View Full Version : Capabilities of mini mill @ $2500

05-13-2005, 02:19 AM
Hello, I want to get into milling and am looking to buy a mini mill for around $2500US. I'd wondering what all a mini mill is capable of doing. I'm a newbie to this stuff. Will a mill cut all the way through a block or cut throught sheet metal or would I need a flojet or laser cutter?

Can a mini-mill do something like this (http://cs.clark.edu/%7Ejdeng0215/wb/DSC01956.JPG)?

I'm want to be able to mill copper and aluminum.


05-13-2005, 06:32 AM
$2500 is more the enough, I own a mini mill that cost £250 new and it can cut aluminium etc, Im sure you will be able to cut somthing like that with a mini mill, although you will probably have to cnc the mill to get somthing like that made.

05-13-2005, 09:42 AM
Yeah I'm looking at a cnc mill. Know of a place to buy bits from?

05-13-2005, 10:48 AM
For a cnc, depending on what exactly you want, that could be done, I buy a lot of my end mills from jtsmachine. Do you have experience with these machines?


05-13-2005, 11:03 AM
Nope, just getting into this. Just to simplify my reason for posting...what bits would I need to make something like in that picture I linked to?

05-13-2005, 12:40 PM
Can you give us more information about the part?
What is the size of the part and material?

Without specifics, Two larger endmills to do the roughing and finishing.
And two smaller endmills to rough and finish the details.

Drills for the holes. Can use an endmill for the counter bores.

And a good CAD/CAM system to make it all work :)

05-13-2005, 01:03 PM
Following Wayne....you'll need to CNC the mini-mill or whatever mill you use...depends on the size of the part and material type. At a minimum you could use a rotary table and do all the milling manually.

05-13-2005, 03:24 PM
i think somthing like this would do the job you want :

05-13-2005, 09:10 PM
Hey com that's exactly the mill I was looking for. I found one on ebay for 2 k with a taig controller. 4 axis controller btw if I decide to upgrade.

This project is no bigger than 2.5" X 2.5" and would use copper.

05-13-2005, 09:50 PM
if these are just heatsink/watercooling parts for pc's, Which would be my guess at what the part is, then a taig will serve you fine.

05-13-2005, 10:05 PM
I think you should get the square collum lathemaster. 1500.00 Check it out, if you have the room, this is the best bet going. A big mill can make small parts, but a small mill cant make big parts. Good Luck! ( The Taig looks like a nice little mill, but I think youll be looking at a bigger one after a while. )

05-13-2005, 11:01 PM
if these are just heatsink/watercooling parts for pc's, Which would be my guess at what the part is, then a taig will serve you fine.

Yeah they're waterblocks for PC cooling. Is there a good informative webpage on what a mill is capable of and what each bit can do etc?

I want to thank all of you for your input and help. Great forum!

05-13-2005, 11:54 PM
DIDO on the Lathemaster mill. Although I check his site every now and then and he indicates he is out of stock. Been that way for a while now (web page anyway).
I don't know how CNCadmin (Paul) purchased the lathe from there since he continues to indicate that he is out of stock on that as well. I have had my eye on that lathe for a while now.
A more expensive alternative is buying an Industrial hobbies mill. Built from the same factory (so I have been told) but bigger table, more X, Y and Z travel. Hardened gears.
It won't be cheap converting it to CNC, but then again no mill will. Don't be insulted Bridgeport owners, but the square column mill is like having a bridgeport is rigidity, but when broken down in pieces it can be picked up by one large person with some grinning while you lift or carry the sections. Second benefit is it can be mounted on a homemade bench, enclosed and can easily be fed flood coolant which can be collected back to a coolant container. Harder to contain that coolant on those floor mounted Bridgeports without modifying that pan (as I envision it).
BTW: Has shipping gotten expensive or what.

05-14-2005, 12:20 AM
You should read through the messages on the taig yagoo group. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/taigtools/

As for what bits do what, the uses are relatively obvious or so I would think. There are thousands of endmill variations, take a look at a site like kbctools.com they have over 100pages of their catalog dedicated to cutting tools.

The variations on each design are just about endless, helix rate, hss vs carbide, etc, etc. It all depends on material, depth of cut, machine strength, feed rates, etc, etc.

You'll see most of the special cutters are pretty specific, unlike router bits used for wood work which tend to be used to create a complex profile in one pass we dont really tend to do alot of that in metalwork, especially in cnc when it can be done in multiple passes with a standardized tool. Things like t-slot cutters, dovetail cutters, are examples of situations when you really do need special "bits" because its pretty hard to do that stuff any other way.

In regards to other mills that arent the Taig, I'd suggest some of the stuff the square column mills from places like industrial hobbies, lathemaster, etc. You will never find yourself wishing you had less table travel or Z-axis travel/headspace or rigidity.

Another thing you'll have to consider is all the accessories you'll find you'll want, rotary tables, clamping equipment, a good variety of endmills, vises, taps, dies, etc etc. You'll probably find that eventually your investment in accessories is probably worth more then a small mill.

05-14-2005, 06:10 AM
Can you guys read though this for me to see if it's a good deal? :)

Here (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=7514972240&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT&rd=1#ebayphotohosting)

05-14-2005, 06:46 AM
Heres a guys taig, he uses it to make all kinds of paintball parts:
And heres a website for all different types of cutters:

05-14-2005, 10:43 AM
Nice links Com thanks a lot.

05-14-2005, 10:59 AM
Well can't knock Taig or Sherline ....but I have a Jet 18MD...or something like that weighs 700 or so pounds X=24in and Y=7 1/4.....and I want something much larger in Y travel...bigger is definitely better when it comes to metal cutting tools....you need the mass for rigidity.

Regarding Lathemaster.com....you need to call him (Bob) and state..."Bob, I want this machine when it comes in.".....I have the 8X14 lathemaster lathe...once the machines come in....he goes down his list...calls you...if you don't buy....he calls the next person....and then when you decide that maybe you do want it.....there's a good chance that he has sold out all his machines.

Regarding the cutters and what they do...it's pretty common sense....ball cutter.....rounded grove the width of the cutter....dovetail....just that...endcutting mill....you can plunge cut and then side cut.....start with HSS, then gradually move to carbide...