anyone converted a Sherline / desktop lathe/mill to CNC ?

This topic is somewhat off topic but close enough that am posting
it here.
Has anyone in this group ever converted a Sherline or other desktop
lathe/mill to CNC ? I would be interested in any opinions and
lessons learned.
Thanks !
Reply to
pogo
Loading thread data ...
Check the metalworking usegroups. You'll get a broader cross section. Sherline themselves sell CNC-ready and CNC-equipped models, so if `you have a Sherline, or plan on getting one, this is one of the best approaches. Check out
formatting link
if you have one of the cheaper 7x10 lathes that are made in China. Lots of info about using and converting them.
-- Gordon
Reply to
Gordon McComb
--What he said. Most of the discussion is at rec.crafts.metalworking and the cnc group (forgot the exact name). Also there are a couple of publications that have articles on how to do it right. One is "Projects In Metal" and another is "Home Shop Machinist".
Reply to
steamer
Thanks to both Steamer and Gordon !
rec.crafts.metalworking
couple of
"Projects In
Reply to
pogo
using and
Cool web site - looks like lots of info. Thanks !
Reply to
pogo
I have converted my Sherline to CNC. It is very doable. I gave a talk about the subject at the Home Brew Robotics Club in April. My talk "slides" are on line at:

Warning, the slides are very brief, so they may not be very meaningful to you.
If you are interested CNC, you should join the following Yahoo groups (at a minimum):
SherlineCNC Sherline CAD_CAM_EDM_DRO DIY-CNC TaigTools
Also, many CNC people (but not me) hang out at:

The newsgroup:
rec.crafts.metalworking
occasionaly talks about CNC; heck, let's be generous, they sometimes talk about metalworking. (There is a great deal of off-topic posting on that particular newsgroup.)
The thing you need to understand about CNC, is that it is no substitute for knowing your way around the shop. I still do the majority of my construction using a drill press (and drill press vice) and a bandsaw. I break out the CNC when I need the precision and/or I need a bunch of "identical" parts. There is a huge learning curve required to figure out how to use CNC. Despite the huge learning curve, CNC is a great deal of fun.
My $.02,
-Wayne
Reply to
Wayne C. Gramlich
I bought a Sieg mini-mill for that purpose a few months ago. I've never used a sherline but the impression I get is that the sherlines are somewhat more accurate but nowhere near as big and powerful -- the one I have is about 150lbs, as compared to 30 or so (?) for a sherline. I was intending to convert it to CNC but the first thing I did was attach cheap digital scales to each axis and build a decoder for the electronic scale protocol -- effectively a really cheap DRO setup. I still haven't finished the CNC conversion; I only do one-off parts and the DRO is all I've needed. Even with CNC, the DRO is probably worth it since the grizzly not only has 16tpi screws (argh) but also some serious backlash.
In general I'd highly recommend getting at least a cheap mill if you're serious about robotics and can afford to spend about $1k on it. When you want to build something, the "machine the exact part you want" strategy is a lot more fun than the "go to home depot and see if you can find something sort of close" strategy.
chris
pogo wrote:
Reply to
eckern
want"
Yep! That's exactly why I am asking about this ! :-)
Thanks for the info - JCD
Reply to
pogo
Thanks - I will check those out.
Yep - the most Off Topic group I have ever seen that still gives good advice! :-) Gordon suggested I look into them a few months ago and they have been the most helpful to my robotic adventures besides this group. But *this* group just plain ROCKS!
The one thing I don't have yet is a bandsaw & I am already seeing a need for one. I keep thinking about getting the Dremel sabre saw attachment for cutting off small pieces of metal, but it just seems like it will chatter like crazy - haven't tried it yet. When I get the Sherline in I hope to be able to make several little "specialty" parts & in general just have a good time. At this point I only care about CNC to repeat manufacture several of the same.
Anyway, thanks for the advice! JCD
Reply to
pogo
True, but it may not be an effective use of your time.
I know three people with milling machines at home, and they're all more into machine shop work as an end in itself than actually turning out useful parts. For our DARPA Grand Challenge team, we had a drill press with a manual X/Y table, a belt sander, a metal bender, and a sheet metal brake. Anything we couldn't make that way we sent out. That worked out OK. We probably could have used a "mill drill", a drill press with milling machine grade bearings that can handle side loads. But no more than that.
Actually, the "make drawing and send to a machine shop" strategy works pretty well. See "
formatting link
" John Nagle
Reply to
John Nagle
[snip]
Amen about this group. I hope this group never degrades to even a fraction of the amount of off-topic posts that rec.crafts.metalworking does.
[snip]
Some people swear by their Dremel motor tools. I've never got the hang of using them though.
A number of people are reporting reasonable success with the Harbor Freight Horizontal/Vertical Band Saw.

Everybody replaces the blade tho'. My band saw predates Harbor Freight, so this is all second hand information. If you don't have the space for the big bruiser above, the small bench top band saws like (Harbor Freight: 40981-3VGA) will occupy much less space. I've never used one tho'
Have fun,
-Wayne
Reply to
Wayne C. Gramlich
Well, that's part of why I want to get into it, too! I've been writing code for over 20 years, but just recently got the biggest kick out of simply tapping some threads into some aluminum. What a blast! I like getting my hands dirty!
I kinda been wanting to try these guys out just to see what I get, actually.
Reply to
pogo
Wayne is correct on the major discussion areas.
I would recommend the Yahoo groups in particular if you follow the Sherline route...they have the highest traffic for the smaller machines.
Also check out the Sherline site....they have very good documentation in place.
As has been po> > This topic is somewhat off topic but close enough that am posting > > it here.
Reply to
Too_Many_Tools
Wayne is correct on the major discussion areas.
I would recommend the Yahoo groups in particular if you follow the Sherline route...they have the highest traffic for the smaller machines.
Also check out the Sherline site....they have very good documentation in place.
As has been po> > This topic is somewhat off topic but close enough that am posting > > it here.
Reply to
Too_Many_Tools
Hi pogo,
pogo wrote:
I bought my Sherline mill and lathe with CNC stepper mounts and steppers. I used it manually for about a year, and then hooked up the CNC.
You can find lots of stuff that I've machined on my web sitem both robotic and non-robotic. My latest robot is over here:
formatting link
It has a bunch of CNC machined parts.
Getting your machine to be CNC is only one part of the equation. You'll also need a decent CAD program, CAM program, and G-Code interpreter.
I use Rhino3D for my CAD, and I like it way better than TurboCAD or AutoCAD. There are a couple of places you can pick up Rhino3D for around $600. I bought mine here:
formatting link
I'm currently using SheetCAM
formatting link
for doing my CAM work.
I use Mach3 for actuall driving the mill (G-Code interpreter).
I also use a program called CutViewerMill for proofing my G-Code before machining anything on the mill.
For a larger mill, I've been drooling over the Tormach
formatting link
The only problem with this mill is that it weighs 1500 lbs, and I'm not sure I have space in my basement.
Dave Hylands
formatting link
Reply to
dhylands
So Dave, if one has the Sherline to begin with how much does it cost for all the software?
TMT
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
Reply to
Too_Many_Tools
The machines are small but you can modify them to machine a bigger foot print. Here is a mod I did to increase the table travel of the mill and also to allow for a lathe conversion.
formatting link
DT
pogo wrote:
Reply to
dttworld
I've spent a life time doing woodworking and have quite a collection of woodworking equipment but I've never learned much of anything about metal working. My metal working skills and knowledge are mostly limited to what you can do with a drill press, grinder, hacksaw, and hammer. I've always wanted to learn welding (all types) as well as skills like machining. All this talk about these little Sherline machines is making we want to go out and get one as a way to get into this.
From all the pictures (and a lack of experience with this stuff in general), I'm having a little trouble understanding what the real scale of these machines are. Just how large of a piece can you mill with these machines (without the help of machine modifications)? For example, if you wanted to mill something that started out as a cube, how large of a cube could it work with? Is it only a few inches, or is it more like a foot or more square?
And for precision and accuracy, are machines in the price range of the Sherline in the same accuracy range as higher end larger machines? Is the main difference only size and power? Or is there an important difference in it's precision?
I love tools and the thought of being able to machine custom pieces for my robotics projects just sounds like it would be a blast. And a machine like the Sherline would be very affordable for me. But I just want to get a little better feel for what it can really do and what it can't do.
Reply to
Curt Welch
Hi TMT,
Too_Many_Tools wrote:
Well, Rhino3D was $580. Although any software that can generate DXF will do. So TurboCAD, or even Corel can be used.
SheetCAM is $150. Mach 3 is $160, although the free version will do G-Code files upto 1000 lines long.
You can buy a SheetCAM/Mach3 bundle for $275.
I bought MeshCAM/CutViewerMill/Mach3 bundle - (now $425 - I think it was around $275 when I got it) and then bought SheetCam seperately.
MeshCAM is a full 3D contouring program for doing complex 3D shapes.
Dave Hylands
formatting link
Reply to
dhylands
The main picture at the Sherline site
formatting link
gives you a good idea of the scale. Those are standard-size books. You can see the lathe is limited to a block no more than a few inches square by whatever the bed length is (it comes in a couple of lengths). The mill is limited to inches as well.
They have a page on instructions for their machines, which specifically talk about the size limitations.
-- Gordon
Reply to
Gordon McComb

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.