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View Full Version : which milling machine to start out with?



cowanrg
01-15-2005, 10:58 PM
hey everyone, been lurking for awhile and reading as much as i can. im about ready to buy a milling machine (first one). and by mean "about to", i mean a week or so.

i have a harbor freight nearby, so ive been looking at what they offer. i need something relatively big (those mini-mills just wont cut it, no pun intended). i need something that will do primarily aluminum (6061), hardly ever, IF ever steel, maybe hardwoods, but 99% of its use would be 6061. and i like the bigger tables, because i would like to mill a piece that would be 17" x 8". that would be about the biggest i would do.

accuracy isnt that big of a deal. i know a lot of people say that, get it home and say "damn, i cant do anything with this". but im really looking to just generally learn how these things function and use it for small parts and drilling applications where accuracy isnt a big concern at all. i do most things by eye or by hand anyways, and it works for what i need.

ive been looking at this mill:

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=33686

its on sale for $799, and the stand is like $170. so with tax would be a bit over $1k. my budget is VERY limited, my other hobby is audio, which i have almost $30k into and growing. so, $1k is the absolute i can handle. i thought of a used machine but i also have somewhat limited space and weight. its going in a basement, so getting something big down there would be a problem.

plus, i would rather get a new machine than a used one that is trashed (which would most likely be the case at my limited budget). and ive seen people add CNC, dro's, ball screws, etc to this machine with good results. so if i get into it, i can do all that. i also like the fact its got a 2hp motor (the one in store does anyways.)

so, anyone think this is a dumb idea and is there another one you would suggest? im ok with tools, have a drill press with milling table, band saw, bench sander, router table, etc... so this isnt like my first tool, just my first big one. thanks everyone.

cowanrg
01-17-2005, 11:05 PM
anyone? :drowning:

dowling177
01-18-2005, 01:50 PM
you could always look into getting a Grizzly mill (http://www.grizzly.com/) there is a mill MODEL G1006 or MODEL G3358 that could be used for your application...they are very nice looking mills. 2HP motor as well.

BigDaddyG
01-18-2005, 01:58 PM
cowanrg,
Any of these mini mills will do everything you mentioned and more. As for accuracy, they can be as accurate as you want them to be. I have had several of the Enco Mini Mills (same as Grizzley, Harbor Freight, and many others) and never been disappointed. One of the engineers I work with used to make Stainless Steel parts all day long on a converted machine. My guess is you will be more than happy with that one. They convert to CNC well. Its like everything else, just when you think it will do everything you want, you need to do an 8" piece.

Jkier
01-18-2005, 04:07 PM
Just an FYI, received an email from Enco this morning stating free shipping on the round column mills. Should save a couple bucks.

BigDaddyG
01-18-2005, 04:11 PM
Jkier,
Yeah, I came back here to state the same thing.
Glen

JFettig
01-18-2005, 04:28 PM
Have you considered the squair column mills? I personally would drop the extra bucks for one, Mainly because of the larger Z travel, nice for tool changes and part changes without having to re zero stuff everytime the head is moved.(for cnc anyway)

Jon

cowanrg
01-18-2005, 05:34 PM
thanks for the help guys.

if i could find a slightly better mill for about the same price, i would go that route. but since i can get the mill i posted for $799 plus free shipping and only 3% tax, its hard to beat.

i saw the same mill at enco for $900, but even with free shipping its $100 more. even the grizzly mills are about $1100 shipped for the same ones. the extra money allows me to get the matching stand and a few cutters to start out with.

so, i think thats what i will do. i like the square-column mills, but they are easily $400 more (50% more) which doesnt allow my budget to get a stand or attachments. thanks everyone.