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    I know I haven't written about the (new last year) knee mill in the shop, but I use it all the time. I've made tool holders, tools, an array of parts, and done quite a lot of second ops with it. I use it several times a week and most weeks every day. When I was doing some production jobs a couple months ago I had CNC machines running nonstop and I was using the manual knee mill almost non-stop doing second ops to finish parts.

    I have two problems with it.

    One and the lesser problem. The knee handle and y-axis wheel are always in my way. I may be able to manage that by swinging the head off to the right, but I have to think about whether or not I want to leave the table sticking out that far to the side all the time.

    The other problem is chips. I'm not a neat freak to begin with, but all my other mills (CNC) have some sort of cabinet or enclosure that contains most of the chips and coolant. This machine always looks like ground zero to a confetti bomb. I vacuum. I brush. I use air (sometimes), I sweep, but its a struggle. Shields only keep the chips from hitting me in the face or going down the neck of my shirt. They really do nothing for the mess around the machine. An enclosure would make the machine hard to use. With a true 5 HP spindle (7.5HP VFD) it may even create more chips per minute than any other machine in the shop when using it optimally, and none of them are contained.
    *** 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.

  • #2
    On a BP, we turned the knee hand crank around backwards to be out of the way when not in use. You can get a handwheel from McMaster-Carr with a spring loaded (or not) folding handle that folds across the handwheel when not in use. You can hang a welding curtain (heavy canvas) around the mill like a shower curtain. The chips will hit it and fall to the ground so the mess is contained to the enclosed area.
    Last edited by Toolguy; 04-20-2022, 04:37 PM.
    Kansas City area


    • #3
      Now you know why it's called a "knee" handle. The best way to clean chips around an open machine is to have it open all the way around and easily sweep able. Just let the chips hit the floor and sweep up after. You could wall off a little "nook" around the machine to keep those chips from migrating elsewhere and keep them contained to a general easily sweep able area. A shield is really the only defense while running it too, either get fancy and make one from acrylic with magnets that mount to the vise, or just use cardboard like half the guys I've always worked with do lol. There's really no magic solution, or if there is I've never seen one. This is one of the big reasons I prefer fully enclosed VMCs .

      Now I'm waiting for some clever guy to post the magic solution here so I can steal it . Which is really the only reason I posted in the first place .


      • #4
        My Varnamo has this setup,Knee Crank hangs idle when not needed push in to engage. Click image for larger version

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        • #5
          On a BP, we turned the knee hand crank around backwards
          Yup, me too. When I forget, it reminds me.

          I can't be the only person who uses a vacuum in the shop?
          For some repetitive, messy jobs it's possible to catch
          98% of the chips with a pretty basic pickup mounted just right.
          With others, it doesn't help much. It depends on how the cutter's being used.

          rusting in Seattle


          • #6
            My wife says the mill looks like a bird feeder. Seeds tossed everywhere for 6 feet.
            I thought that was an interesting analogy.


            • #7
              Stepping on a sunflower seed in your barefeet is a bit different than some face mill chips from 4140


              • #8
                On my Lagun the Z axis crank turns around too. I also fight chips everywhere. I have lots of shelves in all directions with "stuff" in them, many toolboxes sitting around open, all getting filled with chips. It's aggravating, but it makes the shop look like stuff happens in it.


                • #9
                  Just the nature of the beast. Replace it with another enclosed CNC machine.


                  • #10
                    I notice the knee is powered on your South Bend mill, that makes the handle more difficult to modify. I would look into making it quick detachable when not required. As for the Y axis handle, it could be replaced with a lower profile one with a folding knob.
                    I had a different problem with the knee of the little Tom Senior light vertical, the wheel became very hard to turn when raising the knee with extra weight such as a rotary table. I bought a cranked handle similar in shape to a Bridgeport or your SB one with 7 castellations and made a hub to match for it spring loaded so the handle could be left in any position when not being used. I was lucky to get a handle with exactly the right length and crank to fit and miss the drip tray by 1". The handle cad be exchanged for the original wheel in a few seconds.
                    Otherwise the only other remedy would be an arm extension operation.


                    • #11
                      I use table covers made out of dollar store cookie sheets and a bunch of stainless or alu sheet metal shields attached with magnets. Contains pretty much all the chips (some drill spirals escape) which get brushed onto the table covers and dumped into the scrap yard containers. Clean up takes a couples of minutes at most.


                      • #12
                        My large table-top mill throws chips all over the place. Any shielding I put around it to catch chips would interfere with my ability to see what I'm doing. I have a Shop-vac mounted beside the mill, and a broom and dust-pan close at hand.
                        Brian Rupnow
                        Design engineer
                        Barrie, Ontario, Canada


                        • #13
                          You fellows talk about chips dispersion , and I agree, and I use a central vac in my shop.
                          what I really hate is using coolant , but at times it is a necessity , so I built a combination chip and splash container.
                          I took a 16 x 24 x 3/4 " Aluminum Plate and milled two slots around the perimeter , one half round for a drain slot and the outer one for Plexy sheets ( 1/4")
                          then I mounted keys so the plate mounts to the mill table and a vise goes on top, but lengthwise .
                          you have to clamp it on the ends instead of the side, but that is not a problem
                          The Plexy sheets are 10 " and 12 " tall and the corners held with 90 degree clamps
                          I don't have a picture in use as i remove the plate at times , but here are the parts
                          It looks like a fish tank, but really works well !
                          You have to line up the drains with the T slots
                          You see 6 keys in the picture of the bottom, and they all are snug in the table keyways . The oblong (4) pieces are plugs for the holes ( used plate that had un-needed holes)
                          In the top picture you will see a Cerro-alloy Key on the left side for the vise- it was poured after aligning the vise with the first setup and repeats perfectly
                          The corner clip is just a 1/4" hardboard corner bead bent to fit
                          Sometimes when the table is high, I use the 10 inch plexy under the ram side to get closer.

                          Click image for larger version

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                          Green Bay, WI