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  1. #1
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    Small milling machines (is the one you are using any good?)

    We all know that a big machines are better than a small machine but as a hobby there are limits in terms of workspace size and budget. Small machines are also easier and cheaper to move around. The question is what is the minimal size to be useful.

    What do you guys think of a small gear head mill like a Grizzly G1126 and/or other similar mills that are under 900 pounds.
    G1126 Gear-Head Mill/Drill

    Are any of you using a mill of this size what are your thoughts? Are you using something slightly smaller or slightly larger? Is the mill you are using any good?
    Mark Farnsworth, Raleigh, NC
    http://farnsworthbikes.com

  2. #2
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    Just a heads up: round columns suck to use. Find something w/ a dovetail or box way Z.

    This has been beat to death but for $1000+- you can find a rockwell 21-xxx. It beats the imports in every way. ~700#. Can be moved in 2 pcs w/ a handtruck. I have a cherry 21-122 in the garage. I just don't understand spending SO much more on a 'bench' sized import. I get the appeal of the tiny X1/X2s - you can stash them in a closet. But beyond that you're well into benchmaster/Burke/Hardinge TM-UM/Clausing/Rockwell territory (A Powermatic is a bit big to call a 'bench' machine)

    In RTP you should be able to bind a bunch of used machines at auction.

  3. #3
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    The only small machine I've used that was worth spit was a Hardinge horizontal mill with an accessory vertical head. The body and knee were stout enough to do real work on. The vertical head was only 1/2 horse but that's enough unless you want to get into making tooling.

    Find the used machinery dealers in your area and see what they have. Nearly anything used is a good deal unless it's been abused. Find your local community college and pay one of the instructors for a private lesson in evaluating used machines. Or just hire him (it probably won't be a her) to come to the next machinery auction you can find.

  4. #4
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    I think for about the same money you'd be better off with something like the G0729. I have an older Jet version of this and you can move it with an engine hoist. Disassembled with the head and table off two strong guys can pick up the base. And it runs on 110. If I had the means and power to have something bigger I certainly would, but it seems to be a good compromise.

  5. #5
    Belltown Brazer
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    I have this one:

    G0619 6" x 21" Mill / Drill

    And I love it. It's really just a fancy drill press, but for the part time builder it works like a champ. It is fine for milling aluminium, but not so good for milling steel (like trying to mill your own dropouts from steel plate...milling the slot in frame tubes is fine). I also use it for mitering some of the tubes, and it works fine for that.

    It goes slow enough for tapping, and has a reverse button on the handle. This is cool for drilling and tapping cranks for kids.

    B
    I am Belltown Bikes LLC. Steel bicycles hand made in East Hampton, CT

  6. #6
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    I have a Grizzly G1006 and the biggest thing i dig about it is the table size. It is a round column and I don't know why it's hard to work with buy i'm still new to milling. I rarely move the head up or down. Tramming it is pretty much un-doable though so maybe that's a factor in not wanting one? The rigidity is fine for tube notching IMO, but maybe not for milling steel. Having said that, i'll get a larger knee-mill when I can like the one Welby recommends - so you don't need a crane to move it like with a Bridgeport.

    So, if you're going to have only one mill, a big table (9x32, same as the G1126) is really nice so you can have two sets of tooling on there. But I think i'd deal with the smaller 6x26 table of the G0729 because it's a knee-mill and it'll be a more rigid machine altogether and the head tilts....but stuff will definitely be hanging off and more difficult to mount, etc. Also look at the max distance spindle to table because it can limit what tooling setups you are able to put on the table and do steep-angle miters (i.e, rotary table on its end with some kind of main tube mitering fixture may not work...).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meriwether View Post
    Also look at the max distance spindle to table because it can limit what tooling setups you are able to put on the table and do steep-angle miters (i.e, rotary table on its end with some kind of main tube mitering fixture may not work...).
    I don't know if Grizzly sells it, but my version of the 0729 has an optional 4" spacer that goes between the head and the body.

  8. #8
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    we have an similar version of the go720r at my shop. the tilting head(mitering!), the digital speed control, 10-2500rpm, and DRO are nice. the adjustable ways and lots of backlash are annoying. the drill chuck is a POS. it doesn't feel very true. I can see/feel the lack of rigidity on some stuff which makes it hard on tooling. vibration and chatter is what kills your tooling quicker. it feels like a toy. I wouldn't buy one with my own money unless it was used for under a grand. even then I'd spend more for a real mill. for the price of the new grizzly(~$3k), that's bridgeport money imho. if you can fit a mini mill, it won't be that much harder to fit a full size. the grizzly will get a lot of stuff done, but harder to maintain precision, surface quality, and taking really light cuts on some things adds time.

  9. #9
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    Mike from ANT has got some nice pictures of a small mill mitering setup here (follow the link to browse the other pictures). Don't know if somebody can identify the mill ? :

    Class time 015 par antbike, sur Flickr

  10. #10
    RCP Fabrication
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    Looks like a grizzly with the head turned. Nice little set up.

  11. #11
    RCP Fabrication
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    Heres my "mini' (800lb) mill.

    I'm setting it up as a dedicated seat stay/chain stay mitering system until I can hunt down another Bridgeport.


  12. #12
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    I like how he uses the table instead of the spindle to make the cut by turning it into a 'horizontal' mill of sorts. That is way more rigid than using the spindle for the cut for the small mills.
    Nice 80/20 fixtures too!

    My mini is smaller than that one and is useless for coping tubes now that I have experienced a bigger setup. I'd still be surprised if Ant's setup does not produce some chatter. The amount of play/movement in my mini's table and dovetail was absurd. It's now my dedicated drill press for punching holes in tubes and it's not even great at that.
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  13. #13
    Nemophilist
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    Hey;

    I would encourage everyone to go down the path toward a real machine. Yes, it takes a lot
    of patience, perseverence, some knowledge, and a bit of luck, but a real machine will pay
    you back many times over. I am very fortunate to have one at my disposal. Even then, it
    poses its limitations and problems. Every machine will have its limitations, but the real
    ones have less... IF they are in decent condition. I'm learning to work around my machine,
    as everyone will have to. Mostly, I'm learning to work around MY OWN limitations!

    When it comes to machines - all things being equal in terms of condition - you can't beat
    SIZE & MASS!

    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
    - John Hajny, a.k.a. TrailMaker

  14. #14
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    I have had one of these for about 6 years now. Not as nice as a knee mill but the dove tail column does a OK job of allowing you to work in the Z axis. I have the full on "manual" model. No power feed and no DRO. Spindle bearings need service soon.

    Enco - Guaranteed Lowest Prices on Machinery, Measuring Tools, Cutting Tools and Shop Supplies

  15. #15
    Randomhead
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    I'm curious about the Grizzly horizontal for a mitering setup. The little vertical mills with the rectangular column would be a lot more interesting if the column didn't rotate. That seems to be a big source of chatter.

  16. #16
    Salsa Mukluk 3
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    As an owner of a small Grizzly benchtop mill, I'll thrown in my 2 cents (for free... and not worth that!).

    I bought a Grizzly G1005Z some time back, for my other obsession - restoring antique park train size steam locomotives. I will stipulate that bigger is better when it comes to a mill, and if I had my druthers, I would prefer something other than a round column, benchtop mill. If you can find a good, used, full-size mill worth the money - get it. However, I could not find one when I was looking. I really needed a mill, so I bought the G1005Z. The little Grizzly has done everything I needed it to do, within its limitations. I'm just up the road from the Springfield, MO store, so I picked it up and saved on shipping charges.

    Soooo.... it just depends if you have the room to house it and patience to find a good deal on a real milling machine. If not, I don't have any qualms recommending the Grizzly for a small machine - mine has worked just fine!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by fanzy4 View Post
    Mike from ANT has got some nice pictures of a small mill mitering setup here (follow the link to browse the other pictures). Don't know if somebody can identify the mill ? :

    It's the Grizzly G0704

    Pretty decent little mill. I have one and have built various odds and ends with it so far including a frame jig, stem jig, and (an almost finished) fork jig.

    Alistair.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I'm curious about the Grizzly horizontal for a mitering setup. The little vertical mills with the rectangular column would be a lot more interesting if the column didn't rotate. That seems to be a big source of chatter.
    I think the table size and travels (especially in Y axis) on that Grizzly Horiz./Vert milll will be too small to be of use in a mitering setup. If not, I bet Mike F. would have used it instead of the G0704 that Edelbikes posted a picture of.

    I may be misunderstanding your post, but the the column on square/dovetail column mill doesn't rotate. This is what makes them easier to use than the round column mills, which lose X-Y registration when you raise/lower the head.

    The source of chatter for the benchtop square column mills, or any benchtop mill for that matter, is just the fundamental lack of mass and rigidity. With these smaller machines you have to take pretty light passes, compared to something like a B'port.

    Alistair.

  19. #19
    Randomhead
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    I was talking about the mini mills

    My impression of the Grizzly horizontal is that it's so small that it would be hard to fit all the pieces needed in its envelope. I live just close enough to Grizzly that I'm tempted to go look at it.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    I was talking about the mini mills

    My impression of the Grizzly horizontal is that it's so small that it would be hard to fit all the pieces needed in its envelope. I live just close enough to Grizzly that I'm tempted to go look at it.

    Ok, got it now. I've come to think of the bench top mills collectively as mini mills, since that's how I often hear machinist types refer to them. I'd forgotten that several companies actually offer an item specifically called a mini mill.

    The G0704 is pretty light at around just over 300lbs but the design is pretty clever so it's fairly rigid for it's mass. Still quite limited compared to a real knee mill but it's a good introductory mill I think. The R8 spindle is nice since tooling is readily available and transferable to a bigger machine, should a person decide to go in that direction.

    I've been to the Grizzly showroom a couple of hours north of me and checked out the small horizontal they're offering. It really is tiny. You could probably set it up to slot chainstays, but much more than that and I'm thinking that it just won't have the travel.

    Never tried it myself though so I don't want to say it can't be done. Maybe someone has gotten creative and figured it out.

    Alistair.

  21. #21
    Randomhead
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    The G0704 is smaller than that picture cutting seat stays makes it look. Tempting though

  22. #22
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    The table travel on the horizontal G0727 is very similar to the one I have on my dedicated mitering mill (~ 80mm), which is just enough for main tube mitering on a 6" rotary table. I would be more worried by the width of the table (and thus the min. distance between the spindle and the center of your rotary table).

  23. #23
    Randomhead
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    With the Grizzly horizontal, there isn't much room between the table and the column. Most vertical mills have a lot more room there. It isn't just travel that you have to worry about.

    thinking more about the G0704. Since you can rotate the head, why use a rotary table? Just set up the head at the angle you want and go to town. I know someone that uses their Bridgeport this way. Is there something about this mill I'm missing? Or is it just because the head takes longer to adjust than the rotary table?

  24. #24
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    Pretty sweet little horizontal:

    Page Title

    I've got one that is functional but has it's issues in the way of a broken reverse lever and subtly bent lead screw on the Y axis. Short of that, works like a charm and I hope to have the time to restore it at some future date. It's not my main mill, so not a priority to date. I've had an import vertical mini-mill and the Atlas is light years ahead, despite the issues of mine and even though it's many years older, there is little comparison.

    You can also get some neat old machines from Burke, Delta/Rockwell, Clausing, and likely many others with which I'm not familiar. Basically, I'm an advocate for OLD, overbuilt machines. ...Manufactured before cost cutting measures and bottom line profits became the number one focus and everything was outsourced overseas to be built by low cost labor with a minimum of material. YMMV.

  25. #25
    Randomhead
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    I have looked for a small horizontal mill off and on for a while now. It seems like a lot of them have pneumatic feed on the x. Seems like fixing that is just another project I'd rather not have to take on

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