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Power Tools for a Fully Framed Build


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Hey Group

As I'm winding down Confederacy I'm gearing up for my next build. I already own all of Jim Byrnes tools and a spindle sander.

 

On the list is a mill - would love suggestions as to accessories (I understand Sherline may be the way to go), a lathe, and possibly a drill press (but won't mills have that capability?). I'm building in 1/48 or 1/36 scale - thanks !

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I'll assume you also have a scroll saw?

 

Mills.... a vice, assorted mills (ball and plunge and standard set), a rotary table with a 4 jaw chuck (not necessary but really a nice to have tool),  There's lots of jigs you can make.   There's a  topic here that's a lot of help:  http://modelshipworld.com/index.php/topic/11214-how-to-make-best-use-of-your-milling-machine-tips-and-techniques/ There's also this place which has a lot of information:  http://www.littlemachineshop.com/Products/product_new.php  Have alook at the Info Center and the Learning Center tabs.

 

Lathes.... This has a lot of solid info: http://www.mini-lathe.com/Default.htm  A lot of the accessories will depend on what you'll use them for.. 4-jaw and 3  jaw chucks, live centers, etc.

 

As for using a mill as a drill press... that works.  Some mills are eaiser to use as drill press (a drill press type handle in addition to the crank).  My drill press really never has been used since I got the mill. 

 

I hope this helps.  Chances are, you'll spend as much on tooling as you did on the base unit.  But careful research can reduce the costs, such as "beginner tool sets", Amazon, etc.  There's also a lot of junk out there... mostly from China.

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Also if you have a mill you can learn to start making your own stuff instead of buying it same with the lathe make your own tools as you need them. Takes time but you can do it. Like Mark said you will spend more than what the base unit cost, I know I have most of the stuff from Sherline, I am not saying that's a bad thing but a good amount I could have made myself LOL, but I like my toys LOL

Edited by WackoWolf
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I cannot comment on Micromark power tools because I have never used any. I am a fan of Sherline for a number of reasons

 

A huge number of well thought out accessories.

 

Very high quality, mine was made in the USA.

 

I think in inches. Millimeters require conversion, and Sherline's tools not only can be purchased calibrated in inches, but collets screw threads, etc. are in inches too.

 

Great customer service- Sherline uses socket headed set screws with a machined point to secure its heavier components. When setting up the milling column these are removed and reinstalled. A while ago I broke the socket on one of these, and could not find a replacement locally. I called Sherline and the lady on the phone said " Yes, those are hard to find, give me your address and I'll send you some." A few days later an envelope with several screws showed up gratis!

 

Roger Pellett

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Thanks for the feedback guys - does any one have an opinion on this mill ?  Its 20 percent off at Micromark right now for approx 660.00 

 

http://www.micromark.com/microlux-high-precision-heavy-duty-r8-miniature-milling-machine,9616.html

Excellent mill.  There lathe is also very good.

 

Chinese lathes and mills can be pretty bad but if you get one from a reputable dealer like Micromark or Little Machine Shop you will be getting a good machine.  In addition the Chinese machines will be far more capable than the sherline, taig or proxxon products.

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Hi Guys,

 

I don't know if this is off topic but since we're talking about milling I thought I'd give it a shot. I have a Delta bench top drill press and was wondering if I invested in a proxxon x-y table and a few milling bits, would it be possible/useful for milling small jobs in wood? A Sherline is out of the question right now and I'm basically kit-bashing for my next step with some minor scratch building. We're not talking about TFFM here. What do you think? Thanks.

 

Best,

John

 

PS - if the moderator wants to move this to a new topic, fine with me. J.

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It depends how your chuck is mounted. On many drill presses including the one that that I have, rhe Jacobs chuck is mounted on a morse tapered shaft. There is a threaded nut above the chuck that can be used to push the chuck off. This setup is not designed to accept side loads and loads from routing or milling can cause the chuck to wobble and in some cases to fall off- personal experience!

 

If your drill press works this way you will have to see if a collet chuck is available. This locks onto the shaft using the threads on a the shaft. A collet chuck will probably come with two inserts to fit 1/4in and 3/8in router bits and milling cutters.

 

Roger Pellett

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John,

 

Light and infrequent milling will work (except as pointed out by Roger).  However, the bearings will not handle the side loading very well for very long.  We've had builders use a drill press as a lathe and as a mill but there is the risk of killing a bearing.  By all means, check the bearings as you're using it for heat build up also.

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I thank it all depends on how much one has to spend on there "hobby".

 

When I was working to make my living, I bought the best tools. But this is a hobby, not something most of us make our living at. This is new to me at the present but I have bought two power tools that some would call "crap". But as an amateur I find that they do an acceptable job for the occasional use. I have seen some beautiful work on MSW by people that didn't have the best tools that money could buy.

 

Which reminds me of a thread on MSW. A member was inquiring about a low cost rope walk. And the response was "its crap" and recommended another (high dollar) rope walk. And Chuck responded that he makes all of his rope with a modified rope walk that the member was inquiring about. I think most of us know the quality of the work Chuck puts out.

 

Like it is said "the difference between men and boys is the price of there toys". :)

 

But if you still have money for groceries, utilities and health care, go for it.

 

Russ (wannabe amateur ship modeler)

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Thanks for the input - actually the difference in price between the Microlux and Sherline is not that significant for me.  I'm new to Mills and have never used one.  I do notice that many people use them on fully framed builds - and I plan on being active in this hobby for awhile (Im 46).  What would really be helpful is to understand which accessories I will need to get started.  The first parts I will be building will be the keel and the frames.

 

I will also buy some high quality chisels and a sharpening system which can do the work of a mill by hand. It does seem to me that a mill will offer me more precision.  

 

Thanks

Chris

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Again this is a recurrent discussion ... the epical dock-yard models were made without power-tools available, they were simply not invented then. (Almost) everything can be made with hand-tools, given the necessary dexterity and patience. Power-tools (not the hand-held ones) have the advantage of controlled movements - you work in a Carthesian space and need to worry only about movements along one axis at a time - much easier for many of us. Often power-tools also save elbow-grease, of course.

 

OK, this was rather philosophical. On a more practical level, you need to know what kind of materials you anticipate to work with. Wood, metal, and plastics all have quite different machining properties and require (often) specific tools. Wood requires much higher cutting-tool speeds than metals. This can be a serious limitation, when thinking of using a metal-lathes for working on wood. Most mills run only at around 5000 rpm, which is too slow for the small cutter you are like to use. The only mill I know of that has rpms adequate for wood is the smallest PROXXON. There you run into capacity problems, because the slide travels are rather limited. It would be ok for making small parts, but could pose a problem, when you want notch keels or something like this on largeish models. There will be alsway a trade-off.

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There is also a question of space, Proxxon is the smallest and can easily sit on the table, while larger mills typically require much more space.

Hard to beat a mill in precision and speed of milling joints, if you would like to show them in your model It is one of the most frequently used tools I have, probably after the disk sander :)

A vice is a must for the mill (for joint cutting as well).

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More capapable in what respect ? Size ? But then you talk about capacity, rather than capability.

Size but also power.  A Sieg 2x mill, which is what both the MM and LMS machines start as, can handle cuts in hard materials that a small machine like the Sherline or Proxxon simply cannot do.  If all you are ever going to do is take light cuts on soft brass, aluminum and wood one of the smaller machines will work fine.  If you want to work in steel, cast iron or even some of the really hard woods like ebony you want a machine that can do the job faster and easier.

 

For making small parts for a model I guess it really isn't important but when it comes to making jigs and special tools you will want the size and power of the larger machine.

 

Same applies to the lathes.

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As I suggested above, perhaps the administrators start a sort of permanent file, where one can compare the different capabilities and capacities. I agree, for making jigs and attachments for your machines, a bigger machine would be handy. But you will find that is always a 'catch 22' - you always better have a bigger machine for making attachments for your smaller machine. But, how did they do in the old days, when there were no bigger and more precise machines ? Sometimes it just need ingenuity and patience and you can turn out good stuff with smaller machines. As said earlier, if you can't have a range of machines, you have to make a trade-off between your needs.

 

In principle, a big machine is more stable, has less vibrations and, therefore, the potential for higher precision. This, however, requires that it is well-made and well-adjusted. The problem is that adjustment costs time and, hence, money. This is were the Chinese makers cut corners in order to be able to sell their products at competitive prices. Compare a modern-day Chinese mill or lathe with a precision machine of the 1940s or 1950s (the pre CN- and CNC-age) coming from Switzerland. On the latter the slides move like silk in spite of the large masses involved, because the ways have been scraped-in and not just milled. In order to get equivalent handling for working on small parts, you have to opt for a smaller machine - unless you are a master in machine adjustment.

 

BTW, I am working steel on my watchmaking lathes and mills. It is a pain at times and takes a long time because I can only take light cuts, but with perseverance I manage to most things I want to do. The same machine, on the other hand, is ways better than a big Chinese machine will be, on small parts. With careful adjustment, the Sherline or Proxxon machines are almost as good.

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http://gingerybookstore.com/MetalWorkingShopFromScrap.html

 

I have the set plus, purchased from Lindsay Books some time ago. Can find some of Lindsay's old books here: http://www.youroldtimebookstore.com/

I bought the series as a set of 7 books, Gingery's Son, is now publishing them and others.

There is a lot of info about a whole wide brush of subjects now available from the reprinting of old books plus a lot of how to's from those who have done it. Don't need to make any of the things described, I enjoy just reading them.

jud

Edited by jud
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Chris,

 

I have the Sherline lathe and mill.  They get pricey, especially with all the add-ons.  I went ahead and bought them used on eBay, so I was able to spend just a fraction of the price for something new.  They are build like tanks, kinda like the Byrnes tools.

 

Not sure if you need a scroll saw, but you can get those fairly cheaply on Craigslist.  Lots of one-shot use items where the saw was used for a kid's science project and then never used again.  I got my Dewalt 588 that way and saved quite a bit of money.

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As I suggested above, perhaps the administrators start a sort of permanent file, where one can compare the different capabilities and capacities. I agree, for making jigs and attachments for your machines, a bigger machine would be handy. But you will find that is always a 'catch 22' - you always better have a bigger machine for making attachments for your smaller machine. But, how did they do in the old days, when there were no bigger and more precise machines ? Sometimes it just need ingenuity and patience and you can turn out good stuff with smaller machines. As said earlier, if you can't have a range of machines, you have to make a trade-off between your needs.

 

In principle, a big machine is more stable, has less vibrations and, therefore, the potential for higher precision. This, however, requires that it is well-made and well-adjusted. The problem is that adjustment costs time and, hence, money. This is were the Chinese makers cut corners in order to be able to sell their products at competitive prices. Compare a modern-day Chinese mill or lathe with a precision machine of the 1940s or 1950s (the pre CN- and CNC-age) coming from Switzerland. On the latter the slides move like silk in spite of the large masses involved, because the ways have been scraped-in and not just milled. In order to get equivalent handling for working on small parts, you have to opt for a smaller machine - unless you are a master in machine adjustment.

 

BTW, I am working steel on my watchmaking lathes and mills. It is a pain at times and takes a long time because I can only take light cuts, but with perseverance I manage to most things I want to do. The same machine, on the other hand, is ways better than a big Chinese machine will be, on small parts. With careful adjustment, the Sherline or Proxxon machines are almost as good.

All true.  However there is a big difference between a Harbor Freight machine and LMS or MM machine.  The difference is in the quality control.  The Sieg factory will manufacture a lathe or mill to what ever level of precision a customer wants.  HF buys run of the factory machines that may or may not have been assembled and checked adequately.  MM and LMS buy machines manufactured to their specs and check the QC themselves resulting in a much better product.  Not to say these machines can't be improved but out of the box they are pretty good.  My MM lathe has hand scraped ways and came needing only minor adjustments to be up and running.

 

Your observation that you always need a bigger machine for something is very true.  That said it is a good idea to get a machine that will both do precision work and can handle larger pieces (with in reason).  I don't think I could reliably do 1/10000" work on my lathe but with the proper setup I could handle 5/10000".  But then how often do you need that kind of precision?  1/1000" difference is to small to see with the naked eye and would be more than adequate for model building.

 

Another thing I like about the larger machines is that you can easily modify them to improve performance.  Low cost mods like swapping the roller bearings in the head stock for tapered roller bearings is an example.  Also the Seig 7x lathes can cut left handed threads and with a few extra change gears can cut threads from 4/in to 240/in.  I haven't seen any of the small machines that can do either.

 

An alternative to the Seig lathes are the older Atlas/Craftsman 6" lathes.  They can be found for sale (at least here in the states) for reasonable prices.

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