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  • Mill/drill or full on mill?

    Been looking through the various catalogs on the difrferent types of mills. I have no pervious experience in the operation of these machines. Should I go fo a mill/drill combo or would it would be better if I purchased mill?. Any comments and/or suggestions are greatly apperciated. Frank

  • #2
    What will you be doing with it, and how much are you willing to spend?
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

    Comment


    • #3
      Machines geared toward the home shop - typically smaller, lighter (NOT a good thing), fewer options, lower quality, and IMHO all this leads to a tool that is more difficult to use. These machines also tend to be equal if not higher in initial price yet significantly lower (in some areas non-existant) in resale value. Parts and warranties do exist, but neither of these should be necessary IMHO except in extreme situations. Also likely to get you teased or frowned upon by older generations and/or die-hard "domestic buyers."

      "Retired" professional machines if found in decent shape at an average price - equal or lower initial cost, hold or increase value, high quality, heavy (possibly painful to move, but super rigid = nice finish), more options (simplify operations), and definitely have a "cool" factor.

      Buy bigger than you need. Its simple to do small work on a big machine, not so much the reverse.

      Im starting the popcorn now. Let the games/flaming begin...
      "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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      • #4
        I vote Full on Mill. If your willing to do some looking there are older, still tight machines cheaper than new mill/drill imports & usually come will tooling which can add up when buying new. I just got lucky on 2. One Bridgeport that's tight & single phase 120V & one Roundtower 3HP w/DRO,vari-drive that needs the motor repaired. This one is very large & HD, also tight, both with tooling that would cost more than I have in the pair. It all depends on what you want & how much you enjoy treasure hunting. If you want an Enco round column I have one cheap.
        "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
        world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
        country, in easy stages."
        ~ James Madison

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        • #5
          Hi,

          Full sized mills are nice, but......... There is a lot of it depends involved with your choices.

          Like total money budgeted for purchase. Bigger machines have different values and availability depending on just where you may live. What some here would consider a good price for a machine may not even get you a door stop in your area. So learn your local market.

          Available facilities can matter. If you don't have the room, it won't fit no matter what. electrical service matters. Larger machines generally require 3 phase service that mostly isn't available to residential users. So extra items like phase converters or VFD's must be bought at added expense. Wiring may need to be updated or added.

          Larger machines also tend to require larger tooling which costs more.

          And finally, bigger is not always better. It is possible to do some small work on large machines if you need to. But a steady diet of that plain bites.If all you to do is work with 1/8" or 1/4" sized tools on small pieces of aluminum, large machines quickly become a pain to operate. And also, unused capacity is a waste of money and space. The best size machine is the one that is just right for what you want to do.

          dalee
          If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

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          • #6
            I managed to get a deal on a Grizzly mill/drill, so I bought it- first mill for my home machine shop, but I have YEARS of experience on standard sized Bridgeports. In my opinion, the full size mill is a much more capable/ versatile machine. I have been getting by and done some stuff on the mill/ drill that would have been better suited to a full size mill, but as its all I have it will have to do for now.

            Eventually I will get a used Bridgeport, or clone. I will not sell the mill/ drill, it is a handy machine, especially as a second mill. So my advice is to get full size if you can, but in the grand scheme of things, a mill/ drill is better than no mill at all! Around here you can find a used full sized with some equipment for about the same price as a new mill/ drill.

            Kind of like the first rule in a gunfight- have a gun! Doesn't matter what kind of gun, revolver, auto, short gun, long gun, big bore, small caliber- any is better than none at all!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by toolmaker76
              in the grand scheme of things, a mill/ drill is better than no mill at all!
              that sums it up well. if can afford, can easily find a full or even mid sized knee mill, it will likely be a stouter machine than a mill/drill, but if you hold off on purchasing to wait for the end all of deals, or for just the right machine to come up used, it may be a while before you can do anything but read posts on here.

              a year ago i went through the same thing. i ended up finding a used rf-30 with a box of 60+ end mills, chuck, and face mill for $550. the availability of any sort of mill around here is very thin, so it was a case of take what you can get that fits the budget. i still keep looking for a good deal o a full sized machine locally now that i have the mill/drill, just because you can do more with them, but with a little creativity and a few more cuts the rf-30 has done fine for me so far. i will say i'm an untrained hack, but it's been a great and fun learning tool, any my garage has been covered in metal shavings for the last year.

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              • #8
                I have noticed those mill-drills have really increased in price the past year or so.
                In my area the resale of a mill-drill is pretty poor,but a used regular mill is excellent.

                Comment


                • #9
                  @lost_cause

                  Assuming you live in southern Maine, Brothers Machinery in North Andover, MA, is a fairly reasonable drive and they generally have a decent selection of used milling machines. They are visible from 495, right off the exit. If you live in Fort Kent, it's not such a reasonable drive, but there are always motels.
                  ----------
                  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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                  • #10
                    If space and budget allows it go with a full size mill. As has already been said the ease of use, capacity, and precision will be much better than a mill/drill machine.

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                    • #11
                      Frank, I got a round column mill drill a few years ago. Would I rather have a bridgeport? Sure I would and I am looking for the right one. Meanwhile, my mill drill has served me very well. Since the mill drill has an R-8 spindle, all of the tooling I've bought for it will fit any vertical knee mill that I might buy.

                      Tim

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                      • #12
                        I bought a used mill drill CHEAP and I have used it but it has many limitations. My goal down the road is for a full sized verticle mill to compliment my Sheldon Model O. I think you could use both if you can get cheap enough.


                        Bryan

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SGW
                          @lost_cause

                          Assuming you live in southern Maine, Brothers Machinery in North Andover, MA, is a fairly reasonable drive and they generally have a decent selection of used milling machines. They are visible from 495, right off the exit. If you live in Fort Kent, it's not such a reasonable drive, but there are always motels.
                          thanks for the info. i'm in the midcoast/central area, so it's a ways, but no more than a day trip down & back. maybe i will see if i can get down there sometime in the near future just to check them out, even if i'm not in the market for anything. i actually drove to merrimack, nh to pick up the rf-30 i have now, so it's probably not much of a difference. i generally don't venture south of brunswick unless it's really important, but if i know of a good excuse i may make an exception. i constantly watch craigslist, but the offers in this state are few & far between, even compared to just new hampshire.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Frank46
                            Been looking through the various catalogs on the different types of mills. I have no pervious experience in the operation of these machines. Should I go fo a mill/drill combo or would it would be better if I purchased mill?. Any comments and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Frank

                            So much depends on what you will be doing with it. If you have the budget and space, a compromise is to buy one of the mini-mills as a starter system. They are small enough to ship at a reasonable cost. They are sturdy enough to do some practical work, although the work envelope is not real big. If you get the one with an R-8 spindle then you will be able to use the same tooling with a bigger mill. The mini mill can be sold on the internet and shipped away if you decide you don't want it.

                            The main thing is that the basic concepts while you are learning are exactly the same whether you are using a micro mill ( ~18 inches high) or a full sized mill. I still have my micro mill and I find it is a good supplement to the mid sized knee mill. You will have to compensate due to work envelope, HP, etc but that is true of every machine.

                            Dan
                            At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

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                            • #15
                              From a relative beginner:

                              If I had the space, I would have a separate drill press and a full mill.

                              Given my space limitations, I have a moderately sized, square column mill/drill and like it as a reasonable compromise. A separate drill press and full mill would mean more rigidity and less setup changes.
                              Hemi-proprietor,
                              Esoteric Garage

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