By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

interest renewed

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Peter Etherington 218/09/2020 17:52:08
23 forum posts
1 photos

Hi, just bought a Chester 920 lathe and very happy with it I am. Question, I cant afford a milling machine so is the vertical slide (medium) which Chester sell for this lathe any good for the job? I know some suppliers will push anything onto customers to get some money. Many thanks, Peter

IanT18/09/2020 20:23:37
1831 forum posts
177 photos

Hello Peter,

I see no one has replied to your question as yet, so I'll give you my two pennies worth - and also bump your query up a bit too!

You can do a great deal of work with just a lathe but milling with a vertical slide is now considered (by many) to be a "bit old fashioned". That's because a vertical slide set-up will never be quite as rigid as even a small milling machine (well maybe it might be with a very large lathe versus a very small mill). But at one time and with few other options, many MEs made do with just their lathe and produced some very good work.

Of course, much will be dependent on what you are trying to achieve (size of work required etc) as you will be limited by the cross-slide travel and effective rise and fall of the slide, given work will probably be mounted in a small vice on it. You will also find that 'light cuts' are the order of the day - so you will be nibbling away at things, not taking great big bites. Given these limitations, then a vertical slide will let you do things that become a bit more awkward to set-up and undertake without one (use of packing etc).

So provided that you understand that a vertical slide is not a straight milling machine replacement - they can still be very useful, especially if you don't have anything else.

Looking at the Chester website, I think the Chinese slide I see there is the same as the one use on my Myford S7. It is a very solid bit of kit, although I made a special mounting plate for it. The clamping (vice) jaws shown also tend to "move" when you tighten parts between then (a thin drilled plate solves this - it stops the T-nuts sliding apart under pressure).

Anyway - others may have more to add but that's my input. Hope this helps.






Edited By IanT on 18/09/2020 20:25:04

Harry Wilkes18/09/2020 21:22:39
1125 forum posts
64 photos

Peter I think Ian as given a good reply I too use a vertical slide on my S7 and get good results it's time consuming but I have plenty of that at the moment. However I cannot comment on the Chester slide as I have never seen one.


SillyOldDuffer18/09/2020 22:11:31
7221 forum posts
1591 photos

Hi Peter and welcome to the forum.

Slides were once the only way most hobbyists could do any milling at all. Ian highlights their shortcomings: low rigidity (meaning only light cuts are possible); limited travel (meaning only short cuts can be taken), and limited space to hold work. Most useful for small jobs, say up to 50mm-ish, though it's remarkable what's been done with patience and ingenuity!

The bigger the slide and lathe the better. Myford slides have T-slots, which are easier to use than plates full of threaded holes.

Mine took a lot of setting up for modest results and - although useful up to a point - I found it frustrating to use. Didn't take me long to decide to save up for a real milling machine, again bigger the better.


IanT18/09/2020 22:15:52
1831 forum posts
177 photos


I just looked at the Chester site again and realised that I was looking (first time around) at their "heavy" slide - which is the model I have. The "medium" one is half the weight and may still work well enough but I'd go for the heavier tool if your lathe can take it.

Here's a photo of my vertical slide being used to end-mill some some frames which just needed the edges cleaned up. Some time ago now but I probably had something already set up on the mill and this was a convenient alternative. Simple things like this work just fine, provided you take it easy and can hold the work without any problems. Work visibility wasn't a problem here either - which it can be when compared to a vertical mill set-up.



Milling NS Frames 1 - mar11.jpg

DMB18/09/2020 22:29:24
1104 forum posts

Hello Peter,

Dont know if you are aware but I offer the following with good intention and not wishing to offend. Do not try to use end mills on your lathe without a proper milling chuck or the necessary drawbar to hold chuck tight to the mandrel. Lathe collets and chucks cannot grip tight enough to prevent the endmill spiral from winding the cutter out of the chuck. Either / and work ruined, cutter teeth broken, etc. Get a second hand Clarkson milling chuck and make a drawbar to stop it coming loose, Morse Tapers locate but unsuitable to hold. If you go that route, you will need screwed shank endmills to screw into that type of chuck. There are 4 Imperial sizes of collets in a set to fit the Clarkson chuck, which take various dia. cutters which share a common size shank. There are also similar sized metric collets to hold a range of metric cutters. The base of the metric collets have a circumferential groove to indicate that they are metric rather than Imperial but sizes should be engraved on the side anyway.It is now more usual to use an ER chuck to hold plain shank cutters. Several ME suppliers stock new ER chucks in various sizes to grip a range of collets available separately. Hope this helps, any questions, askaway.


DMB18/09/2020 22:42:14
1104 forum posts

Oh, another thing, only buy sizes of cutters needed, preferably new so guaranteed to be sharp and use cutting oil. Cutters dont blunt so quickly with use of cutting oil and should last quite a while before the need to sharpen. I wouldnt think the relatively flimsy set up in a lathe would allow the use of large dia. cutters. There are businesses doing cutter sharpening, at a price. The alternative will be friends/ club members with the equipment to do the job or buy/make your own. Making an endmill sharpening jig is a bit of a journey in itself. I am currently halfway through making Harold Hall s design.


Edited By DMB on 18/09/2020 22:44:03

DMB18/09/2020 22:51:04
1104 forum posts

Hello again, Peter,

Ian T is showing a pic of what appears to be an ER chuck anf I notice that the for sale column is showing a boxed set of 4 collets and what may be a Clarkson chuck, £50.


Paul Kemp19/09/2020 00:32:44
641 forum posts
18 photos


Many years ago the only machines we (well dad!) had were the myford 7 and a fobco bench drill followed soon after by a bench grinder. I made many bits for my first loco with only the vertical slide and cutters held in the 3 jaw chuck. Now I take the point that this is not ideal but when you are in the position of that's all you have, anything is better than nothing!

No idea about the Chester products but Myfords are not exactly rigid so I doubt there will be much difference. If you can't afford a mill but you can afford the vertical slide then why not? You can get some milling functionality now and in the future upgrade, or you can wait with nothing while you save up the cash!

As for cutter holding, if you are careful you will be fine. When I first got the micro mill it came only with a Jacobs chuck and I couldn't afford anything else so that was used for end mills, slot drills and drills! I never had any disasters and the nay sayers will proclaim that was pure luck! I would say I was a time served fitter turner, knew the risks and sized my expectations accordingly. In fact the only cutter I remember pulling out was a 13mm end mill from an ER 25 chuck in cast iron on a much bigger machine in the last couple of years - because I didn't tighten it properly!

My advice, get the best you can afford and do the best you can with it until you can get what you ideally need, at least in the interim you will be able to do something!


Peter Etherington 219/09/2020 09:49:10
23 forum posts
1 photos

dscf1856.jpgMany thanks for all the advice, I shall have to give this some serious thought. The work I will be doing on my lathe is only light (making 16mm scale steam locos) so a vertical slide might just get the work done without having to go cap in hand to she who must be obeyed for the best part of a grand for a mill. The thought never crossed my mind about chucking. Once again thanks for your time and valuable information. Peter. PS I dont think I have room for a mill in the shed.

Edited By Peter Etherington 2 on 19/09/2020 09:53:27

SillyOldDuffer19/09/2020 10:00:11
7221 forum posts
1591 photos

Just to explain an apparent contradiction:

  • John (DMB) says: 'Do not try to use end mills on your lathe without a proper milling chuck or the necessary drawbar to hold chuck tight to the mandrel.'
  • Paul says: 'As for cutter holding, if you are careful you will be fine. When I first got the micro mill it came only with a Jacobs chuck and I couldn't afford anything else so that was used for end mills, slot drills and drills! I never had any disasters and the nay sayers will proclaim that was pure luck!'

They are both right.

One of the shortcomings of milling on a lathe slide is the strong temptation to hold the cutter in a 3-jaw chuck. They're far from ideal as tool holders, because cutters are liable to come loose due to vibration and being pulled backwards and forwards by cutting forces. And vibration is highly likely because milling slides aren't very rigid.

However, on my lathe there was no danger of a done-up tight milling cutter coming out of the 3-jaw because the slide's lack of rigidity bouncing about on the saddle made it impossible to take heavy cuts. But, on a bigger machine with a more rigid slide, there's a real risk of cutters coming loose because heavier cuts can be attempted.

Similar coming out issue with milling cutters in drill-chucks. Light milling is possible, but drill-chucks aren't designed to take sideways forces or vibration. As drill-chucks limit how much metal a real milling machine can remove, proper milling chucks with drawbars etc holding cutters as firmly as possible are the rule.

Of course shortage of cash and space often means making the best of what we have! Just stay within what the set-up can cope with. The limitations will become obvious when you try it, just don't have high expectations.

Finally, using a lathe slide requires a certain amount of skill. Common learner mistakes are taking cuts that are either too small or too big. Lack of rigidity makes it hard to strike the right balance. Too small is the worse error because the bad effect is hidden. It might seem that lightly used tools will last forever, actually the opposite is true. Rubbing the cutting edge of tools blunts them, and they have short unsatisfactory lives. Apply more force to make them cut and they last longer. Too much force is bad for other reasons. Thing is milling slides is may not be rigid enough to allow decent cuts, so the new operator ends up struggling with a wobbly set-up and blunt cutters! I recommend learning to get the best out of the lathe first - getting a feel for cutting metal - before attempting a milling slide. They do work, but mine had to be seduced.


IanT19/09/2020 11:41:03
1831 forum posts
177 photos

Yes, it's an ER32 chuck (backplate mounted) that I prefer to the MT type - as it allows longer work material to be fed through the headstock. I use ER chucks for both tool and work holding finding them very convenient - and more versatile than just buying something just for tool holding.

Peter - I don't hold milling cutters in my 3/4 jaw chucks, too easy for things to move. But small fly-cutters can be held in them, as the shanks are normally relatively soft and can be gripped better. In fact small 'single point' cutting tools are very useful and much easier to keep sharp. The kind of work you will probably want to do in 16mm can certainly be done with a vertical slide and some small cutter tooling. This was the norm not so many years ago but 'cheap' Far East imports have tipped the balance between convenience over cost. A mill might make things easier but it's certainly not essential for the kind of work we do.

A tidy and comfortable looking workshop - I wish mine looked as welcoming. Good Luck with your milling



PS I don't know your lathe but if you can fit the heavier slide, then spend the extra money and do so. Looking at my photo, again, I've still got the rotary base fitted. I don't normally use it these days, having a plate to adapt the fit between the slide body and S7 (slots) better. I can't recall when I've ever needed to angle the slide - it's always mounted at right angles to the cutter...small angles can be packed up or out. The vertical slide movement can be very restricted if it's angled over the cross-slide. You need the v-slide's table to overhang the cross-slide to give maximum travel.

Howard Lewis19/09/2020 12:33:46
4859 forum posts
12 photos

I tried using a Vertical Slide in my ML7. maybe I was too heavy handed, but it was not rigid enough for me.

Bought a Rodney milling attachment, which was better, but that showed up a lack of rigidity in the lathe itself.

So I bought a Warco Economy (RF25) as the largest that fit into then workshop at that time.

I have used a larger Vertical Slide (Intended for a Seig SC6 but adapted for my larger 12" swing lathe ) This sufficed for the few jobs for which it has been needed. (Jobs too long to fit into the Mill )

FWIW, buy the heaviest and most rigid Vertical Slide that you can find and fit / adapt to your lathe.

Like others, for milling in the lathe, I prefer an ER chuck on a backplate, so that any long work needing to be turned can pass through into the Mandrel, if required.


Nigel McBurney 119/09/2020 13:46:55
875 forum posts
3 photos

long ago I kicked off model making at home with a Fobco Drill,Myford 7 and a home made bench grinder. I used a vertical slide for milling , It did all I required when building an Allchin T E I held any milling cutters in a brand new Burnerd chuck without problem and did most of my milling using various home made flycutters only using end mills /slot drills when a slot or pocket was required to be machined,as fly cutters cost virtually nothing and I was well satisfied with results I achieved with the Myford slide,at the time I worketd in a brand new toolroom with a Deckel FP3 one of the worlds best milling machines of its type,,i did not go home wishing i had better equipment ,I was content with what I had. 3 jaw chucks are ok to hold cutters provided the jaws are in good condition and not bell mouthed, if a cutter slips in good chuck then perhaps one is overloading the whole set up plus the advantage of a chuck to hold the cutter is that the mass of the chuck dampens vibrations, Full size Fritz Werner milling machines had a built in flywheel on the machine spindle, to reduce vibrations,55 years later a wide range of tool holding and small milling machines are readily available. The ER collets are good for cutter and drill holding ,though I still prefer the Clarkson screwed shank cutter system when say working on a vintage engine crankshaft ,re cutting a keyway where a cutter coming loose or just moving in the collet could cause irreparable damage.

Oldiron19/09/2020 13:46:56
788 forum posts
23 photos
Posted by Peter Etherington 2 on 19/09/2020 09:49:10:

PS I dont think I have room for a mill in the shed.

Welcome to the forum.

Way too much benchtop space in your workshop by the looks of it Peter. devil I bet you can find room for an SX2 or similar. smiley

Tongue in cheek here.


Peter Etherington 219/09/2020 14:13:16
23 forum posts
1 photos

Thanks again gents, Looking into ER setup and a decent vertical slide, i`m so glad I came on this group. Its a bit daunting to a novice like me but we are never too old to learn. Peter

Douglas Johnston19/09/2020 15:24:04
751 forum posts
34 photos
Posted by Peter Etherington 2 on 19/09/2020 09:49:10:

dscf1856.jpgMany thanks for all the advice, I shall have to give this some serious thought. The work I will be doing on my lathe is only light (making 16mm scale steam locos) so a vertical slide might just get the work done without having to go cap in hand to she who must be obeyed for the best part of a grand for a mill. The thought never crossed my mind about chucking. Once again thanks for your time and valuable information. Peter. PS I dont think I have room for a mill in the shed.

Edited By Peter Etherington 2 on 19/09/2020 09:53:27

Very impressive use of space, puts my shed to shame. Is that a canoe in the rafters?


old mart19/09/2020 20:02:11
3062 forum posts
194 photos

Go ahead and buy the milling attachment, and hopefully in the next few years you will be in a position to add a mill to your tooling. Once you get a mill, you can sell the lathe milling attachment, which will certainly be surplace to your requirements.

Peter Etherington 220/09/2020 17:48:09
23 forum posts
1 photos

Decided to go for the ER 32 lathe chuck and vertical slide. Like "old mart" said when I can afford a mill I can sell these bits on. By the way Doug, no theres no canoe in the rafters of my shed, only model aircraft and boats mate (no where else to put them) Peter

old mart21/09/2020 18:16:41
3062 forum posts
194 photos

That er32 collet chuck will also be very useful when holding work for turning as well as for milling cutters. In the dual function, I would recommend a full set of collets, but if just starting milling, then just buy 3-4-5-6-8-and 10 mm which should match the sizes of cutters likely to start you off with small jobs.

With the 920, you may find it difficult to just move the saddle with enough precision when milling. One way round this is a handle on the end of the leadscrew to move the saddle with the leadscrew nuts engaged, like a lot of Myfords have. Or even more outlandish, the tailstock. When we were refurbishing the apron of the museums Smart & Brown model A, I still needed to use the lathe for turning shafts and bushes with the apron sitting on a bench in bits. I just used the tailstock to push the saddle which saved using the compound which is difficult to use for precision parallel turning.

Edited By old mart on 21/09/2020 18:31:04

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Support Our Partners
JD Metals
Eccentric July 5 2018
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest