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Anybody ever seen a home made mill?

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  • Anybody ever seen a home made mill?

    I am thinking about doing just that. I can get materials and some parts from junk at work. I am thinking of using 2 thick plates for the sides. I would bolt /weld them together and cut the basic shape using a jigsaw. While still bolted I would mill the critical surfaces at work. Using steel blocks of some sort as spacers in between the plates, this will form the collom section of the machine. It would be welded to another thick base plate. To this I would mount bearing blocks or plates to attach flange type bearings. I just need to come up with a spindal of sorts. I was thinking of just using solid round stock and boaring a 1/2 or 3/4 hole and adding setscrews, like an endmill holder vs. a collet arrangement. I don't know how I will work out z axis adjustment just yet... probably manually move the spindal up or down in its bearings!

    But together w/ this little slide table I have, I should be able to do some very basic milling, thereby allowing me to make better parts and improve my own mill. I just hate doing the G- Jobs at work... you know how it can be

    What do you all think? Any ideas or advice (besides "Buy a Mill!")?

  • #2
    obviously buy a mill is the most practical advice as they are cheaper than ever today to get started.However you may find making your own a great sense of satisfaction and others have done it before so good luck .I can't help feeling you will get sick of the idea once all the fine tuning becomes a headache and in practical terms a mill has to perform WELL so hopefully you will have enough experience or have enough friends who do who can come to your aid.I have heard of the Gingery crowd who are great enthusiasts of his work and books but I am just of the opinion even used mills are better than all the effort.If you had a lathe and mill and were experienced (Idon't know if you are) you could make one just for fun but to make one as your main mill I don't know.However I wish you luck.Kindest regards Alistair
    Last edited by Alistair Hosie; 05-08-2008, 05:15 PM.
    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease


    • #3
      A lot of guys on CNCZone have made their own mills, and Evan built one as well.

      My personal favorite is Kurt ("5Bears" a member here): he made it with Bosch aluminum extrusions and aluminum tooling plate. Precision ground C3 ballscrews, brushess Parker servo motors, and a high-end Kavo spindle (!)

      But by the time you add up the materials and labor, it really doesn't seem very cost efficient.
      "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."


      • #4
        Yeah, I know.
        See, right now I just don't want to spend the money to buy the mill/drill. I seen some used, but the $ they wanted, I'd buy new. And I will someday, but we are moving hopefully soon, bla bla blah, you know the story. I'd have one if my wife would let me. But the materials for this fun project will be all but free, I do have the experiance (to takle this ), and it will be totally satisfing (sp?) when I'm done. Its one of these where I don't really have time to use it alot, but it sure would make alot that I do easier... funny right? So basically I started out trying ( like most of us here I think) to mill some slots and whatall on my drill press using a chinese slide table. It made slots alright, but they were not alright at all !! So I began trying to beef up the press and justify the mill drill purchase... Boils down to a thousand bucks is a thousand bucks, and its just a hobby for now, at home. So I'll try this for awhile longer anyway.

        Another idea I had awhile ago was to build a skeleton frame of sorts, then incase it in good concrete. Leaving the top of the frame exposed would allow attatchment of the head. I even considered incasing my little drill press in concrete, but that was very late at night


        • #5
          George Ewen built one out of an engine block and did a writeup for HSM magazine:

          Location: North Central Texas


          • #6
            You can go far with a milling attachment for a lathe, and its a lot easier to build than the whole mill. Also, the lathe is probably easier to move than a good sized mill and cheaper to boot!

            Just a thought.



            Try G-Wizard Machinist's Calculator for free:


            • #7
              I sure miss George's regular inputs here. He's a real treasure! Hope he's doing well.
              Lynn (Huntsville, AL)


              • #8
                Anybody ever seen a home made mill?

                Yes, Dozens of them.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Joel
                  George Ewen built one out of an engine block and did a writeup for HSM magazine:



                  That is truely amazing!



                  • #10
                    Don't be put off by people who say you would be better off buying one, most
                    of us that build some of our own tools, machines etc know this.
                    An old engine block seems a good idea, I did see plans years ago for one using
                    a piston from a Mack truck.
                    Dave Gingerys book may have some good ideas in it.
                    Good Luck.


                    • #11
                      Thanks RW!


                      • #12
                        Well I think there is a tendency to assume that the new guy is inexperienced or not very knowledgeable on the subject. Afterall, we have had some memorable threads here involving someone wanting to make a drill press into a mill

                        If you know what your doing, have the time, money and tools then sure - one can make a highly accurate mill. But without already having machine tools or alot of expierence or "know-how" then you are asking for a world of pain trying to make your own equipment.

                        Personally, I'd rather spend less money and buy a heavy used mill and then restore it myself. But then, I've already got a small mill and I want a big, rigid, accurate machine - which is alot to ask for if its homemade!

                        If your just looking for a small mill - nothing like a BP, let alone a K&T, then making one could be a very satisfying and enjoyable experience.


                        • #13
                          Evan's built himself one hell of a mill and has done some very interesting things with it from engraving to singing. Check the archives for the last few months.


                          • #14
                            Which Came First- The Mill or The Lathe?


                            • #15

                              Wood working lathes have been around for much longer than mills. Also, there were early "lathes" to bore large diameters allowing for the first steam engines to be built. These were water powered machines and not horribly accurate. Nothing like the lathes of even the late 1890's early 1900's. I believe the first "modern" machine tool was actually the mill which was made by ... Whitney? ... mainly to standardize firearm parts. Previously everything had been had crafted and fitted by gunsmiths. With the mill, parts could be "mass produced" with the same tolerances so parts were interchangeable.

                              I might be off a little in the details, I will check when I get back.