Below is the post I made to alt.rec.crafts.metalworking yesterday
before I found this group. My question still stands so I have
attempted to cross post to both but since I have never cross posted
before not sure if I did this right.
I have google some but I do not seem to come up with very many groups
concerning metal working( i.e. casting, forges, mills, lathes etc).
What groups should I be reading. I am trying to learn enough to make
a metal shop mainly for my use. I really don't want to spend 35
thousand for each machine but then neither do I want only very small
units like the Sherline. I actually have a small lathe and a small
mill now. I have a few good books but I also want some thoughts from
people who works in the field(in particular who not to buy). I been
interested for a few years but was put off by a person work as a
machinist who told me I would never get anything that was useful with
out spending a few hundred thousand dollars. The more I have read the
more I have become convinced that is not true. I believe now that
precision is as much a function of the person and techniques as of
machines. Being a math major chemistry minor, high computer
skills(both hardware and software), usually good common sense, and
doing maintenance (electronics ) in the television field probably
should help too. Sorry to take so long but I feel that by expounding
a little that better advice can be given. Thanks
Welcome to rec.crafts.metalworking, where it seems that the questions you
pose get debated endlessly... And often by some fairly knowledgable people.
What you can get and how much you'd have to pay are largely a function of
where you are (shipping heavy machines is damned expensive...). What you
need is determined by what you intend to do (size of things to be made,
material, accuracy required, etc., etc.). How much space do you have? How
hard is it to get heavy "stuff" into it? Do you have the ability to move
machines yourself? What is your power situation? Without knowing all of
this, it is difficult to offer much meaningful advice.
And, remember, tooling can cost more than the machine. But, often, used
machines come with "some" tooling...
If your needs and situation are "average" (whatever that means), you can
probably put together a pretty decent shop for under $10K. Maybe for a lot
under $10K... (See the earlier post, "For Sale in SoCal.")
Heh, this crew will hand out advice on machine tools until the telephone
lines fall off the poles. And most of us would be happy to have $35k to
equip the entire shop (and maybe toss in the building too)
A few basic questions:
what kind of projects do you want to do? model steam engines, auto
perfomance parts, labratory apparatus, etc etc How about descibing two
or three sample projects you plan.
What size of parts/projects do you have in mind? model aircraft engines
verus lawnmower engines vs motorcylce engines vs automobile engines all
take different equipment.
What kind of tolerances do you want to deal with? Art projects tend to
have very loose tolerances +/-.050" might be complete overkill, mini
steam turbines might need 1000 times tighter control.
after that you get all the questions about space, power, number of hours
to spend on it, money to spend, etc.
spamkill at charter dot net wrote:
I think maybe that is part of my problem as I am interested in quite a
few things. Maybe I should just start talking and asking questions
about just a few. I have such a broad range of interest that this
is confusing my goals. About two or three years ago we move to this
place and I made sure I had some land with the house(6 acres- about
250ft by 1000ft). This is planned over the next two three years and
No art things however. Things that I am interested in range from House
remodeling (currently have five houses), transmission
lines-filters(electronics), telescope and their mounts, car-tractor
repairs-building(engine-frame modification), small diesel engines and
or wankels sp? (ten horses or less) to being able to make parts(small
and large including forging them) to replace many of the ones within
a TV transmitter. This is also why I have the money to do a little
bit of this as a second job I maintain a NEC 120kw transmitter. This
is set-up as a small corporation since 1995 and I like to try to put
as much money back in on equipment as this comes off the top pre-tax.
My wife's job and my primary job provides the living expenses. Since
I am 53 I am attempting to set up some where in few years hence I can
hide and have fun.
I have been trying for the last year to decide on a larger Bridgeport
style mill but have not been to determine what is decent and what is
not. I do have a small cheap mini-mill. Grizzle, Anco, Smithy's,
Harbor freight any good ones?. A lot of used ones I seen cost quite a
bit(10 to 20 thousand). Think I would be better off buying a higher
range used (> 8 thousand ) and limiting what I else I get. Or getting
a usable cheaper new one and learning more on it(ie the brands similar
the before mentioned. I do not think that at first I want dro just so
I learn the machines better. However later I would be interested in
cnc(I definitely have not found a large mill that is inexpensive with
One other thing I been looking into small metal building (28' X35') .
I have to many tools now to find unless I reorganize them. Should I
consider wood(fire hazard?), metal(rust), or concrete(probably
quad-lock block style or other icf). We would be building it our self
as much as possible. Thanks many questions I know but I seem to
thinking more and getting more diffused in my thoughts and getting
less and less done.
"Those who work in the field" bring a lot of knowledge to the party --
but some of their criteria may be different than yours, unless you
intend to make money with your metal shop. Productivity is necessary
to be competitive, but a home shop doesn't need to be either
productive nor competitive if it is primarily for enjoyment.
Home shop machinists may sometimes or even often achieve precision,
fit and function nearly as good as the pros -- but it make take them
somewhat longer to do it.
I could certainly like having a Hardinge lathe and a Deckel mill, but
I don't lust for them. I have an old B'Port and an import 15 x 50
lathe, both manual (no CNC). I can pretty much make whatever I want
and accomplish sub-thou precision when I need to. I seldom need to.
Some welding and brazing capability are also very useful and should be
on your list if you plan to work with metal. They are very useful
methods for joining metal, simple as that.
I really doubt that I have invested $10K even over the past 20 years.
I got started with a buzzbox welder, an O/A torch, a used 9" Logan
lathe (no quickchange gearbox) I got for $100, an Enco mill-drill,
a bench grinder, an angle grinder and some files. Oh, and a dial
caliper and a micrometer. Made a lot of stuff with just that kit.
I'm about done investing other than replacing consumables, because
I'm out of space.
Others have or will probably say to plan on investing about as much in
tooling as in machinery. I agree. It can be done piecemeal. Collets,
chucks, vises, rotary table, on and on. Plus drills, taps, dies and
cutters of course. My tooling is nearly 100% HSS, very little carbide.
I have some carbide for when I need it, but that's very seldom.
I would highly recommend a DRO on the mill. You don't have to use it,
but I guarantee that you will. One benefit is that it makes the mill
essentially a "digital drillpress". I can bring an
ordinate-dimensioned print (from CAD) to the mill, turn the cranks
until the numbers are right and pull the quill to get a bolt circle
or whatever. I get good precision and good fits with no layout work
at all. I don't have a DRO on the lathe and don't lust for one. The
reason is because you almost always move in the same direction on the
lathe (smaller until desired dimension is reached) but you move both
directions in X and Y on the mill and the movements are typically
larger from start to finish. Even if my mill had zero backlash
ballscrews I'd still want a DRO.
There are times when I might like CNC, but I'd rather have a friend
that has CNC for as often as I'd use it. I have a standing offer from
a friend (Karl) who does have CNC, haven't had an occasion to cash
that chit for the several years since that offer was extended.
I will note that I about never make more than a couple of anything,
not counting the iterations it takes me to get the first one right. If
you would frequently make more than a few of the same part, then CNC
would definitely be desirable.
Good luck, have fun, keep us posted with your progress and projects.