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Combined Lathe & Mill

Is a combined lathe and mill a reasonable alternative if space is an issue?

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Paul Phillips 220/11/2017 19:10:51
4 forum posts

Hi,

I am considering purchasing a Warco WM250 lathe primarly for use with car and motorbike restoration. The decision on Lathe model is driven by available space so I will be accepting that it will not be tooling up for every type of job and will outsource anything that is outside the capability of the Lathe.

First question I guess does anybody have any experience of using this particular lathe model?

The next question relates to the milling attachment that can be purchased to fit this machine. I have read many negative comments about Lathe/mill combinations but what Warco are offering is a fully functional milling machine albeit bolted onto the bed of the Lathe. There are obvious limitations in terms of space but is there still a rigidity issue with this arrangement? On a practical level I am never going to have the space for a mill so it’s the dual arrangement or using the Lathe itself to undertake milling although I am not convinced about the functionality of this!

Thanks in advance for any comments and observations that you would like to share with me

Only just joined this site so apologies in advance if I have not followed the correct protocols

Paul

Mick B120/11/2017 20:54:19
2191 forum posts
120 photos

In my WM250V I use a Myford double-swivel vertical slide with mounted vice for all the milling that I do. I kept the vertical slide from the Myford Speed 10 I used to have, and modified the Warco adaptor plate to carry it.

It's very simple to set up - you bring the carriage up to the chuck so that 2 chuck jaws rest against the fixed vice jaw and carefully tighten down the T-bolts, and you're pretty accurately lined up. The milling cutter goes in the chuck. You can't take massive cuts, and probably the most restrictive limitation is the 115mm crosslide movement, but so far I've been able to do everything I've wanted. A boring bar with a 3/16" square tool bit makes a good flycutter for flats.

I can't readily see that the additional Warco bolt-on milling column will give capabilities a lot better than that, and I'd expect that changing between turning and milling would take longer.

Paul Phillips 221/11/2017 07:24:09
4 forum posts

Thanks Mick,

If using the Lathe as a mill is a practical proposition even if it has limitations then that is the way I will go. The money I will save on the mill extension can be used to adequately tool up for vertical milling on the Lathe.

Looks like I have a plan.

Regards

Paul

John Haine21/11/2017 08:00:00
4673 forum posts
273 photos

You would find that the size of workpiece you can fit on a vertical slide on the lathe is significantly less than on a boring table clamped to the saddle with the vertical milling attachment. Consider carefully what you will be machining - if for cars and motorbikes you will probably be using lumps of metal rather bigger than in model making for example. It might be that they would not even fit on a lathe at all.

not done it yet21/11/2017 08:43:53
6809 forum posts
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I thought Paul was referring to a milling head, not a vertical slide.

This one:

**LINK**

Neil Wyatt21/11/2017 09:38:05
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With ANY milling arrangement there are two things that limit what you can do the physical capacity to fit a job in and the rate of metal removal you can get.

Such an arrangement will give you capabilities between that of a vertical slide and a true milling machine, and somewhat greater convenience than a vertical slide because you can set up jobs on a flat surface.

The 'mill at the back' designs are better than 'mill on the head' ones as you don't need a huge raising block to do ordinary jobs.

Neil

Mick B121/11/2017 09:47:35
2191 forum posts
120 photos
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 21/11/2017 09:38:05:

...

The 'mill at the back' designs are better than 'mill on the head' ones as you don't need a huge raising block to do ordinary jobs.

Neil

I haven't yet come across such a requirement in 20-odd years.

There are obviously a number of established opinions on this subject, and the OP has already said that he expects limitation of one sort or another.

SillyOldDuffer21/11/2017 10:13:20
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As space is limited I think the best you can do is a combination like the WM250 (owners seem to like them) with a bolt on mill head. For what it's worth, my thoughts on order of desirability for vertical milling from worst to best:

  • Not being able to mill at all; yuk!
  • A vertical slide on an ordinary lathe; useful for genteel work on small objects. Back in the day almost all amateur milling was done with this way. Skilled operators work wonders, not me!
  • A milling head mounted on the headstock; easier to use than a vertical slide but still limited to gentle cuts on small work. Not popular. Much criticised for lack of rigidity possibly because they look as if they are able to do much more than they can.
  • A milling head mounted on the bed; convenient, able to take heavier cuts, more working space. A better compromise than a headstock mounted mill but still limited compared with a proper mill.
  • A dedicated Far Eastern milling machine, bigger the better.
  • Something like a Bridgeport or better, in good nick.

Dave

Neil Wyatt21/11/2017 10:45:24
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Posted by Mick B1 on 21/11/2017 09:47:35:
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 21/11/2017 09:38:05:

...

The 'mill at the back' designs are better than 'mill on the head' ones as you don't need a huge raising block to do ordinary jobs.

Neil

I haven't yet come across such a requirement in 20-odd years.

There are obviously a number of established opinions on this subject, and the OP has already said that he expects limitation of one sort or another.

Mick, I mean the ones with a milling head on top of the lathe headstock where the block is pretty much essential for small jobs:

Paul Phillips 221/11/2017 10:48:53
4 forum posts

Thanks Dave,

Your comments are really helpful, so the Warco bolt on mill is something that should be considered albeit I will have to accept the compromises. It would be really handy if somebody who has actually purchased this arrangement could make comment.

Thanks to everybody who has made comment anyway, new to this forum but really impressed with the help and enthusiasm.

Regards

Paul

Mick B121/11/2017 11:10:23
2191 forum posts
120 photos
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 21/11/2017 10:45:24:
Posted by Mick B1 on 21/11/2017 09:47:35:
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 21/11/2017 09:38:05:

...

The 'mill at the back' designs are better than 'mill on the head' ones as you don't need a huge raising block to do ordinary jobs.

Neil

I haven't yet come across such a requirement in 20-odd years.

There are obviously a number of established opinions on this subject, and the OP has already said that he expects limitation of one sort or another.

Mick, I mean the ones with a milling head on top of the lathe headstock where the block is pretty much essential for small jobs:

Ah, thanks, I hadn't understood that you were distinguishing between types of add-on milling head. Only time I ever looked at one of those Clarkes (and, to be fair, it was over 15 years back), it was so casually assembled I couldn't guess how long it would take to put it into effective service...

Oh, and yes, SOD - with all its limitations and design shortcuts, I do think well of my Warco in comparison with the Myford Speed 10 it replaced.

Edited By Mick B1 on 21/11/2017 11:14:38

Carl Wilson 421/11/2017 11:15:42
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670 forum posts
53 photos
Hello,

I had a Chester Model B which is similar to the Clarke Lathe and Mill combo. Aside from a lot of quality issues the machine had (really poor build and assembly) it was nearly useless fir milling. The head moved around with anything except really light cuts and it was really difficult to actually get anything in there.
Paul Tinney22/11/2017 19:55:33
3 forum posts

Paul,

Although I do not have the Warco one, I have the Seig C8/X2 based mill which is fixed to the bed. I have only had it about 2 months and still getting to grips with it, however, my first impressions are that it is pretty good. Obviously I am limited on the amount of metal removal I can do, but on the most part this is not an issue for me as most of my milling is on ally alloy.

Bear in mind that for mounting larger work, or fixtures you need to remove the tool post. I used my Stevenson indexer today for the first time and had to do this. Fortunately my small toolmakers vice (finally coming into use having made it during my apprenticeship some 38 years ago!!) will just about fit on without removing the toolpost.

As with most things, it is a compromise between functionality and cost.

Oldiron22/11/2017 21:30:42
975 forum posts
40 photos

I used a Boxford lathe with a milling attachment for several years before I got my 1st mill. Was very limited to what could be done but that was all I had. It did all the little jobs I wanted it for. The combi lathe mill is a bit of a compromise as well. If that's all you have room for you are not going to go far wrong with one. We are all limited by the machines we can fit in the workshop, the cost or some other factor. Go for the best you can afford and learn to use it to its full potential and enjoy it.

regards

Mike Poole22/11/2017 23:56:48
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I was like a dog with two dicks when my Myford came with a Rodney attachment but after using it for a while I hankered after a mill. The difference between milling in the lathe and a milling machine is like night and day but milling in the lathe is still much better than fileing. I suspect you will eventually make the step to a milling machine and find somewhere to put it, but in the meantime milling in the lathe will be much better than not milling. We are not a commercial operation so if it takes a bit longer using what we have what does it matter?

Mike

Mike23/11/2017 09:39:42
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713 forum posts
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When I had a Super 7 I acquired an Amolco milling attachment, which now forms the basis of my home-made mill. Itworked well with a long cross-slide and power cross-feed. OK for small items, but not nearly as good as a proper milling machine.

Paul Phillips 223/11/2017 09:44:43
4 forum posts

Thanks for the recent responses to my post.
The consensus appears to go with a milling machine attached to the lathe bed as opposed to no milling machine at all. This arrangement has limitations but it does offer a degree of functionality if space is limited.
I think my next step should be to contact Warco and attempt to get them to quantify the physical size of largest item that could be practically worked on the mill. In conjunction with this I will make a realistic assessment of my needs and determine if to a greater extent they fall within the capability of the machine that I am considering.
Quite a bit to consider but the input from this forum are proving to be invaluable so thanks again to all contributors.
Regards
Paul

Roger B23/11/2017 11:39:10
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188 forum posts
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I started out milling with a vertical slide on the lathe. This worked but travel was limited and setting up was not aided by gravity. Like you I do not have space for a separate mill so I added a milling head. This is certainly a compromise and is not as rigid as a true milling machine, but by removing the lathe chuck and tailstock it has quite reasonable travel for my use. An up to date Hobbymat and TECO mill are available from Pro Machine Tools.

Best regards

Roger

12 in place.jpg

SillyOldDuffer23/11/2017 13:45:01
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8676 forum posts
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Posted by Paul Phillips 2 on 23/11/2017 09:44:43:

...
I think my next step should be to contact Warco and attempt to get them to quantify the physical size of largest item that could be practically worked on the mill.

...
Paul

Good idea Paul.

Worth knowing as well that there's a long history of accommodating over-sized work on small machines that Warco may not mention. With ingenuity and cursing it's surprising what can be done. For example, when drilling a lot of different sized holes on my mill it's easiest to hold the work in a milling vice and the drills in a drill chuck. As the vice and chuck take up a fair bit of room, I sometimes dispense with both. Large work can be bolted straight onto the table and drills can be held by a collet chuck. The approach is less convenient, but doing that way can avoid a show stopper.

Similarly, if work is too long for the table to position it under the tool, you can move the work along the table. The disadvantage is mainly the time taken and the need to establish another reference point to maintain accuracy.

Dave

OuBallie23/11/2017 14:12:56
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1166 forum posts
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My first lathe was an Emco V10P with mill bolted to the rear.

That combination lasted about two weeks as it was a real PITA.

Bought their mill base with cabinet and never looked back.

If you can afford a separate mill and have the space then don't even consider a 2in1.

Chalk and cheese springs to mind.

Geoff - TuffSaws M24 10/14 blade should make short work of Seven blocks.

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