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Big Ticket Shop Items

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  • Big Ticket Shop Items


    What do you guys think are the main must have machines for a home shop. I am a hobbyist but am trying to figure out what is a must have and what is nice. (besides the fortune I am spending on tooling.)

    The good ?
    I have a South Bend Heavy 10" Lathe, an 800 lb Sq Column Mill, a new Surface Plate w/stand, and a small Sheldon Horizontal Mill.

    The bad ?
    I also have a 2 ton shop crane, a 4" x 6" H/V band saw, a bench top drill press, and a 8" grinder all from Harbor Freight.

    The wish list ?

    A 20 ton press
    An Arbor Press
    A surface grinder
    A shaper

    I would also like to get a good floor stand drill press and a good grinder.

    Does this seem like a reasonably equipped shop ? I plan on cruising the auctions to pick up these items. So trying to figure out what I should buy first. I probably will get the drill press and then the grinder. I just missed getting a 20 ton press when I got my surface plate at a recent auction. The drill presses they had went put of sight on the prices unfortunately.

    I am sure a lot depends on what I want to do but, I want to do it all eventually

    A long term plan is to convert the Sq. Column Mill to CNC and buy a big old Bridgeport for manual stuff.


  • #2
    The first thing to buy is the first piece you find.


    • #3
      Don't forget the obvious stuff: air compressor, belt sander, blast cabinet, mig welder, and that kinds of things..........
      "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not."~ Thomas Jefferson


      • #4
        I think I wouldn't try to anticipate my needs (too much) and instead buy when a need arises. It looks to me as though you have the basics covered pretty well.

        Personally, with a good milling machine I've never felt the need for a drill press.
        Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
        Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
        Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
        There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
        Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
        Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


        • #5
          compared to a lot of guys here, you already have a very well equiped shop.


          • #6
            I try to buy in the order that I think I will need an item. It's not always about buying new equipment. I've spent a lot of money upgrading some of my machinery to make them more productive. Such as a power feed unit for the mill and a dro. Recently I added a vfd and dro to my lathe. These mods do cost some money but I feel like they are really worth it. I recently brought home a floor model drill press that I had at my parents. I have used it a lot more than I thought I ever would. It comes in handy when you've already got something set up on the mill and all you need to do is drill a hole. I have a vertical bandsaw on my wish list right now. My 4x6 does what I need it to do even in vertical mode, but if I had a dedicated vertical I wouldn't have to switch the 4x6 from vertical to horizontal all of the time.
            Jonathan P.


            • #7
              Your list sounds good and you have a good start. I started with atlas lathe and a bench mill built my own drill press went from their. Always trying to buy up not in any order just what ever came up that I could find are afford at the time. don`t try to put an order to it you may run across a surface grinder before the press. Your idea sounds good and will be a nice shop but it is never finished believe me I know.
              Every Mans Work Is A Portrait of Him Self


              • #8
                I've always had a floor drillpress but upped the ante recently. Ummm...yup...the elcheapo $50 lil' drill presses. I have two of them on a bench now right beside my big one.... kinda like a drilling station.
                What a cool setup!
                We keep a spot drill in one, a regularly used small bit(usually 1/4") in the other little one and use the big one for all the big holes. Or change one to a countersink...whatever.
                Beauty of a setup! No more speed changes...very few drill changes.
                We don't use these cheap presses for any of the spaceships we build though so don't have a cow
                They are very much good enough for the fab work we do.
                So.. myself, I'd be buying a drillpress right off. I hate tearing down a setup on the mill to drill one stinking hole.
                I have tools I don't even know I own...


                • #9
                  It's interesting to read what people find they need and/or want to equip the shop. I have a mill/drill, but seldom use it for drilling- instead I now have two drill presses. These are both mounted to the same rolling stand, and it's so nice to be able to use the table on one to support long work that's being drilled on the other. I also do as Russ does- pilot bit in one, chamfer bit in the other, etc. I bought a third drill press and took it apart as soon as I tested it just to make sure it ran. It's now a horizontal drilling machine. I have two others, both of which I built- one is for printed circuit board drilling and the other is a lathe accessory. I could use one more simply for pilot holes- but at the price I'm willing to pay for that, I don't get enough depth spindle to column, and I haven't yet found one that isn't sloppy.

                  Besides that, I don't have enough cordless drills to suit myself yet. I only have about 10 of them, although only 4 are working at this time. Even with 4 working, we were swapping out a drill bit and chamfer bit with one of them a few weeks ago. We needed five sizes or types of bits to be on the go for a project at that time.

                  My shop- and it's a hobby shop, not a money maker, wouldn't work without a table saw. Even a project that's strictly metalwork often needs a piece to be sawn to a workable length first, or trimmed to a rough shape first. If it's aluminum, there's a bigger chance that it sees the table saw before either the bandsaw or the mill or lathe.

                  Another indispensible tool is the drum sander. This is a 12 inch diameter drum with a 4x36 belt friction fitted to it over a layer of foam rubber. This is the workhorse deburrer, tool sharpener, shaper, screw shortener, surface prep- you name it. One tool I sure could use is a punch press.
                  I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                  • #10
                    As previously stated, you should think of your shop as a continual work in progress. Having said that, I think one of your first pieces should be something on the order of a die lift cart. These are incredibly handy and, in addition to making things easier to move, they also provide convenient adjustable height work surfaces. Sanders/grinders are necessary items. Belt sanders should rate very high but also include disc sanders. A drill press is a good basic shop tool that increases accuracy/ease/timeliness on many jobs. As stated earlier, when a mill is already set-up, it's not at all convenient or available for drilling holes. Consider early on what machines will be stationary, and which can be moved about as needed. Certain machines, notably the lathe and mill, you will not want to move, but other machines will need to be relocated in order to make room for new items. I also would concentrate heavily on storage. This can be either fixed or movable, but should be a definite consideration...and you will never have enough. You didn't say what your shop is. By that, I mean is it a basement shop, your garage, or a stand alone shop. Whatever it is, it will be too small. As your tool inventory grows, and your accumulation of raw materials grows, your shop space will suffer. Once your floor space is gone, the only way to go is ..up. If you keep this in mind from the get-go, your life will be simpler, and easier. Try and buy tools that will complement/supplement tools that you already have. Having two of something is almost always an advantage, especially if their capacities overlap. No shop is complete without a good heavy vise, and lots of clamping devices. You can not have too many. As you attend your auctions, things will become available, that you may or may not already have. Any up-grade in quality or capacity should be considered for purchase, and some great buys are out there if you can use, or adapt to three phase equipment. Three phase equipment will eliminate a lot of your auction competition, and is generally bigger, heavier and better made than the typical home shop stuff on the market. Industrial auctions can be good places to fine these machines.
                    I agree that once your basic needs are fulfilled, just be ready to jump onto a good deal whenever/wherever you find it, and don't worry too much about the order things are bought in. Let the market tell you what it is ready to deliver, rather than trying to dictate to the market what it must sell. Again, industrial auctions are great places to fine things, up to and including raw materials, and it's amazing how cheap some things can be bought for.
                    Good luck.
                    There is no shortage of experts, the trick is knowing which one to listen to!


                    • #11
                      a torch set and bottles is nice and some welding equip. try to buy name brand and slightly bigger than you plan to go. i have 5 mig welders that i have purchased as i needed/ wanted bigger. i started with a little 110 astro that served me well and worked my way up from there. a disc/ belt sander is one of the best additions i have made. i got my first one given to me and after using it all the time purchased two more. like torker i have multiple small drill presses but always wanted a bigger one so i bought a cheap m head to fix up and use as one and in the middle of the rebuild i found a nice 1920s line shaft drill press that was converted to a 5 hp with coolant cheap and got that, i love this thing but it makes a bridgeport seem small and light. now i have an m head almost rebuilt and sitting. if i were a machinist my opinion might be different but i wouldn't be in a big hurry to spend a lot on a surface grinder. i've had one for years an only used it 2 times, no make that three i put a serious edge on the lawn tractor blades last winter in a fit of boredom. other than that tooling, tooling and tooling. on a different note anyone in the syracuse, ny area (or anyone who will pay shipping or is willing to travel) that wants the astro mig (to use not resell) can have it. i'm not guarenteing that it works but it did when it was put in the cabinet 5 or 6 years ago. it would be nice to see it go to someone on this site who was interested in starting to mig.


                      • #12
                        I've been thinking about this one.. I'd have to say that the second most used "other" thing in my shop (not fab related) would be the pedestal grinder.
                        It gets used at least a dozen times a day.
                        I have tools I don't even know I own...


                        • #13
                          The first question that should be asked to decide what tools will be needed is what do you want your shop for.

                          It does not make a great deal of sense to make a list of what can be a lot of expensive machines based on the advice of others who might have entirely different expectations or needs than you.

                          You have a pretty good selection at this point. Start to use those machines to find out where your interests lie, and then build in that direction. The only addition I would make at this point is a good bench or pedestal grinder around 6"-8".
                          Jim H.


                          • #14
                            Hey guys, some great ideas ! I do have a 4" belt with a 6" circular sander I forgot to mention.

                            I ran a 50 amp 240V line for my buddies Lincoln AC225 stick welder, that he let me borrow. I have been playing with that recently.

                            I like the idea of getting an Air Compressor too. I have been thinking about that off and on for a while.

                            I am kind of on the fence about the surface grinder and shaper. They seem like they would be nice to have, but not sure how much I would use them.

                            Right now, I have a basement room 15' x 20' and a two car garage. But, for some strange reason my wife what's to park her car in there ???



                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kben77
                              I like the idea of getting an Air Compressor too. I have been thinking about that off and on for a while.....
                              You might want to think about that. If you get one, you will have to plumb your shop and then start looking at all of the cool air tools out there. Then the bucks can roll out fast.......
                              "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not."~ Thomas Jefferson