Jump to content

Mini Mill recommendations


Recommended Posts

Depends on what you want to do with it.  A lot of minor milling of wood can actually be done on a small drill press.  If you plan on doing extensive milling or milling metals you will want something designed for that purpose.    Once you have defined your needs you can start looking for the model that fits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depends on your definition of "mini". Proxxon MF70 is the smallest, which is the key if you do not have a workshop. It is a really good piece of machinery, way better than most of the other proxxon machinery. I am supper happy with it. Also much cheaper than Sherline. But it is harder to customise it (fewer accessories), and the working area is obviously smaller (see "mini"). 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Mike. That was the kind of feedback I was looking for. I noticed in your Cromwell build you had several pictures that showed some work with the Proxxon. I have been leaning that way but I also saw that some members used the Sherline because it had more capabilities and you have more options for accessories. I build model airplanes as well and I have a shop area so I may go with the Sherline. I was hoping to hear pros and cons from some of the members on the Sherline. Keep up the beautiful work on the Cromwell. I love reading your posts and seeing your progress. You truly are a craftsman.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can't go wrong with a Sherline. I love mine, and I'm still only a novice when it comes to using it. Just remember that you will likely spend more on attachments/accessories than on the basic machine. But then, that's half the fun really isn't it? And the same will be true regardless of brand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tim, you made me blush  :rolleyes:

 

One thing to keep in mind when making a decision. Bare mill is hardly usable, you need a basic set of accessories:

1) Clamps to fix parts flat to the table

2) Precision vice to fix parts square to the table

3) Basic set of sharp cutters

4) Rotary table (considered basic for our hobby, milling capstan / wheel / anything round-ish is less convenient without it).

 

For Proxxon, #1 is included out of the box, and the rest will cost you $137. Together with the mill ($242), the whole package is $380, so roughly $400.

Sherline plus similar pack of accessories would be roughly 2x-2.5x more. 

 

So if you look for just a "good enough" mill - MF70 should be ok and is used by a lot of great level modellers in Europe. I used it for a year already, and had zero issues with it, nothing I can presume as negative. Steady, reasonably quiet, precise! Well, maybe the wheels could have been a bit bigger... :) No maintenance really, I never needed to adjust / maintain / lubricate / tune anything in it after the initial setup.

But no doubt that Sherline is a more "adult" mill, that have a better customisation possibilities. I am just whining because I can't afford it (slap 25% extra on it to get the european price of sherline).

Edited by Mike Y
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started out with a Proxxon mill. I didn't really use it much because it is small and there are few accessories available. Last year, I bought a Sherline mill and I have used it even more than I thought I would. With the Proxxon, you can only use very small cutters, which break easily. The X-Y travel is pretty limited besides. I bought the rotary table with it as well and in addition to being very small, it's hard do do anything accurately. The table has degree markings, but no gear mechanism to move it - you just rotate it by hand, hoping you get it aligned with the degree marking closely. With the Sherline rotary table, there is a crank that allows you to turn it precisely (or you could go whole-hog and get a CNC-controlled table) and the chuck is a separate part, so you can move between the mill and the lathe by moving the chuck rather than the part. That also means you can use a 3-jaw or 4-jaw chuck as needed. With Sherline, you can get a vise base that rotates as well as a tilting table - both useful. I bought the digital readout with the mill and have found it VERY useful. In short, I wish I'd never wasted my money on the Proxxon. Now, it's just taking up space in my attic. Yes, the Sherline is considerably more expensive, but you get what you pay for. If you're considering a mill, then you're probably in the hobby for the long haul. A few years down the road you won't even remember the additional expense and you'll have a far more useful tool.

 

Although you may not be considering a lathe, I'll mention one thing if you are. Sherline makes an 8" and a 17" lathe. I thought I'd have no need for the longer lathe so went for the smaller one for $100 less. Mistake. I could upgrade it now, but it would cost about $300 to buy the needed parts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Tim, I just saw the post and thought I would comment.  I am a member and sponsor of MSW as a Proxxon Dealer.  Mill choices seem to be made depending on the required work one expects to do with it.  The Sherline are excellent tools but pricey.  I've had both Sherline and Proxxon lathes and mills in the past and there are more accessories available through Sherline.  I've found that the Proxxon MF-70 could do everything I needed without spending so much for many tools I didn't need.  Being a Proxxon Dealer with many MSW members as clients, perhaps you could give me a chance to quote your tool needs.  PM me with a list.  If not, either tool would be an excellent choice.

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have heard your expression "bare mill is barely usable" in other posts. Also goes for lathes both metal and wood. Its recommended that one will spend at least as much on accessories as on the main unit. I don't have the skills for a metal lathe or mill although I hsve a small Harbor freight metal lathe that I rarely use and would sell it if someone within a 100 miles of Lewiston would buy it. Way too heavy to ship. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have any mill (apart from my modified one) and always pop my head in whenever there's a discussion about mills just to see what's changed over the years. I found the comment by jhearl very interesting bur very hard to assess because in Europe the Proxxon small mill, as has been said, is very popular indeed and used by many master modellers with much expressed satisfaction and the results are there to be displayed on their many web pages.

 

We've also had so many discussions through the years of how the small Proxxon is the only one to offer the ideal high milling speeds for very small cutters or mills in wood -- whilst not being at all useful for metal.

 

There is also a following for the more powerful Proxxon  mill/drill set up round the BFW 40/E which similarly has very strong advocates -- certainly by many of the French modellers and by those who want to mill some metal.

 

Then again I hear modellers who use the Chinese-made mills advocating their own brands powerfully.

 

It certainly is confusing to try to choose when presented with this plethora of voices. I suppose it might be a case of people learning the limitations of their tools, no matter how costly or complicated, and finding ways to work with the limitations and their particular needs, then singing the praises of the tool rather than their skill.

 

One day I hope to be able to have enough money to take the plunge and buy one but for the moment I'm still learning how to use chisels and planes. Now there's another set of tools that have voices all over the web decrying or praising particular brands.

 

Tony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With the Proxxon, you can only use very small cutters, which break easily.

Agree with the rest, it is only a question of cost. If one can afford Sherline instead of Proxxon - there are very few reasons to advocate for Proxxon (well, maybe speed, but that's it).

However, if cost is an issue, Proxxon seems to be on the level that is decent enough and problem-free.

 

But may I respectfully disagree with this note about the cutters?

The proxxon mill accepts cutters with the shaft diameter up to 3.2mm, so there are plenty of aftermarket bits that can fit into it. And even the proxxon cutters are quite strong and sharp, I abused them a lot and haven't managed to break even the 1mm one. I am talking about this cutter set:

post-5430-0-28157800-1481400804.jpg

Edited by Mike Y
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The end mills that came with my Sherline go up to 3/8" (9.525mm) and I have, indeed, used that largest size. The smallest end mill is 1/8" (3.175mm) and that one gets a lot more use.  However, I never found a use for a 1mm cutter in my work. I don't mean to say anything bad about Proxxon tools. I have a couple of them in addition to the mill, including the planer, which I find extremely useful. I know many people are very happy with the Proxxon mill. It would be more accurate to say that for my uses, it simply wasn't suitable and the Sherline has proven to be far more useful and versatile. I should note, too, that I mill brass and even plastic from time to time, not just wood.

 

Also, tkay11 mentioned the speed comparison between the two. So far, I haven't run into any difficulties milling anything with the slower (2,800 RPM) Sherline. Seems to work just fine on all the woods I've tried so far. Sherline does make a 10,000 RPM pulley set for the mill, but I haven't seen a need for it to this point.

 

Cheers -

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1) Yes, lots of them, just look on the shaft diameter - anything between 1 and 3.2mm will fit

2) No problems, it can even handle aluminum. Just a matter to the cut depth. I am usually using it with hardwoods (pear and castello), they should be harder than plywood

3) The table surface dimensions is 7x21cm, do not have any experience with trying to fit larger pieces onto it.

Edited by Mike Y
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the Proxxon milling machine is limited to cutters with shaft diameters 3.2 mm and under that is a major limitation. I have a Sherline Milling column that converts my Sherline lathe for milling. I have a 3/8in tool holder that (I think) came with the column and a set of milling collets that I bought. This allows me to use standard 3/8in and 1/4in spiral end mills available from any local industrial supply house.

 

Roger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The most important thing is to do your homework. First of all make a rational decision as to how you want to use the mill. I say "want" because once you have one, you will expand your uses to things that you can't imagine yet. The worst thing that you can do is buy a machine today and wish you had something else tomorrow. All the brands listed so far will work for you, so it is a matter of what you want to spend. Mills generally don't work out of the crate. Tooling and accessories will run at least the cost of the machine and likely quite a bit more as you learn and do more projects. For example a 4in rotary table will easily match and exceed the cost of the mill. Personally I went with Little Machine Shop. The initial purchase was reasonable and they carry parts and accessories for anything you purchase there. I too am new to this group, but did a tremendous amount of research prior to purchases. Hope this helps some.

 

Dupree

Edited by Dupree Allen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tim,

 

For what it's worth, I'd encourage you to go with the Sherline. As my Dad always says, quality is remembered long after price is forgotten! You will never regret the extra expense of the initial outlay for the Sherline. And then of course, you'll never be saying "I wish I'd held off a little longer and bought the Sherline instead"......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A "must" attachment for the Sherline mill is their Sensitive Drilling Attachment useful for drilling holes with very small wire sized drill bits. This is particularly useful for making blocks and deadeyes and essential if you don't have a drill press. I don't know if the other mills that you are considering can be used with such an attachment.

 

Regarding size of milling cutters. With the Sherline mill and the right collets you can always use the smaller mills (1/8in shank) but with the smaller mills you can't use the larger ones.

 

Roger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lots of great info in this thread, and very timely!  I've been considering a small mill for a while, and decided to 'strongly hint' that I wanted one for Christmas from the wife (in combination with my birthday which is a week earlier).  She informed me last night that she is giving in, and the mill should be here this weekend.

 

I ended up going with the Proxxon MF70.  From my reading, I agree with all the advantages of the Sherline, and we weren't really concerned with the price difference.  For me, the choice of the MF70 was first driven by size - the MF70 is a little smaller than the Sherline.  Since I don't have dedicated space for power tools, I have to store them in a closet and pull them out when I want to use them.  That little bit of savings in size often makes the difference when deciding if I want to bother pulling the machine out or not.  I fully expect that some day (when I have more space), I'll be upgrading many of my tools.

 

I was also impressed with the number of people online who have converted the MF70 to be computer controlled.  CNC is overkill for my purposes, but converting the MF70 looks pretty easy (a couple hours), fairly inexpensive (I've ordered all the parts - around $300 total), and easy to undo as it doesn't modify the machine at all (with the right parts, you just unscrew the handles and replace them with the motor mounts).  I'm playing with the CNC conversion mostly just for fun, since I have zero experience with the software used to drive it I wouldn't be able to do anything complex, but I suppose I have to start somewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...