Mini Mill Opinions ?

Got a little bonus money burning a hole in my pocket , and decided more tools might be better than more motorcycle parts ...
Is this mill the piece of junk I suspect it is ? http://www.cumminstools.com/browse.cfm/4,1485.html
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Snag aka OSG #1
'76 FLH "Bag Lady"
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Snag wrote:

here's another (Amazon.com product link shortened)
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Snag aka OSG #1
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Snag wrote:

Not junk per se, but you need to understand it's limitations to determine it's suitability for the tasks you want to do. It has far less rigidity, power and accuracy than a full sized Bridgeport mill so don't expect to take heavy cuts in any material or expect to mill precision parts.
If you're mostly working with aluminum, brass, plastics and similar easy to machine materials and have accuracy needs down to perhaps 0.01" it will do reasonably well. The more you understand about machining, particularly in compensating for axis backlash and measuring and indicating before each operation the better your results will be.
The mill you indicate is the Sieg X2 by the way (imported and sold by Cummins, Grizzly, Harbor Freight and others). The larger and much more capable Sieg X3 and Super X3 mills are now available and may be a better buy if it's your only mill. Cummins is a bit of a crap shoot since they mostly do traveling truck sales. Grizzly is pretty reliable but probably not the cheapest. Harbor Freight tends to be the best value if you are near one of their retail stores to eliminate shipping costs and get their coupons to save even more. Grizzly has three warehouse / showroom locations that could save you shipping as well if they are within reach.
Pete C.
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I had one of these for awhile (until I could afford a bigger one) and I think it's a great deal. You can mill steel, but you just have to remember to take light cuts. I got much better accuracy then .01", more like .001". I also CNCed it and was very happy with that.

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Pete C. wrote:

Why .010" accuracy? Badly calibrated dials? Would the use of dial indicators or DROs help? Randy
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Randy Replogle wrote:

Lack of precision leadscrews combined with significant backlash and poor dovetail slide fit "out of the box". A skilled machinist could compensate for much of it and also overhaul and "tune" the unit for better performance.
Since the OP didn't indicate much machining experience and indeed if the OP had the experience needed to compensate for some of the limitations of the X2, he wouldn't need to ask about it to begin with so I indicated .010" as something he could reasonably expect.
Pete C.
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Pete C. wrote:

No milling experience at all , but I can hold a thou over 6 inches on my old beat-up Logan/PowrKraft - and it has .017 lash in the cross slide nut . This is the type of discussion I was hoping for , particularly the links to tune these little machines . If I had my way and the room , I'd be looking for a used full size manual mill . They can be had for not that much more than these benchtop units cost new . Unfortunately , real life dictates a small machine for now with all it's limitations . The biggest job I have in mind for now is squaring some SS round stock at the ends for m/cycle footpegs . Gonna be a real test , and will surely take many passes with light cuts and slow feeds - or do as I do in my woodwork and saw to rough shape then finish with a more precise tool .
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Pretty much what I've found with mine.

Yea, verily! :)

The little mill is not bad for its size and price. That it uses R8 collets is a plus. My biggest problem with it is the lash in all axes. I have to remember to compensate for it if a dimension is important. For cutting slots, milling aluminum parts to fit in weird places on wheelchairs, and just for playing around, it's hard to beat. It's slow in steel but doable with care and lots of coolant.
It's been great for a beginner duffer like me.
I've had excellent results with Cummins Customer Service folks. They don't get impolite and they've always resolved any issues to my satisfaction.
Howsomever, they're not the best on repair parts. littlemachineshop.com is a better bet for repair parts or improvements. I bought a lot of my equipment and accessories there. The price isn't the lowest, but their assistance and service are excellent so far for me.
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Oh, bring back that old continuity.
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wrote:

I bought mine after watching and talking to Rex. For the money, it is not a piece of junk. I'm happy with mine. A perfect compliment to my 6-18 lathe. You just have to know its limits.
Great for small items like a key way in a shaft. R/C engine exhaust manifold, prop adapters, more t-nuts, etc.
It says max endmill is 1/2". I've use 3/4 in copper and aluminum. Next purchase is 1" face mill.
Harbor Freight has the same one for $479 regular and $399 on sale occasionally.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Category.taf?CategoryID&4&pricetype --Andy Asberry-- ------Texas-----
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Andy Asberry wrote:

My thanks to you , Rich , and Pete . I'll be watching the Harbor Fright near me for this one to go on sale . Don't "need" it right now ... but y'all know how it is when the decision has been pretty much made , awaiting only execution .
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Snag aka OSG #1
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By the way, Harbor freight has a price matching policy. A friend of mine took in an ad from the tool gypsies and they matched it.
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wrote:

Ive found that if you go into HF and ask for the manager..tell him that you know the tool goes on sale..and the money is burning a hole in your pocket right now!..the chances are good that he will sell you the tool at the last sale price, even if not on sale. Particularly the bigger tools. He wants to empty that shelf asap..and they usually work with you.
Gunner
"Deep in her heart, every moslem woman yearns to show us her tits" John Griffin
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http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Category.taf?CategoryID&4&pricetype> >>

near

know

Another minor point... HF often gets maligned as the "cheapest of the cheap," but I've found that, as the years have gone by, they've become better at standing behind their stuff, even as the competition has gotten worse. I've bought quite a bit from them over the years, a few things have been defective, and they've always replaced them.
Jerry
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Andy Asberry wrote:

If you're loading it up like that see the Micromark folks (possible Little Machine Shop folks as well) for the upgrade / rebuild kit that replaces most of the plastic gears with metal ones. Not very expensive and can save some headaches.
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Check to make sure it can use R8 collets. Apparently there were MT3 versions.
R8 collets can be got cheaply. If you use the same size stock as the collet, then you can lathe small parts also.
Wayne D.

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Snag wrote:

It has limited Y axis travel, about 4" on most. It has plastic gears! It has a limited range of spindle speeds, for the small cutters likely to be used in it, it should go to 10 K RPM, but you'll be lucky to get 2500. Get the R-8 version, if available, those tools are compatible with Bridgeport and other small mills. The DC speed controller is a flaky thing, there's a guy in town who does quite a business fixing them.
I use it as a portable machine for CNC demos, it does rather well for that. I have used it to machine things a few times, and it sure doesn't compare to a real Bridgeport.
Jon
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Jon Elson wrote:

It looks like if/when I get a benchtop mill , it's likely going to be a Sieg X2 , probably from Harbor Fright since they're close to me . I won't expect the performance of a full sized mill . Most of the stuff I want a mill for is going to be small stuff , motorcycle parts and doodads . I may decide to wait a little longer (and save up more money) and go for the X3 ... for nearly twice the cash , but it looks like it's three times the machine . But still a light duty benchtop unit .
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Snag aka OSG #1
'76 FLH "Bag Lady"
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Snag wrote:

Like I said, if it will be your only mill you may be better off with the X3. I have a CNC'd X2, but I also have a full sized manual Bridgeport.
If you go with the X2, here is the metal gear upgrade / repair kit:
http://www.ares-server.com/Ares/Ares.asp?MerchantID=RET01229&Action talog&Type=Product&ID452
(You may note references to lathes as well as mills, the small Sieg lathes and the X2 mill use essentially the same headstock)
More mini mills stuff here:
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/
For CNC conversions:
http://www.cnczone.com http://www.machsupport.com
Pete C.
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"Snag" wrote

You've gotten good advice from many so I won't repeat it but you might want to take a look at Little Machine Shop's free Minimill User's Guide:
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/Info/MiniMillUsersGuide.pdf
And where someone recommended the metal gear upgrade, there is a belt-drive kit available for just a little more money that's probably a much better choice.
Check out the Yahoo Minimill group for a lot of good info:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mini-mill /
Here's a link to a comparison of features from the different dealers:
http://www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_mill/Versions/versions.htm
There's a lot of other great info on that site as well.
And here's a link to my own brief writeup on it as well as info on building a low-cost powerfeed for the X-axis:
http://www.progressivelogic.com/mf/milling.html
Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com
"I'm not grown up enough to be so old!"
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