Milling machine reccommendations
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  1. #1
    gunco irregular moleman's Avatar
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    Question Milling machine reccommendations

    I have been wanting a milling machine for years and soon will have a budget of around $1000ish burning a hole in my pocket. I'd love a bridgeport but I only have 220v single phase in the garage and I really don't have room for a machine that large. I've been looking at this harbor freight machine Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices
    Is it an ok machine or are their other better ones out there in the same price range.

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    Gunco Member joezx10r's Avatar
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    The problem with the harbor freight one is the round column. They can move when taking a cut, do yourself a favor and get a square column.

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    Gunco Member joezx10r's Avatar
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    Go here Cnczone.com and look in benchtop milling section for ideas.

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    Gunco Veteran Markp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moleman View Post
    I have been wanting a milling machine for years and soon will have a budget of around $1000ish burning a hole in my pocket. I'd love a bridgeport but I only have 220v single phase in the garage and I really don't have room for a machine that large. I've been looking at this harbor freight machine Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices
    Is it an ok machine or are their other better ones out there in the same price range.
    First you need to really define your needs, are you going to primarily be working with small parts (like what you would find on a gun?) Or do you need a larger table for working on really large projects. Remember tooling will set you back a few hundred dollars. For the money, I really like this milling machine, it has a robust column that won't move, it's lightweight at 150#, and seems pretty decent for such a light machine.

    Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices

    LittleMachineShop.com - tooling, parts, and accessories for bench top machinists has a lot of accessories. One other benefit of this machine is that it uses the fairly standard R8 taper so collects and tooling is easy to find. The table has good range for a small machine. Don't forget to look for the 20% off coupon has, I got this mill out the door for $400 and picked up all the accessories I needed to get started for about $400 (vice, collets, end mills, center finder, parallels, 123 blocks, and clamping kit.)

    That will burn through your $1000 pretty fast, add some good measuring tools and you'll be right there.

    Mark

    PS - There is always this if you still want to spend $1000

    Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices

    or this

    Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices <- 20% off coupon brings it down to $1280

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    No Hope For Me Coils's Avatar
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    Or check Craig's list or other classifieds in your area and see what turns up.
    I found a nice 3 in 1 once on Craig's list and it got sold about 3 hours before I called

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    Gunco Member SW44's Avatar
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    +1 on the classified ads. I picked up a minimally used JET mill/drill machine for $600. The real benefit of used equipment is that it usually comes with alot of the tooling and accessories you need. Mine came with a heavy stand, a big machinist vice (a neccessity!), drill chuck, face milling head, and clamping block set. It is a twin to this Harbor freight machine.

    Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices

    I would prefer a bridgeport type machine as well but the money tree would need to grow a lot larger. The round column on the machine hasn't been a problem. There is one spindle that clamps the head to the column for when I drill and two heavy bolts I can tighten when I mill. The table size and travel is important. Good milling vices are large and sturdy so they take up space on the table. When using clamping bars there can be several bolted to the table and sticking out in a couple of directions to hold the work.

    What ever you buy will teach you alot about milling operations. Especially how to break end mills and the clamping techniques to use when you want to fling a block of metal across the room.

    Good luck and good hunting!

  7. #7
    Gunco Member afrey1967's Avatar
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    Try Grizzly.com® -- Home, They have decent tools I used to have some of their stuff and never had any problems with anything I ever got from them.

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    gunco irregular moleman's Avatar
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    I guess I should add a little to what I'm looking for. I currently have a enco 9x20 lathe and while you can do most things you want with it, it takes a little longer and the durablility of the machine isn't what an american made machine is, even a used one. I am going to upgrade the lathe maybe next year or so to one with at least a 1-1/4" hole in the headstock and at least 30" between centers. I'd prefer not to do the same thing with the milling machine. Hell even the wifes on board with that. I know I'll need at least $500 in tooling to be happy with the machine otherwise you have a fancy machine that you can't do anything with. I've seen used bridgeports from $1000 and up. I would be willing use the tool money and buy the best used bridgeport I could afford even if it meant I wouldn't be able to use it for some time. I think The main thing thats keeping me from doing that is it would pretty much mean I'd never get more than 1 car in our 3 car garage because of the other tools. I had looked at this one Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices , but didn't know exactally how big it was. If its almost as big as a used bridgeport I'd rather have the bridgeport. I'll check out the site JoeZX10R mentioned and see what ideas I come up with from there.
    Does anyone know where you get the harbor freight 20% off coupons?

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    tired of idiots vz58's Avatar
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    mole. I have that harbor freight machine. I have added 3 axis DRO and had to lathe the crossfeed acme to accept good bearings as the facotry dont last if you put the power feed on it. Plus the round column is a pain some times. BUT you can always set up a jig behind the mill where you can have 2 beds to run on.

    It works well just needs some improvements

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    gunco irregular moleman's Avatar
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    Thanks VZ, I found the larger orange harbor freight mill Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices at grizzly for quite a bit more G3102 Vertical Mill. It doesn't have near the footprint of the bridgeport and not much bigger than the green harbor freight one Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices . Is it worth the extra money or should I sink that money into tooling?

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