Jump to content
Thistle17

Recommendations For A Good Milling Machine

Recommended Posts

OK guys I keep saying I have made up my mind on the Sherline Mil,l 5400 with DRO. But what keeps popping up on my radar is the CNC ready version of this mill. My background was as an electrical engineer so I have never let go of the "technology" interest. Does anyone out there employ a CNC version in thier model work? Is this version overkill? I am assuming one can use the CNC ready version as a manual machine. Is that true?

Joe

Canute likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe, before you pull the trigger with another seller, try calling Kat at Sherline. I just got a 15% "senior" discount on a lathe package with milling column, although I am only 62. It should arrive Wed. next week.

Canute likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, usedtosail said:

Joe, before you pull the trigger with another seller, try calling Kat at Sherline. I just got a 15% "senior" discount on a lathe package with milling column, although I am only 62. It should arrive Wed. next week.

Well, darnit! Kat never offered me a 15% discount (I'm 74). But I'm certainly happy with the product. It's giving me an opportunity to be a lot more precise.

TB

donrobinson and Canute like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe 

 

Generally what they mean by CNC ready is that the machines are ready to attach the stepper motors.  In short the brackets are attached to the machine and you need the stepper motors mounted to be able to use the machine in any mode.  The handles attach to the shaft on the back of the stepper, then you would be able to rotate the shaft as if in manual mode.  To run in CNC mode you need to attach the steppers to drivers then this controller box is attached to a computer with the controller software (the most common is probably Mach3).  This is how almost all hobby CNC mills are controlled.  Some setups use servo motors and ball screws but this setup is not as common for hobby use because of expense, but there are some out there. Servo motors are used in commercial machines because they provide position feedback (the machine always knows where it's at) stepper motors do not.

 

The easiest way to use a CNC mill in manual mode is to have the machine able to function in CNC mode. Then use a pendent to move the axis and use the controller software as a digital readout. This way you have a fully functional machine in both modes.

 

I will try to get some pictures of my Taig setup (the setup is similar no matter what brand machine you use) this weekend.  It is partially tore down as I am designing an enclosure for it.  It is easier to explain if you have something to look at.  

 

Take a a look at this build log he uses a Taig setup very similar to mine.  He has a great log and this will give you a very good idea of what can be done with a good hobby CNC mill.  Hopefully this link works if not just do a search

http://Western River Steamboat Heroine by ggrieco - Scale 1:24 - 1838 as she appeared before hitting a snag in the Red River. - Build Logs for SCRATCH SHIP MODEL PROJECTS - Nautical Research Guild's Model Ship World

 

Don

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for both heads up. It is more and more obvious that I need to do more homework. Secondly the tip to call Sherline never occured to me. I woll do that.

Joe

donrobinson likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I finally decided to order the Sherline 5400A with the DRO assembly. I chose the DRO unit over the CNC ready system for a very specific and probably dumb (to some) reason. My background is electronic machine control engineering. Given over 35 years in that business I did not want to get caught up in the "gee whiz" of the machine control. I just want to build ship models!!!! I know I would get caught up in the "programming" and its associated fascination. So the compromise is the DRO version. After using an earlier, non DRO, version of this mill to machine bulkwark scuppers in the Atlantis model, I decided my machine skills needed some help in machining accuracy. I also ordered the 10,000 rpm pulley system to facilitate wood machining. I will have more to say when it arrives.

donrobinson, mtaylor, Canute and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I finally made the plunge and ordered the Sherline 5400 DRO. It came last week. I must say it is a beautiful well executed design that yields a very special product. I spent a good deal of time reading over the assembly and instruction manual as it is not an RTF (Ready To Fly parlance from the model plane industry) machine. The base with the X,Y table is an assembly. The headstock column is an assembly that includes the "saddle block" to mount the motor/headstock assembly to. The motor, belt guard and headstock must be assembled and since this unit includes the DRO it must include placement of the optical sensor for the speed encoder. The motor assembly in turn mounts to the Z column "saddle block" that has a bar guide alignment and centering stud that draws the assembly tight to the column. One surprise to me is these later units allow rotation of the headstock/motor at an angle to machine facets on material. Older units did not have this feature.

 

I did spend some time making a small portable base for the unit. Two drawers help store wrenches, cutters, chuck etc. I always had misplaced wrenches etc. with my Unimat lathe so i thought I would head off a similar problem here.

 

I thought this would be good to share as an opening statement before I get into its use over the next few weeks. I did not purchase Joe Martin's book on its use yet but will very soon as I am a rank amateur machinist.

 

Joe

Picture1.jpg

Canute, gjdale, mtaylor and 5 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, such a larger footprint baseboard adds to the stability of the machine, particularly, when the x-y-table is moved out far. Beware, however, that you probably will find soon that the two drawers will not accomodate all the addtional parts for the machine you will accumulate over time :)

 

It may be an illumination artefact, but it appears to me somehow that the column is mounted on the wrong side of the base !? Looking from the front, one should see the full lenght of the x-y-table ... or what is the dark rectangle underneath the head ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wefalck:

You made me chuckle about the drawers. Indeed if I didn't control myself I would need a rolling cabinet instead of this base. These drawers were intended for loose small items. I have another work table/bench planned that will address such items as a rotary table plus the lathe etc.

 

As to you observation of the photo. It is my weird camera angle and awful iighting that makes it look as it does. I'll try harder to be more deliberate in future pictures.

Joe

mtaylor, Canute and donrobinson like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe,

I was going to comment the same thing as Wefalck.   It does look like the column is in the front and not the rear.  That is a nice machine however.

Seventynet and donrobinson like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joe,

Interesting coincidence, I followed along with your discussion because I also was in the market. And I came to the same conclusions as you did. I got the 5410 DRO, as I like to deal in millimeters. The DRO is a great attachment and very accurate; a huge addition for precision!

Tom

donrobinson, mtaylor, Canute and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tom:

This machine is such a fine tool and for me it is going to be a "hill climb" to learn to use it to advantage. I was looking at the accessories catalog last eve and realize as I progress I will be in need of some of them. There is no doubt this is a well thought out product family with expandability and upward mobility. Please, as you progress share your experience.

Joe

donrobinson, mtaylor and Canute like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed the photo is odd in its appearance. I'll comment this last time. I took the picture on the kitchen counter w/o flash and at a slight angle i.e. not head on. When I tried the flash it showed extreme glare coming from the reflection of the speed control label. Without the flash the overhead lights cast a shadow area beneath the head stock. That makes it look as though the Z axis column is forward of the X/Y table. It is not. Hope this clarifies it.

mtaylor, donrobinson and Canute like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My apology if this comes across as impertinent -

leaving aside any metal working function and focusing on

just wood working,  apart from using it as a drill press,

and milling lands for carlings and knees in deck beams,

what other jobs would a vertical mill be used for?

mtaylor, Canute, MEDDO and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jaager, among other tasks I have used one to:

1.  as an upside down router for rounding/shaping edges and creating grooves in decorative pieces,

2.  creating the blanks for gun carriages (individual slices taken off with saw to create carriage sides)

3.  making parts (whelps etc) for capstans.

4.  making/shaping the waterways.

5.  milling small wood parts.

 

There are many uses once you can think through the set ups; I suppose you could say only limited by your imagination and ability.

 

cheers

 

Pat

Canute, donrobinson and mtaylor like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Thistle17 said:

Tom:

This machine is such a fine tool and for me it is going to be a "hill climb" to learn to use it to advantage. I was looking at the accessories catalog last eve and realize as I progress I will be in need of some of them. There is no doubt this is a well thought out product family with expandability and upward mobility. Please, as you progress share your experience.

Joe

Joe,

I'm with you on the learning curve. I did get the rotary table and angle table and the slitting saw. The former because Danny told me to, the latter because KeithAug showed how to use it in building bulkheads with great precision. I have used the machine in rudimentary operations, but I've also made some cannon carriage sides in 1:96 using the DRO feature with great success. If this machine were a woman, I'd marry her!

Tom

Edited by TBlack
misspelling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jaeger et al.: the funny thing about these machines is, that one begins to make attachments and tools to make more tools - eventually one might make parts for shipmodels too ;)

 

I find that it depends a bit on the period of the prototype you are modelling. The more modern the ship is the more likely it is that machines were used in its construction. In consequence, to reproduce the relevant parts in adequate quality you would also use machines. Machine work will also allow you to reproduce identical parts more quickly and consistently. In some case, perhaps, one would only produce the basic shape on the machine and would have to hand-finish the part to reproduce complex shaped curves.

donrobinson, mtaylor and Canute like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wefalck,

 

The tool making was the reason for precluding metal work from my comment.

Way back when, because I could not find the Universal Midget machine from

Longridge, I bought the closest substitute - a Unimat SL 1000. 

I have found that  I have substituted the wood working attachments with

dedicated single purpose machines - table saw, drill press, drum sander, jig/scroll saw,

disk sander.   Each has repaid its cost in function and convenience - except the scroll

saw - I prefer my 9" bandsaw with a Carter scroll attachment and 1/8" blade.

 

I have used the milling and lathe functions for metal working to make my own tool

attachments. For metal work, a quality lathe, and vertical mill can not be replaced. 

For me, the Unimat is quality enough.

If wood work was my only focus and money was a factor, I could not

convince myself that a vertical mill would return its investment. Neither would a lathe -

unless I was producing cannon - a lot of cannon.  The limits on bed length are impediments

to full use of a lathe for masts and yards.

mtaylor and donrobinson like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, that it is better to have single-purpose machines, that is, if you have the space for them. The time of setting up combination-machines for special tasks is often a nuisance. Also, sometimes you don't want to disturb a set-up in order to be able to go back to it after a different machining step on another machine. 

mtaylor, Canute and donrobinson like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to share with all of you what I have experienced with Sherline Manufacturing and their Customer Support Team. My mill came damaged in shipment from California to New York State. The Z axis column lead screw/wheel was found to be bent when the unit arrived. Needless to say I was dismayed. I have been dealing with Kat Powell in the Sales/Customer Support office. I sent a photo of the problem and she immediately responded with an offer to replace the Z axis assembly. It arrived today just 2 days since the problem was discovered. Her customer first attitude was simply outstanding.

 

Thought I should share this with all and give others in the market for their products another reason to purchase from an American company.

 

Joe

Mike Y, allanyed, mtaylor and 5 others like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frank I must say i really enjoy your build of Kathryn. I'm not much on responding with the "Likes" but I certainly do like what you are doing.

Joe

Edited by Thistle17
Canute, mtaylor, Mahuna and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 1:12 PM, Jaager said:

Wefalck,

 

The tool making was the reason for precluding metal work from my comment.

Way back when, because I could not find the Universal Midget machine from

Longridge, I bought the closest substitute - a Unimat SL 1000. 

I have found that  I have substituted the wood working attachments with

dedicated single purpose machines - table saw, drill press, drum sander, jig/scroll saw,

disk sander.   Each has repaid its cost in function and convenience - except the scroll

saw - I prefer my 9" bandsaw with a Carter scroll attachment and 1/8" blade.

 

I have used the milling and lathe functions for metal working to make my own tool

attachments. For metal work, a quality lathe, and vertical mill can not be replaced. 

For me, the Unimat is quality enough.

If wood work was my only focus and money was a factor, I could not

convince myself that a vertical mill would return its investment. Neither would a lathe -

unless I was producing cannon - a lot of cannon.  The limits on bed length are impediments

to full use of a lathe for masts and yards.

Have you tried canting the Unimat headstock towards you and supporting the tailstock end of the work with your hand for use in tapering spars "free-hand?" 

 

Another option is to remove the tailstock, cant the headstock to obtain the desired angle, support the end of the work in whatever creative fashion suits your fancy, and use the cross-slide with an appropriate wood-cutting tool to cut an exact taper. (Gently, gently...)

 

I expect you probably have, and these are somewhat funky ways to do it, but I mention them in case you haven't tried them. Truth be told, my 10" Atlas is my usual go-to weapon for attacking spar tapering, as well as milling, given that I've got the tool post milling attachment for the Atlas.

mtaylor, Canute and donrobinson like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×