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  • Smithy lathe mill combo

    HI, everyone. I am doing a project and need a small lathe an mill I looked at the Smithy Granite Max machine I know they made cheap machines earlier but this looks like a very sturdy machine with lots of good features like D14 camlok a 2 hp variable speed dc motor and 13 ins. throat clearance on the mill head They are not cheap though, about the same money would buy the Grizzly 12x24 lathe an a small mill I would appreciate any thoughts and coments Thanks; Joe

  • #2
    Smithy lathe mill

    Since no Smithy owners are jumping in to help you, I'll try. I have no personal experience with the Smithy, so take this for what it's worth, please.
    Over the years my experience is that, although everyone tries, from machinery to snow skis, motorcycles, cars, or most things, a specialized item is usually the best choice for the job to be done. If you race and want to be competitive you use the ski, motorcycle, or car set up for the type of race to be run. Sure, a universal machine like, for instance, the Shopsmith can do everything a tablesaw, wood lathe, horizontal boring machine...etc. can do, but setups are different for each job and the size of the job must be within its capacity. That forces a lot of planning ahead, and no matter how quick things change out, still takes time. If it takes a lot of effort to set a job up, maybe dialing a part in to .0005 tir and then you have to tear it all down to change operations for an emergency job or missed operation, and then set it up again I think some personalities would get pretty frustrated. I've done a lot of jobs where I pulled a part from the lathe, taken it to the mill, and then back to the lathe - sometimes taking the chuck with it for dividing head work or such. I also wonder how cutter clearances and headspace would be using the mill with a dividing head or such, or rounding an end on a long shaft. That said, 2 hp variable speed and D14 camlock makes me envious, and I have heard Smithy owners say they are a really good machine. I chose the dedicated machine route myself because space and funds would permit it.

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    • #3
      I own a Smithy Midas and it is going under the axe soon to be made into something useful ... I plan on using the tailstock and lathe spindle as a differential dividing head/tailstock for my "real" mill.

      If you can afford it (in both floor space and money!), then go for two seperate machines. You'll be happier.

      That said, Smithy does have really good customer service. The machines are clearly made in China - they are of typical import quality but they have better fit and finish than some HF pieces. I think they have put some serious thought and effort into providing a good hobby machine, especially with their granite line of machines. Typically, the lathe aspect of the machine is very decent while the mill leaves something to be desired.

      Yep. My vote is for seperate machines if you can make it work. If you can't ... well then a Smithy Granite would be a fair alternative. Just my $0.02

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      • #4
        Not to spam for another site or anything--but the Chaski forum has a sub-forum just for the 3-in-1 machines, you might ask there also if you have not already.

        ----

        First off, I've never owned or used a 3-in-1, never was a pro machinist and only got my small machines a year or so ago. I have Chinese bench-top machines myself, so I'm not critical of that choice at all.

        One thing I have heard about the 3-in-1's is that the work envelope is smaller than you think. Most other mill-table accessories will not be usable, even small ones intended for bench-top mills. Things like spin indexers, rotary tables/dividing plates, tilting tables, tooling plates, ect. Smithy does sell 6-inch rotary tables and tailstocks, but I'd bet they are for the regular mills, not the 3-in-1's at all.

        Another matter I notice (watching the Smithy Granite videos) is that the mill head has a square baffle around it, but still appears to be a round-column mount because they show it rotated on the Z axis at left/right angles. The square-column mills are generally preferred as they don't lose the x-y location when you raise or lower the head, like the round-column setups usually do.

        Another drawback is that the Granite's specs say the head's Z-axis is only about 4.5 inches. The quill extends another ~4.5 inches, but you never want to side-mill with the quill extended as the whole mill loses a lot of stiffness that way.

        If you KNEW that you would only ever want parts not much bigger than the vise jaws, it could work out well. Otherwise you may run up against the workspace limits pretty quick.

        Also We Note: years ago, all Smithy sold was the 3-in-1's, but now even they offer separate mills and lathes.

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        • #5
          Granite 3 in 1

          I have a Smithy. Would I rather have a Southbend and a Bridgeport? Yes, but I don't have the room. I am not a machinist, just a mechanic that found out its nice to be able to fabricate small items myself. The Smithy will work, just take your time and know its not near as efficient as dedicated machines. It may not be a Bridgeport or a Southbend but I am still having fun making chips . Jan

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          • #6
            i believe the milling head locks to the (round) column by a single bolt/grub screw. the z-axis is the quill, as the milling head is locked to the column. there will be absolutely no stability when milling in the y-direction, the head will tend to swing around the column. you wont be able to use a larger cutter than 6 mm, even with very light cuts.

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            • #7
              The 3-in-1 machines have been flogged to death in previous postings. The search feature of this forum isn't all that great, but some time spent searching ought to turn up a bunch of opinions and information for you.

              That being said, my summary of the opinions is:

              1. Somebody, somewhere, has built a prize-winning operational model something-or-other with one.

              2. I would quickly go insane if I had to go and try to do the same thing and cope with all the limitations imposed by the 3-in-1 design.

              3. If you can possibly get separate machines you'll be a lot happier.
              ----------
              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

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              • #8
                Better than no machine, if limited by space, sure it will work. The machinist not the machine. Having said that limitations of construction, lack of ability to go from lathe to mill to x as easy as 2 machines ( even as hobby, time is important to me), tooling limitations etc are a dealbreaker for me. Do your research and try one if u can. These things are heavy!
                "Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment" R.M.Brown

                My shop tour www.plastikosmd.com

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                • #9
                  I have a 3-in-1 mostly due to lack of space. Some day whey I have more space, I will upgrade.

                  It works for what I need it to, but it is time consuming to tear down the lathe, set up for milling or drilling, zero everything in, then pack everything back up and zero in on the lathe again. The lathe swing is larger than you'd find on similarly weighted machines, but the capacity is still the same. The mill capacity is much less than something similarly weighted, but as long as work physically fits it just takes more time to get things done.

                  It is also harder on a limited budget than the lathe only option. Eating the elephant is an internal debate on a 4-jaw vs collet holders or a QCTP vs a rotary table and so on. The upside is that I am buying tooling that I intend to carry 90% of it forward to the next machine, the downside is that I always need 3-4 more tools and not just another 1 or 2.

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                  • #10
                    I got bashed by everyone for telling a member to save up for a better machine,but it was the truth. His Smithy even used 1/2 of a split nut to poorly engage the lead screw.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dian
                      i believe the milling head locks to the (round) column by a single bolt/grub screw. the z-axis is the quill, as the milling head is locked to the column. there will be absolutely no stability when milling in the y-direction, the head will tend to swing around the column. you wont be able to use a larger cutter than 6 mm, even with very light cuts.
                      Dian; Maybe you're thinking of another Smithy model but none of the above is true with a Smithy Granite. I frequently use up to 1" (25.4mm) end mills with moderate cuts just fine.

                      Joe: If you are space limited the Smithy Granite is a capable machine. I bought a used 1340 about 6-7 years ago and use it frequently. The mill is nothing special, but probably doesn't have any more limitations than an equivalent size stand alone round column mill. The lathe is much better and more capable. Continuous variable speed and X and Y power feeds are useful features you will pay a lot for in stand alone machines. Frankly the Smithy Granite lathe will probably always suit my needs. I now have more space available than when I bought the Granite and will likely add a stand alone dovetail square column mill in the future.

                      You have to plan your projects carefully to minimize switching back and forth between lathe a mill setups any more than needed - this is a real time killer although in the end you get the job done.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dian
                        i believe the milling head locks to the (round) column by a single bolt/grub screw. the z-axis is the quill, as the milling head is locked to the column. there will be absolutely no stability when milling in the y-direction, the head will tend to swing around the column. you wont be able to use a larger cutter than 6 mm, even with very light cuts.
                        This is not the case at all. I machine custom scope parts and have used the mill with my boring head to mill out 1.3" diameter lightening holes. I have since purchased a RF-45 class mill because of the one problem with the 3-in-ones....changeover.
                        I have the Granite 1324 that I changed over from teh 1.5hp DC motor to the 2HP brushless.

                        The lathe portion is really quite good, especially with the 2hp brushless motor. I've turned the rotors from our minivans many times using this machine. The mill isn't bad, but not near as stiff as a dedicated mill. I got this machine because of space limitations. I got rid of a table saw to make room for the square column mill.

                        Customer support has been excellent from Smithy as well.
                        Here is a pic of what I machine. These are 6" diameter sidewheel focus ring for competition scopes that I machined using both the lathe and mill portion of the Granite.
                        Eric Sanders in Brighton, Michigan
                        www.scope-werks.com
                        www.compufoil.com

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                        • #13
                          well, must be an "improoved design" then. but you still dont have z-axis travell, right?

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                          • #14
                            smithey mill lathe combo

                            Hi, Thanks everyone for all the helpful and interesting replies My maching experience is very limited I farm But took an evening course at the ACC college as I love fabricating and working with metal in my shop.I think I agree now for a farm shop I would be better with a stronger lathe even a used one would maybe be better?Thanks, again for the friendly advice Joe,

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                            • #15
                              smithy lathe mill combo

                              Hi. Again I forgot before to ask if the smithy being Belt driven is better or worse than gear drive ? make any differance? Also can they take an 8" chuck? seems like they change from lathe to mill with the turn of a switch does that work o-k? I wondered if it would be rugged enough to last? Thanks again Joe

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