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I have a Fobco Universal MT, can it be used for milling?

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Caspar Wolf28/05/2020 15:13:44
5 forum posts
5 photos

Hi I have inherited a fobco drill from my farther. I am a total novice machinist but some of the things I have read about this machine seem to suggest it could be used for some light milling. Is this correct? If so what do i need to buy to hold the mill cutters? Could someone link me to the exact part? I believe mine has the "Type D No. 2 Morse taper spindle with a 1.125" x 12 t.p.i. "Myford" nose thread " mentioned on **LINK** . I have attached some pictures of my machine below. Thanks for reading.






old mart28/05/2020 17:01:59
1795 forum posts
138 photos

Because of the interrupted cut and side forces during milling, a drawbar is used to hold the tooling in the spindle. Drilling forces are mostly axial and a drill press is not really safe to be used for milling. If you can find adaptors for the Myford thread to hold er25 collet holders, you could probably get away with up to 3/8" cutters. It does depend on the tightness of the quill and the spindle bearings. The er25 can take up to 16mm, but they are rather big for a drill press.

Edited By old mart on 28/05/2020 17:08:04

Caspar Wolf28/05/2020 17:10:30
5 forum posts
5 photos

Sorry images didn't seem to work there. Hopefully these links will:

not done it yet28/05/2020 17:12:15
4662 forum posts
16 photos

As above. You can get away with light milling (seen it done on youtube - where else can you watch rubbish practices?🙂, but sooner or later you will ruin a part, damage something or break something. Likely even sooner if a Jacobs-like chuck is used. On top of that drills are built to withstand axial loads, not radial, so the spindle bearings may soon get trashed.

old mart28/05/2020 17:13:25
1795 forum posts
138 photos

This might work if the Myford thread on the drill is male.


Caspar Wolf28/05/2020 17:17:41
5 forum posts
5 photos

Think i've finally managed it...


old mart28/05/2020 17:53:51
1795 forum posts
138 photos

A nice machine and it has a tiny milling/positioning table. It will be quite safe using the threaded spindle, but as already mentioned, the bearings are not up to heavy milling, which is why I only recommended a maximum 3/8" cutter size. Always lock the quill when taking X and Y cuts. Only use the MT2 for drilling. A better 3" vise is needed, that one will not clamp securely enough.

Thor28/05/2020 18:33:48
1231 forum posts
37 photos

Hi Caspar,

I have tried using a drill for light milling jobs. The spindle nose on my drill was threaded and I happened to have a few Myford MT 2 collets, so I made a suitable nut and used the Myford collets to hold small milling cutters. Up to 6mm IIRC. It worked but when I later got a Sieg X2 Mini Mill I stopped using the drill for milling, I found that the X2 was far better at milling jobs.


Michael Gilligan28/05/2020 18:42:39
15768 forum posts
689 photos

This seems important ... so I am quoting it verbatim from the page:



Fobco Universal
One interesting version of the Star was the "Universal", designed to accept an optional-extra compound T-slotted table for precision co-ordinate drilling and light milling duties. Most (but not all) versions of the model sold came with a No. 2 Morse taper spindle equipped with a nose threaded 1.125" x 12 t.p.i., a worm-and-wheel driven fine down-feed gearbox and a compound, T-slotted table. Cutters were held in collets formed with a No. 2 Morse taper on their outer surface and pressed into the spindle by a screw-on nose cap - the system being identical to that used for Myford lathes. Each collet had a groove cut around its circumference near the end and could be "snapped" into the nose cap. The Myford collet set (actually made by Crawford) had a loading and unloading tool that eliminated accidental breakage of the collet end - this consisting of a tube with a Morse taper on the inside into which you pressed the collet to close it down. Once closed the nose piece could be slipped over the end of the collet and the whole withdrawn from the loading tube - relieved of pressure, the collet expanded and gripped the inside circumference of the nose cap.

Clive Foster28/05/2020 19:08:10
2211 forum posts
73 photos

As I understood things the "milling" capability on the Universal MT was aimed more at surface preparation to get a clean start with a hole, minor cleaning up for bolt head / nut seats and making spanner room. Possibly gasket seatings too.

Light work that saves the time needed for a set-up on a proper mill before the drilling work.

Milling out a complete part, unless very small being a bit beyond its normal pay grade. As ever with care you can push a machine well past the prudent limits established by the maker who has to think in terms of Penelope Piecework in search of a decent bonus in this weeks pay packet.

The operative word being with care.


Phil P28/05/2020 19:33:46
628 forum posts
166 photos

That machine does not have the fine feed worm drive, so it will be very difficult to set an accurate depth of cut without resorting to complicated methods.

As far as I know there is no means to lock the spindle either, so getting the collet nut tight will be another issue.

I once fancied getting one these as I have a full set of Myford collets that I could use in it, but once its shortcomings were realised I chose a Boxford PD8 drill instead. Pillar drills generally dont make very good milling machines.

Having said that, the Fobco Universal is a very sought after drill, if you did want to part with it I dare say someone would pay a handsome price for it and you could then buy a milling machine with the proceeds. yes


Edited By Phil P on 28/05/2020 19:38:51

Martin Connelly28/05/2020 19:47:19
1370 forum posts
159 photos

A drift in the tang slot will lock the spindle.

Martin C

Phil P28/05/2020 19:54:39
628 forum posts
166 photos

Yes you are quite right, I just realised after I had typed that sentence.


Caspar Wolf28/05/2020 19:55:49
5 forum posts
5 photos

The jobs i have for it actually don't require a high degree of accuracy. Things like making wood turning tools to accepts carbide inserts. Also I make a lot of knives so something to flatten exotic hardwoods for handle scales.

Thanks for everyone's input, it's been really useful!


Andrew Tinsley29/05/2020 09:38:29
1119 forum posts

I had one of these about 40 years ago. It had a larger x-y table than that shown in the pictures. It looked OEM but could have been a later addition. I found it to be an excellent mini mill, although downfeed was a problem.

It was much better than most peoples comments here make it out to be.


John Haine29/05/2020 09:50:15
3105 forum posts
162 photos

The Myford collets that would be a direct fit are stupidly expensive and only available used I think. I have found that, if you make or buy a closing nut, you can also fit standard MT2 finger collets like these and hold them in the socket with the nut though you lose the extraction feature because you don't have the groove on the outside of the collet. Years ago there was an article in MEW on making Myford pattern collets and also the closing nut I think. Actually I see that the nut and the closing tube are still available from Myford. I have speculated that it could be possible to make an extraction groove in a standard collet, though it might have to be ground rather than turned.

Caspar Wolf29/05/2020 10:45:19
5 forum posts
5 photos

John Haine could you link to an example of a closing nut and the MT2 finger collets that you mentioned please?



Roderick Jenkins29/05/2020 11:40:14
1887 forum posts
481 photos
Posted by John Haine on 29/05/2020 09:50:15:
Years ago there was an article in MEW on making Myford pattern collets and also the closing nut I think.

A PDF of David Haythornthwaite's article on making your own Myford type collet system is available from his website **LINK**

Stay well,


Clive Foster29/05/2020 11:43:24
2211 forum posts
73 photos

As Andrew says the issue with using the Fobco as a mill isn't spindle strength and cutting ability. Its downfeed control. The spindle is plenty stiff enough for small machine level modest cuts in the sizes of cutter appropriate to its speed range and collet size. Face mills and flycutters would be "optimistic" tho'.

But setting depth of cut to the sort of precision needed for most milling will be very difficult. With the drill style depth stop its clearly designed for bringing surfaces to a constant level and similar duties which it will do well.

Better depth setting control would seem an ideal application for the little integrated display pull wire sensors the BW Electronics (used to?) supply. Compact and easily fitted they would make it possible to set the depth of cut quite accurately. I have one on my Bridgeport quill that has worked well for many years. Not perfect as it can suffer from vibration but I use it to set the depth stop before starting cuts, much easier than the micrometer thingy. Unlike the Quillstar et al it doesn't get in the way if you want to use the micrometer.


Michael Gilligan29/05/2020 12:01:58
15768 forum posts
689 photos
Posted by Clive Foster on 29/05/2020 11:43:24:

As Andrew says the issue with using the Fobco as a mill isn't spindle strength and cutting ability. Its downfeed control. […]


The addition of a worm gear [and perhaps a stepper motor] would improve this dramatically.


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