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Milling on a Lathe with a Vertical Slide

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William Harvey 101/05/2021 19:18:15
120 forum posts

Hi,

Does anyone have any experience in converting a Lathe to Mill using a Vertical Slide? We have a Warco WM180 which I am only just starting to use but can see the benefits of having the ability to do some Milling actions.

I have been watching some of Ade's Workshop videos and in Shed Talk 11, he shows how he made an adaptor to take vertical slide.

Does anyone here have any input on this on how to achieve this, what slide to get, what other tooling we will need etc.

Many thanks

Oily Rag01/05/2021 19:22:08
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460 forum posts
147 photos

Get a Milling machine!

Lathe mill systems are awfully limited in what you can hold.

Martin

Mick B101/05/2021 19:45:35
2005 forum posts
116 photos

Warco sell several milling slides, but it's not obvious to me how you'd fit them to a WM180 - their most substantial one seems to fit WM240 and above.

I have a WM250V and a Myford double-swivel slide that I use a lot. I use the adaptor plate Warco sell to fit the crossslide T-slots, modified to carry the Myford slide. Basically that meant 2 dowel holes and 2 M8 tappings. It's the work of a minute or two to mount or dismount it, including squaring up using the face of the chuck jaws against the vice.

Solid carbide endmills of 8 - 10mm diameter are very good, removing metal easily with less sidethrust, and keep their edge for ages.

Oily Rag's right about its limitations - you can flycut a surface maybe 140 x 60 mm - but so far I've been able to do anything the models I've been making have demanded. Plans to buy a milling machine keep getting put back whenever I manage to get round some issue or other.

But I do wonder how you'd fit that to a 180 - the T-slots on the crossslide, and the cross feed that allows you cut slots, flats and steps under power were important in deciding to shell out for the 250V.

boring reinforce.jpg

Edited By Mick B1 on 01/05/2021 19:48:25

old mart01/05/2021 20:16:48
3316 forum posts
203 photos

If you only want to mill small workpieces, then go ahead. The milling experiance will be useful, and should you later decide to get a mill, then the milling attachment can be sold fairly easily.

JasonB01/05/2021 20:23:13
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Moderator
21315 forum posts
2419 photos
1 articles

It is possible to do very limited milling with the workpiece held in the toolpost if you only need to move in two directions but a vertical slide makes 3 axis milling possible. As said the 190 is not the easiest to mount a vertical slide to but if you you can manage to fit one quite a lot can be done with one, all the milling for the traction engine in my avitar was done with a vertical slide so not that limiting but a mill would make things easier. Also worth remembering that the majority of the long established model engineering designs were almost all built with just a lathe and slide as many did not own a milling machine at that time.

Harry Wilkes01/05/2021 21:13:33
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1166 forum posts
64 photos

I do not have a milling machine unfortunately I do not have room for one so all my milling is done on my Myford S7, yes it takes longer to set up and you have to be patient small cut's are the order of the day.

H

Mick B101/05/2021 22:11:16
2005 forum posts
116 photos
Posted by JasonB on 01/05/2021 20:23:13:

...

Also worth remembering that the majority of the long established model engineering designs were almost all built with just a lathe and slide as many did not own a milling machine at that time.

Thanks, I'd thunk that thought too - a lot of the established designs don't seem to need a large milling/jig drilling envelope.

There's also a kind of satisfaction in managing to think your way around limitations ...

laugh

Frances IoM01/05/2021 22:11:18
1154 forum posts
28 photos
there is not really enough meat in the WM180 cross slide - there are no T-slots tho I guess you may be able to drill & tap a few holes to hold a slide
IanT01/05/2021 22:44:28
1882 forum posts
182 photos

I don't know the WM180 Bill but I started off milling in the lathe and still do so for some things when it suits my needs. What would I recommend?

Well for a start the most rigid set-up you can achieve, which in my book means forgetting swivelling slides - nice idea but rarely essential. My heavy (Chinese) vertical slide attaches to my S7 cross-slide (via an adaptor plate) and if there is any give, it's in the cross-slide - not the slide. For some items that don't need vertical adjustment once set-up, a simple angel plate will often be sufficient. I have a very nice solid 'V' angle plate that I use. The work can be set to the required height by packing, screw-jacks or sometimes just by eye.

The other thing you will need is a secure way to hold the cutter. The cheapest option is a single-size collet-holder but I'd get an ER chuck and use that. Mine are ER32 and they get used a lot for work-holding too.

So if you don't have the money, space or real need for a mill, then there is usually a way to do the work on the lathe. It might not be as quick or as convenient but for some folk that's not a problem in practice.

Regards,

IanT

Milling NS Frames 2 - mar 11.jpg

Sentinel slot drill setup - 230115.jpg

Bo'sun02/05/2021 09:14:13
496 forum posts

Good morning William,

Warco have a small milling slide that fits in the tool post which might suit your needs. But be mindful that it won't be overly rigid. They also have a base plate for the WM240/250 that takes a larger milling slide. It may be possible to adapt it to fit the WM180 cross slide.

I've had perfectly acceptable results from the milling slide on my WM250, it's just a nuisance to set up, and even more of a nuisance when you revert back to turning, only to find you still have another milling operation to complete. Also, compared to a milling machine, workpiece visibility can be a little restricted.

Nigel McBurney 102/05/2021 09:38:32
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911 forum posts
3 photos

I did nearly all the milling for a 1 1/2 in Allchin traction engine on a Myford using the swivelling vertical slide,myford machine vice,largest Myford angle plate and occasional an eclipse angle plate bolted to the cross slide, most of my milling was done with various home made fly cutters which cost nothing,slot and end mills were held in the new Burnerd 3 jaw,no eER systems in those days,and this set up did a good job and the satisfaction was being able to do it all at home. My day job then was in a toolroom where we had a brand new Deckel FP3 mill cost £5k in 1967,and home jobs were an absolute no no.

William Harvey 102/05/2021 10:54:19
120 forum posts
Posted by Oily Rag on 01/05/2021 19:22:08:

Get a Milling machine!

Lathe mill systems are awfully limited in what you can hold.

Martin

I know but cannot afford one TBH

Andy Carlson02/05/2021 11:04:09
387 forum posts
130 photos

If you lack a collet holder then chuck a pece of bar end roughly double the diameter of the cutter in the 3 jaw. Make a punch mark to align with No 1 jaw, tailstock drill to the cutter diameter and then remove and make a saw cut opposite the punch mark. Then your cutter will be repeatably concentric. Worked for me as a stop gap until I had a collet holder.

William Harvey 102/05/2021 11:21:25
120 forum posts
Posted by IanT on 01/05/2021 22:44:28:

I don't know the WM180 Bill but I started off milling in the lathe and still do so for some things when it suits my needs. What would I recommend?

Well for a start the most rigid set-up you can achieve, which in my book means forgetting swivelling slides - nice idea but rarely essential. My heavy (Chinese) vertical slide attaches to my S7 cross-slide (via an adaptor plate) and if there is any give, it's in the cross-slide - not the slide. For some items that don't need vertical adjustment once set-up, a simple angel plate will often be sufficient. I have a very nice solid 'V' angle plate that I use. The work can be set to the required height by packing, screw-jacks or sometimes just by eye.

The other thing you will need is a secure way to hold the cutter. The cheapest option is a single-size collet-holder but I'd get an ER chuck and use that. Mine are ER32 and they get used a lot for work-holding too.

So if you don't have the money, space or real need for a mill, then there is usually a way to do the work on the lathe. It might not be as quick or as convenient but for some folk that's not a problem in practice.

Regards,

IanT

Milling NS Frames 2 - mar 11.jpg

Sentinel slot drill setup - 230115.jpg

I have been looking at the items required to convert for milling and think I need the following:

- a vertical slide

- some method of clamping items to the slide

- some method of holding the cutters in the lathe

A vertical slide on eBay for around £50
Warco don’t do an adaptor for the WM180 but Ade made one (with the capacity to swivel, in the video I linked)

Maybe this Warco set will fit? It does not say which models it is for? I have emailed Warco.

I can see Warco and others sell the EN25 Collet Chuck for their Lathes (with or without an adaptor plate for the headstock)

I’ll then need some EN25 collets and suitable cutters (when buying cutters what shank do I need for collets?

Ao many questions, sorry

noel shelley02/05/2021 11:22:24
720 forum posts
19 photos

One other option is an AMOLCO or similar milling attachment. Not cheap but they work and can be adapted to suit most lathes. The AMOLCO has a 2MT spindle and myford nose thread so cutter holding options are many. 2MT collets or 2MT/ ER25 collet holder, both with a drawbar. Arc could supply all you need at a reasonable cost.Noel.

Edited By noel shelley on 02/05/2021 11:33:05

Andy Carlson02/05/2021 11:49:04
387 forum posts
130 photos

Can't help with specific attachments for your lathe, but do consider HSS cutters - they are more forgiving of the lack of rigidity inherent in a lathe milling setup. After initially being blinded by the multiplicity of cutter options and then promptly snapping a tooth off a fancy specialist carbide one I decided to road test a 10mm stub length HSS cutter in the lathe. It works a treat. IIRC it was from Drill Service Horley.

AJW02/05/2021 12:08:43
avatar
359 forum posts
135 photos

I motorised my Myford VMD milling attachment and mounted it at the rear of the lathe bed as I got tired of fitting/removing it.

Yes an independent milling machine would be great - if you can allocate the space!

My album 'Myford VMD' has a few photos showing some details.

Alan

IanT02/05/2021 12:33:05
1882 forum posts
182 photos

Hi Bill,

That vertical slide looks about the same size as the one I have for my 2.5" EW. The one I was referring to is probably twice as big.

As with most things here, there are different experiences and opinions. I don't know what work you are planning to do - or how often you intend to do it. My parts are generally small and I do have a choice of machines available. But I'll try to give a bit more detail on my experience in this area.

Do you need to make vertical height adjustments whilst machining? Some operations (drilling, slot milling, edge milling/fly-cutting) often don't - and if the work can be correctly positioned and the right tool fitted - then a vertical slide might not be required, indeed a heavy angle plate might be better. If you know the 'bed to centre' and 'bed to top of cross-slide' measurements, then you can set work either on (or off) the lathe fairly easily. Packing blocks can give simple work height adjustments too by removing or inserting blocks of known thickness. Slip gauges are not required!

Apart from rigidity, there is another reason I don't feel 'swivels' work for many vertical slide operations. My large slide came with a rotary base but I soon discovered that most times I needed the actual table to overhang the cross-slide. This is because otherwise the slide's table will be mostly above the lathe centre height - and things like vices make lack of travel even more of a problem. Hanging the sliding face over the edge of the cross-slide really helps but also limits any use of a swivel. So I replaced my rotary base with a plain adaptor plate to match the vertical slide with the cross-slide, whilst giving a more secure mounting. Same for my EW slide.

So in summary, you can certainly mill in the lathe without a vertical slide and 'swivels' may not be as useful as they first seem (think of a vertical mill and it's table - generally the table doesn't swivel!)

If you have a simple milling job to do, why not try doing it with what kit you already have? Clamp the part in a tool-holder or on an angle plate if you have one. You could hold the milling tool directly in your 3-jaw but better to make a simple round tool holder (in mild steel - just drill or bore it and fit a grub screw). The chuck will grip the mild steel much better than the hardened tool and the grub screw will hold the tool if a small flat is ground in it.

Then have a go. Small cuts and slow feeds, saddle locked and with the gibs on the tight side. It may not be perfect but it will give you some idea of what is possible with patience and practice. You may decide it's not going to work for you - or that it's perfectly good enough. Either way it will help you decide what is best for your needs.

It might even be fun trying too!

Regards,

IanT

Mick B102/05/2021 15:30:58
2005 forum posts
116 photos

Not quite milling, but here's a job made a lot easier with a swivel slide:-

img_20200508_124909.jpg

I think it was a wing-mirror bracket for a classic car. Came out about 53 degrees - extrapolation because I'd run out of graduations on the swivel base.

To 're-tram' - set back square to spindle - all you have to do is open the chuck till its lower 2 jaws are as far apart as to span the fixed vice jaw, retract the crosslide, swing back the swivel and bring up the saddle till vice's jaw contacts chuck's, tighten swivel nuts and you'll be within a thou or two. Lot easier in this case than retramming a swivel mill head.

Need the vice jaws parallel to spindle? Grip a stick of stout silver steel in the chuck, swing the vice and retract the crossslide till the SS touches all across the bottom of the vice gape, approaching carefully and rocking vice to feel for clearance when you think you're close.

I'd like a mill, and may eventually find cash and space for one, but I bet I'll still be using the vertical slide a lot!

Edited By Mick B1 on 02/05/2021 15:38:04

Dr. MC Black02/05/2021 18:43:32
234 forum posts
1 photos

I used a vertical slide on my Taig (Peatol) lathe to put slots into steel angle to build a rest for my bench Grinder.

I will add a photograph if I am able to discover how to do so!

If I fail (and if anybody is interested), please send me your email address OFF-LIST and I'll send it.

With best wishes.

MC Black (Dr.)

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