Newbie Lathe/Mill Question

I'm looking into purchasing a small combo lathe/mill. I could buy one of each, but I don't have much room in my shop and, unless there's good
reasons to avoid the combo units, that's the way I'd like to go.
Questions:
1) Where is a good place (on line) to search for reviews of various brands?
2) What do people here think of the stuff Grizzly sells? I'm asking about this distributor because their warehouse/retail outlet is nearby and I can go in and look at the good in real life before buying.
3) Opinions on combo units vs separate lathe and mill.
I'm interested in building some small robotics projects, telescope clock drives and other miscellaneous mechanical/optical devices and other similar things.
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Paul Hovnanian mailto: snipped-for-privacy@Hovnanian.com
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Paul Hovnanian P.E. wrote:

After owning a Smithy for several years, I have to say that I'm sorry I didn't buy just a lathe then bide my time until I could find a small mill on Craigslist. The lathe portion of the Smithy is OK; they could have done better. The milling portion is barely better than a joke. I've had the fortune to get time on "real" knee mills, and the Smithy simply does not compare.
You can come buy my Smithy, and I'll use the money to get a small import lathe and a milling adapter to tide me over until I can afford a real knee mill.
--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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I assume that you have noticed the big gap between the mill head and table on most of the combination 3in1 machine models.
They require numerous accessories to fill that gap (work envelope), and additional tooling which may end up costing as much as the initial machine cost, which is fairly common after the purchase of most metalworking machines (particularly the first one).
The 3in1 machines with the big swings aren't ideal for making small or tiny parts.
The availability of much spare time and patience are fairly important. There are forums online that owners of any popular models will share their comments and experiences they've had with their machines.
I already owned a small lathe, but I bought a used 3in1 Smithy 1220XL a number of years ago, and I would've been furious if I had paid full price for it. At about 30% of the full price, it still wasn't a great bargain. I hadn't had much satisfaction with it until I installed a variable speed drive and motor. The belt system was really badly designed and not easy to rework. There were numerous other issues that weren't caused by the original owner.
There was a 7x12" mini lathe available locally, and I bought one because I've been thinking how much easier it would be to make small parts on a small machine. At about 80 lbs (the mini lathe, not myself) it can be moved or put aside, as it's needed.. similar portability to a power tool.
Most folks have good things to say about Grizzly, and having a store nearby is a plus. If you can find a practical person to go with you to look at a machine, it may be very worthwhile (try to avoid the Hardinge, South Bend or Brigeport snobs though, they probably won't be much help unless they had a mediocre machine before).
Another approach would be to see if you can attend an evening course in machining to see how you like turning perfecly good metal stock into chips, while still having something left over that's worthwhile to keep.
WB ......... metalworking projects www.kwagmire.com/metal_proj.html

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Paul Hovnanian P.E. wrote:

I too have limited room . If you organize your space , you can get a minimill and a small lathe in a 6X8 closet ... and you'll be much happier with separate machines . www.wttool.com has a combo deal around a thousand bucks ... Sieg X2 minimill and a 7X? lathe . Would probably be perfect for small robotics stuff . I have a Logan 10X30 lathe and an RF45 clone mill/drill in an 8X12 shed - along with a LOT of other tools/parts/etc . I'm glad I held off until I could get the mill , a multi-unit would not do even the basic stuff I'm doing well . The word to remember is *rigidity* .
--
Snag
'90 Ultra "Strider"
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"The word to remember is *rigidity*"
This is perhaps the most important factor to consider when looking at the 3in1 combo machines with the large swings (and also behind closed doors, but that's your business).
Where a large work envelope is present under the mill spindle/head, the space needs to be filled up with something solid to work on small parts, and that puts the workpiece farther away from the machine bed.. which sacrifices rigidity.
When rigidity is compromised, the effect is similar to a flail-like cutting tool.. some chips will be generated, but almost any expectation of accuracy is lost.
http://groups.google.com/advanced_search?q =&
For searching the rec.crafts.metalworking archived posts, enter the group name, select the starting date depending upon how far back you want to search, and a subject (3in1, combo lathe mill, Grizzly and the model/stock number, as examples).
Accuracy suffers further when tool changes are required, and the mill column is round. It is more complicated to relocate hole centers or other features on a round column mill.
Expectations are another key aspect. If they aren't unreasonable, many good parts can be attained with a 3in1 machine, but just not immediately.
There are several other shortfalls related to the 3in1 machines, but all/or nearly every comment that I've seen regarding customer service from Grizzly have been positive, if that's the route you choose.
WB ......... metalworking projects www.kwagmire.com/metal_proj.html

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Terry Coombs wrote:

you have a 10x30 and an RF45 in a 8x12!!! I'm trying to organize a RF30 and a 12x36 in half a garage and am going nuts. no room for tools, supplies, etc. what's your secret.
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Shabtai Evan wrote:

Shelving units and shelves and/or cabinets on the walls . Undercounter storage - two welders and extra bottle storage under the wood slab that holds my portaband/vertical adapter and small drill press (plus a box of "stuff") . You might actually have less wall linear footage than I do , and that can really make a difference . I have two shelves above the one 36" base cabinet , eye level one holds a buncha small stuff and my laptop . Upper shelf has the 5.1 sound system ... I'm getting ready to add another 8 feet of width , but only roof and two walls . Then I'll have a place out of the rain to work on bikes , set up my foundry , etc.
--
Snag
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Shabtai Evan wrote:

As Terry said cabinets and shelving. Use your vertical space wisely. I have a 13x40, Bridgeport, 2hp compressor with 48" long receiver, tool storage cabinets and some short length stock shelving in a 6.5' x 12' workshop section on the back of my main garage. The Bridgeport fits nicely into one corner rather than square on to a wall, not had anything yet that I couldn't do although some long parts occasionally poke through the doorway.
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On Mon, 20 Oct 2008 16:07:02 -0700, "Paul Hovnanian P.E."

<snip> =========A great deal will depend on the types of projects you will be working on.
For occasional milling, with mainly lathe work, take a long hard look at a good medium size lathe with a milling attachment. Be sure you get a lathe with power cross feed.
While a bit of a PITA to set up, you can kluge a low-cost milling adapter using an inexpensive enco angle plate and your lathe compound. See http://mcduffee-associates.us/machining/latheMilling.htm
As in much craft/hobby machining the Brits are miles ahead. I suggest you spend 12$US, and get the book Milling Operations in the Lathe (Workshop Practice Series, No 5) (Workshop Practice Series, No 5) (Paperback) by Tubal Cain (Author) ISBN-10: 0852428405 ISBN-13: 978-0852428405 (Amazon.com product link shortened) This will give you a very good idea of what you can accomplish, equipment needed, etc.
An American made [or at least an American company] that still produces milling adapters for the lathe is Palmgren. http://www1.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNSRIT?PMPXNO!11823&PMT4NOR146726 {many other mill supply houses carry 2 sizes available}
You can buy casting kits to make your own milling adapter http://www.statecollegecentral.com/metallathe/MLA-5.html
free plans to make your own adapter http://metalwebnews.org/mr-tools/milling-attachment.pdf
Or get the less expensive [and less sturdy, but still useful chinese imports] http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID(94&categoryhttp://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID56&category also google for <lathe milling adapter> for >75k hits. to start click on http://www.janellestudio.com/metal/atlas_lathe_milling.txt
Good luck, and let the group know what you decide and how you make out.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ------------------------------------------- He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils: for Time is the greatest innovator: and if Time, of course, alter things to the worse, and wisdom and counsel shall not alter them to the better, what shall be the end?
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), English philosopher, essayist, statesman. Essays, "Of Innovations" (1597-1625).
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"F. George McDuffee" wrote:

(Amazon.com product link shortened)
This is an interesting lead. I'm going to grab a couple of these books.
As to the use of a lathe for milling: I'll consider it, but as my budget will cover a mill and lathe (either combo or separate units), I think it will be easier for me (a beginner) to figure out milling operations on a mill.
I'm also coming to the conclusion that a separate mill and lathe is probably the way to go. There may be a few operations a combo unit will excel at, but I can't think of them and the recommendations seem to indicate that the combos are a compromise.
I'll be measuring the space in my garage before finalizing my decision.
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Paul Hovnanian snipped-for-privacy@hovnanian.com
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On Mon, 20 Oct 2008 16:07:02 -0700, the infamous "Paul Hovnanian P.E."

Go to Google and search this group for "combination machine", combo mill", or "combo lathe". The question comes up every few months and there are tons of info already typed in for you to review, Paul.
IIRC, it's about 2:1 against, _especially_ true if you need to make more than one of the same part.

I have a handful of Grizzly woodworking tools and they're all very nice. Given my experience with them, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase a Grizzly mill.

Cool! Let us know what you end up with.
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Paul Hovnanian P.E. wrote:

this is the only combo machine I'd consider:
http://grizzly.com/products/Combo-Lathe-w-Milling-Attachment/G0516
A very good 10x24 lathe with a minimill column bolted to the lathe bed. Later on you can buy a milling base for about $150 and move the milling column to that.
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RB wrote:

[snip]
Interesting. That was one of my choices going in. But I might just skip ahead to the lathe and mill as separate parts to start off. But the sizes appear about what I need.
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Paul Hovnanian snipped-for-privacy@hovnanian.com
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What have you made with one?
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Jim Wilkins wrote:

<snerk>
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Snag
Makin' Chips ... did you know that 4140 flycutter curls can penetrate the
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Paul Hovnanian P.E. wrote:

If I lived near Grizzly and had the space and the funds I'd be looking very hard at this little jewel for a mill. Horizontal & Vertical on one machine.
http://tinyurl.com/59a3e4
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I guess I'm an Old Fahrt, guess hell, 72 ain't young, but over a period of some 30 years of Electronic Design Engineering, I've come to the conclusion that any device designed to do multiple tasks rarely does any of the tasks very well. In my opinion the lathe/mill is exactly an example of compromise that yields a less than satisfactory lathe, or mill. I started my machine tool acquisition with a Unimat lathe, then to a Select lathe and Select Mill and now I have a Victor lathe and a Bridgeport mill. I think that I have enough now. The prices on the used Victor and Bridgeport combined was not 3X what some of the much smaller lathe/mill combos cost. However the tooling $$$$$ Stu
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