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How Many Machines is Too Many?

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  • How Many Machines is Too Many?

    There is a very good chance I'll be picking up a Van Norman 22L basket case in a few days and it has me wondering... just how many mills is too many? In all seriousness, I think it's time to start culling my herd. The housing market out here is really crazy right now but I'm hoping to move in the not too distant future and find or build a slightly bigger shop so space isn't exactly a problem at the moment, but the more space that is taken up by boat anchors, the less space I have for other interesting machines or projects.

    Given that I already have a pair of horizontal mills and three vertical mills, what am I going to do with the Van Norman? Any really neat features or capabilities that would make it stand out? If it had a quill, I might be inclined to replace a Bridgeport with it if it had a 50 taper spindle. But there are a lot of unknowns with it at the moment... might be completely trashed. But I just hate seeing these things go to the scrapyard!

    And I suppose the million dollar question is: what am I going to use all these machines for?? When I was younger, it was all about building go-karts but it morphed into repairing old machine tools. I kept buying bigger and bigger so I'd have a machine large enough to make the parts for the smaller machine that was broken. As I tick projects off and get a proper shop setup, what will I use it for, I wonder? This is the machinist's midlife / existential crisis, I guess. Good news is I now have a backhoe and forklift that need lots of work... so I guess I'll work on those for the next decade

    Edited to shorten the post.
    Last edited by Fasttrack; 03-04-2021, 02:04 AM.

  • #2
    There's no such thing as too many machines or too many tools.



    • #3
      shoot, as long as you have the space and it makes you happy, who gives a crap? If you enjoy rebuilding old machine tools, pick the ones that you find most interesting and keep enough other things around that will allow you to do that.


      • #4
        Maximum? No clue..... perhaps as many as you need as long as you still have room.

        Minimum? Well, I might suggest for mills, one vertical with quill, and one horizontal with overarm support frame (to knee). Obviously one lathe is the monimum (I currently have three, but they are different sizes)
        CNC machines only go through the motions


        • #5
          I would keep the 80's bridgeport, the 45 pacemaker, and maybe a good horizontal. Seriously though? The only limit is your budget and your land. I would not want to own more than I could actually use, or more than I could oil by myself in a day.
          25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA


          • #6
            Blasphemy! Ban this guy immediately. How could this guy post such a thing on here? Troll for sure. He must be a transgender and really be a girl not a man! Too many machines.....that hurts just to type it..... On a serious note I didn't read the first post in this thread. The title made me go direct to posting.....I used to have a sign in my office that read, "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."
            Location: The Black Forest in Germany

            How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!


            • #7
              Kipling said "A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition." Ammunition is for guns, which are tools, and machines are tools, so... there you are.
              Tom - Spotsylvania, VA


              • #8
                When I asked my lovely wife that very question, her answer was 1.

                Now I have 2 vertical mills, 2 lathes, 2 bandsaws, 2 granite surface plates, 2 welders, 2 grinders, 2 optical comparators... The list goes on.

                Happy Life

                Best Regards,
                Last edited by rjs44032; 03-04-2021, 08:12 AM.


                • #9
                  I clean up every morning before starting the day.s misadventures.
                  Sometimes I have two mills, three lathes, a shaper, a bandsaw, a drill press and a workbench to remove and replace all the loose tooling from, and brush or blow clean( Or perhaps just cleaner would be a better description)
                  However, by having them i am able to work quickly and efficiently.
                  I sometimes wonder how my actual output would be if I only had one lathe, a vertical slide and a hand held drill. then I shudder a bit at the memory of the struggles of years ago and carry on cleaning up, and continue being thankful I have so much equipment.
                  Regards David Powell.


                  • #10
                    How many machines is to many? I'll let you know if that ever happens.
                    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.


                    • #11
                      Machines? Never enough.

                      Boats? the answer is 5 if you ask my wife.


                      • #12
                        When you own all the machines on the planet, that's enough.
                        The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                        Bluewater Model Engineering Society at

                        Southwestern Ontario. Canada


                        • #13
                          How Many Machines is Too Many?
                          • How far is the edge of the universe?
                          • Explain women?
                          • What is the next smallest thing?
                          • Where is all the rubber that has worn off of tires?

                          But, they came up with a symbol to represent the maximum limit on machines for machinists:

                          S E Michigan


                          • #14
                            Know im going to catch hell for this but to me it's all about being practical and keeping things as simple as possible - so anything over 1 machine is too much as my Mill does 97% of everything I need it too, and for the other 3% I have a key to my buddy's shop and he has too much to write down...


                            • #15
                              I would very much fix up that K&T 2D. Those are cool.
                              If you have a few K&T mills, maybe that Cincinnati is the odd man out.
                              By the way, I have a 22LU, 50 taper.