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Thread: Got a Mini Mill but I need help...

  1. #11
    Happy Camper hcpookie's Avatar
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    "44991" - I know that number well!



    (slaps forehead) YEP! Get a digital caliper - the HF ones are surprisingly usable even at the discounted price.

    Also another forehead-slapper: cutting fluid. You can use WD40 some, but you really need some cutting fluid. I'm not sure if compressor oil would work, but I don't see why not. If you don't mind the mess and the smell, used motor oil works surprisingly well, and in fact the reamer rental place recommends using motor oil to lubricate their reamers. There are good cutting oils like tap magic, but you'll pay a king's ransom for the quantity you'll need. Better to find a good, cheap alternative. I like the cheap lubricating fluid in the spray cans from harbor freight. In the blue label. HF has the silicone in yellow, and I can't remember exactly what it is called, but I think it is simply called lube oil. COmes with the little red straw. That works really well for me, when I remember to buy several cans' worth.

    There is also the water-based cutting fluid which is what you see in those little ball-knuckle spouts on the CNC setups. That goes into a circulation bucket that has a filter or something. It is a complete setup. You could just let it pour out everywhere, but there is the mess to deal with. And you need to spray off everything with WD40 once you're done, for obvious reasons.

    I've even used plain 'ol water before, in a water bottle. Just depends on what I'm doing.


    It should go without saying, but good eye protection is doubly important with a mill. You'd be surprised how hot those little chips get, and when you have one land under your eye on that soft skin, you'll know why I recommend a full face shield. Those things are HOT - ask me how I know The cheap yardwork shield is actually my favorite setup for eye protection. Possibly some leather gloves, depending on how many chips go a'flying.


    A good, cheap shop vac is handy to clean up most of the chips.


    What else? Ditto on the comment about not trying to cut too much - read up on the cutting speeds and pay attention to when the motor starts to labor. I usually cut mild steel at just under the halfway mark on the speed dial, and harder steel at about 2/3 or so.

    All on the "low" gear setting. For that matter, be sure the low/high gear changing lever is snug. When it pops out, you will think you broke a gear! Also, expect to break that gear a few times. I tend to punish my tools, but if you push it too much, it will break. I have only broken one other gear, but the 2 times (or is it 3?) that I have broken a gear, it has been the high/low gear. Fortunately, LMS has all the parts for sale, so you are only out about $15 and an afternoon while you remove and disassemble the gear head.

    Also, buy that spray-on white lithium grease for the ways and gears. In the same place as the HF lubricating oil.


    A good metal marking fluid such as dykem (is there any other?) will help you when marking a piece for the final cut. You scribe your line into the dykem so you know where the cutter needs to stop. You do have a scribe, don't you? HF sells some that are actually pretty good.


    Oh almost forgot - an edge finder is indispensable when doing precision cuts, as is a deburring tool for holes.


    Another one - GOOD LIGHTS! I have one of those cheap work lights and a 75-watt bulb right there at the ready. Helps when doing eyeball 1.0 measurements.



    Lastly, a small pocket calculator helps if you are doing precision measurements. Read up on the way the dial reads, which is 1/16" per turn, or .0625", and you can easily convert that number to how many turns to cut X or Y amount. You'll figure it out.


    I can't think of anything else. Don't be afraid to experiment, and remember the gears *and* cutters are all replaceable! Just don't forget a face shield.


    http://www.onlinemetals.com is a good, but expensive, place to buy metals. I prefer aircraftspruce if I have a choice!
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    http://pookieweb.net


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  2. #12
    Gunco Member EXPcustom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, I was intrested in getting a CNC setup from Panaceabeachbum so I will have two mills one for my handi work and another for CNC.
    I need to practice on this one first and in a couple months I will try the CNC route that way I can crank out my own VZ58 receiver repair pieces.

  3. #13
    Gunco Member EXPcustom's Avatar
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    One more question:
    One I am cutting the top rail for a AK receiver and have it clamped in my cross slide vise can I cut sideways with any bit?

    I want to have the mill going and move the vice left to right and be able to cut the rail out, will most bits do this? Or are some bits specifically made for plunging or only going up and down like a drill press.

    I just want to make sure I use the right bits correctly.

  4. #14
    GuncoHolic kernelkrink's Avatar
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    End mill bits all cut on the side as well, the main differences are the flute count and the shape of the bottom cutting surface. There are ball shaped ones for making a rounded bottom slot and flat ones for making a flat bottomed cut. Of the flat, there are center cutting and "normal" ones. The center cutting ones will make a plunge cut like a drill, the other kind has to have a starter hole drilled or start the cut at the edge of the workpiece.

    For top rail work, any end mill will work as long as you are cutting with the side of it. Main thing is diameter of the cutter to match the radius in the corners of the cuts. I like the 1/4" size for that.

  5. #15
    Always sore, always tired Bradrock's Avatar
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    I just bought one of these little mister units for my mill:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Spray-Mist-Unit-...QQcmdZViewItem

    I don't have the mist coolant yet , but I think it will work pretty slick.
    " Save a tree...........Eat A Beaver!"

  6. #16
    Gunco Rookie omefford's Avatar
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    Buying shop equipment is a lot like buying a Barbie without accessories for those that have daughters. You'll soon discover that you have more tied up in tooling than the equipment.

    You received some real sound advice from the previous posts. Not knowing what level of machining you want to target, it can get a tad difficult to determine all of the tooling you will eventually need. You do mention CNC so I can guess you're rather serious.

    You might ready know this but the graduations on the hand wheels of some mills are metric not inches. that can be a real gotcha the first time you find that out.

    One thing to remember is that most Asian equipment is at best considered a 'work in process'. Once they are cleaned deburred and tightened up, you will be surprised of what they can do as long as you stay within its capabililty.

    Additional shop equipment:
    1. Lathe if you don't already have one
    2. Bench grinder
    3. The best bench vise you can afford (you'll be glad you did)
    4. H/V band saw
    5. Air compressor
    6. A seperate toolbox for measurement tooling
    7. A sturdy table to mount your mill or lathe

    A few of additional tooling items you might consider are:
    1. 123 blocks
    2. grade 'B' gauge blocks
    3. At a minimum a 0-1 and 1-2 micrometers
    4. A granite surface plate (Enco's black granite is good start)
    5. Parallels a wide and narrow
    6. Angle plate
    7. Mill work hold downs
    8. The best drill bits you can afford
    9. Height gauge
    10. Surface gauge
    11. Dial indicators - the old Starrett 'Last word' is pretty handy
    12. Mill vise - reference to LittleMachineShop is excellent for your mill size


    I realize this list may a bit over the top and not meant to shock or discourage you. The best approach was given in a post above 'don't buy everything' but rather only when the need comes up.

    I'm a Homeshop Machinist and have more craopla than I can believe, but eventually end up using something thats been collecting dust on the shelf. When you needed its nice to reach up and grab it.

    Good Luck,
    Oliver

  7. #17
    Gunco Member Tomtbo's Avatar
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    I agree with the mini milling machine advice here, and say for all the times I wished I had bigger monster gear with huge XYZ's and horsepower, I never destroyed the workpiece; just broke a little end mill that could easily be replaced.

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