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Getting ready for new mill

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  • Getting ready for new mill

    I placed the order for the new mill (Sieg X3). Today, I started making room for it. Not sure how long before I see it but figure that when it arrives, I will want to get it into place. I know I have to disassemble and clean and inspect it, but then it needs a stand.....:

    So, not being able to find specs on stands for that size of machine, what size would any of you with experience with it suggest? I found, on the grizzly sight for the G0463 (same mill), the "footprint" size of the mill is "16 inches x 13 inches". How much bigger do I need? What height for the average user?

    What about a coolant system? Is coolant used regularly on these small mills? The specs say the table has a coolant trough. Does this catch all or most of the coolant? Will I be connecting a drain tube to this trough and running it into a reservoir? Most of the stands look like they have a drip tray as the top of the stand. How would you do this? I don't have a brake that would bend a lip onto heavy enough material ( I would guess 16 gauge for the tray?), although I may have access to one...or I could practice my gas welding....that would be good too and weld a lip.... or what is normally done?

    I installed a coolant system on my bandsaw and it works great. If coolant is a necessity (dumb question I think but I have very very little experience with mills ), where do you store, or mount the reservoir/pump container? Anyone have any photos of how they deal with the coolant and reservoir on similar mills? I have seen magnetic holders for the coolant tube and fixed mounts....for a mill this size, preference?

    As for the stand, I have some 2x3x3/16 rectangular tube or some 2x2x1/8" tube I think will be sufficient for the legs. I see that some stands have a lip around the bottom but I would think this would make it hard to level the stand (although my floor is not bad) Also, some guys have mentioned being able to move their units around but I would think it would be very top heavy so am considering bolting it down to the floor....a must or a preference or not necessary?

    Kind of rambling but pretty wound up over it.

    After posting this, I found these sites that have some info, but not much on the coolant set up,

    Last edited by ShawnR; 03-25-2013, 01:05 AM. Reason: added website addresses

  • #2
    I don't have my mill yet either, but they say that your lathe's cross-slide handle should be at a height such that your forearm is level and your elbow is at a square when standing and using it. I would assume the X axis on a mill should be at a similar height?

    I actually prefer my lathe a bit taller though, since it's a mini-lathe and taller brings the work closer to my eyes for measuring. You might run into a similar situation with a mini-mill. But, I would err on the low side, because it's a lot easier to bring a machine tool up (on blocks or something) than it is to lower it.

    Oh, and as for size. The mill requires a wider footprint than just the outside dimensions, because the table hangs way over to the left and right when you crank X to the limits. So I would say outside width plus the amount of table travel, plus a little more room to get your hand on the X wheel.


    • #3
      I have been spending a lot of time online (too much...yawn) and have found some info. The stands that some guys have are 30 to 32" high. I am 5'8" so neither tall nor short (OK, a little short ;-) ) so I think I will go with that range.

      As for the top, I am concerned with how well the table collects the coolant. I know with the bandsaw, it follows the blade around and off the backside so a catch basin around the entire machine may be in order, but seems extreme. A wider table, however, gives me a spot to place tools, etc.

      Where are you getting yours from? Mine is from littlemachineshop and am thinking I should order up one of their starter tool package which has the collets and clamps set a vice, etc but wondering about quality. I can cheap out sometimes but think that the collets may not be a place to do that....? Are you going with collets or end mill holders? I think a vice would be a great project but I might need one to make it...the old chicken/egg thing.

      I also read somewhere about the power feed options and turning the dial while cleaning up a longer edge (I picture a lot of this) can get old quickly, so am looking into that. I have an electronics background so would like to be able to adapt something and combine the two hobbies. I also think I need to learn how to use the machine first before going gucci so am not in too much of a hurry for the bells and whistles.

      See, I have been reading. ,,Cheers,
      Last edited by ShawnR; 03-25-2013, 11:37 AM.


      • #4
        Dunno much about coolant, I don't plan to use a coolant system on mine -- just squirt a little oil manually here and there.

        My X2 mill is coming from Harbor Freight. I know that instead of the drive belt, it has the gears that like to break, but I plan to run them as long as I can and not worry about upgrading unless/until it breaks.

        I'm going to use collets for now because they're cheap and because they can swallow most of the endmill shank for maximum "daylight" between the spindle and the table (important on little mills like the X2). However, I've heard many reports of endmills pulling down out of the collet and ruining work / breaking cutters. Maybe not so much when new, but collets do wear and eventually lose grip and concentricity, so I plan to make some of my own Weldon (setscrew type) endmill holders on my lathe at some point.

        I already have an inexpensive Toolmakers vise, but like you, I have the chicken and the egg problem because I have no way to hold it down onto the mill table. So, I will be making some round T-nuts on my lathe to hold my vise down so I can then make the other mill tooling I need.

        It's cool to make your own shop tools, however it's best to cherry pick your shop projects because some tooling can be purchased so inexpensively (the same price as the raw stock in some cases) that it just doesn't make sense to make it yourself unless that's how you want to spend your time. But there are still a lot of things you can save money on and get a higher quality by making your own... just have to pick your battles.


        • #5
          I caved. I ordered the basic tool kit. I don't expect too much in quality as you get what you pay for but better to trash some tools now as I learn than some quality stuff. I can just upgrade what I use most then. I already had the clamping kit on order so it was not much of an upgrade to have all of the others.

          They had not shipped it yet but had it almost ready...


          • #6
            I,m guessing that starter kit is the way to go, and used within their limits will be just fine.


            • #7
              That is a good starter kit. You still need a drill chuck with a straight or R8 shank and a set of drill bits.


              • #8
                good for you, nothing like waiting for a new machine, like a 6 year old before Christmas.

                I would not worry about flood on a small machine. just pick up an atomizer and use water soluble oil. a gallon diluted 40:1 or whatever they recommend will last ages. Don't get me wrong, I love flood coolant. it is a requirement imo on grinders and I have it on my mills....buts it not the first thing you need to worry about and is of less value on smaller machines. squirt away with the atomizer


                • #9
                  OK, thanks. I pictured this flooding situation like I see on youtube videos. I am probably looking at cnc operations. I was able to use a milling machine in the last class (evening course - intro to machining course) I squared up the mouinting plate for a ball turner for the lathe. I learned right away the benefits of x axis power feed! So, one of my first mods will be to look at mounting a power feed on the x axis. I think the edge finish will be much nicer.....?

                  The mill has shipped! I should see it next week. California to the Minnesota North border..

                  I have a couple of more questions....

                  I have read on scraping, tramming, etc.

                  My plan is to (please interject here)

                  1 clean the mill of preservatives, etc. Disassemble and clean/lube everything. I did not do this with the lathe as I pictured a precision piece of equipment and had no experience with it. Now, I have done it and see that it should be no great big deal.

                  2 check gibs for burrs, flatness, etc. Not sure about this. Slide gently over file to ensure burrs are gone but I don't want to cause problems..?

                  3 after reassembly, tram the table. If I understand this correctly, it is mounting the indicator with a bar such that I can swing it over the range of the table, checking for vertical alignment? There is lots of info on it but is that it in a nutshell?

                  Somewhere in there, should I be looking hard at scraping? Will "tramming" show me where scraping needs to be done on the table or is scraping more for sliding surfaces? I don't have a surface plate or even a straight edge so how does one check the table for flatness? I found a 24" straight edge on Enco for $125ish...more than I thought. Can I make a suitable tool while I have access to the shop, ie if I clamp a 20" piece of say 1/8" material and mill it to a nice edge, will this suffice to get me going or is that ridiculous? If it was that simple, then I would think that they would not cost that much....

                  After that, not sure.....some guys have mentioned days to prepare the mill. Obviously, from my questions, I will not be working to crazy tight tolerances but at the same time, if I start with a machine better set up, I would expect my results to be better. As with the lathe, I got to make things round first, then, am now looking at it with a new perspective. :-)

                  Any other points that I should be addressing before making chips? I told my instructor after making some passes with the machine in the class that my machine is already too small!! I used a 6" cutter to flatten my material in one pass! cool!
                  Last edited by ShawnR; 03-28-2013, 09:43 AM. Reason: added more questions


                  • #10
                    #2 -- on my lathe at least, the dog point screws and the dimples they push against were crap. The dimples need to be deeper, I'm going to use a 1/8" endmill since a drill doesn't like starting on a slanted surface and I want a flat-bottomed hole. Then, the allen sockets in the setscrews are tiny and since they're made out of crap metal, they strip easily. Replacing them with an M4 socket head cap screw lets you use a larger allen wrench that's less likely to strip. You'll have to dog-point them yourself on the lathe, though.

                    #3 Before you tram the head, you'll want to align the spindle with the column via Rollie's Dad's Method. Once the spindle is aligned with the column, then you can tram the head to the table.

                    If your machine is out of spindle alignment or tram, those are corrected with adjustments to fasteners. Scraping is for correcting heavily worn or damaged slideways that result in an axis moving in a non-straight fashion.

                    I consider scraping an advanced procedure. You'll get other opinions of course, but IMHO scraping a cheap Chinese machine is not worth the effort. It's already reasonably good and even with scraping these aren't .0001" tolerance machines so I see no benefit. If my machine is making bad parts, I'd probably rather replace slideways with new parts than scrape what's already there. I know scraping may be romantic, but like a woodworking hand plane, most people have moved on to modern replacements.

                    That said, I did purchase an inexpensive granite surface plate (like $20, far less than a straight edge) and some prussian blue ("Hi-Spot" made by Dykem). I'm going to spot my slideways and gibs to see if there are any glaring problems but I'll just be taking off the worst of the high spots with a file or sandpaper adhered to the mating surface. I'll be leaving most of the existing roughness for oil retention and because beyond that, my unskilled hands are more likely to reduce precision, not increase it.

                    Making a straightedge with your mill will result in an edge that's only as straight as your mill's slideways, which aren't perfectly straight. Oh, it'll be "amazingly straight" -- to a woodworker. Not straight enough to do precision machining-related tasks like correcting slideways though. You especially can't mill a straightedge to check the ways of the machine you used to make it, because they'll both be unflat the same amount so they'll seem flat to each other when they're not.

                    No, all I'm going to do to my mill when it gets here is disassemble, clean, lube, plunge mill the gib setscrew dimples deeper and make new gib screws, check the gibs for twist, align the spindle to the column, and tram the head. Since mine is an X2 I'll also be reinforcing the weak column-to-bed connection, dunno if your X3 needs the same band-aid.
                    Last edited by tylernt; 03-28-2013, 11:35 AM.


                    • #11
                      OK, I will relax a little....;-)

                      For the straight edge, I was going to use one of the machines at the school before my course wraps of their mills and they have a grinder and a few granite blocks too so I could take advantage of the equipment while I am there. I only have 4 classes left though.

                      Perhaps when I see the mill, it will make sense but I am wondering about the "column to bed connection"...? Can you take some photos when you get your mill, then show me what you will do to fix it? How do you know it is poor, forum chatter or have you seen/used an X2? I have not even seen an X3....I made the decision on reviews and forums chatter, and of course, it has a cost factor I can justify for now till I find out how much and what I want to do with it.

                      When do you get yours? It should be soon, no?


                      • #12
                        Basically, in it's stock form, the column is attached to a flexible piece, and this flexible piece is then bolted to the bed. This joint forms a cantilever, which if you know much about engineering, is probably the weakest of all structures. Worse, there's a thin cross-section Belleville washer under the nut holding the column to the flexible piece, which introduces yet more flex. The column is able to tilt back away from the bed (in the Y axis), for example when drilling a large diameter hole. This Y-tilt causes inaccuracies and chatter.

                        Google the term "X2 column" and you can see examples of people stiffening and reinforcing the joint. Basically you delete the thin washer, bolt a chunk of thick steel on the back of the column, and bolt that directly to the bed. Now that flexible cantilever piece isn't able to flex anymore. This is such a common fix that the LittleMachineShop version of the X2 has a redesigned solid joint that fixes all these problems from the get-go.

                        I'm not optimistic about my X2.... ordered it 2 weeks ago, website says it's backordered, my email to Harbor Freight is as of yet unanswered. Must be on it's way on the slow boat from China...


                        • #13
                          Shawn, scraping is a technique to achieve the highest quality of the bearing surfaces - the surfaces that slide across one another as you crank the hand wheels. The basic idea is machine performance is improved if each surface is perfectly flat, aligned and a perfect fit to its mating surface. These are conditions that are not present when there's wear and not present (to the extent you'd like them to be) on lower cost machines. The bearing fits on the x/y mini mill I scraped where simply astounding.

                          That's what scraping is. I wrote a series in Home shop machinists going from beginner level to scraping the x/y system of mini mill if you're interested in learning more.

                          While I've done a lot of it and think its an extremely valuable technique letting one create world class accuracy with simple tools, the last thing I'd tell a rank beginner to do is to scrape his brand new machine. Use it for awhile, learn, read up on scraping and figure out if you want to go to that extent. Scraping also involves making and acquiring tools so you'd like to get ready with the machine running so have it to make parts and pieces.

                          imo scraping one of these machines gives you a chance (in so far as the motions are concerned) of turning it into a machine akin to the best ever made.....but even on a small mill its a big project. You should prepare for it and have a bit of experience going into it. I find when I'm ready to scraping something I don't have to ask how because I've spent so much time thinking and planning the sequence and how i'm going to come at it that its almost intuitive by then. Do the same, use the machine, learn about scraping and it will be clearer what it is you want to do.

                          for kicks, here's a pick of the mini mill i scraped. might be an x2, don't really know, I bought the castings to demonstrate the scraping. I disagree with there being no value in this treatment. If the spindle and feed screws are suitable quality or upgraded, this little x/y table is as fine and precise as the best bench top instrument mills ever made. Its still going to light duty of course, but this process ploughs the highest standards of accuracy into it that the factory didn't

                          Last edited by Mcgyver; 03-28-2013, 01:44 PM.


                          • #14
                            I received the mill a couple of weeks ago but due to other projects, and time to build a bench, have not done a thing with it...:-(.

                            I have the bench now and the mill on it and will get to the drawers soon.



                            • #15
                              In case you have not started your dismantling job yet, here on the Arceurotrade site is a step-by-step description with lots of pics: