Lathe vs milling machine



Chuckle! It'll be my turn tomorrow, Boris.
Harold
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On Wed, 10 Aug 2005 19:50:15 +0400, Gil HASH wrote:

No it cannot.

While each of the two machines can be adapted in a make-shift way to perform some of the functions of the other, they are each designed for different purposes and should be used appropriately if optimum results are wanted.
For example, in my case I have a 10" lathe (capable of rotating a 10" diameter workpiece) and a small horizontal milling machine. If I needed to turn the outside diameter ("OD") of a workpiece that was larger than 10" I *could* mount the workpiece in place of the arbor in my milling machine and then mount a cutting bit to the table, feeding it by moving the table. It would work but it would not give optimal results compared to a lathe of appropriate capacity for the job.
I could also get a milling attachment for my lathe which is mounted to the cross-slide (usually in place of the top-slide) of the lathe and provides a means of positioning a workpiece vertically. An end mill is inserted in the lathe's spindle (using a collet) and the workpiece, being clamped to the milling attachment is fed into the end mill using the carriage, etc. feeds. This arrangement is notoriously lacking in rigidity and severely limited in workpiece size capacity compared to even the smallest milling machines. For very simple operations this setup can achieve satisfactory results, but most people are disappointed by their performance.

If you study various machines you will see that they are composed primarily of cylindrical parts. Shafts, pulleys, pins, bolts, cranks, pistons and cylinders, etc. This is what lathes are designed to make best, so statistically, lathes are put to use more often than other machine tools when fabricating or repairing other machines. It depends on what you want to make with your machine shop, but I think in general you will find more use in a lathe than you will in a milling machine.
I know, for myself, my first machine tool purchase was a lathe, and once I had gotten enough tooling (accessories, specialized cutters, etc.) it kept me occupied for years before I finally bought a milling machine. It was on the lathe that I learned about the different cutting characteristics of different materials; speeds and feeds, tool geometry, etc. This vital knowledge and experience was directly transferable to use on the milling machine when I got around to buying it.
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Artemia Salina wrote:

What holds all those cylindrical parts together? Parts that were milled mostly, and while you can inexpensively purchase shafts, pulleys, pins and bolts off the shelf, you can not purchase the pieces to hold it all together.
How often do you make your own bolts anyway vs. purchase quality bolts like perhaps grade 8 which would be difficult to produce yourself?

I have both a lathe and a mill, and the mill gets more use by a 5:1 factor or better.
Pete C.
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snip-

While it's true that I often bid on, and ran, lathe work, my lathe sat idle roughly 75% of the time when I was actively machining. A great deal of my work was jig and fixture (tool making) work, the vast majority of which was mill work. Still, when starting out, a lathe seems so much more natural, and is an easier way to begin machining, considering you have only two dimensions over which to worry. Further, it's a lot cheaper to grind cutting tools for a lathe than to purchase typical milling cutters, most of which can not be hand sharpened.
I'd suggest that anyone starting out in machining do so on a lathe, if for no other reason, to help get an understanding of machining concepts, and to make mistakes that are (hopefully) less expensive. The ultimate goal would be to own both machines.
Harold Harold
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On Wed, 10 Aug 2005 22:29:19 -0700, Harold and Susan Vordos wrote:

And you also learn a lot about cutter geometry when grinding your own single point tools. Doesn't take fancy equipment to make a fine tool bit from a blank, but one can't even properly sharpen a milling cutter without specialized equipment.
I guess it really depends on what one's objective is. I presume that others are like myself, and like to learn things from the bottom up. That's not to say that I'm not ambitious about the things that I want to do, but I've "over-bought" in the past and then realized that I didn't have the skills needed to put the purchased item to good use. I think I was smart when I bought a lathe as my first legitimate machine tool as it gave me more opportunity to learn the rudiments of machining. Its a deep subject and its easy to get in over your head when you're new at it.
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    [ ... ]

    Well ... I have made special purpose bolts of various sorts which I either could not purchase, or could not get affordably in the quantities in which I needed them.
    And I've even made special purpose bolts for my Clausing lathe. The taper attachment came from eBay, and was not complete. I needed special bolts with specific lengths and with square heads to match those on the rest of the lathe and those still present on the taper attachment, just so one wrench would do for all of those.
    Granted, I used a small milling machine and an index head to produce the square heads. For hex heads, I often just start with hex stock fed through the spindle of the lathe. I turn off what is needed to make the shank, thread it, and then part off to form the head.
    (And I often use the Geometric die heads in a bed turret in the lathe for the threading in this sort of operation.)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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On Wed, 10 Aug 2005 18:26:42 +0000, Pete C. wrote:

I had to make a gib screw for my lathe. It was basically a 1/4-20 SHCS with a very large head (I think it was 1/2" OD by 1/2" long).
How would you make that on a milling machine (and you can't use attachments, or else I can use a milling attachment on a lathe to make the framework for my hypothetical machine)?
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snip----

It can be done using a boring head to make the turns, and a die for the thread. No special tools in this case, and no big deal, really, but I agree with you------there's no substitute for the proper machine for the job.
The best training that a machinist can receive is to work in a job shop that is fairly well equipped, and accepts *good* work, something like from the aero-space industry, where slop work isn't acceptable. Given the proper attitude, a machinist comes away from such work with exceptional setup and manufacturing skills. I can say with total honesty that the 18 months I spent in just such a shop taught me more than my apprenticeship did. You get very good at doing the job with the equipment at hand.
Harold
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On Thu, 11 Aug 2005 02:15:31 -0400, Artemia Salina

helical interpolation http://www.sct-usa.com/millhelp.asp Gunner
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. " Lazarus Long
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    Yes -- if you have a CNC milling machine. Most home shops don't start out with one, though there are projects to modify various grades of milling machines into CNC capable machines. (But -- generally you will need both a Mill and a lathe to make all the parts involved in the conversion.)

    Yes -- nice if you have CNC -- rather useless without it. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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On 11 Aug 2005 19:57:33 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com (DoN. Nichols) wrote:

Welll...you didnt specify.
chuckle
Gunner
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. " Lazarus Long
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wrote:

And my lathes get more use then any of the mills I have.
Gunner
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. " Lazarus Long
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Just an observation.
With a mill you can make a lathe. A lathe cannot make a mill.
Which is more versatile???? I don't know.
--

Clif Holland KA5IPF



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    This is the reverse of the common wisdom. "The lathe is the only tool which can build itself." (In reality, a larger lathe can make a smaller one.) This can even include a lathe boring and facing holes in castings which are bolted to a faceplate. Or even line boring, with the workpiece on the cross-slide, and a long boring bar mounted between centers on the lathe.
    And I would love to see a milling machine making the spindle for my lathe. The length to width ratio is such that it would need to be supported at both ends. That is easy to do on a lathe, but not so on a milling machine -- except perhaps with the overarm of a horizontal milling machine, intended to support the far end of the arbor.
    Granted, things like the gears are best done by a mix of machines. Blanks turned to size on the lathe, and then the gear teeth cut on a horizontal spindle mill with an index head -- or in commercial quantities, cut on a gear hobbing machine, which is neither a mill nor a lathe.

    I feel that it is easier to do some limited milling on a lathe (with the proper accessories) than to do most lathe work on a milling machine (unless you have a *big* CNC milling machine with fancy software for things like thread milling and such -- an even that would have difficulty making a long cylindrical part like either the spindle of the lathe, or the leadscrews.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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metalworking?
not?
When it goes full circle, it's quite apparent why there is a wide variety of machine tools, eh?
Harold
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    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    Indeed so. Otherwise, all we would need is a drill press to treat as a milling machine to treat as a lathe. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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software
the
of
Well said, DoN!
H
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What is your first project? That will tell you which one to purchase.
Lathes make round parts using square tools.
Milling machines make square parts using round tools.
What do you want to build?
Jim
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Thanks all With all posts my choice gets more and more difficult but it's very very interesting ;-)
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On Thu, 11 Aug 2005 12:25:33 +0400, "Gil HASH"

Get the lathe. Learn to use it. Then get a mill. Tools are good.
Now the big question..is whether you should get a horizontal or vertical mill.
Gunner
The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of "loyalty" and "duty." Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute -- get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed. " Lazarus Long
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