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  • newbie mill question.

    I realize this question has been hashed about before ad infinitum - and I've read a lot of posts on the subject. I still have a question anyway. Realizing that a BP or the holy grail of the light gunsmith mills an 8520 or 8530 is the best option. I would like something to get by with until finances/skills/and a lot of good luck come this way. So - pros/cons of the lighter Grizzly mill/drills vs a Palmgren milling attachment for a 12 x 36 (4003G).

    I'm a complete newb on machining, ultimate goal is limited gunsmith work - accurizing rifles, making misc small parts, etc. I don't need to be able to mill out a block of CI and make a homemade chevy 350, but I'd like to be able to machine ejector slots, small parts for reloaders, pin slots in firing pins, tools, etc.

    I'm in MT, not exactly used knee-mill country. One may turn up someday - but I'd like to have some milling capacity rather than none. Have to start somewhere.

  • #2
    Buy the most rigid thing you can find. In rank of desirability.
    From least to most. There are exceptions. A V10 with the FB-2 attachment is a 3in1 but its a treasure.
    3in1 machines
    Most Round Column Mill Drills
    Dovetailed bed mills RF-45 type and 8x26 machines.
    Real industrial behemoths.

    Given that there has been some amazing work done by people with 3in1's
    I have owned or worked with all of the above except the real industrial stuff.

    Don't overlook things like the Taig for smaller stuff.
    Its like a religious debate on what to buy. You have to start somewhere.
    Good luck.


    • #3
      +2 on everything Dave said.

      I took a look at your location and recommend you cast a wider net. I have traveled 500+ miles each way to pick up a machine tool even though I'm not exactly in MT desert. Part of the Manhattan Project was located in the NW corner of Washington, not too far from you. So you might find something in or around Richland or Hanford WA.

      If that does not pan out try the Seattle/Tacoma WA area. With the port facilities there just has to be some machine shops in the area.

      Good hunting.


      • #4
        Thanks guys - I figure on watching Spokane / Seattle area Boeing used to have some good surplus sales back in the day. I'm not sure I'd know a deal from a boat anchor at this point though. I'd hate to drive 500 miles to Seattle and find a wreck! I watch the Plaza site some but I'm about half afraid I'll find a gotta have before I'm really ready for it!



        • #5
          I'd be careful with the palmgren milling vise for your lathe. I have one and it's not that great. Someone who is skilled and dedicated might be able to make it work, but I don't think it's worth the trouble and potential damage to the lathe. When I was trying to learn how to use mine, it got snatched off the tool post and slammed down on the bed ways more than once. Fortunately, being the coward I am, I had put a 3/4" thick piece of plywood on the ways to protect them, so no damage there.

          Try to find a mill.


          • #6
            I always figured looking over the years at ebay USA there was a relatively healthy market in good used stuff, so keep looking.You will find something if you take your time and not be hasty.I wish you well and strongly advise checking something under power before parting with cash ,unless you buy from a dealer with warranty. Have fun Alistair
            Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease


            • #7
              As much as I truely hate to admit to it, A Bridgeport is a pretty flexable mill under normal cutting conditions just due to it's overall design. But the reason they are so well regarded is just how universal the design is. Yes they will do about anything you'd want to do for gun smithing. Sadly I have to agree with our own member here John Stevenson about the Bridgeport design. Depending on what you goals are, There are other far more rigid mill types and brands around. That Bridgeport name carries a higher price tag just due to the brand name recognition. Your first need right now is educating yourself about mills in general. The more you know and understand, Then the better you can judge about just what you really want.

              I own a Palmgren lathe milling attachment, And they have their uses. I wouldn't recommend starting out with one. I also have a Bridgeport clone built in Taiwan. For where you are right now? I'd probably recommend a Grizzly smaller bench top type mill with the rear dovetailed coloum and think of it as a learning tool till you figure out what you really want and need. Buy a R-8 spindle taper and that will likely fit most anything you'll upgrade to in the future. Even buying a larger mill later without a R-8 taper? Then adapters from whatever spindle taper it is to R-8 are or should be avalible.

              There's some used European mills around that aren't all that comman, But if their in good decent shape? They can easily out perform a Bridgeport and most times will sell for less money.

              Apologys to all the Bridgeport fans here, But what I said is true.



              • #8
                uncle pete, you're really not far off the mark on BP's. They have both their good & bad points.

                Regarding European machine tools, if they are available in the area they are most certainly a better buy than any Asian brands. Emco-Maier, Lagun, and Denford all are excellent European MT and are certainly not the only ones. Of course anything made by Deckel or Arboga are top shelf.


                • #9
                  Dr Stan,
                  I very much appreciate the back up, But, LOL, You might want to seperate yourself from that gathering crowd of Bridgeport fans with the white hot pitch forks that are just starting to assemble.

                  We may as well turn John into a true machine tool whore. So try and check out the vast variety of mills, Both American and European that are on that site. That should give you some brands and information about Bridgeports and others.



                  • #10
                    Originally posted by uncle pete
                    Dr Stan,
                    I very much appreciate the back up, But, LOL, You might want to seperate yourself from that gathering crowd of Bridgeport fans with the white hot pitch forks that are just starting to assemble.
                    Well while I was working as a machinist and a toolmaker I ran a number of different turret mills. BP of course is the grandfather of them, and is better than some. However the best one I ever ran was a Lagun, made in Spain. Solid, smooth, and had some nice features missing on the BP.


                    • #11
                      If I'm remembering correctly, the Palmgren milling attachment mounts on the lathe compound in place of the toolpost. IMO that is a truly TERRIBLE design. Its flexibility and non-rigidity will amaze you. If you must go the milling attachment route, get one that mounts directly on the cross slide in place of the compound. It will still be non-rigid but at least you have a fighting chance of doing something useful with it.

                      An old gent who would have known (he started his career as a patternmaker) told me that the Bridgeport was originally intended for use by patternmakers shaping wood patterns, for which it would have been more than rigid enough.
                      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


                      • #12
                        SGW - thats what I'm seeing as well. I was studying the compound on the G4003 lathe - looks a little light for a heavy milling attachment like a palmgren.

                        I will just try to be patient.

                        I probably need to focus on learning the lathe before I expand too much!


                        • #13
                          Bolting a flat 1/2" thick plate to the bottom of the Palmgrens base using counter sunk screws and then bolting that down to the cross slide if possible will fix that problem. It's still a very light duty milling setup though. More than one person has broken the cross slide dovetail apart using these when they got a bit too greedy with the depth of cut and feeds.



                          • #14

                            Parts availability is an issue to attend to.


                            • #15
                              Skip the lathe milling attachment. If you find one for $25 at a fgarage sale, buy it just in case.

                              For mills in the $1000 range:

                              A X2 minimil variant will do 95% of what a gunsmith needs to do. But they do need to be tuned and aligned first. If you don't want to mess with that, skip it.
                              The large table variant from LMS may be better, but don't count on it.

                              Round-column import benchtop - they have their issues with the round column as has been beat to death. Still, I see them in the back of quite a few gunsmith shops, some having been in use for decades. Holding zero while you make large head elevation changes isn't often a fator in gun work.

                              The X3 is a large, square-column benchmount from grizzly and others. current modeals are probably no longer X3s, but they all have them. Very capable machines, lots of CNC upgrade kits etc. Could be all you ever need.

                              for a little more you can get the 6x26 benchtop knee mill, sort of a Clausing 8520 clone.

                              I'd consider buying an import with R8 spindle, probably the X3 or 6x26 variety. Use it and learn on it, still keeping an eye out for a clean BP, Rockwell or Millrite. I'd also consider one of the Asian BP clones, particularly those made in Taiwan. if you find the right deal, you can get 90% of your money out of the first mill. that's not counting the money it will have already made for you.

                              Good luck