I have a rebranded Rong Fu 31 (I think<g>) that is hopefully getting off
to a good start. I am open to do/don't suggestions on oiling etc.
Dumb question: for practice, I aligned my vice using a dial indicator.
It was fairly smooth, but not something I would want to do every day.
Should I be concerned about leaving the vice in place for long periods?
I would hate to find rust where there was once a nicely machined table :(
Is there a trick to mounting an indicator on the spindle? I put it in a
chuck. Is there a better way?
Speaking of the table, most of it is quite clean. There are a couple of
small dings that I assume will be best honed or lapped away. What
should I _not_ do?
Before even checking prices, I knew about the tool change, head height,
registration woes of round column machines. I can live with it (670
pounds was quite sufficient for me and my engine hoist), but will
welcome ways to reduce the hassles.
One of the more interesting suggestions was to use a collet chuck. My
problem is that google returned so many hits as to be useless. Can some
kind soul who knows what is going on provide a link to the right gizmo
(or refute the idea)?
An edge/center finder is on its way. For most things, layout lines will
probably be more than sufficient. Otherwise, I am thinking of
drilling a reference hole for "when" I get lost, and then working
relative to it.
Reading suggestions are welcome.
That's common practice in machine shops, but if you use any kind of water
soluble sprays or coolants, you could find some rust----or often a black
discoloration. As long as you're working with oils and other hydrocarbon
based solvents, I wouldn't worry too much about it, but be somewhat cautious
otherwise. If your environment isn't rusting things now, there's little
reason to expect rust under protected surfaces.
If you do any wood work on the machine (not all that uncommon), make sure
you don't leave any damp chips behind. I've used my metal cutting machines
for that purpose countless times with no problems, but I clean up well
Not as far as ease of use. By using a chuck, you have something to grasp to
position the indicator, which is important if you're sweeping in a bore or
the table. You can mount directly in a collet, depending on the hardware
you have available for your indicator, but that leaves you with little to
grasp while you're dialing items where you have to rotate the spindle. Works
fine for a vise or other things that require the table or saddle to be
moved, not the spindle, so choose accordingly.
If you're familiar with draw filing, that's the way to remove dings on a
table. A single cut file (best not a new one, which is usually quite
aggressive) is placed on the table of the mill and drawn sort of sideways
along the table with light palm pressure on the file. Given the proper
application, it glides over the table with no consequence, but removes
anything that stands above the table. Cast iron is very good about cutting
away easily, unlike steel. If the file traverses the surface smoothly and
doesn't hang up on anything, the table is clean. If anything stands up,
you'll feel it. Just repeat the process until you don't. You'll be able to
see where it was, and how it was removed to flush with the balance of the
Think ahead, and make sure that once you've established location and have
your dials related to the part, make sure you don't have to move the head.
Know what tools you're going to use, and make sure that the long ones can be
installed and used, as well as the short ones. Where you get into trouble is
using end mills in collets, then changing to a collet mounted drill chuck
and using large, long drills and reamers. You run out of spindle, which is
the chief reason I hate mill drills. On knee mill, you can move and not
lose registration. (Not trying to be rude here)
Unless you intend to stay with the machine for the unforeseen future, or if
you intend to use it for gain, where time is important, I think I'd stick to
collets and not worry about it. One of the negatives of using any kind of
quick change is that you generally add to the length of the spindle, costing
you rigidity unnecessarily, but even worse, valuable space. You'll have
limited height to begin with. I'd strongly recommend you not reduce it any
unless you have good cause.
Not in your table! Good machinists don't drill holes in
machines------especially not by choice. As long as you have a method of
locating your part as it relates to the spindle, just make it a habit of
always doing it a particular way. Should you get lost, you can go back and
start over. You'll use your edge finder or a wiggler, or even an
indicator, depending on the setup. That's no different from a hole, which
you'd have to relate to in the same way. Lost in this? Did I not
understand the hole concept? Maybe you have a thought that got past me.
Lets talk about it. If you aren't familiar with typical shop practice,
maybe you can find someone locally that is a machinist, or at least has some
experience so he/she can guide you. Otherwise, it's best to ask for more
information here. Ask specific questions if you're stumped. There's way
too much information to dispense to give answers that you have. It won't
take you long to figure things out with a little guidance from this group of
people. Many are machinists by trade.
I routinely do just this thing. Except, oil the table and use a stone.
Dropping items on the cast surface or clamping steel directly to the table
will raise a very small dimple. The stone removes them nicely.
As well as a miniscule portion of the table that was in good condition. It's
important that the file used not be new, which I mentioned. A slightly
dull file will remove any highs, but otherwise leave the table untouched.
If, by chance, it's prone to cutting, the file is too sharp. A stone
doesn't do that, although I'd agree that what is removed is miniscule.
Trouble is, if you're one of those neurotic types that is constantly
dressing the table, the affect over a period of time is detrimental, due in
part to dressing the area where one tends to concentrate use far more than,
say, the ends of the table. . The only place I ever touch a surface with a
stone is if I drop something on my chromed ways---at which time I'll
generally use one made of a silicon carbide, preferred for it's greater
Best policy here is to wipe the table with your bare hand. Anything
standing up is generally apparent by feel. Dress only when necessary,
especially if a stone is applied.
The plan is for lots of woodwork in addition to simple electronics
fabrication and, over time, lots of Al plates with tab A one side and
slot B on the other.
Is there such a thing as a preferred end mill for mortising?
My first attempts will be on some test pieces vs. the table, but that
sounds like a plan. With some luck, my table saw might have a blemish
in a harmless location.
No offense taken. The whole time I was wrestling the mill over the 30
ft from my driveway to its current location, I was feeling pretty good
that I did not go for the knee mill, at least not right away - not that
I would even attempt to move one myself.
I suspect that where it matters, I will have height to burn because the
parts will be small. But I could be in for a surpise.
I've never knowingly drilled a hole in a machine (I once discovered one
in a shared vice and had to wonder) and have no plans to do so. Rest
assured I mean a reference hole in the work piece.
> As long as you have a method of
Only the bit about drilling a hole in the table ;) I'm following fairly
well, but am not sure about using a dial indicator to locate relative to
the part. It sounds like a good way to go. In studying the mill, I
have been getting ideas of making some kind of clamp to grab the
head/spindle/quill/column to hold an indicator. Is it easier than that?
The indicator could be on the table, but how would I create or find a
good target on the spindle? There are very few flat surfaces up there,
and I fear the curvature would make for large errors.
So far, I'm even a little nervous about even having room to change
collets over a work piece. That might complicate using an edge finder.
Milling with the spindle significantly extended probably has a role
in the solution.
I'm starting to figure out the latter. Actually, I am overdue to visit
the gentleman who taught me the little I know.
Chuckle! Mortising? If you could see my red face (embarrassment), maybe
I hate wood work, and I know almost nothing about it. I'm not sure I know
what a mortise is. The wood work I've done is for pattern making, and I
work like a machinist, not a wood worker.
End mills are available in a huge array of configurations, starting with
stub models that are intended for slotting, right up to the long ones (dies
sinks) intended for milling large faces or deep pockets. I think the best
advice I could offer is to buy that which best serves your purpose, and
restrict their use to wood alone. Once you've run a metal cutting tool on
metal, that fine edge you need for machining wood without splintering is
gone. Carbide end mills are now cheaper to buy than HSS, something I am
still struggling with. It goes without saying, they'll serve you better
than HSS will in the long run. Choose 2 flute cutters for wood, not 3 or
more. Run them flat out---even if they're HSS. You won't be over driving
If you have a choice, carbide should be a C2 grade, best for wear
resistance, and the choice for almost all non-ferrous use. If they're the
newer carbide (micrograin), you may not have a choice, but anything you get
will perform quite well, especially in wood. Look at machining wood much
the same as machining aluminum. Greater chip relief is desired, as well as
more generous cutting reliefs and rake angles. HSS end mills are available
with grinds for aluminum, and they are generally marked clearly on the
shanks if they are. They have greater relief angles, and often polished
flutes, so they are better suited for wood than would be steel cutting
Key is the file, which must not cut aggressively. I've posted more comments
on this addressed to Karl. I really don't recommend a stone, although it
certainly can do the job, albeit with a caveat.
Moving such things isn't a problem if you incorporate some pipe (and it's on
concrete). Once you have a machine on a few pieces of pipe, assuming you
have concrete as a floor, you can move it anywhere you desire, usually
without assistance. You have to keep juggling the pipe as it moves under
the rolling machine, so having extra hands can be useful, but not necessary.
You can move a machine that weighs tons by that method.
Yep. All depends on the work at hand. I don't care how large one's
machine may be, a job always comes along that won't fit. Murphy's law!
Still, in general, I understand your comments and agree. Sounds like
you've given this some good thought before jumping.
Cool! You do understand! <g>
You don't really need that reference hole, not as long as you have some
fixed datum points as I suggested. If you had to make parts to print,
you'd understand that you're not always at liberty to stab in a tooling
hole, so you learn to work from surfaces that are available to you. In
keeping with that thought, when you do multiple pieces, it's really nice to
hold them identical in size (deduct from that, *on size*, not from one end
of the tolerance to the other), even when it doesn't matter. That way you
can use any edge as a reference point, a situation that often arises.
That's all a part of the things you learn as you progress in the trade.
Might not make much sense to a beginner, but it will the first time you
encounter a problem that can't be otherwise solved. I have the T shirt on
Oh yeah! An indicator held by anything but the spindle won't help you make
setups as they relate to the spindle. You can find center of anything that
you can span using an indicator. Even square or irregular stuff. Hex,
octagon, etc. You can locate dead center of a shaft, or your vise, and do
it reliably. Using the drill chuck, as you've already suggested, you
sweep sides of items, locating the low point, then make them identical @ 180
degree intervals---which often necessitates moving the indicator off the
part by raising the quill so you can index to the opposite side. It's like
sweeping a bore, but working on the opposite face. Get creative. There's
really no rules on how you can use your DTI---and it doesn't matter if you
introduce error by offsetting the probe-----not as long as you're making
comparative readings, one against the other. You don't care if the reading
has any particular value, you're just trying to get surfaces to read the
See above. You work *from* the spindle.
In wood, or aluminum, that's likely to be fine, but keep your quill as short
as possible at all times. That keeps the machine in the most rigid
posture. Being a mill/drill, you'll have to compromise on that, but it's
not likely to be a big deal unless you use some large cutters, or take some
unreasonable cuts. Non issue in wood.
Welcome! Hope some of my ravings help. Do rely on others, especially if
they're skilled. Learning from self taught people can have its own set of
problems, depending on where they got their information. Learning how to
do something stupid from someone that does it that way doesn't make it
right, or good. At first, it might be hard to differentiate those that know
from those that don't, but your experiences will help you sort them out.
Not to worry. At the risk of over simplifying, a mortise is a slot. I
made a couple of nice ones by plunging and hitting the feed. One can
then square the ends with a chisel or simply round the ends of the
corresponding tenon, which you have no doubt figured out is the thing
goes into the mortise.
I like the file idea, but am in no hurry.
I will file that for the future, but there was a slight upward slope
toward my garage. The 1/2 inch lip seemed like Everest. I used a $140
engine hoist that is no-frills but very serviceable. Interestingly,
pipe solved the problem. I used it against a wood block on the ground
(to protect the concrete) and then pushed against the back of the crane
and over the lip it went. This reminds me that owe I the crane some
I hope so. If not, the worst I've done is buy a seriously good drill
press; I suspect it will be able to do a lot better than that.
I started out asking for an example, but unless you find problems below,
I think I am starting to follow. My main concern now is having enough
room to get a DTI in and out with enough spindle left to mill. However,
I suspect that a DTI and my rubber mallet will give me a way to recover
from moving the head.
> If you had to make parts to print,
Ok, I think I am on the right track. It helps to be the guy who makes
the print. If I want a reference hole, there will be one, maybe two ;)
It makes sense from a woodworking perspective. The tolerances are
laughably larger, but I suspect the idea is the same.
I think I am following. So far, I have a dial indicator but not a DTI -
to be corrected shortly. If I can arrange to get that on and off the
spindle with depth left to mill, then I think we've solved the
registration problem (as I think you were saying from the beginning).
Most people I know leave the vice in place until they need the complete
I wouldn't do anything to them. They are highly unlikely to have any
effect on the operation of the mill.
My (old Centec) mill came with a Clarkson chuck. I found it was a real
chore to have to remove it for drilling. I've now got an ER32 system
which can securely hold any diameter from 2-20mm. It can be used to hold
drills as well as milling cutters. Since you mention 'pounds'
somewhere else I assume you are in UK. If so, take a look at RDG Tools'
website for reasonably priced ER sets. http://www.rdgtools.co.uk /
Although pricey, consider installing a DRO system. Trying to compensate
for backlash on a mill can quickly destroy any pleasure derived from
making chips. If you take that route, don't skimp and settle for a
2-axis system - you will soon wish you had 3. I listened to the advice
of several model engineer friends, and they were definitely right.
Regards, Gary Wooding
(To reply by email, change feet to foot in my address)
I tend to agree, but eventually I will need to clamp something over
them. Harold's draw filing idea is well taken, but I will blend the two
and get some practice first.
Having read two thoughtful responses I am willing to reveal the _real_
reason I asked: I wanted to see whether you agree that is largely
ignorable. The bandsaw I bought with the mill, that's another matter;
what a disaster :( I can't talk about it right now :)
I have many friends on that side of the pond, but I am a few generations
away from a west-bound boat to the USA. Hopefully a search will reveal
that I mentioned pounds in the context of weight.
> If so, take a look at RDG Tools'
Found it. Sounds like $270 US or so, which I am more than willing to
consider, either from them (they apparently ship anywhere) or elsewhere.
Amazon's offerings include the "Hertel HR8ER32162 Er32 R8 1-5/8 Proj L
Collet Chuck". Somehow it looks like it's missing the collets
themselves, which probably explains the price difference.
Ok, I will admit that when I first read this I thought you were giving
me a bad steer, but being overwhelmed with the helpfullness of this
group, I figured it couldn't hurt to look. So are we talking pricey as
in $700 US? I agree that is a lot of money, but considerably less than
The URL I have is
Any horror stories ordering from them? I won't be doing this in the
next week or so (trying to convince myself, not you).
I would argue that if I can't solve the registration problem (which I
fully expect to do within my tolerances, in both thousands of an inch
and patience), then a DRO would tell me little beyond the location of
the table. No offense intended gang: I am interested in your thoughts
on the matter.
Thanks for the advice; I will probably end up with a DRO. I think I
will take to life with a mill/drill, but figure I should use it for a
while before spending a lot more money on it. If I am "forced" to get a
knee mill, I'll wish I had saved the money for movers.
Besides, some dial reading will do me some good; it's been a long time.
Unfortunately, those "pounds" were units of mass, not monetary
units, and while the Clarkson end mill holders are a very nice design,
Clarkson end mills (those with the threaded top end) are *very* hard to
find in the US -- and his email suggested that he is in the US.
I've got Clarkson collet chucks in NMTB 40 taper for my Nichols
horizontal mill (with vertical head), but I don't yet have usable end
mills to try with them.
Email: < firstname.lastname@example.org> | Voice (all times): (703) 938-4564
(too) near Washington D.C. | http://www.d-and-d.com/dnichols/DoN.html
You can make a key that fits the table slot and mill a shallow groove
in the underside of the vise for it.
The RF-31's table slots had been cut at a slight angle to the X axis. I
fitted the key to the table first and milled its top edges slightly
narrower to make them parallel to the table motion. Then I clamped a
piece of ground stock to the table, indicated and adjusted it true,
clamped the vise onto it upside down and milled a slot to fit the key
Congrats on the new tool
I have a RF45 clone and I disassemble it completly and cleaned it
after uncrateing it.
Got *lots* of grit n grime out of the nooks n crannies that the
factory includes--- at no extra charge.
. In regards to losing the register some have suggested using a small
inexpensive laser mounted on the head to relocate after moving the
head. Not sure if its accurate enough..
The only modification I plan on is to replace the 1ph motor with a
3ph and a VFD for better speed selection.
I chose a power feed over a dro for a option but will add a dro
The tooling requirements seem to be nearly endless.
I have an equal amount of $ in tooling as I spent on the basic
machine. BTW I really enjoy mine and it does very nice work.
If I upgrade to a bigger mill it will be a horizontal..
There is a yahoo milldrill group
that might be a source of info..
Couple of things: The "loss of center" when moving the head vertically, is
one of the major drawbacks of a mill-drill. Reasonable location can be
re-established via good layout lines and/or an edge finder from reference
edge(s). Get a Blake, or clone, co-axial indicator for accurate re-location
of critical holes, or location from a datum hole if you want to use one.
With a little practice you will forget about the loss of center problem. A
lot of it can be overcome by carefully predicting maximum tool height
required for all tools used (vertical clearance) for any specific job.
Don't bother changing out the motor to 3-phase and getting a VFD. IMO, it's
not worth the expense. Moving belts on pulleys isn't that big a chore;
besides it gives you good experience in estimating speeds and feeds for
various materials. Save your money for R-8 tooling for the mill-drill and
the "Bridgie-clone" in your future.
FWIW, I have both. Usu. the old mill-drill is relegated to drill press work
but occasionally I use it for more critical stuff. Recently, I made a pair
of steam engine eccentric straps on the mill-drill. I sort of did it as an
exercise to see if I "still had it" on the mill-drill. It worked out OK
with some belt changes and co-axial centering required but overall it was a
bit clunky compared to my Bridgie. That's because I am more used to the big
mill with all its conveniences. The mill-drill still has a place in my
shop. You have some great experiences coming up with your mill-drill.
Consider it as affording you some apprentice training before you get a
full-featured mill. Take your time; concentrate on accurate layouts; take
pleasure in the fact you have a real milling machine at a very reasonable
I disagree. The 2hp motor that came on my Jet mill drill was a real POS.
I went through three of them before giving up and buying a leeson motor.
THe single phase motor makes the whole machine jump when it starts.
The VFD starts very smooth. I also could not get a nice finish with
the single phase motor. This machine can now mill a slot with a nice
finish using the side of the endmill.
To protect your nice new table, get some black floor runner from the
hardware store and cut some pieces that cover the table next to the
vise. This prevents dings when you drop something and might even save
the corner of an endmill if you drop it. It also provides a nice place
to put thing and prevents them from going into the T slots.
"I also could not get a nice finish with the single phase motor.. . . "
Musta been something else wrong as well. Come to think of it, I did replace
the original set of belts with a "USA made" set. (Thanks to Grant Erwin for
the suggestion) That helped a great deal with the vibration problem. Hard
to imagine you went through 3 motors, though. Maybe it was a "Jet" thing!
My mill-drill is an old one, Wrong-fu, I think. I can not imagine any
problems such as you mention that could be caused by only the motor. Anyway,
glad to hear all is well with VFD power now. At the least, you have to
think it is OK after spending all the bux on a VFD!
VFDs really are not that expensive. About 200 bucks for a new Teco.
The convenience of variable speed and the soft start are totally
worth it. I have several in my shop now and will probalby get
another one for my Clausing Horizontal Mill.
I am totally convinced that a 3 phase motor runnning on VFD
makes much smoother power than a single phase motor. If you
set up the motor parameters correctly, it will protect things
better than a plain overload too. If I start my rockwell mill
in back gear without disengaging direct drive, it grunts a bit
and stops. I suspect it would shread the tiny drive belts if
I was using a RPC. If I turn the speed way down and stick a
drill bit, the VFD kicks out instantly.
disclaimer. My mind is already made up; Don't confuse me with facts! :)
The only fact you need to be convinced of is:
If you have a proper RPC, set up and trimmed out ala, "Fitch", any equipment
running on it will not notice whether the "power" comes from genuine 3-phase
or from a RPC. I have oscillograms of equipment running under load from a
RPC and commercial 3-phase power. You can't tell them apart.
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