Well, after 5 years running the Taig Mill, it is time to build an enclosure. I am ready to upgrade to a more heavy duty spindle, and need to run flood coolant. Also, the wife is tired of all the aluminum shavings all over the garage. I've seen some other enclosures, and there are some really sweet ones out there. But I am kinda cheap, and a $500+ enclosure simply just isn't an option. So I have been putting this off until such time as I could find a solution that was less expensive.
I was at Harbour Freight the other day just looking around, and something caught my eye. I called my son and had him take some measurements on my mill for me. BINGO. I had found the basic frame for my enclosure.
Soooo... with a swipe of my card, I headed home with this.
Steel Service Cart - 24" x 36"
I opened the box, and began by ditching the casters. Ain't gonna need those. The bottom shelf of the unit has 4 holes in each corner to mount the casters. The top shelf does not have these holes. So I began by using the TOP shelf as the bottom of the enclosure. This 3 inch deep shelf will be the pan for catching shavings and coolant. I assembled the uprights to the pan, and then installed what was the BOTTOM shelf as the top of the eclosure. I installed it upside down to give the max inside clearance vertically.
I have moddified my Taig mill by raising the Z way about 3 inches. I already knew before I bought the cart, that the enclosure would not be tall enough without moddification. I had 2 options to easily fix this. The first option would be to ditch the uprights that came with the unit, and replace them with longer angle iron pieces to raise the top of the unit. That would have been easy, and relatively inexpensive, but instead, I opted to create an opening in the top that would allow the motor and Z stepped to rise through the top. This option allows me to run the drive stepper wiring out the top of the enclosure through the upright column. It also allows the spindle motor more access to air. So I got out the jigsaw, and I cut an opening for the top. I put rubber door trim on the cuts to clean it up.
I test fit the mill into the enclosure, and had to trim just a little on the opening.
Now, I needed some cheap waterproof side walls. I went to Home Depot, and bought some Choroplast. This is basically the plastic version of corrogated cardboard. I have used it before in other projects, and it is very cheap, and durable. It is easy to cut with just a razorblade knife. So I cut a piece for each side, and one for the back of the enclosure. I installed each panel by removeing all the bolts from that side of the enclosure, spreading some clear silicone adhesive, putting the panel in place, and the bolting it in with the bolts that hold the unit together. Also, you need to make sure to put silicone adhesive in the corners of the pan at the same time, as the pan is not sealed at the corners. Once you have the bolts tight, cover them with silicone as well. So now I have it closed in on 3 sides. (I do know that I will have to make an extension box in the Coroplast for clearance of my X stepper motor on the right side)
I used a wall mount for a flat panel monitor to attach my monitor to the upper left hand side of the enclosure. I had this laying around, but Walmart sells them for about $25. Or you could just make your own from some flat plate. So this is where I am currently in this project.
Today I bought 3 2X4 studs. I will use those to build a 4" tall riser to set the enclosure on. This will allow me to install a drain made from a 1/4 NPT pipe flange, and plumb it out the back of the riser to drain into a 5 gallon bucket that will be my coolant tank. I will be using a $7 Harbour Freight pond pump to deliver coolant from the bucket to a coolant block which I will mount on the right side of the spindle to the T slot. Also, I am looking for a couple small directional flood lights to install in the upper front corners of the enclosure. Finally, I will cut a .300 wide slot in the front of the top to accept a sheet of plexi for the door to the unit. I will make a track for it using 3/8 angle aluminum, and I will install 2 U shaped drawer pulls for handles to lift the door. And I will probably make a couple small shelves to attach to the right side of the unit for storing collets and tools.