Notices
Like Tree6Likes

beginners metal mill

Old 02-09-2019, 07:44 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jax, Fl
Posts: 4,027
Default beginners metal mill

I'd like to cut metal, mostly aluminium, more precisely and cleaner looking than what I'm able to do with a grinder and dremal . I just did a amazon search but have no idea about the machines that appeared in the search. So I turn to the vast experience of my hulltruth bro's. I have almost 0 experience so I don't need the yellowfin of mills. But I don't want to buy junk. Thanks my dudes!
fijon is offline  
Old 02-09-2019, 07:47 PM
  #2  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
spraynet 1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sanford, FL
Posts: 7,213
Default

Awesome sir, everyone needs a passion!

BUT...

I got Nothin!!!!
spraynet 1 is offline  
Old 02-09-2019, 08:08 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jax, Fl
Posts: 4,027
Default

Well I hope you're having a great Saturday night and your wife is feeling great!
Barnacled likes this.
fijon is offline  
Old 02-09-2019, 08:20 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: galveston,tx
Posts: 565
Default

i do a lot of aluminum fabrication and i mostly use a 4 1/2" grinder with a cut off or wafer disc on it. thin stuff can be cut with a skill saw and a special metal blade. port-a-band for the bigger pipe and thicker flat bar. amazing how good you can get with the grinder with some practice. i go thru a lot of the Harbor Freight $10 grinders. if you burn it up with in 30 days, just take it back and get another.
smooth move is offline  
Old 02-09-2019, 08:31 PM
  #5  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: New England
Posts: 460
Default

For a good selection of decent small machines, check out LittleMachineShop.com
5tmorris likes this.
BackEastDon is offline  
Old 02-09-2019, 08:38 PM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,878
Default

How big a chunk a metal we talking about? All kinds of used mills or 3 in 1s out there depending on what youre cutting.
Fish_DOut likes this.
nautiduck is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:05 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Jax, Fl
Posts: 4,027
Default

Originally Posted by smooth move View Post
i do a lot of aluminum fabrication and i mostly use a 4 1/2" grinder with a cut off or wafer disc on it. thin stuff can be cut with a skill saw and a special metal blade. port-a-band for the bigger pipe and thicker flat bar. amazing how good you can get with the grinder with some practice. i go thru a lot of the Harbor Freight $10 grinders. if you burn it up with in 30 days, just take it back and get another.
I've been down that road, all the way to the end. I "upgraded" from HF grinders to a porter cable from lowes. I'd like more precision and cleaner cuts.

Originally Posted by nautiduck View Post
How big a chunk a metal we talking about? All kinds of used mills or 3 in 1s out there depending on what youre cutting.
My current project I put 3 holes in 2 pieces of Al flat bar, 1/8" thick. It's difficult to get them lined up to the precision I'd like.

this looks interesting but I'm kind of over HF for most stuff.
fijon is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:26 AM
  #8  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location:
Posts: 11,109
Default

What you want is a band saw. You can just get a "porta band" - that's a brand name but also made by others -I have a Dewalt. With these you are still doing it free-hand but usually much easier, better, more accurate cut than with a grinder. If you want more accuracy, they make chop saws that are band saws. We have some Kama units at work that the the shiz but they are expensive. There are some cheaper ones out there and even some "mounts" for a porta-band to turn it into a chop saw. You didn't get real specific on exactly what or how you were cutting so if this doesn't apply just ignore.

Kama -they make several different models /sizes. I know we have 3 different sizes in our shop.



Cheaper version:

Back-in-Black is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:30 AM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 754
Default

I've cut all kinds of auminum up to a half inch with a standard framing blade on a wood chopsaw and even a skill saw. blade had to be sharp take your time and make sure your product is firm agenst the fence and cant move or roll
BST24351 is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:37 AM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,878
Default

Originally Posted by fijon View Post
I've been down that road, all the way to the end. I "upgraded" from HF grinders to a porter cable from lowes. I'd like more precision and cleaner cuts.


My current project I put 3 holes in 2 pieces of Al flat bar, 1/8" thick. It's difficult to get them lined up to the precision I'd like.

this looks interesting but I'm kind of over HF for most stuff.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuqTzOpDCEA
Just round holes or are you maching slots or actually milling away metal? For 1/8" thick you could just use a drill press, a dual axis machinists vise and some small end mills. As for the HF mini mill its probably perfect for what youre doing. There are alot of other brands of mini mills or 3in1s out there you just gotta look. Grizzly, central machine, and jet make newer benchtop machines anywhere from $500 bills. You could find a bigger haas, enco, wen or a bridgeport for not much money. I have an older benchtop enco and a 9x42 bridgeport that do just about anything I need.
nautiduck is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:39 AM
  #11  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location:
Posts: 11,109
Default

Originally Posted by BST24351 View Post
I've cut all kinds of auminum up to a half inch with a standard framing blade on a wood chopsaw and even a skill saw. blade had to be sharp take your time and make sure your product is firm agenst the fence and cant move or roll

I've done it this way too. Also smashed the ever-livin' crap of my left index finger doing it when the blade caught and yanked the work piece out. It's doable and 99 times out of 100 it's "safe". It's that 1 time that gets ya. My index finger is still mis-shaped after 8 + years since that happened.
Back-in-Black is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:39 AM
  #12  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 219
Default

Originally Posted by Back-in-Black View Post
What you want is a band saw. You can just get a "porta band" - that's a brand name but also made by others -I have a Dewalt. With these you are still doing it free-hand but usually much easier, better, more accurate cut than with a grinder. If you want more accuracy, they make chop saws that are band saws. We have some Kama units at work that the the shiz but they are expensive. There are some cheaper ones out there and even some "mounts" for a porta-band to turn it into a chop saw. You didn't get real specific on exactly what or how you were cutting so if this doesn't apply just ignore.

Kama -they make several different models /sizes. I know we have 3 different sizes in our shop.
They make pretty slick stands for porta band saws to make them like a small upright.




MSChE is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 09:44 AM
  #13  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Florida Panhandle
Posts: 3,900
Default

Originally Posted by fijon View Post
I've been down that road, all the way to the end. I "upgraded" from HF grinders to a porter cable from lowes. I'd like more precision and cleaner cuts.


My current project I put 3 holes in 2 pieces of Al flat bar, 1/8" thick. It's difficult to get them lined up to the precision I'd like.

this looks interesting but I'm kind of over HF for most stuff.
What precision are you needing? You can do that with a dial caliper, scale and spring loaded punch. Small drill bit to center and step up to hole needed. If you need very close tolerances in the holes, just finish up with the finish sized reamer.

For cuts, mark with a scribe and use a cutting wheel leaving the line in place. Then sand/blend your way to the scribed line. I like a 90 grinder but there are many options.
GulfC is online now  
Old 02-11-2019, 11:15 AM
  #14  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 18
Default

I would avoid buying a machine if you can. Nice machines can be found pretty cheap but the tooling required to actually do anything with the machine will far outweigh the cost of the machine by itself.
77Pace is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 01:31 PM
  #15  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 754
Default

Originally Posted by Back-in-Black View Post
I've done it this way too. Also smashed the ever-livin' crap of my left index finger doing it when the blade caught and yanked the work piece out. It's doable and 99 times out of 100 it's "safe". It's that 1 time that gets ya. My index finger is still mis-shaped after 8 + years since that happened.
you can get jammer up with wood the same way I've made far more then 99 cuts in aluminum and I have jammed the blade but it's because you get too comfortable and rush it. I've never had the aluminum move because I had it locked down. I have jammed my finger with wood because I'm even more comfortable and sometimes that oak is tougher then the dam aluminum lol
BST24351 is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 02:55 PM
  #16  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Charleston, SC, USA!
Posts: 2,170
Default


If you're looking for a vertical mill find an old Rockwell like the schools used to have. 110v, R-8 collet, multi (fixed) speed, round ram, small footprint. Mines really accurate.
Reelescape1 is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 03:09 PM
  #17  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location:
Posts: 11,109
Default

Originally Posted by BST24351 View Post
you can get jammer up with wood the same way I've made far more then 99 cuts in aluminum and I have jammed the blade but it's because you get too comfortable and rush it. I've never had the aluminum move because I had it locked down. I have jammed my finger with wood because I'm even more comfortable and sometimes that oak is tougher then the dam aluminum lol
Oh, they'll get ya the minute you ain't payin 'tention. Thinking about that little adventure, it was more like 11 years ago and the tip of that finger is still flat. It was actually worse / more painful than the time I drilled a 5/16" hole thru the pad (sideways) of my left pinky. It went all the way thru and hit the side of my left ring finger. The worst part about that one was either the part where I had to put the drill in reverse to get it back out, or the part where emergency room Dr. was using a syringe to shoot alcohol thru the hole. Pretty close on the ole' pain index.

During college I worked as a student in a woodworking shop at the school. Had a grad student that ran the place at night. Came in one morning and they were cleaning the table saw. The grad student lost 3 fingers and a thumb to a dado blade! Still get sick at my stomach thinking about that one.
Back-in-Black is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 03:48 PM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Middle Sound, NC
Posts: 7,453
Default

20yrs ago I bought an ancient (1950's) Bridgeport 9x42 vertical mill for $1600. Also bought a Clausing 12x36 engine lathe, I think for $1800 (1960's). Two of the best purchases I have made. Unreal how many times I needed a widget and said, dang, I'll just make it. Sometimes do machining for $, probably that alone has paid for them. Prototyped a bunch too.

Tooling is not that expensive, sort of follows the 80/20 rule. You can do 80% of the jobs with 20% of the tooling. Yard sales and Craigslist can get you some deals on some nice stuff.

Those two machines plus a tig welder, plasma cutter, bandsaw, and various bench and hand grinders... Amazing how much stuff you can make.
fijon likes this.
Corndog38 is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 04:15 PM
  #19  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Deltona FL
Posts: 1,987
Default

This is mine.
https://www.grizzly.com/products/Gri...th-Stand/G0704

No it is not a Bridgeport.
No it does not weigh 3000lbs
No it is not 3 phase

But it does great on small aluminum items.
Tooling can be bought on eBay

Doug
rdmallory is offline  
Old 02-11-2019, 04:23 PM
  #20  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: New Bern, NC
Posts: 420
Default

Originally Posted by fijon View Post
I've been down that road, all the way to the end. I "upgraded" from HF grinders to a porter cable from lowes. I'd like more precision and cleaner cuts.


My current project I put 3 holes in 2 pieces of Al flat bar, 1/8" thick. It's difficult to get them lined up to the precision I'd like.

this looks interesting but I'm kind of over HF for most stuff.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuqTzOpDCEA
Get you a good straight edge, scribe and maybe some decent 6" calipers. Scribe a straight line, use the calipers to layout the distance to each hole and then use a small center drill to get the hole started at that "location". Slowly step up your hole to needed size. A small drill press with vise would be helpful as well.
Chevymanrc is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread