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  • Best mini mill?

    I realize this has probably been covered numerous times.

    I would like to get myself a mini mill, and I'm not sure what would be best. I did a little research a few years ago and found that most of the smaller mini mills that are available are all made by the same manufacturer, but with different names.

    I'm interested in the smallest mini mill made. This is about all I can afford. After a bunch of reading and trying to figure out what would be best I decided on this one:

    http://littlemachineshop.com/product...3900&category=

    It seems to be my best bet because of several things. The machine already has the belt drive head setup that replaces the noisy plastic gears that are prone to breaking, an R8 quill, and a bigger table with more travel in X and Y. I'd like to have a bigger stronger machine, but this one will work fine for small knife projects that I would use it for. The only downside to this machine is that they are in CA, and I am in AL. The freight costs alone are over $100. I would save a little money on shipping if I bought from harbor freight, but I don't want to buy an inferior machine. This particular one I linked has the features I want.

    I looked at harbor freight and I think grizzly sells the same little one, but they have 3T taper quills, and I don't want that at all. Then they have the plastic gear heads too.

    Anybody have the machine I linked to?

  • #2
    Only serious problem I see with it.. No gears (Well, Speeds really), Without a backgear you won't have enough torque to run flycutters, facemills, boring heads or even reasonabley sized drills.

    You MUST have enough torque (and downforce) to run a large drill or all you do is grind the steel slowly and dull the drill bit.

    Highly recommend getting a mini mill that at least has a 'low' speed. Basicly more or less with a variable speed drive, the torque you get at full rpm, is very similar to the torque you'll get at 100rpm. Ie: none.

    (Might get more torque at 100rpm, but not by much. few percent, And your motor will overheat MUCH quicker without a seperate fan)

    Gear drive multiplys torque by the ratio of low gear. ie if high gear is 2000rpm max and low gear is 500rpm max, thats 4x as much torque in low gear.

    Multiple pully belt drive options that let you adjust ratio that way work too, Although they tend to be limited in torque for very low RPM operation, on a minimill it should be fine. I don't see any mention of multiple belt speeds on that mill however.
    Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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    • #3
      The LMS would be my choice. Buy it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Black_Moons
        Only serious problem I see with it.. No gears (Well, Speeds really), Without a backgear you won't have enough torque to run flycutters, facemills, boring heads or even reasonabley sized drills.
        Seems that you haven't used that mill, as otherwise you would know very well that it really has torque in the high & low RPM's and the tools you mentioned are not a problem. The motor is not a regular brush DC motor, but a brushless DC version that really ups the torque curve over the RPM range.

        To OP: I would say go for the LMS.com version
        Amount of experience is in direct proportion to the value of broken equipment.

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        • #5
          Is this really the best option out there, or are there other machines I should consider?

          Are there any drawbacks / common problems withe these smaller mills?

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          • #6
            I went through this process last year and after all the research I bought the Grizzly G8689, which I'm pretty solidly happy with.

            THEN, about 2 weeks later, the LMS miller came out and I've been kicking myself ever since.
            ----
            Proud machining permanoob since September 2010

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            • #7
              30" table bridgeport. Takes up about the same space as a small mill on a desk or stand.

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              • #8
                Similar machines at Travers Tool? http://www.travers.com/subcat.asp?na...lling+Machines

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by macona
                  30" table bridgeport. Takes up about the same space as a small mill on a desk or stand.
                  I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by J S Machine
                    I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.
                    Three phase power is not a hurdle. All it takes is a rotary phase converter or a VFD. There's an entire sub-forum dedicated to them over at Practical Machinist. http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb...onverters-vfd/

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J S Machine
                      I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.
                      Not all BP's are three phase.

                      I have a Fray #7 that I've almost completed its rebuild. It also takes up about the same amount of space. http://www.lathes.co.uk/fray/

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by J S Machine
                        Is this really the best option out there, or are there other machines I should consider?
                        I'd suggest you look at the Grizzly G0704. Larger travels, more rigidity, not much more money.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by J S Machine
                          I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.
                          Havent seen many 3 phase bridgeports myself. You can get HUGE machines with just 240v 1 phase.

                          Check out https://www.machinetoolswarehouse.co...2&bestseller=Y
                          Or its smaller brother: https://www.machinetoolswarehouse.co...cat=309&page=1

                          Either is 10x the mill you where looking at.... at only a few times the price. A little noisy, but not bad as they have oil flooded gearboxes.

                          Don't go round collumn whatever you do.

                          And remember, you can do really fine, detailed work on a HUGE machine.
                          You can't do huge work on a small machine. (Said huge work might be as simple as drilling/taping 1 hole in a lawnmower motor, or other large, premade workpeice, So don't think you'll never want to do it)
                          Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by paulsv
                            I'd suggest you look at the Grizzly G0704. Larger travels, more rigidity, not much more money.

                            It's a real nice machine, so long as you don't need it for the next 6 months or so. The backorder on the BF20 type mills is crazy right now.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J S Machine
                              I'd love to have something like that, but I don't have three phase power.

                              there's legitimate reasons why a bport or similar won't work for someone, but if that's your only reason, well, you have no reason not to . There are lots of ways to solve it....and in doing so you open yourself up to a whole new world of powerful, low cost used machinery.

                              has there ever been a person who regretted getting a full sized mill over a mini? The advantage isn't so much work envelope (most of the time) but power and rigidity, things that are really hard to deliver without some mass.
                              .

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