the cutter?). Steel, aluminum, plastic chips hit the shower curtain and fall straight down within the 4'x2' footprint of the frame. Holds a standard shower curtain liner (on standard shower curtain hooks) that is cut 3"-4" short of the floor (so it doesn't interfere with vacuuming). Have had no issues with steel chips burning holes in the shower curtain liner, easy to replace if that ever is an issue. Most of the time I leave it in place when I clean up, very easy to lift out of the way and replace when I "deep clean" around the mill.

                Don't over think it. Cheap, quick and easy is the the way to go. Don't stress, just get something in place.
                I have all of $15 into my "chip retention system" and I'm a happy guy (well, about that)..

                I've been thinking of building one around my Sherline mill.... hmmmm


                • #9
                  Well, I don't have a curtain and don't mind dry chips on the floor, but when using coolant I use a Subplate.
                  I took a 3/4 " thick piece of Cast Aluminum "Tooling Plate" ( MIC 6) . This is precision ground and parallel Aluminum Plate
                  Mine is about 16" deep and 24 Long . I cut a groove 1/4" deep x 1/4" wide just inside the OD and place some 1/4' Plexiglass in the grooves (360 coverage) and 12" high
                  So I basically have a fish tank to collect all chips and coolant .
                  There is a coolant trough ( cut with a 3/4 ball endmill x 3/8 Dp) just inside the Plexy groove and that gutter drains back to the coolant pump.
                  The plate is keyed to the T slots on the mill table and has mounting holes for the vice. The plate on top has a keyway (s) cut in it for the vise keyways
                  When I mount the plate on the mill,I use the Mills Tee Slot with Tee Nuts for the mill Vise , But I tram the vise and pour in Cerrolow to lock position of the vise and plate.and
                  this acts as a sealant also prevents coolant from draining into the mill table slot

                  It really works well and nothing outside the tank gets wet and no chips except in my tank !
                  What is really nice is no chips on me as well.

                  Side note , I have two different heights of plexy , 12 and 16 in case i have tall work in the vise
                  Green Bay, WI


                  • #10
                    I just use sheet steel guards attached with magnets. Keeps the chips on the mill table which have chip trays, makes for quick and easy cleanup.


                    • #11
                      I use a clear shower curtain hanging on a U shaped track for my small CNC mill. The track hangs from the ceiling this keeps the floor free of any supports. The chips are not a big issue except when using compressed air as coolant. The chips drop straight down off the curtain. Easy clean-up with the broom and dust pan. Also it retracts out of the way when not in use.


                      • #12
                        I've been thinking similar, but no curtains wouldn't do it for me. Requires a custom solution for my machine and habits.Thinking acrylic sheets that can be attached, perhaps with magnets around the table itself.


                        • #13
                          I occasionally use a transparent Lexan shield about 8"x12" that has a magnetic foot. I attach it to the top of the milling vise in front of the endmill. Here is one similar to mine:

                          Finding a way to hold a shop vacuum attachment close to the endmill works too.
                          Last edited by MichaelP; 01-25-2021, 04:53 AM.
                          WI/IL border, USA


                          • #14
                            pet sheet:

                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              I made a height adjustable plexi shield that mounts to the back of the table. It prevents about 99.9 % of the chips from flying behind the machine. I was more interested in keeping the chips off the knee ways than the floor. I do get some chips that end up in front of the machine but that's easy to sweep up. I've since put way covers on the machine. Should have done that when I first got it.

                              Click image for larger version

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