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Smithy Mills and Lathes

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  • Smithy Mills and Lathes

    Any comments on the stand alone Mills and Lathes from Smithy. $2800 for a square column mill with powerfeed on all axis is a bargain.

    Years ago I had the a mill/lathe unit. Got rid of it after about a year.

  • #2
    I see you got a rousing welcome on the PM site with the same question.

    I am not familiar with the current crop of Chicom mill/drills, but advise trying to get a look at one of the actual machines in the flesh before buying.

    The Smithy price is attractive, but there are differences in the quality of build of these machines depending on whose brand name they are tagged with, and if one is significantly different in price than another, there may well be a reason for it. Things may have changed, but I will continue recommending inspecting these machines in person before purchase regardless of manufacturer.

    I recently got a look at an older Smithy mill/drill, and it was one of the sorriest looking machines I have ever seen.
    Jim H.


    • #3
      Originally posted by JCHannum
      I see you got a rousing welcome on the PM site with the same question.

      Maybe Village Press should pay me for referrals to this site


      • #4
        DT is getting a little testy over on PM . As to the original question, it looks like Smithy is finally getting over its lassitude of the 98-'04 or so era when it was content to sell the same machines with minor changes year after year. They have made a big splash in the CNC area in the last 6mo or so with a whole new line of purpose built machines at fairly reasonable prices.
        OTOH Sears has a TV ad campaign for a CNC bed router I saw recently for about $1800. Whatever. The Smithy dove tailed milldrill mentioned is rather sparsely specced on the Smithy site (which sort of looks like they borrowed a HF web designer). Pix are not entirely clear where the drive motors for the x-y axis are, not in the classical position hanging off the end of the table in any event. It resembles the Grizzly G0519 milldrill, which does not have the power feeds and is 3ph to facilitate the tapping function and is priced $1000 less than the Smithy. Both are derivative of the Rong Fu RF45 which is sparsely imported into the US. It would be nice to know the spindle to table measure on the Smithy, as that can be a serious limitation if in the 12-14" range. The Smithy looks fairly attractive as a package but it would be nice to have a bit more info than is on the site.


        • #5
          "Sears has a TV ad campaign for a CNC bed router I saw recently for about $1800"

          I saw that Craftsman Bed Router also. Went down to Sears but it's not on display. When/If they get it in I'm going to ask for a demo just to junk up the area with a bunch of wood chips. Years ago they had an open invitation to try things out. Not sure if was in the display area or back in the warehouse. I'd just like to see the thing work.


          • #6
            I looks like the powerfeeds are located under the table, in the base, from what I can see. Comparing it to my dovetail mill, the Smithy base is considerably higher/thicker, so.... The specs indicate a 15 1/2" spindle-to-table. I considered this one and if the powerfeeds are internal, it could be costly to repair, considering that Smithy is the only place to get replacement parts, they'd have you by the short 'n curlies. Just my $.02.

            Here's a close up pic:


            • #7
              I've been making money with a Smithy Granite 1324 for about 3 years. I had booked a job making a prototype lab instrument and a Smithy Granite with DROs would cost only a bit more than the cost of having my usual machine shop vendor make all the parts, which were onesies and twosies, mostly in Teflon.

              I'd rather have US made iron tools, but my basement shop was quite small and had bad access, and I was under a very tight deadline.

              I bought the machine, and my impression initially was that it was worlds better than Smithy's "cheap" machines, like the 1220 series. The casting finish is pretty poor, but the fit of the parts that matter is OK. The mill head was reasonably square to the table, and the lathe spindle had very little runout, maybe 3-5 tenths.

              After a years of use the spindle bearings were shot from grit in the headstock. Smithy sent replacements, I completely disassembled the headstock, thoroughly cleaned and sealed the inside with several coats of red glyptal, deburred and fitted everything on reassembly, then took the spindle out again and fitted real Timkin precision bearings, which has dramatically how well the machine works.

              Recently I found that the drawbar in the mill spindle was banana-shaped. I straightened it and made a bushing for the top of the spindle so it runs concentric. The mill runs much smoother now with a dramatic improvement in surface finish.

              The Shooting Star DRO's work perfectly and have paid for themselves again and again.

              Until I inherit my dad's heavy 10" South Bend and Burke Millrite milling machine, the Smithy Granite, as modified and tuned up is an acceptable tool to get the job done.

              Having a table rather than a regular cross slide can make for some very convenient and creative turning tool setups, but the lack of area and travel can make milling setups difficult or impossible.

              3-in-one machines are like hybrid bicycles or dual-sport motorcycles; you're always giving something up to gain broader capability.
              "Lay on ground-light fuse-get away"


              • #8
                I am a customer of the new Smithy. Yes their customer service is well spoken but the machines I was shipped were junk. I bought the stand alone lathe, which many here know started leaking after a couple weeks, leak all the oil out in a matter of days to find the shafts were all gouged and nasty looking where the seal rides. I was told by Smithy I was to totally rebuild the headstock and they would send the needed parts after I sent the bad ones in and they decided it was machine error. This lathe was only weeks old and I had to rebuild it? The feed engagement was crap as the only way to get the carriage engaged was to pull the lever and then rock the handle back and forth and pray it would engage.
                Smithy admitted to me that these were a new breed of machine and they had no history on them. Comparing that lathe to the Grizzly I have now it is like looking at a Studabaker and comparing it to a new Ferrari. The technology on the Smithy lathe was like 30 years ago and the Grizzly is modern day. The fit and finish on my Grizzly is also much nicer and it really looks more modern than the Smithy. It also does more than the Smithy and the cost was a few bucks less. And for me I can drive to the Grizzly showroom in Muncy PA (as I did) to be sure I am getting what I want. The Smithy had a thread on chuck and the Grizzly a camlock. Grizzly gearchange levers have a nice handle and the Smithy had round knobs you could hardly get a hold of to turn. Smithy used a one v belt drive from the motor where Grizzly uses a double belt set up which is much nicer.

                Now I also bought a Smithy mill/drill at the same time. Again fit and finish were poor, everything was out way out and I had to force the column crank to get the head to move from new. They told me to beat it with a hammer to get it to move. I soaked it with Blaster for a week (it was all rusty behind the dovetail column) and then put a bit of force and finally got it to move. Had to shim the column as it was way off and then replace all the oilers as many had fallen out. These were not the powered axis unit like you are asking about but I feel it says alot about what they will sell you.

                I am getting ready to sell the Smithy mill and replace it with one from Grizzly, the BP clone. Looks nice and I will check it out before I buy it.

                For me Smithy rates a Grizzly

                Hope this biased report helps.
                Life Is Grand


                • #9
                  "Hope this biased report helps."

                  As many of you know, i've got one of thier small three-in-ones and it seems to be much better quality than the other three-in-ones i've seen in person (like grizly and HF). That being said, it still leaves a few things to be desired. I've had some bizzarre problems like breaking lock levers off and whatnot. I noticed the lock for the spindle, after being replaced, doesnt seem to work too hot. Any cut heavier than about 1/8" causes the endmill to start moving upwards making a sloped cut. I'm extremely happy with it for the money and for my situation though.

                  Just based on my very limited expierence, i wouldnt want a full size machine from them - thier three-in-ones are a good deal but... well looking at some of the Grizly Z-series and etc i would choose them.


                  • #10
                    I have had the 1220XL (3in1) for about 10 years now. I bought it new for the pupose of learning the concepts..... I have made some nice stuff with it, but it is a pain in the ***. It is too small, not rigid enough,and under powerd for any kind of serious machining. Set ups and tool changes are dificult.
                    But I didn't know any better and I only had a basement to put it in.
                    It served its purpose is about all I can say. I recently picked up a full size older Tiawan mill (BP clone) and put it in the garage, next will be a Stand alone lathe, but it won't be a smithy.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cybor462
                      I am a customer of the new Smithy. Yes their customer service is well spoken but the machines I was shipped were junk.

                      For me Smithy rates a Grizzly

                      Hope this biased report helps.
             can this be, with such a warm and fuzzy and AMERICAN sounding name like "Smithy" ??


                      • #12

                        Originally posted by D. Thomas
                        Maybe Village Press should pay me for referrals to this site
                        Would PM pay for referrals?

                        3 in 1 is three machines, 3 setups, might work for some. I'd rather not meself.
                        Last edited by DirtDobber; 01-08-2007, 07:43 PM.