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New mini mill or use lathe as a mill.?

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Frank Mckenzie27/12/2021 10:10:07
7 forum posts

I have a myford super 7 lathe.Looking to do some light milling work.

Would a new mini mill be a better option or would buying the attachments for the lathe be the way to go..?

Would light milling on the lathe be to its detriment..?

Buying the attachments would work out cheaper too.

Nicholas Wheeler 127/12/2021 10:16:01
906 forum posts
86 photos

The first couple of cuts using a vertical slide on the mini-lathe were enough for me: I ordered a matching mini-mill. I bought a bigger lathe but still have the mill. That's only because I don't really have room for both, a bigger mill would be a similar productivity improvement.

Mike Hurley27/12/2021 10:22:06
305 forum posts
87 photos

Its really down to how you define 'light'. An occasional skim or shallow groove in easily machined material - not a problem in the lathe. If you're planning building things on a regular basis, you'll soon find the limitations irritating, Space and £ are other considerations.

Don't forget that Model engineers made numerous fine machines for many years with just a lathe.

regards. Mike

Bo'sun27/12/2021 10:24:10
602 forum posts
2 photos

I've used a milling slide on my WM250 with good success. But the swapping things around, only to find out that you realy should have completed one more operation before swapping back, convinced me to buy a benchtop mill.

Other considerations with a milling slide attachment are lack of travel and general visibility.

GeoffT27/12/2021 10:26:53
8 forum posts
5 photos

Similar experience as Nicholas. I have a Sieg SC3-400 lathe and bought a vertical milling slide for this. I found that only very light cuts could be made with this due to lack of rigidity. I have since bought a Sieg SX2P mill and this is very much better as it is designed for the job.

Geoff

John Olsen27/12/2021 10:27:19
1240 forum posts
94 photos
1 articles

A separate mill will be better, space and finance permitting of course. The trouble with combination machines of any sort is that they are always set up for the wrong function, so you spend a lot of time changing back and forth. Especially when a part needs turning, then milling, then more turning...

On the other hand, the kind of light milling that you can do on a Myford with a vertical slide won't do it any harm. Plenty of good work has been done that way.

Another thing to think about is the kind of work you want to do in the unforeseeable future. A vertical slide will do good work but will limit the size of the jobs more than even quite a small mill.

The usual sort of small vertical mill will act as a drilling machine, so takes the place of another machine you might want later if you went the vertical slide route.

Regards

John

ega27/12/2021 11:14:23
2487 forum posts
199 photos

You could get a detailed idea of what is possible from one or other of the following:

Milling Operations in the Lathe: Tubal Cain WPS5

Milling in the Lathe Edgar T Westbury MAP

I found that milling in my Super 7 quickly exposed any looseness in the lathe eg cross slide backlash can allow the milling cutter (preferably not held in the three jaw or Morse taper without drawbar) to grab.

Howard Lewis27/12/2021 12:53:04
6005 forum posts
14 photos

Using a Vertical Slide on a Myford ML7 showed a lack of rigidity., as did a Rodney Milling attachment.

So bought a Warco Economy (largest that would fit into that workshop. Still using it.

Have used a Vertical Slide, intended for a Sieg SC6 on my BL12-24, for co ordinate drilling of long work, but not for milling.

So only very light cuts when milling in a lathe, or buy a milling machine, would be my advice.

Howard

Thor 🇳🇴27/12/2021 13:31:40
avatar
1598 forum posts
45 photos

I too used a vertical slide on my small lathe for light milling jobs, not very rigid. A Mini Mill was a great improvement and I still use it for light jobs, well worth the cost.

Thor

SillyOldDuffer27/12/2021 13:42:44
Moderator
8469 forum posts
1885 photos

I found milling on a lathe horrid frustrating. Can be done but so many limitations! Not much space or travel. No drawbar or other good way of holding cutters. Fiddly work holding and light cuts only because lathes aren't designed to take the sideways forces caused by milling.

Real milling machines, even small ones, are better in every way and can be massively improved by adding a DRO.

Milling may be more important to you than expected. Starting out I assumed I would do far more turning than milling. In practice I spend more time milling than on the lathe, and would be crippled without a reasonably big mill. With hindsight I might have done better to buy a mill first, and get the lathe later. Although there would be floods of tears if either broke down, I'd fix the mill first!

Dave

Mick B127/12/2021 14:03:45
2157 forum posts
117 photos
Posted by Bo'sun on 27/12/2021 10:24:10:

I've used a milling slide on my WM250 with good success. But the swapping things around, only to find out that you realy should have completed one more operation before swapping back, convinced me to buy a benchtop mill.

Other considerations with a milling slide attachment are lack of travel and general visibility.

I have a Warco WM250V with a Myford double-swivel milling slide on an adapted Warco baseplate.

Bo'sun's post above is nearest to my feelings. I haven't yet found any project with milling or coordinate drilling too big to do on it - the most serious limitation for me is that I haven't yet found a suitable rotary table or a way to mount it - I sometimes need to cut hexagons.

I can mount or dismount the vertical in a minute or two, but it's still an irritation if I realise I need to do some turning in a sequence of milling ops or vice-versa. Depth of cut has to be reasonable, but vibration in the slide pedestal becomes a problem long before cutters start pulling out of the 3-jaw.

I can see myself managing with the vertical slide for the foreseeable, but if I were to find the space or cash, I'd have to say a separate small mill would be a better solution.

Ches Green UK27/12/2021 20:02:32
56 forum posts
5 photos

i bought a bench lathe from a UK company in the summer. Then, a couple of months later, I realised I needed a 'milling facility' to complement the lathe. So I spent a couple of days drawing up a pats list to turn my lathe in to a mill (when required).

I phoned up the the company I bought the lathe from (who also sell milling attachments, and mills) and started to reel of the 'mill attachment' parts I want to buy. The employee stopped me half way through and advised that I really needed a stand-alone mill. I was slightly disappointed after spending two days researching but the tone of his voice did convince me. He then reeled off 3 or 4 UK companies that sold suitable mills even mentioning some of them by Pt No. and mentioning his own company's product last.

I said "OK, thanks, let me gather my thoughts" and ended the call. I bought a stand alone mill a few days later, and you can guess from which company. I haven't looked back.

Ches.

Frank Mckenzie28/12/2021 09:03:01
7 forum posts

Many thanks for the replies.Good advice there.

Yes I'm inclined to go for a standalone mill.

What are peoples thoughts on the Sieg x2 range..?

They seem to tick all the boxes for me.

Regards,

Frank.

Ketan Swali28/12/2021 09:29:12
1416 forum posts
133 photos

Hi Frank,

So that people can give their thoughts clearly, could you please clarify if you mean SIEG X2 or SX2?

SIEG X2 is the original brushed motor with gear drive.

SIEG SX2 is the newer brushless motor belt drive.

Ketan at ARC.

Howi28/12/2021 09:41:00
avatar
351 forum posts
19 photos

I have the Seig SX2P and would highly recommend, gets as much use as the lathe. I would like bigger (who would not) but space and money dictate.

For bang per buck it is a super machine and the brushless motor is worth its weight in gold.

Ches Green UK28/12/2021 10:30:28
56 forum posts
5 photos

Frank,

Like Howi I bought the Seig SX2P.

It's the right size for my 10' x 9' shed and looks like it will do everything I need.

I've got a larger Stuart Steam Engine it will be getting used on in 2022 so that's when it will get it's proper shakedown.

I bought a few accesories for it incl' ER32 chuck (I already had the collets from my lathe), 80mm vice (not sure the rotating part is really needed but it comes with it), 45mm precision vice, end mills, tray etc.

One piece of advice I'd emphasise is that it weighs around 70 Kg ...best get somebody help you to unbox and/or lift it up onto your bench! Some here have slid their mill up a ladder (if you have space etc) ... do a search.

Ches

Mike Poole28/12/2021 12:11:07
avatar
Moderator
3302 forum posts
73 photos

Having sampled the power and rigidity of industrial milling machines as an apprentice I found milling on my Myford was an experience that sent a milling machine to the top of my wish list. The vertical slide and the Rodney are largely redundant since the arrival of a Warco VMC. The VMC is worlds apart from the Myford but falls far short of an industrial machine. I accept the compromise of the VMC as it is easy to break down into bite sized pieces and can be installed almost anywhere by a couple of fit and able men. The investment required to try out milling in the lathe is not great and can largely be recovered if you sell it on after trying it. My Rodney came with the lathe so I am glad I didn’t buy it separately. Milling can be done with a Myford and much good work has been produced on one but it would be my last option. The Myford makes a poor milling machine as even for a lathe it is a lightly built machine and is definitely too light for milling with any real cutting power.

 

Mike

Edited By Mike Poole on 28/12/2021 12:11:29

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