I Need One!

daved20319

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The work envelope is tiny, you still have to supply a computer and learn to program it to produce the parts you want, and did I mention it's tiny? It also uses tiny cutters, think Dremel sized, and with the stresses involved, I'd be expecting a lot of tool breakage, especially while learning. Some of the other specs raise red flags, too, but that's getting pretty deep in the weeds. For the money, you can buy a much more capable machine, especially if you're willing to let go of the CNC end of it. I think the majority of hobby machinists would be much better served by a medium sized manual machine, big enough to hog off steel when needed, but small enough that you don't need a reinforced concrete floor to set it on. I made the mistake of buying too small a mill, before I knew what I needed, if I had it to do over, I'd get a machinist friend help choose a more capable machine that still fit my budget. And BTW, none of these machines are magic, there's a definite learning curve that requires some commitment, whether manual or CNC. Later.

Dave
 

The Heretic

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The work envelope is tiny, you still have to supply a computer and learn to program it to produce the parts you want, and did I mention it's tiny? It also uses tiny cutters, think Dremel sized, and with the stresses involved, I'd be expecting a lot of tool breakage, especially while learning. Some of the other specs raise red flags, too, but that's getting pretty deep in the weeds. For the money, you can buy a much more capable machine, especially if you're willing to let go of the CNC end of it. I think the majority of hobby machinists would be much better served by a medium sized manual machine, big enough to hog off steel when needed, but small enough that you don't need a reinforced concrete floor to set it on. I made the mistake of buying too small a mill, before I knew what I needed, if I had it to do over, I'd get a machinist friend help choose a more capable machine that still fit my budget. And BTW, none of these machines are magic, there's a definite learning curve that requires some commitment, whether manual or CNC. Later.

Dave
:s0155:

My neighbor is a machinist. I need to get his advice before he moves to Montana.

Not sure I want a CNC anything - I think a manual multi-axis milling machine and a decent lathe would be enough - maybe one of those combo mills/lathes. I am not into production and I am retired, so setup and work time are not a priority, flexibility is - I want to make custom parts and items.
 

AMT

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Not bad if you want to make all your stuff out of aluminum. Plus, I cannot find the accuracy rating(s).

Now, if it would hog out stainless steel with +/- 0.001 (or so ;) ) accuracy, I would hit the "buy now" button right now.
 

awshoot

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I have a Shapeoko CNC router -- the small one and pre-leadscrew Z axis. I've done some projects in aluminum with my belt driven Z and it works, you just have to go slow because it doesn't have the oomph a mill has. I'm tempted to replace it with the new version that has the leadscrew Z axis because that would definitely be more solid. But mine works and the next thing I want to do requires I buy a lathe.

Shapeoko also makes a mini-milling machine like the one up top -- the build volume on that is similar (8x8x3 for the Shapeoko -- 8x7x3.5 for the one linked above). Carbide 3D The Shapeoko version has been around for a while, costs less, and is of course, sold out.
 

daved20319

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:s0155:

My neighbor is a machinist. I need to get his advice before he moves to Montana.

Not sure I want a CNC anything - I think a manual multi-axis milling machine and a decent lathe would be enough - maybe one of those combo mills/lathes. I am not into production and I am retired, so setup and work time are not a priority, flexibility is - I want to make custom parts and items.
Meant to respond to this earlier. I'd shy away from the combo mill/lathe machines, too many compromises. They look good on paper, but the work envelope suffers from the lathe chuck getting in the way of the milling head and vice versa. Plus, it'll never fail, you'll be set up for lathe and need to do a milling project, or vice versa :rolleyes:. My lathe is a 12" x 24", that's plenty big enough for most gun smithing. The other thing to watch for is the size stock that will fit through the headstock, lots of the smaller machines max out at 3/4" or less, consider 1" a minimum for gun work, and bigger is better. Mine is a belt drive vs. gear drive, I actually consider that an advantage for the hobby/occasional machinist. When you screw up (and you will) a belt will slip where a gear will break, makes for a more forgiving machine and less costly repairs. Couple of other things worth having are a powered cross feed and separate lead screws for threading and turning. All that said, keep in mind it's coming from a self taught hobby "machinist", these are things that have proved important/advantageous to me, YMMV. Later.

Dave
 

oldcorpgunny

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I have a small Harbor Freight lathe. I understand it's limitations and my own. It's been fine for everything that I've wanted to do. I'm giving some thought to buying a small milling machine. I take the really big projects to a machine shop and simply pay to have it done.
 

Grizzly_A

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Not sure I want a CNC anything - I think a manual multi-axis milling machine and a decent lathe would be enough - maybe one of those combo mills/lathes. I am not into production and I am retired, so setup and work time are not a priority, flexibility is - I want to make custom parts and items.
I had a combo mill/drill lathe combo. Everything they tell you is true about limitations and I sold it.

If you don't start with the basics, a fancy CNC is gonna cost you a LOT of $$ and frustration. There's something to be said for the "touch" factor on a manual machine. (my reference point is knee mills with 36-52" tables and 36" lathes, not the manual desktop mill/drill or 7" lathes.) I can break a tool in a manual machine just as easily in a CNC, except that prior to the manual machine tool breaking there's usually a different "feel" where the tooling tells you...."are you sure you want to be doing this" as you proceed. The CNC you just watch and hear it happen.

I would love to have a Tormach, but I wouldn't use it enough to justify the price. Oh to find a nice Monarch 10EE...and the space to put it.
 

oldcorpgunny

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I had an interesting conversation with the folks at Harbor Freight. I shop at the Mason St. Store in North P{Portland. I dropped by to use a coupon that I had for their mini-mill. Well, it seems that they don't sell them in the stores anymore and if I wanted one, I'd have to buy it online. So I asked if they could simply have one sent to the store (I hate paying Washington state sales tax) and again, I was told, no. They don't stock them (or associated tooling) nor can they order them. The stores are completely cut out of the process. A store manager seems to think that Harbor Freight is going to go all online with everything and close their stores. That would be too bad.
At any rate, I called customer support and asked if I could use my expired coupon and after a bit more conversation, she agreed that it would be OK. So, the mill is normally $700 and I got it for $500 plus shipping and tax witch brought it to $565.00. Then I ordered a set of cutters from Ebay and a set of R-8 collets. The total there was just under $100. I think that this is going to be fun. These small machines do well with aluminum, wood and even mild steel, if you're careful.
 

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