Friday, March 14, 2014

Useful addition to the shop....or paperweight?

I suspect that like many readers of this blog I'm somewhat of a tool-a-holic. I really try to limit my excursions through things like the Micro-Mark catalog (and a bunch of other tool catalogs) to things I'll actually use. But more often than not I'll find something I just have to have. I do have one rule though - I like tools that are of a decent "hobby" quality. (I know enough about milling machines, CNCs, and the like from my time at Intermountain to know I don't need a $20,000 Bridgeport...)
As the layout moves away from the "woodworking" stage I'm looking seriously at a few true modeling projects that are very high on my "bucket" list - building a CV Ten Wheeler is one that leaps to mind, as well as a few other scratchbulding projects.
As I was flipping through the Micro-Mark catalog last night I mentioned to Christine that I'd might, perhaps, maybe, like to get a milling machine someday....
Usually she just rolls her eyes and asks what I'm going to with that, besides hurting myself or perhaps blowing up the house.*
This time she said, "Well, if you really want one and think you'll use it go ahead." In fairness, she's a little bit of the tool-a-holic as well since the next words out of her mouth were "I wonder if I can use it for any jewelry projects????"
So, the questions I pose to you, gentle reader, are simple -
1. Should I pull the trigger and realize the decade plus goal of getting this thing?
2. Any advice on what accessories/bits etc... to get with it?

*In all honesty, I can't conceive a situation where I could blow something up with a milling machine...but where there's a will there's a way... I think she was remembering the cut on Bernie's forehead from his then-new lathe...or the blood stain on our garage floor from the time Bernie dropped a drill on his foot....


Pierre Oliver said...

Rule # 1: The one who dies with the most toys, wins!

bobcatt said...

Get a unit as heavy as you can manage. An R8 spindle and t-slots that take at least 1/4-20 fasteners. Sieg makes decent mills that are re-branded and sold by Harbor Freight, Grizzly, etc. Variable speed drive. Tooling will meet or exceed the cost of the mill itself. Vise(s), rotary table, v-blocks, parallels, cutters, saws, arbors, micrometers, gauges, et al. Happy to chat any time, Marty.

Bernie said...

The milling machine is one of the safer tools, as the tool spins, but does not move laterally. Your hands are usually on the table advance dials, away from the spinning tool.

A lathe is more dangerous as the part moves. It can fly across the room with great momentum if it pops loose. Furthermore, in model building, we are frequently cutting such small parts that the cutting tool is close to the spinning chuck.

If I got a milling machine, I would stick with Sherline. I have their lathe and I like it. It is a good size for model railroad projects. I won't be turning my Porsche brake rotors on it, but that is OK with me.

The cut on my forehead was not a cut but a bruise. I was trying to turn a long slender taper for a O scale flag pole, and the part deflected under the cutting load and came off the centers. That is why I wear safety goggles, even with a Sherline lathe.

It was amazing how much blood came from that nick on my ankle. Did you ever get the blood stains off your garage floor? BTW that wouldn't have happened if we had a good work bench to work on. Just goes to show, that with the proper tools, injuries are less likely. So yes, get the milling machine. It will prevent injury.

Anonymous said...

The expense of the machine comes after the initial purchase as described by bobcatt's post above.
Just something to keep in mind...